March 24th – The Anniversary of the Tragedy at the Tactful Navigator

Whilst the temperance movement was once a force to be reckoned with in Buentoille, since the events that happened today 1868 it has only declined in popularity. In the ten years previous, the movement had risen to power and prominence under the leadership of Hemmut Gallblotter, an outspoken bull of a man whose dedication knew no bounds, who would seemingly stop at nothing to achieve his aim of a dry Buentoille. He gained notoriety in 1859 when he famously said to the Buentoilliçan Observer, ‘If they will not willingly put down the drink through reason, then, like a good father teaching his children, we must beat temperance into them!’

Under Gallblotter’s influence, the movement became far more militant, adding picketing of and intimidatory violence towards drinking establishments to their repertoire of tactics. Temperance campaigners still handed out leaflets extolling the evils of drink, made passionate public speeches and ran charitable houses that helped alcohol and drug addicts, but these traditional methods were now secondary to more pugnacious acts. Property damage was a favourite tactic of Gallblotter’s, and pubs and bars would frequently have their windows smashed or find graffiti on their doors in the morning.

Eventually there was a backlash, there had to be; Gallblotter had simply rubbed folks up the wrong way. Aside from a few minor scuffles between pubgoers and the temperance campaigners desecrating their place of worshipful consumption, there was little organised resistance, until Torgen Smallhead stepped up to the fore. The publican of the Tactful Navigator, a popular pub in Darksheve’s district (an area that had been frequently targeted by the temperance campaigners because it was primarily working class, and the working class were seen as more ‘vulnerable’ to the ‘evils’ of drink), Smallhead was a sly man, skilled in the ways of public relations. He had previously put several nearby pubs out of business through undercutting their prices and spreading rumours of watered-down beer, but now slid easily into the role of an outraged traditionalist, demanding that these ‘unwarranted attacks’ were an affront to ‘proper’ Buentoilliçan values.

Smallhead hired a number of mercenaries to protect his premises from the campaigners, both through coin and by promising a free drink to any person who stood up to the temperance campaigners. Small acts of violence on both sides became more frequent, as gangs of campaigners were set upon by drunken bruisers after last orders, and similarly folk staggering home from the pub found their heads connecting not with a soft pillow but with campaigner’s fists. What remained of Demoliane’s Daremen (a paramilitary force from Darksheave’s District) after the murder of Durstan Demoliane by Nible Jaques in 1857 only intervened when the property of Demoliane (now passed to his son, Darvil) was threatened. With recriminations on both sides, the scene was set for a grand show of violence.

Word got around that Gallblotter was planning to stage a show of force by bringing a large group of campaigners to smash up the Tactful Navigator, which had now gained itself much attention as Smallhead was the de-facto champion of the anti-temperance movement. In response, Smallhead gathered a huge crowd of mercenaries and pub-goers armed with improvised blunt weapons to protect the pub. Before the temperance gang arrived, Smallhead gave a speech about ‘protecting our rights and freedoms’ to rapturous applause. The men and women he had gathered were all given two free beers, and promised more when they had driven off the campaigners. At around midday the temperance gang arrived.

The resulting riot left eighty one people injured and three dead. Two of the dead were temperance campaigners, and one was a pub-goer. After around ten minutes of sustained battle, the campaigners were routed, and the pub escaped destruction, except for a broken window. After they had dealt with the injured and bodies, the pub-goers had a raucous drinking session at the Tactful Navigator, their spirits apparently not dampened by the deaths or the light shower that caught out the folks who couldn’t fit inside the pub at around four o’clock. At eleven the pub was still full, but people were not spilling into the streets as before. It was then that Sylvia Emmett, distraught at the death of her sister (a fellow temperance campaigner) in the riots earlier that day, threw the fire-bomb that burned down much of the pub and brought the day’s death count up to fifty nine.

Today these deaths will be commemorated by a ceremony at the Newly Tactful Navigator, a pub built through donations on burned husk of a site where the Tactful Navigator once stood. A toast will be held to their memory, and drink will be poured into the streets as a mark of respect. A wake will then travel into Ranaclois hill where a mausoleum has been built to house the bodies of those who died in the tragic incident. The mausoleum is a faithful replication of the original pub, with urns containing the ashes of the dead placed on the wooden chairs where they sat before their deaths. The bodies of those who escaped complete immolation, but died still from smoke inhalation before the fire brigade arrived, are mummified, placed at the bar receiving a drink from the barman, the body of Smallhead himself. In front of each urn or body is placed a glass, and into each of these a drink is poured of the finest variety. A small plaque is inset into the tables or bar, naming the occupant of the urns, and giving a few other details, including their favourite drink. These details were faithfully recounted by the survivors of the fire, and the families of the individuals who died.

The incident was to be the death-knell of the temperance movement, and the power gathered by Gallblotter quickly ebbed away. He refused to apologise publicly for the incident until he died, but it was reported afterwards that he had expressed some small remorse to his nearest and dearest on his deathbed. Emmett was incarcerated and then executed later on as a publicity stunt by the Traitor King.

Other festivals happening today:

  • Radio Bill’s Education Day
  • Bee and Insect Rehousing Day
  • The Festival of Chimney Pot Appreciation