Even when you don’t have anywhere in particular to be going, sometimes it’s nice to do a little travelling. Buentoille has always been a sedentary sort of place; lots of folk come here, but most see little reason to leave. Still, the occasional trip out into the countryside wouldn’t hurt, especially as the spring begins to bring fairer weather to the region. Tonight the full moon will illuminate the land nicely, and the trees are not yet in full leaf, so it’s still possible to see in the woods and forests around the City.
For young adults and teenagers tonight is synonymous with campfires and parties. They pack bags full of beer bottles, snacks, torches, perhaps a tent if they are going far out enough to need one. They usually aim for somewhere on the edge of Luck’s End Forest, although there are plenty of small wooded areas and copses for those who don’t want to travel so far. Wherever they settle, they will build a campfire, the bright moon helping them gather wood. Some spots are highly contested, others avoided like the plague. There is a glade not too far into the forest from where you can see the moon clearly for most of the night, where hundreds of years of campfires must have been held; at least three different groups will gather there tonight, eventually coalescing into one large party as the night goes on.
Legends passed down through generations of teenagers tell of another glade, further into the forest, where a small stream runs past mossy rocks, and the rabbit-trimmed mounds are soft and inviting to the traveller. In the stories someone has always set out a stack of wood under a small roof to dry, ready for the next year, and the blossom of the surrounding trees floats beautifully in the moonlight. They say that it’s only under April’s full moon that the trees shift enough to lead you there, opening up trackways invitingly. There’s no point in looking for it; if the forest wants you to find the glade you will, perhaps whilst trying to find some more familiar spot.
In other, darker stories, there some of the trackways will lead you to a house, where the lights are on. It’s always the teenagers who got lost who will find it, and they will have lost their drinks somewhere along the way, and an insatiable thirst will come upon them quietly and slowly, so that they do not realise until they reach the house. The house is small, having only one floor, with a large terracotta tiled roof and sandstone walls. Sweet-scented smoke flows from the intricately carved chimney. The front door is always slightly ajar, and inside an old folk song of some sort is playing on a record player. Nobody is at home, but on the table in the kitchen are a number drinks, as many as there are teenagers to drink them; one each. By this point their throats feel cracked like sun-baked soil in late summer, when it hasn’t rained for months.
In some stories the teenagers realise something is up, and leave, their thirst mysteriously vanishing as they do. Perhaps they recognise the house (which truly does lie within the forest; it is an old hunting lodge) from their other excursions into the forest during the day, when it is a ruin, long abandoned. Those who drink suffer differing fates, depending on which version of the story is being told. Some are simply never seen again, whilst the door closes behind others, never to open again. In one popular telling, they awake moments later drowning in a nearby stream, the house once more a lifeless ruin.
Scary stories abound, but there is little real danger in the woods tonight, on account of the sheer number of people nearby. If you were to somehow obtain an aerial viewpoint over Luck’s End tonight you would see a constellation of campfires, the shooting stars of torch beams flitting here and there. From any given spot you can usually see at least three other fires through the trees. At midnight the groups howl like wolves, trying to outdo their neighbours in volume.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Spring Anarchist Book Fair
- Tolsham Ridarde’s Festival of Fire Safety
- Municipal Regulated Breathing Day