Whilst spinning tops have been around since time immemorial, the particular design used at today’s festival has a definite traceable provenance; it was invented by Atum Barellman in 1777. Now you can rarely find any other style of spinning top anywhere in Buentoille, except maybe in the Museum of Traditional Antiquities, such is the popularity of the design.
The tops, known as barelltops, are different in three fundamental ways from other types: firstly, unlike ancient designs, they are well balanced and do not need the assistance of a pull line to spin properly, only a slight twist of the fingers. This leads on to the second difference; barelltops spin for an exceedingly long time, far longer than any other known top, especially when placed in a prophecy bowl. The third difference is perhaps the strangest; painted or inscribed on each top is the Ancient Chenorrian glyph meaning ‘death,’ or ‘inertia,’ depending on the translation. When it spins, the glyph disappears, and three other glyphs appear to hover over the top’s surface; one meaning ‘energy,’ or ‘life,’ another meaning ‘change,’ and a final glyph meaning ‘progress.’
Over the years, many Buentoillitants have attempted to create variations on this design, yet to this day nobody seems to have succeeded. The shape of the top is fairly easy to replicate, but any change in the glyph painted on its surface seems to eliminate the ‘hovering’ effect of the three other glyphs. All the tops which produce this strange effect are based on one original top, created by Barellman. This top is still in existence, normally kept in a special sanctified box by the leader, or ‘Pioneer’, of the religious group Barellman founded, the Holy Fellowship of the Wandering Bethel. Originally created for Barellman’s own personal use and philosophical contemplation, it now serves the additional purpose of dictating the amount of time the Fellowship stays anywhere.
Today’s festival will begin when the group of itinerant travellers enters the City and sets up camp in one of the parks. Unlike most Buentoilliçan festivals, today’s is not a regular, annual event; it is over thirty years since the Fellowship last visited the City, and it may be hundreds more before they do again, or perhaps it will be next week. The Fellowship was spotted to the north of the City a day ago, heading in its direction, but they may even choose to pass Buentoille by as they have once or twice before.
When the group has pitched their tents in the park of their choice, the Pioneer will take the first barelltop from its case and set it spinning in its prophecy bowl. They will keep it spinning by carefully agitating the bowl, thereby adding additional energy to the top to replace some of that lost by friction. When the top eventually falls, usually five or six hours after it started to spin, the festival is over and the Fellowship will either pack up to leave, or go to sleep. Wherever it has fallen in the bowl dictates the direction and distance of their next journey. The Pioneer will watch the top for the entirety of its spin, apparently divining metaphysical insights from its movement.
This ritual is carried out in the privacy of a tent by the Pioneer wherever they go, but many other elements of today’s stop are, presumably, unique to the City. During their stay the acolytes of the Fellowship will sit outside their tents spinning their own tops, trying to achieve the length of spin that the Pioneer is capable of, but in Buentoille they will be joined by hundreds of Buentoillitant adults and children, who will gather around them in the park. They all bring their own tops, watching he hand movements of the acolytes carefully and trying to copy them. Proceedings are quiet and contemplative; the spinning is mesmeric.
Before they leave or go to sleep tonight, the acolytes will spend an hour or so chatting to the people of the City, explaining their beliefs, trading small items, and occasionally taking on a new member of their Fellowship. As they are guests in the City, they will be brought a little food and drink should they wish for it, and occasionally population flows the other way; Buentoille has always been the kind of place you never want to leave.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Half Rhymes
- The Day of New Patterns
- The Saucy Cuts Cooperative’s Display Day