May 13th – The Festival of Lies

If you’ve been in Buentoille for long enough, someone has probably told you that, strangely enough, there are actually no cats in Strigaxia, or that because of a ‘weird quirk’ in the lay of the land there is a patch of ground in Helmuud’s Hill where it has never rained. Tourists are frequently sent out in search of fictional treacle mines, or of the ‘enormous foot of Saint Etienne the Monoped.’ The teller of these tall tales is unlikely to gain anything besides a good chuckle from lying in such a strange manner, but nevertheless these lies and many others like them are very common in the City, and have become something of a civic pastime. Today’s festival is held to recognise and encourage these good-natured untruths.

Whilst lies for outsiders, rather than the merely tricked or gullible, such as the ‘treacle mine’ story, have been around for as long as anyone can remember, the unsettlingly believable stories which are developed anew at today’s festival were popularised and developed by a group of dock workers and sailors in the early 19th century, when it was common bar-side entertainment to tell long-winded jokes at the expense of each other and the congregated pub-dwellers to whom they suspiciously chattered. Eventually, in 1826, the League of Extraordinary Liars was formed, a group of silver-tongued gadabouts who swaggered from pub to pub telling tall tales.

It obviously didn’t take long before essentially all the group members were known to be supremely untrustworthy throughout Buentoille, so they thought up an ingenious solution. For one day, May the 13th, they would all do nothing but tell the truth, promising upon various oaths that the side of them that was, as it can be charitably expressed, ‘creative with facts,’ would be firmly buried. Of course, this too was a lie, and it wasn’t long before the news got out.

It was too tantalising, easy to engage in, for the festival not to spread beyond the League. Today most Buentoillitants will, if not engage with, be wary of the festival. Simply put, most Buentoillitants will not believe a word they are told today, or will carefully study each claim made to them, in case a truth is presented as some pseudo-lie with which to cause further confusion. Lie detectors are a popular accoutrement for today’s festivities, yet they seldom if ever properly work. Over the years many hand signals, special phrases and code words have been used to signify that the speaker is telling the absolute truth, for the avoidance of potentially dangerous situations, but as is the way with these things, they have all been used to solidify a lie by more irreverent folks.

Today is an important, problematic day for The Veracious and Faithful Order of Absolute Truth, a small but dedicated religion which teaches that god is always around us, judging us for our misdeeds and untruths. In the Faithful Order’s dogma god is the universe itself, and therefore truth itself, and to tell a lie is to distance oneself from god, which is in some way to distance oneself from existence. Put in the words of the Order, ‘to lie is to wilfully obviate the self.’ Today the order will stage a small but pugnacious march across the City, with preaching and public ‘educational meetings’ held at each end, which hope to ‘teach the population of this sinful city that to lie is to commit suicide.’ One particularly cruel trick which is often played upon the Order is an untrue promise to join them.

The Order are deadly serious about their message, and point to a number of real-life cases to support their point. A common refrain is the tragic story of Alywin Tellerman, whose mother was suddenly close to death on May the 13, and who, when he was told, believed that he had been lied to, and therefore did not travel to see her last few hours in this world.

Eventually the League found a way of enjoying a good lie without the sport of belief and disbelief being spoiled by the knowledge that the speaker was from a club dedicated to lying. A competition will be held this afternoon in which each contestant has to tell two truths and one lie, and the audience have to work out whether or not they are telling to truth. And yet things are never that simple; a number of innocuous lies are invariably slipped into the introduction to the competition (e.g. ‘last year we had a deacon of the Chastise Church competing’), just to keep things interesting.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Terrible Lunches
  • The Veracious and Faithful Order of Absolute Truth’s Day of Soul Saving