May 27th – The Festival of the Wrathful Cauldron

At one end of Dimitri’s Park of Bathing, just along from the amphitheatre, is a small, ornate bath house. It has large marble columns, elaborate cornices, it has the grandeur in style (not in size) of a mausoleum, though now ivy trails its way across the façade. The wrought iron gates are locked most days and the place is left alone save for an inquisitive rattle here and there. In a way it is a mausoleum, for it was here, on this day in 1347 that Lord Einsteele-Pottinger was boiled to death.

Details are sketchy as there are little written records of the affair save for the trails of the perpetrators which were essentially superfluous, the guilt of the accused already having been established in the eyes of the king. The trials mainly served as a way for the accused to explain their actions, to give reason for the horrific murder they had committed, and indeed not one of the five murderers denied what they had done. If anything they seemed rather proud.

It’s a testament to the unpopularity of the Lord that the murderers were given any chance to speak of their reasons; Jaques Simm, author of Seven Gruesome Buentoilliçan Deaths, states that ‘The judge himself had been wronged by Einsteele-Pottinger in his time, and whilst he could not contradict the will of the king, he did his best to let them speak for themselves, so that the other districts would understand their actions, and so that they would not go down in the history books as monsters.

It seems that Lord Einsteele-Pottinger had spent a long time making himself unwelcome and hated in the district he ruled over (Whight Hollow), and was generally considered a boorish, disgusting man, but by virtue of being the king’s cousin he mostly got away with it. It also seemed that he had a vastly inflated and fragile ego, and always insisted on making everything a competition. If ever he lost any of these competitions he would fly off the handle and persecute the winner. One of his killers, a doctor called Vennius Fynn, was stripped of his medical degree after Einsteele-Pottinger made false claims to the king that he was stealing corpses for research, all because Fynn had corrected the Lord’s assertion that ‘women have smaller brains’ at a dinner party.

Unsurprisingly, the poorer folks of Whight Hollow also had unpleasant run-ins with the Lord. He had on more than one occasion gotten incredibly drunk and ridden his carriage through the middle of a crowd, on one occasion severely maiming a young woman. The staff in his mansion, two of whom joined in the plot to kill Einsteele-Pottinger, were frequently abused, emotionally, physically and sexually. Any who left his service were tarred as thieves and could not find further employment as servants. He ran up huge debts with various alcohol merchants, then accused them of illegal practices if they came to collect. On the other hand he sent bruisers around to each house to collect on-the-hoof taxes whenever he needed some extra revenue. He demanded that any crayfish caught in the Moway by the Which Hollow fisheries were reserved for his table, whether he bought them or not, leaving fishers constantly out of pocket. In short, the Lord was not, by any metric you wish to apply, a nice man.

It was one of the fishers, Wesley Treeving, who headed up the plot to boil the Lord, thinking it a fitting end to a man who professed such a love of crayfish yet rarely bought any. He found his four co-conspirators (a former housemaid called Juniper Aslef, the Lord’s butler, Ergol McDranter, doctor Fynn, and a wine merchant called Luxe Riefend) mostly by lingering at the bar of various pubs for long enough that people would start complaining about Einsteele-Pottinger. The bathhouse had not been standing for long when the plot was first formed, and the doctor had actually worked in the construction of it, seeing as they could no longer practice medicine. Inside, the baths were actually large cauldrons, heated from below by log fires. These would be burned for long enough to get the water hot and then put out by closing the furnace door, cutting off the air supply.

The butler informed the Lord of the opening of the bathing house, ensuring that he found it enticing enough to got there at the right time. The ex-housemaid and doctor took on jobs working the bathing house fires. The wine merchant added a paralysing agent to a bottle which she supplied him for the occasion. He was unable to move as the waters got hotter and hotter, his skin reddening like a crayfish. They only got found out because someone unexpectedly walked in whilst they all sat around toasting Einsteele-Pottinger’s death (with unadulterated wine).

Every year since the murder folk have gone back to the scene and toasted the conspirators, who were all hanged later that week. The bathing house shut down shortly after the murder as people got scared off, not wanting to meet the same soupy end. Before the Revolution this was an illicit affair, a small gathering of brave Whight Hollow dwellers, but since then the festival has become much more popular. Today the metal doors of the bathhouse will be thrown wide, live music will be played, the wine will flow plentifully and in the bath, known locally as the Wrathful Cauldron, crayfish will be cooked en masse and served to the gathered revellers.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Peer Review
  • The Festival of Cups
  • A Link in the Eternal Chain of God Day