Idacious Finnik was remarkable in her lifetime for the primary reason that she was, that most un-Buentoilliçan of words, unsettled. Some say there is something in the air here, some goodly feeling that means few ever want to leave. For whatever reason this had little effect on Finnik, although after her travels she did always return, always with some new story or delight for the City to share in.
The (mostly absentee) owner of several factories, Finnik moved in genteel, elitist circles, and, with her good looks and unruly golden-orange hair was much loved by the society press of the time. These were pre-Revolutionary days, days when people looked up to the wealthy for direction and trends. Finnik brought various new clothing styles and ‘exotic’ fashions to Buentoille, pioneering a new trend termed ‘lavish explorer chic’ by the Buentoilliçan Cultural Digest, which involved highly patterned loose silk gowns and firmaments of golden jewellery.
Even Finnik’s working clothes, usually a subject of little interest for the society press, were obsessed upon and emulated. Her rough, hard-wearing tweed suits and white linen shirt-and-short combinations, each suited to various foreign climes, were all the rage in their respective seasons. There are many photographs which show her climbing up sand dunes or rocky escarpments, the wind catching her hair, a thin scarf trailing behind her, along with a train of servants carrying the vast amounts of luggage she took with her everywhere. ‘One must have the luxuries of home wherever one is,’ Finnik said often, ‘that is the trick to not getting homesick.’
Whilst many of the new delights that Finnik returned with were clothes, plants, and in particular flowers, were her greatest love, and were it not for them Finnik would likely have left little lasting impression upon the City. There are over a hundred species of flowers, including rare orchids, roses, lilies and tulips, which were introduced to the hothouses and gardens of Buentoille by Finnik, and she was reportedly happiest when surrounded by fragrant blossoms. How excited she must have been when she saw her first siren flower.
Finnik kept few accurate maps or notes from her travels, and fewer photographs, so there is no consensus as to where siren flowers originate from, except that there is an island entirely filled by the worrisome growths. Whilst travelling through a ‘southerly zone of the Outer Ocean,’ Finnik’s boatswain spied an archipelago inhabited by a number of tribespeople who avoided the ‘siren island’ as if it were the plague, and who smeared animal dung on their noses when sailing past. A translator hired by the Finnik crew explained that this was down to the extremely alluring scent produced by the flowers, which had often led to a deadly stupor up close, the afflicted person wishing to do nothing but fill their lungs with the musk.
Through bribery and charm, Finnik managed to persuade the islanders to let her crew onto the island to collect a seed to take back to Buentoille. Two sailors died in the attempt, one not having applied enough sealing wax to his nose, the other being killed by the afflicted sailor when she tried to physically remove him from the island. The third and final sailor returned with the seed which was locked in an airtight box. Upon their return the seed was planted in a glasshouse within Finnik’s walled garden, into which a specialist air filtration system and air lock was fitted. Airtight hazard suits were used to tend to the plant, and to perform various experiments upon it, including the extraction of the scent into a usable fragrance.
When she next returned to Buentoille, the plant now grown, Finnik became obsessed with the flower. She had caught the slightest, most tantalising glimpse of the smell from the boat whilst her sailors died on the island, and it had been tormenting her ever since. When she realised that the stupor-like state was caused not by the smell itself but instead a pollen-like secretion which coats the delicate blue petals, she would spend hours tied to a pole by her servants at the other end of the glass house, where she could luxuriate in the scent but not be affected by the secretion. If she had not been tied down she would undoubtedly have thrust her nose straight into those petals, and would then likely have died as a result. This is essentially how Finnik spent the last twelve years of her life.
Today there are many flowers in the hothouse; they almost fill the entire space, and today the greenhouse will also be opened to the public. Yet there is little fear of death or stupor; today is the one day of the year when the stupor-creating-powder ceases to be produced, undergoing a chemical change which essentially renders it harmless, instead becoming an actual pollen. The theory, put forward by Patsy Jerche (Finnik’s chief botanist, the person who was apparently responsible for the greater portion of Finnik’s success), states that today the plants want to breed, using insects (similarly affected by the smell) to transfer their pollen from plant to plant, rather than to kill every living creature that comes near so that they fertilise the surrounding soil.
Whilst the smell is luxurious, lustful and addictive (as well as actually banned as a personal fragrance for reasons of sexual consent), it is possible to reason without the stupefying effects of the accompanying ‘pollen,’ and the visitors are able to be escorted out by the hazard-suited gardeners, when the sun begins to set. The lustful nature of the scent makes the hothouse popular with lovers, who find plenty of places to hide amongst the thick, fleshy foliage of the plants. A thorough search is conducted by the gardeners before closing time, to avoid any unnecessary deaths.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Moths and Flames
- The Festival of Bigotry
- Yarn Day