June 9th – The Festival of The Eldritch Sword

They say it’s made from the sharpened bones of a waurst, or the iron from a meteor which caused an extinction event, or even that it is sharpness itself, realised in material form. They say it was wielded by Targoth Shull, the famous mercenary captain who held Buentoille to ransom for three days in 1294. They say that if you open the wrappings in which it is held, you will become a ghost, invisible to all those around you for the rest of time. Nobody can verify any of these claims, because nobody has ever seen the Eldritch Sword.

That is to say, nobody has ever seen inside the five boxes and bundles of protective wrappings which cover what is allegedly a sword; undoubtedly plenty of people saw the sword of Targoth Shull, which later entered Buentoilliçan mythology as the ‘Eldritch Sword,’ though it appears never to have been named publicly during Shull’s lifetime. The Order of True Kings (TOTK) who currently owns the boxes and their contents refuses to open them to anyone, citing ‘safety concerns,’ whereas critics claim that this is because there’s nothing but dust beneath the wrappings.

The Sword surfaced in 1636, long after Shull’s failed attempt to become the king of Buentoille through military prowess and extortion. Many historians have disputed the authenticity of the Sword, since the story surrounding its surfacing seems to adhere more closely to fanciful folk tales than to actual historical fact. According to TOTK, the Sword was found within its wrappings, nestled into a crevice atop Overlook Tor, the closest of the tors which litter the hilltops of Ceaen Moor, north of Buentoille and south of the Ancestor Mountains. This perfectly aligns with the events within The Life of Targoth Shull, a pseudo-historical book written in 1510 by Glarn Morgan.

In The Life, Shull is depicted as an invincible warrior from a distant, ice-covered land, who has been sent out by his king to conquer the lands to the south. He gains his strength from his blade, the Eldritch Sword, conferred to him by a dark, mysterious being called The Undertaker of Gods. When he enters the City, he and his band of 100 warriors are greeted with little resistance, the City-goers believing them to be emissaries. They are brought to the king to talk, at which point they seize control of the palace, holding the king and his court hostage.

Whilst most of the prelude to the hostage-taking of the king is ahistorical (Shull was a disaffected mercenary from Helmuud’s Hill, not a mythical northern realm, and The Undertaker of Gods is merely a fanciful flourish on the part of the author), the City’s solution to this violent problem was essentially the same in both reality and the story: they simply ignored it. It turns out that kings are pretty easy to replace if you need to, and they don’t tend to do a lot anyway. Most of the aristocrats who had a vested interest in protecting the king had been captured with him, and after a meeting of the municipal authorities it was decided that it would be best to act as if the aggressors didn’t exist, unless they began to pillage or loot the City in any way.

On the third day, realising that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with his requests for power and money, Shull left the City with fewer warriors than he had come with, about thirty of them choosing to stay. According to The Life, in that time he had managed to extract the crown from the king, making him technically the ruler of Buentoille, but it meant nothing. He left dejected, vowing to give up the life of violence he had led, leaving his sword on the moor, knowing it would never bring him happiness. Some historians claim that this may have some basis in fact, as the census of the following year shows one ‘Targin Sholl’; perhaps the warrior laid down his arms on the moor and returned for a peaceful life in the City?

Today, the anniversary of the day the king allegedly gave up the crown to Shull, The Order of True Kings will parade the encased Eldritch Sword around the City, a mirror of the coronation proceedings of old Buentoille. Since the Revolution, membership of the Order has dwindled to about six or seven people, but before they gathered groups of hundreds, for the primary reason that they were crowning an alternate monarch, the ‘true’ king (there have never been any female ‘monarchs’ proclaimed by the Order) as the crown was legally passed to Shull all those years before. This practice was generally tolerated by the proper monarchy, until the reign of the Traitor King, when they were publicly hanged as ‘treasoners.’

Whilst the ‘crowning’ ceremony, where the new ‘monarch’ is handed the Eldritch Sword within its wrappings, is held out in the public eye, the Sword is usually kept in a secret location to avoid tampering. In 1829 a thief apparently got to the last layer before she was accosted by the Order. ‘There were all these bloody locked boxes, and layers of clay and leaves and linen within them; I would have got though if it wasn’t for some clay that got stuck in the last lock,’ she later told Buentoillitant Spirit Guide Magazine. In 1987 the cases were surreptitiously scanned by a fake sword-bearer in the employ of a newspaper during the ceremony, but due to the lead casing of the third box, they were unable to see any sword in the centre.

Yet if what TOTK believes is true, many people may have seen the sword before, yet we know nothing of it. They could be walking amongst us, turned invisible by the curse of the Sword, just as Shull was unseen by the people of Buentoille.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Undisturbed Sleep
  • The Festival of Polling
  • The Festival of Good News