July 2nd – The Espalan Manor Ball

When the Revolution came in 1905, there was no burning of the lawhouses, no erasure of the past. Buentoilliçan sensibilities would never have allowed for such wanton destruction of history, and besides, there had to be evidence of how things had gone wrong before, so that Buentoillitants could fully understand how to move forwards. Buentoille is a place of aggregated history, and not even the greatest single event in that history could change that.

Technically, some of the old, monarchist laws are still in effect; they were never struck off the rulebooks. The ‘Reconsideration Clause’ states that any laws which work counter to the aims of the revolution (as set out in The Communal Voice, the founding document of modern Buentoille) are considered null and void, but that any laws or legal agreements which are of ‘mutual benefit to all parties, including but not limited to the Common Cause’ would remain. Admittedly, there are not many of these laws; most laws are written with one party in mind, or to stop certain individuals or groups doing something considered detrimental to others. Today’s festival, however, is intricately linked to one such rule.

In 1465 Buentoille had two queens, and they were identical twins. Technically only one of the pair (Crocus) was queen, being born half an hour earlier, but the other, marginally younger twin (Snowdrop) often stood in for or mischievously switched places with her, and was never far from her side. Today, the 2nd of July, was their birthday, and they were often noted (and scandalised) for their lavish and licentious celebrations. The palaces and royal residences would be filled with gallons of drink, spectacular magic shows (the twins had a penchant for trickery) and musical performances, and whichever young, beautiful courtiers or prostitutes each twin had their eyes on. These liaisons typically didn’t last long, and there is evidence to suggest that a few of the more unlucky objects of desire may have been murdered.

One lover who escaped the assassins and the headsman’s axe was Georgio Espalan, a wealthy aristocrat who had spent some time engaged to Snowdrop before they mutually decided to call it off. In the time in which they were engaged, Snowdrop either asked her sister or acted as her sister to bequeath their lover a large, unused mansion house from the royal estate, on one important proviso: the estate should be given over to the queen on her birthday, and that Espalan or the latter owners of the building must organise, as the official documentation rather giddily states, a ‘grayte and gayye balle of rawcuss scayle,’ in the honour of the queen or ‘a sertayn perrsonne who retaynnes her lykeniss.’

These parties continued for many years, until Espalan died, leaving no heir, and the building was deemed no longer desirable by the aristocracy (there was a fashion for buildings built in the High Buentoilliçan style and the manor was far too plain), later falling into disrepair from disuse. The parties were indeed of lavish and ‘raucous scale,’ and featured elaborate displays of dried snowdrops and crocuses, alongside the usual magic shows, bands, and reams of alcohol. Long after, when the roof had caved in, it once again became common property after the Revolution. It wasn’t until 1929, when the head researcher from History Today Monthly, Jiril Wender found the agreement in the law section of the Unfathomed Archive (all legalities pertaining to the monarch were treated as common law, rather than as legal agreements or contracts), that it began to be used once again.

Today there will be a great glittering ball held in the ruin of Espalan Manor. The gardens are long gone, tenement blocks and a power substation built over them (although the ‘magical door,’ an artefact from Espalan’s brief occult phase, in the old garden wall is still visible, that part retained as part of the wall fencing off the substation). Most of the manor has been torn down, or repurposed as a pub, as was the case with the west wing. Only the old eastern tower and kitchens are left, their floors and roof long gone, just the stonework remains. They are jammed between three separate constructions, and can only be accessed through residential buildings, an old raised fire exit, and an underground tunnel that connects to the kitchen cellar; it was once a servant’s entrance. Poor civic planning meant they became sealed off and there is no way to safely demolish or remove them without damaging the surrounding and in some cases adjoining buildings.

There will be a canvas stretched over the top of the tower, inside the old stone will be adorned with long mirrors, and internal scaffolding will be set up to create several floors. On each floor will be a band, another band, a magical display, and in the kitchen will be the bar. This at least has been the layout for the past fifty-or-so years. Entry is only allowed with a valid ticket, to control numbers (the tight space could easily become very dangerous), available as of two weeks ago from the Office of Events and Spaces for free, on a first come, first served basis. They are usually all taken within two hours. The ball has a reputation for showing excellent up-and-coming bands, and the space is pleasantly intimate. The bar will be kept stocked with oodles of free booze, and there will be several snacks available at request, all funded by the taxpayer.

Why by the taxpayer? Well, that is where the law comes in. When Wender found the legal agreement between Espalan and the queen, they went to the Council of Logistics dressed as Crocus, and demanded her birthday party. When the councillors got over their shock at the seemingly royalist garb (something of a faux pas, especially so soon after the Revolution), they listened to what Wender had to say and realised that the common purse, as the owner of the manor, was obliged to hold a birthday party as she fulfilled the prerequisite of ‘a certain person who retains her likeness.’ A public vote was held to verify the legislation (very few people vote against parties), and the ball was reborn.

Technically the common purse owes anyone who dresses up as Queen Crocus a lavish birthday party, but this is generally ignored. The honour is usually handed to one of the many citizens of Buentoille whose actual birthday is today. This person will dress up in the royal garb (though they are welcome to discard this as the party progresses) and be the first to enter the party, which officially starts when they have their first sip of champagne.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Common Decency
  • The Stirrup and Drum Exhibition Day (no piss artists)
  • Open All the Locks – a Festival of Mystic Thought