There are tunnels and caves and passages beneath almost all of Buentoille. They are perhaps most densely concentrated beneath Ranaclois hill, but other hills have their own agglomerated mass of unseen ways worming around beneath their peaks. Beneath Guilgamot district there are arcane tunnels that pierce the cliff-side; some of their entrances are clearly visible, others are less so. One of these hidden entrances appears to have stayed that way for many years, before it was unearthed by Bytam Ogdew in 1744.
Apparently, Ogdew found the entrance when attempting to extend their cliff-side home into the rock, as so many others are. However, past the brick work of their back wall, and after hacking their way through a muddy clay deposit, they came upon a door, seemingly made from solid stone; clearly someone had had a similar idea before them. What they found behind that door has become the basis of countless conspiracy theories, the seed of many scientific studies and theories, and the beginning of today’s festival, The Festival of the Ancient Self.
Today, Ogdew’s house will be visited by many folks from different groups and of different sensibilities, ranging from esotericists to cultural historians to conspiracy theorists and archaeologists. The house now acts more as a shrine than a home, looked after by the Ancestor Foundation, a pseudo-religious group that seeks to ‘unite all those who share the marks of the Ancestors.’ They are a dogmatic group for which the presence of certain DNA markers is a prerequisite to membership, and whilst they are careful to publicly disavow any notion of racial purity or presumed racial superiority, there is certainly more than a hint of this in their internal literature and ‘religious’ practices. The shrine will be opened to the public on this, the day the door behind Ogdew’s home was first opened. The idea is that they will identify others to join their group, although in the process they gather a great many others as well; those eager to see for themselves what lay behind the door.
Why do they call today the Festival of the Ancient Self? Well, because it was on this day, when Ogdew first unsealed the stone door before them, their hair briefly agitated by the air that hissed into the room beyond as they prised it slowly open. And inside they saw something truly bizarre: themselves, dead on a slab in the centre of a small room. Or at least someone or something that looked exactly like them. They were quite rightly very shocked. They ran to get help.
It was probably about an hour or so before they could convince a doctor to come with them. Ogdew was still panicking heavily (not an unreasonable response, it must be said), and wasn’t making a lot of sense, either to themselves or to the doctor, one Marielle Sutogoa. By the time they got back to the room, the corpse’s flesh had melted somewhat, obscuring its features. Within a few weeks it was only bones, but by that point it had been extensively documented by archaeologists and pathologists. According to the latter, the body had died of asphyxiation. According to the former, the introduction of air into what was a near-vacuum before had preserved the body almost perfectly, but that now the decomposition process had started it would be impossible to stop.
Naturally, word got out of this fabulous story of the unexplained, and many theories were bandied about. Most popular was the idea that Ogdew had either made up their alleged sighting of their own features, or had been so shocked to see a dead body that they had got things mixed up in their shocked mind, after the fact. Yet there were other odd elements to this story, most prominently that the body didn’t appear to be a typical human; their arms were slightly longer, legs shorter, and their organs were allegedly placed in the body backwards to the normal configuration, although this final point was not properly recorded and its veracity has been contended since those soft tissues have rotted away. The shape of the resulting skeleton’s skull also seems odd an inhuman, as do he strange bone callouses around its joints.
It didn’t take long for someone to shout ‘alien!’ and the crowds came flocking. Was this box some celestial vessel, crashed into the cliff side. This would certainly explain the tilt it is on, although some claim that this has happened instead because of the soft clay-like soil deposit that the room is constructed within. According to the Ancestor Foundation, the body is an alternate evolution of humankind, and it is the remnants of DNA similar to that taken from the body that they look for to advance their cause. Today the body is back in its central pedestal in that drab, featureless room, placed behind a glass screen, with offerings and gifts lain all about. It is clear to the Foundation that their members have some kind of magical gift, imparted by the genetic roots they share with this shrine-entrapped body.
The miraculous preservation of the body seems proof enough of this ‘magic’ for the Foundation, who they believe deliberately placed himself in such an environment, slowly having the air pumped out, along with any microbes and their own life. Yet there are other, perhaps more scientific theories as well; the room was a tool, a tomb in which they were deliberately trapped and murdered by lack of air, as either a punishment for their sins, or as some murderous method of rendering a strangely mutated person harmless, in the days before such activities were looked down upon.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Tricolour Flag Festival
- The Festival of Droning