August 28th – The Festival of the Scribe’s Lament

There are plenty of artefacts, preparations, and other items of magical significance that are prized by occultists. The Finger of the Damned is one of the most macabre (and therefore one of the most famous) of these items, it being the severed and mummified finger of a person who was unfairly convicted of a crime and hanged. The Finger has many alleged powers, including the ability to poison the drinks of guilty persons when briefly dipped in, and to point towards a liar. There are, however, less bloody occult items that are highly sought after, and the creation of one such item is the focus of today’s festival.

There is only one Drattika’s Scripture in existence, and it is held by Garrik’s Museum of Infernal and Occult Curiosities. This is perhaps a slightly misleading statement to make, but nevertheless true: there are plenty of copies of the Scripture in existence, but whilst these books are identical in their text, and even appearance (there are several facsimiles which copy the overall appearance of the document, including its oak bark binding), they are not true Scriptures, and cannot be, because of the methods by which they were created.

Drattika, the scribe and mythological figure of occult Buentoille, was said to have created his Scripture in a single day, today in 1243, hand-writing all 150 pages in a single sitting. Apparently this was made possible by a visiting ‘ayngelle’ which manifested itself as a ‘darke dystorshon’ in the complex setup of mirrors that surrounded Drattika’s writing desk. The event is recorded in the book Intervewe wyth a Wyssard by Ordinare Glasshand, wherein Drattika relates that as soon as this presence made itself known the ‘candell snuffd owt’ and he heard the words of the Scripture as if they were being whispered by lips at his ear.

According to Glasshand, this book was a powerful artefact, which, when opened to the right page by Drattika, could open any lock, make him or any other person or object invisible, make distant things appear close, and even allow Drattika to kill chickens and small dogs simply by staring at them. Glasshand’s book details various other spells the ‘wizard’ could cast in the latter half of the book in a manner somewhat akin to a picaresque novel. The hero, Drattika, gets into various scrapes and confrontations with authority figures, including the monk who ran the seminary at which Drattika was a scribe, and uses the book to get out of them. In many of these stories, the antagonists attempt to cast these spells themselves by opening or reading from the Scripture, but the magical effects are only apparent when Drattika himself simply opens a page.

At the end of the Intervewe, Glasshand relates how he had come into possession of the book; having interviewed the old scribe on his deathbed it was bequeathed to him. Glasshand was actually a publisher who sold thousands of copies of his book, and then later offered up the Scripture for sale at an auction, from which he cannily made a small fortune. Unsurprisingly, there is absolutely no evidence of the alleged wizard’s existence outside of the fictional tale, but now the figure has passed into legend, and the Scripture has only increased in value ever since.

Today there will be several writing desks set up in Garrik’s museum, each with a copy of the Scripture on them, photocopies ready to be copied from in turn. Each desk has a number of mirrors set up in the manner described in the Intervewe, and all the desks are arranged around a small glass cabinet in which the original book is housed. The festival could technically just as well be performed elsewhere, but there is something satisfyingly symbolic about this set up. In that cramped, crowded space, surrounded by witches in bottles, straw people, spider silk death masks, and other occult artefacts gathered from Buentoille’s long history, several hopeful scribes will try their hand at creating their own Scripture.

The mirrors are mostly there for show, more than anything else. To date nobody has reported an experience similar to that in the Intervewe, and instead of creating new words the scribes will attempt to copy out the entirety of the Scripture, beginning and ending at midnight. The book is relatively small, about the size of a modern paperback, and it’s thinness is perhaps what keeps a steady flow of hopefuls to participate in the festival; it appears eminently doable, to copy out this tiny book. Nobody has ever managed it, and the furthest anyone has ever got has been a third of the way through. That person was later hospitalised with severe repetitive strain injury.

It’s a gruelling task, and one made no easier by the fact that the text itself is almost entirely gibberish phrases or lists of words. Many cryptographers have tried to discern some kind of pattern or code from within the unpunctuated torrent of words (‘oregannik gore severrd ayteen dogge’), but the general consensus is that it is exactly what it looks like: pure nonsense. Some have tried to make the task easier for themselves by typing it out on computers or typewriters, but even then they haven’t managed it and occult authorities claim that these methods (along with using a photocopier, scanner, camera or having several people co-writing the text by hand) will not work to create a true, magically powered, Scripture.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Dog’s Breath
  • Atrophy Day
  • The Festival of Truly Terrible Singers