September 1st – Revolution Day

All through the day the Revolutionary Flag of Buentoille; a spade, a wrench and a pen crossed over in black on a red background; will fly from all the public buildings of Buentoille, where other flags (including the monstrosity that serves as the current Municipal Buentoilliçan Flag; shared power and diversity is wonderful in most ways, but flag design is not its strong point) would normally fly. And throughout the streets it flutters in the breeze, alongside the stark red and black flags of anarchists and socialists, held aloft by the thronging crowds with their chants and songs. There are marches and parades, speeches in the parks and the squares, feasts in the halls. Today is Revolution Day, the greatest festival in Buentoille!

Today is one of the few days that nobody in the City works, except for the essential tasks of food preparation and the emergency services. In fact, for the next few days not much will get done; Buentoille is used to dealing with stoppages, with absent workforces; this is the City of a Thousand Festivals after all and all are entitled to their time off, but Revolution time is a time of universal celebration, of thanks giving to all those who struggled so valiantly so that today all Buentoillitants can live at peace, without fear of violence, either physical or economic. It’s on days like these that you notice how full the City is, when you see the heaving crowds that move with singular purpose.

By the time today cam around, the resistance to the Traitor King had been going on for years, but had been brutally repressed and failed to gain traction with the populace as a whole. Many of the initial strikers and agitators, the anarchists and socialists trying to organise in the aftermath of the shocking 1890 coup when the King reinstated an absolute monarchy, were either imprisoned, driven off into the countryside or killed by monarchist thugs and the more official Royal Buentoilliçan Police Force (RBPF). Any who dared to question the monarchy were visited by dreadful paramilitaries given power by royal decree or unspoken consent, and the populace continued to suffer great deprivations at the hands of the Great Grain Crisis, with many of the poor dying from starvation and malnutrition.

People tend to be very good at putting up with poor situations, if you convince them that there are no alternatives, that this is the best it gets. Yet you can put up and put up and eventually at some point something breaks and it all comes spilling out. For Buentoille, the moment the City decided it had had enough was the terrible events at Benetek station. It was such a shocking atrocity that the fear and false logic which had held people back before dissipated like mist, and there they were, running through the streets yelling ‘STRIKE!’ It only took until lunch time the next day and pretty much the whole City knew. There were some attempts at misinformation, but the bodies were there to see and suddenly the anger bubbled over. Businesses belonging to the King or his family were targeted first; bricks through windows, small fires here and there. Great roving gangs of workers with improvised weaponry milled around, incandescent with anger yet at that moment without clear direction.

Years back the King had bought the loyalty of the City’s Defence Brigades with extra bread and oaths of allegiance, but now they began to step out of line. Commanders were disobeyed, imprisoned, sometimes even shot if they had been unpopular enough. When ordered to march on the protestors they stood meekly, unhearing, or turned on their erstwhile masters. The RBPF stayed loyal; after all, they were and had always been little more than monarchist thugs and mercenaries without morals; here and there they fought with protesters and the well-armed Defence Brigades. A few died on that day but not as many as would, later; mostly the monarchist forces were too scared to confront the masses head-on.

By the evening fires were lit in every square, the expression of discontent carrying on well into the night. The streets were of the Revolution, but few realised the power they now wielded in their numbers. Around these fires the people were organised, filled with purpose. The gassing of those students and the elderly the previous day showed that nobody was safe under the regime. Word was sent out to the forests, to gather back those who had left, had been hounded out. This year as every year those same fires are lit, placed at the exact same points as they were in 1905 – you can see from the blackened pavement and grass and cobbles. There was looting of food and drink by the famished then, certainly, and whilst the victuals consumed today are less desperate, more legally procured, the consumers try to let loose with the same abandon their ancestors once did.

Most of the people gathered around the firelight back then were working class, but there were middle class folk there too, those who had realised that not even they were safe, or who were of more progressive sentiment. Only the foolish and the upper classes hid in their homes, or fled the City altogether. There is a painting by Bernae Revish, who was present at many of the Revolution’s great moments, which captures that day perfectly: on the right of the painting, coming out of the City clutching jewels and crouching in fear are an upper class family. On their left, framed by the rising sun of the following day, are the driven-out resistance fighters, returning proudly home.

They call today Revolution Day because it was the day that the power balance shifted, the day that Buentoille awoke from her slumber and realised that those who had her in shackles were weak and illegitimate. The Revolution was not done with in one day; it would be two more at least until the monarchy was properly deposed and for now the masses stayed in the streets, fighting here and there with monarchist forces, but not taking the municipal buildings, the Parliament building and the palace. The worst of the violence was still to come. Some say that the Revolution was not done until the end of the Communal Reconstruction, long after the last shot was fired. But no matter when it finished, on this day in 1905 the City realised there was no going back.

There are no other festivals happening today