September 2nd – The Festival of the Tower Fallen

It’s difficult to disentangle today from yesterday in the minds of most Buentoillitants. The celebrations continue long into the night, and little sleep is had. Despite this, there are few complaints from the weary or ill-tempered; complaining about Revolution Day festivities is like complaining about a long-foreseen eclipse, or the rising sun itself. The bonfires set across the City will be allowed to turn to ash this morning, but the excitement, the echoes of Revolutionary fervour do not die with them. There will be a short recouperation period, communal breakfasts cooked on the coals left over, or taken at one of the many breakfast establishments, which buzz and thrive like no other day; their pre-prepared scents particularly enticing.

On this day, all the way back in 1905, there was probably a similar lack of sleep, though perhaps there was not the same joviality. There was a sense of freedom, certainly, but it was tinged with uncertainty, with fear that they had somehow overstepped the mark, that they were in uncharted territory. In the cold light of morning, some went home, fewer still to work, afraid of retribution from their bosses. Yet most were steadfast, steeled by the words of organisers and agitators, fuelled by the anger that still burned deep within. Many felt powerful for the first time in their lives, and it wasn’t a feeling they were willing to let go of with any haste.

It was at about 11am when the convoy returned to the City, the half-famished resistance fighters who had fled into the countryside. They were expected, and were met with cheering crowds, with friends and family, with an escort of armed folk, the mishmashed members of Buentoille’s Defence Brigades, those who had turned on their captains and commanders, whose fragile loyalty to the King had been broken by the atrocity at Benetek. The Traitor King had never truly trusted the Brigades, hence the creation of the Police and the King’s Finest (the secret police), but neither did he expect this coup, this mass desertion. We must be thankful for the many mistakes and miscalculations he made.

They paraded the secluded socialists, the absent anarchists, those anti-monarchist activists who had been forced to flee for their lives to the forests around Buentoille after their comrades were arrested and murdered by monarchist thugs both official and unofficial. They returned to a city transformed, a place that overnight had begun to organise itself. The formless anger had become sharpened, directed by the committees that coalesced around those street bonfires, points of light connected like constellations. As they walked through the streets they picked up groups and individuals, and soon there was a great mass moving towards the Monarch’s Tower.

It had stood for many years, fortified and entrenched as those years passed, turned by successive monarchs into a place of power, of imprisonment. The Monarch’s Tower had originally served quite a different purpose; it had been a divination tower built by Queen Matilda in the fifteenth century, where gold-painted oak leaves were dropped down the centre. At the bottom the pattern in which they fell, unaffected by the wind, was interpreted by multiple seers, those favoured by the Queen. Later, when witch hunting swept across the City like bacteria in a wound, she leased the tower to the Holy Knights of Buentoille, who used it to manufacture pistol and musket shot. Later still it was fortified, ditches were dug, walls erected; it became a place of refuge against a supposed Strigaxian invasion that never came. Eventually it was taken back by the monarchy, and the rooms of refuge became cells for dissenters who could not be executed for fear of martyrdom.

Today the parade comes through the City, taking a more winding route than it might once have done, picking up revellers the whole way. It starts in the south, coming down the river banks as it once did, and feeds through the City, coming to rest at Traitor’s Square, where the Tower once stood. Around the edge of the Square, which is one of the largest in Buentoille, the revellers will gather, at about 5pm. In the centre, a dance troupe of five hundred performers will act out the events of that day; the short siege, the confrontation on the bridge, when those prison guards who were more sympathetic walked out over the bridge to join the besieging forces and were shot in the back by their erstwhile colleagues. The rush of resistance fighters across the bridge, the remaining guards thrown from the walls, the cells thrown open.

Other than to enjoy the spectacle, there is a reason that the audience keeps to the edge of the square; in the centre is a tall tower made of wood, painted to look like stone. In the fifteen years of his rule, the Traitor King had turned the Tower into a symbol of his power and ruthlessness; many a Buentoillitant had been kept there in chains, tortured and stripped of hope. Many a Buentoillitant had been broken, and it was only right that it in turn was broken. They carried the prisoners out in their hundreds, emaciated bodies held aloft in stretchers, and then they set the explosives. Tonight they use fireworks, and they aim them high so the whole City can see. The tower burns long and hot before it falls.

There are no other festivals happening today.