September 20th – The Festival of Saint Bann

Saint Bann was, reportedly, a very poor soldier within Buentoille’s Defence Brigades. He was constantly forgetting his equipment, not keeping his shoes shined properly, dangerously pointing his gun at other members of his regiment, or dropping it in the mud. One time he accidentally shot a hole in the side of the cauldron the regiment were cooking their dinner in, spilling the lot over. In normal circumstances, Jonathan Ionious (the Saint’s birth name) would have been kicked out of the Brigades, but his mother was a high-ranking officer, and she ensured that he stayed, believing that one day he would learn discipline and coordination if he kept at it.

The fact of the matter was, however, that Ionious’ mother knew nothing of her son, who showed absolutely no signs of improvement, regardless of the punishments meted out to him by his captain. At fist, these punishments involved a good deal of floor scrubbing, washing dishes, and other boring activities that others avoided. However, as he routinely made a poor job of these tasks, or even messed them up catastrophically (he once broke almost all the best china, and managed to gouge a hole out of the wooden floor of the bunk room) these punishments escalated to mere banishment for long periods, or the occasional flogging, if the captain thought the saint-to-be’s mother wouldn’t find out. These were the punishments laid upon him by the captain, but there was also an element of mob justice from the other soldiers, which the captain turned a blind eye to; the blanket toss.

If Ionious had done something particularly odious that annoyed the other troop members, they would wait until dark, and then take matters into their own hands. When they were all seemingly asleep in their bunks, the soldiers would quickly and deftly scoop up Bann, wrapping him tightly within their sheets. Then they would take him outisde and, with a much larger and stronger sheet which they procured from who-knows-where, they tossed him into the air repeatedly, standing in a circle around him as he was thrown high, still wrapped up tight, and landed down on the blanket at awkward angles, knocking all the wind out of him. With no time to recover, he would be cast into the air once again. They kept this up for at least half an hour, usually. Often when they stopped he would be quite sick. Sometimes he was sick mid-flight.

And then, on this day in either 1822 or 1812 (accounts vary), a miracle occurred. Bann had been seeking solace in faith, having made no friends in the Brigades, nor having made a man of himself, as his mother constantly urged him to. He was thirty six and had been in the brigades since he was sixteen. The men and women who bullied him had changed over the years, but the blanket-toss punishment remained the same. Being in church gave him a sense of calm that he didn’t get elsewhere, and he started skipping postings with his regiment (leaving others to deal with the heavy equipment he was supposed to carry) to attend services, but he was too weak and scared of his mother’s wrath to quit the Brigades altogether. When he got back one night, his regiment was particularly irked, so they blanket tossed him for three hours, switching out when they became tired. At some point toward the end of the third hour he achieved a state of Attunement, of sudden religious clarity.

From that point onwards, Bann was a changed man. This change firstly manifested itself in an ability to stay upright during the blanket-tossing, thereby reducing the sickness he felt. He exhibited this skill for hours on end outside the Church of the Holy Host, the primary Chastise Church building in Buentoille, as proof of his Attunement, and trained others to do so, and a few of these performers were even able to become Attuned themselves. He left the Brigades, ignored his mother when she inevitably unleashed her wrath (which was not nearly as bad as he had expected) and became a chaplain at the Church, where he was said to lose all his former deficits, his clumsiness, sloth and his poor memory. Today those who still retain the art of staying upright during a blanket toss will congregate outside the Church once again, to perform in his honour. Members of the public are encouraged to take a turn, but it’s unlikely that most will maintain their balance for more than a minute. The Master’s Ambulance Service will be on hand to handle any accidents.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Disorderly Love
  • The Falcon of Repora Day