September 24th – The Festival of the Cursed Mark

When the tomb of what was thought to be the religious leader Hawa Kantagir was breached in 1777, it was to great uproar from the Kris Grian Templemen who viewed Kantagir as something like a founding saint, a person that they called a ‘Fallen Star’. The Kris Grian Templemen were an exclusively male sect of ex-slaves from Strigaxia, who were granted their freedom in the latter part of the fourth century, travelling to Buentoille in search of safety. During their enslaved lives, these men had been forced to walk constantly in enormous mice wheels, turning some infernal piece of apparatus which, they were told, ensured that they stayed alive. They rarely, if ever, stopped moving, and found the transition to normal life very hard. It was in the nature of these men to keep moving constantly, and it took a great force of will to remain still.

Thus it was that, for the Kris Grians (which means ‘still wheel walkers’ in Low Strigaxian), being capable of remaining still for any large amount of time was a religious, revelatory act, one which garnered accolades from their fellow still walkers, as well as a personal sense of religious enlightenment. The greatest pioneer of this form of consciousness-altering meditation was Kantagir, who was so good at remaining entirely still that he could go for days without food or water. He was so good, in fact, that it was three days before anyone realised that he had actually died during one of these meditative sessions. Instead of removing his body, the other Kris Grians left it in place and built a wall around it, essentially entombing him in an airtight space. It was only when, in 1777, this tomb was broken into by an errant workman working next door who misunderstood his instruction, that the body began to properly rot away; it had been mummified during the many years without fresh air.

At this point all the original freed slaves had obviously died, but their descendants and followers of their religion, formed in the stillness of those early days in Buentoille, remained still, becoming the Kris Grian Templemen. They often rested themselves against the tar-painted bricks of Kantagir’s tomb, and when they saw the destruction they flew into a rage, severely beating the man who broke into the tomb and smashing up the tools on the building site he was supposed to be working on. Other Templemen sensed opportunity here, though; this was the first time the tomb had ever been opened, and it was seen as an excellent opportunity to clear up some of the finer details of the burial, over which several disputes raged frequently (what position was Kantagir seated in, what was he wearing, what grave goods were left near him?). There was certainly no consensus on what the inside of the tomb looked like precisely, but the Templemen surely hadn’t expected to find what they did find within. The body, sat naked and cross legged in the centre of the space, didn’t look right.

They were too in awe, had too much respect for the dead and their religion to pull out the body and lay it in the light for all to see; besides, it would probably have simply crumbled before them, even more swiftly than it did later that day when the moisture of the air melted the finely preserved figure. Yet despite the poor light conditions and potentially biased accounts, there was something deeply wrong with the corpse; for starters it looked more like a monkey than a human. Its flesh was ghostly white, and had various long dark hairs growing out of it at random intervals. The toes were elongated, the head oversized for the small body. In comparison, Kantagir was said to have dark skin and normal human proportions. On the arm of the corpse was a small tattoo of three diamonds arranged in a triangular pattern.

It was this pattern that which appeared on the front doors of the construction company’s shareholders and workers the next day. Three Templemen were later arrested for wilful intimidation, but all of them denied the crime. Regardless of their pleas, these men were convicted and imprisoned for murder when, three weeks later, the worker who owned the first home to be tagged with the mark was found dead from blunt force, and all three were linked to the scene by a witness. After that first year the markings started appearing more and more frequently, being painted onto doors and walls of buildings. Whilst the Templemen were arrested before any other murders took place, the chapter does not end there; the next year, on the anniversary of the tomb’s breaching and therefore the destruction of the corpse hitherto sealed inside, the markings appeared once more, this time on seemingly random houses scattered throughout the City.

There have been no further deaths linked with the markings (save one where an old man, coming out of his house one morning, suffered a heart attack on seeing his house daubed with the three diamond shapes), and it seems that the ‘triangle of death’ as the marking is now known, are placed around the city by pranksters alone, and not anyone wishing or seeking to bring about any real harm to the inhabitants of each building. The difference in ‘handwriting’ of each graffitied marking shows that much, but yet there are still those, notably from within the Guild of Conspiracy Theorists, who believe there is something dark and dangerous about the mark, that it is the symptom of some sort of psychic malaise leached out from the opened tomb; there is indeed evidence that the mark is some kind of Strigaxian slave’s identification mark, though jumping to the conclusion that the sight of the mark alone can influence human behaviour is perhaps a little too much.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Blooded Wine
  • Repeat the Little Code Festival