November 6th – The Festival of Submerged Sanctification

There are catacombs within the Unfathomed Archive, somewhere within its myriad ways. They are down there, next to the inverted copy of Saint Justin’s Church carved out of the rock, and are packed full of bones. Whilst the traditional resting place for bones is a graveyard, when graveyards are dug up, replaced with buildings for the living in an ever-expanding City (nobody wants a house built atop the dead), they have to be put somewhere, and sometimes the answer isn’t another graveyard, especially when the bodies are buried deep, their names lost to the ages; what would you put on the headstones? Bulch Road Graveyard was one such place that ended up being replaced (first with a public bathhouse, but this was later knocked down and replaced again with housing), and it was for the ancestors who rested there that the catacombs were first carved out of the deep rock beneath Ranaclois.

Nowadays, however, these catacombs are a little less full than they once were. Once the shelves were full to bursting with neatly categorised skulls, femurs laid like bricks, ribs stacked high, but now they are half empty. What happened? Thankfully there isn’t some demon dog eating them all (well, there is according to some people, but it is different bones, and that’s a subject for another day), but the truth isn’t much better: they lie at the bottom of the Buentoille Bay, skulls making homes for crustaceans, kneecaps blending in with the stones and algae in the murk.

On this day in 1499 there was an enormous storm over Buentoille. It came from nowhere; one moment conditions were clear, the next black clouds coalesced over the bay, lightning striking down into the water, a prodigious wind. According to the Chastise Church, this was caused by the spirits of the dead, whose bones were at that moment being sped out of Buentoille via a large sailing vessel. The weather came on so quickly, just after the vessel left the docks, that it was sunk only a few miles down the coast. The crew went down with the ship and likely drowned in the waters; their bodies were never recovered and as a result, nobody is exactly sure what they were doing, why they were making off with several tonnes of human remains.

The heist was discovered when a Church official went down to the catacombs for a weekly service, and found them almost empty. Most of the bones in there today are those that were recovered from the water, either washed up still in the crates they were packed inside, separately with the tide, or pulled from the waters by net and rod, sometimes long after the event. Very occasionally in the modern day another bone is recovered by fishers, and small toe bones or bone fragments, worn smooth like sea glass, are often gathered on the beaches by local children and sold back to the Church for pocket money.

Plenty had their theories when the bones started turning up in a steady trickle over the years. To most it seemed obvious that the bones were going to be sold to the Strigaxians for use in their magic, or that they were going to be ground down for fertiliser to use on the barren soils of Helmuud’s Hill. Others proposed that it the boat was unmanned, or they would have found the bodies; it was a ghost ship. Perhaps most disturbing is the theory that the bones that wash up today are not the same ones that were stolen, but some strange witch-made copies that Buentoillitants were tricked into bringing to the heart of our City, the components of some dark and complex spell. To proponents of this theory, the ‘sinking’ was all a deliberate ploy and the real bones were made off with beforehand.

Today, on the anniversary of this event, a small contingent of priests will row out into the bay, to the site where the boat originally sank. It is from there that they will re-sanctify, in accordance with the Chastise Church’s dogma, the bones that still remain submerged for another year. Any kind of disturbance of bones in Buentoille requires that this ritual is performed, lest the spirits of the dead do not rest easy on the Other Shore. Of course, the movements of the ocean and the creatures that live in it inevitably mean that the bones must be disturbed every year, so every year the ritual must be performed. An interesting side-effect of this is that all the waters of the Buentoille Bay are, technically, holy water; there are plenty of sinners who will enjoy a dip today, before the tides mix in too much normal water, and the holiness is diluted.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Cream Spoiler
  • The Wasted Repast Festival
  • The Sun, the Sun, Day