November 8th – The Festival of Activating the New Lord

The Foundry of the New Lord has a strange and imposing edifice. It towers over New Culvet Road, an otherwise unremarkable residential street in Ranaclois district, with its townhouses and housing blocks. It is built to look as if the whole thing was cast from iron, although this is of course only the front, a facade stitched on to a fairly normal brick building behind. There are two great black towers on either side, imitation radio dishes topping them off, pointing straight upwards. Between the two complex arches of metalwork, as you might find inside a railway station, holding up the roof, frame a great oval stained glass window. The window is not representational or finely wrought – it appears more industrial than religious, with great panels of amber glass being supported by more black-painted iron edifice, which instead of remaining flat, undulates like a low-poly computer image of a ripple caused by a stone thrown into the centre of a pool. The wrought iron double doors, through which many folk will enter today, slide back simultaneously at the press of a button.

As you may have guessed, this is no foundry in the traditional sense, although there are several pieces of specialised metal-working equipment inside; there are no great furnaces or crucibles manned by burly Buentoillitants. Foundries are normally noisy places, but here there is a quietness that comes with respect, and whilst this is not officially a place of worship, it’s the closest thing to it. The workers who come to this factory every day are well turned out, as if they were going to church, and they work with meticulous patience on intricate parts. The quality of the metallurgy produced at the Foundry of the New Lord is unmatched in Buentoille, it has to be. They are making a god.

Or, at least, that is the as-yet unrealised hope. There are about fifty workers in the Foundary, and a further two hundred who work for it in other locations, creating unrelated metal products which are sold to fund the operations at the Foundry and to train up new masterworkers, as the highly skilled workers there are named. Every one of these masterworkers helps to produce ‘black iron’, a very strange and unstable form of iron that appears matt black under almost all forms of light. As this iron is easily oxidised and destabilised into less complex forms by common contaminants, it must be produced and worked in low-oxygen, sealed environments which have been scoured of all contaminants. As such, it takes a long time to get to the point they are at today, when the ‘god’ is complete and ready for ‘activation’; in this instance it took three years two months and five days.

That it can happen this quickly is a testament to the skill and speed of the workers, many of whom are driven to work long hours by their religious devotion (the Foundry has been the subject of investigation by the Council of Fair Practise, who found the overtime to be the result of ‘genuine choice and enthusiasm,’ and not coercion). Here again the boundaries between workplace and place of worship seem unclear, to say the least, but according to the management council of the Foundry, they are indeed a place of ‘work and scientific study,’ and that the religion of the workers is their own business.

This distinction can be perhaps better understood by understanding how the Foundry came to be. It was a scientist, Sirileth Magoonan, who first discovered black iron in 1881, and she set up much of the Foundry to study and produce the illusive material. What she was most interested in was the strange behaviour exhibited by black iron under the influence of intense ultraviolet light: firstly it suddenly appears very shiny and iridescent, almost like crude oil, and then it starts to move, as if alive. The seemingly solid substance begins to warp and bend as if it were suddenly a very viscous liquid, but when handled it feels solid and does not ‘give’. At first these movements were only possible when under the direct influence of the light, but quickly Magoonan worked out that she could ‘activate’ the black iron with a quick combination of flashes at specific frequencies and intensities, at which point it would seem to come ‘alive’ for several minutes, after which it would stop moving, become matt again, and be entirely unresponsive to any form of UV light.

When word reached Canaring of a form of iron which can be brought to life, many travelled to Buentoille to see it. It is a foundational belief of that city that humans were first made of metal, with each class being formed from different types. Iron is the metal of the working classes, and it was therefore they who came, seeking some evidence of their creation. Many of these folk were disappointed, seeing the movement as a cheap parlour trick and not ‘life’ as they had hoped. Yet there were those, The Fellowship of the Holy Cycle, Canarings who believe in the cyclical nature of the world, and who maintain that one day, as Triglaw, their god, created them, they must one day create him. It seemed that this radical sect, outlawed in their city, had found a new home.

For a long time, these Canarings lived with Magoonan and learned all they could of the substance under her tutelage, as part of the Black Iron Foundry. Later, when she died and the Revolution came, these workers gained unprecedented amounts of control over their workplace, and they decided it was time that they started making a new Triglaw. In law their Foundry is not a religious site, but in practise it certainly seems that way.

Today there will be a certain pregnancy to the air today in the Foundary, as the intense ultraviolent lights are turned on. Yesterday each piece of the New Lord, as the assemblage of black iron is termed by the workers, was carefully slotted together so that there were no gaps between each section of its body, meticulously modelled on the human anatomy, from the lungs and skin right down to the ear bones and hair follicles. Today he is placed on slab, still matt black but entirely naked. The hope is that when the light flickers on, he will get up, walk, talk, and not phase out, but it’s most likely that he will remain lying down by contort and move in strange formations, slowly becoming less visibly human, and then stop, frozen in some half-melted form, the once handsome face stretched out or caved in or simply changed in some indefinite way. One time the hand clenched and unclenched. One time it fell off the bench and a great arch formed out of its stomach. One time it sat bolt upright, opened its mouth and inverted itself, its organs spilling out. Who knows what will happen today.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Spurious Allegations
  • The Festival of Sweet Succour
  • Drink Ye Spirits Day