December 28th – The Festival of Waving to the Eternal Scroller

Apparently it’s going to snow again today, which could be excellent news for one particular group, besides of course the Children’s Union. It all depends on what time it snows at; if it snows in the morning and then is cold and clear all day, conditions will be perfect for The Cult of the Eternal Scroller. If it snows heavily at and in the run-up to 3:42pm then it couldn’t get much worse. Early indications are for the former option, and the Magnificent Skywatcher has publicly announced that the Cult is ‘confident’ that today will be the day they see the Eternal Scroller once again, and more importantly that it will see them.

Whilst the Cult’s faithful might be confident, other Buentoillitants show less enthusiasm for the word of the Magnificent Skywatcher (currently Sami Sarageesi), given past failures. Troccham Bradley is one such vocal critic of the Cult, and in particular of the leadership’s claims that they can predict the arrival of the Scroller: ‘whether or not they realise it themselves, the Skywatchers are stringing along the Cult for fools; this “method” that they laud is nothing more than empty mathematics. It doesn’t matter how complex or beautiful your equation is, if you are basing the arrival of a holy flying being that was probably only sighted once on the movement of unrelated things like birds and the winds, you are never going to get an accurate prediction.’

Bradley is, for obvious reasons, a controversial figure within the Cult, but also the more scientifically-minded elements of the community that sprung up around that first sighting in 1951. Folk like Bradley are often dismissed by the older members of this community because they are the second generation, people who never saw the Scroller for themselves. Whilst he has since tried to distance himself from it, there is no denying that Bradley grew up in a family of Cult members, and many think that this has biased him one way or the other. Bradley has never denied that something was seen by various Buentoillitants, but when successive Skywatchers failed to predict the re-emergence of the phenomenon, he grew suspicious of their continued belief in their interpretation of the sighting. Bradley’s insistence on describing the being as ‘flying’ rather than ‘scrolling’ being is one example of his departure from Cult orthodoxy.

As it came so early in the morning, not many Buentoillitants saw the dark shape that passed over the City on a clear south-east-to-north-west axis. Most people were still in bed, and even some who weren’t simply didn’t look up, or only saw it for the briefest of moments before it was occluded by the skyline and mistook it for a strange bird. Of those who did see it, a few thousand perhaps, only about five hundred joined the Cult when it was begun by Belwrath Heali later that month. They were drawn in by the woman’s charisma, certainly, but also because she offered some explanation for what they’d seen: according to Heali, the flying being was not flying at all. It was staying perfectly still, and the world was scrolling before its gaze eternally. Technically we are all sideways, the world a great earthen scroll being ‘read’ by this being. Of those five hundred, only thirty eight currently remain; the others have died or left for similar reasons to Bradley.

This reduction in membership certainly makes today’s festival tricker, and more scaled-back in ambition. In the fields outside the City to the south, were the land is flat and high, they will scrape back the snow in intricate patterns to form images that will be ‘read’ by the Eternal Scroller. If there is no snow, rocks will be laid out, crops kicked down, or the topsoil will be cut back, depending on the time of year. Snow is certainly the easiest to work with, assuming the conditions are in the Cult’s favour, and therefore more elaborate designs are possible, even with the limited membership.

The pattern changes each year, with different intersecting circles and lines attempting to catch the attention of the Scroller by depicting the surrounding lands, or star charts, or simply an image of unnatural abstract beauty. The centre of the design, however, always remains the same: it shows the Scroller itself, a half-human, half-cross form, with no discernable head and enormous, thick arms, spread out to the sides, ending not in hands but an abrupt rounded end. The feet point out to the sides, like a child’s painting, and are almost like tiny copies of the arms at the being’s base. The (perhaps vain) hope of the Cultists today is that the Scroller will once again pass over, like a reader turning back to find a quote they remembered, and they will see that something has changed, and not like normal because here, staring back, is an image of itself, and around it, little people waving.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Dulcet Tones
  • The Dragging of the Emperor Festival