According to the traditions of the Chastise Church, the family of the recently deceased must watch over their grave for three nights and three days. Technically it can be anyone who does the watching, but traditionally this activity is performed by the family, as they are the most willing, and can make use of the ‘dead time’ (this is where that phrase originates) to emotionally reflect on the passing of their loved ones.
Three days is the chosen amount of time, because that is how long it takes for the soul of the deceased to cross the Dragelow, the enormous river that flows through the afterlife. Other Buentoilliçan communities have similar traditions, but ones which prioritise the time before the funeral, rather than after, with family members ‘keeping the dead company’ until their burial. For the Chastise Church, however, the soul only begins its journey when it is set on the path by the words of a priest at the funeral, who call upon their ancestors to come and guide the recently deceased to the next world.
During the journey, this long transitional period between our world and the next, there is opportunity for nefarious purpose to have its way; the Waylayer, in particular, may try to drive them from their path, or take them into their own dimension as a slave. By remaining by the graveside, the family members act as a protective influence, ensuring that the correct way remains clear. If they were not there then the soul of the deceased could not tell where they were coming from, and therefore couldn’t tell which direction they should travel; the River Between Worlds is a strange and confusing place, even with a guide who knows the way.
Followers of the Church believe that it is usually when this process is disrupted in some way that ghosts and malevolent spirits haunt the world of the living. In most cases, if a spirit becomes lost crossing the Dragelow, then it is swept somewhere else, down river to some great unknown. In certain cases, however, the spirit may resurface in our world, either by accident, when they are unlikely to cause harm, or on purpose, in the case of those who have darker intent. Once a year, on this day, something else comes that complicates matters significantly; The Barge drifts by.
Nobody seems to know much about The Barge, save a few small details. In Conversing wyth thee Othur Syde, the mystical religious text written by Saint Berlegraph, The Barge is described as a ‘vessle of madenyng liyte and eksessif jollyte’ which draws souls towards it with ‘musik grayte raptureus.’ On the deck beautiful people dance naked, but once the soul has gotten aboard they are trapped, thrust down into the hull where thousands like them labour endlessly, rowing the vessel inexorably onwards. The Dragelow seems to be in some way cyclical, for The Barge passes today and today alone, scooping up any unfortunate enough to be crossing the River Between Worlds today.
It wasn’t until 1298 that the Church gained knowledge of The Barge, though Berlegraph’s mystical conversations. No funerals will be held for the deceased today, or in any of the surrounding days, so as to avoid its passing, but there will be folk out in the graveyards around the City, though only those that were lain before 1298. The catacombs beneath the Church of the Holy Host will also be filled with folk there to witness the bones, to bless them with their presence, for the night. The hope is that they will act as a beacon which will alert the spirits of those trapped on The Barge, letting them know they are near home. In the Church of the Holy Host there will also be a special service held, where all the Hierarchs will ask that guides from the afterlife will row out to catch those who cast themselves overboard.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Ennui
- The Reach of the Underking Day
- The Silk of Eddina Festival