January 21st – The Festival of Waking the Lord

Tonight is a bad night to live near Pentwaithe Manor in western Buentoille, especially if you need to get some sleep. Tonight the inhabitants of Candlestein House, a sprawling apartment block a few streets away from the Manor, and many of their friends will troupe across to the crumbling ruin of the Manor, their arms laden with fireworks, pots, pans and noisy horns.

The festival started in the mid nineteenth century, when both the House and Manor were owned by Lord Pentwaithe, a wealthy industrialist from an aristocratic background who had an abnormal hatred of loud noise and a rather eccentric reputation, especially in relation to the occult.. At that time the House was built as habitation for the workers who laboured in the adjoining flax mill that used the Moway river to power the (extremely noisy) machinery. The mill ran throughout the day and night, so that those workers who were not currently labouring under the overwhelming noise were subjected to it whilst they tried to sleep.

The Manor, on the other hand, was a palatial construction, and Pentwaithe had hired an architectural acoustician at great expense to design the Manor and it’s environs in such a way as to eliminate any sound coming from the direction of the factory. However, they failed to account for the fact that Manor lay directly in the path of the workers’ (many of whom were essentially deaf) route home from the pub.

Pentwaithe tried a number of different approaches to the issue; he attempted to reprimand the workers who had disturbed his sleep, but with every person he punished, three others would yell and shout outside his house at night. He tried to soundproof his house, but unfortunately to little effect. He attempted to have the road closed off, but the local residents and workers simply tore down the obstructions he placed at night, very noisily. He even tried building another pub on the other side of the factory, but the workers never drank there. Eventually he was driven to do something very strange and stupid.

Workers began to report sightings of a ghost in the streets outside the Manor, a strange spindly white figure clad in wraithlike white robes, with horrible, skeletal hands holding a green oil lantern. As the sightings increased, fewer and fewer workers travelled past the Manor; there were rumours that perhaps the Lord had summoned some kind of terrible spectre with his occult dabblings. However, not all Buentoillitants are afraid of ghosts – a woman called Lily (locally famed for her penchant for bar-fighting; revered for stories of her youth in Strigaxia, the City of Witches) was walking along the road when she saw the ghost, walked up to it, and just punched it in the face. ‘I know a ghost when I see one,’ she said, ‘and that ain’t no ghost.’

When the rest of the workers found out about Pentwaithe’s night-time excursions in his distinctly mundane bedsheets, they turned out in force, banging pots and pans and screaming at the top of their lungs. The workers and their descendants (many of whom still live in the House to this day) have been doing it every year since, despite rumours that Pentwaithe’s real ghost now lurks in the ruins of his ill-fated Manor.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Vipers and Syringes

  • Dane Harlow’s Festival of Trucks

January 22nd – The Festival of Clock Smiths

At precisely midday today, as the bells ring out across Buentoille, the great red doors of Timphony Tower will open by themselves and from within a strange procession will spill onto the streets. Visitors to the city may have wondered why the tram tracks run all the way up to the tower’s doors, and today their questions will be answered.

There are no humans on the procession, but a large group of automata slowly whirr along the tramlines. There are around thirty automata on the procession, with designs ranging from a military commanders seated on her horse, to a skeletal boatman, to writhing dragons and upright bears. They form a motley crew that make their way about the city (all trams are diverted from their path) each following their own complex set of instructions. According to the Society of Automata Enthusiasts (SAE), every automata has 365 individual actions which they perform across their journey: they turn to each other and chat, point at the scenery or crowds and share a joke; they play solos with trumpets and guitars, or bang drums with gusto; they pause for a tea party, passing cutlery and jam between them.

Whilst each action has been extensively mapped by the SAE, there is usually some kind of change implemented each year, which is met with excited calls from the groups of enthusiasts surrounding the procession, making neat markings in squared paper notebooks. To a casual observer, it would seem as if the automata were actually alive. This year a new figure will join the procession, referred to only as The Creator. Its existence is only known ahead of time because a very drunk member of the Eternal Fraternity of The Designer (EFTD), the group who created this year’s addition, blurted it out at The Sheavewoman’s Arms last Wednesday.

The EFTD are an old sub-section of the Guild of Clock Smiths who became convinced that life, like clockwork, had been designed by a creator, rather than appearing spontaneously as the dogma of the Chastise Church states. They were initially persecuted for these beliefs (although the Church is much more tolerant nowadays), so met in secret, designing strange automata with which they intended to prove that the creation of life was a replicable event. The EFTD has been at the forefront of robotics and genetics for many years, and there are rumours that they still pursue their goal to create new life in their highly secretive labs within their compound in eastern Buentoille. Their addition to the procession today is thought to be a tribute to their history and beliefs, rather than part of this goal.

After covering much of the City, the procession will end at midnight, then the doors on the opposite side of the tower will close behind the automata, hiding them away for another year.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Mittens and Oven Gloves

  • The Song of Angels Annual Competition

  • Hamich Isgil’s Playing Card Factory Tour Day

January 23rd – The Day of the Lowest Tide

Today the Yio Kalan Celestial Object (YKCO) will pass very close to the atmosphere of the Earth. This event occurs once every 23-25 years, when their orbits pass close enough for each object’s tidal force to interact with the other. Because the YKCO does not usually pass directly over (or antipodal to) the portion of Earth where the City is situated, it causes an exceptionally low tide. There have been two recorded occasions when YKCO did pass overhead; once in 1345 and once in 1746; when the Object passed in the earlier event, it ‘grazed’ the atmosphere, creating a huge fireball in the sky. This, combined with the enormous deluge that enveloped a large portion of the region, convinced many that it was the end of the world.

The tide will be lowest between 7:34 and 8:23 this evening, but the ocean will drop below the normal range from around 3:15pm until 12:30am. The Buentoille Bay will be all-but emptied for a lot of this time, leaving a large variety of stranded sea life. Many Buentoillitants are drawn to the rocks and sands of this strange new alien landscape, and it is an excellent opportunity for the City’s children to have a hands-on learning experience. Starfish are particularly populous in the Bay, and groups of children are led by volunteers from the environmental protection group Buentoillitant Lovers of Sea Life to collect up stranded starfish and other sea creatures, and deposit them back in the sea.

The receding ocean has given up many of the sea’s secrets in previous years. In 1970 a large, perfectly spherical stone was found on the edge of the Bay, but by 1993 it had disappeared. Various sunken longboats, rowing boats and other, more modern naval vessels have been found when the sea recedes, many of which are now housed in the Buentoilliçan Museum of Nautical History. Perhaps the most interesting find, though, is the sunken settlement out west along the bay, known commonly as Old Buentoille.

Old Buentoille is a palaeolithic settlement, thought to have been created during the last ice age. Back then, ice would have covered much of the Inner Sea for long enough for vegetation to form, making it all but indistinguishable from the surrounding land. As a result, many settlements were formed on the ice sheet which were later lost to the sea when the ice eventually melted. Old Buentoille consists of a scattering of wooden struts which would have once constituted a number of houses. A number of pots and stone tools have also been found in the surrounding environs, along with human and proto-human remains; Old Buentoille is perhaps most famous for this last point, as the Cult of Our Large-Handed Ancestors was formed around the discovery of these remains. Whilst diving expeditions have gathered a lot of information and finds from Old Buentoille, there is still considerable scientific interest in excavating more of the site today than is usually possible.

Because the YKCO orbits so closely to the Earth it is subject to extreme tidal forces (far more extreme than those which it exhibits on the Earth), and this, along with the various times it has entered the Earth’s atmosphere, means it is often subject to changes in its mass. As a consequence, the exact timing and trajectory of the Object is difficult to calculate, and there is always a small chance it could be tipped into a collision with the Earth, next time around.

Other festivals happening today:


  • The Buentoille Festival of Fine Wines

  • Dynamic Pens’ Day of Discounts

January 24th – The Beginning of The Long Confinement

If you are lucky, today you might chance upon the Order of the Last Giant as they prepare for tonight’s Long Confinement; they are relatively easy to spot, given their tall wooden stilts and long gowns which graze the cobbled streets. The length of the stilts is indicative of status and piety within the Order, with more senior and more experienced members often standing level with second floor windows. Members are ‘graduated’ onto taller stilts once they exhibit the necessary dedication.

Today the Order will travel along specific routes through the City, praying at the Five Points of the giant they believe is buried beneath. They begin with each of the ‘feet’ (Trioli Hill and Twoshill’s Barrow), before moving on to each ‘hand’ (the open palm of Votive Park and the closed fist of Children’s Mound) and finally to the ‘head’ (Ranaclois Hill itself). At each point they will leave an offering at a small, unobtrusive shrine made from fossilised wood. Each shrine has a small terracotta roof over it, and in an indentation at the centre of each ‘stump’ the members of the Order leave an acorn.

The acorn is an important symbol within the Order. It is generally thought to symbolise that great things can grow from humble beginnings, but it also thought to be shorthand for wholesomeness and the Earth. In the Order’s iconography the pious dead are depicted wearing hats similar to a cupule (the ‘cap’ of an acorn). In contrast, those deemed destructive, misinterpretative or callous to the Order’s teachings are referred to as ‘galls’ (the structure formed around the larvae of a wasp when it secretes specific chemicals).

As the sun sets the Order descend into the Cranial Cavern, one of the many caves and excavations beneath Ranaclois Hill. It rests alongside the Hidden Library, but does not connect in any way. They will stay there for three weeks, concealed in complete darkness for the entirety of the Long Confinement. According to the pamphlets handed out by the Order, they try to lie as still as possible during this time, attempting to connect with the Giant, whose residual memories and thoughts still bounce around the space that was one it’s skull. Members describe extremely moving experiences and visions in the darkness, and the Order has a number of holy books wherein these are catalogued, from memories of a primordial age where wooden humans were capable of growing to immense heights, to prophetic visions of the Giant awaking and casting aside the City like an unwanted duvet.

Critics of the Order point out that hallucinations are a common response to sensory deprivation, and can be guided by expectation. Rumours have also arisen in previous years that during their sojourn in the Cavern, members are gradually stretched on racks, an a dangerous and misguided attempt to make them taller. The Order strongly refutes these claims.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of One Hundred Candles

  • The Festival of Significant Lines

  • Ester Esterdotter’s House of Lace Lace Making Festival

January 25th – The Anniversary of the League of Disabled Buentoillitants’ Great Rent Strike

If you had passed a newsagent’s or street seller on January the 25th 1834, you would have seen an array of headlines proclaiming amazement, outrage, and righteous vindication at the news that the Holy Knights of Buentoille had finally agreed to cease their attacks on the ‘hospitals’ they formerly owned.

The Holy Knights of Buentoille were a military, religious and political organisation, attached to the Chastise Church, sworn to protect it’s pilgrims. They were also often referred to as ‘Hospitallers’ because of the numerous hospitals (in this case meaning a type of almshouse for the severely ill and disabled) they owned; an extension of their peacetime ‘protections’. Admission to the hospitals was initially restricted to those who could reasonably prove their devotion to the Church, but after an act of Parliament in 1667, they became opened to all, acting as the City’s official supported accommodation for the long-term ill and disabled. However, the Hospitallers still claimed the right to charge ‘reasonable rents’ to the inhabitants of the hospitals.

Many disabled and ill Buentoillitants were supported by their families, but this was obviously not an option for all. As such, many rooms lay empty; their intended inhabitants on the streets. When the Knights went to war with the City of Strigaxia in 1762, they raised rents to pay for it, and offered a number of beds to disabled persons who were able to work on creating armaments as payment for bed and board. Despite the success of the Knight’s military campaigns, and the vast wealth they received as a result, they did not lower rents when the war ended, and conditions began to deteriorate as well. The situation reached crisis point in 1832, when there were historically high debt levels within the hospitals, huge numbers of evictions, and allegations of slavery were being levelled at the Knights.

Unable to receive relief through the ‘proper’ political or legal means (the Knights were very influential in Parliament at the time), the inhabitants of the hospitals first turned to the established unions for help, but were initially refused. The League of Disabled Buentoillitants was formed later that year, and continues to this day, still retaining the various letters they received from unions, stating that it would harm their members prospects and image to be involved with a (as one letter put it) ‘bunch of cripples and lunatics’. They instigated a rent strike across the hospitals, sparking an, often violent, year long dispute.

It seems as if the Knight’s true mistake was to hugely underestimate the resourcefulness, resolve and capability of the League. Their initial response to the strike was to withdraw the care workers from the hospitals, and to restrict the deliveries of food; the League seemed to have organised so well that mass evictions would have left the hospitals all-but empty. However, many of the care workers had witnessed their own working conditions and pay decline, and almost 50% of them were persuaded to join the League as associated members. The League also seized huge amounts of food and goods from the Knight’s warehouses in night-time raids. The Knights then decided to forcibly restrain members of the League and regain control of their premises.

Once again, the League were one step ahead of the Knights. They had been manufacturing and stockpiling weaponry for some time, and had established barricades and underground routes between the various different hospitals. They had also integrated the hospitals in such a way that each was able to defend themselves, the members ‘buddying up’ to so that each partnership had a wide range of applicable abilities. Formerly evicted disabled and ill folks were invited to join and bolster the ranks of the League, and the first ‘security forces’ that the Knights sent in were easily ejected without casualties. Realising their error, the Knights returned with a much larger force, but this was to ultimately spell their downfall.

Various papers and rights groups had been invited to see the new commune the League had built, cannily in time for the first true skirmish of the dispute. Many were killed on both sides, and all was seen and documented by the observers, and splashed across the news the following day. The Knights attempted to present the skirmish as an attempt to quell a ‘tide of insanity that has sadly befallen the hospitals,’ but were unsuccessful in gaining the public’s support; by the time of the next skirmish, over ten thousand armed Buentoillitants came out in support of the League. The Knights attempted to regain their holdings in a few stealthy campaigns (learned from their military action abroad, no doubt) after this point, but due to a huge public outcry Parliament finally turned against them and ordered that they relinquish their claims to the hospitals. Shortly afterwards the Holy Knights of Buentoille were disbanded in Buentoille, though they only truly disappeared in 1989 when they finally lost their their Strigaxian holdings.

Today those League members and associated members who died in the defence of the hospitals are commemorated by hanging large banners bearing their faces out the windows of the hospitals. The League also hosts a feast, and weaponry is ceremonially laid against the various grave markers and memorials in the Peace Garden.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Start of the Pilgrimage into the East

January 26th – Darryn Karst; an Annual Retrospective

There is a whole wing of the Buentoilliçan Museum of Painterly Curiosities that is locked every day but today. Whilst it is locked, nobody is allowed in or out, not even the Museum’s staff (which makes things a bit tricky because it means they have to go outside to get to the staff room), because of a stipulation in the contract between a fictional painter and the Museum.

Inside, the wing is filled with enormous floor-to-ceiling paintings; intricate works in oil that depict bustling city-scapes, windswept moors, roiling seas and dark caverns, quiet with inert potential. Today it will be difficult to move in the rooms with the amount of people therein, all closely inspecting the paintings; some on stepladders, some with magnifying glasses, some merely sitting back and enjoying the spectacle.

Although they are a household name now, the painter, Darryn Karst (real name Christian de Luxe) was entirely unknown until 2003, when they presented a one-day-long exhibition at Ustagyn Hall in the east of the City, an exhibition they called a ‘retrospective.’ In all the advertising around the exhibition, and in the explanatory plaques next to each painting, de Luxe presented themselves as a famous artist who was just coming to Buentoille for one day from their native city of Integrimun, known for its many prestigious visual art schools and universities. They had never shown any paintings to the public before, or even outwardly presented themselves as an artist, but now they became Karst; an artist who had hundreds of successful exhibitions, who had sold paintings to investors for vast sums, who was considered one of the leading lights of the New Eschatologists (a hitherto entirely fictional art movement).

At the first exhibition, Karst strode around the room playing their part exceptionally well. They told of their fictional childhood on board a trading ship that saw many beautiful sights and sea monsters, of their youth learning the painting techniques from the Jilted Monks (an ascetic order of monks who pray though painting), dropping hints and secrets into the ears of the viewers. One of the hints they dropped was that clues to the location of a great buried treasure were hidden somewhere in the paintings. The Buentoilliçan art world bought his charade hook line and sinker, a deception that was in no small way helped along by the fact that Karst was indeed an exceptionally talented artist, and had been painting in secret in their spare time away from their job as a dock hand since they were a teenager.

Karst died of lung cancer in late 2003, the late diagnosis of which was the thing that spurred them on to show their many works to the world. Before they died, they were approached by the Museum of Painterly Curiosities, who wanted to purchase as many of their paintings as was possible within their (what most artists would consider insultingly small) budget. Karst cut a deal; that they could have every single painting for free, as long as they agreed to only ever show them on the anniversary of the first exhibition.

Eventually, rumours of buried treasures got out, and viewers flocked to see the paintings in the hopes of catching some detail that would lead the way. The fact that the truth is now out about who Karst really was (revealed to the world by Karst’s mother in her biography of their life, Hidden Beauty), and that nobody has yet been able to find any evidence of clues to hidden treasure, has put off very few people. Indeed, the deception itself is now considered one of the greatest examples of Buentoilliçan art, spurring a renewed interest in the painter’s works.

Visitors to the City are advised to go to the exhibition between the hours of 4-5pm, when crowds are expected to be at their lowest. Whilst you could spend hours searching for clues to buried treasure, you are probably more likely to enjoy yourself if you sit back and consider the beauty of these enormous, detailed paintings, and the stories told therein.

Other festivals happening today:

  • Gogorov’s Moral Compass Spinning

  • The Society Gala of Fashionable Ice

  • The Charitable Organising Council’s Biannual Dinner for the Disadvantaged

January 27th – The Final of the Streetball Championships

Today the Mournful Street Runners (the ‘Mourners’) will face off against the Lower Holloway Avenue Dodgers (the ‘Dodgers’) and the Organmaster’s Road Lobbers (the ‘Organ Monkeys’) in the final of the 67th annual Streetball Championship. The Mourners are the underdogs, having never proceeded past the first few rounds of the competition in previous years, whereas the Dodgers are the well-loved favourite, having won 36 championships in all. The Organ Monkeys are a well respected team with seven championships under their collective belt. The meteoric rise of the Dodgers this year is thought to be down primarily to their star player, Cassie Mclauren.

Mclauren apparently had not the remotest interest in the sport, until she was almost hit in the head by one of the ‘streetballs’ themselves (a large, hard and extremely bouncy rubber ball) when she stepped out of her house one sunny morning. In response she executed a perfect ‘triple smash’, bouncing the ball off of three separate surfaces before hitting a player squarely in the chest (breaking said player’s sternum in the process), and after large amounts of praise was eventually persuaded to join the team.

The custom of forming teams from the inhabitants of the City’s streets comes from where the game first came about; the crossing of three back streets (Holloway Avenue, Gripshill Street and Organmaster’s Road). Children from each of these streets would gather at the ‘H’ shaped intersection, where they would play games and (on occasion) fight each other. Around the intersection there are high brick walls from the derelict houses and factories which line the streets. One of the factories produced rubber goods (sink plungers, seals for glass jars, etc.); legend has it that one day a worker on an upper floor was testing the bounciness of a new rubber compound, and was extremely surprised when the large ball he had made for the purpose flew straight out of the window on the first bounce.

The children in the street intersection below devised a game where each team (of an arbitrary number of players) could score points either by hitting another player after bouncing the ball on another surface (the amount of bounces indicated the amount of points gained), or by reaching a line painted at the end of an opposing team’s street whilst still holding the ball (this scores ten points). Anyone hit by the ball had to stop moving for ten seconds. The game ended when everyone got too tired to keep playing. Eventually it became one of the most popular sports in Buentoille.

In the modern times this popularity has led many other streets to field their own teams; many brick enclosures have been built in sports halls and parks around the city to allow more than the inhabitants of the original streets to play. To compete in the official Championships the players must all reside on the street in question, and whilst there are no formal restrictions on the number of players each team may have in play at any given time, the optimum number of players is thought to be around thirty. Experimentation is, however, always occurring; the most players ever fielded by a team was 257, the entire population of Hershalle Road. They were trounced 846 points to 34 by the River Road Rollers.

As well as the addition of extra teams a few other changes have taken place: the game is now played with three separate streetballs, and players are supplied with protective clothing after a number of serious injuries and deaths. The time limit for each game has also been standardised at 79 minutes, the average of the first two hundred recorded matches. Around the original walls various stands and seating arrangements of various heights have been built to accommodate more viewers, often by shearing off the top of the original buildings. The rubber factory (now only producing streetballs) still remains, however, despite yearly complaints that it blocks off half of the view.

Other festivals happening today:

  • BEER GLORIOUS BEER Festival of Fermentation

  • Hester Hanson’s Festival of the Old Book Smell

January 28th – The Festival of The Estrigid Enigma

In Cartographer’s Hall, just down the road from the Parliament Building, hundreds of the world’s greatest cryptographers will take turns to pore over Estrigid Map, also known as the Estrigid Enigma. The map was purchased in 1626 by Damon Jackoviche, a leading member of (what was then) the Royal Society of Cartographers. He bought it from an itinerant beggar, in return for three quarts of hard cheese and three day’s boarding at Jackoviche’s small home. The beggar, or ‘Wanderer’ as he was referred to at the time, had apparently come into possession of the map on his travels in the east, where it was dropped into his lap by a white raven.

Because of its extreme fragility and value, the map is kept sealed between two sheets of glass, and displayed in such a way that both sides can easily be viewed by as many expert code breakers as possible. Because of concerns surrounding light bleaching, the map is only available to view in the ‘flesh’ today, but it had been reproduced hundreds of times. Throughout the day map will be shown under ultraviolet light, and lit from odd angles in order to showcase the strange, otherwise-invisible scrawlings and patterned lumps on its surface, which cannot be seen in the various copies normally available to the cartographers.

The map contains a number of nonsensical-seeming sentences and words in Buentoilliçan, and various theories abound as to whether they relate to the geographic features they overlay. A number of other decipherable languages also plaster the landmasses of the map, but they also appear to lack any true meaning. However, perhaps the strangest thing about the map, and the reason for the presence of the crowds today, is the vast flowing and apparently indecipherable glyphs which fill the oceans and bodies of water depicted on the map. Despite hundreds of years of scholarly study, these glyphs remain a tantalising enigma, and accordingly many conspiracy theories abound; are they the language of some sea-faring people, now lost to the oceans? The only surviving relic of the mythical drowned city of Siltslim? A deliberate hoax?

The land masses themselves are purportedly those of the far east, beyond the Great Expanse, but since the failure of the Great Land Expedition, no Buentoilliçan has ventured far enough in that direction to verify these claims. There is no real evidence or even reason to suggest that they are anything more than an entire fabrication, save the words of the Wanderer when he sold the map. Jackoviche recorded their encounter in his journal, which many cryptographers have turned to in desperation; an attempt to gain some context and understanding of the Enigma.

According to Jackoviche, the Wanderer, dressed in black robes from head to toe, claimed that if the reader tilted their head to a specific angle (which he referred to as the Estrigid angle and refused to be more specific), whilst wearing shoes made from the skin of three silk rats, no longer than three hours after they had witnessed a songbird fall from the sky, the words would gain their true meaning. While most of the cryptographers will be wearing the correct shoes, and will have watched someone throw a songbird with its wings bound thrown from a nearby clock tower, nobody has yet worked out the exact meaning of the Estrigid angle, so the claim is as of yet unverifiable.

Visitors of a humorous disposition are advised to visit the Hall today to watch the cryptographers crane their necks, flitting from position to position like large bald birds.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Comfort Foods and Naps

January 29th – The Day of Bog-Warding

On the north-western edge of Buentoile, the houses stop suddenly; the sea reaches across the low-lying lands, creating a stretch of sucking salt marshes and bogs. According to some the bog is immeasurably deep, and many attempts at draining and settling the area in the past have been thwarted by high tides – there are thought to be at least three generations of houses buried deep beneath the reeds and bubbling mud. In 1785 a small contingent of cartographers once tried measuring the depth of a large pool in the centre of the marsh with an anvil tied to a rope, but despite having over two hundred feet of rope, they were reputedly unable to reach the bottom.

Right beside where Bellmaritch Road ends, the cobbles steeply inclining down into the water, there is the City’s Old Graveyard: a haphazard conglomeration of gravestones, all striking out towards the sky at strange angles like the teeth of the Finneg Beast. The graveyard once stretched much further out but the land has progressively sunk down, leaving only sixteen rows of gravestones still visible above the brackish waters. Right on the water’s edge there are sixty five braziers. The fires are lit all through the winter months, in an attempt to ward off malevolent dead Buentoillitants, but on this night there will be a special all-night vigil – a legacy of the Stray Days of the early fourteenth century.

Whilst the vigil tonight is primarily a matter of tradition than necessity, there have been a number of high-profile bog-wardings over the years. The most recent of these, in 1994, saw the saving of the Cataclysmic Brethren, who had apparently seen ‘signs in the stars’ that led them to believe that if they immersed themselves in the bog they would grow gills, enabling them to survive the ‘hellfire’ supposedly due to arrive in the following weeks. The practice of bog-warding at this time of year was initially in response to the collective mania that the bogside-Buentoillitants were prone to.

When the bog initially began to encroach the graveyard in the early fourteenth century, a strange gas gathered over the water, potent in smell but invisible to the naked eye. It is still a little-understood phenomenon, but it seems as if the gas only formed when the weather was sufficiently cold. The gas would move into the City, producing disturbing psychological reactions in the inhabitants. Contemporary reports claim that the unfortunate souls afflicted by the gas (often referred to as ‘strays’) saw ghostly flames that coalesced into images of long-dead loved ones. These images would lead them out of their homes and down into the sucking marsh. Few survived the experience.

The phenomenon is still little-understood by modern science, but there is also little inclination to attempt to test theories surrounding it. The braziers that burn on the edge of the City efficiently burn up any excess gas, preventing most outbreaks of the ‘stray mania.’ Back when the outbreaks were more prevalent there would be a nightly vigil of masked wardens, but eventually the practice dwindled to a single night – tonight. The watch is held by many of the older bogside-dwellers and their young family members, and brings great distinction and luck to their households.

The warders make new masks for each year’s festivities, a committee deciding upon the design; ugly red grimaces are generally favoured, as they are thought to help scare away evil spirits. Underneath, a layer of crushed mint leaves is held to the face as it counteracts the effects of the gas. Each warden also carries a burning torch and a pair of broken iron manacles, a symbol of the Chastise Church.

Other festivals happening today:

  • Dance the Waves

  • The Union of Locksmiths and Secure Professionals’ Seminar


January 30th – The Festival of Celestial Science and Travel

At the centre of Dimitri’s Park of Bathing is a huge, incongruous sculpture of a space rocket. It’s once gleaming silver has now been overgrown with climbing plants, the metal burnished and lichen-mottled. The figures inside the large spherical glass sphere at the head of the rocket stare upwards into the night’s sky, as if they would be moved there by force of will alone.

The monument was built in 1889 by a joint committee of Litanchan and Buentoillitant ‘scientists’ as a statement of ambition and intent, a rallying cry to spur on the forward-facing Buentoillitant to great feats of engineering and heroism; the dawn of a new age of science and exploration. Besides today’s festival, the sculpture is the only lasting legacy of this ‘dawn’ that never turned to day.

The festival mainly consists of a small gathering of science-fiction enthusiasts and naive misguided scientists, in the glass dome of on the top floor of Senevich house, overlooking the park. Whilst the original Madame Senevich is long dead, her daughter, Stella, still keeps the house open for the festival today, primarily out of respect for her memory. Whilst the colourful gems, which once slowly made their way around the sky as the dome rotated, have now been sold by the family to pay Madame Senevich’s enormous debts, the space is still beautiful and impressive. In each festival there is at least one person who has only attended to view the dome from inside.

Many of the attendees will come in the clothes of famous fictional celestionauts, as popularised by books like The Sky Opens Wide by famous science fiction writers like Quillian Sarkovyth. They wear brightly coloured lycra suits and gas masks, the sigils of fictional space faring empires pinned to them. Beneath the dome a symposium will be held, with many presenting their space travel theories and rocket blueprints. Whilst is is certain that if one were to sift through the nonsense, a few genuinely sound ideas and plans could be selected, none will ever come to fruition; there simply isn’t the appetite for, or interest in space travel in Buentoilliçan society. In fact, the whole subject is, for many, a sore point.

The 1889 joint committee was headed up by three Litanchan businesspeople: Daniel Starmier, Agentine Velasquith and Firantine Kethiel; they came to Buentoille with reams of plans for spaceships and rockets, with stories of successful launches in Litancha, and of the beauty of outer space. They claimed that the Litanchan government was not interested in funding them, however, as it didn’t feel that their plans would make any money; they extolled the focus on culture rather than capital in Buentoille, and offered up their plans and ‘proven’ science to the City, a cultural boon for all time, in return for funding.

Whilst it’s obvious to many of us today that these supposed celestionauts were in fact con artists, Buentoillitants of the day were captivated by the picture they painted of exploring the vast beauty above them. Many sank huge fortunes into the project (which was initially planned to launch a small rocket from the roof of the Buentoilliçan Institute of Science), but the works never progressed past publicity stunts, beautiful pamphlets, and blueprints, and the three con artists soon disappeared along with the investments.

On another night you might go outside, into the park, and see the rocket monument catch the moonlight reflected up from the surrounding bathing pools. It would play across the glass sphere’s surface, occasionally illuminating the celestionauts inside; an otherworldly scene. But tonight there will only be the faintest sliver of a moon, and it will probably be hidden by the clouds.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Untimely Deaths

  • The Actually Historically Accurate Festival of Untimely Deaths