December 26th – Saint Miliflage’s Day; The Festival of the Pilgrim’s Star

Whilst the Chastise Church has always maintained its official belief in the existence of Saint Miliflage’s Island, for most of the past eight hundred or so years few others have joined them in this belief. Various attempts have been made to find the island, which is said to be somewhere beyond the Tibizian Straits, within a (relatively) nearby segment of the Outer Ocean. The way to find it is to follow the Pilgrim’s Star, which appears particularly bright in the north-west tonight, hovering just above the horizon all night. This, at least, is what it is claimed Miliflage did, in her holy book, Miliflage Exemplarium, a text which, it has recently been found, was originally written as more of an adventurer’s memoir, published under the title Eckscurshuns ofe a Venrable Laydee.

In her own time Danielli Merskov, the eponymous ‘Venerable Lady’, was something of a celebrity. She was unusual amongst Buentoillitants in that she was not content to settle down; she always had to be moving, exploring. Many scholars have traced this curious tendency to her father, who was actually a Chenorrian, a scout for that roving, nomadic empire of the Great Expanse to the east. He only stayed in the City for about a month, but in that time he had amorous relations with Merskov’s mother, who raised her in her beloved Buentoille; Merskov senior, unlike her daughter and the man she let into her bed, was not the roaming sort.

The tall tales and artefacts that Merskov brought back from the other cities of the Inner Ocean and farther reaches were what made her so famous in Buentoille. Whenever she passed through the City, she was invited to the court of whichever monarch was in power at the time (Merskov lived through four monarchies), where she would display her finds and tell stories, which, when filtered down through the various strata of Buentoilliçan society, became increasingly unbelievable. A figure like this was a valuable person to have associated with any cause, and so it was that Merskov was appropriated as a saint, and a suitable tale of Attunement was made up, in order to cement her position within the Chastise Church.

At the time, the Church wielded great power, and were quickly able to persuade the publishers of Merskov’s Eckscurshuns to instead publish the Exemplarium, suppressing the original text. So it was that the tale of Merskov finding her uninhabited island, where the land is ‘juyste beaneath the wartere, sow yt looketh to the idoll vyewer as yf ye walketh ypon the wartere’s surfayce,’ became a tale of Saint Miliflage finding an island where, through Attunement, the inhabitants had managed to walk on water. Her description of how to find the place, which was already a fairly vague explanation involving the triangulation of three stars, including the Pilgrim’s Star, was also simplified into simply following this star.

It was only in 1988 that a surviving copy of the original text was unearthed, hidden as it was within the bindings of another book, so that it purported to be a horseradish gardener’s guide. For hundreds of years, then, all attempts to find the Island were undertaken by people looking in fundamentally the wrong location, so it is no wonder that the island was taken to be a fanciful creation of the Church. The unearthing of this book was, then, a bittersweet moment for the Church, who were at once vindicated and vilified by its contents. At the time the Church actually denied the veracity of the text, but when documentary footage of the island was brought back to Buentoille by Moreige Formo and his band of explorers in 2000, they were forced to admit their historical untruths.

As such, there have been various changes to the way in which the festival today has been celebrated. At one time, the Chastise Church would have led a special sermon looking out from The Church of The Holy Host, atop Ranaclois hill, in the direction of the Pilgrim’s Star. Nowadays, as a way of making up for their past misdeeds, a subsection of the Church will go out distributing copies of the original text, rendered in more modern language. Other groups, such as the Guild of Cartographers, will today hold study sessions, trying to align the descriptions of Merskov’s other explorations with their understanding of the lands around Buentoille. With the suppression of Eckscurshuns, a lot of this information was lost, and whilst many of the locations described were ‘discovered’ by other, later explorers, there are still some which are as yet unverified. This year, in recognition of the recently uncovered great work that Merskov did, a statue will be unveiled on the dockside, looking out towards her half-submerged island, rather than that misleading star that was followed fruitlessly for so long.

Other festivals happening today:

  • Blighted Wind Day
  • The Festival of Lowering Your Cholesterol with One Weird Trick
  • Madame Boule’s Festival of Inappropriate Iced Cream