February 19th – The Festival of the Tibbauld Heist

Buentoille on the whole has a conflicted attitude towards today’s festival. During monarchic times, the celebration was centred around the burning of an effigy of Thomas Tibbauld, the famous heister of the crown jewels and royal treasury. This would occur in Parliament Square, around which the monarch would show off their largesse through stalls giving out free food and drinks. This tactic seriously backfired in 1457 when rumours began to circulate that the King would be giving out a bottle of Angel’s Breath to the first 100 people to arrive. The resulting stampede killed or seriously wounded over 350 people.

Whilst, for political reasons or out of a respect for tradition, people do still celebrate the festival in this way, it is treated with a deep distrust by the majority of Buentoillitants. Tibbauld is considered to be a great hero in these post-monarchist times, a martyr for those who later took back everything the monarchy had stolen away. Some of the more stridently anti-monarchist Buentoillitants will host their own effigy burning in the Warrens, which will feature a likeness of King Dunmonii instead.

In the days before Dunmonii’s conversion to the Chastise Church, he was famed as a hoarder, raising taxes well above the levels of his predecessors, and spending little of it enriching the City. He spent a vast amount of this wealth on the creation of a new crown to symbolise his majesty, which turned out to be so heavy it could not be worn except with a complex system of winches and pulleys. As such, it was rarely worn and stayed suspended above the throne at the royal palace. Many were outraged about this waste of their hard-earned money, but none more so than Thomas Tibbauld. He often got incredibly drunk, then made impressive speeches to large crowds about the heinousness of the King’s behaviour, announcing his intentions to steal it, melt it down and distribute the resulting gold to the poor.

Whilst Tibbauld was certainly watched, and even visited once or twice by the Municipal Guard (the Buentoilliçan secret service), as can be told from the extensive records they kept on the man which are now kept in the Hidden Library, they clearly deemed him to not be a threat. This was partly down to an unfounded faith in the security systems surrounding the palace, and partly because they viewed Tibbauld as a loud-mouthed drunk who folk found entertaining. How wrong they were.

Tibbauld was uncharacteristically silent about how he’d managed the heist, after they caught him. Because of the immense weight and size of the crown, he was forced to break it into smaller pieces in order to safely carry it away, and he made at least three trips on separate nights to the palace with this intention. It was only when he had stolen over half the crown that someone noticed pieces were missing and thought to lie in wait for him. He had replaced the missing half with a jigsaw of papier mâché pieces, painted with gold leaf. When he returned to the palace again he was caught, but he never revealed how he had gained entrance in the first place.

King Dunmonii would usually have executed the man immediately, but for some reason, perhaps common curiosity, he decided to spare the man. He told Tibbauld that he would have his freedom, if he revealed to the King the details of his great heist. Tibbauld whispered something in the King’s ear, who blushed beetroot red and shakily said ‘Let him go.’ Two days later Tibbauld was caught running out of the royal treasury with a sack full of newly minted coins, all but one of which he managed to dump into the river before the assailants reached him. Once again he was silent, but this time it did not save his life; the King was incandescent with rage, and immediately ordered Tibbauld to be burned at the stake. To ensure that the people of Buentoille remembered what happened to those who crossed the monarch, the King ordered that a mock version of the execution be staged on the same day every year.

It turned out in the months after Tibbauld’s execution that on the night previous to his capture he had successfully stolen another sack of coins, which he had distributed to poor of the Warrens. Unfortunately for those who received the windfall, the coins were from a batch that had yet to be officially distributed, so were easily identified by the authorities. A concerted campaign of state aggression proceeded, resulting in the trial and execution of hundreds of poor Buentoillitants who were found to be in possession of the coinage. The King passed an executive order that lasted long after his death, stating that anyone who so much as handled the stolen coinage (outside of the security forces and secret service) faced certain death. This made the coins the choice form of murder for the following century, and led to the deaths of hundreds of fishermen who later found the coins that were dumped in the river in their nets. Nowadays, the terminally ill are often said to have ‘found the king’s coin.’ Even today the coins are occasionally found in the river. The brutal archaic rule is obviously no longer in effect, but rumours of the King’s ghost killing those who find them still circulate every year.

This ridiculous situation eventually gave rise to other traditions. In many Buentoilliçan houses today a treacle pudding known as ‘Treasurer’s Surprise’ will be baked, a coin placed somewhere within. The person who receives the slice of pudding that contains the coin will be ‘executed’ by receiving good-natured insults and jokes at their expense. Whilst the practice is usually benign, there have been thirteen recorded deaths from choking on the coin.

Other festivals happening today:

  • James Chadlea’s Gymnasium Experience