If you have ever wondered why there is a hole in the roof of the west annexe of the Church of the Holy Host atop Ranaclois hill, today is your chance to find out. Today those followers reverent of Saint Oggand will travel up the steps to remember the day that Church was built, the day that the Waylayer, the eternal enemy of the Chastise Church, audaciously tried to convert the Church’s followers in their own holy space, but was foiled by the Attuned mind of Saint Oggand.
The Hierarch of this new church had been voted in only a few months prior to its completion, a process that took fifty eight years. The previous Hierarch had died of old age and sadly never saw the construction he helped plan and fund come to fruition. Shortly after the new Hierarch, Jumile Fatton, was voted in, she became reclusive, spending long periods of time holed up with books rather than tending to her congregation. Whilst this was slightly unusual, most took it as a sign that she was preparing holy words for the church opening, and wanted to get them right. Little did they know, Fatton was actually spending that time in conversation with the Waylayer.
Nobody’s quite sure how she began her talks with the lying creature, how it manage to worm its way into her mind, to convince her that it was god. The Church doctrine does seem to see such words as unnaturally persuasive, and as a convert from the Church of Our Great Lord (the older religion from which the Chastise Church spawned), it’s easy to see why Fatton might have found it difficult to shake the notion of a personal god with a direct line of communication to their subjects, and why she may have mistaken the Waylayer for this being. No matter how it happened, the effects were clear; on the podium where Fatton was supposed to give her opening speech, the Hierarch began speaking instead of ‘God’.
The inhabitants of Buentoille, those acolytes of the Church who had turned out to have their faith reaffirmed with this great construction at the highest point of their City, were understandably stunned. Nobody was quite sure what to do. She was speaking of a great destruction of the earth that was to come, saying that the non believers would perish if they did not affirm their belief in god and ascend to heaven with her now. Just as the hecklers started up, and a small burly contingent readied themselves to drag her offstage, the Hierarch said, loud a clear, ‘It shall be proven unto you,’ and stepped onto an invisible staircase.
In the paintings, frescoes and sculptures that commemorate the event, the staircase is sometimes depicted as if it were made of glass, sometimes only the edges can be made out, as they catch the light of that rainy afternoon, or the staircase is only visible where the rain collected upon it. Usually, however, the staircase is entirely invisible, the figures climbing it into the clouds stepping up on thin air. This latter interpretation fits better with the church dogma and written accounts, but perhaps is a little more difficult to understand in static pictorial format. Five followers from the crowd followed her up the staircase, the others watching in amazement as they slowly ascended into the arms of the Waylayer. Except for Saint Oggand, who was the only one taking action.
Saint Oggand was born Anther Quickthigh, and had also converted to the Chastise Church from the Church of Our Great Lord. Oggand is the patron saint of converts and the wavering of faith, who wish to emulate his example, rather than that of Fatton. A moment of Attunement had been central to their conversion, a moment they had gained by spinning very fast on the spot, deliberately inducing extreme dizziness whilst still standing upright. Confronted with the fantastical, heretical sight before them at the church opening, Oggand once again spun on the spot, hoping to achieve Attunement so they would know what to do to stop the Waylayer taking the followers for its own. In the magical state of insight he saw the Waylayer clearly beneath him, casting a spell in the cavern beneath the newly completed Church of the Holy Host. Oggand quickly ran down there, grabbing a handful of salt from a merchant on the steps as he did.
The cavern beneath is another point where artistic interpretations vary. In the fresco on the wall beneath the hole in the roof, the cave is depicted like a normal cave, yet upside-down, the Waylayer sitting on the roof within a casting circle, adhered there as if gravity were inverted. In other depictions the creature is depicted bat-like, hanging from the cave ceiling with large clawed feet. In the official story Oggand ‘entyred thee caveryn ande saweth there thee WAYLAYER pyrformyng richural fowl,’ but disrupted it by casting his handful of salt at the mythical beast, at which point the ‘caveryn turnned to yts rytefulle direktyn’ and the Waylayer disappeared.
At that same point, the story says that the invisible staircase became, once again, thin air, and those ascending to what they thought to be heaven fell to the ground, or more accurately, through the newly finished church roof, breaking both it and the paved floor beneath. All six falling people died, but were saved from the clutches of the Waylayer. Both these marks can still be seen to this day, the hole now finished on its edges so the rain doesn’t seep into the roof beams. On the floor the cracks are present still, as is a slight dip in the floor where rain gathers. Today this water, considered holy, is daubed onto pilgrims by a priest (the Hierarch is officially disallowed from the site for the day), in the hopes it will restore their faith. Pilgrims also come wearing several small weights attached to their clothes, a reminder of the gravity of this world.
There are, of course, plenty of sceptics of today’s festival, those who believe that no such thing could ever have happened, that six bodies could not damage the construction in such a way, that the hole and cracks were made by a large piece of masonry which fell from a crane whilst the building was being constructed, and which was later interpreted into a religious story. Yet those who say such things are seen by the faithful as agents of the Waylayer, trying to get them to abandon their faith and float to its fake heaven.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Mashed Potato
- The Ampoule of the Director Day