Whilst their Mission still houses a number of Pohlatiné, few Buentoillitants have seen any of these once-populous people in recent years. Pohlatiné numbers have always fluctuated, and whilst the Ambassador and their entourage maintain permanent residence, others have been almost always transient to the City, staying for as long as their specific purpose dictates, then leaving to decipher mysteries elsewhere. Pohlatiné tend to be rather shy of public events, so today’s festival, Buentoilliçan-Pohlatiné Friendship Day, often goes unnoticed by most of Buentoille’s population.
The festivities today are decidedly low-key. A few members of the Office of External Affairs (OEA) will today visit the Pohlatiné Mission with a few gifts. The gift selection process is extremely painstaking and forms a large part of the Officers’ remit, as it involves a lot of research and second-guessing on what the Ambassador would find interesting or valuable. Information is usually gleaned from the Ambassador’s Buentoillitant aides about what sort of items they have been collecting for study recently, but this is not always an entirely reliable guide and something unexpected is often better received. The Ambassador will always respond with the same gift: a wind chime. There is a room in the Unfathomed Archive full of them, where no wind passes.
After the gift-giving ceremony, a dinner is held in the main hall of the Mission, an odd, twisting space, architecturally unique in Buentoille. The walls are made from a variety of differing items all cobbled together with sections of whitewashed concrete or clay. On the whitewash and across the items, in seemingly random configurations, are several thick coloured lines; reds oranges and blues that cut across the room like markings on a cycle path. The lighting in the room, an assortment of angle-poise lamps protruding from the walls and scattered across the floor, accentuates the feeling of confusion that you feel when looking up at the conglomeration of office desks, bicycles, doorways, mannequins and other such dissonant items that make up the walls and roof.
Rumour has it that this year the OEA has uncovered a liberatum from some crevice of the Hidden Library, which it plans to give to the Ambassador. These ancient documents were one of the reasons that the Pohlatiné first came to Buentoille; liberatum were some of the first ephemeral written documents, and, like the items that form the walls of the Mission, the Pohlatiné find them indispensable in their quest to divine the ‘shape of the world.’ Most liberatum are clay tablets with pock-marked inscriptions that bear little resemblance to proper writing. As such, many have been destroyed or misplaced through the years, their importance unseen by more modern eyes. For reasons unknown to all (excepting, perhaps the Pohlatiné, who rarely share their knowledge) there is a particularly high density of the tablets found in Buentoille in comparison to the nearby cities. According to the Pohlatiné, most liberatum relate to small trading agreements and personal recollections.
When the Ambassador is particularly pleased with a gift, they are likely to let the OEA in on some piece of knowledge or innovation they have gleaned though their studies. The last time this happened was in 1978, when the Ambassador was presented with thirteen bowls of pea soup left over from the previous day’s festivities by people who had pretended to like peas to fit in. In return, the Ambassador gave the customary wind chime, but also a collection of papers that explained how to make and fit a mechanical heart. To date, over two thousand lives have been saved by this medical breakthrough. In earlier years, the OEA has been given information which has led to advances as varied as a reduction of river pollution, an increase in crop yields, and timely intervention that averted a collapse in the stacks of the Hidden Library. Some people believe that the Pohlatiné were also behind the creation of the City’s power source.
After dinner, the Ambassador dons their dark gown and headscarf (the Pohlatiné are extremely sensitive to UV radiation) and leads the OEA representatives onto the balcony, where the hot air balloon awaits. The group will enter the cabin with its tinted windows, and the Ambassador will take them on a trip around the City. Wherever they land, they will all step out together and take three items from their surroundings, before they are carted back to the Mission, where they part ways. The OEA are uncharacteristically stumped as to the meaning of this last ritual, but it seems to make the Ambassador happy, and after all, it’s tradition now.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Magic of Ronald Capersleigh; A Remembrance Festival
- Twisted Sid’s Day of CRAAZY Stunts
- The Union of Filers, Librarians and Administrators’ Cataloguing Systems Trade Show