September 21st, 2011


Happy Farr's Day!

Originally published at MeiLin Miranda. You can comment here or there.

It's Autumn Equinox, which means it's Farr's Day in Tremont! WHAT DO THAT MEAN?

A typical Farr's Day

Imagine red banners emblazoned with silver crossed knives flying from every home or hung in windows--huge streamers from the roofs of ducal townhouses, tiny homemade pocket kerchief-sized flags in the cracked windows of the poor. On every door that can afford one hangs a shield; if the family has a noble crest, it is newly painted on it. Otherwise guildsmen put the symbol of their craft, merchants the symbol of their goods. The poor have nothing, as usual.

In the Guards barracks, every scrap of metal has been polished to a mirror finish and all weapons sharpened to hair-splitting thinness; even though weapons are always kept so, now they are more so. Regimental banners are inspected for the slightest signs of wear; regimental shields are repainted. The sound of drums reverberates through the streets of the Capital, even though the drummers are out at the Assembly Grounds.

At the Grounds, grandstands have been erected. There the City's luminaries sit in the best seats, with the paying gentry and merchantmen above them. The worst seats can be had for a few coppers, but the truly poor gather on the edges of the Grounds and do their best to see. Some sit on the walls, but this is dangerous for reasons that shall become clear.

When it's time for the God to appear, a hush falls over the crowd. A large group of condemned prisoners, male and female but mostly male, is herded onto the Grounds. There must be at least five hundred of them, probably closer to a thousand--I'm not good at estimating crowd sizes. In times past, there were more prisoners of war and other captives, and any princes, kings or rebel leaders caught during the year are still saved for this day. Dotting this year's prisoners are a few brown faces of Inchari rebels, for instance. At the appearance of the condemned, the crowd begins to cheer in excitement.

The Embodiment of Farr walks onto the Grounds and the crowd falls silent again before taking up the chant of His name. If one had the sight, one would see a red glow envelop Him. He is dressed in ceremonial armor of blinding silver with red enamel chasings, a helm on His head that looks as if a hawk has spread her wings to each side. He carries a sword in each hand, with no sheaths.

The miserable group of prisoners cringes away and the crowd jeers. The poor sitting on the walls push the more terrified back toward the center as Farr begins to spin His swords; the braver ones stand ready to fight, knowing it's hopeless but choosing to die with honor. Rarely Farr will pardon a condemned man if he faces death particularly bravely.

Farr slaughters them all, moving through the throng with an almost leisurely step. Some try to climb the walls and escape--look, one of them has grabbed the leg of an unwary workman. The workman tries to shake him off, but instead he is pulled into the ring himself where he dies with the rest.

By the time the last prisoner is dead, Farr is covered in blood and roaring for more. One year long ago, He jumped the fence and killed an entire slum-ful of innocent people. Farr's Embodiment came to and found himself in a pile of bodies fucking a corpse. He killed himself not long after.

This time there is no horrible accident. Farr takes His place on a dais as the bodies are cleared away to be burned--no entrance to Harla's Hill for the condemned. Weapons makers bring Him their latest creations. Targets are set up, and the Brothers show their skill to their God. Horse archers demonstrate feats of marksmanship at full gallop, and javelins are thrown. Once these targets were human. The conservative factions call every year for them to be human once again, but 9th century reforms so far are holding. It is not humane to tie a man to a stake to be shot at; better he should at least be given the chance to face the Warrior.

At the end of the festivities at the Grounds, Farr moves among the assembled Guards and Brothers, stopping to bless one every now and again. Often he will pick a young man from the ranks and take him as lover for the night, a great honor though once in a while Farr accidentally kills him--a small price to pay, for if he lives he is lucky in battle. Sometimes He'll take several.

When the Warrior retires to His Temple for feasting, the rest of the City goes on a binge. Kegs of beer, casks of wine and cider are rolled into the streets. Everyone--the male half of "everyone," anyway--eats and drinks and sings the old war songs until they fall over and their women trundle them home.

In the Temple, Farr and his men do the same until He becomes roaring drunk--"drunk as Farr" as the saying goes--but He never passes out. He sits among His men, drinking and singing, still covered in the blood of the condemned which never dries on Him. When He's had His fill He retires to his chamber with his lover( s ) for the night.

In the morning, the Embodiment is usually not hung over, but he doesn't drink anything stronger than coffee the rest of the spoke.

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