Thursday, April 2, 2015

City of Curses: Princeday

Crux Holidays: Princeday
Aspect: The Reds and the Blues

Specific to the city of Crux is a holiday named Princeday.  So aptly named after the Prince who founded the city, it is celebrated on the first Strangeday of Ghostwalk.  Over the centuries, the holiday has grown into a vibrant, weeklong celebration.  Unique to the sleeping straits and Crux itself, its traditions echo the cultural mix unique to the city of curses.

Princeday's origins as a holiday are like the Prince: murky.  We don't when the Prince decreed the first celebration of the city's founding, but the story of that first Princeday echoes in the Ancient Tomasi myths of Crux's founding.  Like the myth of the Church of Shraxes, it tells of a desperate noble.

Long ago, there was once a island kingdom in the middle of the Deep Sea.  It was called Sitan'la.  In the age from before Ursyklons came, it was the jewel of Orphos.  On that island was a Queen, and her loving son, the Prince.  For them, Sitan'la gave them immortality and the power of dragons unrivaled.  The Queen was beautiful and wise.  The Prince took after her mother, a conjurer, warrior and the most cunning of all in all lands.  But he went unwed, and his mother, never spoke of his father.

But an Aether-Blooded came to Sitan'la.  She came from her own damned realm into the perfect shores of Sitan'la.  Peaceful, they welcomed her with open arms.

We do not know how the Aether-Blooded brought the doom to Sitan'la, only that she was responsible for the cataclysm.  That the great blast of fire took the perfect shores, and created the pyre from which Ursyklon used to conquer the world.  The Spelleater's Betrayal is true, this much we Tomasi remember.

The survivors of Sitan'la included the Prince.  He led his people to the Sleeping Straits.  Once there, they tried to create a new home.  But the harsh cliffs bore nothing, and the Skullmount carried as many curses as the Prince had people.  One cold, hard bitter winter, he broke down.

He made a deal with the Priestess of Shraxes.  A wealthy woman, her cult built a new temple in Crux, and in return, the Prince offer them a place to settle and live in peace.  In time, they would betray his trust and try to take the city from him.

Upon the next Ghostwalk, the Prince decreed a new holiday.  A time of competition and celebrations.  A break from their strife and suffering.  And ever since, each Princeday has been a time to celebrate being alive.  A time to compete to be the best in the city.  A time to celebrate Crux.

There are holes in the Tomasi myth.  It colors the Church of Shraxes in a dark light, as well as portraying others in varying degrees of negativity.  Given the Tomasi's preference of honoring the Prince and taking Crux as a capital, it makes since that their version of the story would paint the Prince in the best possible light.  Sitan'la only appears in the Tomasi stories, although other peoples' stories mention lands sinking beneath the sea.

The tradition of competitions is true, however.  Between the celebrations, different factions and neighborhoods in Crux hold a variety of competitions.  The University hosts various lecture series, while its various departments unveil ongoing projects to the public, each department competiting via votes to be the Provost's Choice.  Other neighborhoods, like Poorfellows, hold dozens of different skill contests of different kinds.  There is no "unified" title contests in the city.

However, the Prince does have his heralds appear to recognize winners.  Announcements of the Prince's own favorites can be heard.  A few even find Sphinxes sent to them in his name.

In addition to the ongoing competitions, streets throughout Crux become covered in blue and red dyes.  A tradition since the Othebean Crusades, the Blue and Red dyes first were part of Princeday as part of protests against the Othebean occupation.  Today, it is seen as a permanent fixture in the celebrations.

When marching bands begin to play on a street, pots of Dyes are conjured into place.  As the music plays, the crowd hurls wads of either blue or red at each other.  Sometimes other colors are used; in some neighborhoods, like North Crown, have patrols of City Watch paid to keep riffraff from interfering with their own dye hurling.

Such vibrant musical displays can last hours.  The Church of the Singer of the Song go out of their way to place their best musicians at each such place.  Because they believe music makes people behave better, their very best often appear and interrupt factory work or other lower class establishments with their dye-shows.  When the Voice chooses her dye-shows, often things grow ecstatic.

The other part of Princeday is the food.  Hot Sabizi curries mix with old Tomasi pastas and thick Urskylon fish stews.  As Ghostwalk occurs in the middle of autumn, harvests have thickened larders.  New ales and meads of all kinds can be found.  Freshly slaughtered beasts of all kinds lend to the size of the meals.

Boosting it is charity like that presented by the Blood Barons.  Often they invite outsiders down into the Blood Quarter for their grand, free meals.  The Patrizo, for example, have their blood-bonded thralls serve fishpie while Inculti hand out pies of various kinds.

The Lycan Cages
The last tradition is a gruesome one.  And it is one the government of Ith has tried to stop.  But the Prince still will have his Cages, regardless of how hard the Metro try to stop it.

Thirteen silver cages hang from the spire near the Prince's Square in Old Crux.  Each is covered in thorn and wires.  Each hangs from at least twelve feet off the ground.  During Princeday itself, thirteen lycanthropes (werewolf, wererat, werecat... it doesn't matter) are thrown into the cages.  They scream in pain as the silver cages burn them.  And they hang there, while heralds of the Prince pronounce their crime over and over:

"Suffer Not A Lycan To Live."

They remain there until they are dead.