From Interstellar Dispatches, November 15, 5000 (Holy Terra Calendar)
Santa Flamma Holiday Calendar
BYZANTIUM SECUNDUS — Holy City — Archbishop Palamon has announced a schedule of Santa Flamma celebrations throughout the Known Worlds to commemorate the day the Prophet saw the Holy Flame. Church officials on all these planets have coordinated for months with various local guilds to provide a unifying experience for all the Faithful. In addition, special rates for pilgrimage passage to any of these events from other worlds have been arranged through the Charioteers guild and Brother Battle, making it possible for many freemen to afford the journey.
The archbishop has urged that even those who cannot make the pilgrimage should celebrate this sacred day with feasts and exhibitions of joy, adding that any nobles who do not allow their serfs freedom from toil will “toil themselves unceasingly in the cold, lightless mines of Gehenne.”
Holy Terra — Rio Brasilia and Uluru. Two major sites to accommodate the vast crowds. The traditional Patriarchal Lighting of the Eternal Flame will take place just before midnight that evening in Rio Brasilia.
Byzantium Secundus — The Holy City. 24-hour celebrations take place throughout all circles. Archbishop Palamon will lead the Luminous Choir at St. Maya’s Cathedral.
Delphi -Nacado Holy State. “A Pact for Peace” is the theme of Bishop Vereen’s annual address to the people. No one is allowed to work in the region on this day, but people are urged to act in charity towards others.
Malignatius — Icahn. Bishop Erebus Toquil Decados hopes this sacred celebration will unite his fractured parish, and has commissioned a new play to premiere this night, enacted by a number of troupes in various locations across the world.
Aragon — Castle Furias. One of the most lavish celebrations, Prince Juan Jacobi Nelson Eduardo de Aragon will invite commoners into this legendary castle for the final Ceremony of the Hundred-fold Flame, where a massive crystal everlight is ignited, casting multicolored rays throughout a cavernous ballroom.
Kish -Escoral. The Prophet’s Cathedral will host a great ribbon toss, whereby a lucky group chosen from the crowd ascends to the heights and releases a slew of red and orange strips of cloth, representing the descent of the Holy Flame into the hearts of humankind.
Istakhr -Samarkand. The city and market are open to all this day, and a roving band of merrymakers ensures through ducal decree that no merchant charges more than a firebird for his wares. (Locals commented that the amount and diversity of items for sale diminished on this day last year.)
Leagueheim -Kesparate. Upon sunset, every single light in this massive city will be lit in a show of appreciation for the Holy Flame, despite Bishop Bibrox’s declaration of this as a “giant act of hubris, an attempt to rival the Flame itself with technology.”In addition, no less than five new magic lantern productions of the Prophet’s story will premiere this day.
Sinister Silence Shocks Town
BANNOCKBURN — Lockminster — The town of Lockminster on Bannockburn was recently plagued by a week-long, mysterious silence. This complete absence of sound, which locals blame on the excavation of an Anunnaki ruin, affected both residents and local wildlife alike. Several Brutes were driven to violent assaults by the unnerving lack of noise and had to be slaughtered by the local constabulary. Several crimes were blamed on the silence as well, including a rape and two brutal assaults. Avestites responding to the crisis came into conflict with local Scraver xeno-archaeologists, but a strong Muster presence prevented any untoward actions from either side.
Boss Hogan, leader of the Scraver team, could not be reached for comment. Father Payne, the Avestite deacon in charge, was vocal in his condemnation: “Once again the guilds have gone too far! Their reckless exposure of ancient mysteries endangers the souls of these townspeople!”
Once sound returned to the region, rumors ran rampant that a single person from the excavation site had spread the silence like a disease. Fearful townspeople assaulted a number of strangers, including an influential householder of the nearby Devane estate, ruled by Gladius Devane Hawkwood.
Father Payne announced an outreach program whereby missionaries would teach the townspeople lessons in tolerance for the innocent and the proper applications of justice. The Scravers have continued their excavations, despite repeated requests from Payne to cease the “ungodly works.”
Purgers Strike Enters Second Week
BYZANTIUM SECUNDUS — Port Authority — The labor strike of Harmony’s Purgers Guild entered into its second week due to the Port Authority’s refusal to meet its demands. The guild declared a strike after seven guildsmembers of a sewer work crew were torn apart by what is believed to be an outlaw angerak (pack) of feral Vorox. The Purgers Guild has refused to resume its sewage duties until the Port Authority guarantees its crews greater protection.
As yet, no evidence as to how such proscribed animals arrived on Byzantium Secundus has been found. House Cameton has threatened to interfere in the negotiations if the Purgers do not return to work soon, but a group of Amalthean missionaries has pled the case for the guild to Church officials in the Holy City, describing gruesome work conditions as sufficient conditions for mercy and Church support of the strike. Court insiders hint that the vendetta between Bishop Halforic and Baron Patrick Cameton over the infamous “Muddy Robes” incident from a few months ago may lead to an extension of strike negotiations. Readers may remember the Purgers’ role in cleaning up that mess, and the baron’s recalcitrance in admitting responsibility.
Dallying with Dahahalima
Well, my dear dumplings, what if someone held a synod and nobody came? That wasn’t the case with Archbishop Helios Atera Loman de Amani’s synod on Vera Cruz. Called to discuss the Kurgan question, Vera Cruz turned into a veritable who’s who of knights, explorers, inquisitors, and everyone else with an interest in those dirty ol’ barbarians — and that basically means everyone. Duke William Rochfort Hawkwood caused the greatest stir with his call for a crusade against all pagans. Still, I think most people will remember Baroness Alatara Seline al-Malik riding into Duke Marlin Haserta Iliona Bursandra’s opening night party on a gorgeous Hiran Chervin, carrying a battleflag she herself had wrested from a Kurgan warrior.
Other memorable moments? How about when Baroness Lucinda Dulcinea made her surprise appearance at the opening ceremonies wearing that beautiful Stigmata minx coat? Or when Captain Bartomo Greiveson of the Charioteers displayed all those fantastic sculptures he said came from Kurgan worlds like Khayyam and Al Fashir? Perhaps the biggest laughs came when Director Tarsimin Gustus of the Reeves read that hilarious letter from the Kurgan ambassador on Byzantium Secundus. You know, the one where he called on us to resolve our disputes peacefully, and to consider the best interests of Hira’s natives!
Of course, my angelic antipastos, your pious Dahahalima has not been spending all her time at these religious conclaves. You know I don’t have the temperament for the religious life. I leave that to my betters, like Canon Buchanan of Shaprut, whose running commentaries on the sins of the nobility have made for popular reading. I understand that more than a few nobles have contributed heavily to his ministry. They’re only doing what’s right, my darling delicacies. Shut your ears to anything you hear about them doing this to avoid having their names appear in Buchanan’s missives — or to ensure that their enemies’ names are there.
Thankfully, my cuddly cupcakes, your loving Dahahalima doesn’t have any enemies — not like Baronet Livanakov Decados has in Lady Atricia Li Halan. Rumor has it that the foul punch served at Livankov’s last Harvest Day celebration came straight from Lady Atricia’s cesspool, much to the consternation of the serfs gathered to drink it. Livanakov had to roll out plenty of barrels of beer to make up for that one. Could this rivalry really date back to their childhood days, when they both studied with Countess Jasmine Juandaastas? All I know is that Livanakov’s serfs are too drunk to tell (but what else is new?).
Speaking of alcohol, my precious ports, a certain Questing Knight too deep in his cups recently told me of an unnerving encounter he had with a Vau mandarin. It seems that this dashing young Questing Knight had been investigating rumors of a break in at the Vau embassy on Byzantium Secundus when the visitation occurred. The Vau apparently told him a fable about a serpent and a peacock who argued over their merits. The peacock could aspire to heaven but fell low due to its vanity. The serpent found itself tied to the earth, forced to make its way through dirt, but its natural sheen showed an inherent beauty less vain than that of the peacock. Somehow, this was supposed to be a great lesson for humanity. If only the Vau had taught this knight not to spit when he speaks!
All right, my charming cheesecakes, I must make ready for the christening of Baroness Morgein Hawkwood’s first child, Dermrod Malkovich Hawkwood. Named for both his grandfather and great-grandfather, we can but hope that he most resembles Morgein’s latest husband, Baronet Desoto Hawkwood. After all, before Desoto moved to Ravenna to join his bride, he had a reputation across Gwynneth for open-mindedness, generosity and good will. I always preferred his reputation for throwing a good party, myself. Look for me. I’ll be wearing my latest purchase, a set of Delphian wine sapphires said to glow around innocence. At least they’ll shine when I kiss the baby.
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— Own A Unique Heretical Relic — Completely Harmless!
Actual Kurgan religious relics brought from the battlefields of Hira. A variety of odd baubles meant for any number of mischievous purposes, now rendered inert by Church-sponsored cleansings. These include: Fingerbones of Kurgan “saints” (demons), clay idols for inflicting harm on enemies from a distance, curved daggers for drawing sacrificial blood, golden teeth to aid in lying charms, turbans to hide sinful thoughts from theurgic scrutiny, books of strange glyphs, amulets depicting monsters, and more! Visit Sir Seville de Pleroma’s Traveling Tricks Display when it lands on your world this season!
— For sale: Copies of Stan and Stultzy
Episodes LXIV to CXV, mint condition. Must unload quickly. Contact Lamorak Public Relations Board, Arden Starport, Byzantium Secundus.
Reporters roster: Bill Maxwell, Andrew Greenberg, Bill Bridges