Praised be thy scytheIt's the end of winter, and the last days of the Reaper's month when the sign of the reaper's scythe shines the brightest on the night sky. In Morkadian culture it's believed that the glowing sign signifies that the souls of the dead finally find rest and ascend to the afterlife. To respect their passed and say their farewells both to aquintances, friends and loved ones, accompanied with waving the year off, festivals are held in it's honour.
A path of soulsIt all starts at the darkest hour of midnight, as the day prior is used to sleep and rest before the festivites. The populace then leave their cities, towns and villages as they slowly march for hours through woodland terrain to reach the closest river, lake or significantly sized body of water which combines the nearby homesteads. During these marches, one will witness the populace wearing tattered robes that stretch down a bit further than their knees, accompanied by long hoods and masks of carved wood which carry the shape of animal skulls. Most of those that join also hold aloft candles to guide them through the path that crosses mossy stones, pouring rivers and deep mystical forests that slip through it's magical moonlight to glimmer in thousands of lights from the mile long lines of people that follow one another, as their glow pierce through the night. Due to the tricky and often dangerous roads and exposure to threats in their path, the whole two to three hours long journey is a cermon on it's own. Named the path of souls, this activity splits the populace into different groups which carry different roles on the path. At the head of each trail and standing for the carts full of food and supplies comes the nuns from the Flame of Saint Katarina. It is they that walk first in a spearhead formation and lead with song, chants and prayer which resonates down the rows of followers. They can easily be spotted on their pure white gowns and steel crowns that adorn their head. They also carry banners with depictions of Saint Katarina II that light up the night with dozens of lanterns which hang from cloth strings. On the far edges of the path, the ceremonial huntsmen make their presence known, as they chase through the woods with lanterns, hounds and dashing clothings. Their role is to hunt down any threat to the morkadian people, or to hunt down morkadians themselves should one stray away from the mass and get lost in the woods. Secretly, the Pistoleers also aid in the protective endavour by recruiting armies of mercenaries to unknowingly guard critical positions where enemy forces may attack Morkadia, while they themselves slip into the country and it's masses unnoticed. Last is the citizens which walk the path. Be they farmers, carpenters, nobles or old criminals, everyone who seek to honour the dead and follow the flames in peace and unity are more than welcome to participate in the journey, as long as they wear the proper colour of allegiance. Although even the outlaws are only recommended to follow the holy code, almost nobody break it.
Moonlight feastOnce the travelers have reached their marks, the people will gather infront of the waterbed and send the candles out on lilypads. Then as they light up the water, massive tables are set up on rows after rows, with hundereds of chairs covering the grounds. They then partake in a three course dinner which starts in delicacies like caviar, lobsters, goat cheese with crackers and tons of smaller baked goods, before a more hearty meal is served. The cuisine that they then dine on is always a brilliant boar and beet stew cooked on dark mead, which is drank with alcohol free wine. It is said this is the very dish the Saint Katarina II had on the day she died. As for the deserts, pies and tarts of all tastes from sweet and sour are laid forth on the tables, in one of the most colourful culinary displays that the kingdom has to offer. While they dine, the show slowly starts with an opening of organs, piano, drums and guitars playing in slow and calm tunes that soon pick up and get wilder and more hectic once the dinner has ended and the show starts.
The partyAfter the great feast is concluded, the real party officialy starts with a blast, as hundereds of fireworks shoot out into the skies and the song and instruments blast out in a three hours long metal festival, where several different local bands and the nuns of the Flame sing, growl, scream and dance as they rip on their nine stringed guitars and put on a show with none the likes. The performance is however split up with pauses that have softer and slower songs for the couples to dance too. There are also the two mandatory speeches held during the pauses, one from the kings representative to communicate yearly winter message to the populace and the other the Flame's blessing and prayer to Saint Katarina II. Once the music ends, the party calms down to conversations and games between the participants. A time of fun and to get to know one another until the first rays of dawn finally break through on the kingdom. As the sun rises, a final blessing is whispered in prayer, as the Flame of saint Katarina nuns use their bardomancy to ascend the candles on the lakes up into the sky, to signify the dead leaving forever more. It is also the signal for the participants to clean up their mess they might have created, and beggin their journey home to sleep and start the next year anew.
Clothing symbolismThe Flame's pure white and steel crown signifies purity, spirituality and to bear a weight, in this case leading the people on the right track and upholding the tenents of Saint Katarina II. The pitch black robes the attendants wear signify their allegiance to the Mordûn bloodline, and that of Morkadinova. These people also carry pistols and blades hidden underneath their robes, to ensure they are well prepared souls the civilians be attacked during the celebration. They are also trained before the festival to perform first aid should anything go wrong. The green robes are carried by the attendants who swore their fealthy for house Locus. Through the years they've managed to be given even stranger looks than the lawless which join the trails. Totally thanks to their attachment to the ratsteeds which they bring along, accompanied with jars of fireflies and carts filled with smokebombs , colourful explosives and chemicals that they valiantly defend their title as the shining stars of the party with. The red robes signify that the wearer comes from house Castitas. They play a role of spreading warmth, love and joy at the festivity and aid the nuns of the Flame by carrying along food supplies, working animals, cooking devices, instruments and all manners of things that are needed for the grand show to go on. The brown robes are worn by the outlaws, criminals and other outcasts and mischief makers that most cultures would have thrown in jail rather than guests. Though it would seem every morkadian holds the memories of their dead sacred in their heart, as they often act the most helpfull and eager to solve any problem that may occur. The gray robes are lended to people of different cultures or races that wish to attend. It's colour signifies acceptance and balance, and is often very well recieved a fashion to wear as an outsider that managed to enter the kingdom. Even though highly unlikely that anyone from a different human culture would stumble into their lost kingdom, many of the peaceful Beastkin tribes are more than welcome to attend, and Drow prisoners of war are also given an opportunity to be free, grieve and feast. Even though they might be saying their farewells to the kingdoms enemy.
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