Blood Fest

"Vampires absolutely exist. And they've somehow fooled the Rhovani people into thinking they're not completely evil. I hear people in Rhovan freely "donate" blood to the monsters! You'll never find me in that Torva-forsaken place."

"I think you've had a bit too much to drink, friend."
— Overheard in a tavern in Salaris
  Blood Fest is an annual event unique to the cities of Rhovan. The theme of the festival always relates to blood, blood magic, and vampirism. Many believe the reason behind this is to poke fun at the perceptions neighboring countries have about blood magic in Rhovan and rumors about Rhovani vampires.  
On Blood Fest Day, a variety of events occur throughout Rhovan, including street fairs, raffles, and games. Spooky-themed confections are a favorite, particularly among children. People often wear red or dress in costume as vampires or other spooky creatures.
Vampirism is nothing more than folklore designed to scare witches away from practicing blood magic.
— Self-professed dabbler
  At these festivities, witches proficient in blood magic often set up tents where patrons can purchase their assistance with protection and fortification spells, scrying, and more.  

Masked Galas

The most notable aspect of Blood Fest is the masked galas, which attempt to strike some balance between the grandiose and the macabre. These are held in the cities and hosted by the most affluential members of society and in the capital city Intyr, by King Erik himself.   Masks can range from the simple to extravagantly painted papier-mâché creations, beautiful and/or grotesque in style. But attendees must wear some sort of mask and dress in formal, costume attire.   The galas last throughout the night and are filled with food, wine, and entertainment. Most Rhovani citizens may attend, witch and nomas, nobility and commoner, provided they are appropriately costumed. Prior to the event, many wealthier Rhovani even sponsor some citizens who cannot afford their own formal attire, and rental shops are plenty throughout the cities.  
Every year, I save up every bit I can to travel into the city for Blood Fest. The costumes, the dancing, the elegance. I absolutely love it.
— Rhovani citizen

History

Blood Fest has been celebrated since Rhovan's founding in 394 DE. Some records indicate the holiday may have been celebrated by some long before that.   The celebration has remained largely the same over the years, though it has grown in size and extravagance, and has spread into many of the larger cities of Rhovan.

Related Location
Rhovan
 
Rhovan.png
The largest and most
well-known Blood Fest takes place in the capital city, Intyr

Participants

Witches and nomas of all socioeconomic stations  

Observance

Blood Fest is held the day after Rhovan's Harvest Festival in mid-fall. The exact dates vary depending on peak crop harvest.

Rumors

Due to the secretive and isolated nature of the Rhovani people, and the fact that Rhovan's government refuses to outlaw certain types of magic, rumors abound surrounding the nature of Blood Fest. While officials from all nations refute these rumors, and many claim to not believe them, they circulate nonetheless.   Blood Fest Rumors
  • The drinking of blood
  • Sanctioned slaughter of nomas
  • Ritualistic murder / human sacrifice
  • Bathing in blood
  • Collective blood magic to curse enemy nations
  • Turning innocents into vampires

 

The Truth about Blood Fest (Spoiler Warning!)
While outsiders know of Blood Fest, and while some may have even attended Blood Fest events in Rhovan, the truth about the festival, its purpose and its meanings, are heavily guarded, as is the secret that vampires really do exist and seek refuge in Rhovan.  

Blood Harvest

All citizens, nomas and witch alike, are encouraged to donate blood during Blood Fest, and they are rewarded with lavish galas.   Just as Harvest Festival is about celebrating the harvest, enjoying good food, and storing away food for the winter, Blood Fest has a similar intention. Willing donors give blood for vampires to consume (sometimes in secrecy, sometimes directly).   Much of the excess blood collected is frozen and stored away for the winter. While vampires hate consuming this frozen blood, it will sustain them through the winter if conditions become too harsh to safely feed from willing citizens.    

True Meaning

Blood Fest is a celebration and a reminder of the interdependency of vampires and non-vampires in the Rhovan region.   Rhovan has a rocky, mountainous terrain and frigid climate. The nation has only been able to survive, and even flourish, through cooperation between vampires and non-vampires.   Witches and nomas provide a needed blood source as well as participating in the economy, and hiding the vampires amongst them, protecting them from other nations.   Vampires provide protection, build forts, castles, sturdy homes, and other stone structures, and even assist with things like harvest where needed.  

Other meanings

Other meanings are often attributed to Blood Fest, such as equality in death and embracing mortality.

History

Vampires have long been hunted throughout Imbria, sometimes with good cause. And they have sought refuge in the frigid, tough conditions of the north long before Rhovan formed as a nation.   During the 340s Drought, many people living in farming villages faced starvation conditions. The drought became so dire that many villagers fled to the cities or died. This also impacted vampires, as feeding became more and more difficult.   Emaciated and blood-crazed, a single vampire destroyed an entire village. Imbrians then launched a vampire hunt that destroyed over half the remaining vampire population.   The leader of the vampires started Blood Fest as a way to create blood stores, to prevent this types of tragedy from happening again. To this day, vampires make yearly pilgrimage to the village ruins prior to Blood Fest to reflect upon the costs of losing control.

 


Comments

Author's Notes

This article was written for the Dark Harvest flash challenge. Thank you for reading!  

About the flags

The flags were created by me using FlagMaker1.7


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Grandmaster Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
28 Oct, 2020 15:22

Really fascinating. I love the contrast between the article as a whole and then the secret truth behind Blood Fest. Danse Macabre is the perfect theme for this!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
28 Oct, 2020 16:18

Thank you :)