The Festival of Souls

"Let out your stress, scare your friends, and honor those you've lost. The dearly departed need a good laugh too when they visit from beyond the Veil. Make the most of it and wear your mask with pride!" ~ Rabbit Masked Festival goer in Averheim   The origin of the Festival of Souls is uncertain. Some claim it was begun by a priestess of the King of Bones who wished to honor the dead after the Confluence claimed so many lives. Perhaps as a way to offer them some semblance of peace and entertainment during their eternal rest. Others claim that the Elves began the tradition during the weakening of the Veil in the month of Umbra to give the souls that peered through a show that broke up the bleak eternity of death. Scholars agree however, that the Festival is a staple of life in Vanigraad and in Iolan beyond the eastern Laurentian Sea. It has become a week that many look forward to and prepare heavily for. Often beginning their preparations during Solstice, a full month ahead of the Festival.   The Festival begins on the first day of the last week of Umbra. The festivities vary slightly by country and by town, but is practiced by all mortal races. As death is no stranger to any one race alone. It begins with the decoration of false skeletons, placement sculpted Mind Flayers, the hanging of streamers and lanterns of orange, black, and yellow. The carving of pumpkins into various shapes and faces that mortals consider scary or amusing. With many carving out the seeds of the pumpkin and replacing them with different colored candles to illuminate them as night falls. Some of the more magically inclined even enchant the gourds to float a few feet into the air and drift like spirits over the festival. Costumes are encouraged and the wear of masks, to hide one's self from the spirits beyond the Veil are highly encourage. Some masks are more intricate than others, but many common forms include wolves, rabbits, and foxes. Some masks are intricately carved pieces of the highest art from ivory to porcelain. Others being more simple paper, or constructed from various bits of nature.   The week long celebration includes games like Capture the Ghoul, or Ghoul/Banshee/Vampire(a variation of Boulder/Parchment/Sheers), scary stories told by bards to fearful audiences in make shift amphitheaters, and a vast spread of sweet confectioneries free to all attendees of the Festivals.¬†Children are given sweets for wearing unique, fun, or scary costumes while their parents partake in specially brewed mead, sweet meats, pies, cakes, and all manner of baked treats. Other events and performers have their moments throughout this week long celebration as well; dancers, parades and floats, fire eaters, Tarot readers, and clergy of the King of Bones whispering to the dead all have their place during the Festival to be enjoyed by all no matter your social status or race. It is not all fun and games however, as each night the souls of the departed are offered moments of silence, and relatives of any who have passed on are given time to grieve, reminisce, and pay tribute to their loved ones.   During this special time, mercenaries are hired by smaller villages on the fringes of the kingdoms for protection. But closer to the hearts, the Queensguard for the Empire and the Brass Legion of Belrynd show in force to protect the Festivals. As such large gatherings of people tend to become beacons to the Creatures of Chaos. The rulers of each kingdom acknowledging not only the symbolic importance of such events, but the importance is has on the happiness of their citizenry. The Festival of Souls is an important week of happiness and joy in an otherwise harsh and unforgiving world. No matter the grievances between kingdoms, festivals such as this are a time to set those aside for another day and work towards the happiness of all.

Observance

The Festival of Souls is observed starting on the first day of the last week of Umbra(the equivalent of October)

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