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Sunday, October 31, 2010
Season of the Witch
The last day in the month of Redfall is known as Revenant Night. This is an old, pagan festival, never successfully extinguished by the coming of the Oecumenical Church. Folklore holds that the walls between the realms of the dead and the prime material plane thin, so that spirits who have not yet moved on to their plane of final reward can slip back into the living world. This seldom seems to occur in this modern age, but magical practitioners don’t rule it out entirely.
The time around Revenant Night is observed in interesting ways in different parts of the New World. In the City and other parts of the Union, many adults may go masked, and there is something of a superstition against using one’s real name lest it be overheard by malign spirits--though this is more observed in playful fashion today than a fearful one. Children dress in more elaborate costumes and in engage in ritual begging door-to-door.
Out in Heliotrope, witch cultists of the Black Mother are purported to have one of their most important sabbats on this night. Police often raid reported ritual sites, but usually only collar intoxicated young playboys, and naked, would-be starlet, cigarette or hat-check girls. The real power rituals and serious practitioners remain elusive--or either are smart enough to pay off the cops.
In some towns in the Steel League the evening before Revenant Night is called “Eve of Madness,” or the “Night of Misrule.” Some scholars believe this festive night of tomfoolery and petty vandalism has its historic origins in the mind-altering (and perhaps delirium inducing) effects of certain fungi which bloom on grain at this time of year in Ealderde. Others believe it is a psychic release, necessary due to the astrological influence of the Blood Red Moon--a full moon of large size and rust color which occurs around this time.
The Eve of Madness can turn ugly. Murders, sometimes gruesome and senseless ones, occur more often on this night, as does arson, and sometimes there's strange mob violence where the perpetrators seem to be in some sort of trance. This is most common in Motorton, the bustling manufacturing city built atop the mass plague-graves of Old Fort Narrows. Here the Red Dwarf holds sway. This mysterious harbinger of calamity once appeared as a redcap, but now is seen more often as a dwarf dressed dapperly in a crimson suit. It's said that the Dwarf has claimed the night as his own, and has been known to have his henchman bring random people off the street to his Room with Red Velvet Curtains (sometimes just the “Red Room”). Visitors describe the room as found in the basement of a ritzy old hotel--but no one has been able to relocated the building or provide directions to it later.