Fortitude

Session 7, part 2

Market day, and the truth about ghosts

Previous Part

Masae Writes
With so much happening, I have had to take twice as much space writing about this week. I will still be scrubbing ink from my hands when school starts again.

Wednesday
Arcadia comes to Fortitude for the Market.
It was a very strange day indeed! Everyone was in costume, the gathered Fae all dressed as (I suppose) ‘normal’ people, although a seven foot tall bright blue oni in a hawaiian shirt and shorts…
Anyway, with everyone playing opposites (children-as-monsters chasing monsters-as-people around the market) and everyone shopping for all the oddities that a year’s planning can think up, it was actually rather good fun. San-Ni spent his day dressed as a cheshire cat – the big grin on his mask suited him quite well. I don’t quite know where the little man on his cloud came from, but San seemed intent on chasing him all over the place. Too much cat in his costume, maybe. Then again, it could have been something in the strange noodle soup I saw him gulping down – it looked like a laboratory jar, full of preserved nerves. Unnerving, I thought!
Vya-chan’s Frankenstein’s Monster was very good… I think he went over the top on the lightning for his neck-bolts though. he certainly seemed to be regretting it, anyway. He managed to find someone selling terrifyingly realistic brain-cakes – they even bled when you bit into them. So gruesome.
Nami-chan was well turned out in a spectral-looking ghost costume – no bedsheet with holes for her! She seemed to enjoy the skull-cakes, crunchy on the outside, and (so she said) deliciously brainy on the inside. I will keep hoping it was just cake in there.
After one of my favourite stories I was dressed as a Kitsune. I suppose its a little stereotypical, but they are always so interesting in the tales. A lot of the younger children were having good fun chasing the Fae around, but I was more interested in the market… until one of the oni decided he would taunt me! A foot-race out in the open, in a place I didn’t know, he might have won. But in a crowd in Fortitude? He looked a little surprised when I managed to corner him. Maybe it was because he was used to being the one doing the chasing.
Of course, a big event like the Market had to be attended by the Sacred Child. She didn’t get to dance though; she was in a very fancy costume, and (poor Ayumi!) stuck sitting and watching everyone having a good time. Of course, this being the week of sorrows, she was there to remind us all of the long history of this festival. She was on a great platform, covered in the names and pictures of all the sacred children right back to the first – a girl named Vanya. She looked so forlorn, Nami and I bought her some sweets for later, just to cheer her up. She seemed really pleased with the ones we got her – beating hearts. I don’t know how (and I don’t want to know) but the chef had made them so that the still twitched and pulsed in your hand. Ayumi had a bit of a cheshire-cat smile as she bit into hers, and ‘blood’ went everywhere. I think she enjoyed the chance to make a mess.
The only other thing I have to mention, because no one will believe me, is the spectacle caused by Pferdinand . He had covered himself head to hooves in bright gold, even down to a pair of silly gold pants. It was at that point that a lot of the children were led away. It’s not usually a good idea to let them get ideas from Pferdinand.

Thursday
This was San-Ni’s big day, the one he has been carefully building up for weeks. We all think of him as a mischievous prankster, but he has a very serious side that I wish he would show more often. I have a lot of respect for what he can do, when he puts his mind to it.
He set it up rather well – Finding a place that wasn’t too crowded, but still had enough people for word to be spread and an audience to form. He started his chant – A Recollection of Fortitude, I think he called it. It drew people from streets around, as he went through, one at a time, all the stories he has been collecting. For a while now, the shadows that came to Ayumi’s dance on the first day have been getting stronger – almost real. From San-Ni’s stories, they grew a dozen times as strong. The stories he sang out about were enough to give them shape, and faces. I don’t know for sure, but I have a very creepy feeling that these shadow-people are more than just the memories that some people claim. San-Ni made them more. It was a hugely impressive feat.

On a smaller scale, and no less impressive for it, the rest of the Hayashi were hard at work making memories real too. Small ‘memory-glasses’ were given out to select people to recall the loved ones they had lost, and the most treasured moments they had shared with them. The glass pieces caught the memories, and (if the glass masters are to be believed) will preserve them forever. A few of the shadow-people were there, too, and added their own little touches to the remembrances, and showed their faces – the faces of the departed.

Friday
The festival moved from remembering all of the dead, to remembering one in particular – Jade Irinka, the sun. Each crossroads sprouted an effigy of her, all unique as the makers tried to capture their own image of the fallen but unforgotten goddess.
The effigies were all lit as evening fell (such as it does in Fortitude) by a hooded figure, riding a white horse. It’s part of the tale of Jade Irinka’s death of course, and seeing it played out was truly a sight. The Horseman drew out a bow and a black arrow, and set Jade Irinka ablaze with a single shot. Vya told a much more lurid story, but I think his talk of burning blood and magic is just him getting caught up in the moment. His walking Irinka burned very well, I must admit.

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