The final preparations for Sorrows week have all been completed. The christian folk have wrapped their crosses as a display of welcome to the Fae who will soon come visiting, and all the ironwork has been wrapped to keep it from sight. I am told (though I didn’t have a chance to go and see) that Vya-chan got a little carried away, and wrapped some things in swathes of cloth, and others in almost nothing. It sounds very much like him.
Kobo-sama allowed me to help on his ship, not something I have done before. Grandmother still doesn’t trust me to help in the kitchen though. I spent a full day washing dishes – I’m sure she made more mess just to keep me out of the way!
The rituals began – and there were many. As a fishing family, Kobo-sama, grandmother and I began our day on the docks, offering prayers to those lost on the lake, and the great seas beyond. We offered prayers at the foreigners graveyard, where the bodies of those unknown in Fortitude are laid to rest. Even if it is their last home, the spirits of the unnamed dead should find comfort and peace here.
We followed the Hayashi procession to the main graveyard. I would have run ahead to walk with Nami-chan and San , but that would be a show of disrespect. Vya-chan was with them, and even he seemed to be acting sensibly. (His sailor-suit was far too cute for so solemn an occasion though!).
All of the Shrine families were in procession, and every able bodied person in Town was there. And Ayumi finally had her chance to dance. I know she practices hard, and it showed, it truly did. She called out to the shadows of the dead, to be with us for this festival, and they came. Tiny little shadow-people, dancing with my friend. I don’t know if its supposed to be a part of the dance, but she even managed to throw a shadow-kite for them to play with.
I went over to thank her for such a wonderful performance, and happened to overhear something quite pleasing, though I don’t know that I will tell Ayumi. Katrina-Sama was speaking with Captain Susonov, who saw me hug Ayumi, I think. The Captain commented (perhaps a little louder than she needed?) that Ayumi had danced excellently, even better than Katrina-sama had in her youth. I felt so proud of my friend!
While we sat and picnicked with the departed (all very strange) San-Ni disappeared, as he does. I heard later that he had been at one of the old Wanderer’s Shrines . I don’t quite know who he was waiting for, but I guess they didn’t come. He was still alone when I saw him later. I suppose there is a secret there, one that we don’t see under that ne’erdowell prankster attitude of his. I feel a little sorry for him, but I can’t quite say why.
The Russian Orthodox church takes it leave. While I’m not Russian, or christian, and neither are Kobo-Sama or Grandmother, we still went to line the procession route. Part of this festival is about community, after all. The big cross from the church and all their holy things were marched through the streets on display. It was quite a sight, part of the trappings of making the Fae welcome.
They came in the night. It took a little effort to persuade Kobo-Sama, but Grandmother, in that very serious way of hers, said I had better get a look at the Fae when they weren’t up to too much mischief, in case I should come across them when they are less well-behaved.
They were impressive, and terrifying at the same time. First in the procession came the swan people, all elegance and perfect poise. They were led by a young woman (I suppose? Being Fae, its impossible to be really sure) dressed for ballet. She had enough grace to make anyone stop and watch in awe – even George-chan . He had best take care – pretty hair and a winning smile are like honey to some of the Fae!
After the swans came the Kelpies – seal people. They looked entirely normal, and Kobo-Sama says there are a few living in Fortitude all the time. The next was a spriggan, a wood sprite. He looked ungainly, but he kept an easy pace with the long legged creatures around him. After him came a procession of Cheshire-cat people. I don’t suppose Fortitude’s rats will care for them at all. There was something very nasty in the way they smiled. There were skeletons rattling along – a little bit odd, in the middle of so many fairy-tale creatures. But I won’t speak ill of them, it would be bad manners after all.
It’s harder to keep from being rude about the last creatures I saw, before Grandmother shoo-ed me off to bed. I know rather more stories about Oni than I do about any of the rest, and the big, red-skinned one in charge of his little cohort was a true monster. Fiery skin, curly horns, and a huge glaive too. I’m trying hard to be a warrior, but seeing him, I feel very suddenly like a little child again.