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The Festival of Ringkol
being a description of a festival of the Freeport Canton
by Jeff Hartke


The Festival Overview:

Spring is welcomed by all living things. Although winters in the Canton are generally mild and short, thanks to the blessings of the gods, the spring air evokes all things delicious. To celebrate the passage of the dark seasons and the renewal of life, the citizens of the Canton gather together in the riotous Festival of Ringkol. Usually lasting a week or more, Ringkol's Fest is a time of dancing, drinking and debauchery, and is thoroughly enjoyed by all with a zest for life.

Many who have enjoyed themselves at the fest describe it as a week long binge of eating, drinking, and scandalous behavior, but there are three major religious events that take place. It can be argued (and has, most strenuously) that the entire Fest is religious in nature, and that it would be a sin not to throw yourself into the spirit of things. For how can one better honor Ringkol and Flupnir than to drain the flagon dry, put on a mask, and pinch an attractive bottom?

Marriage of the Angrul:

Freeport is located near the mouth of the River Angrul, which in turn serves as the major artery for the movement of people and goods throughout the Canton. There is an intimate relationship between the people of the land and the River, and this is recognized and symbolized by a ceremony of marriage at the start of the fest.

The nobility and other quality travel to the Temple of Erinhoru, goddess of waters, and the Duke and his retainers enter into the mystery to offer sacrifice. They return, accompanied by the high priestess and other dignitaries, and begin to walk down the Grand Processional towards the River herself. The Processional is lined with thousands of merrymakers, who loudly hail the Duke and his party as they advance, following once he has passed by.

Arriving at the riverbank, the throngs are swollen by still more revelers, many of whom are in boats anchored in the shallows. The nobility approaches the river and the high priestess conducts a wedding ceremony, binding the River to the Canton. At its conclusion, the Duke drops a golden wedding ring into the river, which signals the actual beginning of the fest.

"Lord of the Fest":

Although the fest is primarily in honor of Ringkol, great honor is given to the trickster god Flupnir. After the conclusion of the Marriage of the Angrul, heralds announce that the Duke must retire with his new bride, and that a new Duke must be chosen to rule during the fest. At this time the Canton's premier fools, drunkards and jesters are brought forward, and one is chosen by popular acclaim the Lord or Lady of the Fest.

All things surrounding the Lord of the Fest ape in a humorous way the trappings of the Duke, the nobility and his court, and acts as a living lampoon of these worthies. The new ruler is given an honor guard of drunken buffoons armed with enormous bladders, who enforce the whims of their new lord. The Lord or Lady of the fest is expected to make outrageous demands of his subjects, poke fun at the nobility (who show they are worthy in Flupnir's eyes by accepting this with grace) and in general serve as a focus of fun.

One of the most notable achievements of past Lords of the Fest was Nergal Knucklehead's infamous declaration of war against melons. He and his court called on the people of the Canton to rise up and strike down all such fruit, and his call did not go unheeded. Hundreds of revelers went forth to raid fruit stands, but were met by a stout resistance from the vendors there. Melons were hurled, melons were split, and the streets ran yellow with the slippery seeds of the defeated.

Worship of Ringkol

:The very act of celebration is considered the worship of Ringkol, and every dance, toast and visit to a courtesan is held to be pleasing in her eyes. As a result, the Fest tends to resemble a very long party. Most revelers wear masks to conceal their identity, allowing nobles, prelates and other officials to cut loose without fear for their dignity.

For those whose liver needs a rest, there are many competitions and performances made by jesters, dancers and bards to be enjoyed. Most evenings there are parades by various groups, with floats, musical accompaniment and torch-bearers.

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