Monday, October 24, 2011

The Parade of Ghosts

An annual parade held in the town of Beynac is both a celebration of the changing of seasons and a macabre spectacle of local justice being meted out. “The Parade of Ghosts” begins at nightfall on the same Autumn day every year. Prisoners from the dungeons of Lord Aubry are bound in shackles and covered in white sheets, then marched up and down the avenues for an hour or so at sword point until finally ending up at the central square and gallows tree.

All landowning citizens are required to enter a lottery, the winner of which must point at a “ghost” of his or her choosing. The unlucky prisoner is then drowned in a barrel, hanged with the sheet still covering them, and left to swing until morning when they are brought down and their identity revealed.

Serious criminals are not the only ones subject to this fate - anyone currently imprisoned at the time of the parade is forced to participate. It’s thought to be an effective deterrent, coming at a time when the poorest residents become increasingly likely to take desperate measures due to the approach of colder weather.

The only downside that the Constable and other authorities have noted is the amount of superstitions being spread associated with the ancient oak tree where the criminals meet their end. While most residents worship the goddess Suthak, Lord Aubry still follows the older druidic ways and will not tolerate discussion of the tree’s removal. In addition to this, though the tradition of the Parade is enjoyed by most townsfolk, some lottery winners claim to be haunted by their pick - with at least one having committed suicide as a result.

5 comments:

The Spooky Whisk said...

Yikes.

Trey said...

Interesting. Perhaps the execution had its roots in a sacrifice to appease the gods of the oncoming winter (or the lengthing night)in less enlightened times? Anyway, good stuff. It has a "feel" of versimilitude about it.

Tim Shorts said...

I like it. Hmm, the good blog posts get you to thinking. The great ones you steal. Yonked!

ze bulette said...

@Trey: Thanks - I test read it out loud to my wife and she half seriously said "Did that really happen?" Success!

@Mr. and Mrs. Shorts: :D

Barad the Gnome said...

Nicely done - very creative, and yes, worthy of a 'did that really happen?"

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