By Jeanne Dupris, Nor Eastern EIC
Thousands gathered in the Nor Eastern Capital of Oeil de Fleur this weekend for the memorial of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, renowned inventor, alchemist, and philanthropist (and philanderer). Perhaps befitting the man in whose memory the event was held, things quickly took a turn.
It all started well enough. A few important people said a few hollow words. His acts and deeds were rehashed for the hundred thousandth time (and will likely be rehashed a hundred thousand more as history marches on). Military leaders told of his great technological victory over Crowndon. Industrialists harped on their business rivalries and begrudging respect. A Rinkenbach Clockwork Butler intoned a popular Sarneaster hymn that many attest was Sir Rinkenbach’s favorite. Halfway through the ‘performance’, the Butler stopped, asked why it was singing at its own memorial, and then shorted out, sparks and smoke pouring from its head vents.
And then the Empress took to the stage. I’ll give Her Imperial Majesty credit…she held it together for all of ten seconds before breaking down, going through all the stages of grief except acceptance over the course of her eulogy, which included a rather sordid and detailed account of their relationship over the years. A large portion of the audience began laughing at one point. I felt absolutely TERRIBLE for her Illustriousness.
Next came the candle light vigil, at which point a delegation from the Academy of Alchemists and Alliterators, of which Sir Rinkenbach was an honorary alumnus, commandeered the festivities with their parlor tricks, sending great gouts of flame shooting from their tiny candle sticks in a brilliant display that set an overhanging bit of finery aflame. The reaction of the crowd was a mixed bag. Half of them panicked, the other half applauded, perhaps thinking it part of some elaborate performance. Either way, the alchemists seemed quite pleased with themselves.
After the speeches and vigils ended, the drinking began in earnest. Those who’d arrived sober got drunk; those already drunk got even more so. The enormous crowd broke down into smaller crowds, those with a dearth of personality orbiting those with an overabundance. I would be surprised if no less than three cults are born from this event.
While the majority of the square outside of the Imperial palace was awash with noise, there were quieter corners to be found; corners where Rinkenbach’s truest friends and enemies alike gathered to share in their respective sadness and delight. I overheard equal declarations of denial from both groups. It’s hard to tell who will miss him most. Few give our lives more meaning than those we love, and those we hate.
That was the kind of person Sir Rinkenbach was, after all. It was hard, if not impossible, to be indifferent. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the Triumvirate not touched by his influence. As the night wore on, and I’d seen all I’d needed to see, I myself eventually drifted towards one of these groups. Which one is something I’ll leave to your imaginations.