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The Day of Renewalby James Ruhland
The Empire of Thyatis does not recognise the "Day of Dread". Instead, by decree of the Senate, it celebrates a "Day of Renewal". Emperor Eusebius proclaimed that "Thyatians dread nothing, but we commemorate the passing of the darkness that shrouded the Empire and the renewal of the Imperium of the Thyatian people." It incorporates traditional midwinter festivities in addition to events added especially for the Day of Renewal. The faith of Solarios (Ixion) plays a central role, having managed to insinuate itself into the celebrations.
The "Day of Renewal" unofficially begins the day before. A little before midnight, the Isle of Sclaras shifts to the Ethereal Plane, where it will remain for a little over 24 hours, returning to its normal position on New Year's day. This is done for the convenience of Thyatis' wizards, and the enchantments required were created by them, and managed because Sclaras is not very large. They do this so that enchantments are not interrupted, wards released, and the like. This process is replicated in miniature in other parts of the Empire as well, with some portions of the Collegium Arcanum, for example, going Ethereal. The entire structure does not shift, just selected areas where it is deemed important to keep magical effects functioning continuously, without interruption. Several Temples, Fighting Orders, Rogue groups, and other organisations do likewise when they desire to keep magical protections and enchantments they do not want interrupted active. Some also make use of secure Demiplanes rather than the Ethereal. The Imperial Treasury, Magistranoi, Magist Demetrion, and several other prominent Thyatians are suspected of using this method.
The Day without Magic is obviously prime time for people trying to break into areas that are normally magically protected, and most people are not able to take the above precautions of shifting vital regions and items to another plane to protect them. This then is a lucrative day for people who are hired out or otherwise engaged to break into areas that usually are magically secure. Those with foresight tend to hire extra guards and put additional non-magical security in protection, however, so such endeavours are not without risk.
The official start of the Day of Renewal is at dawn. The Emperor and his entourage proceed to the Hippodrome's Imperial Box, which is connected to the Palace. The stands are crowded, as are those of the Coliseum, where a representative designated by him (usually his Heir apparent) stands in his stead. The Emperor proclaims "by decree of the Senate, a holiday celebrating the Empire's renewal". As he speaks, members of the Retebius Air Fleet and the Knights of the Air take flight and pass over the Hippodrome in formation, proceeding over the Heart of Thyatis and conducting an overflight of the Coliseum as well, then winging over to return to the Zendrolion. This is done as a deliberate display, to illustrate the point that Thyatis, unlike nations that rely primarily upon skyships, maintains an aerial capability even on the day without magic.
As this happens, units of the Imperial Guard and selected Legions begin to march into the Hippodrome to the tune of martial music, to pass in review before the Emperor, who opens horse and chariot races once they are done filing through. The troops then parade through the streets to the Heart and enter the coliseum, with the Emperor and his companion guards and entourage following behind. When they reach the coliseum, the Emperor opens the games. This process is repeated in miniature throughout the Empire, with local rulers and governors acting in place of the Emperor, and local members of the Knights of the Air and soldiers performing similar ceremonies.
For the rest of the day until dusk, Thyatis has the atmosphere of a fair. While trade and commerce is generally low on the "Day of Dread" elsewhere in Mystara, in Thyatis the Day of Renewal sees brisk trading. People buy from vendors, shop, and conduct business - especially transactions they want to keep safe from magical eavesdropping.
At dusk the Emperor leads a procession of his court, entourage, and companion guards to the High Temple on Imperial Hill, the former site of the Imperial Palace. It is sombre, conducted with an atmosphere of resolve rather than celebratory, and this too is replicated in miniature throughout the Empire, with processions from the Praetorium to that community's main temple. At the High Temple, the Prelate of Solarios presides over a service which has as its theme the need to fight the forces of darkness, decay, decline, and entropy, to be vigilant against their agents and to the danger they pose to the unwary and decadent. It is emphasised that Thyatis, from its heritage and history, is more keenly aware of these pitfalls and the need to be "watchful beforehand" against them than other nations and peoples are, who believe themselves immune to these influences and somehow exempt from the impact of entropy. Thyatis thus, he says, has a special mission, and while others dread Thyatians renew their resolve to combat the darkness. Unawareness and complacency are entropy's greatest weapons, and Thyatians must not fall into that pitfall, as it nearly brought the Empire low.
This temple service does much to pat Thyatians on the back as somehow exceptional, but its main purpose is to remind the Thyatians, keep them focused as a precaution against it. It extends the efforts of Thincol Torion, who reversed the Empire's invisible decline (see DotE DMSB, History of Thyatis section) until immortal intervention set it back again (see WotI, Book II). Thyatis has rebounded since the "Final War with Alphatia" and undergone a renewal under Emperor Eusebius, in part because of efforts to reinvigorate the spirit of Thyatians, which the Day of Renewal is a cornerstone of. The "Day of Renewal" serves not only as a commemoration of Thyatis' recovery, but a reminder of the time of troubles from which it is recovering. Since obviously not everyone in The City can fit into the High Temple, similar services are conducted in other Temples throughout Thyatis. This service, and the one the following day, are the one time when nearly everyone attends (except those who are on duty somewhere, such as guard duty).
After the service there is a torchlight procession down Emperor's Hill, through the Heart and back to the Zendrolion. Thyatians jump over bonfires on street corners to burn out whatever ill-luck and worry that remains from the past year and then return to their homes to eat, feast, and reflect on the past year. Firemen watch over these bonfires to insure they do not spread and are not unsafe.
At dawn the next day the Imperial Court and guards proceed again through the streets of The City to the High Temple, where another service is conducted, again led by the Chief Prelate of Solarios. This one emphasises the victory of the unconquered son, waxing in strength over the forces of darkness and entropy, just as the empire defeated its foes outside the walls of the city. The congregation sings song of life and renewal, emphasising perseverance in the face of adversity and the entering of a new and brighter era.
After the service ends, the Imperial Court, Senate, and the Emperor's companion guards conduct another procession back down Emperor's Hill, through the Coliseum, the Heart, and into the Hippodrome. Brocaded rugs hang from windows along the route and flower petals are showered down on the parade. Cheering throngs crowd the streets. Lesser nobles in the procession toss out handfuls of copper pieces, higher nobility silver, members of the Senate electrum Justicars, members of the Imperial Family gold, and the Emperor and his wife throw out platinum pieces. The Retebius Air Fleet, Knights of the Air, and several Thyatian Skyships conduct an overflight of the procession.
When the triumphal march reaches the Hippodrome, the Emperor gives a speech memorialising the Thyatians who gave their lives in the Empire's service over the preceding year, the sacrifices they made, heroic deeds done, and how they aided the Empire, and emphasising the "virtues of Thyatis" that are the reasons why such sacrifices are worthwhile. He concludes with remarks on the State of the Empire, and again announces a holiday and opens games. But this time, it is the New Year's holiday, and the Day of Renewal is officially at an end.