Folktown

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In only a bit more than 200 years, the once tiny hamlet of Folktown has emerged a center for industry, culture, and thought, or possibly a center for business, the arts, and scholarship, or at least a powerful source of pollution, pretension, and some of the finest grant writing since Aminfarances.

A Gloss of the History of Folktown

Due to the large number of patrons of scholarship who reside in Folktown, the history of the community has been the subject of extremely thorough research. The following gloss is by necessity very brief and as a result somewhat superficial. Where appropriate, the author has taken pains to refer the reader to more exhaustive and authoritative sources.

Prehistory and the X Documents

X Document 103, reproduced from the collection of Baron Claude Lloyd Albert Smallwood, with scholar's annotations.

Archeological evidence suggests that small communities of agricultural and toolmaking peoples were settled on and around around Arbuckle Hill as early as -1100 EC. The earliest documentary evidence of this culture are the puzzling "X Documents." More than two hundred of these documents are known to still be in existence.

Nearby is a copy of the decorative cover of X Document 103, currently in the private collection of Baron Claude Lloyd Albert Smallwood. (The numerals, in red, are annotations by this scholar.) Like all of the known X Documents, it is painted in remarkably permanent vegetable pigments on carapace-leather, with distinctive orange and purple blocks and common text elements. The texts of (1) and (2) are the same for all known X Documents. The text of (2), with its character-forms that prefigure the modern Folktown common script, has been translated by Herbertoid as "this Joy, it is activity which prepares for harvest" in Everything We Know about the Folktown X Documents or as "We are amused, we are intent" by Herbertron in Herbertoid Knows Nothing about the Folktown X Documents. The text of (1) is apparently phonetic, in a script that has yet to be convincingly identified or translated.

The text of (3) is written in what appears to be a degenerate form of classical N-ary, with only a single dimension of meaning. The numeral part varies from document to document, but the remainder of the text is always the same. The text of Document 103 reads "Five are out of balance" or "Five are foolish", followed by the imperative "Find them".

Unlike the exteriors, the interior of the X Documents were likely painted or written on wood-pulp paper, and no traces of their contents survive today. The most remarkable conclusion that can be drawn from these documents is founded on the fact that the dyes used are almost certainly manufactured from local agricultural products. This, together with the large number of surviving documents and the sites of their discovery, leads scholars to believe the peoples of the region were shockingly literate - it is likely that the surviving number of these documents is close to or exceeds the population of the region at any point before -800 EC!

Early History of the Region

Our knowledge of the classical history of the area begins with the Arbugghyll Map, from circa -700 EC, which depicts a very small community of serfs living surrounding a manor farm. The next mention of the town, circa -640 EC, is one of the rare documents that survived Harandraff's Absolute Erasure (and probably originated in the Proto-Harandraff Orthonormal Basis Set {τ , ρ, φ}), the reign of the "disunited king" known to modern scholars as Proto-Harandraff ((-730 EC, -600 EC), 9ρ, 0). The document contains the charter for a "Free Town", the only one of its kind known to modern scholars. Blivingdel's translation of the preamblatory first degree of the charter (in Blivingdel's History of Folktown and Its Folks) reads simply:

You Wanted it? You Got It.
The fate of the folk is in the hands of the folk
Don't Come Crying to me when it all blows up in your face.
We and our officers wash our hands of you
The city is now called
By royal authority
     Chump Town
(ideogrammatic seal attributed to P-H ((-730 EC, -600 EC), 9ρ, 0)).

Although the charter (as was customary at the time) also contains secondary and tertiary structures, the secondary content is apparently a long definition of the word (rather politely) translated by residents as "Chump", and the tertiary content seems to be an explicit description of rather implausible mating habits, attributed variously to "The City", "The People", and "The Lord of the People, Ar Bugh". What prompted the issue of the charter is still a subject of much debate amongst historians.

The Folktown Court

(This section relies extensively on Burbleson's Early Folktown Court Documents in Translation, -639 EC and Early -638 EC Volumes I through CVI.) The issue of the royal charter for the town was followed immediately by a declaration, at town meeting, establishing "A court of common folks to provide for the common order, 'cause who needs that King character, anyway" (Burbleson, Vol I, Pg. 4). The first act of the judges named in the declaration was the drafting of the original court charter (Burbleson, Vol I, Pg. 6 through Vol VI, Pg 2044).

The papers and records of the initial Folktown court are an oasis of plenty in an otherwise parched historical landscape. An anonymous copyist of one of the Odlucian Library's original editions of Harandraff, the Greatest Guy Ever! editorializes that perhaps when confronted by the quantity of documentation an enormously verbose judiciary had produced after one hundred and fifty years of operation, Harandraff's inquisitors for historical purity chose to forget it existed rather than spend the years that would be required to burn it all. (It is notable that the page containing this commentary in the margins is the last page copied in that particular handwriting.) The picture these records paint of Folktown from the time of the charter through the great civil war is detailed and rich, but unfortunately rather narrow.

One of the first cases approached by the court, and one that sheds some light on both the depth and the limits of these documents is the case of "Baby Alek", investigated in detail by Herringer in his Mick's Executioner: Origins of the Folktown Executioner's Festival. The case involves a pair of families, the Hambeck and Harblock clans, both claiming parentage of the same infant. The case was initially presented to the court in -639 EC. Testimony lasted for four days. The court then considered the case for a full year before reaching the preliminary verdict that the child should be cut in half and one half should be distributed to each party of claim. A chronology of the remainder of the court's activities with respect to the case follows:

  • -638 EC: Court deliberates which half should go to whom, debates the measurement of one-half an infant.
  • -636 EC: Court issues preliminary table of legal infant metrics.
  • -636 EC (late): Legal infant metric table rejected.
  • -632 EC: Court issues preliminary executive order deciding that the infant should be dissolved into paste with powerful alchemical reagents and distributed by volume.
  • -630 EC: Court issues charter for "The Institute for Reactive Chemistry in Pursuit of Civil Justice" (IRCPCJ) "established for the research and development of a reagent appropriate to the flesh and exoskeleton of children without undue suffering on the part of the subject."
  • -628 EC: IRCPCJ bake sales spun off into "The Institute for the Fabrication of Delicious Treats in Pursuit of Civic Justice and Alchemical Research" (IFDTPCJAR) and ladies' auxiliary.
  • -613 EC: Court records receiving seven clay jars, each containing seven wurp of "ouchless child solvent" from the IRCPCJ. Records also state that the IRCPCJ is receiving sufficient support from the IFDTPCJAR to continue its research independently.
  • -604 EC: Court issues preliminary decision covering claimant liability for residual solvent in the liquid portions of the infant received, measured by the difference between one-half the weight of the child and the weight of the received portion, minus the weight of the jars used for the purpose of distribution, assessed at the fair market value of "the actual or a similar reagent used to disolve children to paste." Court charters "The Institute for Mercantile Research in Pursuit of Civil Justice" (IMRPCJ) to determine this value.
  • -599 EC: IMRPCJ issues request to the court for the definition of "A standard and negotiable measure of value" in order to complete its report.
  • -598 EC: Court establishes "The Institute for Standards in Mercantile Exchange in Pursuit of Civil Justice" (ISMEPCJ) to issue a currency. The ISMEPCJ is endowed with "two cart-loads" of delicious baked treats.
  • -590 EC: ISMEPCJ submits a declaration of rejection of charter to the court. Sub-Lochree Markleson's comments on behalf of the body are recorded as "We appreciate the brownies, really, but it is the opinion of the ISMEPCJ board that you people are a pack of loons." The ISMEPCJ recharters itself as the Chump Town Bank, begins minting the "chump chip" coin backed by harvest futures.
  • -589 EC: The IMRPCJ declares that 1 wurp of ouchless child solvent is worth zero chump chips, since the act of disolving a child in acid, even ouchless acid, is in fact of negative value to individuals and to society.
  • -587 EC: The court appoints "Mick from Hillbottom" first Marshall of the court, and orders him to execute the judgement, collect and dissolve the child, appoint witnesses, and distribute the winnings to the claimant families at no cost to the claimants.
  • -580 EC: Alek Hambeck-Harblock, a prosperous farmer, dies of natural causes.
  • -579 EC: The court appoints "Dex from Hillbottom" second Marshall of the court, and issues an order for the arrest and execution of "Mick from Hillbottom" for dereliction of duty.
  • -565 EC: Mick from Hillbottom dies in a farming accident. Cornelious Junior Crunch is appointed third Marshall, charged with the arrest and execution of Dex from Hillbottom.

Findings in this case continued formally until the Ivian court reform, and informally continue to this day as the traditional Folktown "Executioner's Festival" appointments. (Out of towners should note that modern appointees to the post of "Mick's Executioner" are only charged with wearing a comical hat, buying the drinks, and selecting the appointee at the following year's festival.)

In general, before the reforms of Odgar IV, the court continued to operate in this fashion, issuing orders and founding various organizations and institutions, but apparently was otherwise ignored by the residents of the area. In addition to founding and overseeing alchemical, baking, econometric, and financial institutions, the court of this period established:

  • -599 EC: The Committee for the Measurement and Maintenance of Measure of Land Parcels in PCJ which would eventually lead the funding, design, and construction of the Folktown Clocktower in -490 EC.
  • -570 EC: The Institute for Philosophical Research in PCJ which became the Housewives And Nannies' Debatory Banter Association of Ghyll.
  • -560 EC: The Institute for Wiping that Smug Grin off of Your Face in PCJ which became the infamous Dark Conventicle of Morphomancy.
  • -551 EC: The Institute for Municipal Earth Moving Arts in PCJ which became the famous Brotherhood of Golemists, instrumental in refining golem technology and at the center of very early Mechanaut research.
  • -520 EC: The Committee for Standards and Decency in Pantomime in PCJ which would schism to become both the Chump Town Council for the Arts and the The Order of the Sisters of Universal Civic Kindness and Sympathy (SUCKS).
  • -410 EC: The Council for the Preservation of Legislative Tradition in PCJ which in turn drew the charter for our current Nitenmangrey-influenced Parliamentary traditions and established a formal parliamentary body (although at the time with no executive power whatsoever.)

The charter of each of these institutions was accompanied by the charter of a corresponding institution to handle bake sales for supporting the associated organization or endeavor. The court of this period also provided for the creation of what is today the Folktown militia and its associated bake-sale operations.

In -500 EC, the Chump Town Bank was renamed "The Folk Town Bank", likely for reasons of credibility. Since by this time the bank was directly involved in much of the trade between the thriving but still small community and its neighbors, the name stuck, and by -450 EC the community was known to the outside world as "Folktown".

In -420 EC, the (now Folktown) court issued a declaration which at the time was thought of as typical silliness, but which would have far reaching implications. Citing the cycle-clause from the Chump Town Charter "the fate of the folk is in the hands of the folk", and reasoning that not just the town but all of Ghyll was populated by folks, the court declared that "this court's ruling knows no formal or informal border, and it resolves to adjudicate, and through its executive to act, on petitions from all folk in all places."

At the time of what would later be called "the Grand Declaration" there had not been a petition to rule set before the court in over one hundred years. The declaration was dismissed as hyperbole by the residents of the hamlet, and as insanity by those few outside of town who happened to note its issue. Copyist's commentary aside, scholars are uncertain whether news of this declaration ever reached the ears of King Harandraff the Great or his courtiers.

Folktown in the Golden Age

At the end of the great civil war in -390 EC, the life of the small community of Folktown was still very similar to the life in neighboring farming communities. While the small size, the independent traditions of the community, and its easily visible clock tower shielded the region from the potentially catastrophic geographic effects of the revolution, the economic panic accompanying the war caused the collapse of the Folk Town Bank and ended Folktown's role as a center of finance. The town boasted only a court council that most considered a collection of harmless cranks and a variety of research and philanthropic organizations, few of which had very broad effects or implications for the average resident beyond the easy availability of low cost brownies from increasingly competitive charity bake sales. Indeed, saturation in the brownie market is what many scholars believe led to the fairly poor record of success for most of the "in PCJ" organizations chartered by the court after -400 EC. While the golden age of Ghyll marched on through the 300s, Folktown was largely left behind.

The "space rock" disaster in -306 EC marked an important turning point for this peaceful, if eccentric, village. The seemingly random death of fifteen children playing in Stockwood field, the site of the space rock impact, prompted Arthir Jhostings to publish his breakthrough paper on Cataclysmatology, and began to attract the attention of the scholars and (more importantly) the students of Bute University. Also, in mourning, the Folktown Arts Council established an annual tradition of public music performance in memory of the lost children. These "rock concerts," initially featuring local musicians singing sad ballads, soon began to attract more qualified and diverse performers with the promise of easy crowds and cheap brownies.

Many years later, the two processes set in motion by the grim catalyst of the disaster would reach a high point with the -275 EC Stockwood Music Festival. The festival, organized by the Folktown Arts Council, was presented on the same field where the disaster had occurred, and featured 32 of the most popular musical acts of the era over three summer days. The organizers planned for an attendance of 2500 people (an attendance count considered "overly optimistic" by some members of the FAC.) Current estimates of actual attendance are above 10,000 souls, including the entire student body of Bute University. The number of brownies purchased from various Folktown organizations over those three days likely exceeded the combined sales of the preceding six years. When the smoke cleared, Folktown's organizations were wealthy and its reputation as a center of arts and culture was legend. The Sisters of Universal Civic Kindness and Sympathy were appalled, and their reaction began a radicalizing of the order that would lead to the Arbuckle Hill Uprising. The expense of providing for the crowd bankrupted the Folktown Arts Council. Over half of the university students in attendance did not return to the Bute University campus and settled together with the farming and baking folk of the town.

One of the students in attendance, who did not settle, was a young Odgar IV.

The Ivian Reforms

In -263 EC, the third year of the Ivian rejah, Odgar IV returned to Folktown to attend the memorial concert. The concerts at this time were much smaller than the Stockwood "phenomenon" of '75, owing to the still almost-insolvent state of the Folktown Arts Council combined with the growing activism of the Sisters of Universal Civic Kindness and Sympathy, and the rejah commented disappointment to his historian (retained by Odgar IV himself out of his own private funds as his renown and power was still in line with the standard level of any other anonymous Iganefta neighborhood rejah.) After the concert, however, Odgar IV had the opportunity to observe the Folktown court and Parliament in deliberation, and see the effects of the, now once again, thriving institutions surrounding them.

The large body of relatively well educated but un-credentialled (and therefore inexpensive) labor made up of the Bute Drop-outs, combined with the massive influx of cash resulting from the brownie sales bonanza, had sparked a renaissance within the various research institutes and councils of the town. Odgar IV actually met and had drinks with a young Mek Meckton and Dirk Blood-Skull-Saint Monsterface, whose pioneering directorships of the Brotherhood of Golemists and the Dark Conventicle of Morphomancy respectively would later become legend. He also had the opportunity to debate at length the role of public musical performance in moral community life with an unnamed Sister of Universal Civic Kindness and Sympathy (some folk traditions claim this sister was the woman who would in death be known as Sister Ursula Sandwich, although this is extremely unlikely in fact.)

In His Last Name is "Danger": A Memoir of Odgar IV, Odgar IV's historian would record:

By the time we left, his disappointment had turned to a sharp, uncharacteristic excitement. On the road back to Iganefta, he dictated an account of his meetings and observations for almost an hour, all the while munching brownies from a bag. It is the only time I ever saw the great rejah talk with his mouth full. Finally, I protested.
"The Great and Grand Rejah," I said, "It is said that to a fool, all the wisdom of the wise is as the ravings of madmen. It may be then what this fool heard from each and every person we spoke with were words of wisdom."
The rejah replied: "In the last three days I have spoken with 27 people. Three were madmen, three were senile, four were dreamers, three were con men, two were salesmen, four were farmers, two were beggars, two were drunk, one was a zealot, one was psychotic, and two were children. None treated me with respect due to my station."
"But not one, not one, of these people mispronounced my name."

Odgar IV would maintain a deep interest in Folktown from that day until his untimely death. During the next 24 years he would regularly intervene in the life of Folktown by decree, through rejah decision, and through other means. He also arranged to perform there publically each year for the remainder of his life at the memorial music festival, although he never performed any of his own compositions on these occasions.

Early Ivian Reforms

By -257 EC Odgar IV's power and influence throughout Ghyll were great enough for him to begin to act directly in the life of Folktown. His early reforms (from -257 EC to -250 EC) include the renaming of the streets, roads, and landforms of Folktown and the surrounding region, a re-endowment of the Folktown Arts Council from his personal treasury, the creation of a standards body with the power to impound and destroy tainted or low quality Baked Goods (a reform that was for a time rather unpopular in Folktown itself, but resulted in a rise in both the price and the quality of the now famous Folktown brownie), the establishment of branches of many Folktown professional organizations and institutions at first in Iganefta and later througout Ghyll, and the creation of an advisory "Board of the Wise", with members chosen from these organizations (so that many were Folktowners), to reside in his Iganefta court.

The Radical Reforms and the Grand Declaration

The Arbuckle Hill Uprising of -250 EC appeared to have a profound effect on Odgar IV's attitude toward Folktown. Cynics have noted that the rejah's "mellowing out", his heartfelt speech and his call for canonization of the Martyr were accompanied by his draft of many of the barkeeps and restauranteurs responsible for the Arbuckle Hill Uprising to officer's posts in the Folktown militia.

Later that year. Odgar IV began the most radical of his Folktown-centric reforms by encouraging the construction of the Folktown to Iganefta causeway (which would much later become part of the Cataract Road) by picking out the wealthiest looking attendant at his court, once per week, and "recommending" a donation to the effort. The same year, at his annual Folktown performance, he announced a re-charter of the court and of Parliament, presented both bodies with charters and articles he had drafted himself, and announced the retirements of all sitting members of both bodies and of the field marshall of the Folktown militia. The news came as a shock to the judges and representatives. However, due to the very generous "honoraria in recognition for years of service" awarded personally by Odgar IV to each member of the group, there was a great deal of cooperation from the outgoing officials.

In -247 EC, with the completion of the causeway, Odgar IV began to consult with, and defer to, the new bodies in the course of his day to day administration. Citing "the Grand Declaration" of -420 EC, he officially claimed that the source of his authority was the court and Parliament of Folktown. Of course, the new charters for both institutions stated that Odgar IV himself, for the duration of his life, possessed the sole right to appoint and dismiss members at will or dissolve and reform either body, and he was also to personally hold the post of Field Marshall of the Folktown militia for life.

Post-rejah Folktown

The absence of political crisis following Odgar IV's death in -239 EC was remarkable. Perhaps owing in part to the manner of their ascension, the court and Parliament (and the Folktown militia) took up the reigns of government with little fuss. The Ivian charters provided for popular elections to Parliament and for a process of Parliament appointments to court positions; the charters were followed without question. Daisy and Brandi continued their joint administration of the Folktown Arts Council with a minimum of bloodshed, and continued to lay the foundation for the modern Amphitheatre aristocracy.

Modern Folktown

The people of Folktown can likely speak for themselves about the last two hundred years; I have reproduced the following from the pamphlet Folktown!, published this year by the Folktown Board of Commerce and Tourism in PCJ:

Recent history has seen the growth of Folktown from an honest, hard-working farm and brownie community into a modern, industrial (but still honest and hard-working) city. The founding of Folktown University in -220 EC was quickly followed by the founding of industrial giants the Folktown Steamworks Company (-199 EC) and Alchemical Research Laboratories (-197 EC). The Folktown Commodity Exchange first rang its opening bell in -191 EC.
The famous Folktown court system had its second major overhaul in -179 EC in response to the overwhelming compassion by the people of Folktown and all over Ghyll to the death of Adamantine Areola Duphine, resulting in the "Third Folktown Court Charter" that is the law of the land to this day. The political change did nothing to slow the growth of the now vibrant city. In addition to scholarship and industry, modern Folktown also boasts an impressive tourist trade, and not one but two major sites of EctoMechanaut Manufacture, the Ghyll Mechanician's Guild Headquarters and the Folktown Mechanoworks Corporation. Even after recent unfortunate events prompted a major downturn in the Charitable Brownie Market, the people, culture, and economy of Folktown are still going strong!

Well.

Citations: Odgar IV, Arbugghyll, Proto-Harandraff Orthonormal Basis Set .

--Joe Bowers 22:49, 24 Jun 2005 (EDT)


Bravo! Simply spectacular work! --Brother Arfrus 10:43, 25 Jun 2005 (EDT)

I'm glad you found this entry helpful! Other resources that may be of use to interested scholars include Folkin' Awesome! A Popular History of Folktown, available by mail from Folktown Board of Commerce and Tourism, in PCJ, The Unlikely Phoenix: Folktown Influence on Ghyllian Letters and Culture by her honor the lady Mayor Bavarian Creame, and The Heart of Darkness: Folktown Hegemony, Alien Rule, and Disturbing Brown Fluids by Bobby Shwarmph and Head Deux. --Joe Bowers 12:38, 26 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Absolutely wondering, dear boy. --Morbus Iff 18:57, 28 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Simply smashing work, Sir! I applaud your hard work in this article! Hoorah! --Trousle Undrhil 23:08, 2 Jul 2005 (EDT)

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