Once a year, sometime in the final month of the calendar, the sun offers its light to us for 20 full hours. Each year, this event comes on a different day, and it takes the applied knowledge of scholars and mystics to narrow down its arrival.
But the moment that the particular day is known, people across Marielda prepare for the festival. Special dishes are made: fig-and-fishtail pies; huge, communal bowls of pasta; slow roasted pork cooked for weeks over the heat of the sea. Adults set aside holiday outfits, and children begin building their bracelets of iron ring—ready to be shook in arhythmic joy at the arrival of the warm glow on the eastern horizon.
On the day of High Sun, Marielda celebrates life, safety, and contentedness. The city gives praise to Samothes for providing them protection and sustenance, even in grim times. In Chrysanthemum, people celebrate the day privately, among close kin and kind, sitting on roofs with a glass of cold cocktails. In Helianthus, they march down the street in parades and challenge one another to holy, ritualistic competition. And everywhere throughout the city, whatever is drab becomes bright. It is the one day in the year that Black Slacks, with their garish shirts, do not stand out.
(And all of that says nothing about the hats. Oh! The hats!)
And then, when The Long Day, the Day of High Sun, finally ends, the year turns over. That day—whatever it was before—becomes the first of the year, and Marielda moves forward. The days get shorter from there, but only by a bit—for the months that follow, the world glows with heat and energy.
The Day of High Sun is a promise: The light of Samothes will continue burning eternally, and under its light Marielda will flourish.
Now, in the stories that persist about Marielda, it's often suggested that The Six and The Golden Lance are natural opposites. Cutpurses that move with unstoppable force moving headlong into justice embodied as immovable objects. And I see where that comes from. People like a good story, and good stories need mythical heroes and devious villains. But live long as me, and you'll learn there ain't none. No heroes, no villains. It's just people. The Six and the Golden Lance, they were more alike than different. A group of independents temporarily aligned, not unstoppable, not immovable, just lucky, and mortal.