Excerpted from Holy Crap: The Great Sects Change Operation (check out the kickstarter here!)
A Santanist horc decked the halls
With smelven heads, fingers, and balls
He lashed his eight paindeer
And laughed with insane cheer
As viscera dripped from the walls
The smelf-enslaving nabmaster known as The Santa is another of those old gawds from back before the Flush. Vile and evil in the extreme, the Hoomanrace apparently paid tribute to this dark and violent entity by arranging elaborately wrapped and decorated sacrifices under a pointed tree. An abominable representation of the jagged pike upon which The Santa impaled his many victims, it too was adorned with a vast assortment of dangling effigies, blood-red splatters, lashing garlands, and various stars and blades in emulation of the tools and weapons with which The Santa would jollily punish his slaves and eviscerate his enemies. Huddling together in fear, the ancient Hoomanracians attempted to abjure themselves from The Santa’s woeful ministrations with an annual barrage of waffles, nog, and song. They hung socks atop burning altars in deference to his bizarre fetish. They ornamented their homes and doorways with grizzly reminders of his malevolent predilections—circular wreaths in imitation of the lashmaster’s yokes and chains, pale hoary monsters composed of severed heads stacked atop severed heads, prancing paindeer, scorching tapers, and various arcane words of power. Such feeble wards did little to halt his loathsome nocturnal incursions. He visited digs across the glob, with a particular proclivity for those housing Jelvis’s devotees, spreading malice and terror from rooftop to rooftop. Woe unto the Hoomanracian who neglected to leave a glass of mook juice and a plate of cookies when this cruel and greedy fiend came calling…
Today The Santa is worshipped almost exclusively by horcs. His vicious and ruthless disciples share their master’s affinity for voyeurism, burglary, gluttony, and the callous and brutal enslavement of smelves. Headquartered on the island of Norph in a sprawlingly dismal castle of blood-striped bone spires and rusted crenellations known as The Santa’s Slavepit, the devout perform tenebrous rituals, torture smelves, chug sacramental nog, torture more smelves, play with toys, torture more smelves, plan heists and home invasions, torture more smelves, bellow festive dirges, and torture yet more smelves. They torture an awful lot of smelves. It’s kind of their thing.
As readers may or may not be aware, Credulous Shmeckle isn’t down with the torturing of smelves (or the torturing of anybody, really). That’s why my adventures among the Santanists were particularly challenging. Sure, I constantly feared for my life while I lurked in disguise among the Jemimah’s Witnesses. I endured profound agonies as a Suffering Sock. The Returners From Whence We Came had me tumbling from rooftops and feigning fearlessness as I battled creeps far beyond my might, smiling gleefully at impending doom. Sean’s disciples performed grotesque and virulent intrusions upon my every everywhere yet still I wincingly grimaced and grinned. I’ve wallowed with Crudbrothers in unfathomable mucks, wonked transcendental ‘spronge with the Fungish, and jockeyed corpses with the Danged. I’ve cuddled broccodiles as a Critter Cultist, feasted with my fellow Bottomliners while the destitute groveled for scraps at our feet, and been targeted by Flower Children for harshing the euphoric sonority. I’ve done stuff, is my point—grizzly, dangerous, painful, and occasionally unethical stuff. I’ve never done stuff, however, that directly harmed an innocent peep. Those smelves being so unjustly incarcerated, cruelly coerced, and atrociously persecuted had done nothing to earn their place in The Santa’s Slavepit. Their only crime was being born or abducted into a realm where such things aren’t merely accepted, but encouraged by divine edict. I could not, in good conscience, immerse myself wholly within this spiteful and wicked creed. I could, however, immerse myself partially.
The Great Sects Change Operation must commence, of course, and the Santanist faith, as dreadful and malicious as it is, nevertheless deserves representation in this volume (if only to arm the reader with knowledge should an unfortunate interaction occur). Calling upon those same weirdos who assisted me with the Witnesses and the Returners, a zazzular horc disguise was obtained. This endeavor, however, would require something more—something fabulouslysubterfugical. After a great deal of research, many days of arcane finagling, consultation with a cunning dementalist, and several unfortunate explosions the thing was a thing. I was now the proud owner of a device (in the aspect of an ornamental eyebrow cuff) that would allow me to waggle a convincing deception. Any unfortunate I pretended to accost would appear (to the eyes of eavesdropping horcs) to be suffering egregiously, while in actuality the fellow would remain completely unharmed. Sweet.
Cloaked in horcly guise and armed with my newly acquired boondoggling doohickey I donned some gay apparel and hopped a tub from Floom to the island of Norph. Once there I made my tremulous way to the Santa’s Slavepits and into the very workshop of evil itself. Nothing in my life’s experience could have prepared me for the cruelty and violations I witnessed during those long months among the Santanists. Here is a dogma that enthusiastically emboldens its adherents to peer through the windows of private digs, peeping at peeps in their most vulnerable and intimate endeavors. Larvae too are the subject of such scrutiny. In fact, nippers and squirts bear the brunt of this sacred and secret surveillance. Santanists refer to this practice as kringling, the ostensive purpose of which is to assess the relative levels of naughtiness and niceness each moppet displays. Santanists encourage naughtiness, of course. Those found lacking in such a quality are pranked and bullied, usually by Santanists lurking in shadows and acting beyond the notice of potential witnesses. The goal is to convince the larvae’s parents their nestlings have gone mad, inflicting ruckus upon the household and then blaming their antics on imaginary fiends. It’s great fun, apparently, and Santanists get their jollies by corrupting youngsters. Some of their jollies, anyway…
Another popular pastime among the festively callous Santanists is an activity unironically known as a Slay. This exploit usually involves a group of Santanists hitching up a bunch of paindeer to a well-ornamented sled and then flying that toboggan (paindeer can fly) onto the rooftop of some unsuspecting digs. A timer is set (usually in the form of a nine-branched candelabra embedded in the snoot of an accompanying slave) and the Santanists, equipped with empty sacks and brutal armaments, smash their way into the place, nabbing as much stuff and slaying as many peeps as possible before the tapers are doused. Whoever steals the most jazz and cleaves the most faces is declared the winner and the other participants owe him a mug of nog. It’s all quite festive.
The Manglers: This sect of deranged contanimators and depraved danged wranglers harvest the bits and pieces left over when Santanists go on a Slay. They mutilate, manipulate, and reanimate such grizzly remains and swiped jazz, creating horrifyingly miscombobulated playthings and obsequious drudges to serve and entertain the evil whims and damnable desires of their villainous creed. Santanist enclaves are rife with such creations, many of which are equipped with vicious blades and fouler devices (in case you needed yet another reason to avoid those places). The phrase “Born in a Mangler” is derived from this cult’s popular practice of incubating their fell inventions within their horcish gizzards and regurgitating them as surprise gifts for their appreciative peers.
Rites, Rituals, and Observances
In many realms peeps still hang socks and dress their trees with terrible tributes and dread mementos on the eve of the Fifth Elsetime in hopes of staving off the predations of The Santa and his followers. This tradition, which Santanists refer to as Xmas Cleave, is the holiest of evenings. In the silence of the night, Santanists slowly creep to the homes of their chosen victims (usually those who neglect to decorate). Brandishing baleful axes they cleave asunder the doors and portals, singing obnoxious songs while demanding free booze and snacks from those within. Those who refuse (and some who comply) are themselves chopped down in tribute, their eyes forming the eponymous “X”s for which the holiday is named. Sacrificed corpses are gathered by wandering Mangler gangs to be made into dreadful toys or reanimated as slaves of the danged. Of course, such activities are discouraged by the hoinks and authorities of most burgs, but those peeps are usually too busy decorating their own digs to do much to stop them.
The fourth Spoonday in Fouruary (which also marks the day when the Jeezle Freakian gawd emerged from his funereal burrow) is another cause for celebration among the Santanists. They practice a ritual called Stool Logging. It’s a crude and perplexing ceremony whereby a Santanist will approach a proselytizing Jeezle Freak then knock him down and poop on his chest (because apparently Santanists are twelve years old).
Santanists enjoy other holidays as well. There’s the annual Gelding of the Paindeer and its accompanying all-you-can-keep-down buffet, the Jingling of the Bells during which horcs repeatedly kick each other (and also unsuspecting passersby who aren’t even playing) in the business partners in an effort to see who can endure the most agony. Oh, and you should be so lucky as to be invited to a young Santanist’s Missing Toe ceremony. It’s a sacred rite of passage wherein weaponless neophytes chase down a group of armed smelvish slaves. The goal is to overpower the captives and chew the pinky toes from their desperate feet. Whichever budding Santanist regurgitates the most toes is the winner. He’s accepted as a full member of the creed and everyone else owes him a mug of nog.
It is a very rare Santanist indeed who claims anything but horcish lineage. Occasionally a particularly cruel or festively savage bodul, croach, or cremefillian might join the horde, but such peeps are rarer than wings on a flew. For obvious reasons this religion is most common on the island of Norph and in the various burgs and bogs of Aggogg, although it is becoming increasing popular among horcs across the glob. Symbology Santanists are all about the symbolism. Just about everything they wear, carry, ride, or live in is decked with various glyphs, effigies, emblems, and paraphernalia. Most of these things are in deference to The Santa’s obscene predilections or in emulation of his historical accoutrements. Everything is brightly colored, usually blood red or bone white, although horcish green is also popular. Bells and baubles are goosin’ everywhere (the better to strike fear into a victim’s shivering gourd). Striped hooks, stabbing spears, and depictions of suffering smelves adorn all the things. It’s festively grotesque and disturbingly overwhelming.
Just as The Santa dons himself in gay apparel, so too do his worshippers adorn their bods. The sacramental hat and coat, stained with the blood and drippings of countless slaves, are omnipresent. So too are the shiny black smelf-stomping boots, the enormous sack, the nebulous beard, and the prodigiously round belly that rumbles and gurgles like a bowel ripe and smelly. That last thing isn’t really an article of clothing, but it’s important to the overall look. Less corpulently gifted Santanists are known to overstuff their gizzards with smelf meat and pillows in order to achieve the desired appearance.
Sins, Virtues, and Offerings
There’s really only one sin among Santanists—being nice to a smelf. Smelves, according to the dogma, are the most vile and despicable entities the Oith has ever harbored. They exist only to serve the depraved and shameless desires of the horcish race. Of course the cardinal virtues of the faith are those things we’ve been discussing for the past several paragraphs. The Santa digs peeping on peeps, corrupting larvae, gorging on grub, decking halls, snatching jazz, wanton slaying, and, above all, being mean to smelves. This religion sucks.
There. I said it.