The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Eight: Bovine Intervention
Cilla explained her plan to the crowd that had assembled, and they agreed as one to carry it out at once.
Such a flurry of industry was seen that day! The town divided itself into rudimentary committees. Some took on the arduous task of drawing water from the town’s well, coming dangerously close to draining it. Some of the older or less fit townspeople helped by mixing supplies, while a great many took shifts at transporting materials.
Young children got involved in the labor, and those who were truly too young shouted their encouragement to their friends and parents. Even babies too young to walk or speak seemed to understand the momentousness of the town’s activity, and they collectively put a moratorium on crying and screaming and soiling themselves for the day.
At the end of the long day, the people of Aathenaar had produced bucketfuls of their finest, purest mud, and delivered it to the field containing the town’s finest livestock. A ballot was held to select the finest of the cows for use in Cilla’s plan; each resident put his own cow first and an enormous Northern White named Staf second. With no clear winner, a lottery was held, and a noble brown-and-black cow, also named Staf, was chosen to be the centerpiece of the plan.
Staf was about to become the Aathenaarian Cow.
The townspeople applied copious amounts of their fine mud to Staf’s body, until he was coated so thoroughly that one could only identify him by the particular calmness in his soul. Then they added more mud, and some more, until it was all applied. Cilla took her finger, and using it as a feather quill she wrote in this mud the words “Ha ha.”
Barely able to contain their high spirits, the people of Aathenaar brought their candles to light the path to Freedampton. Outside of town, they hid behind a hill while Cilla entered and raised a crowd.
“Good people of Freedampton!” she cried. “The people of Aathenaar believe that friendship is a far more noble path than antipathy, and we therefore desire to end our town’s rivalry. We wish to present you with a gift to show our regard.”
This said, Cilla led the assembled crowd to the base of the hill behind which Staf was waiting. She gave a signal to the lookout waiting atop the hill, who in turn gestured that the crowd should bring Staf up.
Staf was a quite compliant beast and climbed the hill with little struggle. When he reached the top, the people of Aathenaar waved mirthfully at the Freedamptonites, and several of the children used their candles to illuminate the carefully crafted message.
After a brief moment of silence, during which Freedampton processed the multiple layers of the prank that had been perpetuated upon them, its people began to laugh. First titters, then giggles, and finally the cathartic guffaws of those who realize that they have been bested.
The people of Freedampton climbed the hill and embraced the people of Aathenaar as brothers and sisters, and swore a new bond of friendship between the two towns. And that is why, to this day, the people of Aathenaar are respected by the people of Freedampton above all others.