The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Thirteen: The Carnival Comes to Town
While the day-to-day life of Aathenaar consists of much hard work, as all building of the future does, even this industrious town can take time for the occasional entertainment. Just such an entertainment occurred scarcely a score of years ago.
It began in mundane enough a manner. A small band of travelers, looking something like a caravan of traveling merchants, stopped in the town seeking rooms to let, or failing that, a barn in which they might spend the evening in relative safety and comfort. But this was a bit of clever subterfuge, for once the town went to sleep, they went to work.
In the morning, the town of Aathenaar awoke to the sound of a mirthful fife to discover itself bedecked in colorful silks. The carnival had come to town!
Baron Brange, recognizing the value of recreational activity, immediately declared a town-wide holiday so that everyone could attend the carnival. And he provided an example for his people to follow, winning a colorful seashell at one of the game booths by using a live mouse to knock a ridiculous-looking oversized hat from the head of a very fat woman. In such a jubilant mood was he that when she persisted in declaring that she was not part of the game booth he simply laughed, rather than have her executed.
There were, in any event, several other executions that provided much entertainment to the town. (The carnival, perhaps knowing the law-abiding nature of Aathenaar, brought its own condemned prisoners for the event.) There was also, of course, a feast of roasted meats and freshly-prepared sweets such as few could remember, as well as performers of feats of acrobatic skill and raw strength, and a delightful bonfire in the evening where the town gathered to talk and sing and generally bask in the glory of springtime.
But as wondrous as all of these attractions were, the most popular one must have been a surprise to the travelers who brought the carnival to town. In the afternoon, a cry could be heard from the outskirts of the carnival, drawing a crowd to a latrine and refuse pile where no one would normally gather. The cause of this cry was something that could be seen in the pile of garbage: A newborn baby.
“Who would do this to a child?” someone asked.
“Certainly not I!” declared the fat carnival worker immediately, who had now tied her absurd hat around her waist, making her look a bit like an archery range. Many others agreed that it was terrible that someone would abandon a baby like this.
But then, someone made a very different sound: the cooing of one witnessing something adorable.
A large rat had approached the baby, interested in the parsnip peel upon which the infant was resting. But as the rodent approached, the child—whether by intention, or instinct, or mere spasm—kicked his leg, and the rat went flying.
The crowd rewarded the lad with its loudest cheers yet.
Baron Brange pushed himself to the front of the refuse pile and signaled to his men to retrieve the child. “My heart has been touched by this brave baby boy,” he declared. “I shall take him in, that he never need fear abandonment again.”
It was in extraordinarily high spirits that the town of Aathenaar made its way to bed that night. So great was the euphoria that certain material goods became misplaced, and in fact never found again. But the gains in spirit more than made up for whatever grains or tools or buildings may have been lost.