The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Fourteen: The Dry Season

The village of Aathenaar is well-known for how it faces the harsh conditions of nature with grace and fortitude. But as with all things natural, such conditions ebb and flow in much the same way as the dancing rotabird’s mating cries can get louder and more desperate for up to three hours and fourteen minutes until they suddenly drop off.

One of the harshest periods in memory came a dozen years ago, as a drought settled across the land.

It started innocently enough. The town truly basked in the series of fair days that marked the springtime that year. They were a boon both to the farmers, who found their soil relatively easy to work and finished their planting in record time, and the merchants, whose efforts were aided by the dirt roads that remained firm and easily passable throughout the season.

How pleasant and carefree those days must have been! But all things pleasant and carefree must end, and for Aathenaar it occurred one day shortly after midsummer.

“‘Tis a lovely day,” suggested a peasant named Yog as he entered the Red Dragon Tavern after his day’s exertions—less, it must be said, because he desired the ale that he ordered than because he yearned to see the smile and exchange a few pleasantries with the pretty barmaid, whose name was Hox.

“‘Tis always lovely when you visit,” Hox said, with the clear conviction that only comes from uttering the same words at least a thousand different times to a hundred different people.

“Lurghmah nnch,” Yog replied.

Hox smiled and poured the besmitten peasant a drink. “Of course,” she added idly, “it has been quite a while since the weather has offered anything about which to complain.”

“Yaaah,” Yog said breathlessly. “My crops haven’t even sprouted yet.”

Hox became serious at hearing this. “That’s not good, is it, Yak?”

“Not precisely,” Yog acknowledged, though he was still a bit more delighted that Hox knew so many of the letters in his name than he was worried about the observation.

Of course, the rest of the village was not so lovestruck by Hox, at least not at that precise moment, and her observation spread almost instantaneously through the town on invisible roadways as if it were rumor.

Within a few minutes, people began showing up at the Red Dragon Tavern, and in an hour, every seat and every bit of standing room was occupied, with the most-destitute and worst-smelling at the door straining to hear.

“We must do something!” they cried as one.

“There is a pond near the peak of Naliar Hill. Perhaps we might dig channels in the ground, or create them out of stone, and thus deliver the water to our town where we might use it to sustain our livelihoods,” came one suggestion. Unfortunately, it was made by an ogre-faced young man dressed only in a sack who was standing outside the doors, and therefore it was not heard by the crowd in the main room.

Two loud knocks rang throughout the tavern, and crowded as it was, the assembled humanity split into to. The knocks were made by Baron Brange, and so esteemed was he that all gathered knew the importance of giving him a path to the front.

Brange not only reached the front, he climbed atop the bar and turned to address his subjects. So tall was he that when he stood erect his head produced a hole in the thatched roof, but the tavern owner knew that his words would be of vital importance and did not mind.

“My people,” Brange said. “I know of your concern for the lack of rainfall that Aathenaar has faced of late. I have also taken steps to counter it. I have just finished communing with both Letitia and Harvey, they whose spirits imbue the Four Corners of the Earth. I have informed them of our needs, and they have assured me that they will turn their attention to our village as soon as possible.”

The tavern erupted in cheers, and the good Baron was delivered out of the tavern and back to his home on the shoulders of those assembled. And the Baron’s words proved truthful, for the rains arrived a scant two months later, when all who still lived gathered to dance in the moisture and praise the Baron’s name.

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