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The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Thirteen: The Carnival Comes to Town

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

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.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Eleven: Law and Order

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

Early in Baron Brange Aathenaar’s reign, he made one of those decisions that can truly define greatness.

He knew that it was impossible for a community to develop and grow while in a state of constant fear. But Aathenaar was, at the time of his ascension, dangerously close to that situation. The cause of this fear, however, was not an external threat, as the Bard’s Guild was then, as it is now, fulfilling its duty of spreading peace admirably.

No, the threat to the people of Aathenaar came from within: Crime. These heinous acts of brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor, we are forced to admit, existed at that time.

Brange witnessed this sad state of affairs, but he also recognized that, as baron, it was his duty to fight crime with every fiber of his being. So he directed his men to discretely discover the names of some of the most heartless criminals in town in preparation for a memorable event.

That event happened on a flawless summer day. The baron’s men utilized the intelligence they had been gathering to make raids and capture all thirteen of those identified as the worst of the bunch. That they did so in the course of a single morning without alerting any criminal who might have used such alert as a cue to flee is testament to their skill and the baron’s training schemes.

The baron’s men paraded these shameful criminals through the streets of Aathenaar, which naturally drew the attention of the townspeople, and soon the entire town was following this parade, wondering where it might lead.

They did not have to wait long to satisfy their curiosity. The parade terminated in Aathenaar’s main square, where a guillotine had been erected.

One by one, each of the criminals were strapped into the guillotine. Baron Brange personally read their crimes to the assembled crowd. On the roll were murderers, and thieves, and adulterers, and debtors. But worst of all were the agitators: Those who produced the leaflets, placards, broadsheets and banners whose sole purpose was to diminish the spirit of the people of Aathenaar by portraying its baron as a tyrant, or suggesting that he might have had a role in Bindek’s death, or showing him squatting over a chamber pot, and missing.

After announcing the offense committed by each criminal, the Baron gave a signal to the executioner, who pulled the lever that would release the blade and end his pathetic life, much to the delight of the masses who had gathered and who celebrated their impending freedom from fear.

As a result of this show of justice, the existence of crime in Aathenaar ceased overnight. This naturally led to great joy among Aathenaar’s residents. It was, in fact, so effective in boosting the people’s spirits that productivity soared, and Brange was able to reduce the annual ration of flour and meal distributed to each resident by a full five percent.