The best pranks took a lot of setup, very little action time, and were extremely satisfying. It was easy to go too far when you had a devilish mind. But could it be called going too far when it hurt no one? Despite the fact that the prank had encompassed the entire city. You could even say it had changed the history of Elridge forevermore.
Johana and Eroll were definitely excited for the fifth day of fall. They sat outside an old professor’s house with balloons in hand and painted faces, both gold in color. As soon as Elder Hildegard stepped outside, the pair screamed “Happy Gilding Day” and kicked golden leaves at the grumpy old man. A small jump was all they got at first.
The elder mage stared at the youngsters and glared at them. “This is a little elaborate for a paper written seven months ago. But surely you understand that even if you convinced me this was a viable holiday, I can’t change your scores now.” Hildegard raised an eyebrow at them as if he were waiting for them to know everything and would enlighten him with new knowledge.
Well, today those young upstarts did have a surprise for the man. Johana answered him, “Oh we know Elder Hildegarde. We simply found ourselves with time to prove a point.”
Eroll smiled all at once and bowed while motioning towards the lower parts of the city. Elder Hildegard’s front porch was no the only house with gilded leaves. They were everywhere, sparkling like gems in the sea. Hildegard harrumphed. “Elaborate indeed” he repeated. Johana cupped her hand to her ear and stood on one foot at the edge of the balcony. They could hear music as well. Hildegarde rolled his eyes, “So now you are enlisting others to help with your prank? I hope you did not take this one too far. The sanctum wouldn’t be pleased.”
“I think it’s too late for that,” Johana said. “It’s spread like a wildfire, we couldn’t contain ourselves or the people once we started.”
Hildegarde began to look nervous. “Exactly how far has this prank gone?”
Eroll bowed again and motioned towards the center of the city. “Why don’t we take a walk Elder Hildegarde? I am sure it will be an enlightening experience.” His smile was almost thievish. It did not comfort the Elder mage.
They walked through the city and pointed everything out to their old professor. Eroll explained what they were seeing. “At first we did this subtly. We started a rumor through the acolytes who were quick to continue the rumor but it had little weight.” Hildegarde shook his head in disgust. Eroll spoke faster. “But the seed spread far enough that most everybody had heard of it. Johana let some ideas slip to the earth mages of how they could sell a lot of gold paint and quality scarves at the festival. Not many were sure this was a real thing, but they were quick to prepare, just in case.”
“Then I talked to our makers about coloring some balloons gold for the festival.” Johana continued. “They didn’t seem interested until one of them noticed the earthen artisans hard at work. While I may not have been a reliable source of information, they believed what they thought the earth mages believed.”
Hildegard was frowning greatly at this point. They pasted street after street full of dancers kicking up gilded leaves. It did seem as if everyone were participating.
“At that point, we didn’t have to do much. More creative people took things out of our hands.” Eroll said. “They even came up with some new ideas like selling fried food and other gilded nick-knacks.” Eroll picked up a golden mask that looked like a boar and tried it on. Johana laughed. “You know how people are when they try to one-up the other. It just keeps building. So while we were only trying to get people to talk about the idea seriously, the city went ahead and planned the day like it had always been.” Eroll swept his arms out. “I did tell you people would take to it like bees to honey.”
Hildegarde shook and clenched his fists. He seemed more angry than anything. “I swear you will regret this, children.” Spittle flew. He glared at them. “You make a mockery of sacred things and I will make sure that the sanctum ruins your names so thoroughly that you can’t influence another soul!” Hildegard poked each of them pushing them back into the swirl of dancers. “I mean to…” Hildegard cut off and stared behind the youth.
Johana and Eroll turned around at the sound of Elder Machin’s voice. “Happy Gilded Day Elder Hildegarde,” said Elder Machin. “This festival of yours was a brilliant idea. The best you’ve had yet! I’ve never seen such revelry before. It’s frightening and exciting all at the same time! Whatever made you decide on approving this?”
Elder Hildegarde, professor of history and namer of holidays let his mouth hang. It was too much for him and Hildegarde passed out there in the street amongst celebrants of The Gilded Day. A new holiday that celebrated the arrival of Fall. Change turned light green leaves to gold and gold was the theme for the festival. Refillable balloons were colored gold. Faces were painted brightly. Scarves and warmer clothes were sold in even brighter colors. Fake leaves and real leave covered the streets for dancers to kick up. New fried foods were invented and people were encouraged to try the changed delectables. Change was celebrated throughout all of Elridge instead of feared. It was a holiday that people would never forget to celebrate although their methods changed every year as well. People flocked from surrounding houses and lands as it grew into the most popular holiday created.
And all this came from a pair of air mages who had written a paper about what they thought would make a good holiday. Their professor had given them bad marks that had almost failed the pair. But on the first Gilded Day, they were proven right.
Elder Machin was fanning Elder Hildegard while Johana and Eroll watched the city dance and flow from atop a house. It looked as if they had breathed new life into the city. They felt a little more connected to their home now. Perhaps they would settle down a bit more and find other ways to enrich the city. Adventure could be found at home as well as abroad. Johana was trying something new at that moment that she kissed Eroll. It was a day for new things after all.
Photo by Samule Sun