Days Gone By
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Around the castle, festivities are being drawn up. The tackle-boom has been hung from the battlements, and every crack has been filled with colorful paper wedges. The soldiers are wearing painted armor, with a few having decorated their weapons with amusing tassels made from nearby wildlife. In the center, a pedestal has been set up. It's been built from dark wood and fibrous rope, dug up from the castle basement.

Standing atop this platform are ten men, each wearing a different pointy hat. Each hat has an official dangle lassoed to the end, indicative of their important position, the designers of the new year. From the center of Elra Royal Castle, they shout orders with hoarse voices, telling soldiers to add more red balloons to one tree, and that the battlements aren't going to paint ritual year circles on themselves. Some of the men are huddled in a corner, debating over a piece of owl skin serving as the blueprint.

As the night falls on their heads, soldiers begin to rush with a nervous step, the paint on their armor being chipped by clanking joints. They throw boas of Sea Pigeon feathers over the entrance to each chamber, taking care to make sure the feathers are straight and narrow. The designers of the new year shout orders at every man passing by, cracking their finger-point joints like the whips of a slaver.

But this time of hurry does not last for an entire night. Soon, every nook has been accounted for with cheer, and even the cabbage patches glow with the anticipation of the occasion. The gardeners join the recreating soldiers in the brewhall, clacking glasses together and remembering the year passed. Perhaps they would speak of the rebels in the north, or the disappearing wizard. Perhaps they spilled secrets to one another, eschewing the bonds of trust in the darkened chamber.

At midnight, the designers will enter the hall, stopping the revelry and leading the castle residents outside. One will stand before them, and reach his arms out to the sky. Then, the majesty of the firerockets will show itself. They soar to the sky with a screech, scratching the sky. The heavens and stars themselves pause in their merriment for a moment, to look down at the explosions of red, blue, green and white.

The king may come out to address the assembly, on the tasks laid before them in the upcoming times. Hope for the future, for the realm of Elrich.

Somewhere in a castle, a clock rolls over.

It all starts again.

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