Guess who's coming to town
The result of all these disturbances in the air currents was that half the city heard the news within hours of the letter's arrival at the prime minister's palace. The rest of the city found out shortly before lunch.
And as everyone knows, news like this travels so fast that it tends to lose small but significant bits of itself as it leaps from mouth to ear and ear to mouth. Bits like the truth, for example.
His Holy Excellency the Grand Archbishop of Corondal is coming! the people murmured excitedly among themselves. That much was true, at least.
He's coming in a marvelous airship powered by pure sorcery, and it was even more powerful than the Prince of Corondal's private airship. A matter of opinion, but still quite likely.
He's going to be feted in the grandest style, and the prime minister is going to throw lavish parties in his honor every night. Again, probably correct, although not too many in the city's poorer districts found the prospect a pleasant one.
As a reward for our country's loyalty to Corondal, the Grand Archbishop was bringing a thousand mage-soldiers and a fleet of airships to defend us from Saridia. No, he was going to officially annex LeÃ¡n to Corondal and take over rulership of our country. No, he was going to use his fleet of airships to transport us all out of this squalid, miserable island and bring us to the golden city of Harth, where we will all wallow in riches and never go hungry again.
As the speculations grew wilder and wilder, each notion more fevered and splendiferous than the next, the truth gave a lost little sigh and resigned itself to oblivion.
When the news reached the ragged district of Musang, it had already been so bent and twisted into all sorts of bizarre contortions that it was barely recognizable from the original message. It eventually reached the ears of two men, who took careful note of the gaps where the truth should have been and formed their own, starkly different picture of what was to come.
It also reached a certain young fan-seller and odd-job girl. She took the lumpy, knotted version of the news she'd overheard at a corner store and gleaned from it the only thing she deemed important. The city was going to be busy these coming days, what with all these lofty politics and grand parties and all. That meant a lot of ceremonial affairs involving people, including ministers' wives and mistresses, dressing up in stiff, uncomfortable clothing and pretending to be impervious to the sweltering heat. Not to mention the crowds of gawkers and spectators who were willing to sweat rivers for a chance to watch some really good street pageantry. In situations like these, there was always a way for an enterprising young lady to make the most out of things.
Dama (DAH-mah) is checkers played with bottlecaps on a square plank of wood.