Naked woman with a hat

June 29, 2012

There was no dawn that morning; the sky was too covered with thick, leaden-gray clouds. The air was almost too heavy to breathe.

Working hand in hand with the Ivory Tower’s fourteen masters of ceremony, Xayide had drawn up an elaborate program for the celebration.

Beginning early in the morning, bands on all the streets and squares played music such as had never been heard in the Ivory Tower — strident yet monotonous. None who heard it could help jiggling his feet and dancing. The musicians wore black masks. No one knew who they were or where Xayide had found them.

Every roof and housefront was decorated with bright-colored flags and pennants, but they hung sadly limp, for there was no wind. Along the High Street and on the wall around the palace hundreds of pictures had been set up, ranging in size from small to enormous, and all showed the same face — Bastian’s.


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