Despite (or perhaps because of) their geographical nearness, the kingdoms of Southfog and Westhedge had been at war for centuries. Peace was finally achieved through a series of talks and aided by delegates from the nearby countries of Eastwyn and Northvale. Finally, Westhedge’s capital city, Royalston, would be host to an embassy from Southfog.
The people of the city were extremely excited. Whatever grudges that were held were forgotten, and citizens prepared happily for the arrival of the Ambassador. A handsome building was chosen for the embassy, and secured by Westhedge’s best. City workers scrubbed the streets, sidewalks, and parks to make them look their finest for the Ambassador. Students at Royalston University arranged a fitting welcome involving half the city.
Finally, the day of the Ambassador’s appearance arrived. The city sparkled. The Ambassador’s security services found the embassy satisfactory. And the delighted citizens waited in the streets for the signal to begin the Ambassador’s welcome.
As the Southfog Ambassador stood on his office balcony, waving to a cheering crowd of Westhedge citizens, he felt that the peace they had worked so long to achieve was finally worth it. There would be no more war between the two countries, only friendship.
That was when a student blew three short blasts on a bullhorn, and the sky became filled with balloons.
It was a lovely sight, the colors of Southfog’s flag floating through the Westhedgian sky: white, blue, yellow, and red showing the happiness of the citizens as they received the long-awaited Ambassador, and the long-awaited peace.
What they didn’t realize was that Southfog’s peaceful Ambassador was terrified of balloons. They reminded him of explosions and death on the battlefield. Horrified, the Ambassador fled his balcony and took refuge under his desk. His aides tried to calm him, but the first words they could extract from him were:
“This means war!”