Balor opened his eyes to the first rays of morning light trickling in and the soft melodies of the birds, and dread filled his senses. His stomach rolled over several times and his chest felt heavy. It is here.
He heard clatters and movements from the floor below him. Curse these elves, why must they thrive in such an energetically mischievous day. Pranks are an embarrassment to the pranked, disrespectful. A few louder clunks from below and Balor gripped his puffy feather filled blanket tightly and pulled it over his head shielding himself from the day ahead.
Soft footfalls climbing the steps met his ears and he poked his eyes over the covers, heart thrumming. “Balor, breakfast is set out should you be hungry,” came the steady voice of his host Orym. Balor narrowed his eyes at the door, it won’t be that easy to get me today elf. The elf retreated down the stairs likely off for the library as council still had several days before meeting. Balor waited until he heard the front door swing close before pulling himself out of the cozy warmth of the covers. He quickly dressed, opened the door, and peeked out. He ducked his head slightly as he looked around - far from needed as his head only reached halfway up the door frame.
Tiptoeing down the stairs, he felt the hair on his arms stand up despite the comfortable spring warmth. Breathing forgotten, Balor stepped smoothly into the kitchen. Quickly scanning, he saw the typical bowl of bumbleberries and small seed buns on the counter. Head held high, he walked past this obvious attempt of trickery, opened the cupboard and pulled out an apple. Creeping back the way he came a sudden creak in the wood behind him reached his ears. Balor jumped out of his skin and dropped his apple as he flew a few feet away from the sound and spun to see what was to befall him. His wide eyes landed on a young elf, the only one in the household shorter than Balor.
“What on earth are you doing sneaking around on a day like today Haryk?” Balor asked.
“No classes today Balor sir, I am here for some breakfast.” Haryk had ears that came to a long pointed top and small near black eyes. He tilted his head as he looked at the pale dwarf. “Are you well this morning Balor? I could call a healer if you’d like.”
His heart drummed louder as he considered all the possible ways a doctor could prank someone. “No need, I am good thank you, simply in need of some food. A bit of rest might help as well, I will return to my room.” He turned to leave but the little voice behind him asked, “Are all dwarves serious like you?”
Balor turned back to face him, “Dwarves also enjoy playing young Haryk. I am a diplomat and thus am older and not here to play. All that said we play differently - less silliness and trickery and more strategy games and pretend play for the little ones. We are different people Haryk. Respect for others is held higher and.”
A squeak of a door down a hall halted Balor in his tracks. He looked down to Haryk and finished, “You have a good day boy.”
His feet quickly padded up the stairs and he closed the door to his room as swiftly as one can without slamming it, chest heaving with his breaths.
As the sun made its way across the sky, the dwarf sat in his room, eyeing its progress more and more frequently. It was his duty as a dwarf diplomat to go out and see a part of the elven town every day of his stay. Your average dwarf was typically one for the comforting predictability of following the rules, a diplomat from such a culture was built out of such ways of being.
I will not hide away in my room like a scared dwarf all day. I have been chosen as a diplomat and will do my duties - whether I get a pie in the face or some other monstrosity.
Balor stood up, pulled in a deep breath, and allowed his feet to carry him steadily down the stairs and out of the house. He decided to visit the park with the fountain nearby, nice and quick outing.
The breeze brushed gently against him, pulling him onwards. The chirping of birds were harsh pulls on the strings of his anxiety. As he walked, Balor continued to scan the area around him, turning fully around several times. The brightly coloured flowers and sparkling central water fountain were passed over by his eyes determined to seek out pranksters.
He did one loop around the fountain, avoiding the few families out enjoying the weather, and promptly returned to his lodgings. Relief flooded through him as he had nearly completed his task.
As he entered the house, he could see Orym and Haryk placing eating utensils on the table surrounded by pillows for kneeling. Balor’s stomach growled impatiently at the savory scents in the air.
Orym looked up to see who had entered and smiled. “There you are Balor. We are just about set for dinner, won’t you sit and join us?”
Balor felt the panic crawl back up his skin, pricking it along its path. Goosebumps raised on his arms and his breathing came in quicker stints. He wanted to eat but also dreaded the possibility of a prank. Balor blurted out, “Would you just tell me what your plans are, I can’t stand this unknowing.”
Orym’s brows furrowed, “I plan to serve trout, some potatoes - likely mashed - and some roasted vegetables from the gardens. Carrots and some parsnips to be precise. I didn’t realize our dinner plans were of such importance to you. I can share them in the mornings in future if you’d like.”
Balor stood frozen, eyes slowly narrowing. “You can’t fool me - it is April fools day. I’ve tried all day to avoid it but would rather just get whatever is planned over with. The suspense will kill me if I need to sit and eat not knowing.”
Orym placed a basket of bread in the center of the table and turned towards the short man. “Balor, April first was yesterday. Haryk and I enjoyed some smaller games and I believe Haryk and his friends continued throughout the day. We did not think you would enjoy partaking in these festivities so we agreed not to involve you.”
The colour from Balor’s face drained as he swayed. Orym quickly moved one of the pillows by the table behind him and guided him down.
Orym had a slight grin on his face and said, “Really Balor, we may be fairly rambunctious at times but we often try to not put others out. Our activities might seem unpleasant to you but to most this holiday is about surprise and playfulness, something they enjoy.”
Haryk came over with a glass of water and handed it over. “Maybe we aren’t so different Balor.”
He took the glass from the boy and wet his lips. The dwarf sat stunned as the other two returned to the kitchen to dish up the meal. Maybe we aren’t so different.