Once upon a time, there was a fine city on a great lake. It was filled with people from all over. They came because the city had fine restaurants, intriguing neighbourhoods, exquisite parks, dynamic theatre and wonderful museums. It’s true that the city also had traffic jams, overpriced real estate and long, grey winters, but still people flocked to the city. And the people were very proud of their city; they were proud of their big tower and their relatively low crime rate and their relatively clean streets. Mostly they were proud that they weren’t part of the neighbouring big country that was always in the news (even though they tried very hard to be just like that big country). But no matter how many people came to that city, and no matter how proud they were of their tower, their diversity and their museums, the people of the city couldn’t truly be happy. And that’s because the city was cursed.
No one knows exactly when the curse began and why the curse happened. In fact, some people (admittedly a smaller and smaller number) didn’t even believe in the curse. But the curse had such a grip on the citizens that even in their happiest moments, there was a little piece of their mind that thought of the curse, so that they were never completely happy.
One of the strangest things about the curse was that it was impossible to come to an agreement about how best to end it. Some powerful men thought the way to break it was through toughness so they hired strong, aggressive men to bash it into submission. But that didn’t work. Some other powerful men thought the way to end it was through finesse so they hired fast and skilled men to dazzle it away. But that didn’t work either. Finally, it was agreed by many that what was needed was a combination of toughness and skill, but that failed like all the other plans.
The curse seemed to grow in strength because the people in the city genuinely believed that each year brought the best chance to end it. And so the people of the city would nod in approval as the current wizard would calculate the numbers and trade away some of the future to achieve just the right chemistry to kill the curse. And each year they would seem to forget how it felt when they had been tricked by the curse; they would forget how they had grown very quiet when the curse reappeared; they forgot how they promised not to care any more. When the trees turned colour, some people refused to pay attention, but by the time the snow fell, most were watching, and by April, the frenzy was back as if they had never had their hearts broken time and time again.
And so if you ever visit this fine city on the great lake, enjoy the time you spend there but keep in mind that the city is cursed. And a curse is a powerful force that resists the will of mere humans to overcome it.