THE HAUNTED (K)NIGHT
A fan-fiction play contributed by: Conquito
CROWE, Herald of Twilight
CRUXIS, Master of Emityville
DARIUS, Emissary of the Alliance
HARGOTH, Spirit of Halloween
SCENE: The road to Emityville; later the village itself
THE HAUNTED (K)NIGHT
ACT 1, SCENE 1 [A gallows by the road, in front of the village backlit by a full moon] [Enter CROWE and CRUXIS]
Tonight all hallows eve is come, announcement i shall proudly croak, let light and hope both be undone, at midnight by the hangman's oak!
Well met, worst omen of all birds! Breathes not despair the pitch-black gloom? The chill of air so cold—it hurts! All portents of a fair knight's doom!
For Darius, immaculate, is headed well along this way. A treaty in his saddlebag, suppos'd to sign this very day.
So, fly ahead—don't hesitate, and eyes you keep upon the road! Lest Darius, immaculate, come riding by surprise abroad!
My treason does the Twilight harm, our Lich King high must never see! No stealthy blade, nor baneful charm, may hit the knight by his decree.
Tonight will die as well the Crowe, too much it knows of my device, 'though it served faithful until now, it's death shall hide my wicked lies.
Oh, vengeance did so long i crave, imprisoned in the frozen soil, since righteous knights had dug my grave, had burned my flesh with searing oil!
Eternally it seemed to me, my exile six feet underneath, 'till on the weak i learned to feed, with time got strong and finally—free!
But—lo! I hear the Crowe's report, the piercing signal of it's cry. Be deepest shadow my resort, from whence i'll watch and savely strike!
[Hides behind a bush]
So strange my senses ring this night, all but bewilderingly unjust! For neither sound, as well as sight, i have a solid cause to trust!
My horse gone foaming mad with fear, for good i left it running free! Like commoner on foot i near, 'though i am bearing royal seal.
How long may be the road to tread, until the twilight's court i'll reach?
Upon a stake shall rest your head, your bones they may in twilight bleach!
Was that a move behind the leaves? Some lurking beast or secret guard?
T'was but the wind between the trees. It shakes the trunks and branches hard.
My useful bird, come just in time! Not yet my presence is betrayed. How had it ruined my design, knew Darius, immaculate!
I know thee, messenger of night! Was it not you who brought the news? On autumn's breeze you took to flight, delivered us the offered truce.
To bring the parchment is my quest, it be presented to your lord, so he may seal our king's interest, to end a needless bloody war.
What now? Revealing his errand? The Crowe was not supposed to learn! It won't against the Lich's command, let me proceed the knight to burn!
So thunderbolt will strike it first! I suffer not it be alive! Or else things might come to the worst, and put an end to all my strive!
[casts a spell on Crowe, with thunder and lightning; Crowe dies; Darius starts]
Foul weather! For my safety's sake, and to protect the courtly scroll, i will for nearby shelter make, while through the night sky thunders roll!
Quick! After him i am to stalk, like hourglasses whispering sand, with patience like the ticking clock, await my time the blow to land!
ACT 2, SCENE 1 [Emityville, before a deserted house] [ENTER HARGOTH]
'Tis strange a night this hallows eve, for armistice and peace to call, when even blind men do perceive, how Twilight's power grows in fall!
For want of time and want of luck, like flotsam in the tides of fate, we find our fighting forces stuck, no hope left to retaliate.
Now rest you arms—cease signals blow, anon turn enemies to friends, until to war again we go, for peace to dissipation tends…
As consul of the Lich's permit, my office does of course demand, a place to find as i see fit, to meet the human knight errand.
This ridden spot Emityville, shall serve the purpose well enough, for behind every corner still, one fancies evil's shameless laugh!
Right here was turned defeat to win, when our foes had seized the site, and burned cruel Cruxis for his sin, he came back twofold fortified!
It's here i'll sign the stately deed, where bold our cause denied the tomb, where allied troops did sow the seed, that grew to power in earths womb.
I'm sent legate of equal might, unbroken yet and still unbent, these are the grounds i claim my right, of hosting at our monument.
The graveyard with one empty pit, provide a slab to use as table, i'll there await the hippocrit, pay due respect—as i'm able.
At least no storm came up above, some act it seems of skyborne spite, that one stray bolt through clouds did shove, and killed the bird with weatherlight.
[ENTER CRUXIS, spying from a corner]
My task weighs heavy on my soul, i am to spare the enemy, make peace—not taking bloody toll, my hate cheated of remedy!
The brood of night invites to court, grants free trespass of all the land, i'd rather die than to consort, was it not for my king's command!
Consort you won't if i prevail, so i might do a work of good, as you'll be struck by thunder's nail, it leave mere embers where you stood!
Again that feel of watching eyes, 'though never truly knew i fear, as if some fiend 'mongst shadows lies, does secretly at passers leer.
Midnight wears off—i must make haste, before the dawn on gloom lays siege, once morning come—my time i'll waste, will fail to meet the Twilight's liege!
[ENTER CROWE, confused]
Where am i here? Which is this place? Why do my feathers ashes line? How happened that i can't retrace, what came to pass before this time?
Shall i deem credible the thought, you made it live out of the glow? Yet hereabouts my creed means nought—you're called the Crowe as much i know.
Crowe? The name stirs much my mind, as if of meaningful import, but how this is i cannot find, groping through darkness of some sort…
Relieve! The bird cannot recall! I nearly saw my plotting wrecked, but as it turns out after all, it's as much out the way as dead!
What is it makes me hesitate? My mind boils with the deadly spell! Still i find me delayed by fate, when time be ripe i cannot tell.
I think it best take you along, leaving you here i find unfit. Who knows what beasts this darkness throng, i'll guard while you collect your wit.
I shall accept your company, so if it please you lead the way, the place smacks of pure villainy, desire i have not to stay.
[EXEUNT CROWE and DARIUS]
'though i forgot for lack of need, quite sudden now can recollect, that spirits of the Crowe's vile breed, soon past decease will resurrect.
To no avail—it's mind went blank! No memory left of long or late, it neither can assume it's rank, nor even dream it's former state.
Oh—grant me power over fate! While in my favour all things run, i must resolve before too late, the murder must now soon be done!
ACT 3, SCENE 1 [the graveyard of emityville with gate and an open tomb; HARGOTH, standing near a stone slab with quill and ink on it]
The emissary makes me wait, what rotten piece of insolence! He is to step right through this gate, before the night at morning ends.
I'll summon my serf Cruxis then, the one in charge of ruling here, he shall in my name seek the man, and notice me as soon he's near.
Cruxis! I command thee hither! A master for your service calls! Heed me or your bones i'll wither, the weak before the stronger falls!
[ENTER CRUXIS, glancing nervously over his shoulder; HARGOTH turns in amazement]
How can so quickly you be nigh? As if in wait behind the wall!
I felt your presence my lord high, made ready for the case you call.
[stares at the gate]
[claps his hands]
You listen to the words i say, the allied knight is overdue, so you go scout along the way, find of his whereabouts a clue.
It's easy work you ask of me, he's twoscore steps now from the gate, i watched out for him eagerly, for he's a knight and these i hate!
Good news! But once more i relate, none may attempt to do him ill, the truce must stay inviolate, thus is the Lich Kings express will!
[ENTER DARIUS and CROWE]
I hail thee, long awaited knight! Time on our hands you did much use, but since you don't on horseback ride, i might your coming late excuse.
For pardoning me thanks accept, this fault impeaches my good name, not least by worth of trust it's kept, to neglect duty means but shame.
Has ever been worse arrogance? A butcher boasting his acclaim! I care not for the consequence, my spell be cast—my claws shall maim!
[steps back slowly, preparing]
You look quite familiar to me, i become a little nervous, you're one of import as i see, probably i owe you service?
Know you me not, my servant Crowe? Have lost your little piece of mind? Such mischief i must not allow, i'll afterwards a penance find!
[casts a spell on DARIUS, with thunder and lightning; nothing happens; CROWE starts; DARIUS draws]
What? I see my witchcraft fail, how can the allied dog withstand?
No magic thunder may assail—a sword but in a mighty hand!
The heat—the clap—the shaft of light! Now everything comes back to me! By traitor Cruxis' spell i died, and lost all of my memory!
It was the moment that i found, the knight we jointly planned to kill, was on a heralds mission bound, protected by the Lich Kings bill!
How dare you, Cruxis, do like that? Defy your overlords command? Leave his servant crowe for dead? Plot murder of the knight errand?
Would you but know half of my pain! How i've suffered from the knights! See one alive i can't sustain, past anguish haunts me days and nights!
Ask pity of a twilight lord? The very thought's ridiculous! Our guest you will back home escort, once we have done our business!
For as i take it from your words, unbearable you'll find this chore, while you can cause the man no hurts, your heart be as a bleeding sore!
[DARIUS sheathes sword and takes out a scroll; HARGOTH sees him to the slab; BOTH sign the treaty]
Thus dawn will end this hallows eve, it saw foul treason in defeat, cruel Cruxis' rage finds no relieve, the reckless wretch now forced to heed!
A fan-fiction story contributed by: Conquito, inspired by heytheresakitty :)
It's one of those days. We meet Kitty and her Qabal in the ladder.
I say: "Arya! Now you be a good girl! Give Kitty a kiss and be nice to her kids!" And what does she do? - Assasinate Kitty's commander and Katakana, Shadowstepping energy bolts and arrows, happily supported by her so-called friends that violent brat, Seetha and that aged biker, Gryfsyn with his battle axe.
I cry: " Arya! Behave yourself!"
But she would purse her lips in contempt, saying: "I'm not like you, Dad!" So in the end i give a deep sigh, wipe the blood off the floor, dispose of the bodies, and start to invent an alibi, for the guard will ask questions.
I know Arya is a problem child and life's a hard lot with all the things she puts me through. But i will always love her and she will always be daddy's girl, no matter how naughty."
A Blacker Shade Of Gloom
A fan-fiction story contributed by: Conquito
Dad lies snoring in the warm safety of his bed. His dreams are sure to fit seamlessly into his silly, small world of law and order and good manners.
Arya whispers below her voice:
"I love you, dad!"
And she does—in her own cold way.
Then, many single moves blending into one fluid action, she slips out through the door, producing no audible sound. She waits just long enough on the outside to hear dad's sigh. While being somehow grateful that he's letting her go—she's yet wondering why he can't be a man about it. Her father is the only still living person in the world to make her frown against her will.
Arya's presence fills the small, dim room in the upper story of a cheap tavern. She didn't come through the door.
Gryfsyn's beard splits in a wide grin.
"She's busy helping that Koudo monk to break his vow of chastity!"
"So it's up to me and you."
As he turns to put on his tools of the trade, he is checked by her calm remark:
"Light weapons—no armour!"
He glares at her, swallowing a harsh reply.
Without changing her blank expression she watches him strap on a small axe. His broad shoulders move under his tunic like beings of their own. I shall help you—some other night, she thinks…
"I can't believe you picked a burning gauntlet! A shadow cloak would have saved us a lot of trouble. Those demons do any kind of magic and YOU can't dodge that!"
"Fight fire with fire, i say!",
Gryfsyn replies angrily, then, stuping:
"What? Is that to say YOU can dodge magic?"
Arya bounds around a corner, leaving him with no answer. Gryfsyn follows, swearing.
"Our man's a merchant trading forbidden lore and artifacts. We have proof he supplies the Chaos host." She talks halfway over her shoulder, gaze fixed straight ahead.
"How do you know that?"
Arya turns around briefly and flashes one of her rare smiles.
"Poor people stick together—rich people don't! He was denounced by a rival."
"I can't help but thinking my battlefield days where in some ways cleaner than my qabal carreer."
She stops dead and he nearly stumbles into her. A humiliating experience for a trained fighter of no little renown.
"I think that's the reason for your bad temper."
She speaks calmly, with a thoughtful expression on her brow.
"It hurts your pride to do things in such unfamiliar ways. You've been a leader of men in the field. Now, learning the rules of backstreet affairs, you feel like a schoolboy, don't you?"
He is taken aback and finds himself at a loss what to say. She takes his silence for acceptance and follows up with her conclusion:
"I'm glad to find it out - i already thought you don't like me. You need not worry. It shouldn't take you long to become one of our greatest!"
From their hiding place in the shade of a doorway they carefully watch the entrance across the alley.
"One of his whoreboys told us there'll be a meeting tonight. While they're imbued with protective charms to spoil interrogative sorcery, money still works well on them."
Gryfsyn nods. Mercenaries are familiar with the concepts of both prostitution and corruption.
Spotting some move on the corner, he counts three dark silhouettes. Their distorted outlines are marked easily against the starlit whitewash of the walls, although cloaked and hooded in a bizarre attempt of concealment. Their inhuman gait betrays even more their demonic origin.
Arya knows the shape of those things at a glance.
"Belphagors—i know my trade and my customers!", Gryfsyn growls, then, softer:
"Can't risk killing three of them!"
She nods agreement.
"But where's their master? These mindless creatures can't do the talking…"
Slowly a change takes place in the atmosphere. First the dark of night grows utterly black, hiding the entire scene. Then, accompanied by dry, crackling sounds, the very air gets charged with raw power, so intense, that their hair stands on end. Finally, like a whiplash, something hits Gryfsyn, sending a sharp, cold pang down his spine. It feels as if something had burst in the pitchblack void before him, forcing waves of dense, energy-soaked air away from its center. Feeling cold sweat trickling down his forehead, he struggles to pierce the almost tangible darkness with his gaze. Sight comes back all of a sudden.
The huge demon warlord seems to have appeared out of the thin air.
Murderous hostility rides a subtle undercurrent in Arya's voice, just beneath the surface, like a shark.
Gryfsyn had indeed served in two campaigns under this devil Balar and he's glad, never to have told that fanatic killergirl!
Clicking his pincers, the abomination stoops towards one of his idiot servants, barking something in a raw, aggressive sounding language, his order emphasised with the gesture of knocking.
The thing hesitates, obviously not understanding.
Issueing a brief, low roar, Balar picks it up. Glaring at the unfortunate, wriggling victim, he tears one horn off it's skull. The underling gives a long, piercing shriek of agony. Watching carefully, he waits until it ceases. Then he repeats the procedure with the remaining horn. After the sounds of pain have died down to a low squeal, he devours the tortured in one, single swallow. Leaning back, the lionhead belches a tall jet of hellfire into the nightsky. He points at another lackey and that one responds, shivering. It shambles towards the door and knocks.
Their targets descend into a cellar through a gate of monstrous dimensions. Still their master is forced to assume a crouching position in order to enter. This indignity, given his bloated arrogance, isn't likely bettering his mood…
"What now? Follow and strike or follow and observe further?", Gryfsyn asked.
"We're not to strike at all—unless they carry away something very dangerous," is Arya's reply.
"Gather as much intelligence as you can. Get as close to the negotiation, as is possible avoiding detection."
She recites the orders obviously verbatim from memory. Qabal officers don't give the least bit of information before absolutely needed.
"So, it's follow and observe."
"Right. We need not follow directly though: The neighboring cellar is prepared for our business."
Seetha takes the stairs up to her room with the easy grace of a satiated cat. Her expression fits as well into that picture: like a cat, having done away with something delicious. As she unlocks and opens the door, she spots one of those neatly folded envelopes Arya uses for giving assingment details. She opens it without closing the door, her flying fingers revealing much practice. It reads like this:
"Be at Gryfsyn's one hour past sundown.
"Damn it! I'm one hour behind!"
She hisses through gritted teeth. While few other things could, yet the idea of letting down a friend on a mission makes her blush like a little kid.
Wasting no more time on preparations than grabbing her crossbow case, she darts down the stairs and out into the night.
The cellar is a crude mixture of a warehouse and the barroom of an inn. Balar seats himself on a table, crushing it. He and his underlings are apparently the only occupants of the room. Out of nowhere a voice adresses the visitor:
"I am greatly honored, you're highness took the pain to appear in his very person!" The words sound hollow and distant, as if spoken through a shaft or tube.
"Show yourself, slave!" Balar's roar vibrates with rage.
"I find it not suitable to insult your highness' eyes with my shameful, weak appeareance." The unswerving coolness of the voice doesn't match the submissive statement.
"Your highness may rest assured, that i have had the pleasure to procure more means of battle prowess, not only for your own satisfaction in the field, but also to magnify the glory of your superiors."
Arya notices that the ridicoulous pomp of the speech has a lulling influence on the fiend. It seems to be either expert knowledge of demonic etiquette or the ingredient of a spell.
The desperate young woman on the corner has no plan. Time's to short for plans, she thinks, panting from the run. She will search the streets. Someone must have seen where her comrades were headed.
There must be some—shreds of conversation invading her racing thoughts—
"…t'was an outlandish man…"
"…bitch movin' like a thief…"
Seetha's head flies towards the speakers. Two slumboys, clad in rags, their filthy hair full of lice. The younger one is sent running away by her sudden move, the other bold enough to look into her face with insolent curiousity.
"Where did they go?", she demands.
"Whassit t'yah, hoe mommy?"
His nose breaks under her swift, precise punch. It sounds like cracking a nut in a wet leatherbag.
Her voice is all forced calmness.
"Helps your manners—need more?"
Shaking his head decidedly, he sprays the wall with warm blood in an intricate pattern.
Gryfsyn feels increasingly uneasy about the comedy played right in front of him and Arya. Balar has arrived at an absurd state of comfort by listening to the voice's bragging with aqcuisitions and praising the supremacy of demonkind. He holds one of his remaining lackeys on his lap, tormenting it deliberately, like a rich man picking sweetmeats from a silver pladder. The most disgusting detail is that, aside from all screaming and futile struggle, the thing seems to be definetely enjoying the treatment.
Gryfsyn makes up his mind to give a whispered comment:
"We've heard enough! He's cheating the Chaos into buying rubbish, taking their gold and leaving them with nothing but a fake boost of morale!"
Arya's reply comes hesitating, in a pondering tone:
"I think you're right, so far—still he must have something substantial to throw into the bargain:
Merchants want their customers to come back and heap more gold on their table…"
"Yah breakin' meh arm!"
Seetha can tell from the exaggerated whimpering of that little sewer rat, that he plans something crafty. She tightens her wrestling lock, shoving him forward.
"I'll break it twice if you don't go faster!"
Already having an idea where Arya could be operating, she stops at a dark passage, leading away from her destination. Tossing her captive into the alley and drawing her crossbow happens at the same time. Aiming between his eyes, she breathes:
Upon reaching the corner, the racing boy hears the clink of a silverpeace on the floor. Spying carefully from the cover of the wall, he sees it gleaming in the moonlight—the woman is gone.
Finally arriving at the merchant's door, Seetha's first impression is that of having followed the wrong track. But somebody with a broom had worked hard to erase footprints in the mud. That's as much proof for her assumption as the untouched marks would have been.
The news are uttered in a hoarse croak filling the stale air of a crammed study:
"Spies! Spies! Watching your business!"
A crowe trips excited from one foot unto the other, tilting it's head sideways. The adressed is a tall, gaunt figure, leaning towards an opening in the wall. Rich folds of a deep hood hide the face in shadow.
A slow, permissive nod and the undead bird fishes a dried eyeball from a brazen bowl, swallowing greedily.
"Send for my apprentice! He's to prepare at once for the discreet departure of our guest, just in case…and for mine, if need be. Come back immediately and report me the proceedings."
There's something stiff, something automatic about the way the hooded one turns back to his occupation: Speaking opulent words into the hole in the wall, occasionally consulting a mysterious tome lying right beside him on a shelve.
It's a curiously slick facade Seetha creeps up, providing but few handholds. She's glad the climb doesn't take her further than to a window on the second floor.
Recognising the manufacturers mark on the shutter, she knows how to unbolt it from the outside with a fine strip of hard wood. The procedure is a matter of seconds.
Closing the shutter behind her back, she slips silently into an absolutely neglected room. Dust and cobwebs rule unchallenged. It isn't what she had expected, since the interiors of merchants houses are usually equipped to show off their wealth. At least they order unused rooms be kept tidy, saving the value of their property.
The impression of abandonment applies as well to the corridor and the neighboring rooms. Everywhere clings the trace of a strange odor to the air, reminding her of something she means to know, but can't remember exactly.
Recovering from her surprise, she starts thinking practical:
We do know there's trade and traffic at this place. So if the second floor is deserted, i'll take my chances with the first one and the cellar.
The fat man on the divan tries to frown—but he can't! The fumes from the braziers make the days pass him by in a floating manner, keeping him in a state of permanent bliss.
His adulterers try to amuse him. He giggles breathlessly at the thought. Amuse him! That's too much! He couldn't even frown—he just had tried in vain.
A burst of bellowing laughter forces itself out of his throat. His cute companions laugh along, as if they understood. They are so stupid!
He laughs louder. It sounds worse than hysterical—profoundly insane. He collapses where he sits, gasping for air. As soon as he manages to take a breath, he falls asleep.
After checking his condition, the boys go over their routines: Taking in the one on watch duty outside the door, replacing him. Refilling the braziers with charcoal and a weird, tarry substance, so much stronger than hasheesh. Finally passing around the small bottle with the antidote for the vapor drug, so they will keep their wits about them.
These so-called living beings never failed to astonish the cold thing in the study. Most of the time, their irrational impulses make them vulnerable to any decent design, yet often enough they are simply unpredictable because of that trait.
The brainless demon-thing in the cellar is checking the offered goods. Pretense! Eventually It will buy every single item—they call it greed. He will wait, for silence gives this brute less opportunity for bartering.
The musing of the lone figure moves to the merchants boys. They are as well easily tricked, as they are predictable in their response to monetary offerings. They are of course well aware about the ends of their service: Keeping the owner of the house under watch in a state off drugged luxury—the latter being no uncommon thing for wealthy people hereabouts—making him thus a perfect puppet for the real master of affairs.
But how stubbornly they ignore the obviously sinister nature of their employer! To have their orders related by a talking bird, smelling so clearly of carrion!
They don't ask questions…
A Christmas Tale
A fan-fiction story contributed by: Crmyzon
Drex sat in the upper branches of the tree peering down at the elven village. The little imp had never been this bored in his entire life. Baphemot’s orders had been simple. Spy on the nature dwellers and report any information on their activities. This would have been an easy task if they were doing anything interesting. Sadly there was no plotting, scheming or planning of any kind going on and as he valued his miserable little existence he wasn’t prepared to go home empty handed.
For months he’d been hiding in various places around the forest watching the elves chopping wood, fishing, and doing various other menial tasks. There were bouts of swordplay and archery but they didn’t mean anything. They weren’t preparing for battle, they were just practicing. It was all painfully dull.
“This is getting ridiculous,” he thought, absent-mindedly bursting a boil on his chin with a finger. “If something doesn’t happen soon Baphemot won’t have to come and kill me, I’ll be more than happy to do the job for him.”
He could hear the rustle of branches coming from somewhere beneath his tree. He scrambled down from his perch to get a better look and surely enough there was a little troop of fairies carrying boxes and ribbons and other brightly coloured paraphernalia into the camp.
In the time he’d spent away from the other demons Drex had grown somewhat fascinated with the little people of the forest. They were similar to some of his imp brothers and sisters and loved jokes and pranks just as much as they did, but they didn’t kill anything. The jests were still actually funny and he’d had to stop himself from laughing out loud several times in fear of being caught, but they didn’t end in the death of the one being targeted. He rather liked this idea. You could play with the same person multiple times that way, and as much as death was funny, the joke got a bit old the more you did it.
The group of fae were being led by a young fairy called Perri. Drex had been watching her quite closely, not because she was doing anything worth reporting but because she made his little heart pound every time he saw her. His heart only usually did this when he was terrified, something that happened quite a lot, especially in the presence of his betters. He knew the feeling of fear very well and as he was never frightened around her he’d decided to get to the bottom of what this emotion was. For this reason and the fact that he had nothing better to do he decided to follow the fairies, after all they may have been preparing to build some secret, colourful, weapon to use against his kin. With this in mind the imp crept out of his hiding place and cautiously followed the group to a small log hut on the outskirts of the camp.
Digging himself a hole in the earth just big enough to allow him to squeeze into Drex peered through a gap in the logs that made up the cabin wall. Sitting at a table in the room was an elven woman wearing a shockingly red dress. Finally he had something worth reporting! He didn’t recognize her, but as elves only wore green and brown he assumed that she was getting ready to spy on the other demons. She would blend into the background of the volcano very well dressed as she was.
The fairies were hovering around the woman, placing their cargo on the table in front of her. She took a box and placed something inside that he couldn’t see, then wrapped it in ribbon. She had several other boxes with which she was repeating the same procedure.
“Weapons!” Thought Drex, suddenly feeling his life expectancy growing considerably. “The elf is making little parcels of death.” He had to get closer. If he could steal one of those boxes and take it home with him he knew he would be rewarded greatly. But how could he possibly get into the hut without being noticed? He couldn’t pretend to be a fairy. He was far too tall and unlike some other imps, didn’t have wings. A wicked grin crossed his lips as he had a very clever idea.
Pulling himself out of his hole he waited until he was sure there were no eyes on him and snuck further into the village. He poked about for a wile, avoiding any elven activity until he found a pile of clothes left outside to dry. This was exactly what he was looking for. These garments were those of a small elven child, they would be big on him but would make a suitable disguise. He stole them and made off silently into the tree line.
“I could be an elf,” he thought dragging the oversized clothing onto his miss-formed frame. “I’m going to have to be if I am to uncover their plans.”
Looking sufficiently elfy, he waddled his way back to the hut. The faeries were returning with another batch of items and he joined the line behind them. One by one they dropped their cargo in front of the scarlet clad woman before flying out of the window to gather more supplies. Before he knew it Drex was standing next to her at the front of the line. She looked at him perplexed.
“I don’t remember asking anyone other than the fae for aid. Do you need something?” “I’ve come to collect the boxes.” He said in his best, none-demonic, sounding voice, trying not to trip up on the hems of his massively oversized trousers.
The woman raised a brow peering more closely at him.
“The festivities haven’t started yet, you shouldn’t even know about these presents … but as you seem keen, I’ll let you help me. We have to keep this our little secret though, okay?”
Drex nodded emphatically. This was working better than he’d expected. This must have been a really secret plan if the other elves weren’t to know about it. The boxes must have contained something very dangerous … so dangerous that nobody could know what was in them.
“I don’t recognise you from around the village. Are your family new here?”
The imp just nodded. He was trying to keep conversation to a minimum. He knew he wasn’t making the most convincing elf and that if he got caught into giving to much information away he would be found out for sure.
“Well, I’m Santafey.” She said smiling and patting a stool next to her with her hand. “What’s your name?”
The imp went a paler shade of green than he already was.“Drex.” He squeaked nervously, pulling himself onto the stool. He peered into the box on the table in front of him. Inside were little toys carved out of wood, fruits and nuts and various other treats. He went cold.
“I hope those fruits are poisonous,” he thought, “Or I’m in very big trouble.”
He suddenly wished he was still sitting in his tree and longed for the mundane boredom he’d been suffering. He felt very conspicuous now that he was sitting right next to her. He pulled the green hood attached to his shirt further down over his face and prayed that she hadn’t seen his pointy, green, mottled ears. Santafey continued busily stuffing the containers with gifts, paying him only enough attention to speak to him.
“We have so much to do if we are going to be ready for tonight. Perri hasn’t even managed to get into her costume and I would have never managed to get these presents wrapped all on my own.” She tied a ribbon around the box in front of her, topping it with a little sprig of holly. “I’m actually very glad for the help.” She slid an empty box to him and gave him a little pile of treats.
“Off you go, and don’t be shy with the toys, there’s plenty for everyone.”
They didn’t give gifts to each other in the volcano. There was the yearly human hunting race but that was about as far as festivities went. The idea of giving something to someone that wasn’t going to harm them later was entirely alien to him. He grabbed a handful of berries and placed them into the box, then followed with a miniature toy bow. After several minutes he realised a smile was creeping across his face and he couldn’t understand why.
After several hours of wrapping Drex was thoroughly enjoying himself. He’d managed to speak to Santafey just enough not to blow his cover and had altogether forgotten how frightened he had been.
The faeries had been making their trips to and from the hut all afternoon and now as the moon rose outside the window they returned dressed in little green and red outfits. They looked very similar to the holly that had been growing in bunches all around the village for the last month. Perri was at their head, she was dressed in a tiny version of what Santafey was wearing.
“Thank you for your help Drex. It is time for the festivities and you are welcome to join us,” said Santafey as she gently removed Drex’s hood and gave him a kiss on his forehead. Drex almost collapsed from fear when his true identity was discovered. Perri stepped forward with a shy smile and held his hand.
“You don’t think any of us actually thought you were and elf did you?” She said giggling. “We’ve been watching you creeping around the camp for months.
Hiding in trees only works when the people you’re hiding from don’t live in them. You don’t make a very good spy but you aren’t causing us any harm either. This is a special day and you deserve to enjoy it too.”
Santafey laughed, helping him down from his stool. “Go and follow Perri and her sisters, I will be along shortly. Don’t worry about the other elves they won’t cause you any trouble. You never know, the elders might even let you stay, I don’t think the other demons will miss one stray imp … you’ll have to get some clothes that fit you though.”
Drex felt like he was in a dream as he followed Perri and the fairies to an open field next to the village. There were bright tents, laughter and the delightful smells of freshly cooked foods. At the center was a big tree, brightly decorated with ribbons and magical lights.
“We will put our presents there,” said Perri to the other fae as she pointed at the Christmas tree.
Santafey appeared behind Drex, pointing to several other mismatched figures standing around the tree.
“You aren’t the only stranger here this yule. We have had other helpers too,” said elf. Drex’s eyes widened in surprise as he was introduced to the Snow Mummy, Merry Khadi and Reinbon. Suddenly, he did not feel out of place among the revelers. The ground rumbled as a huge giant stepped out from the forest, “Thanatos!” squeeked Drex fearfully.
Santafey laughed merrily and lifted Drex up. “There is nothing to be afraid of, my little imp, he is here for the celebrations too, he won’t harm you,” She said giving him a tiny box wrapped up with ribbons. “A present for me?” said Drex in wonder. This was the first time he had ever received a gift.
“Open it,” Perri urged.
Inside that tiny little box was a tiny seed, but to Drex, it was special and he clutch the gift fiercely to himself. “Find a spot and plant the magic bean, then you will always have Christmas with you,” said Santafey.
“Merry Christmas, Santafey!” said Drex cheerfully, “and Merry Christmas to everyone!”.