by Wilfredo Martinez
(My thanks to all those who asked to be included, and had the patience to wait for me to start.)
XMASVILLE: A town located at the North Pole.
Well, not the ACTUAL North Pole of Earth, which is just a geographical point in the middle of the frozen Artic Ocean- there’s no land there, just shifting ice. Instead, Xmasville exists in another dimension- Faeryland- in a region that happens to correspond to Earth’s North Pole.
It was night, and the town was covered in snow, as always. There were lights on in all the houses, and figures could be seen, coming and going, inside.
At the very center of the town, there stood an actual Barber’s Pole- complete with swirling red and blue stripes. It was an old joke, inspired by some old cartoons, but had since become a fixture much loved by the town’s inhabitants.
Next to the Pole stood a figure clad in thick furs. He had white hair, a long white beard, and carried a long, wooden pipe in his mouth.
The figure took a deep breath, then exhaled a perfect circle of smoke. A second later, he poofed a tiny ball of smoke, which such force that it caught up to the expanding circle and passed right thru its center.
Bullseye! the man thought, then giggled.
Wouldn’t people be upset to see Santa Claus smoking?
Santa Claus. He had come to dislike that name, which was a fact few people knew.
Not that he HATED it or anything… but it was just wrong.
First of all, his name was Neclaus, which meant “Necille’s little one” in the language of the faery that had raised him; Thought it had been translated as Nicholas or Nicolas in human tongues, and he answered to those, as well.
Then, there was the fact that people kept confusing him with Saint Nicolas, who was an actual Saint in the Christian Church. He would be the last person in the world to claim the identity of a Holy Man for himself.
And there was the fact that “Santa Claus” - a mistranslation of Saint Nicolas- had been “cartoonified” so much thru the years. NO, he didn’t have a belly “like a full bowl of jelly!” -Ok, so he was overweight, but hey, when you live in the cold, being fat helps you keep warm, everyone knew that, no? And, he didn’t wear a white-and-red costume. Well, unless he was in a Special Mission, to visit some child who wanted- and NEEDED- to meet the real Santa Claus.
He sighed. For better or worse, the legend of Santa Claus had become part of the human culture. And it was a legend that brought great joy to children all over World. And THAT was what he truly cared about. For the Children, he’d do anything, even put up with the overcomercialization of his image.
He looked at the North Star -which was also visible from Faerieland- and sighed again. If ONLY everything in the tales were true. If ONLY he had the power to deliver toys, and joy, to EVERY child on Earth.
But, there were limits, even to Faerie Magic. All he could do, was make toys for a few select children, those that, he hoped, would benefit the most from them.
Fortunately, with the coming of industrialization, and with it, the mass-production of toys, most children in the World received toys. Even better, most children were well-cared for. Oh, how he remembered the Dark Ages, when he began his life’s quest! How terrible it was, to watch children suffer in poverty, all because of the greed of nobles and corrupt Church Officials! Giving them toys did so little to help them… but at least, it brought some joy into their lives. It was children like those, that he concentrated in helping, to this day.
Nicolas shook his head, exhaled the last of his pipe’s smoke, then proceeded to walk towards the toy shops. He’d taken a small break for a smoke- his only personal vice- but there was still much work to be done. He still made toys the old-fashioned way, by hand; such toys required a lot of work, but possessed a charm that most of today’s toys lacked. In his opinion, any way.
Fortunately, he always had help from the faeries. Not just elves, as the tales mentioned, but everything from sprites to gnomes. They were all more than happy to help Nicolas in his eternal mission.
He smiled. This year, he had a very special helper: his daughter, Jingle Belle. Half-human and half-elf, Jingle had been a source of annoyance in the past. She was just too much into the “modern” teenagers thing, and had very little Christmas Spirit. Having lived in Xmasville all her life, to her, the season was nothing special, just hard work.
But that changed last Christmas, thanks to Nicolas’ friend, Wilfredo. Quite remarkable, that lad. An adventurer and magician, they’d been friends for years. Kinda rough on the surface, but inside, very much dedicated to all things noble. That’s why he’d gotten him to take Jingle along on his quest last year; he knew that if there was someone that could both deal with his daughter’s poor temper, AND teach her about the true meaning of Christmas, it was him.
And it worked. Despite some unexpected danger, Jingle did indeed learn just what it was that made this season so special. And, THIS year, she was more than happy to help with the preparations.
Enough reminiscing, Nicolas told himself; he’d better get back to work. Christmas eve was fast approaching, and there were still loads of toys to be prepared.
As he walked thru the snow, his breath visible in the cold air, Nicolas heard some noises. He couldn’t make them out at first, but something about them made him stop and pause.
He listened again.
Those sounds like…
The sounds came closer. They were definitely, blood-curling screams!!
Nicolas froze in place. What was happening??? Why was he overcome suddenly with a feeling of-
Nicolas saw several figures running towards him in the darkness. He was only able to make them out when they came closer.
Then he saw that they were several of his elves- not the frilly ones you see at shopping malls beside Store Santas, but the real, coarse, nature-warriors that they truly were.
And they looked- scared. Frightened! What could possibly scare such proud warriors?! His dark feelings deepened…
Then he noticed the silver-blonde elven girl running with them:
-“Jingle!” he gasped. “What’s going on??”
-“DAD!!!” the girl screamed, at the top of her lungs. “We’re under attack!!!”
-“What?? By whom??”
-“I don’t know!! Monsters!!!”
-“W-what?” Nicolas stammered. He and his people were under the protection of Ak, the Master of All Woods. Who would dare to defy his edict? Unless- the Awgwas? No! That cannot be! They were defeated long ago!
Jingle reached her father, and hugged him desperately, crying.
-" Dad!! You gotta get away from here!!"
-"No! I can’t do that, Jingle, the people of Xmasville need me!’
-"Dad! You don’t understand! These monsters, they’re fiends!! They’re tearing the fearies limb from limb!! And the madwoman leading them, she’s the worst of them all!!
-“Madwoman?” Nicolas asked, but before Jingle could answer, a figure jumped at them from the dark.
-“SIRE! Flee! We’ll take care of her!!” the elven warriors cried, and, drawing their swords, charged at the dark figure.
-“Dad!! Let’s get out of here!! PLEASE!!”
-“No! I cannot do that! YOU leave!!”
-“No!! I won’t leave without you!!!”
Their argument was interrupted by the cries of the elves.
Despite their speed and skill, the shadow cut them down with ridiculous ease. Wielding a spear, she jumped, screaming like a berserker, striking at them from mid-air, hitting one elf, bouncing off him before he’d even hit the ground, to attack the next one.
The spectacle had caused father and daughter to freeze in terror. Finally, Nicolas gripped his daughter by the arms, hard, and shouted:
-"Jingle! Go! Find Martinez! Tell him about this! Tell him to call the Righteous Protectors!!
-“NO BUTS! GO! NOW!!” then he turned, and whistled. In an instant, a deer had come out of the nearby stables and ran up to them.
Nicolas lifted Jingle and forced her to sit on the deer. Then he slapped the beast, causing it to run into the air, at unbelievable speed.
Nicolas turned around, only to see all of his elven bodyguards laying in the snow- and the she-warrior jumped again, this time- towars him!
Before he could do anything, she’d slammed at him with the force of a charging buffalo. Knocked breathless, Nicolas found himself, laying in the snow, with the figure standing above him.
It was only now, thanks to the light from a nearby house, that he could clearly see his attacker.
He gasped in shock!
It was a young-looking woman, hardly more than a teen; her hair was long and golden, as was the armor she wore. In her hand was a tri-pointed spear, dripping with fresh blood; and in her beautiful face, was the look of a hungry wolf.
Worst of all, he recognized her.
It was VALKYRIE ESKER, a member of the RPGC- the very same people that he’d sent his daughter to!
Oh my god- what have I done?? he gasped in his mind.
Meanwhile, somewhere else, in a dark room, a robed, thin figure played with a set of wooden chess pieces, colored red and black.
with a long-fingered hand, he picked up a black knight, and used it to knock down a red bishop.
-“And so… the game begins” he whispered.
And then he laughed. Like a madman.
“HEE HEE HAA HA HIIII HAAA!!!”
There was no answer to his words, as there was NO one sitting across from him…
NEXT: And where are the good guys?
WM’s Challenge: Can YOU guess the identity of this year’s villain? Last year, Rountree (Cybercompost) came the closest. Who will this year?
Yes, it is a villain from one of my stories. No, it’s NOT the same one from last year!
I’ll be giving subtle clues to his identity.
And VE, NO TATTLING!!