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Dec 25

Wintersday One-shot: Kaysee and the not-so-jolly snowmen

Kayseeandthenotsojollysnowmenbanner Wintersday One shot: Kaysee and the not so jolly snowmen

Happy Wintersday everyone! This merry one-shot is part of a collection of stories CoT’s authors made for the festive season as a present to you and all our readers. You can find all the one-shots on the Wintersday Collection 2012 page, or just click here. Have a safe and happy holidays!

The royal gardens of Divinity’s Reach glittered in the crisp winters air. Snow had not fallen  in the human capital this year, but there was a chill in the wind that turned my nose and cheeks a rosy red. What the less than festive weather lacked was compensated for by the asuran-made snow makers that hovered in the air spurting thick clouds of frosted fun. A   bunch of children had taken to playing in the thick winter patches beneath the snowmakers, their shrill giggles echoing through the normally reserved royal gardens. Despite the jolly atmosphere that seemed to saturate Divinity’s Reach, I could only groan in frustration.

‘I’m tired of waiting! When is my father going to arrive?’

The question was directed at our family servant, Alistair, but he made no reply. Instead he continued staring ahead stoically. He and I had been waiting in front of the Asura gate for an hour now. Our travel cases were stacked high, and my patience wearing thin. I ached to slouch onto our luggage but our position on the steps meant that any fellow noble to wander past would most likely see us, and I’d rather be enslaved by centaurs than caught in such an undignified posture.

‘Worst of all, we’ve seen eight nobles go past and none of them have been Lord Faren.’

‘I dare say he is busy romancing Lady Catherine,’ Alistair said absently staring ahead. I scowled. As usual when Alistair opened his mouth it was to say the last thing I wanted to hear.

I opened my mouth to snap a scathing retort but a voice cut me off.

‘Kaysee! I’m so sorry I’m late!’DR1 Wintersday One shot: Kaysee and the not so jolly snowmen

‘About time Father!’ I exclaimed. I turned around to see my short statured father running towards us. He was still wearing his Seraph captain uniform and his shiny heavy armor only served to elucidate his balding head. I’m surprised no one had told him this already. His face was stern and battle worn from the horrors of war, but as he stopped in front of me it relaxed into a kind smile.

‘You wouldn’t think a Captain of the Seraph would have a penchant for being late all the time.’ I said with a sigh.

‘I just came from a meeting with Logan. We were discussing the arrangements for the Queen’s security during the Wintersday celebrations.’

‘You’re not even going to be in Divinity’s Reach during Wintersday, so why on earth would he need to talk to you?’

Father gave me a small smile as he inspected the luggage.

‘You know Logan, he is particularly overzealous when it comes to the Queen.’

I rolled my eyes.

‘I don’t know why you must drag me off to Lions Arch for your meeting with the Lionguard anyway. If what I hear is true, not two months ago the Mad King himself burst through the fountain and threatened to behead everyone.’

Father snorted with derision.

‘Shouldn’t you have better things to do than exchange in ridiculous gossip?’ He chuckled.

‘If only you’d let me leave Divinity’s Reach, I could be doing more productive things like slaughtering centaurs.’ I snapped.

Father’s expression turned dark.

‘We should depart soon, sir,’ Alistair said quickly. ‘I believe your contact on the other side will be waiting.’

‘Shoot!’ Father said, visibly harried now.

Father and Alistair started picking up travel cases and I turned to the gate where I spotted two asura arguing.

‘…Doesn’t it worry you Murx. Geographically speaking, it makes no sense that Lions Arch is experiencing considerably cooler thermodynamics than Divinity’s Reach. For one, Lions Arch is closer to the equator….’

‘Stop chattering Nola,’ chided the other asura. ‘You’re paid to work on gates, not the meteorology of major cities.’

What strange little creatures asura were. Cute faces, obnoxious personalities.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Alistair reach for my bag and I whirled around.

‘Not that bag,’ I snapped, swiping it from his grip.

Both father and Alistair stared at me suspiciously.

‘I… I’ve got lady things in there,’ I said hoping the redness of my cheeks made it look like I was blushing.

Alistair looked away quickly and father raised his eyebrows but asked no more. I put the bag carefully over my shoulder and strode towards the gate. The asura gave us a quick nod, indicating we could proceed.

I had been through an asura gate a few times in my life, but still when I walked through the shimmering surface I felt my stomach summersault into my throat as I stepped out the other side. A icy burst of salty sea breeze buffeted my face and the raucous of the pirate free state rumbled in my ears.

Father and Alistair stepped out a few seconds after me and we descended down the wooden decks to the small stone platform. Many races conjugated here, greeting and sending off friends and family. Coming from Divinity’s Reach it was affronting to see so many different species; charr, sylvari, asura, norn, hylek, quaggan, kodan, skritt and so many more.

By the fountain in the center of the stone platform I noticed a middle aged man staring at us. He was average height, and had long thick hair the color of chocolate. His chin was chiseled, and accentuated by shallow stubble. He was quite handsome, actually.

To my surprise he walked towards us.

‘Captain Jacob of the Serpah, I suppose,’ he said bowing. Father returned the greeting and nodded. ‘I am Hans Kinsey,‘ the man continued. ‘The Queen asked me to aid you during your time in Lion’s Arch, since it’s like a second home to me now.’

‘Excuse me,’ I said trying to hide my shock. ‘Did you just say you are Hans Kinsey?’

Hans nodded, a small frown forming on his features.

‘I read your books for my history lessons, and your collection of poetry for children was my favorite when I was growing up. I use to read it over and over.’

Hans smiled.

‘Ah, I wasn’t sure if anyone ever read that book of poetry. I wrote it for my daughter a lifetime ago.’

‘Well I’m grateful for your assistance sir,‘ Father said with a cheery smile. ‘Lions Arch is difficult for me to navigate at the best of times.’

We began walking through the crowd as Hans guided us towards our lodgings. However, I felt a twitch under my arm and my heart skipped a beat.

‘Not now,’ I muttered. Alistair’s glanced at me sideways, and I tried to smile casually but as I did a loud mewling escaped my bag. All eyes turned on me and I bit my lip, there was no hiding it now. I sighed and opened the bag. A ginger furred cat head poked out and began sniffing the strange new air.

‘You brought him?!’ Father cried in exasperation.

‘You can’t expect me to leave King Doric all alone on Wintersday!’ I said gently stroking the feline’s head. I heard Alistair let out a low sigh only audible to me and I flashed him a glare.

‘You just can’t bring him along with us,’ father said rubbing his forehead.

‘We’ll keep him in our room,’ I said pleadingly. ‘Look King Doric in the face and tell him he has to spend Wintersday alone this year.’ I said holding up the well groomed kitty. Father sighed.

‘Let’s just get to our lodgings,’ he said turning on his heel. I placed King Doric back in my warm pack, thankful for my victory.

 

The snow was thick in Lion’s Arch and there was people everywhere enjoying the Wintersday festivities. Snowball fights, Wintersday stalls and even candy cane decorations. As we entered the Lion’s Court I noticed the iconic statue of Lions Arch had scaffolding around it, as if it was being built from the ground up. My father voiced my query.

‘What happened to the statue?’ he asked.

Hans’ face became drawn.

‘It’s not something we like to discuss with visitors.’

My father flashed me a look and I rose my eye brows in a ‘I told you so’ expression. He shook his head disbelievingly and looked away.

We made it to our lodgings called “Commodore’s Manor”, and to my relief it was a high class establishment. My father had on more than one occasion forgotten I was a noble, not one of his foot soldiers. Obviously my incessant complaining from the previous time had taught him better. He had booked a floor with living room, two standard bedrooms and a servants quarter, including a kitchen. The fire was already crackling, and the frost-laced windows overlooked the Lion’s Court. I let King Doric out of his bag and investigate his new surroundings, while Alistair began to unpack our travel cases. Hans and my father had already settled in the living room to discuss arrangements for the Seraph and Lionguard meeting.Commadores Manor 2 Wintersday One shot: Kaysee and the not so jolly snowmen

‘Father, I’m just going out,’ I said, later in the evening after I had arranged my things.

‘I don’t think so,’ Father said sternly. ‘Lions Arch is not a place you can wander around alone. Wait until tomorrow and I’ll escort you.’

I had heard that promise before. No doubt some Seraph emergency would pull him away.

‘Father, I’m more than capable of handling myself,’ I said frustrated.

‘That’s final,’ Father said, turning back to face Hans. I growled and stalked away. I was 20 and my father was still treating me like a child.

Luckily for me my father opened the port early, because it made my plans all that much easier. I excused myself for bed, and as Alistair went to pour more port I slipped through the servants back door, stealing a sweet roll on the way out. I flew down the stairs and burst into the crisp Lion’s Arch air.

 

Lions Arch had a bustling night scene. Unlike the people of Divinity’s Reach, who preferred to entertain inside after dark, the people of Lions Arch seemed to exclusively enjoy their time outside. Street stall vendors were still open, hawking their delicious festive goods under the tinkling fairy lights. Loud merriment could be heard from bars and taverns, even over the noisy bustling of the crowds. I noticed many eyes were on me, sizing me up. I stood out in my noble finery. While my attire was appropriate in Divinity’s Reach, it was obvious I stuck out like a pineapple in a cherry pie. While everyone looked rough in the coarse weaves and laborer clothes, in my silks I looked pale and delicate. I knew I would have to make an example if I didn’t want belongings grabbed at the entire night.

Soon enough I felt a rustle in my clothes and I snatched and caught a hand. The barefaced young man looked up in me in shock. He had obviously expected me to be an easy mark.

‘You know what happens to people who try to steal from me?’ I said quietly. The crowd hushed as they turned to see what I would do next. ‘They get burned,’ I hissed. I let the heat surge through my hand and the young man yelled, stumbling back. A scalded red rash had broken out on his skin. He looked at me in horror before fleeing into the crowd. I knew he had not been seriously hurt, but I glared at the shocked faces and everyone returned to their business. I smiled to myself and continued.

I walked down the lane and finally reached the Mystic plaza. I had been shown images of the mystic forge in my text books, but instead I saw a giant snow globe in its place. There were only a few people around, so I walked up to it, choosing to indulge my curiosity. Inside the globe it showed a scene of a snowman surrounded by presents. It must have been a new Wintersday addition to Lions Arch, in an effort to improve tourism. It seemed strange. The snow in it swirled in an unnatural wind. I watched the mesmerizing patterns of snow dance and saw glimpses of a distant figure. I unconsciously leaned forward, so close the tip of my nose pressed against the cold glass. A blue face rushed towards me, and I jumped back, holding in a shriek. It was gone just as quickly as it had come, leaving my heart thundering in my chest.LA3.5 Wintersday One shot: Kaysee and the not so jolly snowmen

‘Kaysee!’ A voice called to me. Immediately I knew who it was and I cursed that he had found me so quickly. ‘My lady you shouldn’t be out. Your father will be furious.’

Alistair was running towards me, his short curly hair bouncing with each stride and his warm breath creating clouds of frost in front of him. He had obviously left the lodging in a great hurry because he hadn’t had time to do up the buttons on his coat.

‘My father doesn’t have to know,’ I said frowning. ‘And I told you to stop following me around!’

‘Lions Arch is not safe…’

‘How would you know,’ I snapped.

‘I use to live here,’ He retorted. I was shocked. Alistair had been our manservant for the last three years, for some reason I had just assumed he’d grown up in Divinity’s Reach. After all, why would anyone leave Lions Arch only to go to Divinity’s Reach and become a servant. He sighed. ‘Let’s go home Lady Kaysee.

‘Fine, but you have to sneak me back in,’ I said folding my arms. Alistair nodded and we started walking back towards the Commodore’s Manor. Unfortunately it was too late.

‘Kaysee!’ I cringed as I recognized the furious voice of my father. I turned to see him striding towards me, red faced from fury or alcohol. I hoped it was the latter.

‘I told you to wait! You don’t know how dangerous it is to go out by yourself! I didn’t know where you were… You know how worried… If you think you’re leaving the manor after his… You’re to stay in the manor until Wintersday!’

 

***

 

The next two days passed torturously slow. All I could do was sit by the frosted window and watch people enjoy their freedom. Father had Alistair lay out embroidery and needle work for me but I stubbornly ignored them. Instead I played with King Doric, or if father was out of the house, I polished my daggers which I kept secretly. Even though I ached to, I didn’t dare sneak out and face my father’s wrath again.

On the third evening I had given in and started one of the needle work projects, while Alistair laid out treats on the table.

‘I can’t believe I’m stuck in perhaps the most boring room in all of Lions Arch, while all my friends in Divinity’s Reach make wonderful Wintersday memories. According to Catherine’s letter a giant asura ship has docked over the city! She also writes about wonderful balls and parties – even the queen made an appearance. Worst of all, I shudder to think of how many girls Lord Farren has danced with other than me.’ I sighed.

‘I doubt he has noticed your absence,’ Alistair said lightly. I scowled at him, but chose to ignore his comment. Instead I reached over and stole a treat.

‘They’re not for you,’ he said with a shallow sigh. ‘They’re for your father’s guest; Hans.’

I perked up. Surely Hans would bring some entertainment to my boring evening. That is of course if father didn’t hog him for his boring Seraph business.

As if called by the gods themselves, Hans and father appeared in the lounge and I sprung off my seat.

‘Mr Kinsey,’ I said curtsying. He bowed back.

‘I was not planning to see you today Hans,’ Father said gesturing for Hans to sit down. ‘Is something the matter?’

‘Oh, not at all. I’m sorry I called upon you so unexpectedly, I just wanted to invite Lady Kaysee to accompany me to the choir performance I’m attending tonight.’

I beamed. A choir performance? I thought Lions Arch only had pit fighting and drunken brawls.

‘Of course I would love to accompany you, Mr Kinsey,’ I said happily. Father looked torn. He wouldn’t refuse Han’s invitation but he was clearly not happy to let me go right after he had grounded me.

‘Very well,’ he said slowly. ‘But please take Alistair with you, he’s an excellent manservant.’

I scowled at my father. He always made Alistair escort me. I tried to retort but Alistair had already returned with his and my coat and Hans was nodding in agreement. I was just thankful I could leave the manor.LA4 Wintersday One shot: Kaysee and the not so jolly snowmen

We left the quarters and made our way through the streets in silence, until Hans broke it with a cough.

‘So your father tells me two nights ago you snuck out of the house.’

I blushed red. What business did father have sharing that around?

‘I also heard a rumor of a young noble who brought a thief to tears two nights ago. What do you think of that Lady Kaysee?’ Hans said absently. He then looked at me and let a small smile play out on his lips.

I heard Alistair sigh behind us.

‘I would say the thief shouldn’t have his hand in the poor noble girl’s pockets,’ I said, tilting my nose in the air.

Hans chuckled.

‘Indeed,’ he said softly. ‘Did you…’

‘Uncle Hans! Uncle Hans!’ A voice shot out from the rumble of the crowd. Hans looked around wildly. A tiny asuran child pelted towards us, her small feet waddling with great speed.  Tears tumbled from her jade eyes as she dove into Han’s winter coat. He picked her up and held her as if she was a human child.

‘What on earth is the matter Daisy?’ He asked, shocked. I was more shocked by the fact she called him uncle.

‘I made a mistake,’ she mumbled between giant sobs.

‘Is your mother angry again? Don’t worry Daisy – we’ll sort it out,’ he said soothingly as he stroked her long black hair.

As he calmed the asuran child I heard a strange clamor, it sounded far off in the distance. I looked to Alistair and I could see he had heard it too.

‘It’s not ma. It’s a mistake, an accident. He is so angry.’

The clamor grew louder.

‘I think we should leave,’ Alistair said trying to urge me in the other direction.

‘Who is angry?’ Hans asked, a deep frown creasing his face.

‘Mr Puddles,’ Daisy sobbed.

The noise was so loud now. It was the tumultuous sound of rushing snow combined with hysterical screaming. In the distance I could see people running and a thick white wave of snow behind them.

Hans looked up and gasped.

‘What in the Gods?’

‘Kaysee we need to go now!’ Alistair yelled over the noise. This time I didn’t resist. He grabbed my hand and pulled me forward and I stumbled into a run. We weaved through citizens and Lionguard alike and just as quickly as we had started running he jerked me into a side alley. Hans had followed us close behind, the asura still clinging to his neck.

The wave of fleeing people passed closely pursued by what looked like a wave of snow.

‘Is that… snowmen?’ I said horrified. They were bouncing in the snow, their twiggy arms waving erratically and their pebble and carrot faces twisted into a nasty expression. ‘Dear Dwayna, why are we being attacked by snowmen?’ I cried.

‘We need to get you somewhere safe,’ Alistair said to me.

‘My house is not far from here,’ Hans said pensively and Alistair nodded. We followed Hans down the narrow alley and was about to exit onto the street when a shadow encroached on us. The snowmen were bouncing towards us as they tried to box us in.

‘We’ll have to fight them,’ Alistair said stepping in front of Hans. I could still hear Daisy sobbing. I reach in my dress for my daggers but hissed as I realized I had left them at the manor. Fighting was the last thing I expected to do this evening.

Alistair reached into his coat and brought out a leather pouch and threw it to me. I caught it and smiled with joy as I unfurled the oiled leather. It was my daggers.

‘How did you..?’ I started, but Alistair shook his head.

‘No time!’ he said. A snowman had pulled ahead of the rest and its stick arms reached for him. Alistair whipped out his pistol and let the blast explode through the snowman’s head, sending a spray of cold slush everywhere. I turned to see Hans stumbling through his spells as he tried to juggle a frantic asura at the same time. I rushed to their side and summoned flames around us, quickly melting the snow born horde.

‘Get behind me,’ Hans yelled and Alistair and I pulled back. Hans let out a mighty gust of wind that hurled the remaining snowmen out of the narrow alley. We seized the opportunity and rushed forward, narrowly making it out into the street. As we started to run I quickly turned around and skidded across the small road leaving a blazing firewall in my wake. I watched over the crackling flames as the snowmen threw themselves into the fire only to melt into glistening puddles. I knew the flame wall wouldn’t last long so I turned on my heel and ran.

‘This house here!’ Hans yelled as we jerked to a halt in front of a town door. Hans fumbled with the key as Alistair smashed a snowman’s head in with his boot.

‘Make it quick man!’ Alistair yelled. ‘They’ve spotted us.’

Hans nodded and finally the lock clicked and we tumbled inside. Hans slammed the door shut and the loud thud of snowballs splattering on wood followed us.

‘Raving crazy snowmen…’ I muttered. ‘They’re never going to believe this back in Divinity’s Reach.’

Alistair had taken to watching through the window and Hans’ eyes were on Daisy.

‘What’s going on?’ he asked her pointedly. Her floppy ears curled back and her big eyes started to well again.

‘It was an accident Uncle Hans, I didn’t mean to do this.’

‘You’re kidding! She did this?’ I said in disbelief.

‘The other asura said I was dumb because I wasn’t brought up in Rata-sum. I wanted to prove I was smart. I only made one… Mr Puddles.’ She sniffed. ‘But Mr Puddles was lonely. He wanted to play with other snowman friends. When he saw people knocking down his snow friends he was angry! He absorbed my equipment, so he could make more like him. He grew so big and scary.’

‘Oh Daisy,’ Hans said patting the small asura’s head.

‘The snowmen are easy to kill. People are just scared at the moment. I doubt anyone has been hurt.’ Alistair said, his eyes trained on the commotion outside the window.

‘If this… Mr Puddles… is really sentient and distraught I doubt this problem will just go away,’ Hans said combing his hair back with his hand as he thought. He turned back to Daisy. ‘Daisy we need to fix this. You’re a smart girl, you must have built in a fail-safe. You need to be strong now. How can we stop the snowmen?’

Daisy’s lip puckered and her jade eyes squinted as she tried to put on a brave face.

‘Mr Puddles absorbed the device but he only controls the snowmen. If you stop him, the other snowmen will return to normal.’

‘Where is Mr puddles now?’ he asked.

‘At my house,’ she whimpered.

Hans nodded.

‘We need to get to the western ward.’ he said standing up.

‘I think I can get us there,’ Alistair said pensively.

 

Thankfully it seemed that while the snowmen had been granted sentience, they had not been blessed with brains. They had quickly forgotten our escape into the house and move on down the street. Alistair managed to sneak us through Lions Arch, only having to dispatch a few snowmen that spotted us. As we neared the West ward we heard an almighty moan. I looked up and caught my breath. The top of a gigantic snowman towering over the houses as it lumbered its way through the city, knocking the roofs of houses off with it’s tree trunk arms.

‘Mr Puddles…’ Daisy whispered sadly.

‘That’s one big snowman,’ I gasped.LA5 Wintersday One shot: Kaysee and the not so jolly snowmen

‘This way,’ Alistair instructed, his face drawn and tense as he saw the colossus snowman. We stayed low and out of the snowman’s vision and managed to creep to Mr Puddle’s base. He was surrounded by smaller snowman, all bouncing around him in a frenzy. I peered past them and saw an asura seemed to be the cause of it. She was brandishing her swords at them, even managing to cut a few in half.

‘Ma!’ Daisy cried. She tried to run but Hans held her back. The big snowman seemed to just notice the asura and bellowed angrily. Suddenly a large branch of an arm came down onto the asura, squishing her in one blow.

‘MA!’ Daisy screamed, and slipped out of Han’s grip. Hans desperately grasped for her but the little asura was too quick. He jumped out of our hiding spot to follow her and all the snowman turned their beady pebble eyes on them. Alistair and I shared a look and we followed quickly.

‘MA!!’ Daisy sobbed hysterically. Hans had caught the flailing asura and was holding her back from reaching the body. The giant snowman turned to look at us, and as he did he lifted his arm. I prepared myself to see the mangled bloody body of the asura, but there was none. Just empty white snow.

‘Daisy?!’ A voice cried. The same asura who had been crushed was no running towards us. She enveloped Daisy in a firm hug. ‘Oh my precious girl. I’ve been looking for you everywhere.’

‘Mona, you’re alright.’ Hans said visibly relieved.

‘Just an illusion,’ Mona said, stroking her daughter’s hair. ‘Hans, have you seen the twins?’ She asked, but that moment two boy asura, even smaller than Daisy jumped on Mona’s back.

‘Ma! That was seriously cool!’ One gushed.

‘We thought you were dead!’ The other cried.

The looming mass of snowmen was fast approaching, and Alistair and I readied our weapons.

‘Mona, take the kids.’ Hans said sternly. ‘We’ll deal with this.’

Mona’s expression softened and she nodded. She grabbed all three of her children and ran back to her hiding spot.

The snowmen were quickly upon us and I took a deep breath for the coming fight. The flame enveloped my daggers and I sunk it into the snowmen. The blade hissed every time I ripped and sliced the snow horde apart. Next to me, Alistair easily smashed their faces in with his boot, and occasionally picked off the one or two from a distance with his pistol. Hans stood behind us, summoning an inferno of flames, drastically devastating the snowman army.

Mr Puddles moaned again, but this time his arms lifted to the sky, and the air and snow whipped and whirled around us.

‘What’s happening?’ I yelled over the moaning winds.

‘He’s channeling something. Can’t you feel the magic pulsating around us?’ Hans yelled back

I felt nothing but the cold wind raking at my face. The snow was thick now, like a blizzard. I noticed dense patches start to form and within the snow storm I saw three figures stand up. The wind subsided and as the soft flakes of snow wafted to the ground, I gasped. The three figures were us, made of snow. Every detail perfectly mimicked in a snowy white medium. Alistair’s snow man came at us first. I dodged out of the way and Alistair leapt onto it, managing to sever its arm. The snow Alistair’s arm dropped to the ground and disintegrated. The snowman looked at it blankly, then turned to charge at Alistair. Even if Alistair’s steel sword was hitting against snow, it clanged as if both were made out of precious metals.

Hans was fending off his own snow imitation as well as mine. The snow-Hans was casting a spell. I ran with all my might and leapt at it. I let my magic run wild through my body, and as my feet hit the earth again a magical tremble rumbled through the ground and knocked him over. I looked up to see Alistair decapitate his own snowman. He turned to face me and I saw his eyes widen in alarm. I whirled around to see the snow Hans bearing down on me. Instinctively I rolled back and let the air magic funnel behind me, causing an updraft. The snowman was lifted off his feet and sent flying. Alistair appeared next to me and put a sword through the snow-Hans’ head and the body melted like loose sand. The last snow creature left was me. Hans was fighting the snow-Kaysee off and I rushed to aid him. It turned on me, and I kept her occupied as I saw Alistair creep up from behind. In the last few seconds she managed to kick me in the stomach and as I went flying, her dagger sliced my cheek. Alistair raised his sword and the snow Kaysee turned to face him. I expected his sword to plunge into her head but Alistair faltered. His expression flickered, and in that  second she had summoned a burst of snow, blinding him. She bared down on him, her daggers poised. I grit my teeth and grabbed my dagger off the ground and leapt at her, sinking it deep into her head and ripping it out to the side. Her head disintegrated into wet snow and the body tumbled to the ground.

Alistair stood up hastily, shock in his features. I was just glad we had disposed of them all. My victory was short lived as the giant snowman began to bellow. Like before, its flailing arms aimed at us. I dodged out of the way and looked up to see Alistair running up the creature’s trunk of an arm. The snowman tried to shake him off, but Alistair was agile. He leapt up the arm right to the creature’s face. It stared at him for a moment, shocked that Alistair was still there. Alistair raised his gun and in two sharp shots he blew out the stone eyes of the snowman. The snowman flailed hysterically and Alistair was thrown off. I wanted to run to him but Hans grabbed my arm.

‘Channel your fire magic with me,’ he commanded. He held our hands out and combined our fire-burst in a sustained flare at the base of the snowman. A large chunk from the side of the giant snowman began to melt and the beast began to slope. I was quickly becoming fatigued. I had only done this spell in quick short bursts and I felt all my energy flooding out of me. As the snowman’s side melted the rushing water streamed over our feet and it was rapidly climbing up my ankles.

‘Just a bit more, Kaysee!’ Hans encouraged, but my body was already sagging. I groaned as I let my last bit of energy spike and I tumbled to the ground. The enormous snowman teetered, and I looked up as the shadow of the snowman enveloped my form. It was going to fall on me! I tried to stand up but my whole body shook from exhaustion. I realized I wouldn’t be able to move in time. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash as Alistair darted from nowhere and knocked me backwards. The snowman smashed to the ground only meters away from us, covering us in a thick layer of slushy snow. The other few snowmen left behind suddenly stopped moving, their faces returning to the happy but void smiles they had been made with.

Hans picked himself up wordlessly and looked over the snowman’s remains before his gaze turned the family of asura who had reemerged. Daisy ran towards him and jumped up, engulfing him in a hug. Hans hugged her back, then slowly walked back to the rest of them. The mother started shedding tears of relief.

 

After a few moments Hans ushered us away before the Lionguard came. As we walked through the streets it was obvious no one had been hurt. Kids were knocking down snowmen while street vendors were picking up their overturned stalls. When we arrived back at the manor I realized my clothes were ripped and soaking wet. My father opened the door and his eyes widened in shock and horror. He looked to Hans and said;

‘Sir, just what kind of choir did you take my daughter to?’