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!
That giant machination had to fly over us.
I had planned on ignoring the holiday, just as I had the past few years. We norn saw it as a reason to bust out the good ale and drink more. I say that we shouldn’t need Wintersday to drink what we like. All around us there were more interesting celebrations to be had, like the day I had slain an entire group of icebroods single-handedly as they marched towards the Lornar Gates. That was worth breaking out the good ale for.
There shouldn’t be only one day dedicated to peace, they all should be.
Of course, the humans became curious and the norn decided it was time for a break, and that our journey could wait.
“Where are we going?” The scrawny male human asked the norn.
“You’ll see,” he responded as if it wasn’t blatantly obvious. Perhaps to the less than intelligent human, it wasn’t so.
“Let me guess!” Here he was with his guessing again. He could never keep his trap closed, and as we turned a 180, I glared at him, hoping he could feel the disapproval. ”Is it Hoelbrak?”
“Well, kind of,” the norn answered. Of course, heading back to Hoelbrak was the complete opposite way we were supposed to be heading. Just a good for nothing holiday to set us back several days at least. However, I obliged them and allowed them to run astray from the objective. Well, that, and my drink was already running low. Hoelbrak always had the best in drinks.
It took us over half the day to find ourselves in Hoelbrak again, thank bear that we weren’t already several miles from the city. When we finally arrived, I heard the ear shattering sound of a know-it-all barking for the norn children to gather round him. A tiny asura accompanied by many of his mates were surrounded with large festive boxes.
If they were filled with another useless toy. I would be more than happy to strangle the imp myself. What our children needed was combat. A weapon, perhaps? A large sword fit for a child, or perhaps a bow and arrow set. That would be useful. Knowing the asuran way, it would be something mechanical and useless, probably even dangerous.
The two humans approached, as if they were children as well. They may as well have been with the way they acted. Many of the norn children proved to be taller than our female human. I smiled, playing the idea across in my head again. Then came the most opportune moment against the two.
It was just the two of them left. “Well, don’t just stand there, take a gift!” Said the grating voice of the tacky asura.
“Oh, we aren’t Norn. I just wanted to see what was going on,” the female human responded, obviously embarrassed.
“It’s Wintersday! Of course someone out here has to give these kids a toy or two.” The imp exclaimed.
“Is it really Wintersday already?!” Wondered our small female, stupidly. Of course it was Wintersday, the happy ornaments and decorations lying around would have never lasted on any other time. They were sickening and more than a few of us here in Hoelbrak would have likely sabotaged them.
“Why, of course! Here, you two have a gift. I had a few extra anyway. A little joy goes a long way, especially in these days.” He smiled and handed the two humans their festive gifts. The humans bowed to the asura and wished each other a happy Wintersday before returning to us two norn.
I walked off to find a supply of ale, leaving them behind without a word. I didn’t have the same spirit they did and it was beginning to make me feel queasy, all of this display of affection and peace. ‘Peace’ should come everyday in our world amongst the intelligent races. Doing it for a week or two and then picking up arms while there is a bigger enemy out there threatening us all? My faith in Tyria had declined so much.
The company wasn’t very thrilled with my sudden absence, the female made it well-known when she finally found me checking the colors of a drink before purchasing it. With a snowball to the shoulder, I turned to face her, the girl whose face was both furious and upset. Somehow, it was still kind.
“I thought you had left us,” she cried out, readying another snowball in her hand.
“Of course I did. I left you to buy a drink,” I replied with a scoff. Didn’t she understand that I couldn’t leave her yet? Why would I have stuck around this long if I didn’t see some sort of use out of her? The next snowball hit my face, the cold shards of ice in it numbing my cheeks. I wiped it away and picked up a handful of snow, formed it, and threw it. She ducked, finally quick on her feet, and it hit the norn instead. I laughed. So did he.
It wasn’t long before we were being pushed through the gate by the oaf of a norn. Lions Arch, the center of attention in a war mangled world, was decorated more than Hoelbrak. Asuran machines spread snow across the brick road and icy waters, or it could have been something a little more deadly. The asura were considered intelligent, but often lacked common sense. I was grateful that we were immediately herded into the next gate.
The awes of the two humans continued as we entered the human capital. A garden untouched by the snow, but the streets outside were covered, save for the part where the asuran mechanism had stopped working, leaving a bare puddle on the ground.
And just as suddenly as I had become grateful, I hated this decision. I put up my best defense: a mocking scowl. No one would ever dare mess with an annoyed norn, or so I thought. If I had to correct my sentence, it would become: No one with a brain would ever dare mess with an annoyed norn. The human female approached me, questioning me about the scowl as if she didn’t know. I had told her at least twice now, more than enough times for her to remember such a great feat that almost was.
“If you don’t remember, the guards here don’t like me very much. You know, that whole scaling the wall thing?” I reminded her.
The human decided that this was her chance to get on my good side. She immediately found a store and came out to hand me a hooded cloak. Of course, I wasn’t about to accept a gift from a human, especially on Wintersday. I shoved it back into her arms.
…She seemed to have taken it to heart.
But it didn’t matter. She was only human. With some consolation from her norn mate, we continued into the lower areas of the human capital. It all looked the same to me. Tiny houses with short doorways for the short humans.
The company was very quiet now. Their Wintersday spirit no longer present. This was much more tolerable. We arrived at a human home, multiple stories in height, much like those surrounding it.
“This is it. Home…” The female companion told us, her voice faltering. She opened the door for us with a single key. The norn and I had to duck to enter, though the ceiling was large enough to accompany our height. The room was nearly bare save for the many books cluttering the place. Papers were strewn about with ink and quills. It reminded me of a warmer asuran study.
“Please forgive me for the clutter. I left in a hurry and didn’t have time to put things back.” She begged and began straightening the place up. I bent down to help her gather the books.
“Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want to ruin my boots by stepping on an ink well.” I snapped as she looked at me with a smile. The other’s joined in to help clean the place up.
She even made us tea. The teacups were puny in size. As we sipped on the warm liquid, she took the toy she had been given and set it down on her breakfast bar.
There was a knock at the door before it burst open. A human came rushing in, running to the female. He must have been a friend of hers as they shared an embrace before he turned to realize that there was anyone else in the room.
She introduced him to us, then introduced us to him, “These are my friends Angel and Tobih. This norn here is my lover, Ragnvaldr.” The female smiled. She had called me her friend. Even after I had been so cruel in denying her gift on the street.
“This girl saved my life once, and fought in a brave battle to save countless lives in Queensdale,” the new human boasted, “She’s quite a hero.”
Even though her face had turned red, I was eager to hear more. It was stories like this that interested me. I didn’t know that she had done anything spectacular in her new lifetime.
“Claire? A hero?” I asked, “I’m interested in hearing more.”
“I’m not a hero,” she retorted.
The new human indulged me in Claire’s story. She was stupid, but brave. She had the courage and sense of duty like a norn. It didn’t even compare to all of the things I had done, but it was impressive none-the-less, at least for a human. She had no incentives like payment and still risked her life to help a group save the lives of humans and to take on several bandits single-handedly in order to save her friend. I had her all wrong.
For the rest of the night, we all shared stories of our accomplishments and adventures. It was probably the first Wintersday I actually enjoyed. The next morning, I accepted her gift and presented one of my own to each of our party members. I had made last minute arrangements with Tixx for a present he mentioned he was out of. In Divinity’s Reach, he had delivered a princess doll to each girl. All he had left was a frame and materials to make one last one with. I had given him every piece of silver in my pocket (of course I didn’t tell him about the twenty gold pieces I had in my other pocket) for the unfinished doll. I stayed up and finished it for her. It was the least I could do to apologize.
And you know? If even she could carry her own legend, who knew what accomplishments anyone else may not be sharing?! Maybe Wintersday wasn’t about the silly decorations or good ale. Perhaps it was about being with great people.
But only for a day or two. I wouldn’t be able to take this lovey-dovey crap for too long.