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Christmas Contest Entries
11-30-2010, 09:11 PM,
Post: #1
Christmas Contest Entries
The Smile that Hides It All

A snowflake drifted down in the air, and landed down on something losing its warmth by the minute. It kept its original form for just a second before it started to melt. Trickling down the peach, purple-tinged surface it soon got squashed into the hard-packed dirt floor. Moving forward, the shaking surface turned slightly towards the right, and trembled for a few seconds. Partially lifting itself off the floor caused a muffled noise to occur somewhere farther back. Another foot also partially lifted itself off the floor at the same time, and two shaking hands began to scramble backwards as the foot did the same.

The hands and feet were attached to a young boy’s legs and arms. This young boy had just fallen on his rump on a cold day in the farm after spotting a horse. The horse’s breath was coming out as steam, and it looked ready to trample the poor boy beneath its hooves. Scrambling backwards crab-style the young boy began to move away from the horse hoping to get away before it could crush him into the ground. Turning around the boy got on his feet and stumbled forward before he regained his balance and started running as fast as his cold little feet would allow. His heart started pumping blood more quickly due to his adrenaline and his running. Not daring to look back, and enjoying the little warmth that the increased blood flow offered he started running a little faster.
The rapid increase of blood flow made the little boy’s head dizzy, and with dizziness came blurred vision. Sparing a glance over his shoulder the boy came to a slamming halt, and fell on his rump again. A horse walked up to the little boy, no reaction, no frightened scramble away as the boy just lay there with blood trickling down the side of his head where he hit the tree. Some whispered words came from the tree near the boy, and the horse laid down near the boy. A couple hours later a squat, old man was walking towards the tree while mumbling underneath his breath about an arm brace. Snapping out of his reverie he noticed the young boy and the horse side by side. Frowning the old man bent down and wrapped his arms around the boy and grunted in a concentrated effort as he hefted him onto the horse. Slapping the horse’s rump, the old man woke the horse and lead it to his barn. A stout stick snapped under the horse’s weight as it walked away from the tree where the boy was laying.

The old man tells the boy to check out the Skill Specialist, whom is living in a very distinguishable house on the side of the road, so he’ll know what path(s) to choose in life after gaining some experience out in the world. The young boy does just that and finds a man dressed in a fancy suit leaning against one of the pillars of the porch of the Skill Specialist’s house. Tucking his hat in between his arm and chest the man greeted the boy with a smile, his teeth gleaming white. His orange hair was combed back, and his face showed little to no signs that he spent much time outside. Off to the side lay an unconscious figure slumping against the back side of the house, just barely out of the boy’s line of sight. The gentleman offers the suggestion of discussing the possible paths in life for the boy over a nice warm meal at the Magi Cafe; which the boy joyfully accepts. Ushering him away from the slumped figure the pair headed off to the Magi Cafe.

Somewhere in the conversation the gentleman tried to casually suggest a career choice, to the boy, involving killing people and then stealing their eggs which he could then sell or eat as he chose. He also went on to say that were the victims’ blood to completely cover his clothing that their lifeblood would make the wearer of that clothing to age at an extremely slow rate. The clothing would then remain bright red to symbolize that the clothing was imbued with this unnatural ability (other word maybe?). In face for most of the time this was the only topic he talked about, but at the time the only thing the boy showed interest was in his food.
How to lead up to him getting the suit and the sack?

They parted ways after the conversation was over and the boy had a couple of feasts worth of food at the Magi Café. A little stuffed the boy headed over to the Tavern to let his food settle and ask a few questions of the friendly patrons. While he was opening the doors to the Tavern for his first time some papers magically appeared in his hands, which he initialed at the bottom just so he could move on. A conversation was going on, but quickly stopped while people greeted him, one of the greetings being “Welcome, S.C.” The patrons that greeted him also let him know if he had any questions that they would help him as best they could. Just then an Eldron burst through the door spouting profanity for no apparent reason. A female at the bar, dressed in Crimson Guard attire, got up, turned around and walked forward. With a steady voice and clear line of sight towards the profaning Eldron she said, “stop the cussing, please.” Random profanity turned into directed threats at the female. In a slightly raised voice the female responded saying “this is your second warning, I’m asking you to respect the members of the Crimson Guard.” Not giving up the Eldron continued on the rant saying only one final thing, before getting tossed out of the Tavern by two Crimson Guards who appeared out of nowhere. Various emotions were displayed by the patrons as some laughed, others cheered, and some didn’t even seem fazed as if this happened often. After returning to the bar the lady sat down and returned to the conversation after muttering about paperwork. Santa Claus, as the patrons had greeted him, walked up to the bar and found an empty seat.

Curious about the recent commotion he tapped a nearby patron on their shoulder. Santa asked, “Um, excuse me, would you happen to know what that was all about?” Suddenly a barrage of answers bombarded Santa, and from piecing it all together he figured out that the Eldron was breaking the rules, and the female wearing the armor was a Crimson Guard, a member of the Royal Army. The Crimson Guard being a unit of peacekeepers meant to make sure the citizens of the city follow the established rules. Soaking in this flood of information, he ventured to ask “where is a good place to gain some experience, for some as inexperienced as myself?” A few people shouted out “Sogra!” in unison and then started bursting out in laughter. Before he could ask where or what sogra was other people mentioned the Sewers, the Farm with good equipment, or the Crypt or even the sogra with custom-made gear. He thanked everybody for their help, exited the Tavern, and went searching Cajar for the sewers.

It wasn’t hard to find the sewers, all Santa did was follow the lingering smell of sewage. While climbing down the ladder he was surrounded by a wave of stench. His eyes began to water and his nostrils instinctively began closing up to keep the smell out. After walking around for a bit he finally got over the smell, for the most part, and spotted a figure nearby. Figuring normal citizens wouldn’t venture down here he sprang into action. Throwing a punch, at what had turned out to be a Cajarian thug he got the first hit which bruised the thug’s face and split his lip. A swing from the thug’s legs knocked Santa to the ground, but Santa managed to minimize the damage by rolling so the impact was lessened. The kicks and punches continued on for a minute until the thug fell down, defeated. Santa rifled through the thug’s pockets and found several crowne. While make sure the crowne was safely secured in his bag he noticed some equipment; a helm and a set of armor. It didn’t take an Air Master to figure out that equipping the armor was in his benefit, so he took a few minutes to don the armor. With armor equipped he went in search of more enemies to fight. Several minutes passed while he fought many opponents in which he gave blows to those combatants, but was spared receiving any thanks to his armor. Exhaustion came sooner than he would have liked, but it gave him time to contemplate over the battles to think about what he had learned. From the contemplation he realized his muscles were a little more compact, he was more agile, and he could think more clearly. While rummaging around in his back to check how much crowne he had gathered from the battles his hands passed over an oval object. Upon further examination he saw it was an almost rustic-colored egg that gave such an aura that one might say you could feel it.

Remembering that the tavern’s menu offered a refreshing beverage, and curious about the egg he had just found he started climbing up the ladder to exit sewer. Before he made his way up three rungs somebody slid down the ladder and jumped off his head. Wool brushed against the back of Santa’s head as the person dropped to the floor. Flustered about the audacity of the behavior of the delinquent, but not wanting to escalate the situation he grumbled to himself as he climbed another couple of rungs. Too busy concentrating on grasping the rungs above him Santa didn’t notice a figure standing by the manhole. A throwing knife sliced through Santa’s wool robe embedding itself into his shoulder, a barely audible “tch!” came from up by the manhole. As the knife tore into his shoulder Santa cried out in pain, lost his grip and fell back into the sewers blacking out momentarily. He got up, and remembered where he was, and what had happened the last few minutes. The knife was gone, but the pain was still there. Deciding that he better do something about the wound he climbed up the ladder, and on wobbling legs began walking to the Tavern.
The tavern doors swung open as Santa stumbled in, he practically fell as he took a seat at an empty booth. There was a trail of blood leading from the Tavern doors to the spot at the booth that Santa had picked, and the Bartender did not seem very pleased at this. A waitress came by and set a bucket of soapy water, and a mop by the booth and said “For when you get better. Is there anything I can get you? Perhaps a nice steaming steak, and a foaming mug of ale? The steak does wonders for the injured, and the ale is rather revitalizing.” and smiled at him. Santa just managed to nod his head weakly, and put out the required amount of crowne for the two items. As the first waitress bustled off into the kitchen another one was already coming out, and bringing his food and mug of ale to his table. Too weak to even really think about the speed of the service, with an appetite that was born of hunger and a body needing nourishment Santa dug into the steak almost as if it were going to be his last meal. Through the secrets of the recipe or by some magic Santa was feeling completely better after finishing the steak. His wounds had closed up and left no trace of ever being there. Blood wasn’t coming out of the now-healed injury, but there was still blood leftover from when it was open. After getting up Santa picked up the mop and mopped up the mess his blood had made on the Tavern floor. He went to the washroom and cleaned up as best he could, and sat back down at the booth wondering if he should order a couple more mugs of ale.

It was Santa’s turn to have someone tap on his shoulder. Santa turned around to face the person in the booth behind him wondering what the person was going to ask of him. “You seemed to have cleaned up the floor and your shoulder pretty well, but you missed the back of your head” said a Hounzalid whom sounded a little befuddled about this. The Hounzalid wasn’t the only one befuddled about this as was evident when Santa lifted his hand to the back of his head and noticed some his hair was sticking to the back of his head. Through the misfortunes he had come across in the sewers he did not remember sustaining any damage to the back of his head, and strangest of all was the blood was only on the back of his head and didn’t go farther down than that. An image flashed in his mind and then it became clear to him what had happened. Santa replied saying “t’was just something that brushed against my head. I actually had a question of my own. What exactly is…” Santa trailed off while rummaging through his bag, “hmm…it’s an egg” he began saying as the crowne in his bag jingled while he rummaged around some more, “colored reddish-brown giving off an aura that you could feel.”
“50,000 crowne for the egg” yelled a Rhizard sitting by the fireplace.

“60,000” shouted out by a female Eldron sitting at the bar.

This continued on upward, with a few more patrons involved than just those two, until it reached 125,000, where some silence followed. Finally after a few seconds of silence someone said “125 thousand and 1.”

“Come on, you should at least up it in increments of 1,000 ,” said an Undead Knight.

The bidder responded, “let the egg owner decide that.”

All eyes turned toward Santa Claus, but he just sat there looking bewildered until he realized they were talking about him. Fishing in his bag some more didn’t get him the egg, so he showed his hands empty as he pulled them out of his bag. He shrugged saying, “it must have fallen out of my bag while I ran into bad luck while exiting the sewers.”

Sighs of disappointment came out of quite a few mouths while some people mumbled that he probably ate it and just forgot.
The Hounzalid said “Don’t mind then, they’re just eager to get their hands on a Champion Egg. That Is without a doubt, the egg you claimed to have stumbled across. As you could have told from the bids, it’s a pretty good egg to find in your travels. Consuming it fills you with mysterious experience that magically leads you to learning more about yourself. Of all the eggs in this world, the Champion egg is the rarest of them all. “Here” the Hounzalid said as he handed Santa a gray book titled Egg Anthology, “if you read up on this you’ll know what benefits each egg you come across bestows upon you should consume it. By the way you can call me Kezel.” He extended his paw, and smiled warmly.

Santa and Kezel shook hand and paw, Santa smiled back, and thanked him for the book. He ordered a couple of ales, gulped them down, and went to check out the weapons store. There was a small variety of weapons, only a few of which seemed fir for him at the time though. He settled for a brown-handled, short sword with a blade covered in frost. While heading off to the farm he decided he’d settle the score with the horse that gave him a scare, or dispatch any hostile animals that came across his path. Fear brought back the memory of the farm’s location. It wasn’t long until he was opening the gate, and made his way into the farm. Upon hearing hoof beats he turned to face the source and brandished his sword while shouting “hah!” The horse seemed disinterested and continued trotting along its merry way.

His instincts told him to have his sword ready, and for good reason as he came across a chicken running around as if someone cut its head off, which wasn’t the case this time around. The chicken started to head towards Santa so he pulled his arm back and swung at the chicken. Some feathers fell to the ground with some of the chicken’s blood. Then chicken feathers started going in every direction as the chicken began flapping its wings wildly while heading in Santa’s direction. It tried pecking at Santa, but its beak couldn’t get through Santa’s thick wool coat. It wasn’t long until Santa was standing over a dead chicken of which he tore off a leg and cooked. He walked around for a while and fought some more hysterical farm animals. He sold the resources he gathered from their bodies for a small amount of crowne per item. A couple hours passed and Santa felt he had experienced enough in the world that he could start focusing on a certain set of skills. It was getting dark out, but he figured the Skill Specialist wouldn’t mind some company this late at night.

By the time Santa made it to the Skill Specialist’s any light from the moons was blocked by an overcast sky. He knocked on the door and waited outside for a response. After a few minutes of rubbing his hands to keep warm, and still no response Santa figured it was best to come back another time. He didn’t really remember anything that caught his attention when the gentleman was talking to him about specializing his skills in the Magi Cafe. He made his way to the Tavern, found a booth, and fell asleep. His dreams consisted of shadowy figures throwing daggers at him from all directions, leaving his wool coat stained red in his own blood. He woke suddenly from someone shaking his shoulder and saying his name, “hey…hey, Santa! Santa, wake up.” Santa’s eyes shot open looking around, and noticed there weren’t any shadowy figures near him, but rather a literally fuzzy face. Something about the face looked familiar, and then the events of yesterday filled in the blank. Kezel was standing over Santa looking worried and said “I see you’ve finally come to. You must have had a bad dream, because you were rolling around on the ground beneath the table.”

Santa looked above him and saw the underside of a table, then looked at where he was laying down which happened to be the floor. He got up from the floor, and though he thought the wooden planks as a floor worked well for the look of the Tavern he didn’t think they worked well as a bed. His back and arms were aching and yet he felt full of energy. “It’s nothing, if I let one bad dream get to me I might make a habit of it and then get nowhere in life. Thanks for the concern though. Even with all that’s happened I feel quite energized, and think I’ll go work off this energy by fighting some hostile animals in the farm. Santa ran off to the farm, and began to whittle down all that energy he had in the morning by fighting. He’d go back to the Tavern to enjoy some ale before going back to the farm to fight some more, and when he’d run out of energy he’d spend time chatting with Kezel and some of the other patrons of the Tavern.

This had become a routine for Santa over the last couple days until he felt like he was ready for more of a challenge. He had equipped himself with some new armor, and a better weapon. Then the routine changed from going to the farm to going to the forest. A couple weeks went by like this, until he had come across better equipment yet again, fights were going by quickly, and he decided to try out the cave southeast of Cajar. Several weeks went by and it was the same thing; new armor, quick fights, and then switching to the Crypt. Upon entering the Crypt a specter had happened upon Santa, and Santa swung his swift sword confident in his ability in hitting it. The sword went right through it leaving the specter mostly intact. The specter also wielding an ectoplasmic sword of its own swung and it wisped right through Santa’s upraised shield. Shudders ran down Santa’s spine several times, and he felt an unnatural chill seeping into his bones, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from continuing to fight. Seeing no particular way to get an effective hit on a creature like this Santa decided to attack while holding his shield so it would be protecting his vital organs. The attack this time didn’t seem to faze the specter in the slightest. Its sword swung just like before, and it went right through Santa again. There were fewer shudders this time around, but Santa was realizing this wasn’t a fight he was likely to win. Tucking his sword into his belt Santa turned around and started fleeing in the other direction. Luckily the few seconds that the specter was taking in the situation of its running combatant was all Santa needed to get away.

Upon returning to the Tavern Santa was greeted by the patrons as usual, and when he ordered a steak before his ale there were a few joking gasps. They told him to tough it out in the cave a while longer before he got stronger, and maybe even get some newer gear by that time. After soaking in the wisdom of the more weathered patrons Santa found himself nodding his head in agreement. A couple weeks went by and he had gotten stronger, and equipped himself with sturdier gear, and a fiercer weapon. It was falling into the same rut of fighting, drinking, and chatting it up in the Tavern. No one had gone out to explore other regions surrounding Cajar at this point, so Santa didn’t have anywhere else to go for more challenging fights.

Twenty years went by, and even though Santa had grown older his same old routine hadn’t changed any, but things weren’t quite the same. Though there were quite a few patrons in the Tavern, some of the old regulars were missing, and have been for at least a couple of years. Santa didn’t think much of it though, because he was still having fun talking to Kezel and other patrons about their adventures and his own aspirations. Santa, Kezel, and several others were all hooked on an old bard spinning a tale. “…it had been a long trek across the desert, but the young prince had finally made it to a town. He wasn’t sure how dedicated the assassin after him was to his job, but he hoped he’d have a brief respite after the long journey. The young prince rented out a room for the night, and went to bed. A couple hours later the clock stroke midnight downstairs, and all was quiet in the small town. Then all of a sudden-“ at that point in the story the Tavern doors slammed open. Everyone around the bard jumped in surprise positive that this was all planned by the weaver of tales. They all looked at him angrily before they started bursting out in laughter, but the only one not laughing was the bard who looked honestly surprised about the interruption of his story.

The listeners of the story all turned to see six Crimson Guards standing in the Tavern doorway looking around intently. “We’re going to need all of you to come to the Crimson Tower one by one, no questions asked. Starting with you” said one of the Crimson Guard as they pointed at the bard. Two Crimson Guards escorted the bard away, and four remained watching over the remaining people in the tavern. Minutes later the bard returned, and then another person was taken away. The pattern continued for well over an hour until everyone was taken away and then returned. There was whispering amongst the guards, and they didn’t seem pleased. They closed the door shut behind them, and left without saying anything else. Soon after the guards left rumors began circulating around the tavern. The bard took this opportunity to create rumors of his own leaving some of the patrons laughing, while others seemed truly concerned. One of the patrons was opening the door to leave, but was sounding a little delirious as he began to laugh and say, “hah hahah ahahahaHAHA! So…I see someone has actually bit on the b-they listened to my advice after all.” He closed the door as he finally left. The bartender began to chuckle at this and said, “I guess the ale wasn’t watered down as much as usual. Haha, just joking you guys, you know I couldn’t smile while offering you a watered down mug of ale.” Conversations began back up as usual after the rumors started dying down, and the hours passed by.

When it was getting starting to get late Santa left the Tavern to head off to the crypt for some late-night fights. Before he made it a couple of steps outside of the doors he noticed posters all over walls, some scattered on the floor, and they all were the same. It was a wanted poster, for the capture of someone branded as the Crimson Egg Thief. The strangest thing about the poster wasn’t the fact that there wasn’t a drawing of the thief, but the rather high bounty which consisted of five champion eggs, and ten each of all the other eggs. Reading further Santa noticed that the title “Crimson Egg Thief” came from the lack of blood on the dead victims of-Santa blinked his eyes unsure of what he was reading. He looked back up at the title, and then down at the sentence and then finally at the bounty. He assumed the victims had their eggs stolen, and that was where the second half of the title came from. He took one poster and put it in his bag before he headed out of Cajar to finish his routine for the day, which was interrupted by the guards.
Countless specters dispatched, and one might say countless years later an old man walked into the tavern. His hair was completely white, he had a full beard, and some might joke that he seemed to have a full stomach too. He sat down at a large table where a young hounzalid, and a few other patrons were deep in a conversation. The young hounzalid looked over at him and said “you know if my dad were still alive he’d joke about that massive girth you’ve got, but then he’d also know that you’re rather strong and agile for your uh…situation.” Santa chuckled at this replying “ho ho ho, you certainly have a way with words young one. If you were any less delicate I’d write up a naughty list and put you right at the top! Your father was a great friend, and he’ll live on in my memory until the day I die.” Then he muttered to himself, “guess the Bartender wasn’t joking back then, huh Kezel? If that ale was watered down I don’t think your son would be making note of my big belly like that.” He pulled out an old faded piece of paper, looking at it put a frown on his face. “Maybe if I’d spent less time out in the crypt, and more time looking after my friends this,” he spread his arms out indicating the lack of patrons in the Tavern, “wouldn’t have happened. I just hope I haven’t been a disappointment to you.” The young hounzalid patted him on the back, and hoping to cheer him up said, “don’t be too hard on yourself Santa, but the Crimson Egg Thief hasn’t been caught, and the first signs of his deeds were only starting to be noticed when you were around my age.” Santa’s eyes had a glossy look as he was reliving days past, but he soon shook his head and decided he’d focus on what was ahead of him. He got up from his seat, and bid the patrons to have a good day. He was walking out the Tavern when out of the corner of his eye he caught a flash of red before it bumped right into him. The person started running away leaving Santa with a nick in his side.
With amazing speed and agility Santa ran after the assailant and caught up to him in mere seconds. Santa tackled him, and was about to restrain his arms when a hidden blade revealed itself from the assailant’s sleeve. Quickly jumping out of the way Santa pulled out his own weapon, a rusting curved blade on a weathered green handle. The assailant looked at the weapon, and then at Santa and began to smirk. As the smirk was just finishing appearing on the assailant’s face Santa had made his way over there and slammed his fist along with the handle of his weapon into the side of the assailant’s head. He fell like a sack of potatoes. With the assailant knocked unconscious Santa had some time to look him over, he was wearing crimson baggy pants, and an oversized crimson wool coat, and seemed to have dropped a stuffed burlap sack during the scuffle. He looked to be in his mid thirties. The clothes…a crimson red, and a stuffed sack full of…eggs? Santa peeked into the sack, and saw a massive amount of eggs in there. His stomach started to turn, and he moved his head to the side and threw up. He threw the assailant over his shoulder, and picked up the large sack of eggs and brought both of them to the Crimson Tower plopping them at the feet of the Crimson Guards. He took out the old poster, tossed it their way as well, and just walked out. They took a look at the poster, and a look at the unconscious person and shook their heads.
The Crimson Guards took it upon themselves to investigate this person, and the mysterious large burlap sack that was in his possession. They woke him up, took him into a small room, showed him some clothes and told him to change into them and walked out. The man, not seeing any way out, decided to follow along for now. He knocked on the door letting the guards know he had finished changing, and when they opened the door they saw an old man with salt and pepper hair. They looked down at the crimson outfit laying on the ground, and one of the guards whispered to the others, “this is going to have to be brought to our superior’s attention, right now. Someone go get the man who apprehended this…this abomination.”

A couple Crimson Guards walked into the Tavern, and asked around for someone with a description that fit generally well for Santa. The young hounzalid looked over in the guards’ direction, and motioned them over his way. “You must be looking for Santa Claus. It’s really none of my business to ask why, so you might as well go to the crypt to find him. He spends most of his free time there fighting specters.” It wasn’t long until the guards came across him, one of them put their hand on his shoulder and said “you’re coming with me.” They brought him to the council chamber in the Crimson Tower, where they asked him a few questions about the incident. Content with the answers Santa had given them they all nodded their heads while facing each other. “In honor of helping bring peace to this city of ours, we are offering you the unofficial position in the Crimson Guard as general Peacekeeper. We’ve…uh…fashioned this suit,” showing him a bright red wool coat with what appeared to be white cotton sewn around the edges, bright red baggy pants also with the same material sewn around the bottom edge of the pants, a red pointy hat with the same material sewn on the top, black boots, and a black belt with a golden buckle. “Also as a reward, we believe you should keep the thief’s eggs. You can do with them as you will.” Santa thought about it for a moment and decided he could do some good for the citizens of Cajar, and accepted the position.
12-04-2010, 06:57 PM,
Post: #2
Re: Christmas Contest Entries
Saint of Children

1000 years ago, Cajar was a poor town. Children were the ones who suffered the most, but one wealthy man, with a heart as pure as air, manufactured clothes and toys for the children. Kris Kringle was his name, or Santa Clause the Saint of Children. When the Tyrant King learned of the free gifts, he had Kris arrested and executed before a weeping crowd.
The Tyrant King was defeated. On December 25th, the town remembers Kris's birthday and continues his work of kindness.
The End.
12-04-2010, 07:01 PM,
Post: #3
Re: Christmas Contest Entries
Deep in a large, shady forest a small family of Hounzalids made their den, by a little stream. The forest was not hard to get to, just hard to get through, so they had very few visitors. The father was a skilled warrior and regularly made trips to a grand city called Cajar, for supplies and materials of various sorts. The mother mostly stayed with her pups, teaching them life skills and manners as best as she knew how. One pup vividly remembers the time she spent in that forest, and how and why she came to Cajar…

It was a crisp autumn day with a slight breeze that ruffled the fur and tickled the ears. At that matter, my ears were getting a bit cold, but I couldn’t cover them because I was weaving a basket of tall grass and thin twigs that had some spring to them. Suddenly, a harsh squealing noise filled the air and a moment later something gave me a rough shove, right onto my basket-in-progress! My ears grew warm from the heat of my anger. I rolled over to see what hit me; the biggest bat I’d ever laid eyes on! My family has always known there were bats in the forest, and while they weren’t frequently troublesome, they did occasionally create a ruckus. What really surprised me what that this bat was frothing at the mouth and looked about in a wild daze. Above me, another large bat swooped low, gnashing at my ears, fangs glinting in a small shaft of sunlight. I ran for the den hollering as loud as the bats.

“Alright already, quiet down, you three!” Our father was trying to get the story straight, and softly to his poor, overwhelmed ears, as my siblings and I were not using in-den voices due to our over-excitement about the bat-attacks we experienced. (Yes, my brother and sister also had nasty surprises.) After we calmed down and each explained our bits, he slowly lowered himself onto one haunch, clearly mulling over what we’d told him. Our mother stepped lightly between my brother and sister, to sit by our father to quietly discuss something. We took that as our cue to go do something else until sleep-time. Being young and easily consoled, a few random play-pounces during claw-in-dirt-drawings turned into all-out tussling and nipping. Our drawings did not survive.

The next day our parents approached us with unusually sombre expressions and appeared tense. “You pups are going to come of age in a few weeks,” began our mother, “And we’ve taught you a lot, but we always feel it is never enough.” Our father broke in, “What we’re going to ask of you is as difficult for us as it will be for you three… Start some serious, offensive practice for survival, because you’re going to be on your own once you leave.” I felt I had to ask, “You mean we have to go away and live in this forest alone?” “No, no… Not here, not entirely alone. Make for Cajar. It’ll be the safest place for you pups in the near future,” our father replied. Our mother spoke up again, “We have to find other forest Hounzalids to fight off those vicious bats. It’s a good thing none of you were bitten. These ones are diseased and highly dangerous. Not one of you is big enough, or strong enough to do anything about it, so your best option is to find civilization and make your way into a new pack. Pay attention now, your father will draw you a map in the corner for you to study.”

After a few weeks of much paws-on, aggressive hunting, fishing, and fighting-like-you-mean-it lessons, we pups were given brown leather bags, dried meats and fruit, a bit of stale bread from our father’s last trip, and farewell snuggles. We were off. In days, we managed to get separated and promptly attacked. Imagine my horror, when after much running and screaming ceased, my brother bumped into me in a panic. Holding onto each other, a shiver went down our spines. We turned around. There was our sister, body strewn in a small, blood-splattered clearing, with a jaggedly slit throat that was no longer bleeding.

We told each other to forget that sight on purpose, get to the city, and get new lives while we still could.
Somehow, it feels like keeping an unsaid promise to our sister and parents that we immerse ourselves in the wonderful new packs we’ve found, here in this lovable place called Cajar.
At last, a place to belong and start over.
12-15-2010, 12:45 AM,
Post: #4
Re: Christmas Contest Entries
In a small town just North East of Cajar,
There lived a little girl who couldn't talk very well, her tongue was tied by her wicked older sister.
Annabelle was happy none the less. She didn't mind the way the town's people teased her.
Soon the people didn't mind that she seldom talked, she was so cheerful that it didn't matter anymore.
One day she found a baby in the woods. Her heart sung with the joy her gift gave her.
That's what she thought of him, Her little gift.
She kept him there in a hut she made. And named him Samuel.
Not being able to say Samuel, She called him Santa.
Why she kept him there was never know.
Santa grew to be a carefree young man, But child like.
Having never been to school his life was fun and games.
He look great joy in giving Anna gifts of flowers and small toys that he made.
He loved her very much and the day she died was terrible for him.
He shut himself up in the hut and became very sad, never going out in the sun, he became pale and withdrawn.
One night just as he was falling to sleep Annabelle came to him.
"Don't be sad my darling, You gave me much joy in my life go out and spread that joy to others"
She knelt by the bed and placed a light kiss on his cheek."I love you Santa be happy again for me"
After saying this she faded into the night.
Upon waking Santa went to the window, The bright sun shine warmed his face.
"Yes Momma," he whispered, "I will do this."
After eating breakfast he left the woods for the first time in his life.
He spent a lot of time just watching the people. Seeing the good and the bad in everyone.
"I think only those who are good will get my gifts," He thought to himself as he headed home.
Knowing just what he had to do, he gathered the toys that he had made over the years and went back to town.
There he left the gifts outside the doors of all who were good.
Then hid in the woods to watch as morning came.
Soon the townspeople awoke and opened their doors to find their gifts.
Happy laughs could be heard all over the town of Cajar.
With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his lips Santa headed home.
"Thank you Momma," He said as the joy returned to his heart.
"I will do this every year," He thought.
Santa was very happy when he got home.
As he opened the door the room filled with a soft golden light,
And there standing in the middle of the room was Annabelle.
"You did well my son now here is my gift to you."
She spun around, And the room was transformed into a wonderful workshop.
"You will need help with you work," She said with a smile and headed to the window.
With a soft whistle she called three small furry mice into the hut.
Sprinkling them with a magic dust she turned them into elves.
"You will do nicely, " she said as she faded into the night.
And thus the legend of Santa was formed.
12-21-2010, 05:13 AM,
Post: #5
Re: Christmas Contest Entries
Santa's Legacy
as told by Mrs. Meyer

“It is said that on the eve of Christmas, the bonfire in the center of Cajar will leap into the air and bright stars will sprinkle down from the sky. As they fade, the ones of pure heart will hear a merry laughter fade into the distance.
“How do I know? I was there on the first night it happened. I will tell you, my child, the story that I have never told anyone else.”
Before Cajar was ever built, Mr. and Mrs. Clause lived in a cottage at the center of where it would rise. Slowly, others began building around them, until it became the largest city of the world, with walls, guilds, and a grand tower.
It was a warm summer night when Mrs. Clause had her first child. She and her husband pondered on what to name for a while until finally, she looked up to the sky for inspiration. She named him Atlas.
When Atlas was two years old and barely learning to walk, another boy was born. He was noticeably less adorable, but Mrs. Clause cared for him just the same. He was named Jack.
As Atlas grew older, it was clear that he was more liked than his brother. He was more social, and had inherited his father’s traits, even his laugh. Atlas also began displaying talent in magic. One day, he froze an entire lake. It was the end of summer.
This act brought much attention from others, specifically the crimson council, for it was clear that Atlas would be a prodigy. Slowly, Jack was thrust deeper and deeper into Atlas’ shadow, until only his mother payed much attention to him, and even then, she sometimes forgot about him.
Jack grew more frustrated at his lack of fame and magical ability every day. It grew inside of him like how a spark in a dry forest grows into an inferno.
Then, the boys’ father died.
He was well liked and respected by all. Laugh lines creased his face, for he laughed more than anyone else in a deep ‘ho ho ho’. Many people grieved at his death.
It was a cold October morning when the house caught fire. Mrs. Clause was away, Atlas was in training. When they were called home, Mrs. Clause immediately rushed into the remains, searching for her husband. Instead, she found Jack, still thirteen, lying unconscious on the floor, a neat, untouched circle around him, where the fire did not reach.

Long before Atlas became senior member of the Crimson Council, Jack had left. It was with surprise that, twenty years after Jack’s disappearance, Atlas found him in his house one evening.
‘Jack! I haven’t seen you in twenty years! We assumed you dead! Where have you been?’
‘Oh, here and there,’ he said lightly.
‘How did you get in? I’ve put powerful spells around this place.’
Jack smirks, ‘I have my ways.’
‘What’s that you’re wear—?’ he grew wide-eyed, ‘is that—?
‘The Cloak of Shadows? Yes, it is. It’s very handy, the Reaper’s very own cloak. Let’s me slip past magical barriers and makes me invisible to the eye,’ Jack gave a laugh, ‘that, dear brother, is how I got in here!’
‘Where did you get that,’ Atlas’ voice was cold and flat.
‘Dear brother, that is a tale for later. Now, I have a proposal. I have grown very strong, physically and magically, and I know that you also possess strength. I know of a place in the depths of the Crimson Tower. A part of the Tower that has been kept secret for many years, even from you. There is a powerful artifact that could change the world for the better. Cajar would prosper, we would gain untold power. Then, we could get rid of obstacles like your comrades, and any lesser beings! It would be the start of a Golden Age!’
‘Get out! I don’t know why I didn’t smell it before. I was happily surprised and distracted, but now my senses are clear. You reek of dark magic! Get out I said!’
‘You will see,’ said Jack, his voice void of emotion. With a flick of his cloak, he disappeared, never to return to Atlas.

Hearing of this event, Mrs. Clause begged him to keep Jack from obtaining whatever was in the Crimson Tower, for his own good. So, every day and night, Atlas took a post near the room that contained the artifact. Jack had made a mistake; he was wrong when he had assumed that Atlas did not already know about it.

One dark night, on the last day of October, the torches flickered and the stench of dark magic pervaded the Tower. Atlas knew that this was the night. Just as he concealed himself, he saw Crimson Guards slump onto the floor, struck by some invisible force. Then, in front of the door leading into the artifact chamber, Jack appeared, pulling off his cloak. Smirking, he reached for the door…
Atlas stepped out of the shadows and yelled, ‘Stop!’ Jack frowned, and then wrenched the door open. The defenses kicked in and slammed into Jack, knocking him to the ground. Atlas, taking his chance, jumped over him and into the chamber.
There, on a pedestal, was the artifact, a blue star the size of a fist. Atlas turned to face Jack, but he had disappeared. Then Atlas gasped as a flaming fist hammered into his side, burning his hip. Thinking quickly, he conjured a blizzard. An empty shape formed where the blizzard pelted nothing, and Atlas lashed out as hard as he could. He heard a grunt as his fist connected, then grimaced in pain as he was thrown back by another inferno fist to the chest. The blizzard stopped and Atlas could now see Jack, who had taken off his cloak. Jack gave a triumphant laugh.
‘This cloak is also impervious to magic. It blocked most of the spells in this pathetic tower. I admire you efforts, dear brother, and I’m sorry it had to end this way.’ Jack began muttering a powerful incantation, and a molten meteor began to form in between his outstretched hands.
Atlas relaxed his body, accepting defeat. He turned his head and saw: a blue star the side of a fist knocked of its pedestal in the raging battle. He reached for it and cupped it in his hands. He felt its warmth rise up his arms. He knew that the star had the vast power to cast any spell, existing or made-up, and could change everything. He had the power of the divine. He could rule the world, but Atlas wasn’t looking for power. He could change Jack’s soul, force him into good, but was that moral or just. If he did that, then Jack would lose his power of choice, his soul.
Atlas knew what to do.
‘Jack! Hear me cast this spell! I bind us brothers together, siblings and enemies. Forever shall we both live, undying. The world will forget about Atlas and Jack Clause, and they will know us as something else. But, if you should choose to change your ways, so long as the world still had kindness left in it, then the bonds between us will break, and we’ll both die in peace. I cast this Spell!’
Jack gave a curse and cast the meteor with all of his might, but the bright, blue light of the star filled the chamber, and the meteor faded. Ropes of light stretched, bound, and entwined the brothers together. Forever were the bound together by destiny, until Jack makes his choice. The ropes fell away, leaving Jack with the head of a carved pumpkin, his soul burning read through its eyes. Atlas had grown thirty years older, with a full beard of snow. He had known that there were side effects, and he accepted it.
Jack screamed as he realized his head was changed, and holding onto the new orange helmet, he ran out, leaving Atlas exhausted on the floor, clutching a lump of dead coal that was once a brilliant, blue star.
“I felt that something had happened, and I ran to the ruins of my old house. There was now a circle of stones around it, and it once again was burning. That was the first bonfire in the center of Cajar. I saw Atlas, and he told me of the spell. I cried, because he looked so much older, and I knew that Jack was also suffering. Despite the power of the spell, I did not forget my boys; my love wouldn’t let me.
“Atlas, who changed his name to Santa, begged me to remarry, pretend that I was not widowed. As you know, my child, I did as he asked, and I had you. You were a gift, for I thought that I was too old.
“Atlas—Santa—told me that he was going to use his power to create gifts for the world, in hopes that the world will retain its kindness. Then, as I pulled myself together and wiped away my tears, he disappeared in a sprinkle of tiny stars. In his place was a beautiful diamond, no doubt made from the remains of the star.
“I laughed, and had hope that Jack will also turn back into a diamond. I strode away from the bonfire, which crackled and mixed with a fading ‘ho ho ho’.”

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