Friday, December 21, 2012

Day Three-Fifty-Five: An Allofusmas Miracle

He came back.

He… came back…

My heart almost died from exhaustion and fear… but he came back…

I spent the entire night looking for my little boy. The entire night searching, hoping, praying that he would turn up. I searched for so long that the other searchers abandoned helping me, reasoning that he would probably be asleep, wherever he was, and that it was dangerous to look for him in the dark.

I carried on by torchlight until I passed out from fatigue. My torch sank into a snowdrift and, mercifully, went dead. Had I not been found within the hour I, too, might have succumbed to the grip of winter.

Of all the people to find me, I didn't think it would be Pagan.

I awoke in Pagan's big war tent on the edge of town, snoozing in a bedroll, my clothes drying over a small fire set just outside the tent. Pagan himself was writing at a desk, and Grayson, my precious little Grayson, was seated happily atop the folded legs of one of Pagan's slaves. They were playing.

I groaned and sat up. My body ached, and my head felt a little warm. I sneezed.

Pagan turned his harsh glare on me, though he smiled. "You are not a smart man, are you, Dragomir? I've never seen a mayor napping in the snow before."

I wearily waved that away. "G… Grayson… you found him…"

Pagan snorted. "More like he found me! The tyke was sitting in my study yesterday afternoon, playing with my things, when I came in for a nap. I recognized him at once - you don't quickly forget a child who has pronounced your demise. I thought it only proper to trek out here and return him."

I rose slowly, pulling the bedroll with me. I was uncomfortably naked underneath. "T… thank you… for going to so much…"

"I've also come for my rent," Pagan admitted, tapping his helmet with his quill. "I trust you have it ready. Five hundred gold?"

We did. Just barely, but we did. Lord knows what we'll do NEXT month. 

"I am curious, though," Pagan said, glancing at Grayson, "how the devil could he have travelled that far on his own? It seemed obvious that you were searching for him, but… how long was he gone…?"

"Only… a day…" I said, shivering. "He's… he's not… normal…"

"Normal, normal," Grayson repeated, bouncing on the knee of the slave and smiling. "He is not normal, he is abnormal."

"You have that right, child." Pagan stroked his beard. "The world gets queerer each day. Shadow creatures, babes that can travel great distances… I thought I'd seen everything there was to see. You'll keep better watch over him from now on, yes?"

I nodded. Yes. I most definitely would.

I invited Pagan and his attendants to the Allofusmas festivities. Everyone was gathered around the golden tree, under the big, misspelled banner, with their wrapped boxes and packages and sacks ready. Most everybody there breathed a sigh of hearty relief as I walked up with Grayson held firmly in my arms, though they were smart enough to keep quiet with Libby present. She took Grayson, cooed at him, and all was right with the world.


I still didn't have a present for Grylock.

The exchanges began. Libby, it turns out, had built a freaking fox launcher for one of the hunters, the girl who raises, y'know, foxes. It's crazy! The thing sits on the girl's shoulder and launches mammal projectiles! Apparently the foxes are perfectly fine when they land. Supposed to be the perfect hunting tool. There was much praise centred 'round that little doodad.

Everything else was kinda ho-hum by comparison. My gifter, Jeffrey's old bannerman, gave me a nice pair of woollen socks - with pictures of someone punching Jeffrey in the face stitched into the wool. Robert got one of the nobles a bottle of homemade wine. Mom got Bora a dress that covers absolutely every bit of skin… including much of her face. Bora got one of the hunters a practice crossbow. Harold got Edmund a notebook for jotting down song lyrics, and Edmund got Harold a notebook for jotting down accounting figures. And Grylock, well, Grylock pissed into an ale tankard and handed it to his giftee, Lonnie the Noble. It was spilled with much swearing and laughter from the peasantry.

Fortunately, Grylock also got Lonnie a rather wicked and cool-looking dagger. It was one of the better gifts.

It was pretty damned obvious at the end who hadn't yet received a gift, as Grylock was standing closest to the golden tree, peering around at everyone and grumbling.

I panicked. I didn't know what to do. I'd spent so long looking for Grayson that I'd had no time to dream up even a remotely-suitable gift for the goblin. Desperate, I dove into my pockets, hunting for something, anything I might be able to give him… a bit of lint, a spare key, some money, ANYTHING…

... and that's when I found something odd. A small, octagonal container, buried deep in my pants pocket. I could feel a small hinge on the side.

Not wasting any time, I WHIPPED the container out of my pocket, barely bothering to look at it, and stormed at Grylock. He had just enough time to look up in surprise before I pushed it at his face, almost crushing his nose.

"HAPPY ALLOFUSMAS, GRYLOCK!" I cried, wincing, hoping that whatever was inside would appease the goblin.

Blinking behind his spectacles, Grylock snatched the box from my hand. "'bout time. I thought I'd been cheated. Was gonna steal m'dagger back. Lesse…"

He clicked open the box. I twitched and looked away. He squealed. I looked back, wondering if the noise was excitement or anger, and was pleased to see a crooked smile forming under his long nose.

Tossing the box into the snow, Grylock held up the contents: nothing more than a necklace, at the end of which dangled a tiny purple sword. It glinted in the sun.

"Dragomir!" Grylock cried, carefully cradling the necklace. "A poisonheart! Gods, where the hell did you find it? Buddy! Pal! C'mere!"

Grylock jumped on my leg and hugged it ferociously, humping at it a few times for laughs from onlookers. Then, standing away from me, he held the sword's tiny pommel in his fingers and squeezed. In seconds, much like Edmund's lute, it grew into a purple short sword. He cut at the air experimentally, bringing it dangerously close to the rest of the crowd. They jumped back and swore at him, and the chase was on.

I stood still, gaping, not sure what had happened. I didn't notice until a hand fell on my shoulder that Pagan had snuck up on me from behind.

"A poisonheart, eh?" He scowled thoughtfully, his grip tightening until I winced. "Quite an expensive gift. I had one, once, a long time ago… I lost it somewhere in my house… you didn't happen to pick it up during one of your visits, did you…?"

I turned to Pagan and answered. "Nope."

He gauged my expression for a moment, found it to be honest, and nodded. "Tell him to be careful. It has the name 'poisonheart' for a reason." 

Pagan turned back to his slaves. They'd joined in the festivities, and Pagan, not the harshest master in the world, indulged their fun side by having a few drinks from Bora's kegs. They stuck around until dusk, then went home as the party really started to pick up.

It was true. I didn't pick the poisonheart up in Pagan's house. But I think I know who did…

… because every time I looked towards my wife, I saw Grayson watching me from her arms. Smiling.

Happy Allofusmas.


Dragomir the Spooked


  1. I also forgot ot mention, whatever i draw is probably gonna end up on facebook. So yeah. happy allofusmas, and have a good thattimewhenweneednewcalanders day.

    1. Sure, sure, spread the goodness to as much media as possible. DRAGOMIR EVERYWHEREEEE



  3. Good news: picture's done!
    Bad news: picture quality is really bad.
    Solution: gimme a few hours, I'm gonna borrow my friend's nice camera.

    1. Groovy. Take your time; Dragomir ain't goin' anywhere.


  4. MERRY ALLOFUSMAS! May the joy of punching Kings be with every boy and girl. Maybe if you're good this year, you'll get to punch Jeffery too!

    1. I resent the punching of Kings despite my sovereignty over nothing.