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  • Ash's Christmas

    Ash’s Christmas

    I couldn’t sleep in my room in Block E. No matter what I tried, counting muffies, going to my calm place, thinking of Riley and the others of Team 13, I just couldn’t settle down to sleep. As usual, there was too much on my mind. My human friend told me to relax, that she'd look out for me, but I could not.

    It didn’t figure. There was a weird kind of truce. I was grateful for the respite, of course! No one was hunting me down, trying to capture or kill me. Riley seemed to be much calmer and relaxed than she’d been lately. Even my human friend, the one I always speak to through my pocket watch, was in a good mood. The last time we’d talked before this truce, I think she’d been near tears, though I can’t remember why. But even she was cheerful. She’d told me that she’d have more time to talk to me soon, because she had a couple of extra days off from her job to celebrate Christmas, and a week later, another day off for the New Year. She’d have two long weekends, and she seemed ecstatic! The last thing she’d said was something about not having to deal with strangers. I’d felt hurt at first, but she assured me she didn’t mean any of us Alyncians. She meant other humans she dealt with as part of her job. Now that I thought about it, I never knew the human I talked to all the time was a lady, and I wondered how I learned that, or how she was able to speak more freely to me? Normally there were strict limits on what she could say to me.

    But in the end, that didn’t matter. What mattered was that this lady was determined to see to it that I got a chance to celebrate Christmas. Exactly how this was to be accomplished, I had no idea. Yet. After all, Christmas is a human holiday, and anything that had to do with humans had been banned. Anything, that is, except what was still hidden or that Chronos used.


    "It's a time to spend with family,” she had said when I asked what this “Christmas” was. “A time spent with friends and family, where you exchange gifts, and if you are so inclined, take a few moments to remember why some humans really celebrate the holiday. Also, Santa Claus brings presents in the night to good boys and girls. That's fun.” I would have sworn I heard a giggle, almost like a little girl. “I loved doing that for my daughter, but she stopped believing in Santa a few years back.” A wistful sigh. “But she's old enough to help out, and she takes a turn at being Santa for us.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well, she helps each of us pick a present for the other, and we say it's from Santa. We do the same for her, of course.”

    I suddenly had a brain wave. There used to be stories, actually there still are stories but no one really believes them, of someone who went around Alyncia, leaving presents of gold or truly needed or wanted things for everyone, no matter the age. Somehow this person did it all in one night! “Wait!” I blurted out, “are you the person everyone talked about? This Santa that you now call the figure in your world?” It made sense to me! After all she could Turn Back Time. She'd done so several times in many different timelines, if I could trust what she said, and I had no reason not to. “You're Santa Claus! Or the Gift Giver—that's what we called the person a long time ago.”

    “Uh...”

    “No, really! Perhaps you can alter time in some other way! I mean, you can't always have been watching over me, right?”

    “Uh, no, Ash.” She sounded amused and yet like she hated to disappoint me. “I'm not Santa Claus. I wish I'd thought of that, but I promise you I'm not.” I was disappointed when she finally convinced me, after a long discussion, there was no way she could do the job.

    “I'll tell you how you're going to celebrate Christmas,” I heard my friend say in the darkness. “You're going to celebrate by bringing Christmas to others. You can't sleep, and I have time, so we'll get to work on it. First, you need trees, and then you need decorations for the trees, and then...”

    After we had come up with a plan, I felt as if I could sleep. And I did.

    I woke up early the next morning. I couldn't help it. The weather had abruptly changed, and it was cold! I didn't remember ever feeling so cold! Well, cold had to be better than dry choking heat like they have in Windsorhowl. I got dressed in some new clothing that I found draped across a chair. Clothing that seemed to be designed to protect me from this new cold.

    I made a couple of griffin eggs and thought of A.C. while doing so. Then I made a bunch more, because it seemed like the swordsman was always hungry and ready to eat, especially if it was breakfast food, and I thought maybe I could give him some as a present. Then I made some more, because I know that Riley likes them, too. I'd cooked them all, but I was happy. I'd thought of these presents on my own.

    Morty came in, then, carrying his little bag of gold for me, and I gave him a hot egg to eat as well. My furry little buddy always had to wait for me, and didn't get nearly enough treats.

    “That's the spirit!” My friend startled me, but I managed not to spill the remaining eggs. I hadn't realized I'd spoken aloud. “You're on the right track,” she continued. “Now you just need to think of something for Roger, but actually, no you don't. I've got that covered, if you like.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “A.C. is getting apple pie if you remember. Elise is getting the fun of evading me when I try to hunt her, but Roger doesn't get anything, so far. I know he likes fruit, so I thought I'd make him an apple pie, too.”

    “Uh...” I hated to do this, but it had to be said. “You've promised apple pie to me and A.C., I know, but how are you going to get it to us?” As far as I knew, she could tell me to access the pouch, and she could see what was in it, but she couldn't put things into it herself.

    “I'm confident something will work out,” she said evasively.

    “Well, it's good you've thought of something for Roger, but I need to think of things for him and Elise.” I sighed. That would not be easy. As far as I knew the only things Elise liked were death and tea, and the only thing I knew Roger was really into was anything by Master Indra Frost.

    I scarfed down my breakfast and mentally prepared myself. I'd have to teleport. I don't like teleporting. It looks cool, and that's mainly why I do it when I must, but it feels awful! It feels like my insides want to be on the outside, and getting put back together at the end is even weirder. I won't even try to describe it, except to say it's a miracle no one vomits upon arrival at their destination.

    “Where do we want to go first?” she asked. Really, I should try to get her name sometime, I thought.

    “Nightshade Forest,” I said resignedly. We had figured we might be able to find pine trees there, but I was scared to go back. The fire. The muffies. The bomb. Ignis and...

    “Stop that!” she said sharply. “You have to put those things out of your head. I know it's hard, but we've got to do this to keep moving.”

    We teleported away. I had forgotten the rule! The one where we aren't supposed to teleport outside the Guild from inside. I should have walked to the gate first! Hopefully, no one would find out, or if they did, they wouldn't say anything.


  • #2
    I looked around. There was snow on the ground! I'd only seen pictures of snow in tomes! I'd never thought to see or experience it here! And, walking towards me, I saw A.C., Elise, Roger, and Riley!

    I heard my human friend crying. Why would she be crying? Everyone was OK. Everyone had been OK since the Trials were over. I guessed Riley had gotten back from whatever she was up to. Nothing wrong with that. I patted the watch and tried to reassure the human on the other end. She was trying to get a hold of herself.

    “There's just one person missing from this get-together,” said A.C. I was surprised he'd spoken at all.

    Elise nodded in agreement.

    Riley ran forward and hugged me before she realized just what she'd done and how she acted. She blushed and pulled away. I didn't care. I liked those embraces and decided to do whatever I could to get another one from her.

    “Mistletoe,” my friend said. “I'll be sure to help you get mistletoe so you can kiss her properly.” Now it was my turn to blush, and the others laughed at my expression.

    Roger said, “Yes, we certainly must bring her here. I'm sure my plan will work out.” Elise made some sort of typically Elise remark, but I wasn't paying attention.

    “Who else are we missing?” Everyone I knew that could be and that I wanted to see was here. Well, not my family, but they would get a visit from me soon if all went well. Chronos and Ezra were not here, and I was content with that. I didn't want two powerful beings getting together and ruining these holiday preparations. Or destroying Alyncia, for that matter.

    They all stared at me. “Ash, think!” they said in unison.

    “What? What did I say?”

    “Try reaching into that watch of yours, Ash,” A.C. said. I tried. My hand felt like it wanted to go through, but it got stuck and I pulled it back. I stared at the watch suspiciously. What spell had been cast on it now, I wondered?

    A.C. grunted. “It was worth a shot.” He reached for my pocket watch. “This is another example of a person's will being stronger than any magic.” His hand went through the watch and I heard a shriek and “Wait a minute! The pies!” And then, “I can't find The Mighty Bat! Where is it?”

    A blonde-headed woman, looking very sleepy-eyed and clutching several pie pans, stumbled out of nowhere surrounded by a paleish-blue dust and stood shakily on the ground. I was so startled I didn't think to catch her, but A.C. was quick. He had a hand on her arm, holding her upright until she seemed steadier. She looked around, but she wasn't looking directly at any of us. I finally got it that she was blind. That explained the cane-sword. But why had A.C. made it for her?

    “Each of you gets a pie,” she said. “I made several.” She was shivering at first, but she seemed to adapt to the cold. Her clothing shifted into something more suited to the weather. I thought the fuzzy slippers that looked like cats turning into a pair of boots was especially interesting to watch.

    One by one, we each took a pie from her. Somehow, the pans fit into our pouches, so that wouldn't be a problem, and they'd still be hot whenever we decided to eat them. Then I pulled out The Mighty Bat and handed it to her.

    “Now you can finally hunt me, Dianna,” Elise said.

    I didn't expect the woman to respond, but she turned and awkwardly drew the sword. “You!” she almost snarled! I stared at her. I knew she'd been irritated with Elise for some reason, but I could not for the life of me remember why. What had Elise ever done to her? Or to me?

    I must have spoken aloud again, because Dianna said, “Please don't ask. It's complicated and I don't want to ruin the mood here.” She sheathed the sword. “We haven't gotten the trees, I take it?”

    “No,” I said, “but you really should know who's who. I'm Ash.”

    The others gave their names and she nodded. “Got it. You all sound just like I thought you would. It's a relief. Now, which way do we go to find pine trees? How many do we need, Ash?”

    I thought fast. “Ten or so,” I said. I could see the others were torn between wanting to help and wanting to go home, but I guess wanting to help won.

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    • JohnnyValdezi
      JohnnyValdezi commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow, amazing work so far Dianna, can't wait to see the rest

  • #3
    “Using The Mighty Bat to cut trees doesn't seem right,” Dianna said. She somehow had her own pouch now, and she put extra pies into it. Then she pulled out a Teleport Orb.

    “Don't use that yet!” I said hastily, “save those for when we really need them. You taught me that.” And a good thing, too. It saved me trouble in other ways.

    “I was just curious to know what this is,” she said. “Remember, I've never seen these.” She fingered the Orb curiously. As far as I could tell, it was just an ordinary Teleport Orb, but I guess to her this was all new. Of course, I remembered at last, there's no magic in the human world. How sad. No wonder she tries to keep an eye on me—I'm her connection to any magic at all.

    “That's a Teleport Orb,” Roger said. “I don't suppose you managed to bring anything that would help me ... keep in touch with someone far away, did you?”

    She blinked her eyes hard. All I could think was, please don't cry. “No,” she said. “I don't have anything like that. I'm sorry, Roger.” She dabbed a free hand at her eyes.


    “Those trees aren't getting found or cut,” she said. “Which of you is willing to guide me to start?”

    I was about to say I would be glad to guide her, when Riley came over. “I will for now.” And we set off.

    That's when the snow started to fall. I thought it was beautiful on the ground, but I wasn't sure how I felt about it really snowing! Dianna and the others didn't seem to mind, so I kept my thoughts to myself. I was worried, though.

    Why was it snowing? How would Dianna get back to the human world? Hadn't she said something about a family? She once told me that when she really got stuck, she would ask her husband and daughter for advice so she could advise me properly. Surely she would miss them, and they would miss her. I would have to find a way for her to get back home after she helped us, I decided.

    Now that I thought about it, how had A.C. known to pull her through my watch? I frowned in his direction but I didn't say anything. Dianna was singing softly. “I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...” and was already teaching the words to the others. I didn't want to ruin that. Even A.C. seemed to be enjoying himself, and I thought all he cared about was training and getting his memories back and breakfast foods. Elise and Riley were actually smiling at one another, and I never thought I'd see that in my life time! Elise wasn't too fond of Riley, that was all I knew, but whatever issues there were between them seemed to have disappeared. Roger was singing and studying the snow intently, no doubt trying to think how he could make this happen in his homeland.

    I wasn't sure how far we walked until someone said, “There they are.” I hurried ahead to take a look. Dianna let go of Riley's arm and used The Mighty Bat to follow me. I didn't hear even a clink of the sword inside as she swung it back and forth like a walking stick. I checked; nope, she hadn't drawn the sword. She tapped at a tree and reached out to touch it, brushing snow off the branches she could reach. Then she leaned forward and sniffed. “Yes, here we are,” she confirmed. “How many of these are there?”

    I couldn't count the trees, there seemed to be so many, and I said so. “So we can pick the best ones,” I went on. “We can be choosy!”

    “Oh, boy! This reminds me of when I was a little girl. We'd spend time as a family looking for just the right tree. Well, you all can look for the best trees. I'll help, but you should all get trees you enjoy.”

    “But Ash wanted all of these, if you remember,” Elise said.

    “Only so you could each get one, and some others I've remembered will have trees, too,” I said. How did Elise know I was out there to get trees? Oh, she'd listened when Dianna asked how many we needed, I thought. “I haven't even gotten to the presents yet, but before we can do that, we'll have to visit Master Chronos and Ezra, because they are getting trees, too.”

    Dianna caught her breath at that and her eyes widened. She looked frightened. We hadn't discussed just how many trees or what kinds of presents everyone would get or who would get a tree except for my team mates. So even she had reservations about those two? I was determined, however. “They both make me uneasy, but they're Alyncians, too, and they deserve Christmas.”

    “All right,” Dianna said. “I'll follow you and help if I can.”

    Riley seemed accepting of my plan, but not the other three. At first. I let them argue and raise their voices. I'd do it, with or without their help. Besides, I figured they'd come around to my viewpoint soon enough. They did.

    The next hour or so was spent searching for the right trees. A Levitas Magnus spell and each tree was removed.

    “Now we have to teleport,” I said. “We need to put these somewhere.” The others nodded. Dianna looked excited! She'd finally get a chance to teleport, I realized. I hoped she was prepared... And then we were back in my room, setting the trees up carefully in wooden stands that somehow appeared for them.

    “Now we need stars for the tops,” Dianna said. “Or, maybe not stars—I mean the meteors were just unfrozen I think...” She broke off, frowning. “Anyway, we can put some Irrilium on top of each tree, if we can get some from Master Chronos.”

    “Let's do stars,” Roger said. “It's nice to see them. They make me feel hopeful.”

    “OK then, so it's off to Aion,” I said. We teleported and landed on the platform.
    Last edited by DiannaMuircast; 12-20-2016, 04:41 PM.

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    • #4
      “Now remember, Ash, no announcing yourself. Just walk in,” Dianna said, laughing.

      “If we can get across that line there,” Elise said. She didn't look happy to be here, but here she was.


      Dianna and I, Elise and Riley, then A.C. and Roger entered Aion. I wondered if Riley resented following behind me, but not for long.

      Automatically, just like the first time I'd been here and gotten the Irrilium, I began talking just as I'd done then, until Dianna poked my arm. “You know, now that I am hearing this first-hand, I can really see how this must seem to your friends, though I really appreciate such details. They made everything seem more real to me.”

      “To save time, why don't I lead you to Chronos?” Riley suggested, but before we could agree or not, Chronos phased in.

      “I understand you are looking for me. You're safe here, Dianna, as I told you before.” Dianna jumped back and tensed up when Chronos arrived and spoke. Was she going to scream at him, draw her sword, or what? I couldn't say. I was grateful she didn't draw her sword, but perhaps A.C.'s restraining hand on one arm and Roger's on the other had more to do with that. “Remember,” Roger said quietly, “he is the Savior of Alyncia and should be treated with respect.” A.C. didn't say anything, but he let her go when she looked like she wasn't going to do anything more than speak.

      She turned her head and glared at Roger. “After everything he's done, you still!...” She clamped her lips tightly together. “No,” she muttered, “none of you really knows, I guess.” She turned and tried to look straight at Chronos. She almost managed it, looking at him but not making eye contact. She glowered. But then she remembered why we were here, I suppose, and made an effort to stop glowering. “You made a huge mistake that day when you forsook my help,” she said simply, “but will you help us now? It won't undo everything, but... We need Irillium for decorations, you see. For the trees.”

      “That's right,” I confirmed. I had no idea what she was talking about, or him for that matter, but I decided to come back to that later. “Dianna says it's one of the ways to celebrate Christmas, and she wants us all to enjoy the holiday. Yourself included.” Never mind that I'd surprised her by wanting to include him and Ezra. She had agreed to go along with it.

      “No.” That was all, and his body phased out.

      “Well, that could have gone better,” I said.

      “Nah, I should have chosen my words more carefully,” Dianna said. “We'l think of something. Perhaps Muffies have it and we can get it from them. We've done it before.”

      “Yeah, but what a lot of work!” The others were looking at me blankly as we headed to the platform.

      “I'll see what I can do,” Riley said before making her way back inside. “I'll catch up with you.”

      “We could always go in there and just take some.” Elise said that.

      “No, you can't. Trust me.” Dianna shook her head. “That fountain most likely isn't running anyway.”

      “Let's take a tree to Roger's family,” I suggested. “We were going to visit there, if I recall correctly.” And we went back to my room to pick the right tree.

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