Lua smirked at her mentor's retort as they followed Shiara out of the crypt. She stopped immediately at Lucian's command while he retrieved the head. The apprentice gave a quick nod and another “Yes, sir” at his order to investigate the hanged man's home. Thankfully, the air was growing fresher with every step the group took towards the exit. Finally, the only stench remaining, Lua realized, was themselves.
When they stepped back into the drizzle, Lua's eyes widened. Her ancestors had told tales of giants and demigods, though Lua had never before believed in them until she laid eyes upon the mountain of a man waiting for them outside the catacombs. Her mother's bed-time stories seemed all too real as she surveyed Kapti. His initial tone of hostility caused the young raven lord to tense. The crossbow raised slightly in reflex but Lua hesitated to aim. He was still far too docile to be one of the Cursed. His thick accent, however, was difficult for her to interpret and she wasn't sure if he was friend or foe.
Her evident insecurity was soon replaced with a sudden frown once his words began to process. He certainly wasn't dressed like nobility, nor a constable, so by what authority was this person demanding to know their business? Was everyone in Kenfort determined to question them? Mergoux stepped forward and bid this new stranger to call the law or get out of their way. A rare smile, different from her subtle smirk, flashed across the apprentice's face. Lua was liking this woman more by the minute.
The massive man's demeanor changed and Lua visibly relaxed. He offered to have their armor cleaned on his own coin, and her suspicion returned. She glanced at Lucian to see if he appeared to share her apprehension. The man reiterated his question about the contents of the still-moving bag hanging from Lucian's belt. She bit her tongue barely in time to keep from spitting a remark about minding one's own business at their interrogator. The question had been posed to Lucian and she would let him answer, though she resented wasting their dwindling time.
Alongside the Lands of Men are the Realms of Fae, their mystic kin. As seasons change, so do the Fae who reside behind the palace walls, the living trees of the Wooded Hall. After the shortest day, the Hosts of Winter come out to play. One final feast on that last, longest night of their faerie year and all those spirits of the cold gather from far and near. With their queer music, the air was filled and on white snow, their Fae-light spilled from high doors of the Wooded Hall and tiny windows on lanterns small. On this most holy night, even the Fae themselves will come alight, all in hues of green, blue, and white.
In and out of doors, the Fae all danced with bare feet eager for a chance to prance. The Hosts of Winter had no cause to fear the cold with their steps so light, they never sink into the snow. Their feet dipped not into the drifts as they waltzed to swap their gifts. Drink flowed freely and there were libations abound as they swirled and they sloshed, splashing onto the ground.
A cheer rose up loud from the crowd in answer to howls ringing out across snow-dusted grounds. Strolling in from that year's last hunt, came the Wolves, quite the rowdy bunch. With them, they drug in all sorts of game to be skinned, prepped, then roasted over open flame. All lifted voices in merry songs and even the Wolf King sang along. With a leg of lamb in his other hand, He raised his cup, a clear demand. But, whilst awaiting another round, a Solstice tragedy had been found. All conversation, then, was stopped as every lute and lyre dropped. Some-fae let out a most awful cry:
“The kegs, the kegs, they've all run dry!”
Well, 'waste not, want not,' as the humans say. For every spilt drop, the Fae would now pay. Snow and Frost, those palest twins, quickly lost their fiendish grins, and only just, Night caught the Moon as, in despair, she rightly swooned. There was not ale nor wine left for these spirits. They wailed so loud, mortals could hear it.
But humans, they were very wary of the tricks often played by faeries, so when unearthly Hosts came pleading, not one mortal heart could be found bleeding. Not from one drop, would they part, not from weakest ale nor wine so tart. The Fae were doomed to a sober Solstice and, in their mourning, all did forget which guests had not appeared yet. Fae's feet trekked back in somber step. With no sign of season's pep, the Hosts returned to the Wooded Hall. Yet, high above, a strange light burned.
Finally, Frost turned her pale eyes and pointed a finger to the sky. All there felt blessed, when two brothers, late, yet smartly dressed in fur trimmed suits of matching red, came landing in their deer-drawn sled. With his cuffs and brim of white, Klaus laughed loud with all his might at his friends' faces, grown so long, now quickly turned to joy and song. His brother, sporting coal-black curls, had heard those beggars search for drink, while down chimneys, Klaus had gone to slink. To see their friends in such despair, it was then that Krampus had declared:
“The humans, they will pay their due!”
For every in tavern, there's at least one flue.
The mortals would soon woke to find, in lieu of gifts, they'd been robbed blind. Every bottle and barrel, from tamest wine to the moonshine most feral, had been pilfered and plucked to make Solstice un-fucked. From the same bottomless bag that once had held toys for all good girls and boys, now Krampus and Klaus filled cups, horns, and mouths. In the back, there sat a small, struggling sack. Krampus reached in and gave it a strong pat, and it ceased all of that. Given a choice between old habits and booze, well, he just couldn't choose. Yes, he'd still nabbed a few kids who'd been bad, to take and abuse.
“I saved the Solstice! Why should I have to lose?”