Here is a short story from the Land of Lythinall, a holiday piece I wrote just for all of you. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may your every wish come true this season from me to you.
She shuffled through the snowy streets, careful not to slip on the ice. Her delicate hands cradled the bump in front of her, the little one inside almost done growing. Lenna Harn was due to give birth any day now, and she still hadn’t settled on a name. She stopped at the main crossways, looked up at the grand castle, and smiled; she loved her city. She had called Everknight her home now for three years, since moving here from the nation of Miran; and even though they didn’t have a lot of money, they were doing all right.
“Morning, Lenna!” Miss Apperon called out from her doorway. The old woman was sweeping her dirt out into the muddy snow without even a coat on.
“Get inside before you freeze to death, Miss Apperon,” Lenna chided, waving her finger like an old maid. She laughed and shuffled on, hoping that she would surprise her husband at work. She passed down a side street and marveled at the pretty trees that people were putting up for the holiday. With the deep snows coming and the chill gripping the north, it was almost time to celebrate Kristmas.
Originally celebrated by the elves of old, Kristmas —which translates roughly as death no more— is a celebration of the natural world surviving until the first snows. The tradition holds that the trees freeze to hold off the plague that took their leaves, sleeping until the thaw, but the beautiful coniferous trees remain vigilant with their full beauty as a symbol of holding off death. The elves of old celebrated this for centuries, finding a tree in the forest and decorating it so it stood proudly showing all the other trees that it had survived the grip of death. Now people went out and cut down select trees and put strings of bells, pretty beads, and whatnots around them and displayed them in their windows for everyone else to see. There were only so many trees able to be cut down every year, so the king gave out passes in a lottery every autumn. Next year I hope we win so I can show the baby, Lenna thought as she rounded the corner to her husband’s work.
He worked for the local cobbler, fitting shoes for the folk and helping with repairs. It wasn’t great money, but it was enough to keep a roof over them for now. She saw the lights on in the window and started across the street, just as a wagon came around the corner going far too fast. Lenna looked up, but there was no time to move. The driver pulled the reins and the floor brake, but the wagon was turning sideways in the snow and ice. Lenna turned her back to the wagon and leapt to the side, her arms wrapped around her stomach in desperation. She heard a loud crash, and suddenly she was covered by something heavy. Lenna screamed, fighting to get free, but stopped when a voice called to her.
“You’re all right, just crawl…Now!” a firm voice commanded from above her.
She did just that, crawling through the slush and mud-colored snow, cradling her stomach as if it would burst any minute. She turned to look at what had happened and cried out in shock. The wagon had over turned, hitting a rut in the road and flipping. Before it landed on her a massive figure had apparently caught it, shielding her from harm. It was a Knight of Everknight! He had covered her, taking the load on his back, and she could see that he wasn’t going to be able to break free himself.
“Lenna!” her husband, Pellen, called as he raced across the street. “By the gods, are you all right?”
‘Help him…please,” she stammered, pointing to the beleaguered knight. Other men were coming now too, but the wagon was laden with iron, pressing down upon him. Try as they might, they couldn’t budge it.
“Get…her free,” the knight said, his limbs trembling with effort. “I’ve done my service.”
“I thought I taught you better than this, Knight Barris,” a new voice said. The woman was built slender, but had packed that slight frame with every possible ounce of muscle. “You’re not done until I say so.” She lifted the wagon on one side with the others and tossed it over, the wheels breaking as it righted itself and sending iron all over the road.
“High General Carana, forgive me,” Knight Barris said, bowing to her.
Carana smiled and cuffed him on the back of the head. “It’s fine, just don’t go giving up on me again,” she turned to Lenna and walked over, her hardened visage softening at the sight of her belly. “Is the little one all right?”
Lenna, tears falling freely and hugged the high general, sobbing into her shoulder. “He saved me…saved my baby.”
Well I hope so,” Carana said voice heavy with sarcasm, “It is his job after all.”
Pellen walked over and clasped arms with the knight. “Thank you Knight Barris. I owe you everything.”
“Nonsense, but a hearty meal would be fine,” Barris said, winking at Lenna.
Carana went her own way, calling for clean up in the road from some of the soldiers on duty as Pellen escorted both his wife and her savior back to their home.
Lenna shook her head as they went, something just starting to find its way into her mind. “So Knight Barris, how did you get to me in time? I was alone in the street I swear,” Lenna said as they arrived at their humble home.
“Well I was just riding by when I saw the light on at the Cobblers. My boot has a torn stitch, and I thought since I was here…”
Lenna smiled and looked up to the sky, eyes closed and praying to Davalar, god of protection. It was a holiday of miracles after all, she thought as she went in to start cooking. And I now know what I will name the baby she thought, looking over at the brave knight. And I pray that young Barris finds his own path in this great city.
Merry Kristmas everyone from Lythinall!