Saturday, December 24, 2011

When the nights grow long...

The adventurers rode slowly toward the snow covered town, the sound of drums and horns could be heard well before they reached the gate. The town had the air of a festival, with musicians, food vendors, and seemingly the entire populace lining the main street through the town, looking in the direction of the far gate. The last rays of the sun leaving pastel streaks across the clouds.

“This feels odd” Allianora said, leaning toward her companions.

“What do you mean?” Rathgar asked. “It’s a solstice festival.”

“No, Allianora’s right” Nimble said. “Look around... look at the people.”

“No one is smiling.” Feris noted.

“Right” Nimble nodded “Whatever’s going on, these people aren’t happy about it.”

As twilight faded into darkness, the drumming swelled. A knee deep ground fog began to roil into the town from the far gate, and the crowd’s nervous energy seemed to spike. Flickering torches appeared beyond the gate as demonic beings lurched their way into the town. Each being was different, yet all were covered in wild fur, with bestial mouths and tongues that perpetually hung out of their mouths. All had horns, some straight, some curved, some with multiple sets. They carried whips, staffs, torches, chains, and leather sacks.

The children of the town were pushed to the front of the crowd, and the demons began to sniff, touch, lick, and taunt them. The adventurers watched as a boy was pulled into the middle of the street, and thrown to the ground. He was kicked by several of the beasts as they walked by, and whipped by another before he scrambled back toward the crowd. A little further long a little girl was dragged by her hair screaming away from the crowd. Two of the beasts shoved her into one of the leather sacks, cinching it tight before giving it a few jabs.

Allianora stared horrified at the spectacle, seemingly frozen as the demons approached the adventurers. Rathgar fingered the hilt of his sword, and Feris subtly drew a wand and hid it beneath his cloak. Feris’ horse stood alone, tied to a post, but no one noticed.

Snapping out of her horror, Allianora slipped from her horse, pushed through the crowd, and stood before the creatures. The entire town paused. The crowd seemed to hold it’s breath, and fear bordered on terror. The demons waited, and looked at her, their tongues lolling.

"Let that child go."

"Why?" the demon hissed.

"I'll give you this" in her outstretched hand was an orange.

I hope you've all been nice this year...

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