December 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm #58254
H’lo, Keepers… I present to you my first finished work of Kapeefer Literature. ;D
(I had another one, but I deleted and started writing this on Christmas.)
It’s a story about what Stan and I did on Christmas 😉 It’s a little long, but the ending is the part is I did best. I’ve posted it in four chapters
Chapter One- Apartments
When I awoke on Christmas morning, I didn’t expect a giant golden raspberry to be up in the sky in place of the sun. I squinted at it from my pile of blankets on the floor. It was in exactly the same spot the sun used to be, marking the time as early morning from its perch among the fluffy white clouds.
I sat up. Whatever had happened, I seriously needed to find out. But first I needed to find a shirt. I rubbed a sore spot on my shoulder. Not having a bed definitely does have its downsides. Whoever said sleeping on hard surfaces was good for you has never done it themselves.
I frowned, studying the room. Nothing seemed too out of place in Stan and I’s apartment- the clothes were piled in their heaps on the floor, books were strewn everywhere, most of them lying open on their spines, and my lute was enjoying a little time out of its case and airing out by the window. I felt a snake writhe in my stomach when I remembered Stan and I were two months overdue on rent.
Something still seemed off about the apartment. Then I realized what it was. Stan was gone. Then I remembered. It was Christmas. The Christmas where everything was going to go well for Stan and I, and we were going to have fun. For just one day.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS,” Stan roared in his most merry dragon-growl. He burst out of the shadows of the back closet, his wing stubs flapping and his feet tearing huge streaks in the wooden floors. He thumped towards me from across the room. I raised my eyebrows at him.
Perched on his head was a massive, pillowy red-white Christmas hat, just like the one Santa wears. The hat’s long tail flopped up and down in the air like a dying fish as Stan ran. His neck was just about choked off with festive looking Christmas necklaces, and a red blanket was draped around his shoulders.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Stan roared again, and pranced up and down. His eyes buzzed different colors and his face was alight with excitement. He had been working on his Christmas costume for awhile.
The floors of our apartment relinquished a little heap of splinters as Stan kept jumping, but I grinned at him. “Merry Christmas, Stan. I forgot all about it, actually. Maybe that explains the raspberry sun…?” I pointed out the window and up at the gargantuan piece of fruit floating in the sky.
Stan’s eyes lit up even more. “Isn’t it amazing?” he shouted. “Even the sun’s in a costume today, for Christmas. I already sketched it in my notebook!” He started jumping up and down again, like an excited, overgrown puppy, and loosing dragon roars that rattled the window and reverberated through the floors.
I gave up looking for a shirt and started jumping up and down alongside of him, screeching like a witch out of sheer festive excitement. I whooped and ran to my lute, scooping it up like a doll. Then I started strumming my favorite chords, as loud as I possibly could.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! It’s the best day ever!
And we’re gonna party, Stan and I together!
I sang, my voice mostly obscured by Stan’s vigorous roaring and growling and snorting. We ran through one song and into another, an impromptu Christmas morning concert. I listened to Stan closely for a moment, then stopped singing and set my lute down. I grinned at him.
“Stan,” I said. “I’ve got it. Your fortune. You need to be in a metal band, my friend. That growling and howling is honestly the greatest, most fearsome, most aggressive heavy metal vocal I have ever heard in my life.”
Stan grinned, which is very disconcerting to see. It looks like he’s trying to show you a whole rack of ivory swords that someone stuffed into his gums. “I’ve been practicing,” he said. We burst into song again, even louder.
The door of our apartment burst open. A blue and white droid wheeled in and beeped angrily.
“Hi, Supermonkey42,” I announced cheerfully. “Merry Christmas.”
More angry beeping. I frowned at Stan. “What is it?”
“He’s mad about the singing,” Stan replied. “Apparently… we’re being too loud, and just woke everyone in the entire apartment building up.”
“Ah.” I sucked in a breath and made a kind of slurping noise with my tongue, which I hoped Supermonkey would take as a regretful sound. I often make those noises when I don’t know what to say.
“Also, he says inspection is coming in twenty minutes,” Stan said. “To evict a penalty for the racket.”
“Ah.” I made a really loud slurping noise with my tongue. “Well, I guess I should be finding a shirt, then.”
I pawed through a heap on laundry on the floor and delicately plucked a white shirt out of the mound. I sniffed it. I had worn it yesterday, I realized. But it still had a few more days of freshness left in it. I popped it over my head.
The door of the apartment banged shut as Supermonkey left, and Stan and I were alone again. Stan looked at me. I looked at Stan. I bowed my head, glancing around at all our scattered books and belongings in the apartment.
It was happening again. We couldn’t afford rent, and we had annoyed our landlord. We had to move out and be homeless again. Running away was an instinct for us now.
“On Christmas?” Stan sighed. “Look at my costume! Isn’t it lovely?”
“Wonderful,” I said back, my voice thick with emotion. “Absolutely beautiful.”
We sighed together, long and deep.
“I guess we should be going,” Stan said. I nodded, grabbed a dirty coat and my lute, and slipped on my old boots. Then I strode across the apartment, popped open the window, and squinted down at the snowy ground below. Stan appeared beside me.
As I clambered onto his back, rough dragon scales scratched my legs. Stan’s stubby wing flaps bobbed, and he climbed out the window, perching for a moment on the creaking wooden window sill. Stan leaped out into the crisp, cold Christmas morning air, and rocketed out of the apartment building.
Icy wind whistled around my face as we plummeted toward the snow-packed ground. The great white earth sped toward us. We struck the street with a bone-jarring thud, like a concrete block being smashed against stone. My insides churned, and my head swam.
“Sorry,” Stan groaned. “That a little rough.”
I slid off of him, clutching at various hurting joints in my body.
We stood in the street, looking at one another, hearts beating. Neither of us wanted to say anything. Neither of us wanted to say that the Christmas we had been planning was over.
Stan slumped down in the snow, his forelegs plowing into white snow crystals and raising furrows of snow around him. The tail of his Christmas hat flopped down beside his head.
“Forget about Christmas,” he moaned. “It’s over now. We’re gonna be running from guards and landlords all day instead.”
Rubbing my knees, I crossed my arms and glared at the street around me. It was beautiful, decked in red and green ornaments like a cake was coated in brightly colored frosting. Red and gold raspberries hung from every lamppost, street sign, and storefront down the entire street. The fruits glistened in the morning sun, making quiet dripping noises as the sun melted the frost off of them.
“It’s injustice,” I said, anger rising in my chest. “It’s always injustice for you and I, Stan. We’re on the run, and we move, and we’re always poor. And we’ve never been able to celebrate a decent Christmas. And then finally this year, everything was going great….” My voice trailed away like a fading wind.
“I know,” Stan sniffled. “I was so happy, this morning. And now… I’m just gonna lay here in the snow.”
I crossed my arms and watched Stan. His orange and yellow snout blasted streams of hot sniffles that melted the snow in front of him. Seeing him sad made me upset. I glared up and down the street, trying to find someone to blame for his despondency. I made my eyes pits of coal and stared down the apartment building above us angrily.
Then I kicked the snow. My whole life, I had been moving Stan around. Always trying to make things better for him. From the days when his parents had thrown him out of his nest, because he was a runt, to when he and I had finally secured housing. And now, after all the things we had been through, I couldn’t even give him a proper Christmas.
I scanned the neat rows of houses and shops, decorated for Christmas, and decided I wasn’t going to accept it. We were having a party, no matter what it cost me to get it.
“Stan,” I announced loudly, my voice great and terrible. “Get up. Get up, I say. We are going to have Christmas. I promise you. We will feast, and we will eat candy, and raspberries, and ice cream. We will get ourselves gifts fit for kings.”
Stan popped his head up and blinked his scale rimmed, orange and yellow eyes. “You’re just trying to make me feel better,” he said. “Of course we won’t have any of those things. We’re broke, Sam. Remember?”
I waved my arms in the air and continued in my grand voice, trying not shiver in the winter cold. “Great people,” I declaimed, “Do not let such petty matters as lack of money get in the way of their greatness. And we are great people, Stan. We will dine in kingly halls today. We will have whatever we wish.”
The tip of Stan’s spiked tail twitched, like an animal coming to life. I held out my hand.
“This Christmas, Stan,” I said, “We will have the most lavish party ever. Now get up, and let’s make it that way.”
A shout sounded from our apartment window, which we had left open. Shady figures gesticulated wildly at us from inside. I frowned.
“Rats,” I said. “We remembered the whole ‘jumping out the window’ part, but we forgot about the ‘running’ part. We better be going.”
Snow erupted around Stan as he jerked his body free of the ground and shook ice crystals off of himself. I leaped up onto his back, steadying myself on with a grip on one of his neck spikes, and he dashed down the street like a whipped horse. Wind froze my ears and chilled my nostrils as gold and red raspberry decorations zoomed by us. We exited the street.
“You know, Stan,” I shouted. “You might not be able to fly, but you sure can run like the moon trying to get away from sky thieves.”
“What does that mean?” he shouted back.
“It mean you can run fast,” I roared. I scanned the street signs speeding around us. Where would the best Christmas celebrations be taking place today? I needed to find someplace with a big, lavish Christmas party going on. Someplace with gold necklaces, and a huge library of books to read, and velvet sofas for Stan to tear apart. And then Stan and I needed to crash that party. I smiled. There was nothing Stan and I did better than crashing parties.
I thought for a moment, then I nodded and smiled. I had the perfect place in mind. “Head to Castle Regnis,” I called to Stan, patting his scales.
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm #58255
Chapter 2- Regnis
“What do you mean, we can’t go in?” I boomed in my best Dark-lord voice, which was deep and quivering at the same time. The warrior guarding the door of Regnis was wearing unpolished, practical-looking grey armor, and a sword at her side. Her shield was branded with the characters ‘Seek Justice.’ She raised an eyebrow at me.
“You don’t have an appointment,” she said. “I just told you that. Unless you have an appointment, you can’t see the king.”
I bobbed my eyebrows in a threatening manner, like my forehead suddenly had a severe itch.
“I’m going in,” I said. I frowned. This wasn’t working how it was supposed to. Stan and I were supposed to be terrifying, the scourge of Christmas, and be given whatever we wished for. And here we were, suffering horrible treatment, like the castle guards thought I was a homeless teenager and Stan a runt dragon looking for handouts.
“You can’t,” the guard said. “Make an appointment first, if you want to go in. Now good day.”
I stomped my foot and turned back to Stan. We hadn’t planned it like this.
The long tail of his Christmas hat swayed imperiously in the winter breeze, and his necklaces still looked like hanging ropes around his neck. I needed to use his draconic nature a little more.
“I have I a dragon,” I proclaimed dreadfully. “I will be turned away by no one.”
“So do I,” the warrior said. She whistled, a shrill sound that cut through the wind. As a sudden gust of air buffeted me and whipped at my hair, I stumbled and looked up at the sky. A massive dragon was descending down toward the castle grounds. It could have passed for a cloud in size, I thought. Sunlight gleamed on its hard scales. It sped through the air and landed beside the gates of Regnis.
“These two are causing trouble, Snapper,” the warrior said. “They’re threatening to break into the castle.”
The dragon glanced at Stan and I, and licked one of its fangs. “Okay,” Snapper said. She lifted her arrow-point head into the sky and unleashed a volcano of flame into the air. It was more fire than I’ve ever seen in my life, like a river, but made of flames and not water. The heat scorched my skin and made my eyes tear up, and Snapper had directed the blast nowhere near Stan and I. I turned to Stan.
His jaw was dropped wide open, like the entrance to a cave. His tongue was hanging out.“By all that is red,” he breathed. “What. On. Earth. Was. That.”
“Dragonfire,” I replied, following his gaze back to Dragon Snapper.
“They aren’t sitting on chairs, though,” Dragon Snapper said to the guardswoman, giving her a disappointed look.
“More’s the shame,” said an elf lady who emerged gracefully from around the side of the castle. “I think you’ll have to leave this one to me, Snapper girl.”
“Nonsense.” Dragon Snapper licked one of her fangs. “I could always melt the lute case.”
I glared and clutched my lute.
“Goodness, what are you wearing?” the elf lady asked Stan. She stopped walking, and her eyes bugged at the sight of Stan’s crazy Christmas costume.
Stan frowned and arched his head, trying to get a view of his necklaces and his red blanket.
“My Christmas costume,” he said quietly.
The elf lady smiled. “It’s nice,” she said. “I just would have expected something more fearsome from a dragon.”
The air hung silent for a moment, like a blank tapestry. And then Stan roared. I don’t mean that he shouted, or growled, or screeched. He roared, a deep, terrible sound, hinting at the terrible and fearsome dragon I knew he would of course someday become. The guardswoman and the elf lady clutched at their ears, and the earth shook.
Stan leapt at the elf, his claws unsheathed.
Dragon Snapper knocked him out of the air and onto his back. He writhed and lashed at her with his claws. The elf lady darted out the way and raised her hands, like she was about to mutter a spell, and the guardswoman drew her sword.
Anger billowed inside of me, like a storm. No one insulted Stan’s fearsomeness. No one. Not if they valued peace in their lives. I ran forward, shouting.
Someone yanked me back onto the ground.
I turned over and punched, but my fist hit empty air. A knight was standing over me, a woman dressed in dragon scale armor and holding a wickedly long sword. She lifted an eyebrow at me.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“No one insults Stan!” I snarled, twisting in the snow. The knight frowned and called something over her shoulder.
“They were trying to break into the castle, Kate,” the guardswoman called.
“Why did you come here?” Kate asked me, narrowing her gaze.
I sat up and rubbed snow out of my hair. “We’re coming to the Regnis Christmas party,” I said defiantly.
“Uninvited, they are,” the guard called.
Kate seemed confused. “You weren’t invited,” she said.
“I know,” I snapped. “Stan and I don’t need petty things like invitations to go places. We are fire, and terror, and-”
“The Christmas celebrations have been cancelled, anyway,” Kate said. “You didn’t hear? The entire storeroom of ice cream and raspberries disappeared, and of course King Daeus can’t have a party without ice cream and raspberries. And now, worst of all, he’s gone missing. We had just set out to go look for him.”
I grabbed a fistful of snow off the ground and kneaded it with my hand. The party was cancelled? I licked my lips. What were Stan and I going to do if the Regnis party was canceled?
“Oh,” I finally said. I stood up, and nodded to Kate, trying to appear completely indifferent. “Well, then….” I trailed off. Kate looked me up and down scrutinizingly, like she had seen me somewhere before and was trying to remember who I was.
Kate, and the elf woman, and the guardswoman, were all staring at me, not saying anything, like I had done something wrong and they didn’t want to tell me what it was. Like they had never seen a teenage boy before. Like I had done something repulsive.
I coughed and looked around for Stan. Dragon Snapper had let him up, and was breathing more fire into the air, probably to intimidate him. I picked my lute case up off the ground.
“C’mon, Stan,” I called, shouldering my lute. “Let’s go.”
He thumped back to me, his head down, and didn’t say anything when he reached me. None of the people at Regnis stopped us as we stalked away. I fumed as soon as they were out of earshot and turned to Stan.
“Revenge,” I hissed. “We’ll get them back for what they said, Stan. Don’t you worry. Now’s just not the right time, you know?”
“Not if that dragon’s there, we won’t,” Stan mumbled. “Snapper. Did you see her? Did you see her fire?” His voice was a blend of trepidation and awe. “We’re never going to get past her.”
I opened my mouth, ready to persuade him that of course we could. But I closed it. It was the truth. I pictured her flames in my head. We were no match for Dragon Snapper. We walked on in silence for awhile. As we left, I turned to look back at the towering, glistening castle. It was layered with decorations, gleaming in the light of the golden raspberry sun, coated in brilliant ice. It looked happy, and cheerful, and festive.
We continued on our path in sullen resignation, discouraged. Stan kept his head down, like he was a wilted plant. Then, as he walked, he tore off his Christmas costume. The blanket came first. He shredded it under his feet. He did the same with his necklaces. They became strings of torn silver lying in the snow. Last was his bobbing, long-tailed hat. He ripped it off with careful, hateful malice, and then slashed it into bits with his talons. We left the red pieces on the side of the road.
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 12:21 pm #58256
Chapter 3- Burning Roses
The market at the center of the town of Dompen was lively and bustling with Christmas cheer, a beehive of happiness and festivity. Tables and vendor stalls lined the town square, stuffed together like delicacies crammed onto a platter. Each one was a different flavor- some sold scarves and mittens of cherry red, some were loaded with the finest Christmas treats I have ever smelled, some were stocked with giant gold raspberry ornaments and Christmas decorations made of wood and glass and metal.
Vendors called out their wares in cheerful voices, promising the sweetest cider or the crispest apples, and the square was filled with bustling people, buying presents for friends or food for a Christmas meal. They laughed and chatted with each other, and their faces glowed with radiance.
Stan and I stomped through the them, our heads down and our expressions sullen. These people had no right to be cheerful. Not when Stan and I were in such a predicament. We tunneled through the crowd like worms digging through a perfect apple.
I scanned the wares as we walked. Stan and I needed to buy a mountain of lavish Christmas party supplies from somewhere. If we couldn’t crash a party, we would make our own. A bag of money jingled at my side, stuffed with coins that pressed at the seams of the sack. I had sold myself into a half a year or labor to borrow the money, but I didn’t care. Not one little bit. I clenched my fist around the sack and made my steps resolute.
A few paces away, a brown haired woman presenting wares behind a table caught my eye. She was selling curious little trinkets- burning roses. They were long and red with green stems, but their flower heads blazed with hungry flames and spewed orange light bright enough to leave blinking spots in my eyes. I slowed, and saw Stan looking at them too.
“How do you keep the roses burning, without them consuming themselves?” I asked the woman, making sure my voice sounded plenty cross. I didn’t want anyone thinking Stan and I were having a good day.
The woman smiled. “I couldn’t tell you,” she said. “For then you would know my secret. Perhaps, if you buy one, you can find out yourself.”
What a perfect little witch. I scowled.
“We could study them,” Stan said quietly. “Reverse engineer them, and do it with raspberries. Think of what King Daeus would pay…”
I smiled, even though I was supposed to be staying cross. “That’s brilliant,” I said in a hushed voice. “Still, we don’t know what kind of power she used to do it. It might be a chemical compound, but it could be her strength of her own devising. We can’t know.”
The woman held the roses up for us to see. Making sure to scowl as I did it, I bought one. The fire made no smoke, and it didn’t go out or burn anything when I slipped it in my lute case.
The next vendor we went on to see was selling more roses, but these ones were normal. They were white, and in pots.
“Winter roses,” a girl with lush, curly hair was calling from the tent. “Winter roses, cut and potted.”
“They’re kinda pretty,” I said, walking past them. “But they aren’t amazing, like the burning rose.”
The girl at the tent caught my eye, and she smiled. She waved to me. Stan and I stopped walking and gave each other a stare. Stan eyed me. “What’s up with that?” he asked, puffing smoke out of his nostrils.
“Sam!” the girl called, skipping out of the tent. “There you are. I’ve been waiting!”
Her curls bounced, and she grabbed my hand as she came up beside me.
I gave her a withering look. “Nice to meet you,” I said.
“Don’t play games, Sam,” the girl said. “It’s me, Britney. I’ve been waiting for ages.”
“Britney?” I asked. “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” I widened my eyes at her and took a step back. “I thought your name was Gabrielle!”
Britney frowned at me. I made a long, affronted sounding slurping noise. Britney opened her mouth, then pressed it shut.
“I don’t think I know you,” I said. “Sorry I’ve kept you waiting, though. Are you looking for another Sam? A bit lamer than me, perhaps?”
Britney turned a hundred shades of crimson and darted back into the tent.
“You should have kept playing along,” Stan said as we walked away. “She was quite pretty.”
I shook my head and made myself scowl. I didn’t need to get into frivolous conversations right now. I needed to maintain the cloud of melancholy that hovered over my head. I was worried that the cheerfulness of the Dompen market was going to blow it away on breezes of gaiety, and that would be a catastrophe.
“Alright,” I growled. I pointed across the market to a row of white and gold tents, cluttered with boxes and tables. “That’s the place. Read the sign; ‘Aratrea’s Party Outfitters.’ That’s where we need to go, Stan, to buy ourselves our own entire flaming party.”
Stan followed me through the crowd as we made our way to the row of tents. A stenciled sign outside one of them read in black lettering: “Kapeefers only. No Keepers served here.”
“I thought Pen-ism had been outlawed by King Daeus,” Stan said. “Wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I thought so,” I frowned. “I dunno.”
“Am I a Kapeefer or a Keeper?” Stan asked me.
“Keeper,” I said. “And I don’t care. They’ll serve us anyway, or else.”
The tents were being tended by two men dressed in furs and wearing black gloves. The one who seemed to be younger was giving a speech from the top of a barrel while holding some kind of candle stick up to his mouth. So Stan and I went to the elder one.
“What can I help you with?” he asked, his dark eyes studying me.
I drew myself up and gave Stan a significant look. “I need to buy a party,” I said. “A huge party. A party so big, and lavish, and extravagant, it would be fit for a king. The biggest you’ve ever sold.”
“I see,” the man said, glancing at Stan and then back at me. “Well, I can help you with that. I assume you have the gold?”
I lifted my sack onto the table, jingling the masses of coins inside.
“What do you recommend?”
The man placed several sheets of parchment before me, titled the ‘The God-blessed Party of all Parties.’
I scanned the sheet, holding it up for Stan to see.
50 gallons of ice cream, it read. Two-hundred quarts of raspberries. Two four-course meals, complete with all the dishes for one hundred people. Twenty five cakes. Twenty five pies. Forty silver chains, for decorating. One hundred silver plates.
I looked at Stan, and he bobbed his reptilian head.
“We’ll take it,” I nodded at the dark-eyed man.
His eyes flicked up at me in surprise. “That’s what you want? You’ve decided?”
“Yep,” I said. “We’ll just need a cart, to bring it all home in.” I felt a knot in my stomach as I remembered that Stan and I no longer had a home. No need to worry about that now.
“Okay,” the man said. “If you’re sure. I’ll just count out the money…” he rummaged inside my sack of coins, and directed several workers at the back of the tent to start gathering the items.
After several minutes, we collected the supplies for our party at Aratrea’s and I reclaimed my money sack, which was mostly empty. I tried not think about the practical slavery I sold myself into to get it. Nothing mattered today but our Christmas celebration.
When the serving men gave us the cart, Stan and I weren’t sure what to do with it. It was monstrously heavy, and we had no horse. But Stan had an idea.
“Hitch me up to it,” he said, his orange eyes pulsing. “I can pull it.” So I did. I grabbed onto the masses of leathery stuff supposed to be intricately attached to a horse’s halter, and I tied it around Stan’s scaly shoulders.
The men seemed worried, but I told them we would return the cart unharmed. Then we set off out of the square.
I rode on Stan’s back, and the cries of the winter market faded away as we plodded out of town. Cold winter air bit my face. I hunched over and stretched my lips into an extravagant smile. Our heap of boxes in the back of the cart rattled as we bounced over the frozen road.
“Now, Stan,” I bellowed. “Now we party. Now we have a feast fit for a king.” My shouts echoed into the frosty, wintery countryside. I swallowed.
Stan nodded from where he walked, pulling the cart behind him. Just a little bob of his head, like a bouy being pushed underwater and then popping back up again.
“We’ve got the best Christmas ever now, Stan!” I shouted, waving my arms up and down in the air. “The best. Better than anyone in this entire Kingdom’s. We’ve got masses of food, and silver plates and chains, and all sort of other stuff I didn’t even read on the slip. It cost me half a year’s wages.”
“It’s great,” Stan said quietly. “It’s wonderful, Sam.”
We plodded on in silence. The frozen winter countryside was quiet around us, empty of the cheer and bustle of the market back in Dompen.
“I was just wondering,” Stan said after a long pause, “Where we were gonna have the party. Seeing as-”
“Stop,” I said quickly. We didn’t need to worry about that right now. “Stop right here. Let’s have a feast. A little one. We’ll figure out where to have the big party later.”
Stan stopped the cart. “I am hungry,” he admitted. I unhooked him from his harness, and climbed into the back of the cart.
“Look at this,” I said. “Tinsel, and bells, and flags in this box. Gold flags, for Christmas. I pulled one out and waved it.
Stan hopped over to the side of the cart. I popped open the fifty gallon barrel of raspberry ice cream. It was still perfectly frozen from the winter cold.
“Stan,” I announced, serving him a heap of ice cream on the barrel’s lid. “We, my friend, are royalty. We can eat as much as we like.” I pulled a silver spoon out of another box for myself.
Stan nodded, and smiled, and then slurped his ice cream. I sat on the edge of the cart, and hung my legs down into the snow. I scooped a heap of frozen raspberry ice cream into my mouth and swallowed it. We are in silence. I ate right out of the barrel, as much as I could.
“We can eat as much as we want,” I said loudly to Stan. More loudly than I needed to. “More than anyone else in the Kingdom.”
Stan nodded again, but said that he was full. I ate more ice cream while he waited. I shivered in the cold winter air, and my teeth clacked against my spoon. I turned to Stan.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it, Stan,” I said. He nodded silently, and then shivered. I shivered too, and popped the lid back onto the ice cream. It didn’t fit right, so I kicked it shut.
Stan slid back over to his harness, and I re-hitched him. Neither of us said anything.
“Where are we gonna go now?” Stan asked, as we kept moving.
I was unresponsive for a moment. “We’ll go into another town,” I said. “And get a house there. But don’t think about that right now, Stan. Think about our party. Think about what I’ve done for you.”
“I know, Sam,” he said. It’s just… it’s hard to eat ice cream out in the cold. It’s hard to eat ice cream with no place to sit while you eat.”
After that, neither of us said anything more. We trekked on for miles, not saying a single word. But when I angrily chucked one of the Aratrea’s boxes out of the cart and into the snowy road, Stan didn’t even arch his head around and ask me what I was doing. He didn’t stop for me to pick it up. He didn’t wonder what was wrong with me.
He just kept going. And we both stormed on the inside, because we still somehow didn’t have any kind of good Christmas at all. We had bought ourselves a party, but we were colder, and emptier, and more downcast then we had been that morning.
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 12:22 pm #58257
Chapter Four- Smiles
“I don’t understand, Stan,” I said. “I must have spent more than anyone else in the Kingdom. How could you not be excited?”
“It’ll be great,” he said, “Once we find a place to have the party. It’ll be good then, I know it will. Once we have a nice cozy spot, where we can relax. Let’s just focus on getting off the road.”
The countryside rose white and frosty around us, rolling hillsides and dark green forests decked in snow a thick winter blanket of snow. In front of us,the packed track of ice continued on into the distance as straight as board. I wondered how much longer it would take us to get into another town, and whether Stan was getting tired.
“Is the cart getting heavy?” I asked him.
“Not too bad,” he said. “I can manage for awhile still. Don’t worry.”
“Alright,” I said. I settled down on his back, his scales scratching my legs. We bobbed on for a long time, and anger collected inside of me like steam all the while. How was it possible that we were having the worst Christmas ever, after everything I had promised myself this morning? After I had promised Stan and I would be mighty people, and have the most lavish Christmas party ever? How was it that were now shivering on an icy roadtrack out in the country, alone, after everything?
I didn’t say anything to Stan. I knew he was cold, and sad, and I had ruined his day, and I hated myself for it.
As we journeyed on, we spied a figure in the distance. Stan saw it first. I straightened up, eager for any kind of distraction from my gloom.
“See that?” Stan asked. “It looks like a woman. Carrying a sack of something, and dressed in black boots. She’s wearing a traveling cloak.”
I squinted. Stan’s eyes were sharper than mine. “I can’t see all those details. I can see a figure, though.”
We gained on her after a bit. She turned as we got closer to her, and her eyes widened. She stopped. But she grinned, and waved to us. Stan slowed beside her.
“Hi,” she called to us. “Not every day that you see a wagon being hauled by a dragon. Do you guys have the party supplies from Regnis? What’re your names?”
I smiled, but it came out more of a grimace. I cracked my knuckles. “I’m Sam,” I said. “And this is Stan the dragon. He’s my best friend.”
“I’m Emma,” she said. “Nice to meet you guys. I assume you’re bringing the supplies from the palace?”
“What?” I asked, surprised. “No. We’re not from the palace. We’re just coming through this way.”
Emma furrowed her brow in surprise. “You aren’t from the castle? King Daeus ordered a wagon of supplies to be shipped out here, on Christmas. For the celebration that he’s having. Of course, it was supposed to by dinnertime. We were going to head back to the palace for the evening feast. What’re you doing out here, then?” Her eyes searched me.
“We’re, ahh…” I paused. I myself didn’t even know what Stan and I were doing. Heading aimlessly to another town to try to find some shelter. Wandering, really. That was what.
“We’re on our way to the next town,” Stan piped up. “We’re looking for housing.”
“Yeah, that’s Murof,” Emma said. “Not too far from where the king is. Where the supplies are supposed to be headed.”
“No,” Stan said, splaying his talons in the icy road. “We’re not from the king. We bought all this stuff in the cart for ourselves. For Christmas.”
Emma arched her eyebrows and scanned the wagon, piled almost overflowing with boxes of food and trinkets. “All of that? Really?”
I nodded quickly. Of course she wasn’t going to think we had bought all the stuff for ourselves. It was crazy. I decided to change the subject. “So, there’s a town up ahead?”
Emma narrowed her eyes at us. “Bandits,” I thought I heard her mutter.
“We’re telling the truth,” Stan said. I didn’t really blame her for not believing us. Who bought a whole cart of party supplies and drove out into the snowy countryside with it?
“It’s alright,” I said. “We’ll see the king. He’s in Murof, right? Maybe that’s why the castle never sent the cart. Everyone there was a bit preoccupied thinking that he had gone missing.”
“They were?” Emma frowned. “So you’ve been to the castle?”
“Uhh… yeah,” I said. “Sorta. So. Do you wanna throw your sack in the wagon and ride with us? To Murof? I guess that’s where we’re headed.”
She studied me for minute, and then climbed over the side of the wagon without saying a word. Her sack clinked as it settled on some of my boxes. I huffed. Obviously, even if she did think Stan and I were bandits, she wasn’t worried we were very dangerous ones.
Stan started off down the road again, and I rubbed the insides of my legs. They were getting sore from riding on Stan’s scales for so long.
I scowled and glanced back at the piles of Stan and I’s boxes. There was no way this woman was going to seriously try to claim that all of our stuff belonged to King Daeus. It was Stan and I’s, for our party. And that was that. But I might as well try to be sociable around Emma, or she would suspect me to be hiding something.
“So… what are you doing way out here, Emma?” I asked, turning around to look at her. I made sure to keep my nose high in the air, so she wouldn’t think I was too interested in any of it.
“You’ll see when we get there,” she said, scratching at the side of my cart and casting me a furtive look. “We’re having a Christmas party, of sorts.”
I nodded and turned back to watch the scenery go by. Iced tree, after iced, after iced tree slid past us. The hills rolled in a wavy manner. I shivered and slumped in my seat.
Presently we reached a towering wood and followed the road inside. Noises reverberated throughout the trees- human voices. Snatches of song floated over the wind like pieces of dandelion fluff, tiny bits that struck my ears. I heard a beautiful sound; a lute playing, and a girl singing.
Emma smiled, a faint crescent that danced over her lips. “That’s them,” she said.
“What are they doing in there,” Stan asked me in a pained tone, “That is worthy of so much happiness?”
“I dunno,” I moped. “Celebrating a fate kinder than ours, most likely, my friend. But not today. Today we are the greatest.”
Stan frowned at me, the edges of his fangs poking out of his jaws. We kept moving towards the sounds.
The ground sloped down, and then we entered a clearing in the forest. Emma leapt off of the cart, clutching her sack, and darted into the center of the wood. I sniffed and looked around.
The clearing was vast, like a farmer’s field transplanted into the middle of the forest. Merry laughter rang everywhere. People caroused and joked together, springing and leaping around the clearing like excited children. Laughter tickled the sides of the great tree trunks, festive banners frolicked in the cool winter breeze. Happy shouts clogged my ears up.
“It’s a Christmas party,” Stan said. It seemed to me he sounded a bit intrigued.
“Right,” I said. “Nothing of the sort we want. C’mon, Stan, let’s move along.”
“Where are we gonna go?” he asked.
I opened my mouth, and left it hanging open. “Somewhere,” I said lamely.
Stan curled his neck around to face me, jerking the cart as he did so.
“Right, somewhere,” he said. “Where? We have nothing, Sam. Nothing at all. No place to go.”
“We’ll find something.” I glared at him. A child laughed from somewhere in the clearing.
Stan stared back at me, his eyes sad and dark like a wounded fawn. I swallowed.
“I just wanted you to have a good Christmas, Stan,” I said. “I just wanted to give you one day.”
Stan bobbed his head and looked down at the snow. “I know, Sam,” he said.
The snow crunched, and we both snapped our heads around to see who it was. Emma was walking towards us again, along with a girl in a neat but patched dress, and a man. The man was wearing a red cape, and munching on a bowl of raspberries the size of a bathroom sink. Strangest of all, he was wearing a humongous red raspberry on his head.
I cleared my throat.
“They were on the road, coming here,” Emma was telling the man. She cast him a knowing look. “With all the supplies we requested, and more.” The man popped a few more raspberries in his mouth, chewed thoughtfully, and swallowed.
“Come on in to the party,” he said. “Do you guys care for raspberries?”
“Actually, we’ve got to be be somewhere,” I said. Stan flashed me a hurt look.
“Where?” King Daeus asked.
I looked at Stan and chewed my lip.
“You must have time to stop,” Daeus said. “It’s not every day we get a dragon to visit us.”
Stan made a pleading puppy noise. “I’ll come in,” he said. “I’d love to. It looks wonderful.”
He turned around, and ripped off the harness holding him to the cart, right in front of the king.
Then he trundled around to the side of the cart and pulled out the barrel of ice cream.
King Daeus’s eyes widened. “That much ice cream?” he breathed. His face lit up like a sun. Stan popped the lid open.
“Any of you guy care for ice cream?” He offered it around to Daeus, Emma, and the girl in the patched dress, and then hauled it down deeper into the clearing, seeming determined to offer more of it to every partygoer he passed by as he joined the celebration. I watched him go. Daeus and Emma and the girl followed him.
Then I climbed into the back of the cart, picked up one of my gilded party boxes, and chucked it against a tree. It struck an ash trunk with a spray of bark, and then dropped to the ground. I peered down at it. It hadn’t even cracked. I jumped out of the cart and started kicking it.
After all I had done, Stan was just gonna leave me. Betray me. I stubbed my toe on the box and yelped.
“What are you doing?” someone asked me from behind. I whirled around. Two girls were striding towards me, one holding a lute case and another a violin, both wearing snow boots. The one holding the lute was a bit taller than the one with the violin.
I looked down at the party box, which still hadn’t cracked, and the cart, and then looked at the tree. And then at the girls. I licked my lips.
“I need a Babylonian saber,” I said.
“Excuse me?” the girl holding the lute asked.
I looked down at the ground.
“D’you want to come to the party?” the girl with the violin asked, and gestured down into the clearing. “It’s Daeus’ own Christmas party. He moved it here, from Castle Regnis.”
I made a fist, and gritted my teeth.
“Sure,” I forced out through clenched teeth. “I’ll come.”
I followed them down into the celebration, stomping my feet with each step.
The people at the party were poor, I noticed. Very poor. Their clothes were patched as quilts, and they wore homespun and frayed animal hides. I left the girls and wandered through the people aimlessly for awhile, like a lone animal lost among dozens of another breed. Finally I found Stan at the center of the party, covered in little children. They were laughing as they climbed on top of him and rolled down his scaled sides. He laughed, too, in his jagged, hiccup sound. I glanced at my surroundings.
King Daeus was walking around passing people bowls of ice cream, topped with clumps of raspberries. I heard music again, and turned around. The two girls were playing a song, the dark haired one on her violin, and the other with her lute.
They caught my eye, waved to me, and gestured at the lute case strapped on my back. “Can you play?” the lute-girl asked. I swallowed, and nodded. I unhooked my case from my back and popped it open. The burning rose was still inside, from earlier, so I pushed it aside. I took my lute out, and started strumming songs along with them, tentatively at first. They waited for me to find the rhythm of the song. And then we started playing.
We played notes clear and crisp, like winter snow. We played tunes warm and lively, like a winter fire. We played scores of mystery and grandeur, like a dark night sky, and of happiness and laughter, like children playing. The music rose around us like a wind, echoing across the clearing. The girl with the lute began singing, and her melody spread through the crowd, eager to find people to singl its story.
The people joined in on the song, all around us. Their voices were scattered first, and then they rose like a tide and began to sing for real, wrapped in the beauty and solemnity of the piece. I kept on strumming my lute, my breath catching in my throat. I looked at Stan and he winked at me. Then he added his heavy metal dragon screams to the song, keeping in time with the children singing on top of him. King Daeus walked past, his mouth red with raspberry juice, singly loudly. The girl playing the lute winced, because he was out of tune.
As we sang, the crowd started moving. We crossed the clearing and began to march out of the wood as a grand procession, song still reverberating around us.
“To Castle Regnis!” Emma shouted, and led the way back down the road.
The crowd followed, marching past trees and over snow drifts. I followed them, still strumming my lute. They split around Stan and I’s wagon and kept moving. I stopped at the cart and set my lute down. Stan was there, waiting for me.
We looked at one another.
Stan scraped one of his talons on the ground. He looked up at me.
“Do you know why King Daeus went missing, Sam?” Stan asked.
“No,” I replied. I kicked at the snowy ground.
Stan traced a line in the snow with his tail, and dipped his neck.
“They told me it was because he couldn’t spend Christmas at Regnis, knowing there were some people in his kingdom who couldn’t afford Christmas celebrations of their own.”
“Oh,” I said, then went quiet.
“They told me it was because he wanted to do something for his people, not himself.”
“Ah,” I said. “That was nice of him.”
“Yes. And so what he did, was gather together the poorest people in his kingdom. And he threw them a party.”
“Oh,” I said again. I plowed through the snow with one foot and left a furrow in the powdery whiteness.
“That’s what this was. The party for them. And now, he’s bringing them back to Regnis, for a dinner feast. And none of them needed appointments to come. Emma was helping him organize it.”
“He snuck out of Regnis this morning, that’s why everyone was in an uproar there,” Stan continued. “He wanted to sneak out without a royal procession. Just himself, going to see his people.
I nodded. The sound of the crowd’s music was fading away in the distance. I looked down at my lute.
“We’re rich, Stan,” I said, gesturing at the cart, heaped high.
He traced a line in the snow with his tail. “But we’re poor, too,” he said. “We’re homeless. We don’t even have beds.”
We sat there in silence, for a long time. The cold settled on my limbs, and I shivered. Stan was deep in thought.
“What makes something a good Christmas, Sam?” Stan asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess, whatever you like the most.”
“What if those people were hungry?” Stan asked. “Remember, their supply wagon never arrived?”
“Maybe they were,” I said slowly. I studied one of the trees in distance.
We sat there some more. And then suddenly, I sprang up. I ran and hitched Stan back up to the wagon. I leaped on his back, and he flapped his wing stubs. We dashed out of the forest, hearts thumping. Stan bounded down the road like an overgrown orange rabbit. We found the procession of people not too far out of the forest. And we joined them again.
“Refreshments!” I shouted, as Stan bounded into their ranks. I climbed up onto the wagon, and began popping open boxes. I tossed the gold flags and the banners out into the streams of people, and they began waving them in the air, standards to proclaim the advancement of our winter army. I opened more boxes and threw pies, and tarts, and pretzels, and crackers, and cheeses, and fruits out into the crowd. I threw tinsel, and silver, and bread, and cookies, and jars of bright preserves. I passed the four-course meals down to hungry children on serving plates. Most of all, I threw raspberries.
Stan and I rode through the line, tossing out food and trinkets until almost every box in our cart was empty. I threw out the necklaces, but I kept the silver plates, not wanting to give anyone a concussion.
I grinned at Stan and clapped my hands as I emptied the last box. Stan grinned back. King Daeus, and Emma, and the girls with the instruments climbed up into the wagon, which was now mostly empty.
King Daeus accepted a tart, and took a polite bite. He handed it to Emma.
“It’s not raspberry,” he explained to me.
“I don’t want this,” Emma said. She wrinkled her nose. King Daeus took it back and handed it to a child below.
“You’ll probably give that poor child your cold,” the girl with the lute said reproachfully.
“It’s already cold outside,” Daeus said thoughtfully, pulling a bowl of ice cream out from under his cloak.
We stood there in silence for a moment, watching the procession. None of them mentioned my giving out the food. They knew I didn’t want them to. They just stood there, watching the crowd, and I felt them saying ‘thank you.’
“Have you been to Regnis yet?” Daeus asked.
“Not inside,” I said to him, giving Stan a significant look.
“You’re welcome to the feast, then,” he said, licking his ice cream spoon. I felt my heart grow light.
The girl with the violin started playing another festive tune, and I joined in on my lute. Soon we had the whole crowd singing along again.
The spires of Regnis rose up before us.
“That’s Regnis?” I asked.
“Yes,” Emma said. “Why?”
“Took Stan and I all day to get out here,” I said. “I thought it would take longer to get back.”
She frowned. “You must have come from Dompen, then. That’s a lot further.”
“Yeah,” I said. I frowned. If I had come from the castle, I would have arrived at the party a lot faster….
“See, they didn’t steal the cart,” Daeus said. “Our cart was supposed to be coming from the castle.”
Emma cast her eyes down and looked at me in apology.
“It’s alright,” I told her. She nodded.
The crowd streamed into Regnis, which had its doors wide open. I climbed over the cart and onto Stan’s back. I bent my head down low to his ear.
“What happened?” I asked him quietly. “Why was it so good to give all of our lavish things away?”
His feet crunched in the snow.
“I dunno,” he replied. “I don’t know why, Sam. It just was. It was good to be with people, and to give away our things. It was the best.”
“I’m sorry, Stan,” I said even lower. “I’m sorry about everything.”
“It’s alright,” he said. We’ve got something now, don’t we? We’ve got all these people to have Christmas with. We’ve got a castle to feast in. We’re going to eat with the king. And none of it cost us anything.”
The merry gates of Regnis approached. There were shouts, and cheers, as we entered the warm halls.
I slid off of Stan, and undid his harness, and rubbed his neck. We strode into the castle.
“I guess we were right, though,” I laughed. “We told the guard we would get in. And now we have.”
Stan grinned, and then stopped walking, and started doing a dance in the middle of the entry of Castle Regnis. Trust me, you do not want to see Stan doing a dance. It reminds me of a dying chicken flopping around, although worse. It is not pretty. I glanced around to see if anyone was witnessing the terrible deed. I thought no one was.
But then I noticed Emma, and King Daeus, and the girls with the instruments watching him with widened eyes. And they were laughing, quaking their insides out, rolling on the floor. So I joined Stan and started doing the dance along with him. We danced around the chamber.
Stan’s head walloped past me like a snake flopping around on the ground.
I did a somersault, pulled one of my shoes off, and chucked it across the room.
“You know, Stan,” I called to him. “One way or another, this is the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”
He swung his tail around like it was an eel dancing to rock music.
“Me, too,” he said.
At that, I smiled. I really smiled, on the inside, like sunbeams lighting up my heart.
“You mean it?” I asked. I bit my lip, and I stopped dancing, frozen in space.
“Yeah,” he said, spinning around on his stomach.
“Well, then, Stan, I’ve succeeded,” I said. “We got the best Christmas ever, despite being homeless.”
“It helps if it’s about others,” he said. “If it’s not just all about yourself.”
I thought about that, and then nodded.
“I think you may be right, Stan,” I said. “Not about yourself. About others.”
We started laughing, and Stan grabbed me and threw me into the air. I spun around like a rotten watermelon and he caught me. We started singing, and I realized it was the same song we had sung that morning. We paused.
“That sounds so cheesy,” Emma moaned.
“I need my Santa hat back,” Stan said, and we giggled like we were about to shred an apartment couch.
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 12:26 pm #58258
What do you guys think? I’d appreciate any feedback. I wrote it in four days, so it may be a little rushed.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Sam Kowal.
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm #58263
December 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm #58266
- Rank: Chosen One
- Total Posts: 3912
December 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm #58267
- Rank: Chosen One
- Total Posts: 3093
- Rank: Chosen One
- Total Posts: 3093
We were no match for Dragon Snapper.
That’s my favorite line.
Listen and learn @ethryndal
silverphoenixwriter.blogspot.comDecember 29, 2017 at 1:45 pm #58276
- Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
- Total Posts: 943
@sam-kowal Wow. That was amazing! So delightful! My favorite line: “Kapeefers only. No Keepers served here.”
Supermonkey42 LOLOLOLOL I love the droid!!
And how on Taranar did you do it so QUICKLY?! So well done without over-thinking it?!
Pronounced DEE-kreel. ENFJ -T (or am I an ENFP...?)December 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm #58278
@kate-flournoy @dragon-snapper 😀 ;D Thanks! If you thought it was funny, it was totally worth writing 😀 It was really fun to write, too, because I got to put all the KP easter eggs in. I might write another in awhile, if there’s ever a dearth of KP literature (which I’m not too worried about)
@dragon-snapper XD That is definitely Not Stan’s favorite line. He’s mad about that one. I can see why you would like it, though
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 1:52 pm #58280
@dekreel 😀 Thanks!
XD That’s one of my favorites, personally. I had remembered @the-real-kapeefer was a firm supporter of the Kapeefer only movement…
😀 Yeah, I didn’t have to think very long before I decided who @supermonkey42 was going to be
I just got inspired to write it… and then wrote it. Usually things take me longer
*Giarstanornarak tries to melt chair*December 29, 2017 at 2:00 pm #58284
- Rank: Eccentric Mentor
- Total Posts: 1330
@sam-kowal this is awesome!!! You’re really a great writer!
You put me and my violin in it! Thanks! I love how the guitars are lutes 😀.
I hope you write more!
Title: The Perfect GrammatacallionDecember 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm #58285
- Rank: Chosen One
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@sam-kowal Great story! You seriously need to be an author. No joke.
I have to worry though that I’m going to get fat with all the ice cream I eat in these stories. 😛
🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢December 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm #58287
- Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
- Total Posts: 943
@sam-kowal Is there a difference between KeePers and Kapeefers? Other than the second one is a funner name?
I was quite inspired, too. I STILL overthought it! I guess it depends on the person *shrug*
You should keep writing these!! You could have a whole saga of Sam/Stan adventures! Raspberry sun and all X)
Pronounced DEE-kreel. ENFJ -T (or am I an ENFP...?)December 29, 2017 at 2:07 pm #58290
- Rank: Eccentric Mentor
- Total Posts: 1582
@sam-kowal That was great! The raspberry sun, missing ice cream and raspberries, @daeus ‘ raspberry crown (I think that it’s going to stick. 🙂 ), everything.
*laughs* I liked even though I wasn’t in it. 😉
We are no match for Dragon Snapper.
@dragon-snapper Good thing I wasn’t there. 😉
(I make sure no one trys to conquer or harm the Kingdom of Pen! Right dragon-snapper?)
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Allore
Writing a Catwing Christmas that is as madder as the hatter.
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