Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas in Neutat: Christmas special 2013

It's Christmas Eve, and I have been busy all month preparing for the big day tomorrow. I had planned on posting this Christmas special yesterday, but since I got caught up preparations I ran out of time. Nonetheless, it's finally here, and I'm excited to share it with you.
This is my first time writing a Christmas special, but I had a lot of fun writing this scene and plan on doing it next year. This year's special features the POV of Leal Irvine and Nicia Riptu, main characters from my second book, Shadows and Embers. If you haven't read the book yet or finished it, no worries because this scene is spoiler free and it happened before the story in SandE. This scene takes place during 1568, two years before the handsome Leal met the curious and innocent Celestria Hale. The reason I chose this time period in their story line was mainly because Nicia and Leal have a long history together, one that unfortunately could not all fit or be revealed in the second book. To honor their friendship and to say one last "goodbye" to them (mainly Leal) as narrators -note: Nicia was not a narrator in book #2)-I chose them as the main characters for this scene. I realize Celestria and Alaire would have been a popular request from readers, but alas Celestria and Alaire have not shared their first Christmas together and diving into the future of their lives could be dangerous for where I am now with the series.
All the same, I hope you enjoy this special. I spent all last night typing it up, and woke up early this morning to finish it and post it. I even created a Christmas oriented cover to go along with it. This is my gift to all of you for reading the series. I'll be posting again before the end of the year to look back on all that this year has brought, talk about how the holidays went, and update you on my progress in TTB.  Enjoy!
Christmas in Neutadt
A Christmas special, featuring POV of Léal and Nicia
December 25, 1568
Neutadt, Transylvania
Léal Irvine
            Christmas was my favorite holiday, though Mama reasoned that with age that would all change. After spending my morning with her and opening presents, I put on a warm fur jacket and stepped out into the snowy streets. As tradition had it, Esmour always held his own Christmas celebration at his home and invited everyone in Destin. Our organization was full with members of different races and strengths, but Christmas was one of the few times we all were able to gather together and enjoy each other’s company without the constant fear of being attacked. While the snow covered most of the street I did not mind the cold weather. The temperature was low, the winds could be harsh, but I was aware there were other places where the snow was much harsher and cruel to the citizens. I was in the giving spirit, and I could not wait to see what Esmour had in store for us.

Nicia Riptu
            I waited before I left my house and walked over to Esmour’s, dreading the fact that I would most likely be the first one to arrive. While Esmour was a great leader I did not fancy the idea of being alone with him for too long. At last when I convinced myself to walk on over, I pulled my jacket in close around my dress and rushed to the door. One knock was all it took, and then Esmour dashed to the door, greeted me, and invited me in. To my surprise Malin was already present and sitting down in the lounge room, drinking ale. The moment he saw me he stood up and offered to take my jacket.
            “A merry Christmas to you, Malin,” I said, handing over the jacket.
            “And to you, my lady,” he replied, winking.
            I sighed and sat down in a chair, knowing now the wait would seem even longer. There was no hiding the fact that I fancied Malin, but he and I both knew the flirting was innocent and would never lead to anything more. He was not the kind of man to settle down with anyone, and to be honest, I was not certain I would ever know the true story behind who he was. Once he returned he smiled at me uneasily and bit his nails.
            “I barely slept through the night, and I must admit I am glad to see you. You brighten this room, you know?” he commented, sliding over on the sofa to be closer to where I was.
            “That’s flattering,” I replied, hardly knowing what to say. Since when had Malin started a conversation with a compliment? I was accustomed to the flirting and the longing stares we exchanged, but there was something new in the way he talked and his movement. He could not sit still without fidgeting, and I could feel beads of sweat dripping down the back of my neck.
            Don’t you dare make a fool of yourself. I thought, glancing around the room for Esmour. He was standing by the window, waiting for the remainder of his guests to reply. I loved the idea of wanting someone and that person wanting me in return, though we were destined to be kept apart. It was the only romantic dream I held onto these days, and if Malin suddenly wanted to commit and admit his feelings to me I would not know how to react.

            At last I reached Esmour’s house and knocked on the door. He opened it and welcomed me inside where I saw Malin and Nicia sitting. The Christmas tree was in the middle of the lounge room with presents underneath of it, all of which we had placed under it on Christmas Eve night. I was eager for Nicia to see her gift, especially since I had yet to determine what would interest her. Though she was a few years older than me, I respected her as a magician and found her to be the most attractive woman in Neutadt. There was no one who could compare to her natural beauty, and Malin was allowing it to go to waste by not advancing.
            “Merry Christmas to all,” I said, sitting down on the opposite side of Nicia.
            “Enjoy the holiday while it lasts. Tomorrow we return to our duties,” Esmour called out from the window. There was another knock at the door and Alaire and Jacquette arrived, which meant that the celebration could begin. Other members of our organization would be arriving, but for now we could exchange gifts amongst ourselves. Esmour joined us to watch the unwrapping of gifts. I grabbed two presents from underneath the tree and handed them to Nicia.
            “I didn’t know what to get you, but hopefully one of these will suit you,” I said, smiling.
            Nodding, she unwrapped the first present: a necklace with a silver amulet and a white jewel inside of it. I rarely saw her with any jewelry, and since she preferred to wear darker colors I had thought a bright necklace would bring out her eyes more. Since I had not been certain the necklace would please her, the second gift would hopefully save me. Placing the necklace carefully down on her lap, she opened the second gift and stared down at it. It was a dagger, one I had specifically made for her.
            “The necklace is beautiful, and the dagger is stunning. Thank you, Léal; that was thoughtful of you,” she said, smiling.
            Léal’s gift were more than thoughtful; they were perfect. Though I did not waste my time covering myself in diamonds and jewels, I was glad to see that Léal recognized the kind of woman I was. He saw that I was both a warrior and a woman, not one or the other. It made me realize how much attention he had been paying to me, and I hoped my present would be as much of a success. Placing the dagger and necklace down, I grabbed my present from the tree and handed it to Léal. It was larger than the gifts he gave me, and once he opened it he revealed a light blue vest. For whatever reason he loved wearing vests, and when had seen that one it was without a doubt the perfect one. The color matched with his eyes, which made him all the more handsome.
            “This will be my favorite vest,” Léal said, feeling the fabric.
            Without thinking, I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Then I hurriedly returned to my original position and attempted to hide the redness on my cheeks. It was not a maddening idea to think that perhaps one day our relationship would grow even more, and the years that separated us we could make up with the time we spent together. He had a strong family line and inheritance, and more importantly he was handsome and sweet. No one here treated him like a boy; in battle he always proved himself as a man. I did not have him now, nor did I want him at this moment, but I accepted that if fate would allow it our relationship could become something unexpected and wonderful.

            There would be more holidays to come and years to pass, but I was certain this would be one to remember. As I watched my friends and fellow partners open their gifts, Nicia and I talked about a variety of subjects. All the while I realized we were not as different as I once thought when we first met years ago. Every now and then I glanced up at the Christmas tree, and when it was time to feast Nicia and I sat next to one another. Alaire sat beside me, and Malin sat on the other side of Nicia. Everyone passed around food and talked about missions and their lives, and I thought to myself that Mama had been wrong. Christmas was not a holiday for any particular age; it was a holiday that lived on and continued bringing happiness so long as you were surrounded by the people you loved. I couldn’t ask for better people to be with; these were my friends and the people I trusted to save my life.

            “Merry Christmas to all of you, and here’s to the new year,” Esmour toasted, standing at the front of the table. Everyone cheered, and I was relieved that for one day we could forget about the magical world and the battles that lay ahead.  

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Lindsey R. Sablowski


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