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The Grinch


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#1 Calum

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 07:20 PM

The dwarf moved about the house quietly, in his stolid fashion. Passing his daughter's room, he glanced in. Although she shut her eyes tight, he had seen the telltale peepers, the head poking out from under the covers, on the cot he had built so long ago, in this very same house. Approaching the bed, he smiled wearily. The little girl gave him strength; strength of a different sort to the braggarts down at the Sotted Sow liked to rave about, usually in reference to themselves. Looking down at her, he spoke softly. "What about a story ?", he said. The young girl looked up, momentarily guilty, before nodding, impatient and eager with delight.

The dwarf sifted through his memory. Of course, he thought. Settling on the bed, ruffling his little girl's hair tenderly, he began.

"Long before you and I were born, before the stars wheeled in the heavens, when dracons were a gleam in a wizard's eye," he began, and looked at her. She sat there, spellbound. Well, he may not have the gift as some, he thought, but he could still hold a room of one. The story came.

"When men were men and dwarves were hardly shorter than elves, Alyria was swept with a plague of misery. In one night, a hooting, chattering, howling mob of fell creatures came on the world of Alyria. Burning, cackling, stealing, and tormenting pets, they thrived on evil. In the cold, grey dawn, the world shuddered. Houses, the night before prideful homes, stood in ruins. Kegs of ale were shattered in the street (here he paused momentarily). Loot lay scattered everywhere, and people could be seen sifting through ruins for family treasures, their eyes blank and empty. Some few of the creatures had been slain, their smell truly awful.

"The next night, the people waited. Crossbows were shouldered and doors were barred. But the beasties stayed away. Weeks passed, and the night was forgotten. Some still kept their loaded crossbows, but people returned to the taverns, and the stories and the songs became merry once again. Then again they came. People fought, bravely; some died to the vicious creatures, protecting their families, their homes. Again, in the day, they were gone.

"The priests held vigil, praying to the gods, who were curiously silent. Perhaps they knew nothing also. As certainly as the day turns, the vile creatures returned. People began to despair; why build, they said, if only to give the creatures something to destroy. The wiser amongst us; the shamans, the wizards, the old women at the grain wheels, began to perceive a pattern to the torment the creatures inflicted. Certainly, they waited, and were proved. One night of the alyrian year, the stomping, howling and hooting of the creatures presaged a night of misery. People fought, and died, and there was no end to the creatures, their numbers blackening the dawn. A brave few ventured to give chase, but tracking the creatures to their lair became impossible. They simply vanished. Magic, of course; strong, diabolical magic."

"The howling and the looting began again. Some simply threw themselves to the ground, exhausted. They were kicked and cursed by those with the will to fight, and gradually drew themselves to their feet, all fight gone out of them. Soon the grinch were amongst them; howling, pinching, stealing, looting. We fought with what we had, but the creatures were simply too strong, too many."

The girl's eyes were wide with trepidation; the dwarf's voice had become grim. A change had come over the dwarf's story, as if he were reliving an old torment. As the dwarf continued, a sense of satisfaction and grim pleasure seemed to settle over him.

"Everyone seemed to hear it at once; a dim howling out of the east, not like that of the creatures, but with a note that promised vengeance, and justice, and pain. The creatures looked around with trepidation; for the first time we heard them utter something than the cackling and howling that we thought them only capable of. 'S'Entan T'Anniar!', some muttered, and vanished on the spot. Others stood still, quivering, and were cut down.

"Out of the east a bright green light appeared on the horizon, as if from everywhere at once. The noise increased, and the night became like day; a funny sort of daylight, though.

The sharpest eyed among us began to point at a speck appearing out of the glow. Many urged us to run for the caves, expecting some new terror, but the creatures seemed riveted to the spot, and most were taking their chance to wreak some sort of vengeance. People were not at their best. The speck became a man on some sort of chariot, pulled by some fantastical creatures who some thought looked quite edible. This was not a man though, for the closer he came the larger he loomed. Even the hungriest amongst us began to have second thoughts. Later accounts put him at about twenty storeys tall. Clad in a strange red suit, the man began keening, and raised his hand. The grinch, for that was what we had named them, began fleeing in terror, gibbering in terror. Not soon enough for many, as a green fire engulfed them, which was followed by a whiffy but of course not unpleasant smell. The creatures had vanished. And, of course, they never came again.

The fantastical creatures seemed to leap in the sky, as the man, or whatever he was, turned and plunged, upwards, west. A booming voice was heard; "HO! HO! HO!". Objects fell from the sky; those who could still move made to run. Puzzlement gave way to delight and the sound of laughter was heard once again in the villages and hamlets. They were presents, and there were name tags on every one. The creatures, of course, were never seen again.

#2 Calum

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 07:23 PM

The dwarf looked down at the young girl. Sound asleep, he thought. Standing, he left the room, strangely less tired.