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Thread: 12 Days of Christmas - day 9: Baboushka

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    12 Days of Christmas - day 9: Baboushka

    Season's Greetings Miramagicians

    Here is day 9's offering : a short story based on a traditional Russian tale but given that little Mira-twist . . enjoy!

    It was a beautiful frosty night; the sort that made your breath taste of spearmint just from the cold, and your skin tighten when you looked up to the dark velvet night, studded with icy pinpricks of stars. To the north there is the glow of the World Tree; like a permanent sunset; it is said if you look long enough you can see the phoenix flare as he moves around his home. To the South lay the City, but many leagues separated them, and it was only occasionally you could imagine the turrets and flags that reached to the sky there.

    Any lights that moved in the sky – well, they were dragons, perhaps Dennis the post dragon, on errands that could not wait.

    Sebastian looked around – good choice of seatings this year – he could see the lava ones were a popular choice – good idea to keep the cold at bay. He settled himself, snagging a large tumbler of mulled Mirabelle juice, and greeted his neighbours as they, too, found a place and got comfortable.

    Yes, bright cheeked and laughing, there was the shaman from across the way, standing and telling the tale of Sam, the lad who left it very late to send a letter to Santa, and how that worked out in the end.

    Then Emma stepped forward. Emma! Sebastian looked for Emilio – yes there he was, over there. Fancy them coming to this village this year!

    ‘I wasn’t always here in mira; for a long time I wandered the Steppes and plains of an area in the human world known as Russia. I looked much the same; after all, my kind age gracefully and slowly . . ‘ she paused, looked towards her husband who blew her a kiss, and waited for the smiles to subside. ‘ I had a hard but contented life there, studying the wolves and keeping myself to myself. Baboushka, my neighbours called me, Baboushka, old lady – and me a spring chicken of just 340 years! Pfft! Humans are so short lived . . ‘ she paused, took a sip of Mirabelle juice before resuming.

    ‘This one year, my last, I had some unusual visitors. Oh I knew they were coming but I didn’t know why. Tall, they were, dressed in furs and outlandish fabrics, not from Russia they weren’t. One, olive skinned, looked as if he were freezing to death; more used to the Mediterranean heat I guessed! I invited them in and offered some homemade vodka – that put some colour in their cheeks . . and asked them their tale.

    It turns out they were on a quest. For a child, Born to be King, they said, but the problem was every time there was a cloudy night they lost sight of the star they were following . .

    Star? Child? King? Here in Siberia? I asked them more questions and ended up intrigued by their commitment. The one had indeed come from the Mediterranean; another was from Arabia and the third, well, he spoke little. And they had been searching for this child for two years! It made my little cottage feel very small, and my little life there unexciting . . perhaps it was time for me to move on?

    I asked the travellers if they were willing to have an extra companion and they looked to each other before agreeing – so long as I was ready the next morning.

    Well, what a pother! While they slept under embroidered quilts – hours of work they were, no magic involved just good satisfying patience and skill – I scurried around looking for what I needed. Fell asleep I did; when the night started reaching toward dawn; and didn’t hear them get up. When I did stir it was to find them packed and ready.

    I offered them a – second – breakfast – no, they couldn’t stop – I asked them to wait but 20 minutes while I collected my belongings . . no, they needed to move along – but I was welcome to catch up with them if I could . . .and with that, and a yearning look towards where the last stars in the sky paled in the face on oncoming dawn I watched them depart.

    It took me the best part of the day to pack up and leave things secure. And, yes, I did use a little stasis spell on the place . . if you got there you will find it all as I left it . . and yes I did use some L-space magic – how else would I carry everything? But other than that – oh and an All paths-spell . . .I didn’t use magic – promise . . and I set out after those pesky Magi.

    Always there was tale of them just been by, having spent the night here and moved on; and always I was just behind them.

    It was a hard winter that year and the people were poor and stubborn. The first place I stopped was a young family, two children, ,young wife, haggard for her years and a hard working husband . .I accepted their hospitality and left something behind – hope, and toys for the bairns – oh and I fixed the man’s back for him. Nothing much; just so he could move without pain.

    The next family – well, their woodpile would burn more efficiently, and the arthritis in her fingers was feeling much better when I left – and the little boy loved his wooden pull along train . .

    And so it went.

    Until I realised rumours of my coming were as strong as the strange men fleeting by. Baboushka they called me; Baboushka always searching always giving; looking for the foreign men or a boy child now . . 3 years . . 4 . . .

    My travels took me beyond the Russian boundaries and into the more temperate regions. I travelled to the Middle Eastern countries, and began to hear rumours of three Magi and a baby – it seemed they did meet up. . . and I had lost my opportunity. And I was getting bored anyway. This child would be a man soon, and I would know soon enough if he had the promise the foreigners thought they could see in him.

    And anyway, by then I’d travelled to Venice, and was fascinated by a young man with all sorts of outlandish idea – a machine that could fly? Without magic?

    I hear that boy did grow up and make a bit of a disturbance – the humans mark his birthday every year – fancy that! And I came this close’ she held finger and thumb close together so a star sparkled between them ‘ this close to meeting him.’

    She snapped her fingers and a gaily wrapped gift appeared next to each of her listeners, ‘Season’s Greetings from Baboushka!’ she called, and when folks looked up she was gone; just a spiralling of firework sparks and a scent of hot chocolate on the air.

    And what was in the gifts? Something special for each. What did you get?
    Last edited by dragonholt; 2nd January 2017 at 11:07 PM.
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