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Christmas in Axeoth


NECROPOLIS

So, what does happen in the infernal boneyard on a certain night of December? Using my powers of diplomacy and two bottles of Rotting Cadaver Perfume, I decided to find out for myself.

First of all, they don't have have trees in the Necropolis. The zombies tend to sharpen their teeth on the lower branches, and it's hard to stop the leaves wilting. Instead they shove a pole into a Venom Spawn and drop a heavy metal star on his head.

Venom Spawn: Ow.
Is that as painful as it looks?
Venom Spawn: Yes. Yes it is. But that's okay, because it fills me with festive glee. I already feel warm and fuzzy inside.
That's because you're melting.
Venom Spawn: Really? I told them not to string up the candle ornaments! Somebody help me! Find an adhesive!

The story of Christmas in the Necropolis is a little different to the traditional version. I found an illustrated version of 'Christmas Stories For Boys, Girls And Ghouls' which I found to be very enlightening.

Apparently a devil known as Satan Claws travels from gravestone to gravestone on Christmas Eve, dropping flaming corpses into the stockings of lucky young imps. However, he knows if you've been bad or good - and if you've been good, he devours you into his infernal belly for a thousand years of unimaginable suffering.

It's really very touching.

PRESERVE

Some like to think of the Preserve as a woodland grove where the creatures of Nature roam free and united, protected by the spirits and dryads of the forest. I like to think of it as a hippy commune.

All the same, Christmas is still celebrated in the depths of the forests. I wasn't exactly welcome inside the sacred ground, but I did get quite a good look at my surroundings while being carried around forcibly by two gigantic elves.

Elf: I can't believe you violated our sacred, holy soil, man. It's such a downer.

Sorry. I'm just trying to research Christmas in Axeoth.

Christmas has really positive karmic vibrations. It's, like, an eternal cycle of love and joy. See that unicorn?

The one with the immense, lethal horn on his head?

Yeah. We call him Rudolph the Red-Horned Unicorn.

But his horn isn't red.

It will be when he's finished with you, man.

I'm going to scream now.

This is what Christmas is all about. Doesn't it bring a tear to your eye?

I performed the rest of my investigations in a more covert style. Because cutting down trees is, like, a total bummer, they cut down a lumberjack and decorate him with colourful lights. Then they carefully arrange their stockings underneath, awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus himself.

The elves in the garrisons are given strict orders not to shoot at the sleigh, unless he appears to be bringing in a rich land-grabbing industrialist. For Christmas gifts, he gives out soy-bean products and meat-free sandwiches. For those who have been bad, he puts a free pamphlet on helping the environment into their stocking.

My research was cut short by a griffin who insisted on mauling me in his traditional Christmas manner. It's a good thing I can type this with just one hand.

STRONGHOLD

There is only one person who can read in the Stronghold, and he's on a spike above the city gates. All the same, the barbarians welcome Christmas with open arms. They put aside time for a special Christmas celebration in the wrestling pits.

On Christmas Day, all the population gathers in the Pits to beat each other with sticks. This is very different to the celebration of St. Patrick's Day (where they beat each other with stones) or Halloween (where they beat each other with pumpkins) or even Valentine's Day (where they beat each other with flowers).

Cyclops: Merry Christmas ! *thwack*

Ouch!

Berserker: Merry Christmas ! *thwock*

Hey!

Nomad: Merry Christmas ! *whack*

Ow!

Behemoth: Merry Christmas ! *CRUNCH*

It's a good thing I order these Guardian Angel potions in packs of ten.

ASYLUM

After putting on a heavy rubber orc costume (actually a Klingon costume that I stole from a Star Trek convention, but close enough), I passed through those wooden gates to see for myself.

It didn't take long before a shadowy figure leapt out of an alleyway and put a sharp object up my nose.

Bandit: Give me your money!

But you can't rob me. It's Christmas Eve.

Oh, come on. Do you think I'm heartless, huh? You hurt me with those cruel barbs. See how I cry. You've suggested that I'm a merciless thug who ignores the joys of Christmas to take advantage of unwitting travellers, is that it?

Well... are you?

Of course not. I'm robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

That's not Christmas. That's Robin Hood.

Oh. Right. Yeah. Okay, I'm going to take your gold and hide it in the garden so that children may enjoy searching for it.

That's Easter.

Er, I knew that, sure. Sure. What I meant to say, is that I'm going to take your gold, sew it into the belly of a rabid pig, dangle him from a piano and send him swinging through a burning window frame.

I don't even want to know what that is. But I'm pretty sure it's not Christmas.

Just give me the damn money.

Christmas is very popular in the Asylum. They tend to skip over the bit about presents and religion and rich old men and decorations to get right to the part about the fireplace. In fact, they're so taken with the fireplace idea that on Christmas it's traditional to set fire to absolutely everything and run around screaming.

I had my feet burned completely away by a merry efreeti wearing a red and white turban, and a jolly black dragon utterly incinerated my left arm. This is considered to be a very lucky omen on Christmas Eve, as it means that Ol' Flamin' Nick will give me a lump of charcoal for Christmas.

Until then I will have to use wooden prosthetic limbs.

ACADEMY

The golems were busy stringing up tinsel and elves when I entered the nearest Academy, and the dwarves were industriously shovelling snow into gigantic snowmen which the halflings would then decorate from afar with their slingshots. The damage a flying carrot can do to the human body is really a lot worse than you'd think, but I brought plenty of bandages this time.

The mages appeared to be enjoying Christmas the most of all. I encountered one carefully writing a letter to sent to Father Christmas himself.

Mage: ... and I've been a very good boy this year. Love, Theodorus. There, that should do it.

What did you ask for?

Oh, nothing extravagant. I asked him for a leather-bound copy of Dezyck's Grimoire on the Ponderous Thaumic Creation of Essences, for a start.

Oh.

And I've always wanted an original tome on the Essential Theoretical Decisions of the Complex Matrix Based Inanimate Mind. With illustrations, of course.

Ah.

Not to forget a genuine Merlin(tm) Wand of Instant Skin Dissolving, RRP 7834 gold pieces, left hand slot.

Hm.

I also wrote to him for an original scroll of Thunderbrick's Equations for Magical Formulae in the Production of Anti-Physical Ethereal Beings.

...

And then for a potion of Genuine Construction Fluid, to keep the golems well-oiled, and a limited edition copy of The Dissimenation of Magickal Dimensions in the Limited Quadratic Folds of Space...

... must... escape...

... and then there's the Negational Relative Physics of Unrelated Gravitational Conjuring...

... brain... going... numb...

... and the fifth page of the Ancient Book of Irriational Productive Thought Negational Topics...

... world... so... dark...

HAVEN

It's hard to have mystical stories about angels when real, live angels are standing right next to you and trying to read the newspaper over your shoulder. Nevertheless, the Haven population do their best to uphold traditional Christmas celebrations.

Hoping not to be mugged, impaled, burned, crushed, bored into a coma or mauled, I walked into the very centre of the city where a crowd of peasants were gathered around a single large Christmas tree.

Peasant: Christmas is so commercial these days, don't you think?

Well, I guess.

I mean, take a look at me. I'm a serf who earns on average about 6.37 gold coins a month in return for the farming and tilling of about 87 acres of land, and the division of taxes creates a rather uneven ratio with effort and reward, don't you think?

Yes. I agree. I think.

You've got to put things into perspective. If I want to celebrate Christmas, I'll do it with a turnip. You see, peasants are the burden of the economic system when it comes to financial matters. I'm always being pressured to provide for the taxational relief of other less productive citizens, which infringes my rights as an individual.

Er... so, who's up for singing a Christmas carol?

Sorry. I can't. Union rules forbid the overusage of oxygen without any financial bonuses or rewards for the usage thereof. It's in the fine print, if you look closely.

Okay. Okay. Can't we just admire the tree, then? Have some Christmas Spirit!

You obviously have no idea how much Christmas Spirit costs to rent these days. As for the tree, do you realise how much gold each of those decorations costs the entire peasant population averaged by our economic income? Do you? Tell me, tell me this, if I was to provide the government with about twelve percent of their potential financial bracket for the productive distribution of complex internal gains, and if the marketsystem wasn't crowded by the perptual cycling of the revolutionary funding system, would YOU dare to admire this tree?

Um... yes?

You monster! Capitalist pig! Oppressor of the people! LYNCH MOB!

It's amazing how painful pitchforks and burning torches are. A single group of angry peasants can do more damage than being run over by a hydra, but the local Church resurrected me for free and even gave me a complimentary 'I Went to The Afterlife And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt' souveneir.

Merry Christmas!

(Gothrak is currently recovering from severe multiple injuries caused to him by fictitious strategy game characters. His New Year's Resolution is to be killed less often.)
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