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Winter Appreciation and Solo Event

Joined: August 22nd, 2013, 5:58 pm

December 19th, 2017, 12:03 am #1

Seasons Greetings my fellow frozen friends! This year, in celebration of Winter-Een-Mas, and the Winter-Een-Mas season, a time when the world outside is cold and dark, but our hearts are bright and warm, we have a number of fantastic events for you, all embodying the season. First and foremost, our Winter-Een-Mas gift to you all, applying to every character on the board, 2 SP, 4 RP, 500,000 Jenni, and 3 Event Tokens. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are all fantastic, and without you all, the work we do here wouldn’t be worth it.

Secondly, we’ll be running a Season of Giving. Members who donate 3 Missions to the Mission Compendium will be given a prize package, containing 3 SP, 6 RP, and 250,000 Jenni. That prize can only be claimed by one character per member.

Lastly, is the Holiday Season Solo. The holiday season is usually defined as times of coming together, of loving family, of the joy of giving, or of peaceful snowfalls. While for others it’s only defined by consumerism, being forced to be around obnoxious people, and music made by the devil himself. Not to mention, the bone deep cold. In favor of this special time of year, we’re holding a special solo event. Each member may submit one solo per character to this thread, for a reward of 4 SP, 8 RP, and 650,000 Jenni. For the full reward, your must be at least 650 words long.

The challenge for this is we ask that you focus on character and world building. Give us a glimpse into how your character experiences the holidays. Maybe they are guilted back to their hometown to take part in an annual tradition. Maybe they sit and reflect on just why they hate holiday music so much. Or maybe, just maybe, they actually like the holiday and actually enjoy their time having a snowball fight then sitting around with their loved ones.

No matter what you guys put out, I can't wait to see some of the inner world of all your characters!

Joined: February 14th, 2016, 3:46 am

December 21st, 2017, 4:19 pm #2

The crunching of potato crisps overwhelmed Muerte's hearing as he sat dead eyed staring at the television. Grabbing the remote, he nudged the volume up just a few pegs to drown out the sound of his savoury snack. It was nearly one in the morning. He was roused from his slumber by a loud noise from the hallway late in the afternoon. He'd done nothing nearly all week. He was unwashed, and his hotel room was in a deep state of disarray. He hadn't even left his room in two days. He was completely without hope. Nothing he did seemed to further his goals, and he'd only hit dead end after dead end. Even his attempts to entertain himself even microscopically crashed and burned. The football game had ended up quite boring. He could barely keep his eyes in focus as the men kicked the checkered ball. Flipping between channels, something had caught his attention. A glimpse of something familiar, something nostalgic. A reminder of simpler times. He hurriedly switched back through the obnoxious caws of reality TV and infomercials to be sure he wasn't mistaken. And there it stood, in all its glory. Garish childlike colors, outdated sound effects, and a manly voice filtered through a tinny microphone. Could it really be? Muerte cast aside the bag of chips and slid to the edge of the couch, leaning in to take in every inch.

"You are no match for my swordsmanship, you icy jackal!" boasted the hero. A man dressed in black, a bandana covering his eyes. His bristled chin the only skin exposed. "If you think you'll get away with this, you'll be sorely mistaken!"

"Foolish human, no man can withstand my frost breath!" The monster hissed, a hunched lanky beast with blue skin and patchy white fur. Saliva dripped out from its gaping maw as a puff of chilled air escaped its lips. Winding back, the wretched creature inhaled deeply before unleashing a torrent of freezing winds.

Deftly, the hero leapt into the air no less than fifteen feet, performed a somersault at in mid-air and slashed at the chains of an overhanging chandelier. The metal cried out as the chains broke apart, causing the massive structure to tumble down behind the black swordsman as he graciously landed. The creature howled in agony, cursing the brave hero's name as it was crushed underneath the weight of the enormous decoration. Saber pointed at the toppled fiend, the hero clasped his fist against his chest.

"No longer shall you torment the denizens of this quaint village foul beast!" He declared, coat flapping in the wind, a stoic expression painted across his face. And scores of petite, multicolored elves sprung out of the woodwork to cheer on their saviour.

"Zabro! Zabro! Zabro! Zabro!" They squealed, as they hoisted him up on their tiny shoulders. Smiles of relief and happiness on every oversized head. Several of them were now blowing noisemakers that they apparently had stashed away in their pockets. A rain of festive confetti sprinkled over the scene.

Muerte sat motionless. A single tear formed and slid down his cheek. An overwhelming joy swept over his entire body. It had been so long since he felt at home. After he abandoned his family to live on as the true embodiment of el Canción de la Muerte, to show the world what the name stood for and make his mark in the annals of history as more than a mere jester; the ache of loneliness had never quite ceased. The feeling of being nowhere. A man with no home and no identity. Muerte didn't like to question his motives, as he considered it a sign of weakness, but the presence of doubt always lingered. And it only grew stronger with every failed adventure.

"Remember my friends, always live true to your heart! Feliz Navidad mi amigos!" Zebro bellowed as he bounced up and down in the crowd.

"Feliz Navidad," said Muerte.

Joined: April 5th, 2015, 12:01 am

December 22nd, 2017, 5:24 am #3

It was a satisfying smash. The pint glass was just about empty and did the perfect shatter just above the little Christmas tree in the corner. The tree’s lights even flickered for a second too. One by one, heads turned to look at him and it occurred to Motto that he was the one that threw the glass. Why did he do that again? Sliding out his seat, the Hunter avoided making eye contact but stood tall.. as if he didn’t give a shit. He belched before tossing jenni on the bar and left. He didn’t need to hang out there anyway. Fuck it. He was fine.

The fresh air felt awesome and snow squeaked under his boots as Motto left the brick house tavern. His breath was visible. It was eleven o’clock or something like that. Whatever. Stuffing his hands in to his pockets, the Hunter trudged down the sidewalk without any particular destination in mind. Just away. Two young women passed him, they were super pretty and wearing winter coats and had their arms hooked together. They looked happy. A cat licked itself at the top of some building’s front steps. The stars were hard to see because of the lamp lights. He didn’t really care though. A car drove by with music playing loud and Motto wondered what it be like to instantly vaporize. Like.. erased so fast because of a huge powerful bomb or someone’s sick aura. It would probably be faster than anything and nothing all at the same time.

A shop window’s display made him slow down. It was beautiful. A golden light surrounded the interior border of the glass, illuminating the snowy group of trees in a magical way. They were artificial trees; strange bits of synthetic green twisted into a freakish combination of pine, fir, and spruce..dusted with some foul white mixture. It was dazzeling at first, the trees were arranged in a non-orderly way as if to appear natural, and they all featured tiny white lights throughout. Bits of shredded white plastic were circulated to create an exquisite falling snow effect. Motto noticed his reflection. It was bewildering to catch that sad expression on his face. He turned away and walked with more purpose. Liquor store.

Security cameras blinked and he didn’t care. The cashier was looking a little uncomfortable. Whatever. The door jangled and Motto untwisted his bottle. The first swig was heaven. Like badly needed water, it washed down gulp after gulp. No wonder she always drank so much..this shit was awesome. His aunt always complained about the tree. Every fucking year. The mess it made, the sap, the insects, blah blah blah. He just wanted to feel fucking normal. He just wanted to pretend that he lived in a home with a fucking family. He just wanted to feel good like in the magazine pictures. But that bitch always ruined it. So he stopped bringing in trees. He stopped humming the songs from the radio. He stopped whittling snow men. Christmas was shit. Motto spent more and more time outdoors around that time of year, away from that stupid house and her. Her fucking drinking and crying. The radio and the magazines. He survived. And tonight, he was surviving too. Who needs a house when there a perfectly good alley to sit in?

Slumping down onto a pallet next to a dumpster, Motto focused on the distinct smell of tomato and oregano radiating from the trash. Spaghetti. With garlic. A toast to that. A toast to this alley. A toast to nothing. Runa probably would have her books and shit all around her. She wouldn’t even realize it was Christmas. She probably didn’t do all that stuff in the magazines, and she didn’t drink like his aunt. Hell, even if she did he’d still love her. Motto glanced up at the sky. He shouldn’t be thinking about Runa so much. She was gone forever probably. But maaaan he’d take her ice skating, and have hot chocolates, and he’d get her a dress and give it to her in a big red box with a ribbon on it. He’d go on a sleigh ride with her, touch her hair..move the snow off it.. kiss her. He’d give her some mittens, and build a snowman for her. He’d even sing those songs on the radio for her. Another long swing from bottle. Everyday would be Christmas for the rest of his life if Runa came back.

Joined: August 22nd, 2013, 5:58 pm

December 22nd, 2017, 5:55 pm #4

One beary eye cracked open to flick around the sparse room over the thick wool blanket which was pulled high enough to cover the lower half of his face. Something was out of place. Luca reluctantly moved his head, nearly micro movements, as his mind worked to search for what was different. As his second eye creaked half open, Luca flopped onto his back, now registering what his sleeping mind had awoken him to. The upbeat metallic rhythm that invaded past his thick doors. ”“Fuck,” Luca groaned, a ghost of a scowl already appearing on his face before even confirming the noise. Sliding out of his bed and into the pants he had worn the day before, Luca shook his head to try to kick out the last of his grogginess. He had taken more and more to trying to appear as a captain of late. While he still wore whatever he wanted, he did make an attempt not to show weakness outside of his quarters.

Lighting a cigarette, Luca opened his door, the quiet jingle taking up its role in an upbeat classic holiday tune. The noise echoed loudly, amplified by the largely unadorned metallic corridors of The Nomad, growing in volume as Luca made his way to the ships cargo bay. Crossing the last threshold, Luca’s bare feet planted on the cold metal floor, somewhat awestruck by what he saw. Massive evergreen tree scraped the already heighty ceiling of the cargo bay, a collection of what looked like feather boa’s, homemade strings of lights, consisting of wire and LED bulbs, wound around painted light bulbs and up the trees conical shape. ”Fuck…” Luca uttered for the second time in his short morning.

”Morning Captain!” The bubbly greeting popped Luca’s shock as he stared upward, snapping his attention to the curly haired girl sitting at the base of the tree in a pile of feathers and boas. ”The fuck?” Luca stammered again. Not entirely sure how they had even come across a tree that size, as they had been at port in the desert for the last week and a half, for the moment his surprise at its appearance dwarfing his agitation over it being in his ship. ”We’re decorating the tree Captain! Join us!” Ariel beamed at Luca. ”It’s best just to give into her mate, she’s all sorta persuasive.” The rumbling growl of Ubuntu’s voice drifted through the music, turning Luca’s head. The thick armed enforcer had been muscled into a bright red and green sweater several sizes too small, patches of sap maring his pants, hands, and even sticking to a small number of Ubuntu’s dreadlocks.

”It’s fun captain!” Luca felt a small soft hand take his and pull him further into the large room. ”Nah, I hate this shit Ariel. Fucking seriously, Curly, I dun give a fuck what you do with all this shit s’long as it dun involve me.” Continuing to pull Luca along Ariel responded over her shoulder ”Nonsense Captain. You just need to get in the right spirit.” Passing the Vera, Luca gave the ships engineer a silent furrowed why? ”Lil bitch is on a mission.” Vera responded, applying her aura to a painted light bulb before carelessly hurling it into the tree where it immediatly stuck. ”Also, don’t be such a cock.”

Having pulled Luca halfway around the tree, Ariel led Luca to a stack of boxes, arranged as a large seat. Pushing him into it, Ariel leaned in, pointing a stern finger at Luca’s chest. ”Now captain, everyone gets something for Christmas, even is they’re butts all the time. Even if they don’t want it. It’s about showing the people you care about that you care about them.” As Ariel lectured Luca, yet another crew member appeared. Charlies black mohawk hung sadly off to one side, parted sharply by a prosthetic elf ear, an ear that paired nicely with green slippers adorned with bells. ”I’m dissapointed in ye mate,” Luca said around Ariel. ”Listen you butt!” Ariel gently took hold of Luca’s face in both hands to force the older man to look at her. ”Christmas is about being a part of a family. Even if it's not your first family, it's about the one you have now.” Ariel’s soft face twisted into something comically serious and stern. ”Get it?” Letting go of Luca, Ariel stepped backward, the gentle jingle of Charlie’s slippers chimed as the slim man shuffled forward. Placing a bottle of whiskey and an empty glass next to Luca, Charlie mumbled ”Merry Christmas,” before turning to walk away, never meeting Luca’s eyes.

Turning from the receding figure, a shocked Luca looked to Ariel, just in time to see a mop of curly hair rush in as small arms wrapped him in a hug. ”Merry Christmas Captain,” Ariel mumbled into Luca’s chest. ”Enjoy your throne!” she shouted as she ran away, leaving a classy looking cigar and new lighter on his lap. Luca looked from the retreating girl, to the gifts he had been given, to each of his crew members around the room, each momentarily hijacked by the holiday terror that had gotten them to work on decorating. Leaning back into his homemade chair, he reached to pour himself a drink. He supposed the season wasn’t so bad. He might not admit it, but maybe it wasn’t bad at all.

Joined: April 5th, 2015, 12:01 am

December 24th, 2017, 6:12 am #5

Hazelnut crisps
White chocolate and cranberry pistachio cookies
Spicey rosemary chocolate short bread
Pizzettes with fudge drizzle,
Danish salted butter croissants,
Pretzel linzers with caramel
Honey vanilla sable
Orange mocha wafers

She’d been baking for three days. Hours of folding dough, hand shaping every pastry, monitoring temperature, maintaining consistency, and precise garnishing were finally over and Dorn smoked her first cigarette so fast, she lit a second one. She had done about half the confections at least once before, but many of them were new recipes. The croissants were almost a disaster but Dorn caught her mistake just in time. Everything was not only perfect, but timed to serve at peak flavor. She even managed to clean up a little and let down her hair. Loading up her huge wicker basket, Dorn lifted the red woolen hood up to shield herself from the snow. It was fun to see all the confused looks on their faces when they took in her appearance. Yes she looked like a freakish sexy Christmasy children’s storybook character, so what of it? Stare all you like, fools.

Every year Dorn challenged herself with a holiday themed collection of gourmet cookies. It was usually a success only there was no way she could possibly eat all of it. Letting it go to waste was unacceptable so she gave the rest to homeless people on Christma Eve. They seemed to like it, and she got to watch someone taste her confections for the first time over and over again. It was satisfying to witness the bliss of experiencing a sugary delicacy she crafted. It was the only time she felt somewhat “safe” with any form of praise..when people enjoyed her food. Any other night and they would sometimes turn her away, poisoning the homeless was a new trend as of late.. However, Christmas Eve was different. Giving was celebrated by all classes, and Dorn gave out cookies. Pastry was her special talent and truest love; and so it was that the white-haired lady in red roamed the streets of Swaldani City.

The pizettes went first; small chocolate-covered morsels with a cakey center and semi-moist fudge drizzle. Only the refined would pick up on the hint of raspberry. So far three people had. It was so glorious to meet those who could note such things. The mocha wafers and hazelnut lace crisps followed soon after, and then it was a free for all. After an hour and a half, Dorn had only one cookie left; the rosemary chocolate shortbread. She passed a lovely store window with trees and actual falling snow and caught sight of a slumped figure near a dumpster. Dorn slowed her brisk pace and reoriented herself while studying the man. His clothes were in good condition. Probably a drunk with a home somewhere. Perhaps she wouldn’t spend her final gift on that one. But wait. Dorn tilted her head and grinned. It was Motto Brook. That wild mane of hair and stocky frame was easy to recognize, although his posture wasn’t natural. He made no movement as she approached; his chest rose and fell with deep slumber. Interestig. Dorn lowered herself and lifted his head by handful of spiky-hair. Golden brown eyes cracked open and looked into hers.

“Haaawa .. nn….” He muttered half asleep, his gibberish stopping when a cookie was placed in his mouth. The whole thing couldn’t fit, but it still did the job of controlling the conversation. It was also entertaining to watch his face shift from confused to Motto’s reaction to her cookies. Just as she had hoped, the man paused and moved his jaw a little. She could tell the rosemary was setting the tone and Dorn watched the muscles in his throat move as the chocolate flavors emerged. In another second, he’d feel the cyan’s heat. “….” Motto forgot what he wanted to say and brought a hand to his mouth. In two more bites, it was gone. His eyes focused on Dorns and he sat a little straighter.

“Well if it isn’t… what’s-your-face.”
Dorn didn’t wait for his delayed scowl, “Mommo? Dodo? Wait….Motto, right?”

The Hunter turned and puked, causing her to chuckle. Dorn’s laughter ended when Motto brought a bottle his mouth and began chugging it. He was in a bad way. It was strange to see him like that and Dorn was silent. With a swift movement he grabbed her wrist and held it tight. It was sudden and unexpected; she gasped and lost her balance. He continued to sit hunched over while Dorn tried pulling free. It was impossible and she hit his chest several times. Motto's glassy eyes moved to connect with hers again.

“I need you.” It was more of command than a statement.

Joined: May 15th, 2017, 4:17 pm

December 24th, 2017, 9:31 pm #6

((My first Draft, still rough in it, will add more later))

"Found you at last, you're really the pain to seek!" Igtar tapped Elora on the shoulder as he approaches her hiding spot. They were a bunch of village kids, playing hide-and-seek amongst a patch of rotting corpses. The snowy fields dyed the dried blood white like a dressing, making frozen patches on bloodstains that has turned purple over the years.

Elora let loose the calmness of her void once the game of hide-and-seek is over. She had always reached out for the void when hunting gathering, and doing so, it allows her to cloak herself amongst the surroundings, and shoot arrows more precisely.

It was Christmas, the adults of their village aren't celebrating it because they are always shorthanded on labour. The only thing Elora, as much as the other kids, understands is that there was a recent war that tore the village apart when she was just a baby. And only the villagers' corpses are buried, the enemies corpses are left rotting on the fields.

To adults, it was a grim remains of the Sarion war; but to children, it is a playground of happy memories. For years, the villages lack the manpower to clear all corpses, also they felt that it was unnecessary. Why would they bother giving their enemies the honour of a burial, when they have killed so much of what they had held dear. Elora's birth parents have been sleeping in the earth before she could remember their faces clearly.

As the cold but serene winter night approaches, the childrens fetched their hammer, penknives and chisel. It was the day of Christmas. "The adults aren't celebrating, but we will! We will build the best Christmas Tree ever!!" The 10 year old grinned in excitement as she looked at a poster of a christmas tree. The paper is browned and showed signs of wear & tear.

The thing is: there are no trees nearby, but there are other materials. The childrens dragged some of the corpses from the playground, scrapping off the limbs and attaching each pieces with nails and hammer. Elora tied a few torsos down the ground to act as the tree bark and the foundation. The boys lifted the cojoined limbs with his strength and secured them to the torso for the tree branches. The other girls attached toes and fingers as the tree leaves. Igtar looked at the christmas and evaluated the design, nodding in clear satisfactions.

At last, the christmas tree is almost complete, all that is left is the star on top. Elora squinted around to see if there is any fitting ornament that can be used as the golden artefact. Her face turned glum for a moment when she compared her height to the others. Everyone are getting taller except for me... I will grow up, definitely!! The lolicon shortest girl's face turned to a smile instantly after she eyed the corpse. The skull is the neatest one she had ever seen, the shape of the skull is well-built, with no signs of damage or wear. The round edge of the skull glittered like jewels under the moonlight, as she severed it from the corpse itself. She climbed up the christmas tree, planting the skull on top.

The tree is complete, it is getting late for the night, but it is Christmas! "Frossy the snowman---" As the gentle midnight approaches, the carefree childrens began singing christmas carol songs under the warm shade of the great tree they produce. The full moon rose high above the skies, and it is a heartwarming sign that the kids have grown, for the upcoming of the new generation.

Joined: December 3rd, 2017, 5:26 pm

December 25th, 2017, 12:22 am #7

It wouldn't be wrong to say that Christmas one was on Detsu's absolute favorite holidays of the year. No, it wasn't about the presents, but instead, the way such a Holiday carried different meanings in different places. She always has loved the winter season, with how families were drawn together for a celebration, or how the lights that adorned most public streets invited anyone who passed by to indulge such an event. It warmed her heart to think about the faces children would make when they see snow for the first time, or when they've been good all year, so their parents spoil them. The young brunette loved how the frigid temperature nipped at her nose when she was outside for too long. She also enjoyed watching the snow fall outside her window while she sat there, cozied up in a warm, fuzzy blanket while she nursed a glass of hot chocolate and listened to one of the Christmas radio stations that broadcasted throughout the city.

This was how Detsu spent her last few Christmas holidays. However, she had no plan on just sitting back and relaxing this year, because this time she was on a mission. She had people to show her appreciation towards this year! She had money to do just that, as well! She was so excited to go out and look for what she hoped would (at-the-very-least) put a smile on their faces.

Bundled up in a black winter coat, along with a black ear-flip beanie decorated with tiny ears, and her favorite pair of black mittens, the young hunter sighed aloud after exiting another store empty-handed. This would be the fifth time she's gone inside a shop that she thought might hold what she was looking for, but just like the others' she tried, this one hadn't had it either. With a stubborn pout set upon her lips, Detsu all but stomped her way over to the next store with a determined look on in her eyes. So far, she's been able to find gifts for everyone EXCEPT for the one person she really wanted to buy a Christmas gift for; Spike.

Ever since their 'fateful' encounter, thanks to Motto, the brunette found herself completely head over heels for the older man. He made her feel comfortable and cared for─ something that she hasn't experienced a lot since she was a child. Of course, Motto also gave off that feeling, but Spike was different. She didn't know why but she was drawn to him in an unexplainable way. When Spike wanted to take Detsu on a dinner date, but only when she wanted to and had the time to do so, she was pleasantly surprised. Her heart swelled in response to his sweet nature and consideration, so she accepted with little hesitation at all. When the mission they had been on was all over, and they finally managed to arrange that dinner date, Detsu did not doubt that it'd be a fun night. By the time Spike dropped Detsu off back at her apartment, she had found herself having wished that the night would've never ended. Before leaving, she'd chosen to steal a "quick" goodbye kiss from her date and then scamper off inside with the sneaking suspicion that she left Spike stunned outside her door that evening.

Detsu smiled at the memory, her cheeks flaring a light crimson. She was totally smitten, and she wasn't afraid to admit it to herself, nor anyone else.

This is completely hopeless, Detsu thought as she slumped down into a closed-legged squat, a disappointed whimper being all she voiced out loud. She's gone from store to store, browsing the items within as if she was looking for priceless jewels amongst already precious treasure. However, she's had no luck in finding anything that screamed "Spike." With each store she exited, Detsu felt her earlier confidence, about being able to find the perfect gift for him, start to crumble. It wasn't that she was cheap or picky by any means since she was willing to pay just about anything if she could find just the right gift. It's just that there was nothing that popped out to her, even after all the time she spent browsing.

Just as Detsu got back up onto her feet, ready to search through even more stores, the light reflected off of something at just the right angle to catch her eye. When she made her way over and saw what it was, she almost screamed "victory!" at the top of her lungs. There, almost completely overshadowed by other knickknacks and jewelry, sat the perfect present. Upon discovering it, Detsu wasted no time opening the door, going up to the store owner, and asking to buy it from them, no matter the cost. Thankfully, it was a nice old man who was the store owner, and he had no intent on overpricing the item just because she was willing to pay any amount for it. While he was wrapping it up for her, the old man explained all the details about it and how to operate it correctly. When she finally paid for the gift, she made sure to give him a bow and to thank him for his time before leaving with a broad smile on her face, and Spike's gift clung tightly against her chest.

Joined: November 5th, 2017, 12:45 pm

December 27th, 2017, 4:09 pm #8

It was Christmas eve and all through the town people were celebrating. The town square was completely decorated with ornaments and lights and there was a circle of market stalls filled with food, decorations or gifts in a big circle around a large Christmas tree at the center of it all. It was getting late, but there were still some people making their way around the market while the few odd market stalls were starting to clean up in preparation of going home. Within that small group of people still moving about Alphonse made his way towards one of the market stalls selling sweets and pastries. "Good day, how can I help you?" The female clerk greeted him soon after he had started looking at the shop's stock. "Hello, c-can I have dozen candy canes and small bag of gingerbread cookies, please?" He had never taken his gaze off the food to avoid making eye contact with the clerk. "Here you go, will that be all?" with a smile on her face she handed over a small paper bag containing the items, Alphonse took it and handed her the payment "yes, that's all. Thank you.". Before going he made his way towards a different stall and got himself a big cup of tea.

With the shopping taken care of Alphonse made his way outside of the market and walked towards a nearby bench. The bench was far enough away to be away from the noise of the market, but close enough that he had a good spot to look at the Christmas tree. He put his cup and bag down on the bench before making sure the seat was dry and sitting down. With a sigh, he stretched a little and picked up his cup. He brought the cup up to his lips before blowing to cool it off. After a few seconds, he took a small sip and put the cup back down. As he gazed up at the Christmas tree and leaned back on the bench.

This was the first time he was going to celebrate Christmas away from his family, and not just away from his family, but all alone. with a sigh, he reaches for the small bag next to him with his right hand and pulls out one of the gingerbread cookies. The cookies looked like the most stereotypical gingerbread cookies, a human-shaped figure, 2 eyes, a smile, 3 buttons, and a squiggly line on each limb. With his left hand, he picked up his cup and held it on top of his lap. Alphonse dipped the cookie into his tea before starting to eat. Soon the cookies were gone and the candy canes had been moved into the breast pocket of his coat.

A slight grin started forming on his face while his right hand rubbed his forehead. If his head hadn't been slightly hanging down the odd passerby might have seen him grin at seemingly nothing. In his head he had started thinking back at what had happened this year, but mostly at what had happened since he had left home. His behavior had been somewhat atypical, while he normally had been very reserved and quiet even shy, like he had been with the clerk not too long ago. Though it was not always the case. That day had been a big deviation, that day in the bookstore. Not only had he taken initiative by dashing in to help, but he had actually killed something that was at least almost human. with his left hand he brushed his coat to touch the shortsword beneath it. Why had he even rushed in to a situation like that? He knew it was the right thing to do, but it was so out of character, not his normal behavior. Alphonse took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. He knew that he might need to get used to it, even the killing. He might not want to do it, certainly not without a reason, but it might need to happen later. On his road to becoming a hunter he will probably need to change himself, which would probably be for the best. He placed his hands on his lap and once again breathed in deeply. The moment he started breathing out his body because enveloped in the warm feeling he had come to know as nen. Once he was done breathing out he made the feeling disappear again. Perhaps he had already changed more than he was willing to admit.

While it had not been busy outside when he sat down, it had now gotten to the point that there were only a handful of people walking around. The Christmas tree was still shining bright, but the market stalls had all closed and the clerks had left. Alphonse finished his tea that had become cold by that point, got up from the bench and tossed the empty cup and bag into a nearby trashbin. He turned around and started making his way back to the hotel he was staying at. While walking he retrieved one of the candy canes from his pocket and removed the wrapper. With a last glance at the Christmas tree he softly spoke a few words to no one in particular before putting the candy cane in his mouth and leaving "Merry Christmas".

Joined: February 21st, 2012, 2:19 am

December 28th, 2017, 4:58 am #9

In the back of his mind Spike knew that knocking out a solid he owed to one of his old business associates was ultimately a good thing, yet the poor timing of it drained away any enjoyment he would've gotten from finally marking their name off his list. Don Combo was the last of the truly outwardly sociopathic clients from the past, so it was rather surprising he hadn't asked for the hunter to do anything morally questionable this time around; he only wanted Champagne and Hors d'oeuvres for his Christmas party.

Sadly, he wanted things even a well-connected crime lord might have issues finding, hence the need for a hunter who owes you a favor.....

Instead of flying home to York Shin City after his fantastic evening with Detsu, Spike had to charter multiple private flights to pull off this shopping list in time for Combo's soiree. The champagne was the easiest to find, and even then he'd had to track down a reclusive wine connoisseur to his hidden villa in the Newhart Mountains to barter with for the very rare vintage. Five bottles translated to nearly a full fifth of the hunter's sizable wealth to convince the snooty bastard to part with them.

The other flights turned into a blur of more bartering, outright theft and poaching in the case of certain endangered animal on the list for high-end tartare. Still, Spike made his deadline with his typical level of professionalism, doing his best to ward off pondering ethics, since this was the last time he'd have to work for this particular scumbag again anyway. In the back of his mind he hoped Combo choked to death on the hand harvested caviar and artisan crackers before even all of his guests arrived.

Despite being ahead of his deadline, the hunter still had to hustle as soon as the airship landed back in York Shin to have the cargo unloaded, secure a vehicle to transport it, and clean up a bit before the drop off. After all the hoops Spike had needed to jump through to fulfill the troublesome shopping list he wasn't in a very jolly mood, but still put on a good face for when he arrived at the Don's residence.

Combo showered the haggard delivery boy of sorts with praise and compliments, going so far as to even pull him into a tight hug. Surprisingly, he even offered for the hunter to attend the party later in the evening, as both benefactor of the feast and his special guest of honor. In an equally surprising move, Spike politely turned down his offer, even though his inner greed strongly protested. Besides getting to try out all the food and drink he'd struggled to collect, there was nothing quite like a mob function to make valuable connections.

The guest list guaranteed to include many celebrities, politicians and criminals among its roster; all wealthy potential customers that might need a very capable, very affordable, hunter to help sort out their problems in the future.

Many of his colleagues would've killed for a chance like this to expand their clientele, but this was one time Spike's wallet didn't sway his decision. He'd had to push back his own plans to meet this offer he couldn't refuse, so he had to catching up to do for his own loved ones. The hunter parted ways with the Don amicably, happy the legendarily temperamental man took his hospitality getting declined so well.

With the rest of the evening to himself, Spike worked on his own shopping list at a leisurely pace. Roxy and her family got a cabal of gift baskets loaded with gourmet food and goodies, on top of the latest and greatest tech devices on their wishlist. For his dad the hunter decided to do something different from the previous years: buy a few of the old man's paintings. Sam Basquiat was nowhere near as prolific as he'd once been, but his pieces still found their way into various galleries fetching a high price. The four Spike bought anonymously would easily keep the old man in paint and canvas for the better part of another decade, if he'd finally laid off the top shelf liquor and lavish parties anyway. The hunter really doubted it.

For Motto and Ylva he didn't have the foggiest what to get them, or even their current whereabouts. Wherever they were, he hoped they were doing alright without him around, Ylva especially. Unfortunately, the gift situation for Detsu was about the same. The hunter wanted to get her something extremely nice and thoughtful for the holiday, but nothing just jumped out at him. Incidentally, it was a text regarding where to have his purchased paintings delivered that helped him settle on something he felt she'd love, and it wouldn't even cost him a dime.

Once he returned home Spike began looking through his storage unit for what he desired, ultimately finding them in his closet instead. The hunter hadn't touched a brush or pallete in over half a decade, yet they felt right at home in his hands once again. Similarly, his apartment's decor was still arranged with a spot near the balcony windows perfect for an easel and stool. The oil paints in his old craft box were still sealed and fresh as well.

Spike sat and stared out the window at the fat snowflakes cascading over the cityscape for maybe half an hour before starting on Detsu's gift. The singular reason the hunter had originally abandoned being an artist as a profession was because he was ultimately mediocre at best, doomed to forever copy other's styles but have no distinct flair of his own. However, his meager skills were still more than enough for the task at hand.

Over the next few hours the white void of the canvas was gradually overtaken by a scene of a familiar city shrouded in dusk, yet lit by a large Christmas tree dominating the center of the developing piece. The fir's branches sagged under the weight of bright bobbles and flashy tinsel, bright rays reflecting off of a large golden star adorning the summit. In the shadow of this titanic tree couples glided around on a smooth ice rink situated between streets running adjacent, choked with both shoppers on foot and various vehicles.

Among the couples skating he took special care to mix just the right shade of blue for the hat of a dark complected gentleman, as well as a warm pigment of brown for the lengthy twin ponytails of the young woman hand in hand with him.

"If only..."

Joined: September 19th, 2017, 3:30 am

December 28th, 2017, 7:57 am #10

A log snapped in half, sparks showering into the room like fireflies. The soft crackle and gentle warmth was accompanied by a flickering light, illuminating the cabin's simple interior. The pots and pans were freshly scrubbed, hanging on the wall next to the sink. Two wooden chairs were arranged by the fireplace, with a small coffee table in between. A steaming mug of hot chocolate rested on the coffee table, the surface swirling from a recent sip. A couch with a TV mounted on the nearby wall dominated another side of the large open room. Further back, a door led to the bedroom, with a simple bed and nighstand. A book with a bookmark rested on the nightstand, the title not visible.

The polishing rag slowly wound back and forth over the silver, shining it until it reflected like a mirror. It was slowly removed, and the object moved to the mantle. A Star of David, made of bars of stainless steel, gleamed dully in the wall above the mantle. Alex reached into one of the kitchen drawers, withdrawing a box of candles. He pulled out two candles, replacing the box in the drawer. His bare feet squeaked on the wooden floors as he made slow, methodical steps to the Menorah on the mantle. He carefully placed the first candle on the far right, the second in the exact center, raised slightly higher. Breathing in deeply, Alex pulled his necklace from underneath his shirt, clenching it in his left hand. The middle candle flared up from Alex's match, the flame settling. Grasping it in his right hand, Alex dug his left into the sharp points of his necklace.

His voice welled up, chanting the ancient words of his childhood out of respect and tradition. Echoing through the solitary cabin, the small, steady flames called him back to a happier time. Alex's tears flowed freely, mourning what once was. Finishing the prayers, Alex inhaled as deeply as possible, slowing the tears. Releasing his necklace, Alex winced, seeing the blood run down his hand. It had become a tradition for him, a blood oath to... To what? Alex wasn't sure himself. Perhaps it was his own small way of paying for his crimes.

Slowly reclining in one of the chairs, Alex sighed, feeling his throat loosen. This didn't fit with his image, crying at some lit candles. But he couldn't help it, not when he was alone like this. He sat for a moment, trying to calm his restless nerves. It was no use. Standing up, Alex pushed open the door, breathing in the fresh forest air. The stars were dazzling, far as he was from civilization. Walking around back, Alex took the path to the dojo. Gazing at the multiple buildings, Alex felt his skin itch. The cabin was one thing, but the rest... they only served as cruel reminders. The remains of the blacksmith caught his eye, elucidating the sounds of boiling water and hammer on metal. He'd never seen the older boys at work, only hearing them. One time he'd sneaked away from the younger kids to see, and had been promptly grounded by the elder that had accompanied them.

Alex slid the dojo door open, flicking on the lights. He'd dusted the moment he'd returned, even before cleaning the cabin. An array of practice swords clamored for attention on one long wall, but he ignored them. Wrapping his fists with cloth, Alex walked over, hoisting the sandbag up, and slid its hook into the matching spot on the ceiling beams. Tap tap tap. Bouncing up and down, Alex found his rhythm. His breathing ebbed and flowed at a steady rate, synchronizing. The vagabond's punches shook the bag and ceiling beams alike.

Alex lay spread eagle on the roof, staring up at the sky. The phantom noises had continued, ignoring all his attempts to stop them. Children laughed, and Alex heard the wrapping paper rip at his clumsy attempts. His brother's grin lingered in front of his closed eyes, and Alex felt himself sinking into a pit of despair. What do you want from me? His fists tightened, and Alex bit his lip so as to ward off the tears. Opening his eyes, Alex unsheathed his knife, staring at the keen edge. It would be so easy. Just one cut, and he wouldn't have to worry about this pain ever again. The blade hovered closer to the vein in his leg. Just one cut. Alex's hand started shaking, and he let the tears flow, the knife slipping from his unsteady hand. Loathing himself, Alex walked back to his cabin.

The candles had burned all the way down, and Alex methodically cleaned the wax out of the Menorah. His eyes were red and puffy, and he could barely see at this point. Giving up on the delicate task, Alex sat down by the fire again, wondering if he would ever get up. The flames danced, reflected in the vagabond's pupils, threatening, yet beautiful. The hypnotized him, distracting him from all else. He stared, his head resting on his hand, for the entire night. In the morning, the phantom noises had ceased.