Elizabeth gave us our sixth annual Christmas Story Challenge yesterday, and what a fun set of words! Please feel free to leave your own story and comments here or there. And now, a little slice of life in a magical alternative universe.
Vanessa banged the gavel on the podium. “This Christmas meeting of the Northern Santa Ana Social Club and Chocolate Kingdom will now come to order.” She shot an evil glance at me, as if *I* was the only one responsible for the late start. Fred, Zoe and Ignatia snickered and made rude gestures at me, and I flipped them the bird behind my recording notebook, so Vanessa wouldn’t catch me. We four were the Truffle Knights – the officers of the Chocolate Kingdom – and meant to support our Queen, Vanessa, during her term, which thankfully would end tonight after the annual election of new officers.
I glanced over at Trixie, resplendent in her dark green cloak, to see if she was watching. She had been, and I could feel the red creeping in my cheeks, but she blew me a little kiss, and I felt better.
Our meeting was being held in the old Toyota Showroom on Pine and Douglas Streets – one of Vanessa’s father’s many properties in town. The big, curtain-less windows radiated the warmth from the room, so we all still had our coats on. In the blinking red traffic light outside, the whirling snow that made me late took on a fluffy, pink glow.
“Minutes!” Vanessa barked, and I dutifully read them out before lapsing into a daydream state, mesmerized by the snow outside piling higher and higher. “Old business!” “New business!” Fred, Zoe and Iggy gave their reports as our twenty members wiggled on their hard seats, trying to find a comfortable position. But they didn’t dare challenge Queen Vanessa to cut the procedures short. Rules and order were part of her role-playing persona, and she played them to the hilt. I wondered what she’d play in the new year, after the elections were over. Her coat was cut close to her body, and long, so maybe it hid an elf or fae costume. She still wore her Queen of the Orcs crown, though, with baubles of miniature human skulls on the ends of tiny spikes – a tiara of fear, a reminder that death comes to us all, eventually.
“And, as is traditional, we’ll have the white elephant gift exchange before the election of the officers.” Finally! The last two items on the agenda! I was going to be a dwarvish forester after the election – I was sick of being mage scholar and secretary of the group. I couldn’t wait for the handover, and the LARPing to begin.
But first, the gift exchange. We put our chairs in a circle – the Queen at the head, farthest from windows. I was sandwiched between Vanessa and Iggy. Iggy kept pinching and poking me in the ribs, trying to get me to laugh. Oh, I’d get her in the sword fights to come. She wouldn’t be expecting my new quarterstaff.
Vanessa ceremoniously put the Bone Crown into a box identical to the 24 other boxes on the wheel we’d rigged up three years ago. “Round and round it goes!” she sang, giving it a spin. The Frequently Fairies committee had embellished the scaffolding around water wheel with little bells this year. Last year’s ribbons fluttered from the spokes as the wheel went around and around, like a small Ferris wheel.
Fred, Serjeant at Arms and General Dogsbody, grabbed the boxes and threw them to the membership. This is how we selected a new king or queen – and we’d elect new officers to complement him or her. Fred grabbed the last box from the wheel, then sat down in his place. We passed the boxes around, quietly singing the Chocolate Filk song of loyalty until the wheel stopped and the last of the tinkling bells were silenced. Vanessa let the silence hang for a few seconds, and then said, “My last order as Queen of the Orcs for this year: open the boxes, and let the election begin!”
A dove flew from one of the boxes, and went to roost in the exposed pipes near the ceiling. A gnome escaped and went to live under the customer counter, and at least three people had brought flower fairies, who flew up to join the doves. Someone had brought a shadow demon, who started to crawl out of the box, but Vanessa put a quick stop to that. “I misspoke – my last, last order as Queen of the Orcs is for you, foul fiend, to begone!” The shadow demon slunk under the door and into the dark night, as everyone laughed. That Iggy, always sowing chaos!
The hall was truly decked with the glowing lights of magical beings, and little gnomes and dwarves tacking up tinsel and decorations. The fire salamander was released from its asbestos inner box into a spacious cage in the center of the hall, warming the space. Zoe gave it a few twigs as a treat, and it glowed even more warmly.
And finally, Trixie held the last box. The box with the Bone Crown. She opened it with all the drama a group of magical LARPers could wish for, placed the crown on her head, and threw off her cloak to reveal a magnificent gown of brown and white, trimmed with faux fur and a long tail. “I am Trixie, Queen of the Foxes!” It was a magnificent transformation; last year she’d been a kobold.
In the warming hall, we all threw off our coats and cloaks to reveal our new personas. “We bow to our Queen,” shouted Freddie, and soon the showroom echoed with our declarations of loyalty to the new queen.
And I, the lowly forester, was soon declared the new Serjeant at Arms and General Dogsbody, Truffle Knight and Officer of the Chocolate Kingdom for the new Queen of the Foxes. I kissed her hand and swore my undying allegiance – well, at least for this year, and the LARPing began.