Penywise Dec 25th, 2016 (edited) 3,715 Never
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  1. “So? What do you want?”
  3. The young teen, the matron of the estate looks at you from over her tome.
  5. “Hm? Uh, nothing. I’m fine.”
  7. “Gryam, you’ve been pacing in my library for half an hour now. Are you that lost without Clara?”
  9. “N-No, I just thought maybe we could hang out or something, but you were reading and I didn’t want to disturb you.”
  11. Vivan sighs and puts the book aide, “You think your pacing isn’t disturbing?”
  13. “Oh… sorry.”
  15. The young woman holds her hand up for you to grab, to rescue her from the beanbag she’s sunken into. You take it and haul her light weight out. Her hand is cold, as you would expect. “I suppose it falls to me to entertain you while Clara is out with Aoife.” She sighs, long and dramatically, “Say, do you have any interest in flowers?”
  17. “Flowers?”
  19. Viv brushes her dress down and turns on her heel, “Follow me.”
  21. You join her as she makes her way around the spires of book cases, up and down countless flights of stairs. It would have been enough to tire you out considerably when you first arrived, but now that you’ve spent a handful of years here, feats of endurance are nothing new to you.
  23. “Where am I following you to?”
  25. “My room.” You stifle a groan. This may exhaust you after all. The library she was reading in is housed in one of the mansion’s spires. The Lich’s room is high up the other end of the complex. Just as your spirits begin to fall, you reach the doorway of the library and the small girl clicks, a portal opening in the doorway.
  27. You start, recalling only now that this was her primary form of transportation. Lacking any magical aptitude whatsoever, your experiences of the mansion were based on footpower alone. Behind the shimmering and flickering portal is a dark, gothic and almost copiously lace-y room.
  29. Vivian steps through and breathes a sigh of relief. She obviously prefers her room to any other place in the hold. You step through the portal yourself and a wave of magic washes over you. Or, rather, it’s more like you stepped through a wall of magic, not unlike walking through a small waterfall. You turn back to see the shimmering form of the library disappear behind a closed door as the portal vanishes.  
  31. The light flooding into the room fades along with the portal and your eyes take a moment to adjust to the dimness. You hear another click from behind you and turn to see the concealing, albeit obnoxiously comfy looking robes Vivian wears vanish into a sheer black laced negligee. “Ah, much better.”
  33. Gnarled bone and skulls are worked into the black lace, but they don’t strategically conceal anything. For all it covers, she might as well be naked though you suspect you understand her reasoning. Looking over her form now, she seems far more mature physically than her voluminous robes would hint at. The undead necromancer has wide hips and slim long legs even for the age at which her physical from stopped maturing. She turns to you, taking your eyes from her pert, spankable rear to her slim chest and the twin small mounds there, peaked by light blue nipples.
  35. “I’d be naked but-”
  37. “You love the way Arachne silk feels?” She raises an eyebrow, “Clara is the same.”
  39. “The girl has taste.”
  41. “You raised her.”
  43. “Then it goes without saying. Come.” She turns on a heel and heads across her bedroom, the bottom of her dress riding up and down her lissom thighs with each stride. You follow her, skirting around the large bed, observing the sheets strewn upon it haphazardly. A pair of shackles lies amidst the cloth along with a large dildo, of the kind of size where it wouldn’t fit inside her without making its presence known on her slim stomach.
  45. “Guess whose.” You look to her,
  47. “Not really a cock connoisseur.”
  49. “Oh? I thought you might have known,” a playful smirk lingers on her lips, “Its size was quite renowned for its time. Are you sure that’s not your thing?”
  51. You answer dryly, “Positive. Was?”
  53. “It belonged to one d’Aubry. He’s dead now. Oh, don’t give me that look, he’s far too dead to still be of use to me. Nothing but bone dust.”
  55. “Can’t just work some magic?”
  57. “I can –and do, at times – but genuine flesh is just so much better. Anyway, unless you’re planning on using those shackles on me, we’d best move on.” She continues heading over towards the other side of the large and luxurious room, to another door.
  59. You mutter, “If anyone were to be shackled, I’d prefer it to be me.”
  61. You follow her through the door and into something that looks a bit like a trophy room, only there’s neither weapons nor crests. No game skulls on the walls. They are instead lined with shelves, cut flowers floating upon small pedestals atop them, adorned with plaques, reading a place and year. “Did you pick that up during your stint in prison?”
  63. “Long before, unfortunately. What is this place?”
  65. She doesn’t answer immediately, instead heading over to a flower on the far side of the left wall that’s begun to wilt. She strokes it fondly and the plant begins to revitalize, a purple magic lingering where her fingers passed. Before long it floats proudly above its pedestal as if just freshly cut. Her look changes from that of a young teen, often smug and sarcastic, to one of maternal pride.
  67. “Have a look. What do you think?”
  69. You look at the flower closest to you, the first in the row. A white corydalis. The plaque on the pedestal reads ‘Teutoburg Forest, 9 A.D’. You frown, something rattling around in the back of your mind.
  71. You stew on it for a while until Vivian comes up next to you and smiles softly at the flower, “Oh, don’t stress your head too much. All the flowers in this room bloomed upon a battlefield, once the soil had grown fat on blood and bone. This was the first flower I ever picked. It bloomed upon the first battlefield Ana ever stepped upon. You wouldn’t believe how nervous she was,” A light, reminiscent laugh creeps into her words, “so nervous she didn’t even have time to be embarrassed about me cheering from the sidelines.”
  73. “It’s quite beautiful. Then,” you look around the room, the walls lined with floating flowers, “All of these?”
  75. “Indeed. You know, this one only blooms around this time of year.”
  77. “So around Christmas? Speaking of, are you planning on doing anything for it?”
  79. “Celebrating Yule?” She puts on a scowl, “We haven’t observed that for centuries – not since the wild hunt crashed our last party.”
  81. “Well maybe we can do something this year. Something small, between family.”
  83. Her voice is incredulous “Small? Yule? Oh, child. I’d forgotten just how much of the ancient past had slipped into the mists of time.”
  85. The young teen frowns. “Hmmm… Clara has never seen it either… Are you sure you want this?”
  87. “I would like to celebrate the year with us all, yes.”
  89. “Well, if you’re absolutely certain then there’s nothing I can do. Very well. If we are to do this, we are to do this the Ebonholt way. Follow.” She clicks once more and another portal opens up in the doorway, showing the outside of the estate and the forest.
  91. “You didn’t take much convincing for someone who’s pretending to not want to do this.”
  93. For the first time in a long while you see a faint blush come to the Lich’s cheeks, though her face remains straight. “There’s nothing I can do when my cute daughter’s cute husband comes begging to celebrate Yule with the family,” She steadies her gaze on you, “You are begging, right?”
  95. “I am.”
  97. “Then clearly my hands are tied. Come.”
  99. She clicks once more as a cold wind blows in through the portal and you watch her sheer clothing turn into the soft, thick robes you’re so used to seeing her in. The trees before you are as gnarled, dead and gothic as usual, though a handful still bear their foliage, if a little twisted and grey. Prime amongst them is a large spruce, standing tall amongst the trees and healthier than most.
  101. The two of you step into the portal and out onto the soft, dewy grass. The shimmering sound of the magic behind you fades and vanishes, leaving the two of you to stand in silence, the mistress of the estate waiting patiently. You bide your time and half a minute later Skadi approaches from the household.
  103. She walks at a quick pace, just short of jogging. “You called? Good morning Gryam.”
  105. “Mornin’”
  107. “I did.”
  109. “What can I do, Vivian?”
  111. A sly grin comes to the teen’s lips, “You can call Huldra.”
  113. The snow elf lets out a long uncharacteristic groan, “We’re not, are we?”
  115. “We are.”
  117. Skadi sighs and grumbles as she trudges over to the spruce tree and lays a hand upon it. Ice begins to spread out from her fingers as she closes her eyes and bows her head. “What’s she doing?”
  119. “There’s a minor deity celebrated in the lands Skadi comes from. A powerful dryad called Huldra. This is one of her trees.”
  121. “So you just… talk to the tree and she comes?”
  123. “Depends. If you aren’t an elf you’ll get strapping young lads and a straitjacket coming for you instead. And if you’re an elf she doesn’t like, you’ll get silence.”
  125. Your gaze flicks upward to the rustling branches high up above the bowed elf. You go to utter a word of warning, but a significantly higher pitched and more joyful voice beats you to it. “Skadi!” The snow elf looks up in time to catch the falling wood spirit, barely budging an inch as she takes the weight and force of the dryad’s fall. Huldra laughs as she’s caught bridal style and wraps her arms around the big elf, forcing a kiss upon her lips.
  127. “But if you’re Skadi, she’ll come immediately.”
  129. The spirit breaks the kiss and holds the big elf’s cheeks, looking over her in a manner not unlike an estranged grandparent, meeting their grown up grandchild for the first time in years. “It’s been too long! Why don’t you call more often?”
  131. “Sorry Huldra, I… haven’t had time.”
  133. Vivian pipes up, “Here’s where I’d out you and say you’ve had plenty of time to call. But I know you dedicate even all your free time to the job so; if you like Huldra, feel free to steal her away for a few months. In fact, I insist. She needs a break.”
  135. Skadi winces, “Must I?”
  137. “You must.”
  138. “You must.”
  140. The twin voices join in unison and there’s a pause before the wood spirit chuckles lightly and frees herself from the elf’s arms before making her way to Vivian and giving the small teen a hug. “Similarly Vivian, it’s been too long.”
  142. “It has.” Huldra releases the girl from the hug and turns to you with a soft greeting smile, “Huldra, this is Gryam. Gryam, Huldra.”
  144. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Gryam.” The dryad nods her head, a little deeper than what would be considered casual and you respond in kind.
  146. “The pleasure is mine, Huldra.”
  148. “So, Vivian. I assume it was you who really called. What can I do?”
  150. “You can plant me a tree and stay for a few days. No doubt they are as strict and stuffy with tradition in the north as they always have been. Especially around this time of year. Hide out here and let your hair down.”  
  152. A childlike light comes to the dryad’s eyes “No, you don’t mean to say…” the lich shoots a sly look, and Huldra’s expression goes from hopeful to beaming, “Oh you do! My, I’d been wondering if you’d ever throw another one.”
  154. “Lets just say I got strong armed into it,”
  156. “Oh suure” The sarcasm is palpably thick,
  158. “I had no choice. Besides, I’ve been plotting a certain vengeance for centuries now.”
  160. “Oh, I can’t wait to see that. So, where do you want this tree?” the two begin to walk off, chatting. You go to follow them, simply because you have nothing else to do, when Skadi turns to you.
  162. “Gryam. I received word from Aoife. They’ll be back at any moment.”
  164. You instantly light up. “Oh! Thank you. I’ll go meet them then.” She gives a light smile as she watches you turn and head off down the garden paths.
  166. Well-trimmed and easy to navigate as usual, you make your way about the gardens quickly with a brisk walk, passing by various statues, displays and the side of the mansion. Despite it being a usual sight, the large building still inspires a sense of awe as you look into its large glass windows in passing, and are met with its lavish interior. You round the last edge and come to the driveway. It ends in a circle, divided in the middle by an island which is encircled with hedges, a large statue in the middle – an armoured woman holding a sword with her face to the sculpted winds.
  168. You watch as a black Bentley Mark V rolls up, two familiar faces in the window. The vehicle barely has time to pull up to the curb, still rumbling as Clara opens the door and steps out into your arms. She snuggles extra close, despite the fact that she was warm, dressed in jeans, a shirt and a hoodie. They must have been running the heater. Aoife, as usual is in her skin-tight black suit.
  170. You hug her back, wrapping an arm about her and placing your other hand on the back of her head, her hair just as silky soft now as it was when she left this morning. “Miss me?”
  172. “Mm,” you make a short agreeing noise and pull her into a kiss. Her soft, vaguely strawberry tasting lips press into yours and almost immediately, you feel her tongue begin to seek out your own, pressing through your teeth and forcing your light kiss into a deep, open one.
  174. After nearly a year of exposure to her ghoulish saliva, your body seems to have learnt the meaning of time and place – perhaps a trait of your ever waning humanity – and the two of you are happy to stand there and embrace, pulling apart before it grows too inconsiderate to the Dullahan beside you.
  176. Perhaps your consideration comes too late, as you hear a quiet, lonely sigh off to the side. The ghoul looks up at you, ignoring the Dullahan. “What’s wrong?”
  178. You bite your lip hesitatingly, but it’s that very body language that clued her in in the first place. “I think I may have set something large to motion.”
  180. “What do y-” A deep rumble cuts her sentence off, enough to feel the earth shudder through your feet. The dullahan’s ears twitch, not unlike a cat’s locating a noise.
  182. “This magic…” She takes off a bracelet and places it down in the air. It hovers – suspended – and widens, opening a portal, the hilt of a large claymore lurking within. Confusion takes her expression, “Are dryads attacking?”
  184. “Ah, no. Not attacking.”
  186. She turns to you and the portal slowly closes, turning back into a bracelet she catches, “Something you’ve set in motion?”
  188. “A dryad called Huldra, planting a Christmas tree I guess.”
  190. She blinks in surprise. “Huldra? But only Skadi could call her… then that means… How did you convince her, after all these years?”
  192. “I just mentioned it, really.”
  194. “You mother’s boy.”
  196. “W-what’s going on? What did I miss?” The ghoul looks between the two of you, blatantly confused, and Aoife turns to her,
  198. “You haven’t missed anything just yet. Gryam here convinced Vivian to celebrate Yule.”
  200. “Didn’t we celebrate last year?”
  202. “Hmm, no last year was more of an ‘observation’.”
  204. “What’s the difference?”
  206. “Oh, you’ll see. Let’s go look at this tree.”
  208. The three of you head off to where the tremors came from, you and Clara trailing behind the Dullahan, letting her fae senses lead the three of you to the source of magic. You come to a part of the garden that is just open yard and in the very centre are three figures, Vivian, Skadi and Huldra, each standing around a tree that wasn’t there before, now twice the height of a man.
  210. Keen as ever, the elf is the first to notice your approach and upon seeing Aoife, instantly switches into chastise mode.  
  212. “Aoife, I told y-”
  214. “Don’t fret, Skadi. She is armed.” Vivian turns to the three of you, “Welcome back Clara. Have fun?”
  216. “I did, and I got you something too.”
  218. “Oh really? Well, that can come later. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. Your husband here, however, was beside himself, lost like a little lamb. You really ought to take better care of him.”
  220. The ghoul looks to you, surprised and you look away. “I wasn’t lost.” The conversation carries on despite your quiet protestations, the only one listening being Clara, who slips an arm around you, and rests her head against yours.
  222. “So this is the tree?”
  224. The dryad nods proudly to Aoife’s question. “It is indeed. Greetings, Aoife.”
  226. “It’s impressive,” You chime in, earning a little giggle from the spirit,
  228. “This? Impressive? You just wait until the eve of Christmas. It’s bound to triple in size.” Your raise your eyebrows and the Dullahan lets out a whistle.
  230. “Decorating it is going to be hard.”
  232. The dryad turns to you once more, but her eyes are on Clara. “And you are?”
  234. “This is Clara, my daughter and Gryam’s wife. Clara, this is Huldra. An old family… friend.”
  236. “Clara? Lovely name. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Your ghoul nods her head politely,
  238. “Likewise, it’s good to meet you, Huldra.”
  240. “Now… where is-”
  242. Vivian sighs, cutting off the dryad’s question. “Any moment now.”
  244. On cue, Ana and Caius come out from the hedges, the big wight throwing her arms open as she approaches, “Hulra!” The wight catches the dryad in a hug and Caius looks up at the tree smiling,
  246. “Are we finally celebrating Yule again, Vivian? Even after your last trouncing?”
  248. The lich scowls, “Mind your words, Caius. I have a new play ready for the Bitch-Elf, should she show her face before me once more.”
  250. “Oh, I think she will. I’m guessing this is a certain some one’s doing?” His eyes flick to you and there’s a light smile on his lips, “Ever so soft on the young ones, Vivian.”
  252. She shrugs, “They’re cute. Unlike some.”
  254. “How cold.” He frowns, “How am I to stop Lily from pushing herself too far this year?” His musing trails off, as Ana separates from the Dryad,
  256. “Oh, it’s been too long, Huldra!” The spirit girl wiggles free and retreats behind Skadi,
  258. “Hello, Ana. You’re as energetic and friendly as ever I see.”
  260. The woman beams, “My cute husband takes good care of me, so of course I am! Then,” she looks about, “Are we celebrating Yule once more? My, I missed those parties. The festivities. Where will we get the boar from?”
  262. Vivian turns to Caius, “I trust I can leave the preparations to you?”
  264. “Indeed, you may retire.”
  266. “Good, I’m getting tired. I’ll come down with some tea in some hours Huldra. Until then I trust Skadi to keep you company.”
  268. “Of course.”
  270. “Good, then,” She clicks and a portal opens before her, revealing the shimmering image of a bedroom. She turns to you and smirks teasingly, “I have a date with d’Aubry. Until later” The portal closes behind her as she steps through and Caius is soon to leave after.
  272. “Come along Ana, let Huldra and Skadi catch up, we have preparations to make.”
  274. You feel a tug on your own arm and look to Clara, “We’d best leave too, darling. Come help me take in the shopping, I have something to show you.”
  276. “Oh?” you begin to follow her as you make your way back to the car, “What is it?”
  278. She smiles coyly a she walks ahead of you, “You’ll see.” Perhaps you will, but for now you’re content on trailing behind her and watching her butt wiggle in her tight jeans. You reach the car and pop the boot, revealing bags upon bags filled with various things from clothes to vegetables. Something red catches your eye and you go to peer into the bag when Clara grabs the handles and pulls it out, “Oh no you don’t. Help me with the others.”
  280. It takes a handful of trips, the both of you laden down by bags but soon enough the boot is empty, the car locked and the contents of the bags placed where they belong and the bags themselves bundled up and tossed up onto the top shelf of the pantry.
  282. You breathe a sigh, “That’s that. So,” You turn to watch Clara as she puts the last thing away, the fridge closing shut behind her, “What do you want to show me?”
  284. She grins, “Start peeling potatoes and get the oven running. I’ll be back in a moment.” Curiosity whetted, you exercise your patience for now. With a satisfying click, the oven knob pops away from ‘off’ and you spin it to somewhere around the two-hundred mark.
  286. Leaving it to heat up, you fetch something you’d hidden away for convenient use and fix it to the door frame leading into the kitchen. Smugly satisfied, you begin peeling the potatoes, selecting a few smaller ones and running tap water over them as you peel. The tool’s blade slices easily into the vegetable, sheering off a strip of skin with each pass and you make your way through three of these before you hear footsteps from behind.
  288. You turn to see Clara resting against the doorframe, her long silver hair falling out from under a red cap, peaked by a tuft of weresheep fur and rimmed with the same fluffiness. She grins as your eyes roam over her appreciatively, taking in the tight fitting red dress that clings to her curves so closely it inspires something akin to jealousy. The top of the dress is crested with more white woolly fluff, but not nearly thick and dense enough to hide the fact that her sizeable, perky and shapely breasts are pushed up into some mindblowing cleavage.
  290. It hugs her toned belly as if a second skin and you can clearly make out the lines of her abs. The fluffy hem of the dress hugs her hips at their widest point and if you were to come eye level with them, you’d spy a pair of red panties peeking out below. Sitting snugly atop her shoulders is a small red cape, held together with a mistletoe-motif pendant. Fitting.
  292. Her arms and legs are clad in fur-rimmed gloves and stockings respectively, the latter being held up by a festive garter belt, hidden under the dress and just as red as the rest of the ensemble. Unfortunately, the indentation made by the stockings wrapping so snugly about her thick thighs is masked by the ring of white fluff, but the contrast of her long shapely legs to the short dress is brilliant none the less. The set is complete with her boots, red knee-high heels of a soft fabric, ringed – predictably – at the top with white fluff. She twirls, offering a full view but to be honest most of it passes you by un-noted as your eyes fix to the way the heels make her butt seem more spank-able than usual.
  294. A light blush comes to her cheeks as you step up to her and pull her in a deep kiss. She stiffens, expecting some words, not an attack right out of the gates. Regardless, she relaxes as you pull her hips in towards you and wrap your arms around her lithe, slip of a form.
  296. A happy little noise escapes her as her mouth opens to accept your probing tongue and she holds you just as tightly, a hand on the back of your head and an arm across your upper back. Her tongue coils around yours, intoxicating saliva sapping the strength from your legs and the will from your mind. You manage to hold on though, just barely. Dinner needed to be cooked after all.
  298. You pull apart from the ghoul somewhat reluctantly and she shoots you a smouldering look, “Mm, do you like it that much?”
  300. “A little bit of column A,” your eyes drift upwards, to the hanging mistletoe and her gaze follows, “A little bit of column B.”
  302. “Sneaky. Have you started peeling?”
  304. “Yeah.”
  306. “Then I’ll start on the other vegetables.” Busily, the two of you work on dinner, Clara leaving part way through to put on some festive, soft music before returning. It doesn’t take long to peel up the potatoes and have them ready to be caramelized – or to cut up the pumpkin, capsicum, onions, mushroom and squash and have it all roasting in with the pork sausage, made of a festive blend of ginger, cloves, mustard and nutmeg.
  308. With everything prepared and something to the tune of an hour to kill you watch as Clara moves about the kitchen, turning the lights off and fishing out candles to set upon the table before lighting them. A dim, soothing glow fills the room, cut into abruptly by the interior light of the fridge as she opens it and grabs a bottle of mulled wine. The door swings shut behind her, returning the warm glow to the room. Finally, she gets two cups, places them on the table and pours the wine, handing one of the vessels to you.
  310. “Merry Christmas, Gryam.”
  312. The glasses clink, “That’s not for a few days though.”
  314. She downs her drink in a mouthful and puts her glass aside, leaning on you, slipping a thigh between your legs and pinning you to the bench with her weight, “I want to celebrate in private beforehand.”
  316. You down yours, “Merry Christmas, Clara. Thank you for this year. It’s been the best I’ve ever had.”
  318. She smiles as she leans in and nuzzles into your shoulder “You don’t need to thank me for that, silly.”
  320. Your heart clenches tightly as her words sink in, followed by her teeth, biting down on familiar indentations, layer upon layer of markings born upon your flesh over the span of this wonderful year. She licks as where she bit you, her saliva again assailing your system, but now is the perfect time and pace and both your bodies know it.
  322. Her thigh rubs between your legs as she kisses you, trailing upward until she’s nibbling at the lobe of your ear. You shiver, tense with anticipation as her fingers trace southwards along your body and reach down low to undo your belt and grasp your hardening erection, pulling your pants down just low enough to free it.
  324. You close your eyes and suck a deep breath in through your teeth, as she shifts her position and you find your cock trapped between her soft thighs and rubbing up against the fabric of her panties, already unsurprisingly wet.
  326. Reaching up with a hand, you thread your fingers through her hair, palm flat before you gather the silver, silken locks and give it a light tug as your other hand reaches down to grope a handful of her perky rear, fingers sinking into the supple flesh.
  328. Her teeth slide off your ear as you pull her head back by the hair and lightly bite the side of her neck, just under her jaw. Clara shudders and as you move her hips across the length of your shaft, you feel her already wet panties turn to sopping.
  330. Unwilling to just be led, she slides your cock out of her thighs before rocking her hips back towards you, leading the pace down below as you focus on kissing, licking and nibbling at her throat, jaw and ears. She slips her arms up the back of your shirt and holds herself tighter to you, fingers digging in and leaving marks as she fuck you –or fucks herself on you- intercrurally.
  332. The smell of the ghoul’s carnal needy messes with your body as much as her saliva does and she responds to the throbbing, hard girth of your cock by tightening her thighs around it so snugly it would arrest all motion were her thighs not already slick by now with her arousal. Her bust presses up to your chest with marvellous softness and you take your hand from her hair to reach in and grope a breast, emancipating the gloriously soft-yet-firm orb from the dress’s confines.
  334. Her toned belly clenches as it rubs up against you and her hips smack forcefully into your own with each passing, panted breath, Clara’s pace rapidly quickening, each shake of her wide hips accented by a gasp, mewl or moan. Your own loins clench, climax baying loudly in the distance. With a grunt of exertion, you grab her ass with both hands and haul the ghoul’s rear up onto the bench.
  336. She gasps at the sudden change of positions. “Fuck me Love, fuck me up and fill me.” Her legs are already spreading to entice you in. You prod up against her cloth-covered entrance as you get positioned, feeling and hearing the sopping fabric squelch.
  338. Her heels hook each other behind your back and leglocked, you hurry to push her red panties to the side lest she force you to fuck her through it. Despite the tight, marvellous softness of her thighs, it can’t compare to the electric ecstasy sparking through your spine as your cock sinks deep into her sodden folds.  
  340. She cries out and her legs tighten, forcing you in balls deep. Her powerful thighs don’t let up either, forcing you to fight against her to pull out even one or two inches before slamming back in with such force her one uncovered breast bounces wildly, and the other threatens to spill free.
  342. Your length spears in, large as ever and you track the bulge it makes on her dress with your eyes. Clara, for her part, tips her head back and cries out your name, her abs clenching, crushing as her tight depths twist and wring your cock. Already brought careening towards the edge by your shaft grinding against her clit and folds, it only takes a handful of thrusts into her pulsating pussy to set her off and bring about a chain reaction that has you following soon after.
  344. You hold – squeeze – her tightly with your face buried in her bosom as your shaking hips thrust in deeply a few last times before coming to a stop, balls already churning, needing to cum almost painfully so and that is without her walls milking you franticly in the throes of ecstasy.
  346. She hugs your head to her breast as you both cum, finally spurting, crashing into her womb with waves of white hot seed,  filling her with so much cum that her belly rounds and it spurts back out around your cock, dripping down onto the floor.  
  348. She lies back over the bench, abs still twitching slightly, pussy still dripping and for your part you lie atop her, taking shallow, shuddering breaths as the aftershocks of climax wrack both you and her.
  350. After a minute passes, you pull out and fix her panties, putting them back in place. Your seed soaks it as you rub her labia through the fabric, but the ghoul only moans happily, running a hand through her hair. “I’ve been waiting for that since I got back.”
  352. “Same.”
  354. She giggles, “Lost without me, huh?”
  356. You blush, remembering Vivian’s teasing. “Maybe a little.” She sits, fixes her dress up and slides off the bench, landing daintily on her heeled boots. Smiling, she looks down at your still hard cock and looks to the oven.
  358. “We still have time.”
  360. Your dick twitches, “We do.”
  362. Smirking, she squats down spreading her legs wide as she does so and comes eye level with her favourite treat. You watch, bemused at her insatiable nature, as her fingers drift southwards and her mouth opens.
  365. *   *   *   *
  367. “Are you ready to go? C’mon I want to beat the traffic.”
  369. “Uh…” You pat your ass and pockets. Keys, wallet, phone … check. You tap your chest. Necklace check.  “Yeah. It’s pretty early in the morning though, no one is even awake. You forget where we live.”
  371. “Caius gave us a lot to get though, I don’t want to be late. Why do you think we went to bed so early last night?” She grumbles, “Shouldn’t have gone for that eighth round before bed.”
  373. You roll your eyes. “We were being conservative and you know it.” A year ago he wouldn’t have given her any kind of chore that requires leaving the house. Nor would she be so keen to head out into the town. The evident change in her mindset brings a smile to your face and a light blush to hers, “W-what? What’s funny?”
  375. You step up and give her a light peck on the lips before hopping in the car, “You are.” She lingers a moment where she stands, before getting in and keying the engine, a light smile on her lips. The Bentley rumbles to life and rolls out of the driveway and onto the ancient cobblestone road.
  377. “So,” You watch as the front gates pass and the car jolts lightly as it turns out onto the road, “Where to?”
  379. “The super market is the only place we need to go – unless you needed something else?”
  381. “I do, but it’s close to the market so I’ll walk.”
  383. “We can drive, I’ll come with you.”
  385. “Oh no you won’t.”
  387. She frowns, “I won’t?”
  389. “Nope.”
  391. “Why not?”
  393. “Secret.”
  395. Clara pulls a weird, complicated face as she drives, “Fine.”
  397. You smile, feeling somewhat guilty, but you’d hate to ruin the surprise even more – especially after what you sold in order to afford it. You put on some soft music and drive in a kind-of-awkward silence. You can tell it’s bugging her. You lean over and give her elfin ear a little nibble and kiss, coaxing a faint smile to her lips.
  399. She breaks the silence first, “It’s not often you wear a necklace. Where’d you get that one from?”
  401. “Oh this?” You pull out the necklace; its chain silver, a band-symbol pendant hanging off it, “Just some old band merch I found. Like it?” Her eyes drift to the pendant.
  403. “Good band.”
  405. “Shame they broke up.”
  407. “I know right?”
  409. The car pulls into the market’s parking lot and rumbles to a quiet halt, the music from the radio cutting off mid-croon. The building is large, more reminiscent of a warehouse, if the interior wasn’t so shop-like. The two of you get out, the car beeping behind you as the doors lock. Crime was basically unheard of in the neighbourhood but precaution always paid off.
  411. Inside, only one check-out was manned, by a single sleep deprived vampire, quietly nodding off where she stands, wings wrapped around her snugly. The automatic doors open, beeping and the girl jolts awake. “W-Welcome!” She barks out the greeting automatically and you can see from her hazy eyes she isn’t even fully awake yet. You nod politely to each other as you enter, but by the time you head down the first aisle with a trolley, she’s already nodding off again.
  413. You go down the aisles systematically, pulling things off the shelves, checking off the list given to Clara and anything else that strikes your collective fancies. Chocolates, spices, small festive cakes. In the end though, the bulk of what you get is for the coming feast, bags upon bags of potatoes and onions, bags of peppers of all kinds, cabbages, other vegetables and seven hefty pumpkins on top of five whole turkeys, just as many legs of ham and twice as many whole chickens.
  415. Rather inconsiderately, you depleted much of what was on the shelves before the majority of the town’s dead can even wake and prepare for tomorrow’s main festivities.  
  417. “Is all this really necessary?”
  419. “Caius said to expect guests tomorrow.”
  421. “Ah… I really was hoping this would just be family.”
  423. She smiles, “We already celebrated in private.”
  425. “But we do that every night.”
  427. “We do. Besides, the way he said it made it seem more or less out of his control.”
  429. “Hmm,” You round up the last of what was on the list, resulting in a ludicrously over packed trolley, and when you wake the vampire up to have her pack it all she groans out loud.
  431. “Um… can you bag the heavy stuff?”  
  433. You raise an eyebrow, “Sure.”
  435. A litany of plastic noises and mechanic beeps soon follow as she lethargically packs what she can, while you and Clara put the heavier stuff away. “Thanks. I don’t usually take day shift. But a co-worker recently got hitched, so I had to cover.” She yawns and reaches for a nearby coffee with her wing, taking a sip as she bags. “If it were up to me, I’d shut the blinds. Then being up at these hours wouldn’t be nearly so bad, but the manager says it would be too gloomy for the daywalkers.”
  437. Soon, the last thing is checked out and the last bag is placed atop the laden trolley. The price of it all is enough to make you want to feint, thus you refuse the receipt. No record of its figure should be allowed to exist. Thankfully, Caius will foot the bill.    
  439. You pay it with a forced smile and the vampire turns to Clara. “Ghoul, right?” She nods and the vampire smiles tiredly, flashing twin fangs and reaches out for a stick of gum with her wings and hands it over, “Merry Christmas.” The wrapping reads ‘Husband flavour – for girls who bite.’
  441. You take the trolley out to the car and work together to load the boot with the near-countless bags of shopping until all that’s left is the stick of gum. You take one out of its packet. It’s grey. Bland. Tastes like nothing. You frown and she laughs at your reaction. “It’s not supposed to taste like anything. Give it a- woah!” You swoon, light headed for a moment and feeling like you just came, just - without your dick feeling anything. Clara steadies you. Some kind of energy drain. She finishes her sentence, “…Give it a second. Ta.” She holds her hand out and you drop the bland gum in her hand, now a vibrant pink.
  443. “Weird.”
  445. She pops it in her mouth and smiles, “Tasty.”  
  447. “Well, chew on that while I go do that thing I have to do.” You go to turn and walk off when she stops you.
  449. “Wait a second.” Pulling you around by the shoulder, she takes the gum out of her mouth and straightens your shirt before biting your neck somewhere very plainly visible. You wince a little before the pleasure kicks in. “There. Hurry back now.”
  451. You nod as you fight down the effects of her saliva, “I’d have done that without the incentive. Be back soon.”
  453. You head off, making a beeline to the footpath and then heading around the block, slipping out of sight. The place wasn’t too far from here and the owner was a peculiar kind of wraith, most powerful and active at the sun’s zenith. Not wanting to make Clara wait too long, you adopt a light jog and arrive before the store within ten minutes.
  455. An airy jingle announces your entrance.
  457. A woman phases out of the back wall, her distinguishing garland of daisies in place at the crown of her head. She nods to you, “Welcome Gryam.”
  459. You nod in return, “Good morning, Luzi. Is it ready?”
  461. She smiles fondly, “It is, my dear was working on it so late he nearly passed out. It’s finished though, right in time as requested and paid for. A chain and setting made of pure demon realm silver – enchanted as to reject your essence – and a blank magic gem, ready to suck it all up.” She leans in close as she hands a small box over to you, along with a stack of notes “I have to say, your wife is a lucky woman to have a man with such romantic ideas. My husband was so inspired by it he made a duplicate. Here, he insisted I offer a discount on the price paid.”
  463. You take both and bow. “And do I need to just have the box with me?”
  465. “It’s better if you hold the gem directly.”
  467. “Thank you very much. I’m sure it will please her.” You grin, “I’ll bring her around a few weeks from now and you can compare necklaces.”
  469. “Fufufu, isn’t it obvious that mine will be so much more beautiful? Farewell Gryam.”
  471. You laugh, “We’ll see about that. Farewell Luzi, say hi to the big boy for me.” She smiles and waves goodbye before drifting back through the wall and you make your way out of the shop and onto the street.
  473. Carefully, dreadfully carefully you open the box and take a look. The chain is the expected silvery-pink, thought undead energy should turn it lustrous silver. More important is the gem, cut plainly into a rectangle and completely opaque, like quartz. You smile, wondering what form it will take, as you swap the necklace you’re wearing for the new one and pocket the older one with the band symbol.
  475. The chains are similar enough to fool anyone at a glance and that’s if it even peeks out from under your shirt. You tuck it below the fabric and pocket the box before heading back to the car.  
  477. Clara is sitting in the driver’s seat when you return, chewing, with her eyes closed and her fingers gently stroking over her crotch through the fabric of her jeans. You open the car door and she jumps, like someone shocked out of a really deep daydream. “Oh. You’re finished?”
  479. “Yup,” you grin as you settle into your seat and she kicks up the car engine, “Are you?”
  481. “Ha Ha,” she says dryly. “This gum is pretty amazing you know. Tastes exactly like you.” The engine rumbles to life and she pulls out of the car-park and on to the road with a heavy bump. The boot is far heavier than before.
  483. “We’ll get a stock of it next time.”
  485. “Got the real thing sitting in my car.” She grins, “Not sure if it’s necessary.”
  487. “Can’t be around me every second of the day.”
  489. “We’ve been together nearly a year now. You know that’s not true.”
  491. “What about a few days ago where you went shopping with Aoife?”
  493. “The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted. Besides, I thought you said you didn’t mind.”  
  495. “I lied.”
  497. She titters, “Should have guessed as much.” She turns off the main road and onto the one that the driveway heading home was off. One of the virtues about the town was its small, convenient size. It wasn’t an especially long trip to anywhere out here. Being populated by the undead helps – lots of people with long lives and many interests. Makes a variety of stores necessary.
  499. The car bounces as it leaves the road and starts down the driveway, pausing only momentarily for the gate to open. You both wave to Aoife in the guard-house as it does so and the bored-looking guardswoman waves back.  
  501. When you roll up to the mansion, Lily is already patiently waiting outside. She doesn’t move as your car comes into view asides from an increased wagging of her feathery tail, the picture perfect symbol of patience.
  503. Once more, the Bentley rumbles to a silent stop and the two of you step out of the car, turning to face the now bowing Kiki. “Laaaate.”
  505. Clara mutters to you, “Told you we should have left earlier.”
  507. “She was going to say that regardless. It’s only ten.”
  509. The zom-bird walks up to the two of you, inspecting the ghoul first then you, finally finding a piece of lint on your shoulder. With a light dust, she brushes it off and straightens the collar on your shirt. As she does so, her eyes fall upon the bite mark on your neck. As if to offer another, she opens her mouth with an “Aaaah~” and leans in before Clara catches her from behind and pulls her away. Lily flails as she’s molested by the ghoul, moaning, “Gryyyam.”
  511. “Oh no you don’t. Only I get to bite him. Mine.” As if to prove a point, she chomps down on lily, gnawing at her neck, “Hream. Run. Shabe yourshelf.” You watch the bird stop struggling as the ghoul’s saliva works its magic, only muttering a weak,
  513. “Heeelp Gryyam.”
  515. You stand there, lost, “Shouldn’t I be saving Lily first?”
  517. Clara’s eyes narrow as she takes her lips from the zomb-kiki. “Don’t fall for her helpless gaze. That’s how she gets you.”
  519. “I think she’s actually helpless though.”
  521. “Bulllyy”
  523. Clara sinks down to the curb with the kiki in her arms, effectively pulling her into her lap, “I’m not a bully, you’re a bully,”
  525. “I’m going to start unpacking now. Join me when you’re ready.” You turn to the boot and open it, gathering an armful of bags. Your words go unheeded by the two behind you,
  527. “Manipulating people with these cute ears of yours, making them all droopy when you don’t get your way. Both Ana and I have to stay on guard around you.”
  529. “Tooo eeeaasy”
  531. “Oh yeah? You’ve been trying with Caius for years and now Gryam. Hasn’t worked yet.”
  533. “Soome daay.”
  535. “Pff, dream on.”
  537. You leave them behind and make your way to the mansion’s large kitchen – a kitchen large enough to better serve a restaurant. You plop the bags down on a large bench and are soon joined by the two girls, both laden with bags. They drop them next to yours and you and Clara head out for another load, Lily remaining behind.
  539. “I still don’t get why Lily doesn’t bother you.”
  541. Clara shrugs, stopping. “She’s my sister. It’s just a little healthy jealousy,” She grins and grabs your shirt, messing it up in the process of pulling you in for a quick kiss, “And I don’t mind fighting to keep you. Besides, I don’t think she’d actually go through with it.” The two of you continue walking.
  543. “What do you mean?”
  545. “I mean if it ever got to the point of you pulling your dick out, I think you’d get a hand-print in the shape of Lily’s palm on your face, stinging for weeks to come.”
  547. “What makes you so sure?”
  549. “Just a feeling. I’ve never seen her angry about herself, you know. When she gets mad, sad, it always seems to be for someone else. Me, or Ana or Viv.”
  551. You reach the car and load up on another armful of bags, “She’s a good girl.”
  553. “She needs a man already.” The two of you head back.
  555. “Not too many of those around here. Not single ones anyway.”
  557. “She seems content for now. It’s not like Aoife and a couple of the other guard girls don’t invite her out to places. She just chooses not to go.” You add to the growing mountain of bags, slowly but surely covering all the bench-space in plastic and produce. Just as the two of you are about to make another round trip, Lily walks in with a tray, some toasted cheese ham and tomato sandwiches and three cups of coffee.
  559. “Teeea.”
  561. Clara scents the air and you can almost see her begin to salivate “Mmmm, let’s take a break, Gryam.”
  563. You take a cup from the tray “Sure. Thanks, Lily.”
  565. “Weeelcome.”
  568. *   *   *   *
  570. The cool, early afternoon breeze rocks the hammock you laze in, cuddled up with Clara. She snoozes lightly, gnawing at your neck softly in her sleep. After helping Lily put away the shopping and leaving her once she started to cook up some red cabbage for tomorrow, the two of you came out here to snuggle. But you snuggled too greedily and too deep and the result is the snoozing girl by your side.
  572. Which leaves you, awake and watching a blushing Skadi perform a variety of tricks before a cheering Huldra under the shade of the now giant tree, easily five meters tall now.
  574. The peace and serenity is ruined as a line of boxes appear out of nowhere.  half a foot up in the air before plonking down on the grass. A portal then opens and Vivian steps out in her usual robes, only this time a deep purple santa hat hangs off her head, white fur and all.
  576. “Alright, line up, people. You have ten minutes.” She doesn’t raise her voice but it carries to all corners of the estate all the same.  
  578. Clara jolts to wakefulness and grumbles as she rouses, “Hate those mental commands of hers.” She wipes drool from her mouth and your neck before sitting up and slipping off the hammock, “I was having a good dream too.”
  580. “What about?”
  582. She looks you up and down, “Same thing as always, Dreamy.”
  584. “Uuugh”
  585. “Uuugh”
  587. You groan and a distinctly zombie-ish voice joins you. “Shut up you two, it wasn’t that bad.”
  589. You turn, “Already done with the cabbage, Lily?”
  591. She nods, “Juuust iiin time.” The three of you head to join Viv, Huldra and Skadi under the tree. You hang around, chatting as various other faces begin to show up. First is Aoife, who joins the three of you in chatting. Then it’s Caius and Ana, talking amongst themselves.
  593. And then one by one, it’s the faces you’ve come to know since you’d been living here. Hatti, the hulking werewolf emerges from the woods, a girl you’d heard on your first day, but not met. You later found out that howl was her greeting. Her fur is black as midnight – as is the rest of her body thanks to the black bodysuit all the guards wear – but her skin is pale as the moonlight itself. She wears a collar about her neck, but below it is the scar that encircles her throat, a memory from darker times. In a stroke of irony, when her claws aren’t enough, she wields a huge headsman’s axe.
  595. Next comes Vard, the doppelganger. Today she is a lamia, herself – or at least the form she usually uses – from the hips up, but raven black scales down to the tip of her tail. After Vard is Chanrao, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. This face was one you’d only met once previously, a shady jiangshi who even now wears a deep hood and a long scarf, wrapped and draped over her back. If she wishes, she could use it to obscure much of her face. As of now, it is loose and if you peer in you can make out most of her face. Under the scarf and covering the rest of her is the same black bodysuit.
  597. All that would give away her nature is the paper slip covering half her face, ‘Patrol’ scrawled on it. Chanrao is a walking arsenal as always, two oriental styled swords sheathed and strapped to her back along with a belt laden with knives, knives for tabbing, knives for slashing and knives for throwing.
  599. After the Jiangshi comes the black harpy tinkerer Reisa and the automaton Galatea. Reisa – different from the others – wears robes that obscure much of her body and wraps her wings about the rest of her. Her long hair is as dark as her species’ namesake. As the main craftsman and the one who crafted all the black bodysuits, her role isn’t one suited to combat.  
  601. Galatea however, is nothing short of a weapon of mass destruction. There isn’t an inch of her that couldn’t turn into some form of killing tool – much of that thanks to Reisa’s own tinkering. All her weapons, however, are sealed away masterfully into compact compartments that when closed are utterly indistinguishable. You could run a hand over a hundred of these sealed weapons and feel nothing but smooth, milky skin. The pale white gynoid is dressed in a short black Victorian styled dress with long sleeves and shin high boots over black stockings, all deceptive machinery designed to interface with the automaton and break apart when one weapon or another is needed.
  603. Like the others, she awaits orders silently.
  605. “Thankyou for your timely gathering everyone.” Vivian, short and to the point as always, points to the line of boxes and then conjures a spiral staircase leading to the tip of the tree, “In these boxes are an assortment of trinkets and baubles. Decorate this tree at your discretion.” With that, she reaches down and selects at random, pulling out a crystal glacies sitting in a snowflake. She vanishes, reappearing at the top of the tree and wraps the hook the bauble is attached to around a branch. She turns and looks down. “Like this. Hop to it.”
  607. You look between yourselves, lingering a moment before Lily steps forward dutifully and picks up a bauble, walking to the very first step and fixing it to the tree. She smiles, pleased with herself and turns around to grab one more, every one following suit after her.
  609. Soon, you all have a trinket in hand and you look down at your own, a generic candy cane. Shrugging, you walk up to the tree with Clara and take your first step up the spiral staircase.
  611. It’d an odd thing, ascending magic stairs. No railing, no support. The steps pulsate with magic and are partially transparent. It doesn’t really begin to do your head in until you reach near the top of the tree and a strong gust blows, making you a little nervous about the lack of railing. But then you’re probably the least surefooted out of any of them.
  613. You reach in and hang your candy cane off a branch, about to turn around and admire the view when you hear a giggle and the candy get tugged out of your hands. You start and take a step back, heel hanging over the edge of the staircase.
  615. Viv steps down from the top and looks at you, “From this height, your death would be instant. Your body would force your eyes closed just before you hit the ground and you wouldn’t even feel your own neck break. And then you’d wake up, after I put your shattered spine back together, never having realized you died.” Her eyes twinkle as she plays with you, “Like falling in a dream, you’d just open your eyes.”
  617. You look at her, blankly. “That’s fucking morbid, Vivian. Why is the tree eating my candycane?”
  619. “Yule is…” She reaches a hand into the tree, “A magical time of year. A yuletime celebration is one of the most powerful rituals one can perform. It’s pure, wild magic that permeates everything from hearts to minds to the very land. There’s a reason humans wished for a good year despite their own magical ignorance. More often than not the wish would come true.”
  621. “That doesn’t explain the tree eating my candy.”
  623. “Wouldn’t mind eating something else, big boy.” You blink at the new voice and the Lich pulls her hand out of the tree, her palm open and within it your candy cane and a naked pixy, straddling it. “Wanna see how wide I can stretch?” The diminutive fae licks her lips, “It’ll be like threading this candy cane through the eye of a wet, slutty needle.”
  625. Ignoring the pixy, Vivian continues, “A wide varieties of entities are attracted to the magic, but the ritual itself is so powerful – especially if every human in the area is doing it – that the magic begins to alter time itself. This tiny slut came here lured by the magic that we casted tomorrow.”
  627. “Casted?”
  629. “Tomorrow.”
  631. The ignored, tiny pixy clicks her tongue, “Fucking nerds.” And hop’s off Vivian’s hand, flying back into the tree with her prize.
  633. “So we’ve already done it… but not yet.”
  635. “There’s a reason the seasons festivities last anywhere from two weeks to a month. If you were to imagine a timeline, rather than a single tiny definitive dot on a single day, it’s one giant dot that spans days, weeks even.”
  637. “Well if that’s the case, why are we only seeing its effects now?’
  639. “Yule usually takes a lot of preparation. People prepare months before. I only decided we’d even hold a celebration a handful of days ago. The magic has had less time to smear.”
  641. “But that doesn’t make any sense. We’re still doing the celebration all the same, right?”
  643. “It doesn’t make sense to you because you don’t know how time works. It’s not concrete, not fated. The event of a bunch of humans celebrating Yule is fairly certain they begin preparing months before hand. They’d been doing it for millennia, not much is going to stop an entire population from celebrating.  Time isn’t really sentient but for the sake of this example, I’ll just say that time knows this and decides that the event is likely enough to be allowed to happen. And so it does, unless something drastically unexpected happens. And then the ritual happens in the future, decided months ago and the magic from that future ritual has more time to spread into the present.” She stops to search your eyes, “Are you following?”
  645. “No, but continue.”
  647. She sighs, “Whereas time didn’t know that we were going to celebrate. We hadn’t done it for centuries and weren’t going to do it this year. That much was certain until you came along and changed my mind. Suddenly, time had to change what was going to happen tomorrow and thus the magic of the ritual has had less time to smear. In fact, it’s how I know the Wild Hunt will come tomorrow along with a host of other spirits. Our particular celebration is a light that burns twice as bright and half as long. The magic is far more concentrated and wild, but it’s less likely that wishing for a good year will actually do anything. Too unstable. I’d wager it simply disperses into the area, feeding into celebrations which have had months of certainty to stabilize. In a sense, this is charity.”
  649. “Time didn’t know I was going to ask you?”
  651. “You didn’t know you were going to ask me, how could time?”
  653. “Hmm…”
  655. “Enough chatter, you won’t remember any of it anyway. I’d rather not be out here all night, so let’s get this tree decorated.”
  657. You nod. “It’ll be an impressive sight once we’re done.”
  659. The way back down is a little precarious but thankfully the stairs are wide enough for two people to comfortably pass shoulder to shoulder. Two glowing rune circles catch your eye and you watch as Reisa conjures two floating, magical hands – the same she uses for all her delicate work. She reaches in and grabs a long rope of tinsel before jumping into the air and flying up towards the tree, the tinsel trailing behind and snagging on a branch.
  661. She swoops overhead up the staircase as more of the rope unravels and clings to the tree, until there’ no more rope left. Impressive that there was even enough to cover to the tip of the tree. You jump a little, as Chanrao appears next to you and hangs a little chibi ninja off a branch. She catches you looking and bows lightly, “Merry Christmas, Gryam.”
  663. You bow in kind, “Merry Christmas, Chenrao.” She turns and steps off the stairs, plummeting to the ground and landing lightly before grabbing another ornament. That’s a kind of strength you wouldn’t mind having. You make your way down the stairs and meet up with Clara.
  665. “What took you so long to hang that candy cane?”
  667. “Stopped to chat with Vivian. Ah,” you watch her pick up a candy cane of her own, “Careful with that.”
  669. “What? Why?”
  671. “Pixy stole mine.”
  673. She raise an eyebrow, “Pixies? Here?”
  675. “Something about magic.”
  677. “Huh…” She puts the candy back and picks another ornament. For your part, you search for something that might look to be iron. You find it, a figure of a vigilant metal paladin standing watch, holding onto a large shield with a sword belted to his hip. If there is no iron in this, the figure alone should discourage would be thieves.
  679. The two of you find a bare spot on the tree and hang your ornaments, doing this again and again until quite a chunk of time has passed you by and the tree glows in the fresh gloom of the evening. Bit by bit, the boxes emptied until all that was left was a single star. It was obvious to everyone there who the honour belonged to. The baby of the family, the cutest and most fawned over and – despite being the youngest – that was not Clara.
  681. Lily crouches down and picks up the star with two hands, a fait smile on her lips and her tail wagging softly, making her dress swish from side to side. It’s an oddly tranquil moment as everyone quietly watches her ascend the stairs.
  683. She approaches each step carefully with a solemn sense of duty –perhaps exaggerated or so you might think if you weren’t aware of the zombie’s sincerity.  Winding around the tree and climbing ever higher, she disappears behind it before reappearing once more, her tail wagging faster the higher she gets. Eventually, she reaches the top step, tail going full-ball and a wide smile on her lips.  With a cute stretch that has her standing on the tips of her toes, she places the star atop the tree.
  685. Slowly the star begins to pulse with light and a glow seems to be born from within the heart of the tree. It radiates outward until the whole thing is glowing, each individual ornament standing out against the branches. Lily turns and beams down at the people below her, proud of herself.
  687. “Beautiful. And it looks like the tree is finished too.” Vivian steps forward and begins to float up before stepping lightly down on the top stair next to Lily. The young teen reaches up to pat the Kiki’s head before turning back to everyone. “You may go about your business, though a meal has already been prepared. Don’t stay up too late though. Tomorrow will be the essence of chaotic. Good Night.”
  689. And with that she vanishes, taking the zom-bird with her. You spend another moment taking in the decorated tree and don’t really move until the group disperses, all the guards headed off towards the aforementioned food. You turn to Clara and pull her into a hug, “Let’s head back.”
  691. “Mmm,” she doesn’t say anything outside of that little noise, but snuggles in close and lets you lead her home.
  694. *   *   *   *
  696. You step out of the house with a coffee mug in hand and make your way to the Kitchen where Lily is no doubt already beginning to prepare for the night’s coming celebrations. She was an early sleeper and an early riser, a little late by human standards, but excessively early by undead standards who –if left to their own devices – will drift to a more nocturnal existence. Could be her instincts as a kikimora at war with her instincts as an undead.  
  698. You left Clara in bed to digest… breakfast. You’d already agreed to help with preparations so she knows where to find you. It’s as you walk to the mansion in the cool frosty air you feel something different about it. It seems… revitalizing. Easier to breathe. Easier to move. Probably magic. You stop, feeling eyes pierce you from behind, from the woods.
  700. You frown, turning just too late to get a good look at the vanishing silhouette. That… isn’t how a werewolf moves. “Chenrao? Come out.”
  702. “You require assistance?”
  704. You look at her, a little taken aback – and not by her sudden as usual appearance “What are you wearing?”
  706. She looks down at her own clothes, a sports bra that leaves her tight, solidly muscled midriff bare and a pair of tracksuit pants. Nowhere is her black suit, not can you find her hood and scarf. Her silky black hair is loose and hangs over her shoulders and spills down her back. Her talisman is nowhere to be found. “What I usually wear when I stretch in the mornings.”
  708. “Where is your talisman?”
  710. She shrugs, “I’ll put it on later, it’s only really useful for keeping me focused anyway. But I sense this isn’t why you called me.”
  712. “Ah, no sorry. Then…” you turn to the empty woods, “That wasn’t you staring at me?”
  714. “I know we have neither spoken nor met too many times Gryam, but I-” Her words are cut off by a sudden yawn, “I am a little insulted. If I was watching you, you wouldn’t know it.”  
  716. “Oh. Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. Then what…”
  718. “Ghosts. Fairies. Elves. Could be anything related to these. You already came across a pixy, didn’t you? Expect more as the day goes on.”
  720. “Oh.” You feel stupid for forgetting it and blame it on not enough coffee. “Alright then, sorry to interrupt you.”
  722. She offers a soft half-smile and vanishes before your eyes, leaving only her words to linger in her wake, “Don’t be. It’s nice to be called upon.”
  724. How does she even do that? You can buy the lich disappearing. You could buy it if it was some sort of racial trait but it all seems to be personal technique. Could she do that in life too?  Shaking your head clear of Idle thoughts, you continue on your way to the mansion’ kitchen. Hearing a drawn out “Heeeeeeelp” come from Lily inside. But there’s no urgency. In her voice you sense… exasperation. You increase your pace all the same – especially when you hear an unfamiliar muffled voice reply.
  726. “No way, cutting and peeling is the worst. Do you have any Idea how often I get roped into that kind of shit? ‘Oooh, you’re just a scout, take first watch, do the cooking. Do you think the Wild Hunt is a vacation?’ It is, technically.”
  728. “Annoooying.”
  730. “If you don’t leave Lily alone I’ll throw salt at you.”
  732. “Oh a human.” The owner of the muffled voice turns to you, a ghostly spectral elf bearing a mask in the shape of an intimidating skull. Her fringe hangs over it and the rest of her hair is tied in a ponytail, up and out of the way. A practical hairstyle to match her practical arms and armor, two short-swords strapped to her hip and a bow resting on the bench- a full suit of armor made from leather, chainmail and plate, various materials to make a cohesive outfit, all of it as spectral and ghostly as the elf herself.
  734. “Taaaken.”
  736. The elf sighs, “So he is.”
  738. You pick up a nearby salt shaker, “Who are you?”
  740. “An elf.”
  742. You fight the urge to roll your eyes, “I thought you were a kraken.”
  744. “Nope, just a humble elven scout.” You hold the shaker over her hand where it rests on the bench and give it a twist. She shifts her hand to the side and the salt falls harmlessly onto the bench, causing Lily to frown at you before sweeping it into the sink with her hand. “Salt won’t work human.”      
  746. You put the shaker down, “I’ve been beaten.”
  748. “It is the fate of all men, human. Sooner or later.” A peeler makes itself known, right under your nose and Lily wiggles it lightly, while tipping her head to a bag of potatoes. Sighing, you take the peeler and join her by the sink, contributing to the ever-growing mound of potato skins. “And another one bites the dust.”
  750. You hold the peeler out to her “Help.”
  752. The elf kicks her legs lightly as they dangle off the bench, “No way, cutting and peeling is the worst. Do you have any Idea how often I get roped into that kind of shit? ‘Oooh, you’re just a scout, take first watch, do the cooking.’ Do you think the Wild Hunt is a vacation?’ It is, technically.” She repeats herself down to the tone she used when Lily asked.
  754. You return to your duty, “My guess is if you complain like this, not very often.”
  756. “You’d be right.”
  758. “Make yourself useful and brew some coffee. Four cups.”
  760. “Geeze you’re as bad as that slavedriver.” She hops off the bench with a chain-laden metallic jingle and walks over to the modern coffee machine pressing buttons until there’s a grinding noise and a heating noise and the finally a beep before a pouring noise.
  762. “What slavedriver?”
  764. “The one who you’re going to tell you never saw me.”
  766. “I still don’t know who that is.”
  768. “Oh, you will.” She finishes with the coffee and puts all four cups down. The elf cradles hers and you take a sip from your own immediately but Lily is diligent enough to finish with her current potato before taking a drink. At this moment, Clara walks in, dressed in her festive Santa outfit that you made a mess of a few days ago.
  770. “Morning love. Feeling hungry?”
  772. She smiles, “A little. Got a coffee for me?” You hand her the fourth cup and she takes a sip, sighing from out of her nose. She turns her gaze to the Wild Rider cradling her own mug of coffee, “Who’s this?”
  774. “Scout for the Wild Hunt. She’s here to… What are you here to do?”
  776. “Usually? Reconnoitre. If we’re going to do a bit of fighting I’ll check out the area. Find any vantage points. If we’re going plundering I’ll see how many men are in the area and if they… taste any good. This place has been sucked dry by the way. That’s the problem with you undead, you’re all married and when you make communities, no matter how many men there are its couples as far as the eye can see.”
  778. Clara takes a knife and a chopping board and starts cutting the peeled potato. “Aren’t you undead?”
  780. “What? No I’m just dead. Anyway, I usually stay in the area and act as a bit of a beacon for the main force. Only I don’t need to fulfil that role this time so I’m just hind of hanging around and waiting for the food to be served.”
  782. “When will the main force get here?”
  784. “Oh, we’ll get sick of waiting and trickle in bit by bit. Our leader wants to arrive exactly after the ritual though.”
  786. Clara frowns, “So you’re just going to rock up whenever you feel like it, eat our food, drink our booze and leave whenever you feel like it?”
  788. “Yup. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, that’s the line we usually give. Unfortunately the Lich here… Jillian?
  790. “Vivian.”
  792. “Vivian is a bit of a powerhouse so our leader sent our supply unit out early to help prepare and we’ll bring out own booze. It’s our way of saying ‘please don’t trap any of our souls into your weird experiments.’”
  794.  Makes sense. You continue peeling under the vigil of the elf when a question pops into your mind.
  796. “What’s with the mask.”
  798. She shrugs, “It’s fun. Mysterious. Romantic. Always fun to rape a human boy with the mask on, then take it off after the third or so orgasm. You should see their faces.”
  800. “That it?”
  802. “No, it’s also practical. I mean, if you aren’t undead you are going to die one day and end up where all the spirits go. Now what if you ran into the elf who ransacked your pantry and raped your son?”
  804. “Wait, humans and elves go to the same place?”
  806. “Eeeeeeh, kind of. Let’s just say the chances aren’t nill. Hence, the mask.”
  808. “I’ve heard that you steal the souls of men as they sleep and bring them with you.”
  810. She tilts her head to the side, “I guess. In the same way you steal a slave by offering him freedom.”
  812. “Any of those men in your outfit?”
  814. “Nah, hunters retire once they score a husband. No need to carry on looking for something fun to do when the fun thing to do volunteers to go with you.”
  816. You let the conversation drop, thinking on her words and the possible redundancy of the afterlife if it doesn’t all just end. Reincarnation might be a thing, but if it’s unending existence on earth and unending existence in an afterlife, you might as well just continue living on earth. Right? Or is this just another symptom of your psyche slowly changing?
  818. A few hours pass in idle small talk and work. Potatoes get boiled through and ready to be roasted later. Various other dishes enter a preparation state and an apple pie goes into the oven to bake. The first of many. You’re about to start on another dish when the idling elf goes ramrod straight and if you could see her eyes through the skull mask you’re sure hers would be wide. She hops off the bench and grows evermore spectral.
  820. “Remember. I was never here.”
  822. Right as she disappears, portals open, frosty portals bearing a frigid wind and a large troupe of masked elven spectres spill into the kitchen, a particularly… thick one in an elegant set simple and practical elven dress and an apron barking orders in some ancient tongue. The elves instantly move about the kitchen with masterful grace like they lived in the place and knew it intimately and the matronly elf looks at the three of you sternly.
  824. “Have you happened across a… free-spirited scout?”
  826. “Uh, no miss.”
  828. “Hmph. Useless good for nothing…” She sighs, “At any rate, you and you,” she points to you and the ghoul, ‘Take a break.” She looks Lily up and down, “You’re good. You can stay. I see you’ve already started. That will make things easier.” She starts barking orders in elven again and the girls rush around to fulfil them, Lily seemingly falling into place but your ghoul and you feel very out of place.
  830. You look to her and grin, “Wanna go cuddle on that swing?”
  832. “Sure.”
  834. Together you head out into the garden, towards one of the gazebos with a view of the tree and the open yard. Hanging from a large beam in the ceiling is the swing you referred to, idling there un-used.
  836. Clara takes her seat first, resting with a leg tucked up and an arm hanging off the chair’s side. You join her after, lying down across the seat with your head in her lap. With gentle strokes, her fingers begin to run through your hair as the gentle breeze rocks the both of you and you feel your eyes growing heavy.
  838. Feeling so calm, so at peace, you feel your consciousness drift, for what feels like an hour. But then in that state, your sense of time isn’t the most trust worthy. Clara calls for you, rousing you and you open your eyes.
  840. “Gryam. Wake up honey, watch Aoife.” Before you is a large-ish group of militant, spectral elves and Aiofe, Skadi and Huldra. They form something of a ring and there’s a light tension between the two parties as they face off amidst light jeers. The dullahan steps into the ring with another elf, mirroring her actions both drawing weapons. You’d think something was wrong if not for the smiles on all their faces.
  842. She takes her bracelet off and the portal opens again. This time she draws her claymore from it fully, and enters a stance with the sword raised above her and the tip facing her opponent. The other elf pulls out a long elven knife, another one still sheathed at her back, easily within reach. It’s hard to feel tense and on the edge of your seat when you’re lying down in the lap of the woman you love, having your head patted. But you make the effort all the same, gasping as the duel is started and the elf flicks a knife out at Aoife with snake-like speed.
  844. With her claymore up and pointed down, all the dullahan has to do is change the position of her wrists to swing the blade in a large circle and though your eyes don’t see it, you hear the metallic chime as blade hits blade and the thrown knife is flicked away off into the grass.
  846. Immediately, the elf leaps forward, drawing her other knife and keeping both crossed before her in a guard, ready to intercept any blows and lash out with a slash. She moves with a fluid kind of grace and flicks her right arm out in a draw cut.
  848. It’s caught on the tip of Aoife’s claymore and she flicks the point of her sword up and behind her, knocking the slash wide. The elf makes a half-hearted attempt to punish the “opening” given with a cut from her other knife, but is more than prepared to dodge out of the way when the pommel comes flying towards her.
  850. The elf is less prepared when Aoife uses to momentum of her pommel strike to let the sword slip from her grasp while stepping backward to open some distance. She catches the blade with a sturdy grip and brings the hilt up sharply not unlike one would swing a bat at a low flying ball. The elf is forced to leap away from what has effectively turned into a warhammer but her speed is beaten as Aoife lunges forward after her in pursuit, reversing her grip but keeping one hand on her blade, moving the other to her hilt.
  852. The Dullahan executes a fine half-sworded thrust, stopping short of slicing deep into the elf’s lesser armoured inner thigh. Smugly, she flicks away the elf’s final slash, coming at her from her side and below and the match is called.
  854. “Why did the elf attack after she was already beaten?” You voice the query, not really expecting an actual answer.
  856. “I asked that question a while ago when I was watching the guards spar before. It’s to mimic a real fight. If your stuck opponent strikes back at you successfully a tie is called. I mean in a real fight it’s not like a cut artery will kill you instantly.”
  858. “Interesting.”
  860. Aoife helps the elf up and they both nod respectfully before returning to the circle and Skadi steps in, flicking out that bow of hers. The elf she goes up against this time is wielding a large sword, equal in length to Aoife’s claymore, but half handle and half sword, the blade curved and something closer akin to a backsword with a fatter head.
  862. The match starts and Skadi unleashes a rapid volley of arrows, half ethereal in nature as to not strike any bystanders. She stands her ground as the elf rushes in, blade whirling and deflecting and dodging arrows as they come, even despite the snow elf switching to unleashing two arrows and finally three as the warrior of the Wild Hunt closes in and takes a swing.
  864. The snow elf catches it on her bow and it slides down. She flicks it away from her fingers at the last moment and ducks under the punch the spectre throws, twisting and bringing her fist up in an uppercut, only enclosed within is an arrow. She stops –once more – just short of the other elf’s chin, the tip of the arrow pricking it.
  866. The match is called as the other elf isn’t in a position to strike back and the two fighters return to the ring, this time the werewolf stepping up. The fights continue and after the first two wins the ratio evens with a handful of losses. They fight and drink and laugh, switching from armed to unarmed combat even to an all in brawl at the end where, surprisingly, Galatea is the last standing.
  868. More and more spirits and elves begin to show up as the evening wears on and at one point one of the elves which raided the kitchen along with the big elven matron approaches with a platter of snacks and leaves it on a table by the gazebo.
  870. It’s mostly tea and cakes but there are a few steaming, juicy slices of ham on a plate. Predictably, Clara homes in on that first, begging you to feed it to her with your fingers. She licks and sucks on them, licking your digits clean of the ham’s juices and just as you begin to contemplate finding somewhere more private, Vivian pops in and starts casting.
  872. A thick purple smoke beings to spill out of her and the elves back away, plainly weary about the Lich. She continues regardless, until the smoke covers a large area of the open yard and reaches about a story in height. Then a powerful wind blows and the smoke clears, revealing a large open tent – more of a canopy – and a single long ‘U’ shaped table within.
  874. The table is placed on festively decorated rug and braziers float about offering light with fires that sparkle red and green.  In the middle is a large cauldron upon a pit of fire which will no doubt double to keep the place warm.
  876. A few of the elves whistle, surprised and impressed at the extent of the convenience of the Lich’s magic and more than a little awed. With a smirk, the little teen casts yet another spell, the kind that makes your heart clench and pound as you feel your spirit begin to squirm. The elves have similar looks on their faces, but Vivian isn’t calling to any one currently present.
  878. She calls to her side phantoms of the long dead, spirits which slowly emerge out of a thick mist seemingly forming out of nothing. Five figures gather, bewildered and lost. They look around and between one another before drifting over to a corner of the tent and conjuring instruments. People watch, enthralled as they begin to play and the area which was previously filled with the sounds of metal on metal and light chatter fills with a light and festive tune.
  880. Yet no one moves to go from their play-fights to sitting down and drinking until the elven maidens in the kitchen begin to bring out plate after plate of food and lay them neatly along the table. Then, almost immediately, the sparring stops and the joviality and the drinking makes its way to the tables under the canopy.
  882. You feel half torn, wanting to join and wanting to remain in this place of supreme comfort, but as Clara begins to squirm as she watches the snacks and entrées begin to line the tables, you stop idling and sit up.
  884. “Ah, sorry. Do you want to stay like this a little longer or…” You smile and wave off her consideration,
  886. “Lets go get some food.”
  888. Vivian takes her seat at the very head of the table on the outermost side. Her chair is the grandest, beautifully carved and inlaid with patterns of silver. All the other chairs are similarly impressive but none meet the grandeur of Vivian’s – none – especially not the one to her left. It’s a literal milk-crate. She leans back in her seat imperiously, overseeing the Elves and members of her guard as they find places to sit and make good use of the bottles of wine and mead laid out across the tables.  
  890. “Impressive.”
  892. She turns as you approach, “Isn’t it?” Her eyes flick to your chest, staring directly at the magic gem where is lay beneath your shirt. You catch her gaze and look to her imploringly. She just smirks and turns to look at Clara. Stares, really – with her expressionless gaze.
  894. The Ghoul fidgets “W-what is it?”
  896. “I can’t decide if I want you at my right or Lily.” She looks for a bit longer and nods to herself. “I’ve decided. Sit, I haven’t spoiled you nearly enough lately.”
  898. You sit to the right of Clara. “That’s what you got me for, right?”
  900. “If you think you’re usurp my role, Gryam you have another thing coming.”
  902. You grin and pour yourself, Clara and Vivian a drink. “I dunno, I’ve been doing a good job of spoiling her so far.”
  904. She looks pointedly to your chest and smirks, “I-”
  906. “That’s an interesting chair to your left,” You cut her off before she can say what it was she was going to say, “Who’s it for?”
  908. She looks at you levelly, and lets out a soft ‘hmph’ “It’s for the elven tramp.” The nearest elf-ess of the Wild Hunt’s ears perk up and she turns.
  910. “Which one of us?”
  912. Vivian rolls her eyes, “It belongs to Herla.”
  914. You tilt your head, “Herla?”
  916. “Queen of the Elven tramps.”
  918. “When’s she getting here?”
  920. “Knowing her, after the ritual.” You take another drink and slide your chair up against Clara’s, resting your head against the ghoul’s shoulder. She tips her head against yours and the two of you sit there together as she chats to Vivian. A thought passes you by, as you let the wine settle and the music wash over you. If the days are filled with moment like this, you feel like you could come to understand the undead mindset when it comes to notions of time. You could and have over the past few months, spent hours content to simply exist by her side, doing little else until your hands begin to stray over her body of their own accord.
  922. You open your eyes wide as a wave of power leaves you from your chest and clears your mind of all thoughts, wiping the emotion clear like it was never there. Though, nothing rooted that deep into the core of your being could ever be torn out and the contentedness begins to well up once more. Still. It’s disconcerting all the same. Thankfully you’re already seated or you might have lost balance. Clara stiffens, sensing a change. “Honey, are you okay?”
  924. “Yeah I…” You can tell – can feel – the magic gem hanging off your neck has changed somehow, “I drifted off for a moment.”
  926. “Do you want some coffee?”
  928. “No, I’ll be fine.” You sit up, “Jut feeling a little…” Vivian reaches across Clara and puts a hand on your arm. You look at it in confusion until a bolt of lightning seems to tear through you, energizing you with an almost hyper-awareness and making you jolt upright. Your mind feels sharper than ever and you feel so sensitive that even through your shirt, you imagine you can make out each individual groove of her fingerprint.
  930. “Better?”
  932. “Uh… yeah. Much.”
  934. “Eat some food, It’s only temporary. You’ll want something in your belly to burn up once it wears off.”
  936. Clara pins a slice of turkey with her fork and holds it up for you, “Here. Aahn~”
  938. You mimic her noise and open wide, letting her push the succulent poultry past your lips. “So,” You take a sip of mulled wine to wash down the meat, “When’s this ceremony starting?”
  940. “Soon as Caius arrives with the boar. Should be right about… now-ish.”
  942. The man in question arrives right as she says it, his wife in tow along with a hulking, demonic looking boar. A very placid looking boar which waits patiently without moving an inch until Caius leads it somewhere. Its eyes are hazy, as if in a trance.
  944. Seeing this, Vivian stands and holds a hand out, palm down, slowly lowering it. The surrounding din grows quieter and quieter, though it’s not that people have stopped talking. “Aright every one, it’s time to begin. If you’ve an oath, approach the boar in an orderly fashion. If not, wait patiently.”
  946. She withdraws her hand and the din snaps back into place as loud as it was before. Almost all the elves of the Wild Hunt present rise and head over to where the boar waits patiently, placing their hands upon the beast’s bristles and vowing to do their best to get a husband the next year.
  948. You watch them approach one by one but after the tenth elf it grows obvious they’re all vowing for the same thing. Even some of the guards do it, though Skadi refrains. Clara turns to you, “You don’t want to say anything?”
  950. You shrug, “I can’t think of anything worthwhile I haven’t already promised you. How about you?”
  952. “Nah, me neither.” The last elf makes her way to the boar’s bristles and makes her oath before returning to her seat. Vivian nods to Caius and he leaves, leading the animal to the elves in the kitchen. In the beast’s absence, everything returns to the way it was just minutes prior as if the entire event was just your imagination. Ana doesn’t follow him, choosing instead to take her seat at the table, two chairs to the left of Vivian avoiding the especially reserved milk crate.
  954. You can only be sure that the whole thing happened because after half an hour of drinking and chatting, a congregation of the kitchen elves approaches the bonfire, each one holding a huge, deep pot.
  956. One by one they tip the contents into the cauldron. You watch as the bits of food and stock pile in, sometimes cooked, sometimes completely raw, some-times partially cooked and just waiting to be boiled for half an hour. After the vegetables and water go into the giant cauldron finally comes the pots full of freshly cut and bled chunks of boar meat, lightly fried on the outside and partially cooked in the middle. A fire is lit beneath and steam rises as the metal heats up unnaturally fast.
  958. Caius trails behind, holding a large wooden bowl full of blood. He separates from the congregation and hands the bowl to Vivian, who stands to receive it. This time every one quietens naturally as the young-looking teen rises and begins to walk around the tables to reach the inside. Caius takes his seat by his wife and smiles nostalgically as he watches the lich dip her fingers into the bowl of blood and flick it on the ground and the backs of seats and upon the sconces and the legs of the canopy.
  960. She reaches the inside of the long table and flicks a sprinkling of blood on the cauldron too. It hisses angrily. Then, she starts sprinkling blood upon the people seated, not missing a single one.
  962. “It’s been a long while since I’ve done this.” She speaks as she passes by each individual person, nodding in thanks for their participation and dashing them with droplets of dark crimson. “My family has grown quite a bit since the last.” She reaches you and Clara and offers an uncharacteristically warm smile, “And it is because of my family that I am even here.” The smell of copper gets under your nose as a droplet smacks upon your upper lip, “And it is them that I honour with this night of celebration.”
  964. She finishes with the last participant and conjures up a wooden bowl and a large ladle. She dips the spoon into the broth and begins serving the bowls to every one there. “My thanks go out to them, and to the people who gathered here tonight to celebrate together with my family.” She serves the last and dishes up her own bowl before holding it out and up.
  966. “To all of you gathered here in my home, I thank you. For a good year, and peace.”
  968. As she finishes her words, the elves raise their bowls in unison, “Til árs ok friðar!” And with that last cheer, all the magically lit braziers flare, the dense flow of magic contracts and expands across the estate, spilling into the surrounding land and the glowing tree intensifies.
  970. But that isn’t the end. Rifts tear open all around the gathering and a frigid wind blows through them, making the braziers flutter and the flames under the cauldron spit.
  972. A tall, beautiful and extraordinarily buxom elf steps through one of these rifts, her hair as white as snow and her eyes a piercing blue. A veritable army steps through after her, all masked warriors of the Hunt and amongst them, the tall elf – dressed in little more than a sheerly cut dress – is alone in not hiding her face.
  974. The expression upon her cold, statuesque visage is one of utmost smugness. “Til árs ok friðar, Vivian.”
  976. A chill descends over the pavilion and the grass frosts over as her delicate and bare elven feet touch the soft blades. They stand before one another, the elf looking down on the young teen with a smug surety. Subtly, she shifts her posture to emphasize the size of her bust and the width of her hips.
  978. “Erlking Herla Cyning…” She looks the buxom beauty up and down, “You’ve grown.”
  980. Herla’s lips curl in a sneer, “And you haven’t.”
  982. Vivian breaks her blank expression to raise an eyebrow. “Who exactly,” She waves her hand and the image of the elf shimmers before breaking apart, “Is this display supposed to impress?” A newer, truer form of the Erlking now confronts the lich, on equal grounds, just as young and just as flat.
  984. She doesn’t answer the question and instead looks around, eyeing the decorations, her girls and the other guests. Her gaze meets yours briefly before passing over and you can tell in her eyes she’s enjoying being here. “I didn’t think you’d have the courage, Vivian. I misjudged you. You’re more foolish than I thought.”
  986. “So says the rabbit in the snare.” The elf’s ears twitch at this.
  988. “You think I’m the one trapped here?” She holds a hand out, palm facing up and a tiny rift opens above it. A small pack of cards falls through and lands firmly in her hand. “I’m intrigued.”
  990. The lich puts the wooden bowl she was holding down on a nearby table and conjures her own. “Erlking Herla Cyning, I challenge you.”
  992. The elf fights back a smile and with a twinkle in her eyes solemnly nods, “Garrive, is it? I accept.”
  994. You watch as the pair make their way over to the table and take a seat. The elf takes one look at the crate before turning it into a throne to match Vivian’s, if a little bigger. They clear a spot of the table and face one another, laying the first card down.
  996. You – and many others – turn your attentions from the warring leaders and towards the array of foods before you. Sitting chiefly in the centre and commanding your attention is the bowl of soup. A rich dark brown, filled with vegetables and meat. Simple enough, but something about it feels different. Feels… Important. All around you people forgo the cutlery neatly laid before them and take the wooden vessel with their hands, lifting it to their lips and drinking. Some of the elves put asides their mask for this moment; some of their masks are cut as to allow access to the mouth.
  998. You and Clara follow suit, drinking from the rustic bowl, pausing only to swallow or chew a chunk of meat before finally putting the bowl back down on the table. All around you people resume dining with proper cutlery and etiquette, some even despite serving themselves more of the exact same soup – which the elven maidens had worked to split between smaller vessels lined along the tables – it must have been a ceremonial thing.  
  1000. Others yet choose from the wide range of foods presented to them. Clara – predictably – digs into the nearest leg of ham and carves off a hefty chunk. For your own part you serve yourself half another bowl of the soup before moving on, this time eating it with bread.
  1002. The night progresses; carried along upon the light tunes of music offered by the conjured spirits. As if your partner’s rapaciousness had rubbed off on you during your time together, you focus wholly on the food before you, stopping only to heed or give advice on what tastes good with what.
  1004. From succulent poultry to sweet hams, crispy roast potato with a crunch that shatters between your teeth and gives way to a cloud-like softness. Sweet pumpkin that melts luxuriously and a rich mulled wine to wash it down with. You finish with a crusty baked apple pie with syrup and cream and cleanse your palate with more wine.
  1006. Closing your eyes and breathing a deep sigh, you lean back in your chair and let the alcohol settle, feeling the music and the din of happy chatter wash over you. Despite clearing your plate five times over, you feel no discomfort. Indeed, all this food will only lend to your hunger and vigour, but those are things to sate later in the night.
  1008. You open your eyes after a spell and reach over to one of the teapots on the table, watching Clara as you do. She sighs, much like you did and pushes her plate away. “Tea?”
  1010. “Mm,”
  1012. “Did you enjoy it?”
  1014. She smiles lightly, “Your cooking tastes better, but it’s nice to eat stuff like this once in a while. Especially when you don’t have to spend all day preparing it.”
  1016. A small smile tugs at your lips as you pour, “Yeah that is a plus.” The steam rises carrying on it the infused scent of tea leaves, muted once you pour in the milk and the rich black swirls into a light cream.
  1018. Just as the two of you sit back, cradling your cups and leaning upon one another, an elf approaches in one of the half-cut masks. Her lips are strikingly glossy, pale blue, soft and feminine looking contrasted to the sneering metal skull on the upper half of her face.
  1020. “Hey lovers.” You look at her, a little uncomprehendingly. “Oh, ‘course. Different mask. We met in the kitchen, thanks for not giving me up.”
  1022. “Oh, no problem. Your sisters are good cooks.”
  1024. “Oh you bet. Why do you think we bring them along on our hunts?”
  1026. “Can’t go without the luxuries of a good meal while pillaging?”
  1028. She sits sideways on the edge of the table, “’Course not. Plenty of noble ladies here. Who could go without the luxuries of a good meal?”
  1030. “Well how does this one rank?”
  1032. “Far as this one ranks, there are many things to take into consideration. Food. How much you had to do to prepare it. Atmosphere. Company.  This? This ranks pretty well.” She pours herself a cup of tea and takes a sip. “I’ve never seen the Matron not kick some one out of her kitchen. That’s a good kikimora.”
  1034. “So do you guys ever actually fight?”
  1036. “Depends on the Erlking and the era. Some of our leaders haven’t been shy about leaving trails of blood.”
  1038. “And you’re current one?”
  1040. “Under Herla we’re the most warlike we’ve ever been I hear. Then again all our weapons are made from non-lethal alloys. So that’s balanced it out, I think.”
  1042. The three of you chat for a few hours, accepting refills as they come and occasionally pecking at the left-overs littering the length of the large table. Your conversation exists as an isolated island of three amidst a sea of noise, punctuated by a changing song, a peel of laughter from somewhere, or a muttered curse as Vivian gains ground on Herla in their contest of cards.
  1044. As isolated from the world as the gathering of spectres and undead is, as easily as you can forget that a world even exists outside of the tent time marches onward inexorably. The food within you digests and you feel a virility bubbling its way to the surface, not helped in the least by Clara’s growing friskiness.
  1046. She’ll steal quick kisses and licks every now and then, almost as if to hide the hand now on your leg inching higher and higher. Thankfully by now the meal was mostly concluded and leaving for home wouldn’t be looked upon as too unusual. You catch her hand just as it moves to inch a little higher.
  1048. “Hey. We should head home.”
  1050. “Good idea. I’ve got a present for you too. Might as well give it to you while it’s still technically Christmas day.”
  1052. You smile, “Do you now? I can’t wait.” You turn to the elf, “It’s been a pleasure, miss…”
  1054. Her eyes are hidden but her lips curl into a knowing smile, “Elf will do. Nice chatting to you, Lovers. Run along now.” She slides off the edge of the table and makes her way back to a raucous group of elves, leaving the two of you alone.
  1056. As if her patience was born out of politeness alone, the ghoul slips into your lap, straddling you and pulling you into a deep kiss. Your own hands gravitate to her hips and you still her rocking pelvis before reaching lower and grabbing two handfuls of her tight rear.
  1058. With a grunt of effort you stand up, pushing the chair aside and stepping back from the table. She breaks the kiss to giggle and switches to nibbling at your ears instead. As you walk away, your back is met with whistles, cheers and encouragements and more than a few wistful sighs.
  1060. Unheeding of it all, you carry her home, her legs wrapping about your hips tightly. She’s impatient, insatiable, kissing and licking and biting and getting you so drunk on her saliva your hardening cock swells painfully under the dual confines of both your underwear and a dense layer of denim.
  1062. You carry her all the way up to the threshold and press her up against the door as you fiddle with the knob one handedly. You hear a latch free and all but kick the slab of wood open, turning to pin Clara to the wall on the inside of the entrance while nudging it shut again.
  1064. Cloth rustles hastily, bits of metal jangle as belts are removed, buttons are popped and zippers undone. Amidst it all Clara lavishes you with affection, kisses, nips and licks, causing you to fumble distractedly more than once.  By the time the latch catches once more, you’d managed to free your swelling prick and your hands are back to half-carrying half-groping her bouncy behind. Though truthfully, her thighs alone are powerful enough to keep her held up, pinned between you and the wall.
  1066. She tips her head back up against the flat surface and bites her bottom lip, sighing as your fingers knead her flesh, messing her hair up and causing the Santa hat to fall to the floor completely ignored. You run a hand up her stocking clad thigh and push her dress up around her hips before shifting back and pressing your throbbing length against her underwear, already soaked with her needy arousal. She smells so strongly of sheer lust that you can almost feel it rolling off her and clouding your mind in a hazy light pink.
  1068. She gives a gasp as your searing shaft pushes against her cool skin, thighs tightening so hard and quick in their instinctive reaction to bury the warm, thick tool deep as possible that you’re all but thrust up against her bodily. A hand makes its way to the side of your head and she gives your cheek a marking lick before resting her own against it, breathing roughly.
  1070. You cock presses tightly up against her stomach and panties, the leaky head staining the inside of her dress with pre-cum. She starts to shake her hips against you, coarse breathing turning to desperate pants. Reaching down, you peel her wet undergarment to aside before pressing the crown of your length against her sopping entrance.
  1072. “D-Don’t tease. Put it in.”
  1074. Grinning at the need in her voice and the little writhing wiggles she does against you, as if rubbing her body against yours like an offering would spur you to action any faster – it does - you run your hands up her body, feeling the textured velvet of the tight form-fitting dress glide beneath your fingers. She raises her arms as you reach her armpits and you follow the smooth curve all the way up her under-arm, past her elbow and over her wrists until your fingers entwine with hers, and you hold them there, pinned against the wall up above.  
  1076. You squeeze her hand as you push in and she tightens back, quivering as you finally push her lips apart and the tip of your manhood scrapes against her soft inner walls as it fills her passage up with thick cock – precisely what she’d been yearning for. The passage is easy, her tunnel long being moulded to the shape of your cock and fitting like a tight glove. There’d have been resistance were she any less horny, but that generally doesn’t happen.
  1078. With your hips colliding wetly, flooding the entrance with the sounds of familiar and sweet lovemaking and flooding her entrance with hot girthy meat and spurts of precum, your lust only firms, indulging in her cool, gripping insides.  She gasps and cries, a mixed sound that turns into a sweet mewl as you line kisses up her neck, from her cutely delicate clavicle to the ridge of her jaw.  You pull out halfway, feeling the air lick at your pussy-slicked cock before plunging back in and earning another cry along with an enticing jiggle of her bust.
  1080. Untwining your fingers from her grip, you slide your hands down her arms and grab the bust of her dress. The heel of your palms press into her sensitive breasts, as your fingers disappear in the fluffy woollen lining before pulling it down to free her soft knead-able orbs. You only spare a handful of seconds to watch them jiggle and bounce before you bury your face into her bosom and hold her tightly as you hammer into her constricting cunt from below.
  1082. Her arms drape about your shoulders and her fingers slip through strands of your hair as she hugs your head to her and rests her cheek atop your crown. Her thighs flex, pushing you through her depths down to the base where your tip presses against her womb. With a grip like iron, she doesn’t let you back out either, her wringing walls caressing and sucking at your cock as it milks the first load of many. Your loins burn, balls churn and your shaft throbs as you work rope after rope of hot seed down your length and send it spurting into her womanhood smearing it white.
  1084. With shaky breaths, the two of you remain still, asides from an odd small thrusting of your hips as ecstasy slams into you, the pent up broiling brought upon you by hours of patience at the dinner table now reduced to a dull simmer. Your legs grow weak and you’ve just enough strength spared to lower yourself carefully, sliding her back down the wall until you come to a kneel and her legs uncross, the balls of her feet coming to rest on the floor.
  1086. With that leverage, she swivels her hips a little, walls grinding around your still-hard shaft. You groan and seek to distract her with a kiss, taking your face out of her chest and drawing your lips to hers. She meets your affection deeply, devoting her attentions to a sticky sweet lashing of tongues, her own coiling around yours and spreading her ghoulish hunger throughout your mind.
  1088. She breaks the kiss eventually though and rises off your cock with all the tight reluctance you’d expect. You watch as her pussy grips you, unwilling to let its prize go, leaking streams of gooey seed as she rises until your cock comes free with a pop, still mostly rigid if a little flagging.
  1090. She looks at the pole with unabashed hunger in her eyes, “Come up to the bedroom when I call. I’ve got to get your present ready.” You watch as she walks away, stiffening again to full hardness at the sight of her round ass jiggling and the white stream leaking down her thigh.
  1092. Left alone with your erect manhood, you look down at its cum and pussy-juice slicked length. This ‘present’ must mean a lot to her, because ordinarily there’s no way she wouldn’t have sucked it clean. You rise to your feet and head for the nearest tissue box. They were scattered about the house at random, she’d had a cold not too recently.  You still have some left-over chicken noodle soup in the fridge.
  1094. Cock clean, you stuff it back in your pants – for now – and head to a nearby mirror. The metal clinks softly as you lift the necklace out from under your shirt and look at it. It had changed shape as you suspected.
  1096. The plain, if a little boring gemstone had changed into a deep and lustrous purple, the same shade of her eyes, its shape twisted into a multifaceted heart which seems to suck in the light and amplify it. Yeesh, that’s a little embarrassing. All that’s left is for her to put it on and the chain can start soaking up some of her essence, turning it into a symbol of your union.
  1098. “Gryam. I-I’m ready.” You jump a little as you hear her voice filter down the stairs, almost panicked by the prospect of having the surprise spoiled. Would she even like it? You take a deep breath and clench your fist, as if the action alone will steel your nerves. Of course she will.
  1100. You ascent the stairs, anticipation and nervousness dripping off you like anchors. You reach your bedroom and open the slightly ajar door to find Clara sitting demurely on the bed, her hands bunched into fists atop her knees and a blush so heavy you fret for a moment that her cold had returned.
  1102. Her long silvery hair hangs down around her shoulders and slightly obscured her face, though you can make out her nervous gaze, “Sorry that took so long, I tried a dozen different poses. It’s… bold isn’t it?”
  1104. You finally draw your eyes to what she’s wearing. From toe to upper thigh, finger to upper arm, she’s clad in a thin lacy red with various patterns sewn into the stockings and gloves, skin showing through where there isn’t. In place of any kind of bra though, is an under-bust corset of the same red, woven out of the same Arachne silk and lace. Two straps reach down from the bottom of the corset and ensure her stockings remain at the absolute territory. A detail you love.  
  1106. Blushing harder now and looking down and off to the side she slowly spreads her legs, drawing your attention to the panties she’s wearing. Panties - so long as the revealing slit down the middle doesn’t disqualify them from being called as such. You can see why she’s reacting so shyly, heating up around the collar a bit yourself. Even if you’d seen each other naked countless times this seems to add a whole other level of lewdness to it.
  1108. You step up to her and reach a hand out, encouraging her to stand. When she puts her gloved hand in yours, you can feel the silk is of an amazing quality. “What do you think? Is it… too much?” With a smile, you pull her into a hug, her breasts pressing up against your chest, separated by only a layer of shirt.
  1110. A small laugh makes its way past your lips, “Is this your way of telling me you want kids?” she responds to your joke how you wanted to, laughing lightly and loosening up. “Maybe.” Her tone is seductive, inviting. Her hands start to roam around your body, fingers hooking into the waist band of your pants and dropping them.
  1112. As she grows looser and more comfortable though, you do the exact opposite. She pauses as she’s about to lift your shirt, your pants already around your ankles. “Honey? What’s wrong? You’re all tense. Should I stop?”
  1114. You shake your head, “No, continue. Please.”
  1116. She frowns, taking your odd behaviour into account and lifts your shirt up. You take a shaky breath and study her face closely as she disrobes you, going from confused to stunned. The shirt drops and she hasn’t said a word, eyes locked on the necklace hanging on your chest. After a long moment, she looks up.
  1118. “Gryam?”
  1120. “I got this. For you, I mean uh… Merry Christmas.” Her face remains blank but you see her eyes waver as she looks into yours. “Is it… no good?”
  1122. The tension, self-consciousness and doubt melts away as her eyes fill and a big fat tear rolls down her cheek, “And to think all I got you were these shitty clothes for me to wear I-” Faster than you can react, she pulls you into a kiss that feels more like a head-butt. A tooth cuts into the inside of your lip and your mouth fills with the taste of her saliva and blood. A hand snakes around and up to the back of your head, holding you in place and another around your chest.
  1124. You pull her thin and lithe form into a tight hug that has her breasts pressed flat to your bare chest. Holding the love of life while she sheds such raw emotion has you rock solid and with a little wiggle of her hips, she’s trapped your length between her milky smooth thighs, pressed up against her clothed but bare pussy. She’s dripping wet.      
  1126. You let her go, without breaking the kiss and reach around to the back of your neck, finding the clasp and working the tiny strip of metal with your finger, undoing the necklace and redoing it about her neck, eliciting a shudder from her and an increased wetness around your thickness between her legs as your essence sinks into her via the magically augmented gem. You slip your hands under her hair once it’s secured and pull it out from under the necklace to hang over the chain.
  1128. She finally breaks the kiss, wiping up a bit of spit-mixed blood off your lip. “Sorry.”
  1130. “It’s fine.”
  1132. She looks down, “It’s you…” She touches it, strokes it reverently, “I mean don’t get me wrong I prefer the man in the flesh but its… you. It’s beautiful.”
  1134. “I’m glad; I was worried you wouldn’t like it. It’s half done, my essence is in the gem, all that’s left is for yours to shape the chain and it’ll be complete.  It’s just this dumb idea I had after reading something.”
  1136. “It’s not dumb.” She gives you another peck on the lips, “It’s sweet.” With that, she steps back from you and sits down on the bed, propping herself up with an arm and holding the other out to you to join her, spreading her legs.  Wetter than a faucet. “Come. Soon as I put it on I could practically feel myself ovulating. I need you. Need you in me, filling me.” You follow after her, the mattress giving way under your knees as you crawl.
  1138. She lowers herself as you do, until she’s lying flat under you. Her legs cross behind your hips and you get the feeling that not even the world ending could get her to let you go. She smiles beautifully and pulls you down for a kiss, “I’m a little scared.”
  1140. “Why?”
  1142. She looks into your eyes, her own nearly pulsating with love, “I’m so happy and warm I feel like I could just met away and I wouldn’t even mind. I’ve never felt like that. It’s scary, isn’t it?”
  1144. “That’s a worry. If you melted you wouldn’t be able to see the necklace once it’s finished.”
  1146. She grins as she reaches down between your bodies and her fingers lightly brush the tip of your cock before she takes a hold of your shaft and angles it towards her lips. “That would be a worry.” You push in, revelling in the sensations of her soft, cool depths parting around your girth. She bites down on a finger and the faintly muscular outlines of her lower abdomen bunch and twist as her body reacts to the thick invader.  
  1148. Her breasts bounce with every hip shaking thrust and your hands move, utterly devoid of any conscious input. Before you realise it, your fingers are stroking up the silk corset towards her soft mounds, peaked by a deliciously pink nipple each.
  1150. She moans sweetly as your fingers sink in and pushes her chest up against your hands. Grinning at her blatant pleasure, you lean down to steal another quick kiss before sitting up and moving both hands to her wide hips, grabbing and lifting them for better a better angle to fuck at.
  1152. She giggles as she finds herself partially raised and her breasts bounce back toward her. Her long silver hair is strewn about the sheets, made that much messier by the new position. She doesn’t even bother to move the tresses which have fallen over her face, simply gazing at you through the silky curtains, her hair unable to block or diminish the look of smouldering love.
  1154. You’re happy to hammer into her like this until climax, but she has other ideas. With a cock-crushing demonstration of her core strength she sits up using her abs alone, coming slightly above eye level with you and smirking. She works to set the pace with her rocking hips, legs still locked round your waist. You’re forced to adapt to shallow upward thrusts instead. Still, if that’s the way she wants it, you take your hands from her hips and slide around to cup her cheeks once more, lifting her ass up as she bounces and slamming it home when she falls.
  1156. Clara leans in for a kiss, ever looking for something to do with her mouth. You greet her oral fixations willingly and toy with her tongue even as you feel your climax surging to the precipice. By her discordant, shaking hips and the twitching writhing of her pussy you’d wager she wasn’t far off either.
  1158. Finally unhooking her legs from around your hips, she goes from swivelling her pelvis to bouncing for the final stretch, each time she brings her ass down on your thighs eliciting a meaty smack, the impact causing her to squirt her juices over the bed-sheets. You grope and knead her rear as it bounces, breaking the kiss to lick and bite at her shoulders and neck, doing all you can to usher her over the brink alongside you.
  1160. She reaches it first, crying your name out loud and slamming down one last time and cumming, cunt constricting crushingly tight around your shaft, starting a chain reaction that sparks your own climax. With a bitten back grunt, your cock practically bursts with a thick stream of seed, pumping it right into her womb.
  1162. Your balls twitch and clench as it works to pack load after load of thick cum into the ghoul, as if to make good on your promise to impregnate her. Your mind blazes a cleansing white as you close your eyes and make small thrusts up into her, even as she slumps over you, twitching in the aftershocks of her orgasm.
  1164. Feeling exhausted yourself, her dead weight is a little too much to bear. You allow yourself to fall back, hugging the woman, even as your dick spurts another glob of cum into her passage, rounding her belly to give it a sight bump. She sighs blissfully and nuzzles against your cheek as the warmth settles in her belly.
  1166. “Mmmm, I’ll never get tired of this feeling.”
  1168. You wrap your arm around her and give her a light peck on the cheek, “That’s good because I’ll never tire of giving it to you. Merry Christmas Clara.”
  1170. “Merry Christmas Gryam.”
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