Canker Sore Part II: The Nutcracker's Sweets

The big blue bully had run off, and we were left in the lurch. After some patching up, we resolved to go investigate these sugar mines we had heard tell of, and see if we could find out anything more about this cinnamon stone and the whereabouts of the captive Peregrine.

We followed the sounds of misery and smell of sugar until we came to the entrance of the mines. No one was expecting visitors, apparently, so we waltzed, or in Buckles’ case, rode right in. Something about that horse and him. I’d say they are glued at the hip, if it didn’t seem so unsettlingly possible.

The mineshaft was empty, not a creature was stirring in those upper passages. Coming to a fork, I caught a faint whiff of cinnamon from the upper tunnel, and we set off to find the source.

At length we came to a ledge overlooking a large chamber, masses of enslaved elves swarming over sticky, sparkling walls. And there, suspended in the middle like an engorged heart turned chandelier, was the Cinnamon Stone. Our path was clear. Emrys flew down to investigate, and found the stone too heavy for his talons. Undeterred our rogue and wizard conspired briefly, and Mersh stepped off the railing to float, invisible and spider-like, on a gossamer thread of Tibles’ magic to nick the eldritch gem.

The gambit was not likely to remain hitchless for long however. Giant nut-cracker guards stationed in the chamber below were beginning to stir. That was our cue, and we booked it out of there as quickly as stealth would allow. At the entrance to the mine, we were brought up short by a pair of bickering ice trolls. Fortunately Mersh had a few more tricks up his sleeve. Handing me the stone, he slipped away to distract the brutes long enough for us to slip past undetected.

At last, we assembled in the village again. Tibles and I began to examine the Cinnamon stone, while the others searched for more information on this place, and possibly some snacks. No matter what we tried however, the stone remained untouched, impassive. We did deduce however, that the Cinnamon stone serves as a sort of surveillance device for Krampus. Surveillance. I had it in my blouse! That sick, perverted demon goat bastard was going to get it. No one peeps inside Moira Magee’s blouse. Without me say-so, that is.
Well, we had learned quite enough about that smelly artifact for now, and we convened to share what we had learned. Krampus holds his prisoner’s in his palace-factory, so that was our next target. While we stood a-chatting however, the locals had tracked us down. Evidently the big boss didn’t take too kindly to us nicking the nutcracker’s sweet.

We squared off to see teams of candy-toothed elves elves and large wind up children’s toys advancing towards our position along every frosted gingerbread avenue. Tibles pondered this latest turn of events, and seemed to come to a decision, or suffer some sort of mental break. I’m not sure which. He muttered something about “losing his ability to even” – I didn't catch the end – and walked calmly away from the battlefield. We did not see him until after the last mote of sugar dust had cleared.

The rest of us mutely shouldered the burden of Tibles’ absence – the wizard could undeniably use a little time away. Scrambling to the top of a gingerbread shanty, I began to sing of courage to my allies, but my music was not to the elves’ taste, and I was soon brought low by their weighted nets. It was up to the three others now. Muscle against marzipan, sweat against sugar.

Albion, Buckles and Mersh swung their weapons with abandon, shredding gaily-coloured limbs left and right. However, the real hero of the hour was Volkin. His ravenous bite and lashing hooves tore into our assailants, and ere long we stood (or sprawled) panting amidst the wreckage, which resembled a slightly bloodier version of a living room on Solstice afternoon.

The wind-up terrors defeated, a slightly less fed-up Tibles returned to us. He reminded us that time was wearing on; we had many more sordid secrets to uncover before the day was out. Despite our exhaustion we couldn't afford any more of this dithering – the towering fortress of Krampus awaited.

-Moira Magee

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