Winter Festivals

A typical "Christmas" celebration amongst the Nioneska, a northern tribe of magic users seen through the eyes of a member returning home for the festival and experiencing the more supernatural aspect of their way of life and be with family again.
A winner of the Advent Calender writing competition.


1. Back Home

Thorne took a breath of the cold mountain air and gave a shiver. It was harsh and froze him to his very core, but it was home. And since he hadn't been to the other festivals that year, he was glad to be back.

The hike wasn't as fun as he remembered. It was more so. The struggle of trudging through snow up to his knees made him giddy. A smile was plastered on his face as he pulled his coat a little tighter around the collar. A strong wind began to pick up and tossed his hair into his face.

Finally coming to the edge of a forest, he took a breath, rolled his shoulders, and sprinted into the trees. Like a kid on Christmas, he dashed left and right, kicking up snow and knocking it off the low hanging branches. He liked living in the city to be sure, but nothing beat running around the land he called home. Nothing could match the sensation of the cold air of the mountains of Norway creeping down his spine or the soft snow beneath his boots.

And just when Thorne thought he couldn't run any farther, he heard something. He stopped so quickly that he slid and nearly fell into the snowbank he had made. A twig had snapped. And as it echoed, his heart pounded with it. His own breath fogged in front of him as he crouched, prone and ready for whatever may appear. Everything his father taught him had come into play. Hardly moving a muscle, Thorne scanned his surrounding with eyes as sharp as razors.

But nothing could have prepared him for the body that collided with his and pinned him to the snow covered earth. The air was forced from his lungs by a heavy weight on his chest. As he coughed and sputtered, he felt the weight roll off him and into the snow. When Thorne finally sucked in a gulp of air, he looked over and saw a wolf breathing in and out with a mouth open wide as if laughing. It's teeth glistened like the snow and it's fur was a tawny color that made it stand out from the white carpet that surrounded them. It kept laughing to itself in it's breathy way as it got up and shook the snow from its pelt.

Thorne, at first frightened, shook his head and threw a snowball.

"You-! You don't do that to a person!" He hollered, a chuckle erupting from his throat. Dusting himself off, he picked up his bag and followed the wolf along the faint trail of footsteps that took the path before a light snow. Occasionally the two companions would toss or kick rocks and snow at one another to see what each would do. It was an entertaining pastime on the long journey.

However, the joy was washed away when they came across a river, too swift to freeze and too wide to cross. Thorne shrugged and scanned the bank for a raft and rope secured between trees and over the river. Just before he began to think of other ways of crossing, the wolf barked and ran further downstream. Thorne followed loyally and found a small wooden raft tied to the rope that hung taught above it. He gave it a tug to see how well it went along the line and nodded. When he returned his attention to the wolf he saw it sitting quietly on the raft waiting.

Thorne shifted his bag onto his back and stepped onto the raft, leaning this way and that to see how much wiggle room he really had. Satisfied, he began to pull them across the river with a practiced hand.

"Just a bit farther, eh?" Thorne muttered. The wolf almost seemed to nod before laying down, paying no mind to the water that lapped over the edge.

Though he wasn't paying attention, a pair of people stood waiting on the bank. They jabbed and poked at each other, bickered and griped while they waited. When they were within earshot Thorne looked up and shook his head with a wry smile. "Uncle Callum! How are you?!" He shouted.

The bickering stopped. "Fine! You?!" One of the men asked.

"Good to be home!" Thorne replied. The wolf tried to cover it's ears and gave a whine. "Sorry."

Coming to the bank, Thorne saw them clearly. Identical faces, twins no less, smiling joyously.

"I thought you'd be here, eh Sevri?" The one on the right said with raised brows to the wolf. The wolf responded by pushing on the man's leg and trotting along the trail. "Hmmph.

"Callum, leave him alone. He ain't yours," said the one on the left. His face was more warm and inviting than his brother's. His hair was longer too, and tied in a half ponytail. He then turned his green eyes onto Thorne. "Glad you finally made it out," he said.

"Life had me pretty busy, Dad," Thorne replied. They pressed their foreheads together, the only affection they really had.

"Well it's good to finally have you here. But I need to go out and find something for the feasting tomorrow. All the other hunters have gone but I wanted to see you get here." He said with a gesture to the bow and quiver on his back.

Thorne nodded and let his father pull his fur trimmed hood up and disappear into the forest with hardly a sound.

"You be careful, Ronan! I'm not fixing you this time!" Callum shouted, shaking his head. Callum shivered and muttered something. When he rubbed his hands together, a blue flame appeared in his hands, casting an ethereal glow and intense warmth. "Shall we get going? Sevri's already left us behind," Callum grumbled, a bit peeved to be out in the cold, although he bore three layers like Thorne did.

"Whatever you say, Uncle Callum."

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