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.

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3. Unpacking


When Thorne finally managed to escape the plateau as another round of games began, he made a b-line for the 'Andruisk'. The neighborhood he grew up in. Sevri led the way with a spring in his step.

"So how long do you plan to stay that way?" Thorne asked as he took his bag from Sevri's teeth. Of course Sevri didn't respond. His soft ears only twitched before he jumped down into the depression lined with homes built into the slanting walls. Sevri seemed to know exactly where he was going, leading Thorne to a door with a symbol painted in bright blue paint. The symbol matched the one painstakingly carved into Thorne's medallion, and on a necklace hanging around Sevri's furry neck.

Brushing away some powdered snow from the door, Thorne opened it and looked inside the dark room. It was warmer than some would expect, though the remains of a fire had long been extinguished.

Wasting no time, Thorne put his bag down beside him and groped the darkness for flint stones that he knew had to be there. When his hands found the little treasures he smiled triumphantly and began to make sparks fly with a click, click, click. Once the sparks kissed the sticks and old dried leaves a fire crackled to life, illuminating the room with it's warm glow. It revealed things previously unseen; like the chest that was pushed to the far corner, or the closed vent in the ceiling, or the paintings on the wall. It was home.

Sevri began running in circles and barking. Thorne watched as the fur receded into Sevri's skin, his muzzle flattened into a human face, the ears shrank, the tail disappeared. Sevri the wolf transformed into Sevri the human man.

"About time," Thorne commented as Sevri began to root around in the chest for clothes. The only thing he wore was the necklace he'd had before his little transformation.

"That was some show you put on. Very impressive," Sevri replied. He pulled on a pair of skin tight black leggings and a pair of more loose blue pants. Hand made by himself. The stitching wasn't as neat at it could be but then again, Thorne's stitches weren't very neat either. It took them awhile to get the hang of making their own clothes, and their fathers weren't much help, though Sevri's tried his best.

Stoking the fire with a loose stick, Thorne shrugged, not even trying to hide the pride he felt. "Dad taught me well, eh cousin?"

"No joke. Hey, why don't we celebrate in the sauna? I haven't gotten the chance since I got back a few weeks ago."

"I just started the fire in here," Thorne complained, unwilling to get up. "At least let me unpack."

"Pfff!" Sevri waved his hand and put on a vest, putting on as few layers as he could to go to the sauna. "I'm going. You can do whatever you like."

So Sevri left Thorne alone. Although they were a close pair of cousins, they could get on eachother's nerves.

After such a vigorous game, Thorne wanted to have a moment to himself. He opened the vent above his head to let the smoke from the fire out and spread some cloves of special herbs around it to soak up some of the smell. Outside he could hear the chatter of everyone else in the tribal language and a spattering of others. And he recognized each person by what language they spoke. Callum was always partial to Nordic languages and Siiri knew enough to talk with him. Sevri said hello to them in Gaelic, like his father had taught him. The girls he'd competed with spoke in a Native American dialect that Thorne knew well enough.

He let his eyes slowly close as someone began to blow on a flute and inadvertently lull him to sleep. Using his bag as a pillow, he stared at the sky. He could still see the Northern Lights, Spirit Lights, twisting and twirling overhead. Little floating embers were even able to climb their way up and out of the vent highlighting the sky's natural beauty.

In the dreamy state of half-sleep, Thorne could see shapes moving in the fire smoke. Animals and people all swishing and shifting like cream in coffee. Creatures he'd heard stories about like trolls, and griffins, and river sprites. Just as it seemed he was about to fall into a deep sleep, daydreaming, he felt something empty his bag. When he heard the chest shut he shook himself awake in time to see a glowing wisp disappear into the shadows like a ghost.

"Tunarok." 'Thank you' he whispered.

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