This story was written for a VN contest, and inspired by the Capitol One series of commercials with the Huns invading because someone was using a credit card other than theirs, of course. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that, but... it's true, never-the-less.

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Solstice Story

"How th’ devil did ye afford all this?” He gestured at the long table, now laden with succulent meats and steaming pastries. Pitchers of ale and wine lined the center of each table, and long benches awaited the guests.

She turned to smile at the red haired mercenary. “Well, Butcher Cardak offered me credit…”

“Credit!” he burst out. “Why lass, th’ fella’s rates are brutal! We cannae…”

She held up her hand, head tilted, listening. “What’s that? Do you hear…?”

Some distance from them, feet pounded. Axes lifted high, the horde surged closer, faces twisted in grimaces. Beards had been braided with beads of bone, armor had been polished and donned in protection. Shields proclaimed the owner’s heritage with designs painted bright upon them. The mass of warriors surged through the forest, feet churning the undergrowth to a tangled mess.

“I dinnae hear anythin’,” he said, shaking his head. “But…,” frowning, he looked in the direction opposite she was staring. “Wait a mo’…”

Through the trees from the opposite direction, an entirely different army pressed. These warriors were lightly built, but the sharp weapons they carried, the ferocious woad painted over their skin, and the aura of spellcraft that hung about them as if to fog others’ perceptions left no doubt as to their lethal nature. With less sound than the opposing horde, but no less intent, they slipped between the trees in the snowclad forest, silent and deadly.

The leader of the thundering hoarde paused, raising his axe high. As if one, his warriors stopped, looking to him. “I smell ribbe!” he grunted. “Næring! Komme!” He pointed toward the clearing where the tables waited, and as one, the army surged forward again, a rumbling mass of metal and death.

“Tula, vasa ar' yulna en i'mereth!” cried the leader of the opposing force. The words were taken up by those who followed him, raising a soft chant like the whisper of wind through leaves. The leatherclad army slipped through the trees, closing in on the clearing.

She reached to take his hand as the first of the warriors burst through the trees, and squeezed it as fighters surged forward from both sides of the clearing. Waves of fighters from both sides washed toward the line of tables set in the middle of the opening in the forest. She took a breath, then nodded to the mercenary. They were ready.

He lifted his hands, smiling. “God jul!” he cried out to the bearded invaders from one side, then “Yenearsira!” to those of the other. “Join us. We have plenty for all, in celebration of the time of giving!”

“God jul og godt nytt år!” growled the leader of the fearsome forces, his bearded face splitting into a smile. Hands were outstretched to take those of the mercenary and his wife first, then tentatively held out to the opposing force.

“Lle naa belegohtar,” the slightly built warrior grasped the offered hand with surprising strength, and with his other hand, lowered the cowl, exposing the tilted eyes and pointed ears of elven ancestry. “Greetings, honored Norse foes. On this day, Yenearsira, we all share alike.”

“Come, eat and drink,” the red haired mercenary said, pointing to the tables. “There is enough for all. And on this day, let us give thanks for what we have, and what we share!”

“Aye, well said. Good yule to all. Happy solstice.” With murmured greetings and nods, the warriors settled to feast upon the foods brought to them by the man and woman.

“Happy Christmas, my love,”she murmured to him.

“To ye as well, m’ darlin’ wife,” he smiled, kissing her gently. “Happy Christmas indeed.”

Midi of "O fortuna" from "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff from Midi Collection