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A Malifaux Christmas


Marcosuave
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Ho! Ho! Ho--- He clamped his hand down over his mouth....a mouth that was not entirely his, apparently... He was....who was he? He took a Deep Breath, and attempted to start over....

I am Rankin Merryw--Santa Claus!....Ho! Ho! Ho!... He could feel his belly getting heavier, and more jelly like...

"This isn't real! This is a Joke! I am Clearly Going Mad!"

Even as he spoke the words he looked in his mirror, and could see more hair growing on his face...He Rifled through his vanity drawer until he came across his razor...passed down through four generations of Merrywh-Claus....not thats not right, His name is Rankin, no wait, Kristopher....Wasn't it? He knew he didn't need a strop, he always kept the razor sharp as sharp. Not even bothering with soap he pulled the right side of his face taut, and attacked the offending growth with his razor.....and watched the blade shatter against whiskers. Frantic, he rifled through the house, looking for anything that might work.

"This Makes no sense!"

And Truly it didn't. The now thick white beard that broke his birthright was soft as lamb's wool. How did this happen? He searched his Mind or at least what he thought was his.....Back in november, when he was double checking his naughty list.......No! He was checking his list, of transactions! Yes! He was a jolly old elf....No! He was an accountant!

Despite the unseasonably warm winter, Rankin Merryweather and Robert Pratchett both wear heavy coats, and scarves over their mouths...Rankin's foot slips into a puddle, and he hears a slurping sound as he is barely able to keep his boot. Why? Why did he listen to Robert? Yes, Rankin is miserable with his boring life, but this is insanity. At the very least, the precursor to insanity. The Bayou Stinks, and his feet are tired. Three hours of walking around in mud and muck, looking for a phantom, to tell his future! Ha! Rankin knows his Future...Ledgers and counting and figures. After taking many years to realize that his dislike of other people was universally mutual, he gave up on being close to people, and focused on his work. His partner was the only thing he had close to a friend, and that was too close for Merrywheather's comfort. He was so absorbed in his bitter thoughts that he didn't realize that Pratchett has stopped until he bumped into him. Two enormous Bird's legs rose up with a tiny thatched roof hut at the top. As if to welcome them, the legs bent, and the hut slowly decended.....

The beard was done growing...Ho! H- once again he clamped his hand over his mouth. How can I not keep my mind? How is this Happening? As if to answer, his beard started fading in color, and as he pulled off his nightcap, he saw the hair on his pate do likewise... Black hair was fading to gray, slowly at first, and then with increasing speed. He had an Idea! He would....Go....Check....His....List.....Twice? No! I....Am.....Rankin......Claus....

When Pratchett out of the hut, he was quiet...considering something...A piece of vellum....But it is Rankin's turn, and he refuses to listen to Pratchett harp on him for turning Coward for the next year, so he marches in. Upon entering the hut, he is regarded by what he assumes is the oldest woman ever...she looks ghastly! Seeing his hesitation, she cackles and motions him forward...

"Did you Bring an old woman a pittance that she might read your future?"

He handed the bag to her, and she motioned him to sit down......

"Ho! Ho! Ho!" this time, his arms didn't respond to his impules, and his hands continued their busy work...His horror was momentarily halted by amazement, as his gloved hands (no longer truly his) copied down a huge list of names. Some had an "N" next to them. What Really stopped him, was the speed with which he did it! Preternatural....I believe that is what the word is...his respite was very brief, as remembering that was watching this from his own body sent him back to screaming...His screams seemed to echo forever, but he noted, that his mouth never moved....

Merrywheather and Pratchett walk slowly back towards the city, both deeply engaged in thought. Rankin Merryweather kept trying to shrug off the Old Crone's words, but could not...

"Continue on the path you are on, and you will die alone and obscure...Talk tough all you want Mr. Merryweather, I know better. You want to be...Somebody... You are tired of being a miserable old bastard that hates and is hated by everyone. There is one chance to change your path though...Simply kill your friend, excuse me, your Associate. His Fate will be your fate. Your name will be well known to every citizen of earth, and of Malifaux. You will get these things instead of Pratchett. One Catch, you must do it before passing through the city's gate." She let out a cackle that chilled Rankin Merryweather's bones.

He screamed and screamed, but no one came. He screamed in his head alone. His body, now fully rounded in the middle, continued to make, and double check his list, as there must be no errors....That was why he checked it twice every year...no that couldn't be Every year! He had only been in Malifaux for a year now! He could no longer trust his own mind, but he no longer had control over his body. He was only an onlooker as he finished his Naughty list, and shoved in a pocket of his Coat. He still didn't remember owning a red coat, his mind couldn't cling to even that thought as he slipped away....

Merryweather brooded. As he, and Pratchett walked back towards the City, he tried again and again to shrug off the Crone's words. She was right he knew, he was a miserable man, and deep down he craved something... Pratchett was trying to free his boot from a muddy sinkhole...Pratchett, who had Fame and adoration ahead of him, Pratchett, who wasn't paying attention..... Merrywheather knew it was now or never.... Pratchett has something he wanted...what is one more man missing in the Bayou...There wouldn't even be a body left....He obviously fired his pistol at whatever got Pratchett...Without even realizing it, he had drawn and cocked his pistol, and was pointing it a Pratchett's head. As the Boot came unstuck, Pratchett turned to face his associate, sighed.

"Rankin, I am not certain wha-"

"Bang!"

As soon as the shot rang out, Rankin Merrywheather knew he would need to be quick. Seconds after Pratchett's body hit the ground, he started rifling through his coat pockets. he relieved him of his gold, and of his vellum. Rankin opens the carefully folded vellum sheet, and reads the words there

"To Punish the Naughty"

He couldn't believe that was it! He was so relieved! Clearly the old woman was a fraud! a Shame about Pratchett.....The Bayou was a dangerous place for an accounbtant to be after all...He simply must get home.....his five o'clock shadow is.....unseemly.....

The Man Struggled, Santa knew that he couldn't let this kind of naughty man go without giving him his due. and the Man finally quit thrashing, Santa finished giving him his Coal. It was non traditional yes, but this man was very naughty, and his mouth simply held more coal than his stocking. The Man's Wife, she was a different story however....She was very nice, and he decided to leave her a couple of coins. The old Claus Gently sets othe two Golden coins on top of the naughty man's eyelids, since the wife will obviously find them there. As the old Claus quietly shuts the bedroom door, he notices a young boy standing between himself, and the fireplace. He thinks for but a moment, and remembers, this is the Fitzsimmons boy...he had pulled sally Jamison's skirt over her head in front of the whole class...Ho Ho Ho....He knows exactly what to do... he grabs a bear out of his sack, and hands it to the boy.

"This is no good Santa!" the boy cries "I wanted a Big Bear!"

"Ho ho ho.....No worries!" The old Claus Replied In the morning that will be the biggest bear you've ever seen....Ho Ho Ho!" That tore it, complaining, and not snug in his bed...The old Claus realized how right he had been to check his list twice. Naughty Toys, for Naughty Girls and Boys.....

Rankin Merrywheather Slept in that morning.....After all, Christmas had to be good for something...Especially since that Pratchett seemed to always find an excuse to not work on Christmas day. What a strange dream he had the night before. Oh well, he he so much work to do. After being in the city for a year now, his Counting house was getting noticed, so he knew he had to stay on top of things, and big things would come his way.

Captain Sanders woke up on Christmas Morning with a headache and a bad feeling. After Surviving as much time as he had, he knew it was best to go with those feelings, and Donned his boots and coat.

"Really, on Christmas Morning? Did you wake up with a feeling like that again?" he hadn't realized his wife was awake.

"Yes dearest, and I expect I will be back before supper." She didn't believe it anymore that he did, but she still loved him, and decided not to press the issue. He opened the Door just as Kelly was preparing to knock, and was quite startled by Captain Sanders.

"Captain Sanders I was sent to fetch you, I Was not aware you had been informed...."

"I Hadn't been, I just had a feeling in my sizeable gut...What have we got this morning? Sanders cut him off.

They walked to the Fitzsimmons residence, the Guardsman filled in Sanders of the specifics. The scene was quite a mess, the whole house torn apart. the door (which had been knocked 15 feet out of the frame) was covered in claw marks. Sanders Stopped as he entered the bedroom while Guardsman Kelly finished his report.

"The Wife was found in the kid's room, the son is not accounted for yet, and the abomination was seen heading toward the quarrantine zone."

Sanders heard the report, and nodded....Something about the bedroom scene looked odd....He couldn't place it at first, and then it hit him.

"Kelly what are those on his eyes?" he Asked

"Why, they appear to be coins sir." replied Kelly.

"Yes Kelly, and if you look closely, they are earthside coins. And they look to be very old..."

Kelly chimed in "What about it sir?"

"Kelly, Look closer, these coins predate the breach...the First Breach..." Sanders Started making a list in his head of people he would need for the investigation. "Kelly I hope you weren't planning anything for Christmas...."

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