*Read like “Twas the Night Before Christmas”*
Twas a week before Giving Day and inside the castle,
an old sage was pacing, his pepper hair all frazzled.
His large friend – the Steward – did nothing but stare,
listening to the sage rant his concerns through the air.
The sage wanted to get his apprentice a gift,
but didn’t know what would help her mood lift.
Caldor knew the girl had all her gifts ready.
She had wrapped them for Cáel, Foe… hell everybody.
So, the sage had to think.
He thought long and thought hard.
His large friend then stood to leave, without any regard.
“Where are you going?” Caldor spouted in fear.
“You are supposed to help me think of a gift for Liora this year.”
“I got her a dress, somethin’ small an’ sweet.
She don’ want much, just somethin’ useful that she needs.
Don’ think too hard, it’ll come right to yah.
Now I must see me son and me wife if that’s all ‘ight with yah?”
The Steward lumbered off.
The sage paced with more speed.
Gift giving was easy for those who knew greed.
Chijin weren’t gifters.
They hated this day.
He’d rather eat fish hash
than participate in Giving Day.
Meanwhile upstairs on the second level,
a whole other person was having the same trouble.
He tore through his books and looked at sheet music.
He plucked at his lute and believed he blew it.
Blew it by not getting her the right gift.
Liora was special and deserved every bit.
He wanted to give her a journal, but no –
she just got a new one three days ago.
No, the Steward had gotten that handled.
No, those would be left sitting up on the mantel.
The ginger haired prince sat cross-legged on his bed.
Looking and hoping something would pop into his head.
Everyone was struggling to find the girl the perfect gift.
With everything that had happened Liora deserved it.
So, let’s jump to Liora sitting on her windowsill.
A big book on her lap, her demeanour calm and chill.
She stared out her window, towards the snow filled garden below.
She didn’t like being inside when their were other places she could go.
The presents she had for the others lined along her desk.
Each wrapped with brown paper to conceal them from guests.
The old sage had popped in while she had been wrapping,
He had been surprised to see all the items she had been packing.
Marcia had helped her get the gifts for the boys,
but Foe and Caldor’s gifts filled her with joy.
She knew the two men, what they liked and what they needed.
She had made them their gifts without being impeded.
Now she could sit. Relax and be merry.
While everyone else was stressing over last minute prezzies.
Caldor hurried through the courtyard and through the large gateway.
There was only one day to go before bloody Giving Day.
He was the only one without a gift.
If he had nothing for her, she surely would be miffed.
And who could blame her with how much work the girl had done?
Liora took care of him delaying her fun.
He needed a gift that would show her he cared.
That he loved her, and never wished her to go elsewhere.
Yes, yes, this was not a Chijin tradition
But the girl wasn’t bitter or declined participation.
Cáel fiddled with brown paper, his wrapping not so good.
He thought he could wrap it but obviously he couldn’t.
The corner was showing and so was the spine.
He’d wrap another layer to hide it behind.
He hoped that she’d liked it. No he knew that she would.
The girl loved her gryphons and spent all the time with them that she could .
She had voiced her attraction and interest in riding,
which was perfect ’cause what he got her would tie in.
He had also gotten her another item to unwrap.
More of a thank you than a giving gift – she’d likely call him a sap.
Or silly boy, or freckles. All pet names he liked.
Just thinking of that made his cheeks blush bright.
His heart it then fluttered, as he went back to wrapping.
“I hope she’ll like what I got her,” he muttered, as his gut began flipping.
Liora was holding a basket in hand,
all her gifts ready to give on command.
It was Giving Eve and soon would be dinner.
She hoped that she did well for a Giving Day beginner.
Sitting down in the dining hall on one of the oak chairs,
she appeared to be the only one seated there.
The flames in the fireplace danced on the walls,
casting the armour’s shadows very thin and very tall.
There came clomping from behind her, as the king appeared in her sight.
He was brutish, and mean not due to his height.
He had called her a Snake, a brat, and other worse names.
She still got him a gift to try to lessen his insults and blame.
Scurrying over with a glass bottle in hand,
Liora held it out before her to where the man chose to stand.
His brow knotted, jaw clenched, as he peered down towards her.
She just smiled and gestured the gift hoping she wasn’t being too forward.
He took it and turned it, with a questioning glance.
“What’s this?” he grumbled, stiffening his stance.
“A bottle of malt liquor from the city of Calin.
I over heard you asking for a drink here and that one you mentioned.
Caldor said you liked it… so I hope that you do.
I just wanted to give a gift that would be just for you,”
Liora then smiled, scurrying back to her spot –
just as the King went lumbering off.
Had she insulted, or maybe heard wrong?
Maybe she angered him or came on too strong?
Liora didn’t care, at least she had tried.
He could go storming off to his office to hide.
Dinner was good and the gifts were grand.
Foe gave her a dress. Marcia gifted a leather hair-band.
Caldor gave her a book engraved with her name,
and Cáel gave her a book on how gryphons were tamed.
Each gift was wonderful and showed that they cared.
From what she could tell, the love that she felt was shared.
Caldor was using his new tobacco for his pipe,
the old sage had tucked the bag of tea in his robe for later that night.
Foe was giggling like a little boy with glee
when she gave him the ointment to help with his hip and knee.
Marcia was testing her new hairbrush on her golden locks,
while Druce played with his new wooden figure of a gryphon hawk.
It was Cáel she approached, who was wearing his goofy grin.
He had been focusing on restring his lute so he could give it a spin.
She had gifted him strings and sheet music to match,
as he glanced up at her before taking a chance.
“Yay, look pretty tonight,” he muttered before swallowing hard,
“and I like me gift… although restrin’ is hard.”
“Thank you, and yes… but new strings were needed,”
she smiled, he chuckled. Now he could play unimpeded.
Marcia began singing a holiday tune,
and everyone joined her – who stood in the room.
Malt wine, and spiced cakes were brought out to display.
But there was one person missing from the holiday.
The king hadn’t returned to the dining hall for dinner.
He wasn’t their for the cake, wine, or malt liquor.
Just then there came a booming voice calling her a name.
“Brat!” Charn shouted, the singing halted. His eyes burnt like a flame.
He lumbered over, a small package in his monstrous hand.
She hadn’t expected a gift from the large brutish man.
Yes, it was just a candle – likely just from his desk –
but the king was trying… he was doing his best.
“Thank, Charn,” Liora smiled from ear-to-ear.
“Yeah, yeah,” the king waved her off with a sneer.