Archive for December 20th, 2021

Advent 2021 – December 20

December 20 – Pavel

After the beautiful owl had been nestled in the tree, Jade stopped to admire everything. “This is so lovely,” she said. “I can feel the joy and magic spreading out from it and covering the town.” She smiled. “This is exactly what we needed this year. Now, who’s next?”

Molly thought about that while several other townsfolk brought up their ornaments to hang on the tree. “I wonder if there’s something wrong about to happen,” she murmured, more to herself than anyone else. 

“Hmm?” Drew asked.

“Why do we need to have more magic covering the town?” Molly said. “Isn’t that what the Snow Queen’s Ball is for?”

“It’s been a hard year in this Realm, remember. Maybe there needs to be some extra joy to overcome the fear and sorrow in the world around us.”

“Maybe,” she agreed. Then she saw who was now mounting the dias and added, “Oh, this should be good.”

Dressed in his captain’s finery, even down to his polished black boots, Pavel Chekov, captain of the ship The Heart’s Desire, pulled off his black hat and swept it before him in an extravagant bow, the long white feathers in his hat nearly brushing the hem of the Snow Queen’s dress.

“Your Majesty, I too have a gift for the tree and the town that I have come to call home,” he said, his booming voice carrying easily to the very edges of the square. 

As he reached into his coat, the grey fog wrapped around her again. When it cleared, Molly and Schrodinger were standing in another forest. One neither of them recognized. Instead of conifers and snow, this forest’s trees lifted green leaves to a sunny sky, and moss coated the ground beneath their feet. Snatches of foreign bird song floated through the trees.

“Do you recognize this?” Molly asked.

Maybe? The CrossCat sounded unsure. Something smells familiar but I don’t know what.

A young man stepped into the clearing, followed by a stately young deer. It was almost pure white except for some strippling along its flanks, and it followed the boy as if on an invisible leash.

Is that…Pavel? Schrodinger asked.

I think so, Molly replied. A very yong Pavel.

The boy, dressed in mismatched clothing, paused in the clearing and then turned to the deer. “If you keep going along this path, it will bring you to the protected lands,” he said. “You’ll have to hurry, but I think I can slow them down enough to give you a good head start.” He laid one hand on the deer’s neck. “Be well,” he said. “I shall miss you.”

The deer nodded once, and then licked Pavel’s face from chin to forehead before leaping off down the path. Pavel wiped his face and watched his companion disappear into the deeper forest, then he turned back the way he’d come, and waited.

What’s he waiting for? Schrodinger asked. 

Before she could answer, something crashed in the distance. Molly could hear horns, and the thudding of horses’ hooves coming closer. The young Pavel straightened up, then leaned against a tree with studied nonchalance, as if he’d no cares at all.

The leader of the hunting party burst through the trees, pulling up sharply as he saw Pavel. A sneer crossed the man’s face.

“Well, well, well, boys, look what we have here.” The man’s voice grated against the air. Four more men entered the clearing behind the first, all clad in expensive-looking leather. Each one had a bow slung on their backs.

“Afternoon, Roman,” Pavel said. “Lovely day for a ride, although as usual, you’re pushing your horses too hard.” He squinted at the leader’s mount. “She’s going to need some extra care tonight. Good thing your grooms treat your horses better than you do.”

The leader, Roman, flushed an angry red. “Get out of my way, boy. We’re on the trail of that white doe that’s been seen. I want her head on my wall.”

Pavel shook his head. “Why do you insist on doing that? You know it’s just creepy and wasteful, right? Besides, don’t you already have two deer heads on your wall?”

“I’ve no white one,” Roman snarled. “I’ve been hunting her since before you were born. Now, which way did she go?”

Pavel sighed. “Did you ever stop to thing why you haven’t ever caught her?”

“Besides stupid pups like yourself slowing me down?” Roman said. “Which way?”

“Maybe she’s not meant to be caught,” Pavel said. “Maybe you’re chasing something that doesn’t really exist on this plane of existence except as a dream.”

Roman pushed his horse right up to Pavel, leaned down, and grabbed the boy’s ear. “Which….way??” He asked, jerking Pavel’s head back and forth. “Answer me, or it’ll be your head on my wall!”

Pavel didn’t yelp or scream, although the vicious yanking on his ear must have been painful. He kept silent for another minute, then pointed to another trail. “She went that way,” he said.

Roman twisted his ear a final time and then used his booted foot to shove Pavel bavkwards into the tree he’d been leaning against. “Come on, boys!” He shouted, and the entire company thundered off in completely the wrong direction.

The grey fog whisked them back to the Cove just as Pavel handed a white deer, a wreath of holly and ivy around her neck, to Jade. “In memory of those who escaped,” he said. “May their memories be a blessing.”