Advent 2021- December 1

December 1: The Snow Queen

Jade lifted her right hand, and a beautiful snowflake glimmered into existence. “I have given out one of these every year at the Ball, to a person who I feel needs it. But the very first snowflake I created for a tree was not given to a person. It was given to a town…”

Molly felt as if she were falling. The world swirled, and when it cleared, she looked around the town square as it must have been: a circle of snug houses, barely finished before the winter storms had tucked them into insulating blankets of snow. Beside her, the tree was straight and proud, barely five feet tall, the only tree left standing when the area was cleared. Instead of glowing LED bulbs, spheres that glowed with magical colors were nestled in the tree’s branches.

Next to the tree was the Snow Queen, and an older man who Molly recognized instantly from school. Captain James Carter looked out over the square, where the remnants of his colony were busy setting up tables and benches. While it was cold outside the square, Jade must have raised a clear bubble of magic that encased them in a warm atmosphere that left the snow unmelted. “I can’t believe we made it to Christmas,” Captain Carter rumbled. “I thought for certain that we’d never last past the first snow.”

“You’re far too pessimistic, Captain,” Jade said. “Your people believe in you, and you believe in them.”

“Belief only gets you so far, though, Jade.”

“But without it, you’ll get nowhere,” she replied. “You have good people here, James, and they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.”

“And beyond, if I let them.” Captain Carter shook his head, unable to stop the smile from peeking through his grey-streaked beard. “Thank you again, Jade, for helping me protect them.”

“It was my pleasure.” Jade looked out over the small town again. “Neighbors like you are hard to find. You were the first to ask if you could settle here, rather than just taking what you wanted. You protected those who were already here. You integrated, rather than taking over.” She held out her hand, and he took it. “I will be happy to help protect your town, as long as it remembers the truth of being good neighbors.”

“As long as I am able to influence that, we will only be good neighbors.” Captain Carter laid his own hand over their clasped hands. “Sit next to me?”

“Of course.”

The food and drink were simple, but plentiful: roasted venison from the nearby woods, apples and squash and other vegetables that had been harvested during the waning golden days of fall, breads both sweet and savory. The ship’s cook, who was now helping to run a small general store, had even made sweets from honey that melted on the tongue and brought her back to the early summer when the large ships had first entered the harbor. They washed down the food with apple cider and tea and wine that the dwarves from the nearby mine had brought as their contribution. Molly’s mouth watered, and she wondered how many of the dishes she could recreate.

At the end, Jade reached out and placed a hand on Captain Carter’s arm. “I have a gift for you.”

“Another one?” He smiled at her. “I thought this was enough.”

“This will only last until the end of the night,” Jade said. “This gift, though, is one that will remain with you as long as the town stands.”

She held her right hand out in front of her, palm up. A slight breeze swirled around her, blowing piles of snowflakes into the air. As the cloud of snowflakes danced over her hand, one single snowflake dropped out of the crowd and remained. The entire village fell silent as the snowflake grew, looking more like a star by the time it settled into a gleaming silver. She sent it floating over to the tree with a flick of her wrist.

As it landed on the top of the tree, white streams of snowflakes burst from it and wrapped the tree in garlands of snowflakes and ships.

“This is the symbol of our treaty,” Jade said. “As long as we are in accord, there will be a snowflake to go on this tree every Christmas. This I swear.”

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