Once again our heroes face dire peril, aye Fable adventurers? Fear not, the thrilling conclusion to our heroes’ epic adventure rapidly approaches. But as the frost kisses the leaves, and the lavender vanilla skies dusts the world with magical wintery powder, let us open the annals of other adventures. Adventures that, in particular, transpire during this most magical time of year. So stoke up the flames in the fireplace till they cast a warm glow across the room. Adorn the mantle with ornaments, trimmings, trinkets, and knick-knacks. Let the familial sound of carols drift lightly through the air. Place a tray of sugar cookies in the oven, and let the toasty heat exude a warm buttery scent that calls us back to Christmas’ past. Crawl under your cuddliest blanket, pour a cup of your richest cocoa (with a candy cane or marshmallow added, whatever your pleasure), and join me as we delve into the wintery magic of the Fable-verse.
A buggy makes its way through the streets of Cremouth, the driver cautiously directing the horse and carriage through the throng. It was Christmas Eve in Cremouth and the streets were alive with excited workers rushing home to their families. Many merchants were starting to close up their shops, blowing out lamps that cast a golden glow across the wares of their establishments. Even with the quenching of the businesses’ lights, the street lights shine in the darkness, their light reflecting off the fresh fallen snow, lighting up the streets as if it were in the middle of the day.
A traditional carol floats through the crisp winter air as a group of carolers weave their melody for the passersby in the town square. The sweet aroma of baked goods wafts out of the Baker’s bakery. The Baker flits around his store, endued with the spirit of the season. He was ready to head home to his family too, but he would probably be one of the last craftsmen in the city to return home on Christmas Eve. You see, many workers received their paychecks and Christmas bonuses when leaving for Christmas. Many of the less fortunate workers couldn’t afford a turkey, a goose, or even a ham for their families for Christmas, but it did the Baker’s heart good to provide them with a nice shepherd's pie or a festive tart to make their holiday season brighter. Several citizens also participated in evening festivities and counted on being able to come by to pick up their tasty holiday treats.
A jolly tune emanates from the Bakers chest as he hums along, setting out fresh cinnamon rolls. One of those festive citizens darken the door of the bakery. A caroler shakes off the cold as he enters the charming bakery, bathed in the golden light of its lamps.
“Hello, Baker,” shouts the Caroler brightly, “it is a cold one out there, one of the briskest Christmas Eve’s I’ve caroled in, I do believe.”
“Well, come in for a bit,” offers the Baker kindly, grabbing a kettle off the stove. The Baker twirls through the bakery like a dancer, his footsteps falling gracefully and coordinated, weaving and dodging around the overfull tables burgeoning with his freshly baked wares. The Baker stands on the tips of his toes, reaching to one of the highest shelves, picking a heavy ceramic mug off the shelf like an apple of a tree. He sets the mug on the table and pours a steaming stream of hot chocolate into the mug. The chocolate swirls around the mug until it reaches the rim. The Baker sets the kettle back on the stove and reaches over into a cabinet of sweets. He turns suddenly, launching a marshmallow into the air. The sugary lump tumbles through the air, arching dramatically, and falling into the mug with a plop. A drop of hot chocolate splashes into the air but falls right back into the mug. The Baker grins and slides the mug down the bar to the Caroler. The Caroler, impressed by the display, chuckles and sits on a stool at the bar next to the register, staring into his mug.
“Your bread pudding will be ready in about five more minutes,” says the Baker as he glances across the room at the grandfather clock in the corner.
As the Baker finishes his sentence, a dusty group of chimney sweepers step through the door. Every one of them are shivering from spending countless hours working in the cold and their coats were stained with soot and ragged. A twinkle shines in the Baker’s eye as he reaches back for the kettle…
The grandfather clock in the corner rings out the chime, informing the listener that the hour was 10:00.
“10:00!?” exclaims the Baker. The rush of workers had caused the Baker to lose track of time. It seemed that the stream of customers would never end, however, eventually the steady stream turned to a trickle, and then finally his shop sits empty. His crowded tables now sit desserted in the shop, not a tart or pastry left in the place. The Baker turns back to the oven, pulling a dozen sweet rolls and a shepherd’s pie out of the oven. These treats would be his and his family’s for the night. And that time it was, the Baker’s wife would be worried sick.
The Baker packs these baked goods into a large basket, laying a towel over the top of it. The Baker walks around the Bakery, quenching all the lamps and locking the door. The Baker reaches around the oven and pulls the chain for the dampener, closing it off and suffocating the oven’s fire quickly.
The Baker reaches behind him to start untying his apron, walking into his office to hang up the apron and to grab his coat. Suddenly, there’s a gentle rapping at the door.
*knock, knock, knock*
The Baker is a hospitable merchant, however, his product was completely gone and it was well past closing time.
“Sorry, we’re closed,” replies the Baker, not angrily, but with a touch of annoyance, considering the lights were off and the door was locked. The Baker hangs his apron up and dons his jacket, buttoning it up for the cold walk that lies ahead.
The Baker turns and walks out of his office but freezes in his tracks, the vapor from his breath wisping in front of his face. The door was standing wide-open, the bolt lock covered in icicles. Across the floor were patches of ice leading to his basket.
The Baker runs over to his basket. The towel was thrown back and then frozen solid. The pastries in the basket were still warm, but a sweet roll was missing. The Baker turns to stare at the strange scene before him. Then he sees it.
A strange patch of frost has grown on the window, the crystals appearing to form a mischievous, elfish face. A shadow matching the frozen crystal formation seems to darken the image, but then as fast as it happened, the shadow disappears.