Elysian Fields: Xanth's Grotto 2009 - Elysian Fields

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Xanth's Grotto 2009 Xanth's Quadrangle in New Alexandria

#1 User is offline   Xanth Icon

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 09:29 PM

Every year on December 1st, the quadrangle around Xanth's statue in New Alexandria changes, disappearing inside an elaborate structure made of real ice. Glittering under the weak autumn sunlight, the structure weaves a merry maze from entrance to exit. At the heart of the maze sits an ice throne fit for a queen - or even a god.

Over the entrance hangs a large sign hung with icicles that reads XANTH'S GROTTO and is rimmed in white lights that sparkle day or night. Atop the snowy structure are animated snowmen poised to trick or greet with seasonal cheer. One is taking off its hat to anyone who passes by and calling out a jolly "Merry Christmas!". Another throws snowballs randomly at visitors, chuckling a "Ho Ho Ho!". Two more cling to purple and silver garlands either side of the entrance, waving hello as they bob up and down, and a third peeks over the exit, grinning goofily as it showers visitors with glitter and snowflakes.

Around the grotto is a wooden fence, christmas trees placed here and there across the top and around the base, each one decorated with beautiful glass baubles, bushy tinsel and pretty fairy lights. Amid the branches and snow, dozens of tiny imps dash about, popping out of the snow once in a while to blow raspberries at visitors or squeak a seasonal greeting before disappearing once more to attend their duties.

Though it's not an Elysian holiday, Christmas is clearly something Xanth likes to celebrate in style and whether they believe in her generosity or assume the Xanth of the Grotto is a fake, all Elysians know of the wonderful gifts to be had from a visit here.

So how does this work?

  • Until December 25th, you can post a wishlist for your character(s) here, including anything you and they want, from karma to cash to special items and so on.

  • Starting on December 1st, your characters get to visit Xanth's Grotto to receive a Christmas present once per week, right up to December 28th. That's four weeks of Christmas cheer and four presents. Beware, though: my time-keeping for this event will be rigid (each week will end after exactly 7 days, so if you don't post until the 8th, then you won't receive a gift for the first week, and so on).

  • Each visit must be in-character and be 100 words or more. (I can't reply to every visit so the idea is for your character to get in, get their gift, and get out all in one post.) I'll post once at the end of each week to list each gift given, so you may want to wait until the next visit before "opening" them.

  • Despite the grotto featuring a maze, Xanth will not be present. She's a busy gal, but your character may sense her while in the grotto's throne room.

  • As ever, this thread doesn't count towards your thread total, but it is in-character so your visits must be roleplayed.

  • You can only get one gift per week per member so be sure to spread the love if you have multiple characters. ;)

  • If you haven't posted your wishlist yet, make sure you do so we can be sure to give you what you want! Otherwise, you'll end up with something generic and that might not be fun for you or your character.

Xanth and I both wish you a very merry Christmas, and we hope you enjoy your gifts!


#2 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 06:39 PM

“Like, dude!”

Kiel had stood on the cobbled street staring at the ice maze, his hat clutched in his hand as he'd scratched his head, totally dumbfounded, until he'd spotted the sign post that, like, explained what the heck "Xanth's Grotto" was. Like, Dardanos eventually got most of the important news from the mainland, but apparently some customs just didn't cross the channel 'cause, like, this was a totally foreign custom to him. Curiosity had led him by the nose to the entrance, though, where he'd vaguely planned to poke the snowmen and climb the fence to see how the whole thing worked, except that, like, he'd got a face full of snow instead. “Wah!” he'd cried, fleeing into the shelter of the maze, where he'd promptly gotten lost.

And, like, totally spent the next half hour trying to find his way back out. He'd wound up tagging along with a small family who seemed to have no trouble whatsoever and, like, looked at him like he was dumb. So, like, good thing he hadn't texted Zeph to be all "Yo, man, what the heck is this ice thing in the quadrangle, man?" since the big guy probably woulda thought him dumb, too.

Like, again.

“This is totally awesome, man,” he told one of the kids who was holding his hand, tugging him towards the pile of presents. “Like, dude, look how many presents people are giving her, man!”

“Silly!” The kids giggled. “Those are for us!”

“Like, wah, for sers?!” He'd totally misunderstood the sign post then. “Like, you're not yanking my chain or something, right? 'cause I'll totally bite you if you get me in trouble with Her, man!” They giggled again but swore they were telling the truth, and the boy grabbed a present off the pile to hand it to him. Kiel was still a bit wary of opening it, though. Like, maybe he'd take it for Zeph instead 'cause, like, the dude had been kinda weird since that whole Sabs thing. First he got all jealous, man, and then he was all "too busy" to spend any time with Kiel outside of work hours. Total suck.

“Like, thanks, man, this is awesome, hahaha. Like, if I come by again, I'll totally bring you one, I kinda didn't expect this, you know? Cool maze, man, for sers!” The kids apparently found it amusing that he was talking to Xanth like she was really there, but Kiel just stuck his tongue out at them, and, like, totally initiated a skid-on-ice chase back out into the Autumn chill where they went a few rounds with the snowmen before Kiel had to split for his shift at Zeph's.


#3 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 01:45 AM

She'd never felt so out of place in all her life.

The city took a lot of getting used to. There were so many new sights, smells, and sounds! If she hadn't thought to ask her mother for general directions, Euphenia was certain she would have been lost upon arrival. Clenching the sides of the precious map she'd been lucky enough to buy from a street vendor, Phen subconsciously allowed her wings a bit of a stretch while she fervently searched the markings on the map. She looked like a tourist, something she'd been hoping to avoid, but there was enough truth in the implication that she couldn't really complain. If people weren't going to stop her and ask about the outfit that marked her as being from "out of town", her wings, or the fact that her purse resembled a still living tree, they weren't going to bother her for taking the time to thoroughly examine a map.

"Ah ha!" she exclaimed, bouncing just a bit as she gleefully tapped the spot on the map she'd discovered, "There you are!"

In her exuberance, the hood of Phen's wool jacket slipped back enough to give passerby a better look at her face. Now, common sense would mandate that such a simple thing as a glimpse at a smiling girl's countenance would not disrupt the glimpser's ability of locomotion. Whom-so-ever invented that rule had obviously never met a nymph. Being as young and socially inexperienced as she was, Phen really had no idea just how lovely she was, even by nymph standards. The fact that she was excited lit up her face, amping up her natural beauty till it was near dazzling. So, what was the result of the quick reveal? Three young men, and one not so young, stumbled and very nearly crashed into various busy shoppers. This held up foot traffic for several minutes, while a certain winged nymph tugged her hood into cold thwarting closeness and dashed off down the street, blissfully unaware of the trouble she'd caused.

-------------------- ~+~ --------------------

"This would be so much easier if I just could fly there," Euphenia grumped in her head as she dodged yet another cluster of loudly chatting Christmas shoppers. At least she hoped what was in those bags of theirs were presents for others. To get that much stuff in one go for oneself was such a greedy venture that she couldn't even fathom it. Besides, what she knew of Christmas indicated that it was a holiday built upon the virtue of giving unto others.

Finding herself on a momentarily clear patch of cobblestone, Phen sighed while pushing her hands deeper into the pockets of her coat. She was tempted to close her eyes and bask in the feeling of being surrounded by her element, but settled for the occasional glance at a frosted window or snow powdered tree limb. Now that she was closer to what she'd come to learn was called the Quadrangle, the seasons seemed to be slowly shifting from autumn to winter. Phen didn't mind the change. In fact, it was welcomed, for reasons that would be hard for her to explain. Such as how the presence of each nearby snowflake resonated within her being. They weren't a strong presence by themselves, containing too little water for that, but when they clumped up together

"By the Lady's Delight!" she gasped, swiftly coming to a halt and nearly losing her jaw as Euphenia got her first wide eyed look at what had became of Xanth's Grotto. It was beautiful. No, it was more than beautiful. She couldn't put words together to describe how spectacular it was. Everything else in the world melted away from her awareness, even as the memory of her mother's voice warned her.

"You can't let your daydreams get the better of you, Sunshine. Always pay attention to your surroundings. The moment your guard slips, that's when the sharp knife comes."

But she felt so safe there. Phen imagined that it was the goddess's presence that she felt as she reverently approached the glistening outer wall of the maze. Perhaps it was, as surely only She could create a place as wondrous as that. She was tingling all over, her heart's song vibrating through her veins, and she reached out to try and touch the slick surface of the wall with her fingertips.

Pamf! Poomf!

"H-hey!" Phen spluttered, glaring up at the snowman that had pelted her with two snowballs almost simultaneously. She hadn't paid it any particular attention before then, of course, being so entranced with the spectacle of the maze and its adornments. Dainty hands wiped away snow from a pale face, one that had a rosy glow only partly inspired by the cold overtaking its cheeks. "Is that any way to greet visitors?"

Euphenia would later swear that the snowman grinned at her, right before it scooped more ammunition from its own chest and let two more balls of packed snow fly. She barely had time to register the motion, so it was pure instinct that triggered her wings to swoop forward and take the blows instead of her face.

Obviously a decision had to be made. Should she stay and return fire, or make a run for the opening that led into the maze? A strategic peek between dove gray feathers almost earned her an eyeful of snow, but she saw enough of the snowman to realize that it had somehow regenerated its supply of snow and was dipping in for another double handful. For Phen, getting inside the maze as quickly as possible suddenly seemed more than reasonable. "This isn't over yet!" she hollered over her shoulder, too busy pumping her arms and wings to gain more speed to give the proper fist shake in the air such a promise deserved.

Just in case the snowman could keep up with its moving target, and since Xanth likely made it Euphenia wasn't going to underestimate the creature, the nymph kept running through the entirety of the maze. Her sense of direction wasn't the best, so she did almost bang into a dead end or three. Thankfully she reached the end of the winding passages winded but not hopelessly lost or damaged, though certainly not for lack of trying. The other folk who were navigating the maze had the good sense to get out of the winged nymph's way; otherwise things might have turned out differently.

She seemed to have outrun everyone who was headed for the center of the snowy obstacle course, so Phen didn't feel at all worried about staggering a few steps before collapsing on top of a snowdrift. Sinking down into the cold, her arms and wings splayed, she closed her eyes and focused on getting her breathing back to what passed for normal. She had to redirect her brain from its plotting against the snowman to the task at hand, so she had the time.

Wait, did she? Sitting straight up in the snow, Euphenia looked around, setting the beckoning beauty of the ice throne and its surroundings aside in favor of making sure she was alone. Well, as alone as one could be while feeling the spiritual embrace of her element all around and a faint notion that the goddess could peek in at any given moment, anyway. Satisfied that she had a few minutes before someone else would arrive, she flowed to her feet, subconsciously becoming more graceful by the moment now that she had mentally prepared herself.

Focusing on the impression that Xanth left in the area in the making of it, Euphenia faced the grand throne of ice and unbuttoned her coat. She had to make this quick, which was regrettable. Xanth deserved so much more, more than the nymph could give even if it were her all. "My mother calls you The Creator, but sometimes also the Lady of Masks. She seems to prefer the last, but I've always thought you would prefer us to look to your face for guidance and truth."

The coat slid to the snow and stayed there, soon followed by Euphenia's boots, her socks, her pants "Of course you probably already know all of that. I just wanted to say that my truth, today, is in wanting to thank you for the holiday you are so kind as to share with us. For that and for all of the things you have done for us, Great Lady."

Bare feet curled their toes in the snow as Phen dumped the last of her outer clothing behind her. She stood in but a lace trimmed slip, its cream color soft against her goosebumply skin. She shook out her hair, swiping pins from the pale mass faster than Xanth's snowman launched his balls and hooking them in the gold swirls imprisoning a glass bottle suspended on a thin gold chain about her neck. Faint flaxen waves came to drift down past the hem of Euphenia's slip, teasing the air with its curls. She might have stripped completely, but there was that slim chance that she might be seen by someone other than the goddess, and she didn't want to offend anyone. She had yet to take the time to discover all of the nuances of New Alexandrian folk. "A gift for you, my Lady. I only pray that it pleases you."

As always when she was dancing, Euphenia's imagination dipped into the realm of daydreams.

She was a statue, carved from the same ice as the throne. Still and cold, the statue had wings that curved in an arc towards the unoccupied seat of royalty. Warmth welled within, and with it came a soft humming. The statue's eyes moved. Its head lifted. As the ice about its joints started to melt, arms reached towards the throne of its Creator. Fingers strained, longing in every twitch as the statue began to lean forward. More ice melted, flowing in streams to puddle about frozen feet. The fingers never touched, instead hovering scant inches above their goal. Shards of ice cracked and fell as chilled wings won free of them, and in a sweep of movement the questing arms flung back, their hands displaying splayed fingers. Radiant jubilation filled what were once a statue's eyes. Motion that was once denied became her fascination. Wings curved back, she spun, arms held high to keep her joy aloft. To be free of the constraints of the inanimate! What a glorious existence! She dipped, sweeping out a foot to then lift a leg high. Then the leg was free to carve a swathe in the snow, the other whirling in the slushy remains of its former prison, its leg bracing so the living statue could leap high into the air. Feathery wings flapped determinedly, but all too soon she was back on the ground, performing another spin and kick. Her long hair floated about her the entire time, catching the sunlight and surrounding the dancer with an aura of pale gold. Slender arms dipped into that gold and retreated again, accentuating the movements of swiveling hips and dripping feet. Faster and faster she whirled, till her form was a blur of living white, cream, gray, and gold. One more leap, higher than the others, till she seemed to almost be flying, and with a twist she landed on her knees. She could feel the cold returning. Her limbs were becoming stiff. Yet she was not afraid. The statue had been a woman for a time, and was grateful for its brief freedom, but it would always be what its Creator had intended it to be. Before the ice stole over its head, the statue bowed itself low and whispered, "Thank you."

Euphenia remembered to breathe. She'd been kneeling for a long minute, and it felt good to sit up and stretch. Wow, had it always been this cold? Crossing her arms over her chest and rubbing them with her hands, she smiled up at the throne. "Merry Christmas, my Lady. It wasn't my usual dance for you, but hopefully it will do. "


Was that a twig? But she wasn't anywhere near Oh no! Phen darted her gaze in the direction of the sound, then changed her mind and scrambled for her damp clothing instead. Someone was there, she just knew it, but she couldn't bring herself to look. She had to get the soggy clothes back to the shelter, maybe wrap herself in a blanket ... When grabbing her purse, something nudged Euphenia's memory, and almost as an afterthought she grabbed a gift box from near the throne at random and tucked it under one arm. Ducking her head and feeling warm all over from embarassment, the nymph tucked her wings about herself in a vain effort to ward off the cold and fled, squeaking, "Merry Christmas!" over her shoulder before disappearing into the maze.

#4 User is offline   Lani Icon

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 03:48 AM

The holiday spirit was beckoning everyone. Mothers relaxed their guards as children ran through the ice maze, their high pitched giggles echoing through the frosty air, mittened hands playing tag and grabbing gifts; occasionally forgetting to say thank you to the deity in question; often causing mothers to roll their eyes and claim to sell them to gypsys or other such nonense should they not be thankful. Truth be told all people seemed happy with Xanthmas, nobody ever went without presents and the people tended to be more cheerful and willing to help one another.

Lani, having grown up in such a large family often had troubles around the hollidays and remembered Xanthmas in the same way she did her birthday: with great joy and excitement at getting her very own present! Not one that she had to share with the boys or anything! Smilinging fondly, she weaves her way through the maze, Frightful giving her a glare clearly meant to voice displeasure at being dragged to festivitys as uncivilized as this and remained indignant and self rightous the whole time. Zev however was a differant manner entirely and seemed excited and energetic, but tired enough that she could control him pretty easily. He wanted to run around in the maze and see everything and all the people.

One of the snowmen threw a snowball that landed on his head and for a moment he just stood their dumbly before trying to growl, his frustraion coming out as a puppy yip. Laughing, Lani brushed the snow off his head affectionatly as he made mumbling noises similar to an old man talking about kids on their lawn. walking up to the statue, Zev dived into the pile of presents, eventually emerging with a wagging tail; a bag with purple tissue paper inside in his mouth that she took gingerly. "Thank you Zev!" at which his tail wagged merrily. "And thank you Xanth! Merry Yuletide!" she said; using the same phase her origionally earth bound mother did.

Then, present in hand and Zev behind her glaring at the snowmen (who appeared to find the whole situation very humorous) with a nagging thought to open it, which she ignored.
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wolf - Katherine Moennig

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#5 User is offline   Dante Icon

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 08:19 AM

His first visit to the Grotto had been an interesting one. Dante had visited New Alexandria several times in the past, yet he had never visited during the month of December. Certainly, he'd heard stories from the locals about the Grotto, and the gifts that they'd received upon their successful navigation of the maze. But, he never believed the stories. He passed them off as local lore, or stories to excite the children during a special holiday. This all changed, however, upon his most recent attempt to visit the quadrangle. The transformation itself was amazing, though he never outwardly showed signs of his intrigue, except through the arching of a brow. He immediately began taking notes in his journal, commenting on how he had likely been wrong about the stories surrounding Xanth's Grotto, and the gifts located at the end of the maze. Perhaps the locals weren't toying with him after all.

Some time after taking many more notes, and shooting annoyed glances at a rather playful and feisty snowman, he decided that it was time to try and navigate the maze. He and his curiosity simply had to find out if the stories of the gifts were true. There is also the fact that this is 'tied' to a Goddess, though he'd never admit to that as a primary reason for exploration. He didn't even need to think of the fact that the presents were supposed to be from Xanth, in order to motivate himself to walk inside. He didn't even take the time to read the sign. He simply walked in, journal at the ready, taking notes on interesting things and people that he noticed along the way.

Some time after entering, he had found himself following behind a mother and her two small children. The children seemed excited, and the mother was smiling, and telling them stories of what Dante assumed was her own experiences within this Grotto. He made brief notes in his journal about each member of the small family, trying to keep an eye on the path that he was walking, and his journal, all in an effort to keep from smacking against a wall, or another person. Though, occasionally, he'd notice one of the children giving him an odd glance, and even overheard one of them mentioning something to their mother about his smell. Dante allowed himself a small, nearly silent, chuckle, quickly dismissing it as "a kid just being a kid". He then returned to his notes, recording the humorous incident, and making light of himself in the process. Dante was all too aware of his scent, and had long given up trying to mask it. The usual methods for deodorizing just didn't seem to work. Oh well, he thought, what can a guy do..

While making these notes, he heard the distinct sound of someone running, and before he could react, the feeling of something lightly brushing his left shoulder. When he looked up, he noticed gray wings, before they disappeared around the next corner in the maze. What in the world..? He arched a brow, seemingly confused as to why this person is in such a big hurry. His curiosity got the best of him, however, so he picked up the pace to something of a brisk walk, and followed along the path in hopes of spotting this person when he emerged at the end of the maze itself. He didn't see a point in running after the person, especially since he wasn't wanting to induce some sort of added panic. He was curious, not a stalker.

When he reached the end of the maze, he had already buried his nose in his journal again, noting thoughts that he had along the way. He glanced up briefly, and saw that this half of the journey was coming to a close. He noted this fact in his journal, with a hint of disappointment. He had been intrigued by the idea of the maze, and was wondering if there would be more to it. Perhaps it changes each year.. Something to test. He makes another quick note, before looking up again to try and take in more of the large room. But, what he saw was something that he had not expected. There, dancing before the beautiful ice throne, was a strikingly beautiful woman, with gray wings - Likely the ones that he had noticed before. Upon seeing her dancing, Dante had been unable to look away. He didn't want to look away. He had thoughts, but he didn't pay attention to any of them. None seemed to register. It's as if the world had begun to stand still around him and fade away, and all that remained was this beautiful figure dancing before him. Until the dance came to an end, he was left staring and watching, simply in awe.

After the dance, he blinked several times, gulped silently and looked down toward his journal. He saw that his hand was moving, in a subconscious attempt to notate what he had just experienced. All he saw on the paper was a large ink blotch, where his pen had been marking the same spot over and over. He sighed softly and flipped to the next page, noticing that it had stained there as well. This is a first.. He pushed feelings of frustration aside, and closed his journal - pen trapped inside - and held it beside him. He took in a deep breath, looked toward the woman - who was then recovering after her energetic dance - and decided that he'd calmly go and try to speak with her. He then stepped forward.


She turned quickly, and hurried to gather her belongings. He found it hard to move, think, or speak. For once in his life, Dante was completely unsure of what to do. Her beauty was disarming, and her embarrassment was obvious. He had not intended to cause this kind of reaction. He heard her shout, in a seemingly embarrassed voice, "Merry Christmas!", before she darted for the maze. He wanted to reply, but couldn't seem to make his mouth move, for a time. Speak, you idiot! You're only making this more awkward! Before she could run by him, he held up his hand, trying to signal her to stop, "Wait … !"

When she darted away, he sighed softly, shaking his head. Good going, Dante. You scared away a beautiful woman without even meaning to. You're a real Casanova. He then sniffed his shirt, wondering if perhaps it was his smell that drove her away. He quickly pushed the thoughts aside, however, dismissing it as an awkward moment that he'd have to learn from. He then stepped deeper into the room, opened up his journal, and began to take notes of the events that had just taken place. After all, things like that didn't happen every day for him.

Once his journal entries were complete, he stepped over to the gifts, smiled faintly and picked up the one closest to him. He had never been a very religious person, though he did believe in Xanth's existence. He also believed her to be the creator. It's just that he had never really been much of a follower, or a worshipper of her. He gave her respect, for being who and what she is, and for what she's done, because he believed that it's the least that she deserved, after enduring the oddities of these creations of hers. He took a moment, examined the throne, and decided that he should at least say something to her, if she can indeed hear him here. "I'm not entirely sure what to say. Honestly, I even doubted that the stories of this place were true. However, this poor fool thanks you for the gift, and the patience that you've shown. Happy Holidays, Lady Xanth."

Having accepted his gift, and learning much about the truth of the Grotto, Dante headed back into the maze, hoping that he'd get another chance to speak with the winged beauty from earlier, and apologize for startling her in such a way.


#6 User is offline   Xanth Icon

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 05:16 PM

For the first week of Xanthmas, Xanth gave with seasonal cheer:

To Kiel, a mottled purple and blue gobstopper.

To Euphenia, a beautiful sea-green gossamer scarf. Silver thread runs through the fabric in a spider-web effect.

To Lani, a dark purple leather wolf collar embossed with silver crosses.

To Dante, a soft brown waterproof leather coverlet that will fit over any book as protection. A white wyvern is hand-stitched onto the front and a braided tassel with sparkling white beads on the end serves as both bookmark and pen holder.

And to each, her warm blessings for the week so that they might find joy in the holiday season.


#7 User is offline   Lazuli Icon

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 10:50 PM

The Quadrangle was seriously Lazuli's favorite place in the city. Now that the holidays had started, it seemed even more spectacular. She glanced at all the people with cheerful smiles on their faces and the uplifting music bouncing along the air. It made her feel very happy, too. The season of gift-giving... what could be better than that? I still have to make gifts for everyone, she mused, thinking about her family and friends far away. It would be a good idea to visit the village again sometime.

As she entered the icy maze with a joyful look on her face, a snowball fell with a splat on the top of her head. "Oof!" She brushed it off her hair and grinned up at the snowman that had thrown it with pieces of snow still stuck to her face. "Oh, what cute little things!" she remarked cheerfully, and she affectionately threw a snowball back at it before dashing into the maze.

Xanth's Grotto was expectedly beautiful and Lazuli felt merry enough that she started skipping about in small circles here and there like a little ballerina, humming along to the seasonal music as she made her way to the center. She patted a random person on the back and whatever looks she received she did not really notice. She watched an imp that had snuck into the structure scampering along by the glassy walls and tried to chase it playfully, but it soon disappeared around a corner. A few more corners herself, and she arrived at Xanth's holiday throne.

Who knew that ice could be so beautiful? As a Nyad, she could truly appreciate it. She gave the ice goddess a polite, earnest bow and placed her hands together for prayer. "Thank you, Xanth, for another wonderful year!" She firmly believed that she felt a divine presence in the room, although the presence did not seem to be paying attention to anyone in particular.

She respectfully stood there for a while, and then bowed again. As she began to walk on, her movement displaced one of the many giftboxes piled around the foot of the throne. It tumbled down and she caught it before it hit the earth. She held it in her hands and smiled. As she turned to leave, she looked back and said, "Happy Holidays to you too, Goddess, and I hope your wishes come true!"
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journal // credits // doll by Emma ♥

#8 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 02:06 PM

Like, flowers in Autumn were hard to find, man, and kinda over his budget, but he hadn't known what else to bring and his sister was totally useless. She'd been all helpful with Xanth Day, but when he'd called asking her advice yesterday she'd just kinda shrugged. “Dude, Easy, I have a date, hang up already.” Like, yeah. Kiel had grumbled at her and, like, tried to convince her to wear less make-up but she'd just thumbed her nose at him then complained that she needed to redo her foundation now or something.

“Like, this better not be a totally lame present, man, or you can totally smite my sister or something. Like, it's her fault, you know, so like, don't zap me, man.”

He was kinda wary of heading over there, though. Flowers were delicate, especially this posy, man. Like, the dude that sold them said you only had to breathe at them funny and the purple-spotted petals would fall off, but, like, Kiel had figured, well. Like, they were the last ones that looked anywhere decent, and they were white to match the ice, you know? What did he know about this Xanthmas thing anyhow? He'd gotten all confused when someone called it Christmas, but it was all weird, man, so he was kinda sulking a little bit. He just didn't know how to get inside without risking the flowers against those snowballs, so, like, he was kinda waiting for them to be distracted long enough to leave him an opening.


#9 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 04:59 PM

It wasn't the right season in New Alexandria for Phen to wear as many layers as she was, but the memory of dashing through soggy snow in her bare feet with damp clothing clutched to her chest had colored her opinion. The last thing she wanted was to catch a cold, as she'd heard that the kind that was going around could bring even the strongest man to his knees and keep him there. She wasn't anywhere near as hardy as some of the men she'd seen tromping about town, so the winged nymph resorted to whatever protection she could get her dainty hands on.

Dove gray feathers ruffled, better protecting Phen's back against any potential onset of chill, as she glanced down at the map that had become a mainstay. Was she going in the right direction? Chewing her bottom lip in a sign of nerves that her mother would have scolded her for, Euphenia dared a peek at a road sign. "Alright, I think I'm on track. Oh, wait!" Feeling ridiculous, she finally noticed that the grotto itself was close enough that she could make out the gleam of the maze's outer wall from where she was standing. Cheeks flushing in embarrassment, something she'd been doing far too often back then, she carefully folded her map and advanced towards the center of the Quadrangle.

She didn't get far. Apparently the snowman she'd threatened before remembered her. "Hey!" she shouted as not two, but four snowballs piled up where she was just standing, "I'm not even close yet!"

Her mother would have been proud of this being of ice and snow's range. Scowling in a manner that scrunched Phen's face into the semblance of a petulant child, she stomped her leather boots in the snow, ready to duck to either side should the snowman try to let off another volley. "It's because of what I said, isn't it? I'll have you know I ... Oops!"

Had she actually slammed into the man standing there, she might have babbled a mostly incoherent apology. However, she'd only brushed his arm with her dark gray wool smothered one, so she retained her wits. "I'm very sorry. My focus was elsewhere."

Wings fluttering just a bit in anticipation of having to move quickly to shield not just her but the man she was addressing, Phen purposefully exposed her back to the wall, putting herself between the man and the lobbing of packed snow. "This doesn't just involve me now, so could we have a truce?" she called over her shoulder, trying to sound both dulcet and reasonable. When no more snowballs came, she didn't let down her guard. It was an old habit, but those are the kind that die hard.

Since she'd already broken the ice, so to speak, Phen tried offering a hand with the palm turned to one side, its long graceful fingers slightly curled. That was the proper gesture to begin a hand shake, wasn't it? "Greetings and happy holidays to you, sir. I am called Euphenia Vallas, but feel free to call me Phen. Most everyone does."

Eyes the color of newborn twilight seemed to sparkle as the winged nymph took in the features of the one she believed she was protecting from an ice pelted fate. My, he was a handsome one! "You have such lovely eyes," she complimented him with a cute little curving of full lips. She'd never quite learned to not say what she was thinking as long as it wasn't of a damaging nature. Who wouldn't appreciate being told the truth about themselves when what was said was pleasant? "Oh, is that for the Lady?"

She'd belatedly perceived the flower he was holding as if it were made of thin fragile crystal, but once she had she couldn't resist commenting on it. Making no move to touch it, Euphenia did give the blossom a good once over. "I'm sure that She will love it, and the effort you no doubt took in finding it."

(( Whoops! Forgot to ask. Is the brushing okay with you, Ems? ))


#10 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 05:39 PM

((Yup. ^^))

“Like, wah!”

Utterly dumbfounded, Kiel ogled the chick. He might have even drooled a little bit. Sure as apples and oranges he didn't hear a word she said, like, at least not 'til she got to the good stuff.

“Oh, like, thanks, man. I am hawt, you know?” He was kinda surprised by the compliment though, not many people saw his eyes as lovely. Like, for his kind, warriors especially, pink was bad, you know? Girly. Weak. Just like they saw him as anyhow.

When her gaze dropped to the posy in his hands, Kiel blinked. “Like, huh? What lady?” He blinked again, his jaw still slack as he stared unabashedly at her face. “Like, dude, you're awesome pretty, man. We should totally go out sometime.”

Barely aware that he'd actually been the one to initiate the flirting since it was such an ingrained response to a pretty girl, Kiel hopped away, lifting his arm slightly to protect the flower as if she was going to try and steal it. But, like, who could blame him, you know? The last time someone hit on him in the street, they'd stolen his wallet and stuff. “Like, dude! Quit hitting on me already, man, I've got a boyfriend, you know?”


#11 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 06:05 PM

For some reason, every time she tried to introduce herself to someone, they always got hung up on her face. Alright, not always her face, but something about her. That was why her coat had a hood, which unfortunately she'd forgotten to tug forward before heading for the grotto. Letting out a slow breath, she silently blamed the snowman for her being distracted. That was at least partly true.

"Oh, like, thanks, man. I am hawt, you know?"

She tried smiling a bit wider when he thanked her for complimenting his eyes, for at least at that point he was showing some kind of animation. He baffled her by saying what she perceived as "hot", though. "In this weather? You don't seem overdressed."

"Like, huh? What lady?"

Could it be that the people of the city didn't address Xanth as the Great Lady? Oh dear. She hadn't realize she was making such a blunder. "I meant the goddess Herself, Xanth. Is the flower for ... ?"

"Like, dude, you're awesome pretty, man. We should totally go out sometime."

"W-what?" Euphenia's heart shaped face was instantly turning pink, with bright red spots radiating upon her cheeks. No one had ever asked her something like that before, but then she really hadn't given them much chance to, had she? The only reason she even understood the implication was from talking with her fellow dancers at The Birdcage, since dating wasn't really something she wanted to ask her family about. "Thank you for saying so, but I ..."

"Like, dude! Quit hitting on me already, man, I've got a boyfriend, you know?"

She reacted when he'd moved that quickly. It was instinctive. Feathers flashed as she slid back about a foot, ready to flee if he made any more sudden movements, her body slightly bent at the waist and her knees bending just so. Her eyes widened in anticipation, watching him like a rabbit does a hawk. Her voice became softer still, melodiously trying to coax him into calming down. "I would never hit you, sir, and if your boyfriend expresses his affections thus, I would advise that you seek someone else for companionship. I'm sorry if I have confused you, for I do not mean you nor your blossom harm."

As if to seal the moment, Phen felt the wet "Plop!" of a snowball striking her in the back of the head and starting its wet trail down her neck. Lovely. Just lovely.

#12 User is offline   Lucas Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 06:14 PM

Lucas had studied the new icy structure from the air with curiosity since the beginning of December, but had only just found the time to come down and actually see what it was. When he arrived, he wrinkled up his nose. Xanth's grotto? How very twee. Still, potential rewards...well that was enough motivation for putting up with whatever whimsical decorations were inside. He entered, dodging the snowball throwing snowmen with a groan. Where was the attraction in hitting people with what was essentially frozen water? He stepped into the maze, and couldn't shake off the feeling that he was some sort of lab-rat who would risk electric shocks and humiliation in search for the elusive piece of cheese. However, he knew how to put his personal skills to his advantage, and very gently took into the air, his wings beating lazily. He could see above the icy walls, and quickly realised a path to the gift-strewn centre of the maze. With a smile, he slowly came down to earth, and took the memorized route.

Now at the big pile of gifts, he swiped the first one he saw, tucking it under his arm for safekeeping. Taking the same route out that he had to get in, he heard a voice. Recognising it as that chatty kid Kiel, Lucas kept his head down and rushed to the exit. Being seen here would very much crush his reputation, and that just so wasn't worth it. Relieved to find the exit, Lucas left. This gift better be good, he thought, as he took to the skies once more.


#13 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 06:25 PM

Kiel would have been totally hurt if he'd seen Lucas trying to avoid him, but, like, fortunately he was totally oblivious since the dude was the other side of the street and all. Plus, like, Kiel was totally bemused and focused on the confounding chick in front of him.

“Like. Huh?” His smarts were finally catching up with his mouth or something, because he was starting to recognise that they were talking at opposite ends or something. And, like, dude! He hadn't expected a counter-defence or whatever that was, man.

“Like, wait, man, wait, wait. Wait. Like, you've been living under a rock or something, right?” Okay, so, like, maybe she'd never heard the Dardanian accent and was mishearing stuff, or maybe where she came from hadn't heard his slang or something, but this was kinda funny, man.

“Zeph'd never hit me, man. Like, not unless I bugged him or something. Which, okay so, like, I do that pretty often and he glares a lot, man, but he's awesome, you know? And anyway, I said hit on, man, not just hit, you know? Like, get your ears cleaned out or something, hahahahaha. Hit on, you know? Like flirt and stuff?” His tone sounded like some dude talking to a kid or something, but he hadn't run into anyone who didn't know the phrase yet and he was no teacher, hahahaha.

“Oof, dude, man, that's gotta feel weird, hahahahaha. Hey, hey, you're going in the grotto, right? Like, to get a present or something? 'cause, like, I'm headed in there too but, like, the dude who sold me the flower said it's crazy fragile, man, and them snowmen have it in for me or something, you know? Like, you wanna be my wingman or something?”


#14 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 06:48 PM

Cautiously, Euphenia rose from her half crouch, risking an arm to reach back and scoop out what she could reach of the snow that threatened to soak the collar of her coat. The meeting of the ice particles and her skin was soothing to her, even if they were freezing cold. It was as if she were receiving the comforting touch of a family member. So, she held onto the half melted palm-full of slush a bit longer than necessary, only letting it slide sloppily from her fingers when they started to feel numb.

She kept her previous tone of voice, still not fully convinced that the 'vari wasn't going to try and bowl her over in an attempt to reach the relative safety of the maze, snowmen or no snowmen. Besides, he'd accused her of living under a rock. Did she look like a dryad? "I am glad to hear that your chosen doesn't hurt you, and apologize for my ignorance. I ... I haven't been out amongst folk much."

Perhaps her lack of social training could be seen in an amusing light. His laugh was certainly pleasant enough to make her consider it. Smiling again, though not as brightly as before, she nodded. "Yes, I'm going in, and with a present of my own to give to the La ... to Xanth." There was no sense in starting up further confusion, right? "As for the snowmen ..."

Glancing over her shoulder, she scooted forward, sudden mischief refocusing the flush of her face to her cheeks and making her smile give way to a playful grin. Her voice got softer still, till she was whispering up to the 'vari. "I'll cover you. Keep your treasure close, and I will make sure they won't get a single hit in. You must run, though, and be quick about it."

Ah, the wonder of a plan! To get someone past the snowman's watch would be a magnificent victory for her ego, even if she ended up shivering and bedraggled afterward. At least the 'vari would get by unmolested.

#15 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 06:57 PM

“Run? Hahahahahahaha, I can totally do that, man, but, like, you sure you can keep up?” Grinning to himself as much as her, Kiel caught himself staring at her again and blinked. Like, dude, it was a good thing Zeph wasn't here, man. The dude would go totally ape if he caught Kiel ogling a chick and he couldn't keep losing friends like this, man.

Preparing to dash off towards the grotto, Kiel stepped close to the chick conspiratorially. Like, he probably didn't need to be quite that close, but he was kinda used to getting all up in Zeph's space (or, like, you know, usually the other around around, actually) during his training sessions, and those were the only real combat experience he had lately so he wasn't really thinking about what he was doing.

“Like, dude. I love Her and all, but you gotta wonder what She's on sometimes, you know?” he rambled, not meaning any disrespect to the Creator at all. “They're pretty awesome though, right? Like, I wonder how you even make a snowman move around like that, you know? Or, like, even have a ice maze. I mean, it's not a rainforest or something, but it's still kinda warm for this, you know?”

Realising that he'd totally spaced on the chick's name and that it was rude to keep calling her "chick" even in his head, Kiel asked, “Hey, hey, what's your name, man? You know, like, in case I have to scream, uh, yell it or something.”


#16 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 07:14 PM

Euphenia missed the new round of staring, being overly focused on trying to come up with the best possible strategy to keep the snowmen orientated on her when the 'vari took off. She did catch his words though, and giggled because of them. Her laugh matched her voice, the silvery notes of it as pleasing as wind chimes jostled by a friendly breeze. "I'll do my best," she assured him, tossing her head to get a rogue strand of pale gold out of her field of vision.

She wasn't ready for him to step so close, and immediately tensed up. Phen fought against the urge to put space between them, as she was supposed to be working with him against a common foe. Right? Right. She would keep her distance later, when they weren't in danger of getting peppered with snow. Her tension did lend a quaver to her voice when she spoke next, though. "W-we can't really understand the logic of the immortals, but I've always believed that She means well. As for Her abilities, I like to think that She takes them from Her imagination and just makes them Be."

Wings quivering, ready for an attempt at flight (With emphasis on "attempt"), she darted a glance the man's way. "They are 'awesome', if I understand you correctly. This is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen." Which for her was saying something, because for the longest time she would have sworn that no place could ever be as gorgeous as the area around her nymph home village, Silas.

He got another look when he asked for her name. Hm. He must not have paid attention earlier. No matter, sometimes she got like that, too. "It's Euphenia, but you can just call me Phen. Most everyone does. What's yours?"

#17 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 04:30 PM

“Kiel,” he answered with a grin, bouncing on his toes. Like, he wasn't totally oblivious to her nervousness, man, but he just figured she was a bit scared of the snowmen or something since, like, he couldn't remember ever making anyone stammer before. It'd be so cool if it was him she was reacting to, though, hahahaha. Like, proof of his elevation to non-runt status or something.

“Hahahaha, but, like, you're way right, man. Like, I never saw snow before, you know? Like, it doesn't snow where I live, come from, but, like, then Zeph took me to Nirim and it's the middle of winter there or they just have awesome cold summers or something, you know? We had a snowball fight in the middle of the street, hahahahaha. Hey, hey, Phenny, go on three, okay?”

Tensing on the balls of his feet like he was getting ready for the traditional three-legged foot race his family held on Xanth Day, he tugged his hat further down over his eyes and cradled the flower against his chest.

And then totally forgot the actual counting part.

“Go!” Bursting forward with indelicate speed, Kiel dashed towards the grotto's opening, and yelped as a snowball splattered into the pavement just behind his foot. “Wah, wah, cut it out, man!”


#18 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 06:47 PM

It was good to match a name to the handsome face, though she'd never heard of one quite like "Kiel" before. That just made it sound all the better to her ears. "I like that," she stated simply, not bothering to explain precisely what it was that she liked.

Good Goddess, did the 'vari have a lot of energy! He was already rearing to go. She had pegged him for a runner, but she hadn't anticipated his eagerness. Hopefully he wasn't like the faun back home that ran like a wild cat chasing down prey, but once he hit his peak his energy would be suddenly gone, leaving him in a quivering heap. She would have to watch out for her new aquaintance. The thought of having to drag Kiel through the snow wasn't very appealing, but she would do so if necessary.

Euphenia split her attention between Kiel and the snowmen, knowing that the timing would have to be just right for their improvised plan to work. It took a more few seconds of attentive listening for Phen to realize just how hyperactive Kiel could be. Had she been too on edge earlier to notice that the guy had a knack for talking a mile a minute? He was putting her "poetry voice" to shame, and it had always served up at least two pages before her family members could escape. Phen couldn't even think of a reply before he requested the count off.

Shrugging, an action that was echoed by her wings, Euphenia nodded, then found herself drawn up short. Wait, what had he called her? "Kiel, should I ...?" Her question was lost when he took off at an admirable pace.

"Oh, for the love of little green apples!" she cursed under her breath, breaking into a sprint to try and not just catch up, but become a living shield between him and the snowmen once more. How in the worlds was she to protect him after he had already darted out in front?

There was no point in calling out to him, she'd only slow Kiel down and make the 'vari an easier target. Instead she concentrated on pumping her arms, legs, and wings as fast as physically possible. Phen just knew there were muscle cramps in her future.

"Hey!" she bellowed at the snowman who tried to splatter Kiel, punching the air with a fist in the snowball flinging fiend's general direction, "I'm coming up there, and when I do, that hat of yours is going somewhere uncomfortable!"

Not that she had any idea where to put a hat to make a snowman uncomfortable, but she hoped it was the threat that counted.

#19 User is offline   Kiel Icon

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 07:22 PM

Like, this wasn't working out like he'd thought, you know? He was faster than most, so he should have curbed his speed a bit so the chick could do the shielding thing, and let her go first or something. Like, duh.

“Wah!” Flincing and hunching his shoulder to protect his hat and the flower as a snowball smacked him straight in the face, Kiel's direct path to the grotto entrance wobbled a bit. Despite the cold, he was giggling like mad.

“Hahahaha, you tell 'em, Phenny, man!” He'd love to see her do it, hahaha. Like, where did you shove stuff that was uncomfortable for a snowman, though? “Hahahaha, threaten them with your hair dryer or something!” he snickered over his shoulder. Their plan seemed to be doing the trick though, since, like, the snowmen were totally focused on Phenny now, giving Kiel a chance to zip into the maze.

He skidded to a halt inside, crashing into a wall 'cause he'd totally forgotten to compensate for the ice underfoot, and sat in the snow blinking, the flower still cradled - unharmed, thank Xanth! - against his chest, totally laughing his socks off.

“Dude, man, that was awesome!”


#20 User is offline   Euphenia Icon

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:11 PM

Phen winced when Kiel's face took a hit, since she was watching him out of the corner of her eye, but somehow wasn't surprised when he managed to keep talking without difficulty after. The fact that he seemed undaunted, despite his outcry, inspired a fleeting smile on the winged nymph's face.

There was something uplifting about his laughter, or maybe it was just the fact that she was participating in a cooperative effort. Not since she was a child had she indulged in such play. It felt good. It felt really, really good.

Grinning, she ducked her head in a futile effort to avoid the volley of snow her empty threat had earned. Her wings got plastered with white, since they'd twitched forward to try and shield their bearer. Sometimes Phen would swear they had a mind of their own. Right then it wasn't necessarily a good thing. Though her wings had spared her coat from getting soaked in places, their feathers were drinking up the moisture from the already melting snow. If the barrages kept up, her wings would get too heavy for her to keep aloft, and then where would she be?

"Trying to drag my sorry self at a crawl, that's where," she muttered, jumping to one side to be barely missed by another four (Or was it six?) snowballs. She'd lost count already.

But there was the entrance! Kiel had already made it, disappearing from sight. "Thank Xanth!" she trilled, putting on another burst of speed ... and remembering too late that the ground within the maze was sheeted over with ice.

"EeeEEeeek!" She would later regret the glass shattering shriek that sounded so cute and girly, but at that moment she was too busy flinging her hands in front of her face to care. She thumped into the inner wall of the maze, her wings softening the impact by degrees since they had stretched out to their full unimpressive (By Anyeli standards) length.

"Oof!" There went her supply of air, if her squeal of fright hadn't taken it all already. Right next to Kiel, Phen landed on her butt, a dazed expression on her face.

Several blinks later, anyone who came along to try and get into the maze had to first get past a couple of laughing lunatics. Euphenia laughed until her sides hurt, and tears streamed down her cheeks. She couldn't remember when she'd last had so much fun when with another person outside of her family.

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