Bonus Story: Blessed Season

on December 23, 2007 in Other Tales

Story Notes: The Feast of Khersen is the Khersian solstice celebration. It officially marks the nadir of the year, the exact moment that’s the midpoint of the longest night. According to Khersian traditions, a number of important events in the mortal existence of Lord Khersis were linked to this day

In days gone by, people would officially gather in solemn and pious religious observance at sunset of the preceding day (“Eventide”) and celebrate when the sun returned the next morning.

In modern times, the celebration more often begins during Eventide, though most practicing Khersians still attend a temple service before they get down to partying.

“Khersentide” is sometimes used to refer to the feast day, the two day celebration, or the winter holiday season in general.

Blessed Season

Eventide.

The quaint not-so-little house on the hilly street was ablaze with light, frosted window panes glowing amber beneath snowy eves. Two figures, a dark-haired woman in a threadbare coat and a tiny child, rotund in a pink parka covering layers of sweaters, stood on the porch waiting for the heavy, weathered door to open.

As soon as it did…

“Gan’ma! Gan’ma! Gan’ma!” the child yelled, skinny legs propelling her forward to where the aging woman held the door open at arm’s length.

“Peace, Kenzie,” Martha Blaise said, reaching down and arresting the child’s forward flight with a touch. “There is no shouting inside this house without good reason.”

“She’s just excited to see you,” the girl’s mother said with an air of weary patience. “And please, Mother, Mackenzie. You know I abhor pet names.”

“It isn’t a pet‘s name, it’s a girl’s name and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Martha said. “The Lord Who Shaped Us saw fit to pass judgment on your offspring and he will not be fooled by you giving her a man’s name and letting her run around in britches.”

“Britches?” the grown child said, smiling. “They’re called blue jeans, Mother.”

“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, Laurel Anne. Kenzie, dear, wouldn’t you rather have worn a nice new Khersentide dress, like your cousins Shannon and Morgan?” Martha said, leaning in close to the toddler’s face and indicating some of the older girls visible through the doorway, busily stringing puffs of popcorn for garlands. “Or look at Tracy in her pretty gold… it’d be a bit gaudy any other time, of course. I’ll have to speak to her mother about that. But, wouldn’t you love a dress like hers?”

Very gravely, the child Mackenzie shook her head and skirted around to the other side of her mother’s legs, her joy at seeing “Gan’ma” momentarily forgotten.

“I can’t keep her in a dress,” Laurel said, stooping and picking her up. “She’d rather go naked… she pulls them off as soon as my back’s turned.”

“You did your daughter a world of hurt those months you spent among the wild heathens,” Martha said. “She’s got it in her blood bad if she’s running around naked like them. You’d better hurry up and get her anointed before she’s irredeemably tainted.”

Laurel rolled her eyes again. She set her daughter down. The child clung to her, but she gently disentangled her tiny arms. “Go play with your cousins, Mackenzie,” she said, and gave her a gentle push in the direction of the sounds of merriment.

“Oh, so we’re going to have it out again, are we?” Martha asked.

“First, I really doubt Mackenzie was warped or even affected by the mere three months I spent in a commune… especially as it was before she was even born,” Laurel said. “Second, I don’t believe in anointing children before they’re old enough to understand and make up their own mind, and third, I didn’t exactly have a lot of options. You weren’t making me feel very welcome at home.”

“Well, you got that much wrong,” Martha said. “I would have dearly loved to have you back home during your troubles. I would have taken care of you. That’s what family’s for.”

Laurel visibly bit back a sharp retort, then visibly weighed several other responses. Finally, she gave a sigh and then leaned in closer to her mother, though they were alone in the anteroom.

“I wasn’t even going to come,” she confided. “Not after last time… but then, all year long, it’s been ‘Go see Gan’ma? Go see Gan’ma?‘ And then the Khersen decorations started going up and her little mind made the connection. I couldn’t tell her we were not going.”

“Humph,” Martha said. “The parent should master the child, not the other way around.”

“Are you saying you’d rather I’d have stayed away?”

“I’d rather it was your decision,” Martha said. “You’re my daughter, for all your faults… and whatever evil you may do, well, I bear some of the shame for having borne you.”

“Khee, thanks, Mother,” Laurel said.

“Don’t you blaspheme under my roof… and don’t sass me, either,” Martha said. “Anyway, that’s simply the way of being a woman. You’ll understand in time. You know, you’d go a long way towards correcting your sin if you’d find that girl a father.”

“You know what?” Laurel said. “I’m going to just go say hi to everybody and then we’re going to be on our way. Thank you for having us, Mother, but…”

“Laurie?” a voice from the living room said. A woman in a silver dress came sweeping into the front hall and threw her arms around Laurel. Aside from lighter hair and less lines on her face, she could have been a mirror image of her younger sister. “Oh, my kosh… it really is!”

“Hi, Joanne,” Laurel said, affection for her sister warring with her anger at her mother.

“Everybody said you weren’t coming,” Joanne said. “But then I saw your little Kenzie eating the decorations…”

“Eating what?” Laurel asked, horrified.

“Ginger eggs and popcorn garlands,” Joanne said, laughing. “Honey, relax! She’s not going to start biting the heads off angels.”

“Oh,” Laurel said, chuckling. “She does have a bit of a sweet tooth, but sometimes it seems like she’d fit the whole world in her mouth if she could.”

“Let her!” Joanne said. “It’s Khersentide. Why didn’t you let us know you were coming?”

“I told Mother,” Laurel said. “Right before we hired the coach. It was… a last minute decision. Oh! The coach is still outside, waiting to be paid.”

“Let me, please!” Joanne said. “It’ll be my present to you.”

“I can afford it,” Laurel said, a little testily. “I just wanted to get Mackenzie inside and off the icy street before I started fumbling for change.”

“No, really, it’s the least I can do,” Joanne said. “You go on inside, grab some mead… everybody will be thrilled you came.”

“We can’t stay long,” Laurel said. “You might as well tell the coach to wait…”

“Oh, nonsense!” Joanne said. “Of course you’re staying. We’ll sleep in our old room and Kenzie can sleep in the living room with all her cousins… I don’t think she’s even met most of them yet.”

“Mackenzie’s used to sleeping with me, actually,” Laurel said. “I don’t know if I… if she’d be comfortable…”

“Really?” Joanne asked. “Isn’t she four now?”

“She’s only three and a half,” Laurel said. “And that’s not so old.”

“You know what, you go take care of your coach… I’m going to go tell everybody the good news,” Joanne said. “And then you just see if you can worm your way out of staying the night!”

As Joanne headed back into the living room and announced, “Hey, everybody!”, Laurel turned back to see her mother… not exactly beaming, but smiling with a look of triumph in her eyes.

“Okay,” she said. “We’ll stay. But only because I think Mackenzie deserves to know her family.”

“She’ll be hard pressed to do that if she only sees us once a year,” Martha said.

“Let’s see how tonight goes,” Laurel said. “And tomorrow.”

“I’ll go pay your coach,” Martha said, the smile fading from her face even as her eyes began to twinkle, as if her good mood had merely retired from public life. “Don’t argue, Laurel Anne. It’s a mother’s prerogative to spoil her child.”

Laurel snorted behind her sleeve.

“It’s icy, Mother…”

“You think I don’t know the way down my own walk?” Martha retorted. “You go on, say hi to your brothers and sisters, and the new in-laws you’ve never bothered to meet. There may be an extra present or two I can put Kenzie’s name on… I’m too old and feebleminded to keep track of things like step-grandchildren, you know, so I try to have too many gifts instead of too few.”

“Thanks,” Laurel said. “Thank you. Blessed season, Mother.”

“Blessed season, child,” Martha said. “Though I can’t promise one of them won’t be a dress.”


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4 Responses to “Bonus Story: Blessed Season”

  1. Anthony says:

    Not biting the heads off of angels, eh? And just after those last few chapters… is this subtle foreshadowing? Are we perhaps going to be introduced to a half-celestial? (Virginal, of course…) 😉

    Current score: 0
  2. yolo says:

    anthony bro youre missing the point, mackenzie is ADOPTED

    a FULL demon child adopted by a demon huntress

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Um, no. She may have some flawed ideas, but her heritage is not one of them.

      Current score: 0
  3. Anon says:

    Ah the good old days, before Kenzie’s heritage ever manifested itself, when good old grandma Blaise was… still a righteous cunt.

    Don’t get me wrong, I respect the hell out of the old demon huntress, and I admire her dedication to her family even if it is just because that’s what the rules say. I just would not want to be within several leagues of her for any length of time unless I was actively being attacked by a demon. And if I was, I would have to think long and hard about whether she would be preferable.

    Current score: 4