As you’ve probably guessed, this is Ran, son of Sarn, but this time, I’m writing to you from the FUTURE. Muahahahahaa …
Sorry, I got a little carried away there, but you no doubt expected that. I did have a rather dramatic (but happy) childhood. (And the world’s most *magical* father.)
Every once in awhile, I like to check in and see how my younger selves are treating you. Don’t be shy. Hit reply and tell me if you’re enjoying Young Ran’s email antics. I won’t tell him if you are because that would cause a paradox and wipe out all life everywhere. 0_o So your secret is safe with me.
And now, here’s a little gift from me to you. Without further ado, I bring you a tale of wintry magic and wild adventure:
Shards for His Present:
A Curse Breaker Christmas Exclusive
(Parts of this story are set before Enchanted. Other parts are set in the future, but you already knew that.)
“You want me to do your holiday shopping? Why?” Ran stood there flabbergasted, hands on his lean hips, his green eyes fixed on his father. Over the years, he’d undertaken a number of errands for his father, but gift buying?
Sarn ignored his outburst and thrust a handful of coins at his son. “Whatever you pick’ll be fine. I trust you. Go now before the weather turns.”
“No buts, you can do this one favor for me. I don’t ask much of you.” Sarn flung open the door letting in the chill wind, and a few brave flurries as he ushered his teenage son out the door.
Moments later, Ran stood on the cracked stoop regarding the closed door and the sad wreath hanging on it. It was missing more than a few sprigs thanks to the wind tearing down the street. He pulled his cloak closed, glad he’d still been wearing it and shoved his hands, and the coins his father gave him, into his pockets.
What am I supposed to buy and who for? Ran ransacked his memory and came up empty. I should have paid more attention. But the map covering most of the table had been far more interesting. Was there another campaign in the offing?
Dad’s still healing, but I can go. Ran hunched his shoulders and tried to make a smaller target for the wind to pummel. I want to go.
The more Ran thought about it, the more sense it made. Dad wanted me out of the house because someone’s coming to talk about that map–someone important. And I’m going to miss it because of a stupid shopping trip, just great.
Ice pellets bounced off Ran’s hooded head. They crackled like breaking glass underfoot. He needed a present and fast, but every shop he passed, flipped its sign from open to closed. The leaden sky looked ready to drop its snowy payload any minute now. Ran stopped beneath a lacy bridge connecting two ancient towers, and the hail stopped beating him up.
Ahead, between two more towers, trees swayed in the wind. No enchanted trees grew inside the valley-turned-city, but there was something about the stately fir tree rising up between its brethren. A snatch of song caught Ran’s ear as he crossed into the park.
“O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, how lovely are thy branches,” sang a woman in a white fur-trimmed cloak as she rounded the tree.
In the crook of one arm, she held a box of glass globes. They shined in the light of the lumir-crystal-garland she wound around the tree. Humming the rest of the carol, she lifted a delicate globe from the box and hooked it on a branch.
Her hood framed a wind-chapped face wrinkled from age. Why she was decorating a tree in a public park right before a snowstorm hit? Let dad never go that crazy, please.
“Have you come to help me?” The crone cocked her head to one side and considered Ran. Her gray eyes crinkled at the corners as she held up another bauble.” Here, take an ornament. You need it more then the tree does.” She held the box out, and the glass spheres twinkled in the reflected lumir light.
“Why are you decorating now? There’s a storm coming.” Ran scuffed his boot in the icy needle-covered ground.
The crone shrugged. “Storms come and go more often than the holidays. That’s the way of things. Here, take an ornament.” She proffered the box again and hummed a different tune, one that grabbed Ran by his lapels and dragged him back to a childhood he only dimly remembered.
“Night is falling. You’ve come to where journey’s start,” the woman sang, and her voice merged with another woman’s, but the lyrics were different. “Look here, and see the one who came before. He is calling from across time and space.”
The ornaments glittered in the waning light, and images sparkled on their smooth curves. The closer Ran got, the clearer the pictures became until one caught his eye. Snow fell in thick flakes as he lifted a green globe from the box. A slender lumir crystal trapped in the glass suspended in the globe’s middle made it glow. Inside it, a young man tromped through a winter wonderland, and his eyes set the snow-covered ground ablaze with emerald light.
“Papa,” Ran breathed hardly daring to believe it.
The miniature copy of Sarn turned. His ratty cloak flared to reveal his threadbare clothes. Oh God, he can’t be more than seventeen. This can’t be real. It wasn’t possible. But oh, how he wanted it to be. There was so much he wanted to know.
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