The Tsayadim huntsmen stomped through the snow of the Ethereal North Pole,
stalking their way slowly to the Workshop Compound of that most infamous of
Ethereals, the closet Pagan spirit of Santa Claus.
Traumiel, the Ofanite leader of this group of Tsayadim, was perticularly driven to succeed in this mission. Popular rumor had it that the Tsayadim hunted Santa Claus every year, managing to slay him every year, only to be forced to hunt him the next year all over again.
...If only that were true.
In truth, no Tsayad had ever succeeded in defeating this fabled Santa Claus. Generally, either he avoided their patrols entirely, or he maneuvered them towards Nightmarish Operations, forcing them to abandon the Ethereal's trail to slay the Evil forces. But the rare few occasions the odd Tsayad had ambushed Claus to battle him, a very embarassing thing happened...
The Tsayadim got beaten within a inch of Soul Death, then abandonned as he left.
Needless to say, the Tsayadim never corrected the rumors, as it wouldn't be good for morale to let it on that an Ethereal could defeat the glorious forces of Heaven in battle. Still, the Santa Slayers were really getting sick and tired of this game, and this year, had decided to take the battle right to the enemy, and defeat Santa Claus before he even left his workshop.
This year, Traumiel swore to himself, this year, Santa would die. He lead his troops closer to the old elf's home, hidden in the Ethereal snow, then ignited his flaming sword and prepared to order his troops to charge, when the front door opened, revealing the massive frame of ol' Kris Kringle, standing in the light, gazing at them with a stern look in his eyes. Traumiel met his gaze, blinking only once, then gathered his resolve.
"Prepare to have your Essence cast to the wind, you Heretical Ethereal! I, Traumiel, servitor of Purity, have come..."
"I know why you came here, you misfledged cretin! And by God, I'm getting sick and tired of getting my Christmas Run interrupted every year by a bunch of twits who're acting in total defiance of the Seraphim Council's commands! Now get your asses out of my backyard before I come out there and give you all a serious thrashing!"
Traumiel blinked, finding himself unable to continue his proclamation. He then shook his head and pointed at the Ethereal with his Sword of Fire and ordered the charge.
The dozen Tsayadim all leapt into action, Flaming Swords swinging, slashing and cutting at him for all they were worth...
...And ended up getting their limbs broken, their ribs bruised, and their Swords... inserted up a cavity they had no idea they had, before being tossed into a crumpled heap by Claus, who was holding Traumiel in a choke hold.
"*cough* ...H-how... How can a *Hack* mere Ethereal..."
Santa grinned as the Tsayadim started to lose consciousness... "Oh, but it's simple, really. I'm NOT an Ethereal... You never even considered I would be a Celestial, did you?"
He threw the Tsayadim down on the snowy ground, then threw down his coat and spread his own Black Wings, also exposing the Steel bands on his arms. ...The Malakite Wings and armbands... "What in the name of Purity are you?"
"I am Nicholas, you self-righteous twit. Once known as Saint Nicholas, during my original tour of duty on Earth. I was once a Servitor of Purity, like you. Remember me now, Traumiel?"
The Tsayadim stared in disbelief. "Nicholas? Nicholas the Arianist-hater? What... What are you, a Servitor of Purity doing, being involved in this Heresy?"
The red-clad Malakim glared at his former companion and snorted. "I serve Purity no longer, Traumiel. I serve Heaven first and foremost. When Uriel was called back to the higher Heavens and Lord Laurence was placed in command, I served under him... Unlike you other self-righteous twits who believe serving a lost Superior is more honorable..."
Traumiel gritted his teeth and sat up as Nicholas continued. "And Archangel Laurence I served faithfully for decades, earning many a distinction under him. Including the rank of Master of the Armies of God, which is how I silenced you earlier. But always I felt something else calling me... even back when I served Uriel..."
Santa looked up and sighed, looking at the Ethereal sky. "I was one of the first witnesses, Traumiel... I was there when The Messiah was born. No other night of the year touches me so as that night did. And when the Christians began celebrating Christmas, I took to celebrating it with them, amongst them."
He looked down at Traumiel again, his gaze becoming stern once more. "...I became friends with the young Christopher around that time, in the dark ages. I took to learning how to make toys to give to the poor children. Archangel Eli actually took the time to teach me how to do so, God Bless him. I traveled all over Europe delivering toys to the needy children, favoring Good children and not bad ones, to try and teach them a little morality. Used a lot of Roles back in those days, even a female one in Italy."
"Eventually, though, the Christian world just got too big for giving physical toys... So I applied to transfer to Dreams, and was sent to work for Archangel Blandine. Lord Laurence approved, apparantly, as he allowed me to keep my old Distinctions. Since then, I've been doing my Christmas rides entirely in the Dreamscapes, visiting Good children to give them happy Christmas dreams."
Traumiel, by that point, had gotten up and was actually preparing to attack Nicholas from behind, when he felt a sword tip poking him from behind. He turned around to see an elven warrior right out of a Tolkien novel, grinning at him as he held him at swordpoint. Nicholas turned and grinned. "It's about that time that I befriended some Elves and secretly negociated a truce with them: They help me bring happy dreams to good children, and not only do I protect them from Nightmares and the likes of you, they get to keep the Essence they earn from the sleeping children they help. Oh, and they've taken to liking the whole "Christmas Cheer" thing, too. I can't believe how I've come to love them so... Ho ho..."
Traumiel spat at the snow at Nicholas' feet. "You'll burn for this, you traitor... How dare you betray Uriel so!"
"He betrays no one, Traumiel..."
Traumiel turned towards the workshop, to see the shining figures of Laurence, Archangel of the Sword, stepping down towards them, followed by Blandine, Archangel of Dreams. Traumiel simply gulped as Laurence stepped forward and glared at the Tsayadim. "Nicholas is here in direct Service to Heaven and God, as the Angel of Christmas, with my blessings and Lady Blandine's own."
Traumiel blinked and shook his head. "NO!! That's Impossible!! He traffics with Ethereals, ETHEREALS!!"
Laurence looked at Blandine, who smiled at him, then turned back and shrugged. "He keeps them in check, Traumiel, and does so without dishonor. Which is more then I can say looking at your past deeds... But in any case, you are to stop your attacks on Nicholas from this moment on. While we're still debating the legality of your continued actions in the Marches, attacking the Servents of Heaven are a clear violation of your Heavenly Oaths, Traumiel. You're hereby ordered by The Commander of the Host to leave now..."
Traumiel simply nodded and staggered away with nothing more to say, his battered Tsayadim limping behind him. Nicholas put his coat back on and turned to Laurence and bowed. "Thank you, most Noble Commander..."
Laurence smiled and waved it off. "No need to be so formal, old friend. I still owed you for saving me back in Carthage..."
Nicholas smiled at his old companion and superior, then smiled and bowed at Blandine, who once again had little to say verbally, but who's smile spoke volumes. "Now, with your leave, my old friends, my Elves and I must prepare for this year's run through the Marches."
As he prepared to re-enter his Workshop, this time, for once, Blandine actually had a parting word to say. "Tell me, Nicholas... when will you finally accept the promotion to Archangel? You've more then earned it..."
Old St Nick just turned and shook his head. "Nay, my Lady, I don't consider myself worthy of such an honor. I'm just a Jolly old Elf trying to bring joy to the children of the world one night a year, in honor of God and the Lord my savior... Hardly Archangel material, by my accounts. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check up on the raindeers, in case that ruckus bothered them..."
As he stepped back into his workshop, Laurence and Blandine smiled at each other and turned to leave back to Heaven, both feeling thankful that Christmas was under such a watchful eye...
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