The Girls did not provide me with any thing new this year.
I think they spent part of xmas though harassing a certain show runner.
Apparently every time he opens a present he gets ANOTHER copy of the Dummies Guide to Digital Downloads: Special Edition. How to give Danny back his body.
Seriously the Doctor can't travel back in time and get a few genetic samples to create a clone body and then go forward to the future and find some one who can hack Gallifreyan tech?
Meanwhile for your Xmas reading pleasure.
A Teckelstein Tale of the First Christmas
Apparently Three Wise Men and Some Shepherds needed a little help to reach that stable and witness a special event.
Bethlehem about 4 BC or 0 BCE ... whatever
There's a planetary conjunction or a supernova or whatever unusual celestial paranormal or other phenomen that will produce the appearance of a star parking over Bethlehem after sunset.
Meanwhile in the local magistrate's office a specialist mercenary from Southern Germania has arrived. His speciality was normally getting well paid for hunting predators that might attack Roman soldiers setting up a camp and being an advance scout watching out for hostile locals.
He's from a little valley that will later be known as Teckelstein where there are many let us say ... protodachels!
Small valiant brave hounds so fearless the local wild pigs run and hide next to the giant elk deep in the darkest parts of the forest!
One such small valiant pack had accompanied that specialist into the office to the annoyment of the clerks who had been enjoying a couple of glasses of wine and a platter of the GOOD cheese and the WHITE bread and were now being pestered for pieces of cheese by the pack while the specialist Gwillhelmianus was speaking to the magistrate.
" NO you Judeans have a final l in your language so surely you can say Gwillo? Or Uillson? Its so much shorter and easier?"
The magistrate glared and said
"I'm paying you not the Herodians or the Romans or the Temple.
Officially you're on leave but there's that little matter of the fight in the tavern about rooms and bookings and whether or not there was room in the tavern ...?
Some thing is bothering travellers on the roads. Some thing large and dark and sinister according to those travellers. Personally I think its just some lion or leopard or unusually large jackal thats come in from the desert but I need a expert now before there's a panic and one of the more sensible local herders tells me he's seen unusual tracks that he can't identify either so get out there and find out what it is before I have a delegation of irate smelly shepherders in my forecourt! Oh and if you're thinking of doing a runner ..."
The magistrate pointed at a cage on the floor,
"I have your prize hunting bitch who's about to whelp."
"I'll need my weapons."
"Sign for them in the outer office." growled the magistrate back returning to the task of applying his seal to packets of census forms.
Gwillo glared at the contract he had to sign to get his weapons back.
It absolved the magistrate of any responsibility to pay for medical treatment if he got hurt and was skilfully phrased to imply he was freelancing willingly for the magistrate.
"Hey there's no provision for a horse in this contract!"
The magistrate who didnt owe a horse himself despite being one of the richest people in town snorted.
"... or a litter with bearers or a chariot but I could spare one donkey or a riding mule perhaps?"
Some hours later Gwillo his pack and an unhappy mule carrying camping and hunting equipment had reached a sheepfold and were inspecting some very bizarre prints. Either several predators were in the area or one beast of indeterminate shape. Gwillo had never hunted shapeshifters and knew from stories from other hunters most claims of shapeshifters were caused by people wearing special boots or shoes with patterned soles trying to frighten others but these prints were just odd, disturbingly odd, blurred in one set and the very next quite crisp.
Both blurred and crisp prints were heading east towards the main road and then stopped.
"Every night the tracks are further east and some thing moving disturbs the herd," stated the herder who had reported them to the magistrate. The tracks they stop at a spot overlooking the road as if whatever makes them is waiting for something or some one to arrive. They start where stories say there was once a shrine to the old ones the others who demanded blood sacrifices of children and ... last night I looked down the hill when I walked away from the fires to the ditch for you know what and I saw a shadow moving from shadow to shadow but in a straight line aiming for the road. Then the dogs started howling and some of them run towards the fires and away from the herds and something howled back. And what howled back was not a dog or wolf."
The senior herder made an ancient sign of protection sign with his fingers that would have gotten him in extreme trouble from the local priests and levites.
Gwillo set up a cold camp of a hide to protect the mule and unpacked nets and weapons set up to be easily grabbed and spear in one hand sat watching in a spot half way between where the herders camped at night and the road from the east where he could see the route the tracks had taken so far. His pack of dwarf wolves patiently curled themselves up around his feet or beside him as they too waited for nightfall.
Night had came. Shadows deepened on the eastern slopes falling away from Bethlehem to the river Jordan and the road that brought traders merchants and tonight a monster.
Gwillo and his hounds did notice the stars seemed brighter than usual but he was looking away from the stars down towards the shadows waiting to see if they moved.
Suddenly it grew even colder and the hounds sniffed and growled and the sheep grew silent in their pens even the lambs and one of the shepherd's dogs whined fearfully.
A SHADOW MOVED TOWARDS THE ROAD.
Gwillo moved towards the shadow.
"Softly quietly lads and lassies let's see who's stalking who?"
The shadow stopped seemed to grow taller and turned north towards the road to Jerusalem.
In the distance Gwillo could see lights. He and the shadow moved towards them. A caravan had set up tents with lanterns on poles before them around fires. The tents were unusual styles not those of the local nomads. One seemed to be Egyptian or African the other possibly Parthian and a third tent was round not square. The fire and lantern light also showed these were tents made for wealthy people with no patches or sagging sections where a support or prop had broken and not been replaced. They were large tall tents a person could stand up inside of. And the lanterns were gold not copper!
The shadow that moved shrieked a cry of pain and envy.
"Aho one of those are you?" thought Gwillo who in the past had been called on to hunt men who were monsters. He still thought he was stalking a man wearing a dark cloak dyed a motley of colors that blended with the night shadows probably with pieces of shrub or plant or fur added to break up his outline.
From the distant fire chanting came and the scent of spices but the shadow moved closer. Gwillo followed.
The shadow stopped suddenly as if a fence or wall was there and instead of walking in a straight line moved off as if there was a circle around the camp. Someone closer to the fire got up and walked in a circle around it and just for a moment Gwillo thought he could see lines of light or a faint glow surging out in a pattern.
The shadow moved onwards and closer towards a group of what looked like camels maybe lying around or next to a heap of supplies covered with canvas. On the other side of the camels was a horseline with a guard.
The shadow started to scream again and the horses panicked and the camels rose to their feet.
Gwill and his pack started running crying out.
"Oy I know that Trick. Stay away thief you want to frighten those horses so they stampede through the camp!"
The shadow stopped and stood still arising its arms ... of which it seemed to have more than two.
Gwillo blinked. The dogs growled.
"NO its two men together carrying spears!" He thought and cried a command.
"High and low boys and girls high and low!"
The dogs knew their job. Jump up and grab a corner of clothing to hinder or divert the thrust of a sword or spear. Circle around feet and grab a cuff or end of a lacing of a boot or sandal or butt and shove an ankle to make their prey lose their balance or concentration. And bark! Deep loud barks tearing straight the darkness!
They charged and leapt and yelped as they landed shivering and shaking as if they leapt into cold water. Gwillo swung his sword. It moved through the edge of the cloak as if the cloak was made of shadows. Gwillo took one step back but only to regain his balance before he thrust a hunting spear at where a torso should be.
The spear passed through the shadow again. The shadow chittered mockingly and reached a limb out. One that looked ... Gwillo thought of an octopus he'd seen but octopuses had their beaks between their tentacles not at the end of a limb that curled and writhed and had things that looked like long thorns instead of fingers.
Gwillo took another step back.
The Shadow spoke.
"Unguarded. Unsealed. Unsworn. Mine."
"Bait Take take take you dangle like fish on hook to lure wise away from protections."
The dogs shackled and growled at it.
"Bah little dogs" The shadow made a wheezing noise.
"Scent? scent of holy place! scent of North. Other powers.
Bah too small. Ruin blessing of wise. Poison spice. Will hinder binding of avatar to this realm. No Willing Sacrifice Nonsense. Break myth pattern."
The shadow grow taller and seemed to be about to throw itself over Gwillo.
"Hey you this knife is cold iron?"
"Not that kind of being!" taunted the shadow back. "Iron not pure blood use."
The stars suddenly grow brighter. Gwillo had the strangest feeling that somewhere behind him back up slope near where the shepherds were the cover had been removed from a very large bright lantern. He noticed two of his dogs were less afraid than others. Tau and Ankhet. Both of whom had silver amulets a tau cross and an ankh symbol. He'd had an exceptionally well paid job in Egypt for a temple and the priests had gave those two in particular amulets and collars they said were blessed. The other hounds only had copper or lead amulets hanging from their collars or coins with holes drilled on them.
Will Gwillo survive and stop the demon?
Join us for the next instalment of Teckelmas A Teckelsteiner First Christmas adventure.
and yes that bright light upslope is a certain messenger arriving!