@Copyright E. Charles Tucker, all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of the author.

This was written during my stint with the online RPG, Illusia. At this point I was near-exclusively playing the Minotaur Knight, Kowh. As part of the holiday writing fun, I penned this take on a holiday classic poem using NPCs (non-playable characters) and locations within the game. The lines attributed to those characters in the poem are lines spoken by them in the game.

Twas the Night Before Solstice

Twas the night before Solstice when through Thurgas Keep
The fighters lay down to heal in their sleep.
The mages all crept to the plant life with care
In hopes that their death cries would soon fill the air.

The warrior trainees were all laid out to waste
My horns all bloodied from the horde that I'd faced.
With my sword in its sheath, and I in strong plate,
I'd just settled down to heal and to wait,

When out from the road there arose such a clatter,
I sprang awake - sword raised - to see what was the matter!
Into the battle I flew with a flash,
And stood, stock still, while my breath came in gasps.

The rain battered down on my tarnished steel crown;
I wished, briefly, for a hole - through which I could climb down,
For standing before me with eyes full of hate
Stood the warrior goddess known as Tiiny the Great.

Despite her great size she was lively and quick,
The thought of this combat to come made me sick.
More rapid than eagles her insults they came,
As she growled, and shouted, and cursed me by name.

"You dare come before me, you dare? Filthy scum!
I'll trample you under my hooves, 'ere I'm done!"
I knew it was over; still I charged her in vain.
She grabbed me - Drain Heat! By the gods, such pain!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up from my body, my spirit, it flew.
My carcass mere fodder; aye, my ego bruised too.

And then in a twinkling I no longer felt pain;
I awoke, standing, in the Temple of Bane!
On the ground I did sit, cursing Tiiny, this city;
When there stood Old Moj, his eyes filled with false pity.

His body was all green from his head to his foot.
And armor? All cloth, and enchanted to boot.
"All day long" he complained, "Dying and dying";
Aye, I admit, his death would be most satisfying.

His eyes - rimmed with blood! his smile, decayed;
His nose was all pock-marked, the skin had been flayed.
His snide little mouth was drawn up in a sneer
And the stench! By Krag's will, please do not come near!

The stump from a dwarf's arm he held tight in his teeth,
All yellowed and rotted - gods! This Troll, he does reek!
Bracing myself, I strode up to his shrine
Counting the gold I would use to pay off this old swine.

"Secrets of life I have" he cried with a smile.
"But tell no one else" he whispered, hand held out all the while.
Grudgingly I paid the old Troll his high fee
To cast his spells, his magic, on me.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
Gestured with his hands, and turned with a jerk,
And laying his palm on the side of my chin
He chanted "Increase Life"; I felt the magic begin!

Satisfied that the old Troll did his job,
I respectfully gave thanks to Moj with a slight nod.
I looked over the injured, lined up to my right,
And roared "Merry Solstice, and to All a Good Night!"

-fin-