Festival of Gifts

The city of Kante was covered in decorations for the Festival of Gifts. Extra torches and lanterns were strung up everywhere, making the city bright and warm even at night. Red, Gold, and White ribbons and cloth banners were hung everywhere. Statues in honor of the sun god Lathander and the demigod Tall Winters had been placed in prominent places. People were in the markets buying food and gifts for their loved ones or bustling off toward the temple district to make offerings to the lords of light to bring back the sun during the darkest and coldest part of the year. There was a lot of love and good cheer flowing through the city.

Sabina was indifferent to it all as she shuffled through the city. Sure she had tied some tinsel to her horns but that was more to blend in than actual celebration. She was wrapped in a patchy yet warm fur coat and a big furry hat. The coat was a little long for her so that the hem of it trailed across the wet pavement. Yet she pulled it off gracefully, moving effortlessly through the crowds. Nobody even realized that she had a knife slipped into the sleeve of the coat. They were so distracted that they did not notice that knife flashing in the torchlight as she liberated people’s coin purses. However, now her night was over and she headed home.

She slipped into an alleyway and sidled up to a nondescript doorway. Hardly anybody would have noticed the minuscule writing in Thieves’ Cant. She tripped the secret catch on the door and it popped open safely. Opening the door incorrectly would have locked it completely with twelve different deadbolts. At least it was better than the door had been in her youth. The mechanism had been potentially deadly back then. She stepped into the small room and brushed off what snow she could. The rest had melted and she felt uncomfortably damp and cold.

The room was empty except for a table and a mirror. She headed straight for the mirror and stepped through it and felt the surface of the mirror tugging at her a bit before she made it through. Then came the disorienting feeling of the teleportation enchantment a little bit like standing up too quickly after waking up. She was face to face with a huge portrait of Laverna, the Goddess of Luck. She smiled when she saw the portrait. It meant she was home and home meant warmth and relaxation.

“The real reason for the season,” a voice behind her said. “Our Lady Luck.”

Sabina turned to see the one-eyed visage of Jole. Out in the world, Jole was a lieutenant in the city’s law enforcement but secretly he was part of Sabina’s found family. He fed the thieves information and in turn profited off of their scores. He was so rarely in their subterranean hideout out of necessity. Still, he did manage to come around now and again to connect with his friends.

“What are you doing here?” Sabina said. She tried to act cross but could not fight back the smile from her lips.

“Busy night, eh?” Jole asked. “Out plucking your fair share from the revelry?”

Sabina frowned. “Don’t tell me that somebody saw me working out there,” she said. “I’m too quick. Their eyes can’t be trusted. How could they accuse somebody of that during the holiday season?”

Jole laughed. “Nobody saw you as far as I know,” he said. “I just assumed that’s what you would be doing. Looks like my hunch was correct.”

“You’re a very good detective,” Sabina said sweetly. “Sorry for acting so hostile right away.”

Jole shrugged. “I’m not down here often and almost never unannounced. To answer your question, I wanted to wish you and yours a happy Festival. I just happened to swing by when nobody was home.”

“Nobody?” Sabina asked and snapped her fingers three times and a small kitten crawled out from hiding. “Diamond is hardly nobody.” She took off her coat and hat and felt a lot better. She dumped her sack of coins into the bin before bending down to pick up the cat. “I’m sure she’ll forgive you.”

“A weight lifted off of my heart,” Jole said. “Forgiveness is good for the soul.”

“It is,” Sabina said although there were moments in her life that she felt she could not forgive. She pushed those invasive thoughts from her mind just as quickly as they came. “Happy Festival to you too. May the light return to us all.”

“Amen,” Jole said with a smile. “I brought you a gift.”

“Me?” Sabina asked and she was thankful that her red skin would hide her blushing.

Jole stuttered slightly. “Not just for you,” he said. “I brought everybody gifts.”

Sabina smiled. “You’re a very generous man,” she said.

“But I am glad that you were here when I came to deliver them,” Jole said.

Sabina smiled and smoothed her dress a bit to keep her hands busy. “Well, I do love a present.”

Jole held out a small package wrapped in colorful cloth. “Hopefully you love this one.”

She quickly opened the package and gasped at the silver pendant necklace that she found. “It’s beautiful, Jole,” she said and wished she had gotten him a gift in return. The Festival was not over yet so there was still time. “I love it. Would you like to stay and have a drink with me?”

“I would love nothing better,” Jole said with a smile that only made Sabina’s smile brighter.

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