Christmas Lands in Senntisten (Part 1)

A story by Miss Alaska

Author's note: Thank you so much to Chaos_Elemental for taking time to read this through and offering edit suggestions that went into the finished piece. You’re a talented gem.

Charlie the snow imp was striding down the one of the main halls of Santa’s workshop, casual as ever. He had finished his jobs early this Christmas, and all the gifts for the pets of Gielinor were stacked and ready to go. Now was as good a time as any to make his way to a tavern and meet up with the rest of the snow imps. Treat himself to a couple dozen mince pies. Maybe even shout the boys a round of mulled wine cups. They earned it.

He had just passed the official work room of Santa Claus, the big chief, from which two low voices could be heard in quiet discussion. Suddenly, one of the voices cut through sharply, much louder than before.

“Absolutely not!”

Charlie stopped mid-step. That was the Queen of Snow, and she sounded livid.

He walked backwards a few paces and bent a look around the open doorway he had just passed.

Yep, her highness was there. And so was old Nick. They appeared to be in the middle of an argument, going by the Queen’s tone. Nicklaus didn’t look none too pleased either.

Reading the room, Charlie stayed hidden and peeked from the doorframe.

“Lumi, I understand how you get worried. Especially after the ups and downs we’ve been through,” Nicklaus said, “But there are many on the list stuck there. They can’t go home while they are fighting. And –“

Nicklaus paused for a time. He had glanced at his wife’s face and caught her pleading expression. It weakened the argument he had ready to deliver, and he fell silent.

“My love,” the Queen of Snow started, wiping a drop of ice from her eye, “I know you feel it is necessary to reach everyone on Gielinor, no matter the circumstances. You are right that no one should be left behind there during the winter.”

The queen held a hand softly against her husband’s cheek, locking her eyes with his.

“But this is dangerous now. It’s beyond what we have ever dealt with. You need to look out for yourself - to be around for the people next Christmas, and all the Christmases after that. To bring joy to others during happier times. The mortals and gods in the buried city are fighting to protect a world like that. Be there on the other side by the end of it, for them.”

Nicklaus opened his mouth to counter but hesitated. He stared at the beautiful, sad face in front of him.

He let go of the breath he’d been holding.

“Okay.” he said, clasping the hand his wife held rested on his face.

The arguing had ended, but neither of them appeared settled on the whole situation. It was not an outcome they were content about. But the elder god war on Gielinor had turned the normally cheerful holiday season into a time of desperation and sorrow.

Charlie quietly whistled out a tight puff of air, letting the news he just picked up from the queen and Nick settle.

Then, remembering he’d been eavesdropping this entire time, Charlie silently dipped away from the doorframe and continued off walking.

The snow imp trekked along the hallway, not entirely mindful of the path he was taking. It was no matter – his legs seemed to know Santa’s workshop back to front, up and down. High chance his legs were still carrying him in the direction of the front doors, towards the main road that would eventually lead to the village. Ending up at the tavern, as originally planned.

But while that was happening, Charlie was busy thinking. He had a fairly decent idea in the works.

First though, the tavern.

He’d need to tell the others so that they could cover for him while he was in Senntisten.

“That’s gotta be the worst idea you ever tossed up, Charlie!” Magnus said, with no effort to repackage the blunt honesty. “Mate…you slipped and hit your head on ice walking to this tavern?”

He was the first to chime up after Charlie was finished talking. Magnus had slammed down his cup of mulled wine and jutted in; always quick to tell Charlie how stupid he was.

Charlie had spent the last five minutes explaining his plan to secretly deliver the entire load of presents intended for all the folk in Senntisten, who were busy fighting over some eggs (he still had no idea what that was about – eggs? Were they planning to make a cake?).

His snow imp buddies had stayed quiet while he ran the whole thing by them, telling them that they needed to keep things operating smooth back in the Land of Snow. He didn’t want Santa and the queen finding out – high chance they wouldn’t let him leave. So it was up to his mates to keep it all casual-like back home while he was gone. He knew he could trust them with it.

“How are you even planning to get the pressies there anyway?” Dennis asked, tossing back the rest of his apple cider.

“Santa’s uvver sleigh, ‘course,” Charlie said, “It’s out the back of the workshop. Beardy never tosses his stuff. Makes cleanin’ the place a pain in the-”

“-as if you will even make it to all the guys on Santa’s list,” Benny cut in. “Charlie, mate…you know it’s stickier than toffee toppin” on a melted candy cane up over there? You ain’t gunna last a minute in the place!”

“Benny’s right!” Franky said.

“Always am!” Benny added.

Franky whacked Benny upside the head. With that out of the way, he continued to his main point.

“You’re gunna need some help if you want to pull this one off, boss. I can help you with handin’ out pressies once we’re there. Ya got a lotta folks to get through - an’ no offence boss, but you’re pretty slow on occasion.”

“Exactly that!” said Norris, finishing off the last bite of his fruit mince pie. “I’ll join you if it makes the whole show go quick-smart. We’ll be back before the queen and Santa notice we’s been gone.”

“Well if Norris is goin’ with ya, guess you gunna need someone to keep him in check so he doesn’t lose a stack of pressies.” Melvin gave a casual salute. “Count me in, boss.”

Soon enough, each snow imp from his team was piping up to volunteer their help and join him on his delivery mission to Senntisten.

This wasn’t what Charlie had been going for at all.

“Guys, I ‘preciate it, really,” he said, cutting in before things got out of hand, “But you need to all stay here. The queen was worried ‘bout Santa headed that way – and she’s right in bein’ worried.”

He took a moment to move his eyes across each of the snow imps at the table, letting his words sink in. They didn’t understand what they were signing up for, and he wasn’t about to drag them along with him. If it turned out a stupid idea, at least it would only be Charlie taking the hit if he went at it solo.

“It’s goin’ to get hot in the middle of the fighting, but I need to get the pressies to all the guys there. They deserve a bit of cheerin’ up more than anyone. And it ain’t gunna be easy for a snow imp.”

“Flippin’ sleigh bells,” exclaimed Barry. “It’s just the reason why we’re jumping in on the plan, Charlie. We’re hoppin’ on the coach with you and there’s no two ways ‘bout it.”

“But-“ Charlie started.

“Murphy!” Barry cried out across the table, cutting Charlie off. “How’s bout you make yourself useful for once and get the reindeers ready?”

“Alright! Alright. Shout louder though - ol’ Nick didn’t hear you prop’ly from across the village.” Murphy replied, with a roll of his eyes. “But you’re gunna let me handle the reins this time. Your steering’s busted.”

Barry launched a mince pie at Murphy’s head in response, but the latter snow imp was quick enough to catch it in hand. He took a satisfied bite.

Shaking his head in dismay at the wasted mince pie, Barry jumped down from the tavern table they had been seated upon.

“We’s only got a day before Christmas and plenty of pressies to hand out.” Barry said, as he started walking towards the tavern’s front door. The other snow imps jumped down from the table and followed suit. Only Charlie remained at the table; stunned, and at a loss on what else he could say to make them stay put in the Land of Snow.

“Ready up lads,” Barry said, walking towards the tavern door. “Time to get back to business.”

He turned to face Charlie - still at the table, looking out of depths.

“Ya coming boss?”

“Right…” Charlie said, taking in their surroundings.

The sleigh full of presents had touched down on the surface not too long ago, where the people of Varrock had set up something called a ‘dig site’. It was here that they carted the payload through the large, double-gated entrance to the buried city, heading downwards by way of the lift humans had installed several months back.

All up, Charlie’s squad of snow imps were fifty in number. It seemed word got around beyond the smaller gathering at the tavern.

Despite his initial reluctance involving his friends on this side of the plan, he was grateful that he now had some assistance in carting the presents to Senntisten. It would have taken Charlie a tremendously long time trying to do it alone.

He only hoped that they would all make it through the next few hours without things going pear-shaped. The sound of cannons firing off somewhere in the distance didn’t offer much confidence in that, however.

Emerging from the drop point, the snow imps took a moment to look at the massive expanse before them. There was a strange green haze overcast, and old houses and building developments as far as the eye could see, packed tightly. Grand staircases constructed out of stone with a unique purple hue raised the horizon of city high above, and rooved walkways connected the taller levels of major buildings. Bright purple crystals imbued with magic were planted about at specific points, and they illuminated the winding paths of the city’s roads. The same crystals flanked the staircase that led to the tallest building in their vicinity – a grand cathedral that had a broad courtyard wrapped around its perimeter, shimmering stained-glass windows, and an enormous central tower piercing upwards.

All things considered; it wasn’t half bad for a city left crumbling underground. The big fiery hole in the ground before them was a stretch past stylish though.

Charlie delivered a long whistle with two fingers.

“Listen up, mates!” he called out.

Rolling out the map he’d swiped from a druid on their way in, the rest of the snow imps crowded around him. Some jumped on top of crates, barrels and stone statues to get a better look from the sidelines.

With everyone listening, Charlie pointed to the building drawn in the centre of the map.

“From what I heard, this ‘ere is the comfy spot everyone goes to for some refreshments,” he tapped the section on the map. “It’s the tallest building you guys can see just off ahead in the distance.”

Charlie pointed in the direction of the tall building a fair way off, directly south of them.

“You’re gunna be delivering most of the pressies in this place. It’s the safest spot, and it’s where we’ll be taking the payload for safekeepin’ in just a minute.”

He paused, before addressing a group of snow imps to his left.

“Team Flappy Dragon.”

“Is it too late to change the name?” Marvin asked.

“We’re going with the info I picked up from the human guards on the surface. If you change it now it’s gunna confuse the rest of us.” Charlie replied. “Now – Team Flappy Dragon, you’re gunna take some pressies each and get them to all the people over ‘ere,” Charlie indicated to the area just west of the central safe zone.

“Before you get excited runnin’ off, this next bit’s super important – you can only take pressies to people standin’ guard or kickin’ back. Don’t bother with the ones in the middle of fightin’ the angry dragon folks. They gunna be too busy, so you gotta leave ‘em be. There’ll be a chance to get pressies to them later when they’re on break.”

Here’s hopin’, anyway… Charlie thought to himself.

“Whateva happens, avoid the angry dragon folks.” Charlie gave his serious stare to the group to show he really meant what he said.

Moving along, he placed a hand on top of the area situated south of the map’s central building.

“Team Frosty Claw. You’re headed to the spot right ‘ere. Apparently there’s a lotta snow in the place so it should be pretty cosy.”

Charlie looked up to the team, before continuing. “Same deal as Flappy Dragon – but watch out for the Glaciers. Not ‘tirely sure how Glaciers are meant to be dangerous, but just goin’ with what I hear.”

He moved his hand over the eastern side of the map.

“Team Mushy Green.”

“That’s the best you had?” said Norris, groaning.

“Focus!” Charlie said, before resuming. “Team Mushy Green, you’re going over ‘ere on the map. Some humans mentioned a fun guy by the name of ‘Croesus’ is hanging ‘bout the spot, but he doesn’t sound like a lotta laughs to me. So be careful.”

Finally, Charlie indicated a place on the map that corresponded to the big fiery pit nearby.

“Team Lava Strykeforce.”

“Is that Strykeforce widda ‘I’ or a ‘Y’?” Murphy asked.

“It doesn’t matter!” Charlie shouted, all patience lost.

Hearing the frustration in his voice, he stopped.

Silence sat heavy across the assembly of snow imps; interrupted only by the rumbling of some cannons going off in the far south. Charlie lowered his head and let out a tired sigh.

Keep it cool, mate. The guys are lookin’ at you for a plan.

He was worried about the rest of the snow imps running into trouble and getting hurt. But he wasn’t going to help them by losing his temper.

“It’s widda ‘Y’, Murphy. And I’m sorry about shoutin’ at ya.”

“All good boss,” Murphy said with a dismissive wave, the outburst forgiven. “Let’s keep goin’ ye?”

Charlie returned focus to directing the team.

“Lava Strykeforce, you’re gunna be covering the area round that pit over there.” He pointed to the enormous hole in the ground. Some of the Gielinorian troops were stationed around the perimeter of the crater, keeping guard.

“And the answer’s no - you’re not gunna be jumpin’ in the hole. So if I catch any of you trying something daft, you’re gunna be payin’ off Benny’s drink tab at the tavern when we get back to the Land of Snow.”

With all the team assignments handed out, Charlie took a moment to analyse the map again, before rolling it back up.

He really hoped he had made the right call coming here.

“So, that’s the setup for the teams. Seeing as I can’t be four places at once, I’m gunna be stationed with Lava Strykeforce after we drop this present pile at the hub in the middle.”

He stood up and looked to the snow imps surrounding him.

“Any questions?”

Marcus, standing in the middle of the group, raised a hand. Charlie nodded to him.

“Competition for most pressies handed out, boss?”

Charlie pinched his nose.

“Alright, fine, why not…” he threw up a hand in warning, “As long as you’re still being proper ‘sponsible snow imps. No showin” off.

He looped the loose end of his scarf back around his neck.

“Let’s get to work.”

To be continued in Part 2 later this month!

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