Chapter 191:

Resh Christmas Special - Hal

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Twas Christmas on Resh, in the Netzian Capital of Roanoke.

Fresh snow had begun to fall, leaving young Hal’s clothes soaked.

The green-haired boy groaned and threw his jacket to the side,

The skin bound to his metal arm ached, but if you asked him, he would have lied.

In the not-so-humble home, which was built for the ruling Dare,

Feya, the leader in question, made Christmas preparations without care.

“Hi Hal, come help me put up the reef!” she said with glee.

The boy responded, “don’t you have better things to do than put up a tree?”

She waved away his question with an arm half covered in scales,

And with a dash to the side, she continued to decorate and all that it curtails.

“Big brother!” voices cried out from a room down the hall.

Soon two short twins came running without concern that they might trip and fall.

The first girl, with long, wild green hair and an expression that invited unease,

The second, with a short bob and a look that suggested she wanted to please.

Hal’s lips curled up into a smile, a rare occasion, to be sure.

He pulled both in for a hug as if, for his sour mood, they were the cure.

“Good to see you, Isabella,

And you two, Gabriella.”

He greeted both with joy. Family celebrations were the only thing to bring him glee.

“But where is your older sister? Have you seen Hayleigh?”

The last sister, only 7 days younger than Hal, had not come to greet.

Feya replied. “Oh, she heard Gwyn might come and is baking some treats.”

Hal made a groan and bonded to his Needaimus,

He would pull a weapon out and leave no room for Gwyn to discuss.

“Oh, calm down, Hal,” Feya said with a laugh, “She’s not on the street anymore.”

Hal replied: “He may call me a friend, but if he touches her, he’s done for.”

The younger twins, Isabella, and Gabriella seeing Hal needed a distraction, spoke:

“Big brother, we’ve been thinking about what we want for Christmas, and it’s a cloak!”

Hal turned to his sisters, forgetting his frustration at hearing what he would have to buy.

He smiled an honest grin and simply asked: “Why?”

Gabriella spoke first: “So I can run and play in the snow!”

Isabella added: “So they won’t see my knife before the killing blow.”

Hal put his hands on top of both their heads, right on the hair,

And rustled it with tender care.

“Oh, you know what I want!” Feya interjected herself in,

“I saw a matching necklace to the three you got from Horizon!”

She showed Hal a picture on her tablet, and he nodded to show he understood.

He asked: “Don’t you think that is a little childish for one so far in adulthood?”

Feya brushed away his questions and pulled the younger twins close.

“Perhaps I would like to match these two, the cuteness pros.”

Hal shook his head as the leader asked the girls if they’d like to play,

“You still have work to do!” he said before he walked away.

The other three followed, curious as to where he would go next.

The green-haired boy had no idea what made them so vexed.

Hayleigh stood in the fancy kitchen as the other cooks watched in fear,

the treats were burnt, for the girls’ cooking skills were bottom tier.

“Oh, Hal,” she said upon seeing her older brother, who entered silently,

“For Christmas, would you be able to get a cookbook? Then maybe I can do it, finally.

“A book won’t help; you’d just burn it with the cookies!” Isabella said with a laugh.

Her twin took a charred piece,” I’m sure it’s not too bad,” she said for Hayleigh’s behalf.

“You just need some help!” Feya chimed in, “I can give you some pointers if you’d like!”

“Don’t worry, I can get it,” the girl replied, “I just need to find the right way to strike!”

Feya smiled and said: “It’s okay to get help; we’re family; after all, I am your mother.”

Hal corrected: “Adoptive, her family is made up of her sisters and brother.”

Feya made an uncharacteristic frown, which Hal would have noticed if he wasn’t so dense.

She politely excused herself, and his sisters began to scold him for having no common sense.

“How could you!” Hayleigh cried. “Such words only made sense on the streets.

But now we live here, eating well and even getting sweets!”

“That was so mean!” the twins said together, “Is our brother no better than a toad?”

Hal grumbled and excused himself; he fled to the door and stepped out onto the cold road.

The Christmas celebration had begun; decorations lined the city,

Enhanced from Gwyn’s up-to-date input, they made everything quite pretty.

The only one who didn’t take in the scene, deep in contemplation, was young Hal,

With hands in pockets and head down, he walked parallel to the snowy canal.

He stopped at the bookstore first, then the clothing store after,

Shopping for his sisters was easy, and he hoped to hear their merry laughter.

With bags firmly in his hands, he stopped next in front of the jewelry store,

Shopping for another felt to him like quite the chore.

But he wasn’t so lost that he couldn’t reflect on his words.

Something was needed to make amends, and nothing would make Hal undeterred.

Still, the shopkeeper’s words made his quest all the more disparaging:

“I don’t have time; can’t you see I was robbed? They stole almost everything!”

Thieves had broken in the night before,

Leaving a calling card on the door.

Hal recognized the mark, old—“coworkers,” let’s say—

He had hoped to never see it again, not since leaving his street criminal heyday.

Frustrated, the young man found a snowy bench down the path,

He couldn’t let his face get seen if he would make the criminals incur his wrath.

That was when a large man in a jolly red suit passed by, having finished delivering gifts without pause.

It was a new sight to Resh—but one quickly accepted—the so-called Santa Claus.

An idea struck Hal, the perfect plan in which he could trick all their eyes.

He grabbed the man by the shoulders and asked a question to acquire the perfect disguise.

“Santa Claus, I need to borrow your suit and beard.”

The man in red, of course, found this request very weird.

Hal did his best to explain in any way that would make the man hear.

“Very well, my boy, I understand. I will help, provided you give some Christmas cheer.”

Santa produced an extra coat and boots, along with a white beard and red hat.

“There is an orphanage on the corner of Main and Sprat,

I expect you to be there, passing out gifts in this sack.”

The bag was empty; Hal figured the Santa must be some quack.

He accepted the gifts and donned his disguise.

Then he departed to beat some criminals and get his prize.

The robbers had an old warehouse where they set up shop.

The young Santa walked on the roof, finding a suitable spot to drop.

There were faces he recognized; he knew them, as he suspected.

He fastened the beard and hat, his disguise perfected.

Pulling a sword and gun from the pocket dimension,

He suddenly broke through the glass and filled the criminals with tension.

“Its… Santa!” one cried in shock.

Another added: “What a bunch of crock.”

Hal held his sword high as he dashed through.

It took the criminals a moment before they could muster all their crew.

They swarmed around him like flies headed to a fire,

And they were taken down with ease, never realizing the situation was most dire.

The last of them gave up the treasure with ease; gold and silver metals all piled up,

Hal quickly pushed everything in his sack, quick to work before there would be backup.

He left the injured criminals to nurse their wounds, his face still a mystery.

The plan had worked; they would not be able to track down his family.

The young Santa returned the jewelry to the shop,

Signaling out the special one, “I’d like to buy this for full price, do not let it drop.”

The shopkeeper insisted on a discount, but Hal refused.

He did not want to feel in any way that he may have abused.

With the sale made, the young boy left the shop, pocketing the gift he wished to go straight home.

He would need to return the clothes, but the Santa had disappeared, and all he could do was roam.

Hal almost gave up and walked away but stopped short as the sack began to pull.

Inspecting inside showed that it had suddenly become full,

Wrapped presents of all kinds lined the inside,

So many, in fact, that his eyes went wide.

What technology the Santa had used escaped the youngster,

But the orphans’ gifts were there, and he had to deliver, even if he was an amateur.

The children cried with glee when Santa, though skinny, came to visit.

They asked for a story, and he told of the bad elves he had just corrected without getting too explicit.

The presents were passed out one by one to each child,

Happiness hung in the air, and all couldn’t help but smile.

When the sack finally ran out, and each had a gift, Hal excused himself,

Saying he needed to leave and return to the good elves.

Before throwing the empty sack away, he found a couple more things,

A handwritten note and five golden rings.

Good job, young man, the note had written out,

The clothes and rings are my gifts to you; you will use them wisely, I have no doubt.

Hal rolled his eyes at the strange man who took Christmas a little too far,

An examination of the rings revealed that they shined like a star.

The young man returned to his home and snuck in through the window.

If his sisters saw him dressed up, it would be like giving them ammo.

He quickly got to work wrapping, crude as he made it look, the gifts were complete.

The three siblings were all found gawking at Hayleigh’s burnt treats.

Hal quickly presented his gifts to his sisters, and they were opened,

Then he presented the rings, something Hal did not originally intend.

His sisters slid the rings on their fingers; they were perfect fits. He pointed to his own,

With a string through the middle and around his neck, where it could be shone.

Hayleigh began to work hard, and the younger twins jumped in to help. Hal left them to their test,

Finding Feya was his next task and arguably the most challenging part of the quest.

She had retreated into her study, frowning while shuffling through papers to sign,

Hal looked away as he dropped the necklace; he did not see her smile shine.

“Hal, you’re the best!” she cried as she pulled him into a hug.

“It was nothing,” he replied with a shrug.

The young man continued: “It is almost time for the party. I shouldn’t have to tell you to have fun.”

Hal presented the last ring as they began to walk out, leaving her stunned.

“My sisters have some; you can match or whatnot.”

He explained, making sure his own was hidden under his shirt so he couldn’t be caught.

They quickly began to finish the preparations, and before long, the party was underway.

The celebration was filled with friends from all over Resh, people were merry, and children ran to play.

The joy carried late into the evening under the lights on the tree, which glowed bright.

Until the end came, and everyone departed saying: “Have a merry Christmas and a good night!”