Boxing Day Surprise

Boxing Day is by far the most dangerous of all wizard holidays. Laundry Day, which once destroyed an entire village when a bunch of bubble cats floated away on high winds, is a distant second, so you can imagine the kind of destruction we’re talking about.

Wizards don’t like to celebrate Christmas because they’ve seen it go through so many permutations and different religions that they’re kind of sick of it. “Oh this year we put up a tree, but 500 years ago we had to worship the nest of Zorp the Destroyer! Who can keep up!” they would cry.

But they do love to exchange gifts, which as mortals well know is really just a way to show off. That’s why they invented Boxing Day. On December 26th every wizard in a given kingdom will gather as far from civilization as possible and do some sort of Round Robin/White Elephant/Sexy Rat gift exchange thing. The rules are super complicated, involving things like dimension hopping, time travel, transmogrification, illusion, and general skullduggery. All you really need to know is that you show up with one gift and leave with another if you survive.

While the game itself is quite hazardous, it’s the gifts that are the real danger. People have given everything from live dragons to microscopic planets that eventually develop sufficient technology to discover you. (Which might sound cool, but their reactions are totally unpredictable. In fact, pretty much every STD is really a group of people from some tiny planet that a wizard pissed off, usually through neglect.)

One year the wizards were all hanging out opening gifts, running for their lives, and having a great time, when a wizard named Globulon said, “Oh…fuck” and everyone looked over to see what his problem was. Globulon was sitting on a rock, staring down into a package with his eyes wide open. His skin was white as a sheet, and he was covered in sweat. A group of wizards gathered around him and looked down into the unwrapped package.

“No…Fucking…Way,” said Nelnax the Strange.

“That’s…. Impossible,” said Melumer the Hoity.

“It’s a gag!” said Cinabthey the Underwhelmed.

But everyone knew it wasn’t a gag. It was in fact The Orb of Power, the single most dangerous, most magical, most mysterious object to exist in this or any other universe.

“Don’t touch it!” shouted Senterion the Wary.

“Oh how could that possibly matter?!” asked Nelnax. “I mean, it’s sentient and does whatever it wants, doesn’t it? It’s not like some Alzorthinan worm and touching it is going to turn your arm into its worm babies because that’s how it reproduces.”

“Who would give this as a gift?!” asked Cinabthey. “And how did they even get it?!”

“Good question,” said Senterion. “Who brought this?” he shouted. “We’re not mad, and you’re not in trouble! Obviously, you’re super powerful or something, so just please tell us what to do!”

All the wizards waited, but nobody spoke up.

“Well, it’s not like it actually matters that’s it here, right?” asked Nelnax. “I mean, it’s not as if it has a range limit. Technically, we’re in no more danger than we would be if it was 1,000 mile away, right?”

“But what if we piss it off?” asked Cinabthey.

“Who knows what pisses it off,” answered Melumer. “It operates on its own set of rules, or I guess no rules, so it probably doesn’t even matter what we do.”

“I’ll take it!” said a wizard standing at the back of the crowd.

“What do you mean you’ll ‘take it’?” snapped Nelnax. “This is The Orb of Power. You can’t very well just ‘take it’, can you?”

“Sure I can,” said the wizard, stepping forward. “I haven’t gotten a gift yet, and it’s my turn to steal, so I’ll just take this.”

So saying, she bent over, calmly picked up the package that the still stunned Globulon was holding, and walked away.

No one made a move to stop her. They were all too shocked/relieved/slightly jealous to even think of what to say. They just stood and watched until she eventually disappeared over the horizon. (By which I mean, she appeared to get smaller and smaller as her distance from them increased. I know you have to careful with your descriptions when you’re talking about wizards.)

The thing about the holidays is that, as fun as they might be, they can also be very lonely. What we really need, more so than any gift, is a friend or, at the very least, a fun pet to play with. This holds true whether you’re a mortal, a wizard, or even an ancient all-powerful orb capable of manipulating the outcome of any given situation.

Anyway, the next year all the wizards had to check in their packages before the game started. Everyone agreed it was less fun but totally worth it.

Art by Miranda Britton

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