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The Tricky One

Can you out-clever the clever?

By Meredith HarmonPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read
Difficulty Level: High.

Ah, I see she's up to her old tricks again.

She pulls this every now and again, usually after she loses rather spectacularly at one of her normal troublemaking soirées. She was particularly nightmarish after that mess with Vasilisa. She loves creating mayhem in such a way that the challenger always brings doom upon themselves. She thinks it absolves herself of responsibility in the long run.

I, in my limited way, hinder her. What, you are surprised that I'm limited? I am, just like all supernatual beings. We have our strengths and our weaknesses, and we have our times or days when we are at our peak of strength, and it waxes and wanes like the tides.

We smart ones learn over time how to play into our strengths, to thwart the more complicated plots. They may gain power by reaching into the chaos of the void, but I gather mine through the love languages.

Which is why I'm “present-ly” – hah! - climbing down a rickety chimney.

I am well aware that this is quite the wrong time of year. Why do you have such echoes of celebrations in mid-summer, when mine are in the deep of winter? It's certainly not because poor Joshua was born anywhere near Saturnalia, that's for sure. Nice fellow, by the way. Doesn't deserve the hate that his followers stir up, causes him no small amount of grief when they try to climb over the walls of his kindgom.

There are rules. One of them is that you can cause the humans to kill themselves, or destroy themselves, but you cannot keep them in durance forever.

The weird sisters often neglect that rule. It is up to the rest of us to restore balance, or we all go down together.

But they're clever, so clever. You must outwit them to survive, if you treat with them.

So must we.

Not many deep, dark, eldritch forests to hide in anymore. And it's rather part of my job to have an exquisitely accurate map of the world, to perform my duties accurately. Oh, knock it off, you grumpy Scrooge. I may be drawn to the essence of innocence and naivety, but I don't need to prey on them in order to gain strength from them. Think about the nature of gift giving, the joy and delight that positively lights up a being from the inside. A lamp of such purity, that makes anything that hides in the shadows flee for their own safety.

That's what I'm after.

I don't rob them of their childhood. I give them happy experiences to fight the darkness that comes with growing up.

So it's no surprise that I have trouble locating their lairs. Moving houses, deceptive vehicles that cloak their location, and nothing innocent can live long in their presence without being killed and eaten. Their servants, long held in bondage, have been drained of hope and joy, so there is nothing for me to hone in on. Difficult to pin down, against the background of humans and their cities and their cesspools of misery they cook up to make everyone else as unhappy as they are.

Ah, I've reached the rickety floor. Now the fun begins.

At least I'm prepared.

Oil for the squeaky floorboards. A chunk of ham for each guard dog, a lovely fresh fish for the cat. An embroidered shawl for the servant girl, and fresh twigs for the broom in the corner. A new shuttle for the loom.

All done in the twinkling of an eye, of course, like it says in the poem.

Thoughtful gifts, tailored gifts, specifically manufactured for each individual.

It helps to have a magic sack, and many servants who are willing to help out with such things in the off season. The weird sisters are many, not just one? Well, so am I. We just don't advertise it.

The things, of course, are beings held in thrall by the mistress' magic spells. I've seen them for centuries, slaving away at her whim, because they made bad or selfish or thoughtless choices.

Punishments happen, of course. And making a simple mistake can lead to death, there's no doubt. Even someone else making the wrong decision can lead to your death, or the death of your loved ones. Life isn't fair or just. But some beings don't have to make it worse for everyone else, trapping you humans in a prison of no release, not even death.

All of those gifts that I gave, they have power. The power of a gift is an amazing thing. In this case, if they accept it, they will find a map that leads to my realm, where they can find healing or honest work.

Or death, without pain or regret, if they choose it. Some do, when they realize their worlds are long gone.

But I am already on my way home, whisked up the chimney with a nod and a finger. I am silently winging over thinning forests and green mountains, so different from my usual rounds. My trusty steeds guide me, with a small red light leading the way.

No need for my regular bright suit for this mission. Ashy grays will do, for stealth. No furs in this warmth.

And therefore not suspected, and not guarded against.

The mistress will wake, and she will gnash and wail and throw things, and there will be no witnesses. Except one, one who stays, who stealthily reports to me. Hidden, even from her, enslaved millenia ago, forgotten, who gets tiny revenges for the slight. Limited, of course, and messages get delayed, houses with legs move around, but I respond when the letter gets through.

How else do I know who's truly naughty, who's nice?

Merry Christmas in July, Baba Yaga. Ho Ho Ho!


About the Creator

Meredith Harmon

Mix equal parts anthropologist, biologist, geologist, and artisan, stir and heat in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, sprinkle with a heaping pile of odd life experiences. Half-baked.

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    Meredith HarmonWritten by Meredith Harmon

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