‌A Christmas Keyrol
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keyborder.png?width=150&height=150keyborder.png?width=150&height=150keyborder.png?width=150&height=150keyborder.png?width=150&height=150 keymaster2.png The Keymaster stalked the tunnels of The Hub, patrolling it just as he did on most other days. But this day was different, for to a certain few, there was none other like it in the year. The Keymaster had heard murmuring amongst some of The Hub's human inhabitants that tonight was Christmas Eve — or so everybody had agreed, since it had been 364 days in counting since the last time they had agreed it was Christmas day.

But The Keymaster, being something other than human, did not quite care for Christmas. He never really worried about what the humans were up to, as long as it didn't interfere with his own activities (which, more often than not, consisted of walking around his temple and thinking about nothing).

Suddenly, The Keymaster was pulled from his thoughts by a sudden sensation, alerting him to a certain shift within the realms he oversaw. Specifically, it meant that a hostile force had attempted to breach The Hub, and was automatically transported into his prison as a result. As was standard practice for him, he went to check on the prison to ensure that that the new captive had been properly contained.

Upon closer investigation, The Keymaster found that the newest would-be infiltrator of his domain was nothing more than a wretch: a pitiful creature with no control over its actions, nor any motivation beyond primal instinct. These were the most common type of assailants that he faced — driven not by malice, but mindlessness. Though, there were some notable exceptions to this, and then there were even those who were both.

“Hey! Shithead! Over here!” A male voice shouted towards The Keymaster, who did not even need to turn around to know who it belonged to. The voice was so obnoxious, so deeply engrained into The Keymaster’s mind, that he knew exactly who it what — Jacob Howard. The Keymaster remained silent at first, silently hoping that perhaps it would make the human go away. But alas, he had no such luck.

“I know you can hear me, motherfucker!” The sheep bleated once again.
The Keymaster sighed, slowly turning around to face Jacob. “This day has been at least bearable up until now. I have no intention of allowing you to ruin it.”

“Funny how you care about what happens to your day, but not mine,” replied Jacob.
“Well, of course. What would it be otherwise?” The Keymaster deadpanned.
“Don’t you know that it’s Christmas Eve?”

The Keymaster paused, before nodding slowly. “I am aware.”
“Christmas is about peace on earth, and good will towards men. Can you find it in your heart, just this one night, to release me and let me celebrate Christmas with my comrades? Let’s bury the hatchet,” Jacob offered, extending his hand towards The Keymaster through his prison cell bars.

keymaster1.png The Keymaster shrugged, shaking his head. “I don’t celebrate Christmas; this place is not peaceful; it is certainly not Earth; and you are not a man — you are a boy.” With that, he turned his heel and proceeded to exit the prison.
“Hey, come back here, shitass! I’m talking to you!” Jacob shouted, though his indignant cries ultimately fell upon deaf ears.

The Keymaster ascended a staircase off to the side of the prison, reaching a level door leading back to The Hub. He raised his key to the door, but suddenly froze when he saw a black downwards-facing triangular visage facing him. All that came to mind was Kei’, almost as if The Keymaster was being taunted. He did a double-take, blinking several times before no longer seeing the face. Dismissing it as a hallucination, albeit a disturbing one, The Keymaster proceeded through the door.

Soon, The Keymaster had returned to his private living quarters in The Temple. Slowly, he could feel the creeping hand of slumber begin to crawl up his back. He hated this feeling, knowing that it was something he had no control over. Nonetheless, it was inevitable, and all he could do was get into a dignified position before completely shutting down. The Keymaster hung his key ring on its well-worn hook on the wall, before collapsing on his cold bed of marble.

As slumber overcame him, his eyes began to drift shut. Just as they fully closed, however, an explosion from above startled him awake. The Keymaster looked up to see a jagged hole, shaped as if a rock had been thrown through glass. Through the rift, a familiar figure appeared before him: Kei’. “Greetings, son…” the being boomed, as one of its tendrils reached out towards The Keymaster in what may have been an attempted display of fatherly affection.

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The Keymaster swatted the tentacle away before it could touch him, narrowing his eyes into a glare towards Kei’. “I am not your son. Now what do you want?” He demanded.
Kei’s triangular head pivoted ninety degrees back and forth, surveying the realm that it gazed into. “Goodness, your living quarters are in such disarray. After all these years, you still have not finished cleaning?”
The Keymaster scoffed. “Surely you are here for a reason beyond mocking my living conditions.”
“That I am,” replied Kei’. “I have seen through you. In our previous encounter, I sensed within you something most mystifying — potential like none that any of my other vessels have possessed.”

keymaster3.png “Potential for what, exactly?”
“Potential to free me, just as you had been created to do.”
“And why do you assume that I would willingly aid you in that?” The Keymaster asked, crossing his arms.
“Your ‘free will’ is but an illusion. Every subtle action you perform is progress towards my freedom. Even the words you speak in this very moment are a part of my grand tapestry.”
“If that is the case, why have you come to ask for my help?”

Kei’ boomed with laughter that rocked the Keymaster’s chamber, causing sand to fall from the ceiling. “I am not soliciting your aid. Rather, I am helping you. Your potential is there, but it is not quite refined.”

“How so?”

“I made you to succeed where the rest failed: having a sense of mortality. And you have indeed come farther than any other. Yet even with a human spirit, your heart is still hardened. Therefore, I shall send forth three emissaries to instill the necessary lessons within you.”

keymaster4.pngThe Keymaster raised an eyebrow. “But if you are oh-so mighty, why not instill these supposed lessons yourself?”
“Your ego would not accept my direct teachings.”
“I believe you mean to say ‘indoctrination’.”

“ENOUGH.” the chamber again rocked before Kei’s voice. “As you inevitably sleep, you shall be visited by my first emissary. Now, go forth and embrace the arms of slumber…”
Before The Keymaster had the chance to protest, he could already feel himself shutting down, as Kei’ disappeared from sight. His view of the rift was now unobstructed, and as he peered through it, he saw a disturbing sight. Floating about the void was an assortment of cloaks, keys and body parts — remnants of unworthy Keymasters. A chill went down his spine as he saw a blindfold drift by, no-doubt belonging to him. The rift then closed, with a final warning from Kei’ echoing in The Keymaster's mind: Don't let their fate become yours…



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