A Christmas Keyrol 1




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Chapter I


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 tower and thinking about nothing).

Suddenly, The Keymaster was pulled from his thoughts when he bumped into the looming figure of The Mail Carrier, who slowly extended forth a sealed envelop. He took it from the being's hands, upon which it proceeded on its way without a word.

Before The Keymaster could examine the contents of the envelop, a sudden sensation alerted him to a shift in The Hub. Specifically, a hostile force had attempted to breach the level, 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 was — 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 visage facing him. 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.


Upon retiring to his living quarters in the tower, The Keymaster finally examined the envelope. It was sealed with an emblem of the Cygnus Archive, already tipping him off as to who it could be from. He opened the envelope and read the letter contained within:

Dear Keymaster,
You're invited to the Christmas party I'm hosting at the archive tomorrow! I know you may not be one for social gatherings, but please do consider attending. We would all love to have you.

— Blanche

The Keymaster briefly stared at the letter before simply shrugging, tossing it away in dismissal. While he appreciated the gesture, he did not quite feel that he belonged.

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 collapsed on his cold bed of marble, and as slumber overcame him, his eyes began to drift shut.

Just as they fully closed, however, a rift in space and time opened itself, and out stepped the familiar figure of Divus. Ae silently looked around, surveying the environment, and noticed that The Keymaster's living quarters had begun to appear more…contemporary. “Goodness, what have you done with this place? I had surely hoped that a mortal soul would not come with mortal taste.”
The Keymaster scoffed. “I have been making some renovations. Now, surely you are here for a reason beyond mocking my living conditions.”
“That I am,” replied Divus.
“Does it have anything to do with our last meeting?”
“It does not, in fact. But it has everything to do with your fate.”
The Keymaster was intrigued by this. “What do you mean?”
Divus sighed. “Two of the last things I would ever typically care about are my duties and yourself. Yet in this rare instance, both overlap with my interest. I know your past, present, and possible futures. You have great potential within you, 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.”

Before The Keymaster had the chance to protest, he could already feel himself shutting down, as Divus disappeared from sight.


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