A Christmas Keyrol 2




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The Keymaster awoke with a start. Blinking away the blurriness in his vision, he found himself somewhere completely different from where he had fallen asleep — as was typical. He was in a large — admittedly cozy — armchair beside a roaring fireplace. Across from him was another armchair, upon which sat a familiar figure: Blanche. Something about her seemed different from how The Keymaster remembered, but he couldn't quite place it. It was as if she had a subtle glowing aura… almost ghostlike. However, The Keymaster second-guessed this, as it easily could have been nothing more than an illusion cast by the dim lighting of the Cygnus Archive.

keymaster6.pngBlanche had her nose buried in a book by Charles Dickens, though The Keymaster was unable to see its title. As she often was while reading, she was immersed in its fictional world. “Ah, that Scrooge. It astonishes me how one can be so selfish to no apparent benefit…” she said to herself, before being pulled from her book by the Keymaster stirring awake. “Ah, hello again, Keymaster!” she greeted him as she closed the book and set it aside, revealing its title to be A Christmas Carol. “Merry Christmas to you, my dear.”
The Keymaster stared at Blanche in confusion. “You act as if you had been expecting my arrival…”

“That I have, dear,” replied Blanche, sipping from a mug of gourmet hot chocolate. “We sit here together on this night, because I have been tasked with shedding light on your past.”
The Keymaster raised an eyebrow at this. “You are acting on behalf of Kei’? Why would you co-operate with him?” he questioned, feeling a slight sting of betrayal.

“I only aim to teach you some manners, my dear — that is one goal we can agree on. So, shall we get started? Oh, and of course, would you like any hot chocolate?” She motioned to another mug on the table between them, offering it to The Keymaster.
Hesitantly, he took the mug and mindfully sipped the warm, chocolatey liquid. He seemed to deliberate with himself for a moment, before ultimately relenting. “Very well, let us begin.”

Blanche smiled warmly. “Excellent!” she said, rising from her chair and approaching The Keymaster until she stood directly before him. “I shall take you on a journey through your memories, just as I have done before. But this time, we will go deeper.” Before The Keymaster could say anything, her hand was already on his forehead, and the journey began.


The scenery around The Keymaster shifted, and he then found himself standing in an empty black void. He turned to find Blanche standing beside him as well, her glow more prominent now. She extended her hand towards The Keymaster. “Come, and I shall take you back to your very first Christmas.”
“But I don’t celebrate Chris-” The Keymaster began to stammer in protest, before Blanche interrupted him. “That may be what you think, but even so, the time remains the same. Now come…”
With a sigh, The Keymater stepped forth and took Blanche’s hand.

The scenery again shifted. Now, they they stood in an environment that seemed to have come straight out of a painting. There were endless plains of green, clear blue skies, clean flowing water, and warm air laced with a gentle breeze of cool wind. And the best part of it all was the complete silence, save for the rustling of grass. If one were to sum it up with a single word, “paradise” would be most apt. In all his travels, never before had The Keymaster seen such a beautiful sight. And yet, it was in his memories.
“This was a time before Christmas was conceived of by man — before man even set foot here, in fact…” Blanche explained.
When The Keymaster looked up, he suddenly saw an enormous celestial figure in the sky. Its height was close to that of a skyscraper, and its form seemed to have been fashioned from the very cosmos — an ethereal silhouette outlined by constellations of stars. The most notable feature was the crown of keys upon its head, at which point The Keymaster realized that this being was himself.
“…Me? But, how…?” he asked in astonishment, still gazing upon the titan in awe. It seemed to be engaged in a cosmic dance, striding across the sky in leaps and bounds of pure self-expression. Soon, The Keymaster saw that the being was accompanied by other similar figures, a little over twenty in number. They all danced together, each in their own unique way, forming an interplay of creation on a grand stage. The horizon extended further outward as fire, water, earth, air and aether were laid upon the plane amidst the frolicking of these beings.
“You were purest, then, acting only from purpose. You had nothing but love in your heart,” Blanche continued.
“What happened, then?” asked The Keymaster.
“I shall show you.” Blanche took The Keymaster’s hand, pulling him into the next memory.

keymaster5.pngThey then came upon the next scene. In it, Gatekeeper had a much more modest and humanoid form, and he was seen pacing back and forth through a corridor. His face bore an expression of great concern, troubled by the matters with which he was preoccupied. The stewing of his thoughts were suddenly interrupted when a pale, pastel hand was placed upon his shoulder from behind. “Go on, they are waiting for you. Inspire them,” Gudang said in reassurance. Gatekeeper smiled back to her, the dark cloud seeming to have cleared away, if briefly. “Thank you…” he said as he stepped forth through the door in front of him. He emerged onto an indoor balcony, overlooking an enormous dining hall filled with many humans. They wore the garb of ancient peoples, long outdated by today’s standards. The humans all looked towards Gatekeeper in unison, waiting with bated breath. He stood stoic and silent for a moment, before a wide grin crossed his face as he proclaimed, “Let the festivities begin!” The crowd then erupted into cheer and merrymaking. All throughout the food, drink, song and dance, Gatekeeper looked down with a smile of approval.
The Keymaster found himself immensely perplexed by this scene. Never before had he felt or expressed such joy. Him? Happy? It was unthinkable. Blanche smiled and nodded as he turned towards her. “Yes. Believe it or not, this was once you. You had a love for humanity, even despite the circumstances in which they came here. You welcomed them with open arms, showing hospitality when not many others did. You opened the gate for them.” Blanche said. They then continued to watch the scene.
As the celebration began to wind down, Gatekeeper retreated from the balcony and into the corridors once again, where Gudang stood waiting. “Tell me, brother, what troubles you?” she asked, hand resting over her chin.
Gatekeeper sighed. “I love these humans… their adoration and gratitude. Yet I worry that it was a mistake to have allowed them here.”
“How so?”
“This was our paradise that we made together. You, me, Claudius, everyone. I don’t want anything to get in the way of that. But if the humans grow into an infestation, or worse, turn against us…”
Gudang nodded silently. “I understand your concerns. But why worry about what could be rather than what already is? That is Divus' responsibility.”
Gatekeeper faintly chuckled. “I suppose you are right, sister…”
With the interaction having concluded, Blanche silently proceeded through an empty black doorway. The Keymaster ran to catch up with her, as they suddenly entered the next scene. “Hey, wait a moment!” He called out as he caught up to Blanche, who held her finger out to shush him before pointing ahead. When the Keymaster looked towards where Blanche was pointing, he saw the next scene begin to play out.keymaster8.png Gatekeeper sat alone in his chambers, slouching upon his throne. His demeanor was much more grim, bearing a weight that visibly exhausted him. His hair was less kempt, his eyes bore deep grey circles, and his crown hung lopsided. A human in ceremonial garb approached him, although seemingly reluctant to do so. “Sire, they are expecting you. What should I tell them?”
Gatekeeper sighed. “Tell them that I shall not be appearing, and that the festivities are canceled,” he said, waving his hand in dismissal.
“B-but, my lord-”
“I gave you an order, Alexander…” Gatekeeper growled, venom seeping into his words as he intimidatingly leaned towards the servant.
Alexander nodded. “Understood,” he said as he left to deliver the news.
Gatekeeper sighed again, rubbing a hand over his eyes. With all that was transpiring around him, there was nothing to celebrate this year. The humans were growing restless, and had begun to resist the rule of their gods. Gatekeeper saw firsthand the effects that their corruption had on his siblings, who began to turn upon each-other as well. Some had already been lost. Wings were scorched, blades were broken, and flesh was turned to stone. It was just as he had feared would happen.
As The Keymaster watched, Blanche stepped beside him. “You blamed yourself for the demise of your kin. You placed an unnecessary burden upon yourself, and it hardened your heart.” With that, she began to enter the next scene.
The Keymaster saw a glimpse of the scene: Blanche and Gatekeeper together in the library, engaged in what seemed to be a verbal confrontation. The Keymaster shook his head. “No, please. I already know what this is. I have no desire to relive it.”
“You must, dear. You cannot change what has already happened. But you can gain new perspective,” Blanche reassured him. Hesitantly, The Keymaster proceeded into the next scene.

Blanche was disheartened by Gatekeeper’s current demeanor, as indicated by the disappointed look on her face. “I really think you should reconsider your course of action, dear…” she began to say, before Gatekeeper snapped back. “‘Dear’, you say? Why do you insist on calling everyone that? I doubt you truly mean it,” he scoffed.

“I… I’m not sure if I follow…” Blanche stammered.

Gatekeeper laughed sarcastically, looking down and shaking his head as he paced about with his hands behind his back. “These humans, why do you defend them? They are not worth fighting for. They are worth nothing at all!” Blanche gasped. “What has become of you, Gatekeeper? You once loved humans as much as I do.”

“I thought I did, until my eyes were opened to the truth. Humans are an invasive species. They never belonged here, yet they have invaded as a foreign enemy, and they are tearing our paradise apart from the inside out!” He exclaimed, pointing towards himself when saying “our”.

keymaster7.pngGatekeeper approached Blanche, gently holding both of her hands and looking into her eyes. “They have already taken several of our kin. Claudius, Augustus, Gudang…” he said in a softer voice, almost seeming to choke back tears. “I don’t want you to be next, sister. You must heed my warning. Help me crush their rebellion and remind them of their servitude to us.”

As Blanche looked into Gatekeeper’s eyes, she saw his anguish, and took pity on him. Yet his mission was not one that she could support. She pulled her hands away from him, shaking her head and stepping back. “I am sorry, brother. But this is not the way. Your pain is misplaced.”

Gatekeeper’s expression fell into a scowl, and he looked down upon Blanche with scorn. “Very well. Stick to your cowardly pacifism, and believe that everything will magically solve itself like the stories you read. When the humans inevitably turn against you too, you will have only yourself to blame.” With that, he took one of his keys and opened a gateway out of the library, storming off through it. When it closed, Blanche was left alone, and she bowed her head as the scene dissolved.

The Keymaster, too, bowed his head, but in shame, as Blanche approached him. “Those were the last words that we exchanged before you…” she trailed off.
The Keymaster solemnly nodded. “I know. Those things I said came from a place of pain. And I did not mean any of it. I apologize deeply…”
“It isn’t about that, dear,” Blanche said with a soft smile. “I have shown you all of this to remind you of the compassion that you once had for humans… and still do, deep down.”
“But…”
“Why is it that you help humans, regardless of what you may think of them? Your compassion has never left you. It has always been there, but it is buried beneath your hurt…” Suddenly, a golden glimmer shone from the corner of the void. Blanche turned towards it, intrigued. “Hmm, how curious. This one does not seem like the others,” she said as she began approaching it, with The Keymaster following behind. They both gazed into the memory, coming upon a new scene. Although somewhat blurred and distorted, the events occurring were clear.

Two humans, one male and one female, were sitting on a floor in front of a Christmas tree and a fireplace, with christmas music playing in the background. “Your turn,” the man said as he handed a small white gift box to the woman.
The woman gently untied the red ribbon and peeled the wrapping paper, before opening the box. She gasped in shock, placing a hand over her mouth as she pulled out a shiny pearl necklace. “Oh my… it’s so beautiful!”
“Merry Christmas,” the man said with a chuckle.
The woman wrapped her arms round the man, kissing him. “I love you.”
“I love you too…”
The Keymaster was entranced by the scene. He felt… warm inside. He felt the love between the two humans. He wanted nothing more than to be there within that moment, forever. But he knew that whatever life this may have been, it was long gone. He came back to his senses when Blanche placed a hand on his shoulder. “Our time has come to a close,” she whispered.


Suddenly, The Keymaster’s eyes opened and he found himself back in library, in his chair. He looked down to find that the mug of hot chocolate had spilled all over his cloak. “How lovely…” he sneered.
“No worries, dear. Let me take care of that,” said Blanche. With a single wave of her hand, the contents of the hot chocolate rolled off The Keymaster’s cloak and flowed back into the mug. She held the mug out to the Keymaster in offer, but he raised his hand in decline. “I hope that our time together has proven to be an enlightening experience. However, there is still much left for you to do on this night. Your lessons are far from finished.”
The Keymaster raised his eyebrow. “You mean, all three emissaries are visiting me tonight?”
Blanche nodded. “Indeed. In fact, it seems that the second one is just about ready for you.”
The Keymaster tried to speak, but found his body shutting down once again, as his eyes drifted shut. “Merry, Christmas, dear…” he distantly heard Blanche say, before completely slipping from consciousness.


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