Users of Fan Fiction. Net...the unthinkable has happened...I am NOT writing a Sonic story this time! Yes, for once, I'm writing something COMPLETELY un-Sonic related! About time too...I write too much Sonic. ^^;
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this new story of mine as I tackle the wonderful world of Stephen DiDuro's hit independent platformer game, Freedom Planet! And since it's so close to Christmas, what better way than to celebrate it with a CHRISTMAS Freedom Planet story? :D You know, I have a feeling this may or may not be the FIRST ever Christmas fanfic about Freedom Planet...
Anyways, Merry Christmas my readers and I hope you enjoy the story! :D
December the 22nd, only three days until Christmas…
Chapter 1: Milla's Wish
The majestic world of Avalice couldn't be more ready for the winter season that had approached the planet. The weather was turning much colder and skies were beginning to become grey more often with very few spells of sunshine to break them up. It was also becoming darker much sooner in the day than it was before. If anybody on the planet couldn't tell it was winter now then Mother Nature decided to send them another signal that it was indeed the winter season. The day before, snow had fallen and all throughout the night, blankets upon blankets of gleaming, white, crunchy snow had built up all throughout the three kingdoms of Avalice.
These kingdoms were Shang Tu, Shang Mu and Shuigang. Shang Tu was the blue kingdom ruled by the very mysterious Magister, who was mysterious in the sense that nobody really knew what his true face looked like. Only his eyes were ever visible. The trademark blue colours of Shang Tu seemed very fitting for all the snow that lay around the kingdom.
Shang Mu was the red kingdom led by the narcissistic but decidedly short and even shorter-tempered Mayor Zao. He was ecstatic about the winter season for many people in his kingdom came flocking to his shopping centres to shop for the winter season. One would suspect that winter was his favourite season for this very reason.
Shuigang was the green kingdom ruled over by Prince Dail, a young boy who had unfortunately been forced to take the title of "king" prematurely after his father had been brutally murdered by the vicious alien overlord, Lord Brevon. It had taken Dail a long time to recover from everything that had been done to him and despite some setbacks, he was slowly but steadily accepting the fact he was now king and had to rule over Shuigang. He was all too happy about the fact the man that had murdered his father had been beaten and decided to honour his passing by taking up the mantle of king. So far, he had managed to keep control over Shuigang very well but he still couldn't quite reel in his criminal brother, Spade. He hoped to arrest the panda one day and put him behind bars for all the crimes he and his gang, the Red Scarves, had done over the years.
All three kingdoms were teeming with life, colour and the kingdoms had a mixture of Chinese and Japanese architecture and design that gave them all their unique and grand appearances. Long ago, these kingdoms had been made by the people of Avalice after being captivated by the grace and beauty of a dragon that had later become the primary source of power for the world, the legendary Kingdom Stone. The stone had recently changed form, no longer just a mere stone now but a spiralling vortex of twinkling stars that always appeared at nightfall. This had helped to solve the energy crisis that had fallen upon Avalice after the atrocities that had been committed by Lord Brevon in his attempt to leave the world. It had been several months since Lord Brevon had been defeated and Avalice was in a state of peace, more so than it had been in a long time mostly due to the fact that the Kingdom Stone's energy was forever evenly divided between kingdoms, giving them all the energy needed to survive. But there was another reason for the peace on Avalice. It was December time now and everybody on Avalice was getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year…Christmas.
It had been on the month of December when the dragon that had inspired the kingdoms of Avalice had transformed into the Kingdom Stone. The celebration of Christmas, which occurred exactly on Day 25 of the month of December, was held in order to honour the dragon's transformation into the generous artefact that had kept them alive for many millenniums. Christmas celebrations on Avalice consisted of giving and receiving presents to loved ones, grand feasts held to honour the legendary dragon and the Kingdom Stone and a gathering of all three kingdoms to form a circle around a large Christmas tree with a dragon on top of it to sing and pray for the magnificent beast that had inspired their grand homes and states of living. Christmas was the time of year that all people on Avalice greatly enjoyed and now it was coming again. In just three days, the people of Avalice would rejoice and celebrate Christmas once again, something that Avalice always enjoyed no matter how many times they celebrated it.
The freshly fallen snow that covered most of Avalice was seeing some enjoyment on this very day. Three young girls were outside and playing in the snow with each other. These three were no ordinary Avalicians. One of them was a purple skinned dragon whom was considered very special just for being a dragon, the very creature that had become the legendary Kingdom Stone a long time ago. The dragon had long twin stands of whippy tendrils that to her, were stands of "hair". Despite their harmless looking appearances, they were not just features that complimented the dragon's appearance. They were lethal weapons that she could use to deadly effect. Her name was Lilac and she was with her two friends, Carol the Wildcat and Milla the Hound. Carol was green-furred with a red neckerchief that acted as one of her trademarks and she was a tough, no-nonsense tomboy who could fight brilliantly and even rode a motorcycle. Milla was a white furred hound with brilliant orange hair and long ears that could be used for semi-flight. She didn't like wearing shoes, even in cold weather such as winter and as she played with her friends, she was still barefooted. Milla was the sweetheart of the trio and Lilac often saw her as like the little sister she never had. Together, the trio had stopped the nefarious Lord Brevon from making off with the Kingdom Stone when he had unfortunately crash landed onto the planet months ago. Though Brevon had left his mark on poor Milla after mutating her into a hideous creature and forcing her to fight against Lilac. Lilac had defeated Brevon though his body had never been found, suggesting he was likely still around and waiting to have his revenge.
Such thoughts were not currently present in the minds of the girls. Lilac, Carol and Milla were having too much fun in the frosty, white snow to think about Brevon. Dressed warmly in thick coats, gloves and boots (except for Milla), the girls were making the most of this beautiful winter day. The snow had also gotten them more excited about the fore coming Christmas celebration for they enjoyed, as many people would label it, a "White Christmas". Snow often fell regularly during the winter season on Avalice so throughout December, Lilac, Carol and Milla could enjoy many a day of winter fun and snow-related activities. Milla was currently building a snowman, rolling up huge balls of snow and piling them on top of each other to make the familiar figure of the snowman. She had already rolled up the base of the snow-made figure and was now picking up another ball of snow to put on top of it for the body. As she built the snowman, Lilac and Carol were having a snowball fight. The fight went on completely unnoticed by the hound as she made her snowman. The dragon and cat rolled up balls of snow of took aim, ready to throw them at each other. Lilac was in a defensive position and aiming directly at her best friend's head. She always enjoyed aiming for the head, she thought it was funnier when the snowball hit somebody smack in the face. Carol was aiming straight at Lilac's stomach, hoping that her hit would distract the dragon long enough for her to throw another snowball and hit her. But Lilac, being super fast like dragons on Avalice are, threw first. Her snowball whizzed through the air like a cannonball and hit Carol smack in the face. Carol gasped and staggered backwards as the snowball hit her. It felt like she had been punched in the face with a fist made of snow. The wildcat was so surprised that she accidentally dropped her own snowball, giving Lilac the chance to throw another one at her. Carol was wiping snow off her face as Lilac's second snowball struck her on the side of her head. The blow was hard but it was somehow made even worse by drops of snow trickling down her neck and under her coat. The lilac-skinned reptile could hardly contain her hysterical laughter as her best friend began to do a crazy dance from the cold snow making her skin crawl.
"AIIIIIEEEEE! THAT'S FREEZING!" squealed Carol frantically, trying to wipe the snow out from under her coat to warm herself up again.
"Of course it's freezing, it's snow Carol! Frozen water remember?!" giggled Lilac.
"Why are you such a good shot at these snowball fights?!" the green-furred feline whined indignantly, "I hardly ever get a good hit on you! Do you have some secret tactic or something?"
"Nah, I'm just naturally that good." sneered Lilac, winking cheekily at her friend, "Oh and by the way, whining on the battlefield's never a good idea."
She then proceeded to back up her words by throwing another snowball at Carol. But she had warned her friend about her gaff on purpose so that Carol could dodge the attack. Lilac was a woman of fair-play and liked to give Carol the chance to hit her just to be fair to her. Carol ducked, the snowball whizzing straight over her head. It had missed her by centimetres. The cat considered herself lucky to have reacted fast enough. Carol rolled up a ball of snow with her gloved hands and stood up. But Lilac had already thrown another snowball. The white, frosty sphere zoomed through the air and slammed into the back of the cat's head. Growling mutinously, Carol spun around and threw her snowball at the dragon. Lilac anticipated the attack and she spun around, swinging her trademark tendrils around her. The tendrils hit the snowball, preventing it from coming anywhere near her head, which had been the target of Carol's snowball. The wildcat frowned in annoyance as Lilac laughed at her again.
"Hey! That's cheating!" whinged Carol.
"Since when was there a rule against using your hair to stop a snowball from hitting you?" snorted Lilac.
Her response was a snowball in the face. Carol had taken advantage of what Lilac had warned her about earlier. Talking during a battle gave the opponent a chance to attack. Lilac had made the mistake of talking during the fight so Carol had snowballed her. The neckerchief wearing cat seemed visibly happy to have finally hit Lilac with a snowball. She punched the air triumphantly as Lilac wiped snow off of her face.
"Yes! Got you!" squealed Carol excitedly.
"Yeah, that's only the third time you actually hit me in this fight." retorted Lilac, smirking at her feline comrade, "Three compared to the twenty snowballs I'VE hit you with."
There was a smug smile on the dragon's pretty face as she said that.
"I'm getting better aren't I?" protested Carol, "I mean, before I couldn't hit you with even ONE snowball! Three's better than nothing isn't it?"
"Darn straight." agreed Lilac, "Oh well, let's call it a draw shall we?"
Her response was another surprise snowball to the face. Carol had decided to throw it just for a laugh and also to show her reptilian friend that she could catch her off-guard no matter how fast she was. It had certainly worked. Lilac was staring at Carol, her face covered in snow, as if she was amazed at what had just happened.
"NOW let's call it a draw." sneered Carol triumphantly, pleased to have had at least one more hit before the game was over.
"Good sneak attack Carol." Lilac praised delightedly, "Something like that will be very useful to us somewhere down the line."
"Like if we ever meet those jerky Red Scarves again." muttered Carol bitterly, folding her arms and scowling as the horrible thought of the evil group crept into her mind.
Lilac nodded slowly. Her mouth curled downwards into a bitter scowl. She and Carol had once been members of the Red Scarves and whenever they thought about it, it always made the two feel nothing but hatred and contempt. It had been fun at first but then Spade had crossed a line that they didn't cross. He had committed a murder, something Lilac and Carol couldn't live with so they had willingly abandoned the wicked Scarves, leaving them to continue their evil crimes without them. They had been much happier since their days with the Scarves but their name was still enough to spoil the mood for them whenever they were brought up.
"Well, don't worry about those jerks." muttered Lilac, "The Red Scarves won't be causing any trouble for us anytime soon. Especially since it's nearly Christmas." she added brightly.
"I know! And I'm going gaga about it already!" quipped Carol excitedly, "I wish Christmas would hurry up! I can barely wait three more days for it!"
"Ha, ha, you get more and more excited about it every year don't you?" laughed Lilac casually.
"Duh." replied Carol as if the answer to that question should have been obvious.
"I love Christmas too." said Lilac brightly, "It's just such a wonderful time of year. Goodwill to Avalician kind, great parties, gifts to give and receive and of course, the big prayer we give to the dragon that blessed us with the Kingdom Stone, it's just so awesome!"
"I sure hope I get those motorbike snow tyres that I put on my present list." said Carol, putting an arm around her purple skinned friend, "I'd love to actually be able to tear through the snow on my motorcycle for once."
"I'm sure you'll get them at long last Carol." said Lilac with a wink, "You never know who might give them to you…"
"Hey Lilac! Hey Carol! Come see my adorable snowman!" squealed the adorable Milla, leaping up and down with excitement and catching her friend's attention.
The dragon and cat had been so into their conversation that they had nearly forgotten about the little puppy. This would be their first ever Christmas with the sweet hound and they were looking forward to seeing how Christmas with Milla would feel. Lilac and Carol ran over to their friend and Milla gleefully showed the two her snowman that she had been building the whole time they had been talking and snowballing. The snowman looked pretty well built with a strong sturdy base to support the weight placed atop of it and the proportions being pretty much perfect. The snowman was the same height as Milla and had three sticks in it. Two sticks acted as its arms and the third stick was its nose. Milla didn't have a carrot so she had used another stick for the nose. She had dug up some pinecones to use as eyes and had drawn a smile on the snowman's face. Lilac and Carol both smiled appreciatively at the hound's handiwork. They had to admit, it was very good, even for a snowman built by a child.
"Wow, that's amazing Milla!" cried Carol, "You could win a snowman contest with that!"
"Hee, hee, hee! Thank you Carol." said Milla sweetly, "His name's Olaf and he likes warm hugs." she added.
"Olaf, what a lovely name for a snowman." said Lilac brightly, "And he likes warm hugs? Why don't we all hug him and make him feel warmer?"
"Not too warm." laughed Carol.
The girls gathered around the snowman and hugged it as if it was an actual person and not just something made out of snow. If the snowman could feel anything, it would be feeling very warm with the three Avalicians hugging it like that. The girls themselves were feeling cold from pressing themselves against the icy figure they were embracing. The snowman would likely feel warm from their body heat but its own body heat wouldn't do the same for them. Lilac suddenly shivered and let go of the snowman.
"Brrrr…" the dragon's teeth began to chatter as she tried to speak, "I-I d-d-dunno a-about the-the snowman b-but I'm g-g-getting chilly."
"I b-bet the s-snowm-man's w-warmer th-than we are n-now." shivered Carol, rubbing her arms to get some warmth back into her.
"L-let's g-g-go back i-into th-the t-Treehouse." Milla stammered, "I-I-I'm g-g-getting c-c-cold now."
"We a-all are." said Lilac, "H-hey, wh-when we g-get back inside, l-let's p-put up the C-Christmas tree!" she suddenly suggested excitedly.
"Awesome!" cried Carol agreeably.
"I l-love p-putting up C-Christmas Trees!" piped Milla, "P-please c-c-can I p-put the d-dragon on t-top?"
"Sure Milla." said Lilac kindly, "It's y-your f-first Christmas with us. You c-can p-put the dragon on top."
"It's not a Christmas t-t-tree w-without a d-dragon on top." said Carol.
In order to get out of the cold, the girls quickly ran over to the Treehouse that they could actually call home. To Lilac and Carol, it was the only thing they could call home since they had no real houses to live in. They were too poor to afford a house so they lived outside of society in a solidly built Treehouse that Lilac herself had designed and constructed. The Treehouse was two-stories large and about the size of a normal house. The thick tree that it had been built atop of was able to support it with ease, the surrounding branches carrying all of the weight around the house and keeping it well in place. The house had built-in electricity so the girls had a working television and working radiators for the winter months. The girls climbed up the ladder and into the Treehouse. Once they were inside the Treehouse, they could begin the decorating and Lilac was already imagining how beautiful her Treehouse would look with the Christmas decorations up…
While Avalice was looking forward to another Christmas, there were some people who were looking forward to Christmas…for all of the wrong reasons. Deep in a hideout, which was located in the drainage tunnels of the blue-coloured kingdom of Shang Tu, a sinister group of Avalicians was gathering together and preparing for something. The group all wore black ninja outfits that concealed their faces, bodies and any features that would make them easily recognizable for anybody who spotted them. They all wore something that made them recognizable as members of a group. That something was a red neckerchief. The group was called the Red Scarves. The Red Scarves hadn't been very active after the events of Lord Brevon's manipulations of the kingdoms and the evolution of the Kingdom Stone. Now they were planning something and they were planning something BIG. Nobody knew what they were doing down in the hideout. Nobody knew where they were in all of Avalice. To them, it was like the scarves just appear from nowhere and then commit their sinister crimes which could be burglary, robbery or even straight up murder. Then after their crimes were committed, they suddenly disappeared and never showed up again until they were ready to commit a crime again. Since Christmas was approaching, the Red Scarves had a perfect opportunity for their next crime. Christmas offered so much for them to steal that the scarves' next operation would be a raid. And it would be a raid bigger than anything they had ever executed before. One of the scarves was walking through the hallway and to a room where only the invited where ever allowed in. He wasn't dressed in a ninja outfit like the others were. He wore a red neckerchief like his comrades but he also wore a black vest, brown trousers and black boots. Perched above his emerald green eyes were red sunglasses that wouldn't be needed in the dull, grey outside up above. He was a panda and his name was Spade. He was the one who had crossed a line that Lilac and Carol refused to cross and because of him, they had abandoned the Red Scarves. He was related to royalty although he had no chance of ever being placed upon the throne of Shuigang. Spade sniffed at royalty and only had any interest in them if he was robbing them. Prince Dail had been trying to arrest his brother but try as he might, Spade always alluded him and the guards of Shuigang. Now Dail was king, Shuigang was more determined than ever to catch Spade. The panda was in hiding along with the other scarves so as of this moment, there was no chance of him being found out.
Spade knocked on the door of the room he was approaching and waited for an answer. The door was huge and the room behind it was even more so.
"Come in." answered a deep, sinister but feminine voice.
Spade opened the door and walked in. He didn't see why he had to knock before entering this room. He was second in command of the Red Scarves. He should have all the freedom he deserves and not have to keep his manners for their leader's sake. The door closed behind him and Spade found himself shrouded in semi-darkness. A dim light prevented the entire room from being in total darkness. The deadly murderer approached a figure sitting in a golden throne that had been stolen from Shang Mu a long time ago and he bowed down graciously.
"Good morning Natalya." said Spade politely.
Natalya was a mysterious woman, even to her own disciples. Nobody knew what she really looked like. Natalya wore a black long coat and a leather bodysuit that covered every inch of her body. She had heavy, chunky shoes and she wore a helmet with a large, round lens for her to see out of. Nobody could see through the lens, leaving her face a mystery to anybody who saw her. The only distinctive thing about Natalya's appearance a long, scaly ponytail that reached down to just under her bottom. The ponytail was a mauve colour, suggesting she had mauve skin and the fact it was scaly indicated she was reptilian. Many thought she was some kind of lizard or even a crocodile. But nobody knew what species Natalya really was. She was the leader of the Red Scarves and she carried out her job with dedication that few others had matched. She was utterly ruthless and deadpan to the point of looking bored no matter what she did. Spade would never admit it but there was something about the trench-coated woman that just made him feel uneasy. She seemed almost inhuman. How Natalya achieved this was beyond the panda's realm of comprehension. But Spade didn't let that thought creep into his mind as he waited for Natalya to reply to him.
"Good morning Spade." muttered Natalya, her voice stoic and emotionless. Spade had once wondered if Natalya even knew what emotions were and if so, what had caused her to be so emotionless.
"The Red Scarves all approve of your plan." explained Spade, "The Christmas Raid has everybody's willing support and when the time is right, we will carry out the raid on all three kingdoms."
"Excellent." replied Natalya, although her voice betrayed any possibility of enthusiasm that the word itself carried, "Shang Mu, Shang Tu and Shuigang will know what it's like to tangle with the Red Scarves. This raid will make us all richer than ever before and maybe we'll be able to remove all the leaders of the kingdoms…and place a scarf or two in their places. The scarves will rule over everything and Avalice will be ours. We will begin tonight…starting with Shang Mu. We will raid Shang Mu and kill that idiot Mayor Zao. Then tomorrow on the twenty-third, we raid Shang Tu and kill the Magister. And then we give Avalice a Christmas to remember when we remove your foolish brother from Shuigang's existence on the twenty-fourth. Then on Christmas Day itself, we will replace the fallen leaders and we will rule over all of Avalice."
"Indeed Natalya. Though I'm not sure if I could carry out the task of murdering my own brother…" murmured Spade unsurely. He had tried to find out who had murdered his father during Lord Brevon's tyranny so it would seem rather strange of him to suddenly kill his own brother.
"Oh Spade…you should know better than to be sentimental." sighed Natalya, "Sentimentality is a weakness and if you let it get to your head…you will be a completely different person."
"I know…but do remember how I spent most of the alien invasion trying to find out who killed my father." noted Spade, "It…wouldn't make sense if I suddenly turned on Dail."
"I'll tell you what didn't make any sense." snapped Natalya, "You caring about who killed your father. The scarves do not care about anybody. Dare show anymore signs of sentimentality and I'll have YOU killed. Do you understand Spade?"
There was a bitter coldness that made her words feel like icicles plunging through a heart. Spade shivered uncomfortably as Natalya gave him the threat. He knew better than to give his leader an excuse to kill him. He wasn't interested in dying anytime soon so he decided to give Natalya a reason to spare him.
"Yes Natalya…I'm sorry Natalya." he muttered.
"Sorry does not make everything better little boy." said Natalya coldly, "You will assassinate Dail on Christmas Eve, no questions asked. If you refuse then heaven forbid what I have in mind for you."
"I won't refuse, I'll do it." said Spade grimly, not really pleased to hear himself saying those words, "So who will kill Zao and the Magister?" he asked curiously.
"I'll decide on that nearer the time." explained Natalya, "Although I'm thinking that Miguel and Lela would be adequate for a job like this. I'll probably give them the task of killing Zao. Until the raid comes, we will remain in hiding. Once the twenty-second is here, we commence with the raid."
"Understood." said Spade, "Goodbye for now Natalya."
"Goodbye Spade. And remember…you don't want to be punished for failing if you dare fail your mission on Christmas Eve…" the woman snarled viciously.
The panda nodded slowly. Natalya was always true to her word. If she was punishing somebody, she never relented. She also never made hollow threats. If she made a threat, she made a threat and she never backed out of it. She carried it out with ruthless efficiency. Spade got up to his feet and he walked out of the room. As he left, he felt like Natalya was watching his every step. Time spent with this woman had had an effect on him. Natalya was such a scary leader that he even had bad nightmares about failing and receiving one of her trademark punishments. And the worst part was he could never beat her in a fight. He had seen Natalya fight and she fought with brutality and agility that few could ever hope to match. So as much as he was going to hate having to kill Dail, Spade would sooner take his brother's life then let Natalya take his own…
Over in Lilac's Treehouse, the girls were in the living room and putting up their Christmas tree. The rest of the Treehouse had already been decorated and the tree-based dwelling was already beginning to look livelier with the decorations up. All the rooms had tinsel hanging off the walls and there were strings of lights all around the Treehouse from outside. The lights were plugged in and already lit up, blinking ever so often and making the house look very colourful and bright. Lilac had also set up plush toys of snowmen and Christmas dragons in the bedrooms and on top of the TV, she had placed a singing Christmas dragon that would sing if somebody clapped near it. Snowflake decorations were hung up on the ceilings of all the rooms and Christmas themed window stickers had been placed on any window in the house. Now all that was left was for a tree to be put up. While the girls had been inside, they were in their casual clothes since it was warm enough to not need their winter clothes on. The radiators were set up to high heat. It was so warm in the Treehouse now that Lilac, Carol and Milla had all but forgotten that it was meant to be cold outside.
Milla was grinning excitedly at she and her friends decorated the Christmas tree. It had been a while since she had ever decorated a Christmas tree of her own so she was ecstatic. The tree was artificial and about six feet tall, taller than the girls themselves so they all had stools to stand on so they could reach the higher parts of the tree. Lilac bent down and picked up a few baubles from a cardboard box that lay on the floor. She hung the baubles up on a few branches and watched as Carol wound some tinsel around some of the branches.
"Hey Lilac, is this tinsel OK where it is?" asked Carol curiously, "Or is it beginning to look cluttered?"
"It's fine Carol, really." said Lilac, grabbing one end of the tinsel and helping Carol to wind it around the lower branches, "We can still see the baubles perfectly fine. We could do with some more decorations around the upper branches though, it looks a bit plain."
The dragon and cat glanced up at the upper branches of the tree and saw that surely enough, the tree did look somewhat plain around the top minus the upper parts of the winding tinsel. Nodding agreeably, Carol picked up some baubles and stood on a stool to reach the upper branches. Milla, who was looking at a box of candy canes, watched nervously as Carol began to fill the branches with baubles.
"Oh please be careful Carol!" whimpered Milla, "I don't want you to fall!"
"I'm OK Milla, don't worry." Carol reassured the puppy dog, "I've decorated the tree hundreds of times and never fallen off of my stool."
"Yeah right, last year you fell over trying to put the dragon on top and you nearly took the whole tree down with you." snickered Lilac, "I was laughing so hard that I thought I was going to split my sides!"
She began to giggle as she remembered that past Christmas. She giggled so much that she failed to notice her best friend was frowning at her, clearly annoyed that she had just told Milla about that embarrassing incident. The little hound seemed not to share Lilac's sense of humour though for she wasn't laughing. She looked more worried for Carol than before now.
"But Lilac, it's not nice to laugh at people for falling off of stools." said Milla affectionately, looking worriedly back at Carol.
"Don't worry Milla, its alright." said Lilac reassuringly, "I'd never laugh at Carol if she fell off a stool and she was in serious pain. That would be cruel of me."
"You bet it would." said Carol, standing up on tip-toe to reach one more branch to hook the last bauble onto.
Then it happened. Carol suddenly lost her balance and she began to feel herself toppling backwards. The stool was leaning slightly back as Carol had placed her feet near the edge of the stool and it was threatening to topple over. Carol fought for balance but the cat lost the battle. The stool threw her backwards and toppled over. Carol let out a comical scream that sounded more like the scream one would hear in a cartoon when falling over and she crashed down onto the floor. Luckily, she seemed to be unhurt and she was quickly back up on her feet, earning a hug from a very concerned Milla.
"Are you OK?" shrieked Milla frantically.
"Chill Milla, I'm fine." said Carol casually, "I've been hurt much worse before."
"I swear next year, I'm going to stand behind you and support you so you don't fall over for once!" giggled Lilac as she hung up some candy canes on the tree.
"Heeeeeey!" yelled Carol indignantly.
"Just kidding Carol. I'm glad you're not hurt." said Lilac, her tone now more sympathetic.
"Aw come on, even SPADE couldn't hurt me that much so this is nothing." boasted Carol, "Say, you ready for Milla to put the dragon on top now?"
Lilac thought for a moment and stood back to admire her handiwork. The Christmas tree looked marvellous, full to the brim with beautiful baubles and glorious golden tinsel. The sweet smell of peppermint rose from the candy canes that had also been placed on the Christmas tree. The purple dragon smiled happily at the Christmas tree. It was no wonder that she enjoyed it greatly every year it was put up. It always looked so wonderful in the living room, looking grand and colourful and adding to the festive atmosphere that only Christmas could ever provide. She smiled over at Milla.
"You know, I think I AM ready for Milla to put the dragon on." beamed Lilac, "You ready Milla."
"Sure!" piped Milla gleefully, picking up the dragon tree topper from the decorations box and smiling a cute smile that only a puppy dog could manage.
The dragon tree topper was made of plastic so it was lightweight and wouldn't cause the Christmas tree to overbalance. It was coloured a dark blue that seemed slightly purple too. The dragon had golden eyes, golden horns and a long, snaky body that was positioned in an S shape. It had four legs, the front legs raised up as if ready to stomp down on anybody who dared to upset it. Milla peered up at the tall Christmas tree. It was awfully high up for her. Even a stool wouldn't be tall enough. But Milla was given the help she needed for Lilac placed her hands on the dog's hips and picked her up. Milla giggled as Lilac lifted her off the floor and she stretched up as high as she could reach. Lilac stood on tip-toe, trying her best to keep her balance and not drop Milla onto the tree. As sturdy as it was, the tree wouldn't hold Milla's weight. Milla reached for the top of the Christmas tree and she just managed to grab the branch and pull it forwards. She then slotted the dragon on top of the tree and bent the top branch back into place. The dragon looked very majestic and noble atop the Christmas tree, keeping a close watch upon any of its admirers. Lilac put Milla back down on the floor and the girls cheered excitedly.
"Hooray!" piped Milla, "We did it!"
"Now this is what I call a Christmas tree!" cheered Carol, admiring the wonderful mixture of colours that the tree's many baubles and tinsel provided, "This might be our best looking tree yet!"
"Darn straight!" agreed Lilac, "It also helps how we were kindly donated some of these decorations by each of the kingdoms as thanks for our hand in saving Avalice earlier this year. They REALLY liven up the tree don't they?"
"Too right!" exclaimed Carol.
"I love this Christmas tree!" squealed Milla, "It reminds me of the one mommy and daddy put up for me every…December…time…"
The dog's voice died in her throat and she suddenly began to change expression. Her face fell into a solemn expression and her ears drooped down lower than usual. Lilac and Carol caught these signs immediately and they both looked sad for their newest friend. They knew how Milla felt. During their war against Lord Brevon, she had commented on how she wanted to see her parents again and how it had felt like a long time ago since she had last seen them. Because of this, she had been alone in the woods for a very long time until she had met Lilac and Carol. The dragon patted Milla on the back softly.
"You still miss your parents don't you?" she asked sadly.
"I do." murmured Milla, "I miss them so much…I don't know why they had to disappear from my life."
"I'm sure they had some kinda reason." suggested Carol, knowing that she wasn't really being as helpful as she would have liked to be but still trying, "I'm sure they're missing you too Milla."
"Maybe the are." sighed Milla, "I remember Christmases with them before I last saw them. We'd always have loads of fun together and we'd always decorate the tree together. Now I'm spending Christmas without them…"
"But you've got us Milla." said Lilac gently, "We'll give you the kind of Christmas your parents always give you."
"I'd like that Lilac…" the hound replied glumly, "But…but…I still wanna see my parents again. All I want for Christmas…is my parents back. That is my biggest wish for this year."
Lilac and Carol looked at each other pityingly. Milla was missing her parents so much that she was wishing for them to come back to her for Christmas. A big wish indeed but the girls weren't so sure if that wish would come true. The dragon and cat looked back at their canine companion.
"I'm sure they'll come back." said Lilac warmly, "Your wish will come true Milla and then you'll have the best Christmas ever."
"I hope so…" said Milla dully.
The downhearted dog then walked out of the living room and into the bedroom with her head down low and looking as miserable as she could be. That told Lilac what she needed to know without Milla having to say the exact words: "I'd like to be alone please." Milla closed the door behind her, presumably not wanting Lilac or Carol to hear her inside. But Lilac walked up to the door and pressed the side of her head against it. She could hear Milla giving a small prayer on the other side of the door.
"Please great dragon…for Christmas this year…bring back my mommy and daddy." was what the dragon could hear.
Then Milla started to cry. Lilac could imagine the dog with her head in her hands and soaking the fur on them with tears that carried all her pain and sorrow. She hadn't heard Milla cry this hard since after the horrific event that had seen her turn into a monster and fight her and Carol on Brevon's insidious vessel, the Dreadnaught. Milla crying was quite possibly the most depressing sound in the world as far as Lilac was concerned. Her heart always broke when she heard the innocent little puppy crying. Lilac knew that it was pointless to listen to anymore crying so she stood back up and walked back over to Carol.
"Poor Milla…she's so heartbroken." said Lilac sadly, "This'll be her worst Christmas ever. She'll never be happy without her parents."
"Poor kid." sighed Carol, "I really feel sorry for her. No kid should have to be without their parents until they're ready to go alone."
"Yeah. Like us…" the purple-skinned dragon murmured, "We grew up faster than Milla did so we're OK without our parents. But Milla, she really needs them right now."
"Yeah, really badly…" the green-furred cat agreed.
"Say…" mused Lilac all of the sudden, "Maybe we could help Milla's wish come true. We could search Avalice for her parents and find them for her! And once we find them, we can reunite them with her!"
"Uh Lilac, you do realize that's impossible right?" said Carol doubtfully, "There's only three days left. We won't find Milla's parents before Christmas day."
"Was it impossible to stop Lord Brevon?" snorted Lilac, "Not likely. We'll find Milla's parents, even if it takes us until NEXT Christmas! Mark my words Carol, I'm not gonna rest until Milla's parents are back with her!" she declared.
Carol sniffed. As much as she loved her best friend, she still found her somewhat determined personality to be slightly irksome, especially since the dragon seemed to think of herself as some kind of hero like in the movies. She supposed that in a way, Lilac WAS a hero since she had been the one to stop Lord Brevon during his attack so she had every right to act that way.
"OK Little Miss Heropants." said Carol, shrugging nonchalantly, "Whatever you say. So when do we start?"
"Right NOW." said Lilac matter-of-factly.
Deep inside, Lilac knew that she was faced with a task that could well be impossible as Carol had said. But the dragon would sooner let Brevon torture her again then allow Milla to spend Christmas without her parents. She was going to find them, no matter how long she had to look or where she had to search for them. Milla's wish was going to come true and Lilac would stop at nothing to make sure it did…
So Milla wants to see her parents again. Will her wish come true? And what about the Red Scarves? Will Lilac and Carol get tangled up with them on their search for Milla's parents? Find out next time in Chapter 2...