A/N Merry Christmas NotMeagain!
Nor Lit has told me much about you, and I only assume he has done the same for me. I have been traveling on my way to Leuda to visit him, only to receive a letter back that the ferryman will be closed for the 'holidays'. I'm not sure what he means, but regardless, if the ferryman has closed then it is only logical that I stay in Tipa until he re-opens. I do not wish to be a burden, and I don't expect you to house me, but I would enjoy getting to know you better. As I said, Nor Lit has told me your story, but I can't help but want to get to know you more as a person. I hope I won't be too much trouble.
Adamanta finished the letter and handed it to the mail moogle, along with a few pieces of gil.
"Thank you!" The moogle chirped; words muffled by the paper in his mouth. Adamanta gave him a slight bow, and with that he fluttered off.
She moved to gather her things to set off again, but paused.
The town was abuzz when Adamanta crossed the bridge to Tipa. Never before had she seen a town so alive with excitement, aside from myrrh festivals, of course.
But there was no more need for myrrh, so why was everyone running around?
Despite her stature, no one seemed to notice the Yuke woman. Frowning behind her helm, Adamanta moved through the crowd to a Clavat woman who was filling a whicker basket with various food items.
"Excuse me." Adamanta said.
The woman turned, and Adamanta gave her a slight bow.
"Is there something I can help you with?" The woman asked kindly.
"My name is Adamanta. I'm looking for a man named Thomas."
The woman smiled warmly. "Ah, you must be Nor Lit's friend. My name is Christie. I'll take you to my son as soon as I finish all the shopping. If you want, you could help me." She pulled out her list, the items already in the basket scribbled out.
Adamanta quickly memorized it, then set to work gathering everything. It took quite a while to find it all. Some things had been sold out already, and it wasn't until the women finally got around to asking the Merchant's wife for some things that they were told that they would have to wait until they received more supplies.
They left the market a bit disappointed, but Adamanta was glad for the quiet that came when they neared the Fisherman's little corner of the town.
"Is it always this loud in Tipa?" Adamanta asked, bewildered.
Christie laughed. "Oh, no. It always gets like this at this time of year, though. Everyone's running around trying to get their shopping done. It is only a few days before Christmas, anyway."
Adamanta looked down at the Clavat woman, now more confused then ever. She was going to question her on it, but a younger Clavat woman approached them.
"Christie, you're back! Did you get everything?"
Christie shook her head. "No, I got there too late; a number of things had already been sold out."
"Ah, I see. Hopefully we'll be able to find everything tomorrow." She turned to Adamanta, seemingly having noticed her for the first time. Adamanta gave a bow, and she did the same, though a bit uncertainly. "And you are?"
"My name is Adamanta. I am a friend and colleague of Nor Lit's. I am here for… er… the 'holidays'." She was a bit uncertain herself. What were these 'holidays', and 'Christmas'?
"Oh, yes. I remember; you sent a letter. I'm Korina, Toto -um, Thomas'- wife." She paused, looking the Yuke up and down. "Where will you be staying?"
"With us, of course." They turned to see two Clavat men climbing out of a canoe. The one who had spoken was riddled with scars, the most noticeable one stretching out with his wide grin.
Scars… the universal mark of a caravanner.
"Thomas." Adamanta recognized.
"That's me." He stuck out his hand, and Adamanta shook it, a bit taken aback. "You're Adamanta, right?" She nodded.
The man next to him let out a hearty laugh. "Hah! Just in time for all the excitement, too! It's Arion, by the way."
"It's a pleasure." Adamanta said meekly. "Um, if I may ask, what IS all the excitement?"
Arion laughed again. "Why, Christmas, of course! What, you don't have Christmas in Shella?"
Adamanta frowned. "As a matter of fact… we don't."
It was Arion's turn to be taken aback this time. "Well, I'll be!"
"Well, that explains a few things, I suppose." Christie said.
"You don't know what Christmas is?" Thomas asked.
Adamanta shook her head. "Not at all."
Korina smiled for the first time. "Well, then I guess it'll just be our job to show you the traditions of the other tribes."
Behind her helm, Adamanta smiled at the warm welcome.
They took her inside, where the smell of fresh baked pastries filled the house.
"It smells wonderful." She commented.
Korina nodded. "Everyone bakes for Christmas; we make sure there are plenty of good things to eat."
Christie laughed. "Yes, not one of our most…slimming traditions."
"But… what is so special about Christmas?"
"Christmas is a time when 'Santa Clause' brings all the good boys and girls presents. They hang stockings by the fireplace and at night on Christmas Eve, Santa brings presents and fills the stockings. It's a great time for celebration." Korina explained.
"Er… Santa Clause?" Adamanta asked, skeptical.
Arion laughed his big hearty laugh. "There isn't really a 'Santa Clause', he's just a story for the kids, but don't tell Samuel that. Christmas is so much more fun when you get to see the looks on the children's faces on Christmas morning."
Adamanta nodded in understanding.
Christie glanced at each of their faces. "Well, there's no use in standing around. Come on, we can talk while we bake!"
Korina smiled, then turned her attention to Adamanta. "First, we should at least let you get settled." She led her down a hallway and into a small room with a single bed. "You can stay here."
Adamanta thanked her, then entered into the room and set down her satchel by the bed. "I can help you with the baking." She offered.
"That would be wonderful."
The women talked as they worked, while the men set to other various chores. Soon it was dinnertime, and as the ladies were setting the food on the table a young boy, about 8 years old, burst into the room.
"Mo-!" He started, then directed his attention toward Adamanta, furrowing his brow. "Who are you?"
"Samuel! Be polite!" Christie scolded.
He glanced toward his mother and a look of realization came over him and he bowed. Smiling, Adamanta bowed back.
"Who are you?" He repeated in an excited burst of words.
"I'm Adamanta, a friend of Nor Lit's."
"Samuel, go wash up for dinner." Christie instructed.
"Kay!" With that he bounded out of the room in search of a water basin. Adamanta laughed.
"I'll go get the men." Korina offered.
When everyone was gathered around the table, they began eating. Adamanta lifted her helm slightly, just enough to be able to get the food into her mouth while still not revealing her face. Samuel, in return, bombarded her with questions like: 'How do you eat?' 'Do you have a mouth?' 'Do you have a beak like a bird?' 'What does your face look like?'
Christie scolded her son, but Adamanta simply laughed and answered his questions the best she could.
"Yes, I have a mouth, and that is how I manage to eat." "No, I don't have a beak like a bird, I'm nothing like a bird." "I can't show you what my face looks like, but maybe if you get to be really good friends with a Yuke someday then maybe they'll show you."
The night went smoothly, and Thomas and Arion even offered to do the dishes after they ate. Finally, they all went to bed.
Adamanta woke, and, looking out the window, noticed there was a still fog hanging in the air. She rose, and left the room, expecting to find someone out in the main parts of the house. To her surprise, no one else was awake.
She sat at the table, munching on a cherry cluster as she waited.
A half an hour later Thomas came into the room.
"Ah, Thomas, you're awake."
"Adamanta? What're you doing up so early?"
"Yeah, it's not even 6 o' clock."
"It's that late?"
Thomas sighed, shaking his head. "Well, by our standards it's early…"
Adamanta nodded. "I see. What're you doing, then?"
"I have to go find a Christmas tree."
"A Christmas tree?" She asked, once again confused.
"Er… yeah. Why don't you come with me? I'll explain on the way."
She stood. "Okay."
They loaded the canoe with a hatchet and some rope, then piled in and set off upstream.
"You see, each year we cut down a fir tree to put in our homes. We set it up inside and decorate it with all sorts of ornaments."
"Wait… you cut down a tree… and put inside your homes?" Adamanta asked, astonished.
"Yeah…" Thomas answered, confused at her reaction.
"Why would you want a tree inside your home? The branches would shed everywhere and insects would get inside."
"Well, it's tradition. We decorate it with all sorts of things that represent Christmas. We put candles on it, and decorative balls, and always a star at the top of the tree. It's just something we've always done."
"Hmm… how interesting." She murmured. Thomas stifled a laugh.
"We used to do one tree for the whole town, but now that we can go further out it's easier to find the trees."
"Yes, now that the miasma's gone."
Thomas paused. "Yeah."
"Thank you could never be enough." Adamanta said, suddenly serious.
"I don't need to be thanked."
"I know. Nor Lit told me everything."
Thomas took a deep breath. "I guess that saves me a lot of explaining."
They went along in silence for a while, until Thomas brought the canoe along the shore. There were a variety of trees there, but they were mostly coniferous.
"How large of a tree do we need?" Adamanta asked, her eyes searching through the ever-thinning fog.
"It can't be much more than six feet." Thomas answered, tying the boat to the shore and grabbing his hatchet and rope.
"Okay." Adamanta answered, already moving off to search.
It didn't take them long to find the perfect tree. Thomas cut it down with a few quick strokes and together they hauled it back to the boat.
They loaded it in, then tied a rope to either side and together floated it back down the river. By the time they returned, everyone was up and about eating their breakfast.
"Hey, Toto! You found a tree!" Samuel said excitedly.
Thomas smiled. "Yup, and tomorrow night we'll decorate it."
"Why wait until tomorrow night?" Adamanta asked no one in particular.
"Why, tomorrow's Christmas Eve!" Arion said.
"Yeah, which just means more work for us." Korina said with a smirk.
"Baw." Arion grumbled with a wave of his arm. "Come' on, Toto, let's bring in that tree." Thomas laughed, and went out the door with his father.
"Samuel, why don't you see if you can help them?" Christie asked.
"Okay!" Samuel said before bolting out.
"Come on, before he misses us." Korina muttered.
Adamanta followed the two women into a room apparently used for storage, and as soon as she entered they quickly locked the door behind them.
"Let's get these wrapped, quick." Christie said.
It didn't take Adamanta long to catch on, and soon they were all furiously wrapping presents. When they'd finished, they stuffed the now-wrapped presents back into their hiding place.
The rest of the day continued rather uneventfully, aside from the preparing of meals and Samuel's infinite amount of energy.
Christmas Eve was hectic as ever, everyone getting in their last minute shopping and baking up a storm. After dinner, much to Samuel's delight, they decorated the tree. Adamanta still didn't see much sense in it, but went along with it anyway. Before Samuel went to bed they were sure to set out a plate of cookies and a mug of milk for 'Santa'. As soon as he was sound asleep, they retrieved the presents from their hiding place and stuck them under the tree and filled all the stockings. Adamanta was a bit skeptical of the tradition, but devoured one of the cookies anyway, making sure to leave plenty of crumbs.
Samuel woke them up bright and early in the morning.
"Santa was here, Santa was here!" he cried, going from room to room, jumping on the beds and yelling.
They each opened their presents, and Adamanta watched quietly as husbands and wives thanked each other for the gifts. Samuel was running around, swing the toy sword he had received.
Finally, there was only one present left under the tree. Assuming it was Samuel's, (seeing as he had run off after he discovered the toy sword) Adamanta said nothing.
Korina noticed it, and picked it up curiously. After looking it over for a moment, she turned to the Yuke.
"Adamanta, it's for you."
She took it with curiosity as well. It was large and heavy, and in a rectangular shape. She tore the wrapping from it to reveal an old tome on the four elements of the world, as well as the fabled fifth element.
Adamanta looked at it with surprise, and immediately turned toward Christie. The Clavat woman shook her head, giving a shrug of her shoulders. Then her gaze fell on Thomas. He watched her reaction with a crooked grin, and then finally said, "Merry Christmas."
Adamanta smiled widely behind her helm. "Thank you, and Merry Christmas."
A few days later Adamanta was on the road again, hoping to reach Port Tipa within the next day. She hadn't been traveling long before a mail moogle hailed her from the side of the road.
"Adamanta?" He asked.
He handed her a letter, then waited patiently for her reply.
How were your holidays?
She smiled, and pulled out a quill and ink to write back.
"Dear Nor Lit,
I've decided that you're all crazy, but you're also very wonderful.