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Winter 2017 Writing Contest: Untitled

By: IkeWolfe

Arthur sat down at his table, book in paw. The arctic fox briefly glanced out the window at the storm howling outside. The wind had picked up and the world outside was hidden beneath a thick veil of swirling snowflakes. Thankful for the crackling fire keeping his cabin warm and cozy, the fox opened his book and began reading as he waited for the water on his stove to boil.

It seemed he would be spending another Snow Festival alone, but he had grown used to it. Even without the blizzard raging outside, he had few visitors. His little cabin was located far enough outside town that he practically lived in the wilderness. His family occasionally came by, but few of them could stand the cold. They would always invite him back to Dragon's Maw Manor for the yearly celebration and he would always decline. A shiver went through his body that had nothing to do with the cold. He could barely stand the creepiness of the place and had moved away as soon as he had come of age. He felt like the only sane one in his family. He frowned as he realized he'd been staring at the same sentence for several minutes now and tried to refocus.

He was interrupted by a sudden banging against his door. His ears folded back and his fur bristled at the sound. He'd spotted several Slivers in the area recently and could've sworn he'd seen a Twisted Shell last night. Warily, the fox approached the door and grabbed a Mammoth Tooth Hammer sitting nearby. Readying himself in case his visitor was less than friendly, Arthur swung the door open and stared out into the night.

Rather than a monster, a snow covered figure stood outside the door, paws cupped together and shivering. Surprise flashed across Arthur's face, followed by concern. "What are you doing outside in this weather? Come in before you freeze!" The fox dragged the figure inside and over to the fire, slamming the door shut behind him. "Wait right here!"

Arthur hurried over to the stove where the water had just started boiling. He poured it into two mugs and dumped hot chocolate powder into each. He returned to find the figure huddled in front of the fire. Now that the snow was starting to melt off, he could see that his unexpected guest was a big cat of some kind, though he couldn't determine the exact species due to the large coat the figure wore. The fox offered him a mug. "I'm afraid I don't have any marshmallows, but this should hopefully warm you right up." He sat down on the ground beside him. "Now, would you mind telling me why you've decided to go venturing out in a storm like this?"

The feline turned to face the fox and uncupped his paws, revealing a faintly glowing form. Arthur's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Is that... a fairy?" The figure nodded and passed it over to Arthur, who gingerly held it in his cupped paws. He marveled at the small creature. Though it's glow was faint, it was still strong enough to create an aura of light around it that reminded him of the stars in the night sky.

"Thank you for the cocoa."

Arthur's ears perked up at the deep voice and he turned to look at the figure. Though he was still mostly obscured by the coat, Arthur could just make out the stripes on his fur and the gray on his muzzle. "O-Oh, anytime. I have more if you want some. I don't get visitors up here often."

The figure waved his paw. "I'm fine, but thank you." He set down his mug. "To answer your question, I was on my way home when I found this poor creature half buried in the snow. I was taking it home when I ran into a large, white behemoth. I was forced to run for my life and I ended up turned around. Then the storm hit. I thought that might be my end, but then I spotted the lights of your cabin, and here I am."

"Oh, I see." The two sipped their cocoa in silence while the fairy rested near the flames. It's glow was slowly becoming brighter and it started fluttering its wings.

"If I may be so bold to ask, what are you doing here?"

"Excuse me?"

The tiger took another swig of cocoa. "Today is the Snow Festival, isn't it? Surely I'm not so old that my memory has failed me. Yet here you are, all by yourself. Don't you have anyone to celebrate with?"

"Well, I have some family. But I think they're crazy; they enjoy living in Dragon's Maw Manor! What sane person would enjoy living in a horrible, monster-infested place like that?"

"Do you miss them?"

"Yes, but I like it better up here. I don't need them around to be happy." Though he'd said that to himself plenty of times in the past, there was less conviction in his words. Yes, Dragon's Maw Manor had plenty of horrific monsters, but here he frequently saw other creatures lurking outside his windows. And while he thought his family was crazy for staying in such a creepy town, was isolating himself in a land of ice any more sane?

The tiger noticed the uncertainty on the fox's face. "Perhaps it's time to pay them a visit. I'm sure they miss you too."

"But they don't come visit me." Arthur knew he sounded like a whiny little kit now. He was no better if not worse; at least his family had a valid reason for not being able to come see him. He reflected on how much louder and more interesting life was when they were around. He thought about the sounds of life and laughter, of siblings to talk an play with, of parents and warm hugs on winter nights that were as good as any fire. He realized he was starting to get misty-eyed and looked away in embarrassment. "I think... I think I'll pay them a visit in a few days. There's too much preparation to do it sooner but... it would be nice to see them again."

The tiger nodded. "Treasure every precious moment." He set down his now empty mug and looked over at the fairy, which was now hovering near the window. "It looks like the storm has stopped. I suppose we should head on our way now."

Arthur turned to see that the skies were indeed looking much clearer. "I suppose so." He tried his best to conceal the disappointment in his voice. He'd forgotten how nice it was to be able to spend time around others. He resolved to head home as soon as he could. "Maybe you could come by and visit some time?"

The tiger chuckled as he headed for the door. "We'll see. Thank you again for the cocoa and the warm place by your fire."

"No problem at all. Oh, I don't think I happened to get your name?"

"It's Sam."

"Nice to meet you Sam, my name's Arthur." The two waved goodbye and the fox shut the door behind him. It was only as he was heading to bed that his mind made the connection. "A tiger? Named Sam? Impossible. Surely it must be a coincidence," he mumbled to himself as he drifted off to sleep, dreaming of home and family.