Location: Drullen Bell Keep
Lord_Of_The_LEGO wrote:“Thomas almost ran off. Estella looked huffy. Merina coughed. Cate awkwardly fiddled with a miniature faerie.
“So…” said Bjarn, “Uh…Cate, tell us of your adventures!”
Hans gave Adrian a high five.
“DUDE!” he said.
“We, like, so totally rock.” grinned Adrian.
Adrian and Hans remained quite pleased with themselves for the rest of the evening, and Cate rejoined them the first moment she could get away from Estella and Merina.
"They're NICE enough," she said, "but it was so horribly awkward. No one knew what to say, and I got the feeling that Estella and Merina don't like each other. Bjarn tried to keep things going with some talking about our adventures, but they sounded so trivial that I almost DIED! Then Estella goes talking about being a dragon's captive... and oh, Heavens, it was embarrassing!"
"Here," said Hans, "have an ale."
"Hey!" said Adrian, "is that a pint? I should go get one. Looks like you've had a whole half already."
"Lots of Yuletide toasts, you know," said Hans.
It was quite late before the three friends turned in to their respective beds, and quite late when they rose the following morning. After a late brunch, they headed out into the courtyard, well-bundled, which was covered in fresh snow.
On the other side of the courtyard, unbeknownest to the three travellers, Thomas Valt was hidden from sight behind a statue of Jethro Argus Tahmyll.
Thomas had awoken that morning, seen the new-fallen snow, and been reminded of some very memorable snowball fights with the Korvalt boys. The four of them had been the terror of the village on the days when the snow was right. Thomas particularly remembered the one time that they had managed to scare half the village girls into fleeing to the safety of the schoolhouse, while they kept up a barage preventing anyone from leaving. Mistress Maeghan, the pretty young teacher, had been furious, of course.
With such reminisces on his mind Thomas had gone to breakfast. Abandoned by Sir Dractor and Bjarn's early departure to take a look at the Ikrosian battleship in port, Thomas had wandered out into the courtyard to discover the perfect snowball snow. A mischievious thought rose in Thomas's mind. Soon he was hidden behind the statue, snowball in hand, and a pile of snowballs ready beside him, waiting for the perfect victim to come along.
Even as the three travellers were coming into the courtyard from the one entrance, William Jorgenson and Estella were coming out another. Making a quick decision, Thomas lobbed a snowball at William and Estella, quickly following it up with another.
The first snowball whizzed right past Estella, causing her to shriek, but the second one thudding home against William, dripping snow down his back.
"Estella!" shouted William. "Where do you think you're going?" for Estella had started to flee the courtyard. "Grab some snow and help me get him."
William finished rolling a snowball, and chucked it at Thomas, who jumped back to safety behind the statue, retaliating with a snowball of his own, which caught William in the leg. William jumped behind a tall, barren flowerbed for cover.
Hans, Adrian, and Cate had seen all of this, and Adrian, the native of Lion Island, soon found himself covertly making his own snowballs, while Hans and Cate just watched the battle. Cate and Hans were taken completely by surprise when Adrian lobbed two snowballs at them, and then dashed for cover with Thomas behind Jethro's statue.
"Traitor!" shouted Hans, even as Cate screamed loudly. The only response from Adrian was another snowball, which thudded against Hans' chest. Hans and Cate took cover behind the flowerbed with William.
"I haven't hit him yet!" complained the outlaw, "although the little sneak's go me half a dozen times!"
"They're too well covered," said Hans.
Suddenly, there was a cry of surprise from behind the statue, and the two mischief-makers leapt out, shaking the snow out of their tunics. Estella, forgotten in the battle, had snuck up behind them, and dumped a handful of snow down their backs.
"Quick!" said William, "get them!"
Three snowballs found easy targets in Thomas and Adrian.
"Truce?" Thomas asked Estella. She gave him a glare, then nodded, and sent an unexpected snowball that grazed Cate's neck, sending shivers down her spine. Adrian, Thomas, and Estella retreated behind the statue.
The battle went on for some time, with the Forestmen either shunning the courtyard, dashing across it to avoid the crossfire, or tossing a few of their own snowballs at the entrenched defenders.
Around noon, Bjarn and Sir Dractor returned from their naval inspection, only to each receive a round of snowballs as they unwittingly crossed the courtyard, having been very tellingly uninformed by the guards of the hazards of doing so.
As soon as the initial shock had worn off, Sir Dractor and Bjarn each picked a side, Sir Dractor joining Hans, Cate, and William, and Bjarn hiding behind his grandfather's statue.
As Sir Dractor packed together a snowball for a particularly hard shot under Jethro's arm, Bjarn prepared to shoot his old friend with a curveball. Bjarn's shot hit Sir Dractor just as the big knight was throwing. His aim totally skewed, Sir Dractor lobbed the snowball way into the air, smacking the wall several storeys up.
As a face peered out from the nearest window, Bjarn and Sir Dractor got the same mischievious thought.
"Truce!" called Sir Dractor, and soon the eight combatants had gathered in a huddle in the middle of the courtyard.
Meanwhile, Gonderin was sitting in his office, working on the eternal load of paperwork that constituted running the government. All of a sudden, his concentration was interrupted by a loud THWACK on his window. Getting up, he opened the window, and peered out, only to receive a freezing snowball right in the face.
Wiping the snow off, he caught the sight of eight grinning figures lobbing snowballs at the windows around the square. He wasn't the only one who had been hit.
Forgetting the paperwork for the moment, Gonderin jumped onto his windowsill, leaped down two storeys to the parapet above the courtyard, scooping up a handful of snow, packing it into a snowball, and chucking it down right into Sir Dractor's face.
The soldiers on the parapet got into the act too, and soon the eight conspirators were cowering for cover in the courtyard, surrounded.
"To me, men!" shouted Sir Dractor.
"And women!" said Cate.
"And women!" said Sir Dractor.
And with a charge, they dashed through the snowball fire around them, and into the halls of the fortress, racing up the stairs, and bursting out onto the parapet, where Gonderin and his men were waiting.
When it all ended, half an hour later, everybody was shivering, cold, wet, and having a thoroughly good time.