When he got a chance to open his eyes, he saw that it wasn’t a tombstone, but a chair; HIS chair. He looked around to see that he was back in his apartment! Malnar opened her eyes to see the apartment’s ceiling instead of a dark, cemetery sky. “…I’m home?” asked Droka.
“So it would seem,” mused Malnar. Droka then dropped to his knees and clasped his hands in prayer.
“I will keep the Solstice with all of my heart!” he promised again. “I will live in the past, present, and future! The Divine Ones that showed me what those aspects mean shall strive within me! I will not ignore the lessons taught on this journey! The Heights and the Solstice be praised! I swear this on my knees, Calna! On my knees!”
“I don’t think it would do you any good if you tried to make amends on your knees,” joked Malnar, hope for her uncle rising.
“Quite right!” cheered Droka as he got up from the floor. “I must start! But…what day is it? I don’t know how long the Divine Ones brought us on that journey! I don’t know anything! I’m a newborn!” He opened his window and looked outside. A Dwarf boy passed by the apartment building. “Excuse me!” he called. “Young man!” The boy looked up.
“Me, Sir?” he asked.
“Yes, my fine fellow!” confirmed Droka. “What’s today?!”
“It’s…it’s Solstice Morning,” replied the boy.
“It’s still the Solstice!” whispered Droka. Malnar heard that.
“…All in one…well, they ARE the Divine Ones, they can bend time as they wish,” mused Malnar.
“My boy!” called Droka to the Dwarf boy again. “Do you know if the Prize Turkey was sold yet?”
“The one twice my size? No, not yet,” the boy replied. “I should know, my father’s the butcher.”
“Excellent!” cheered Droka. “Don’t go away! I have something for you to do!” The Dwarf boy was confused as Droka disappeared from the window. After a minute, he returned. “Catch!” he called. He tossed down a bag of something and the boy caught it. “Go on, look inside!” urged Droka. The boy shook the bag first and it made a jingling noise. He then opened it and his eyes widened at the amount of Golds in it.
“That’s twice the Prize Turkey’s price!” he called up.
“Tell you father,” directed Droka, “that I’m buying the Prize Turkey! Whatever remains is yours! If you and your father come here with the turkey in five minutes, I’ll refill the bag with the price of the turkey and all of that is yours!” The boy sprinted quickly.
“Where’s the turkey going?” asked Malnar.
“To Twelmek’s, of course!” cheered Droka. “They need a fabulous Solstice dinner!” During the five minutes they waited, Twelmek got dressed and used the mana scraps he had to mend all of his clothes to look nice. The door chime rang. “Right on time!” chuckled Droka. He and Malnar bundled up and headed to the door. The butcher was there with the turkey in hand and his carriage was outside the building. “Excellent turkey!” praised Droka. “How much was it?”
“500 golds, sir,” replied the butcher, his beard barely hiding his confusion.
“Splendid!” answered Droka. He handed 500 to the boy. “As promised!”
“Thank you, sir!” bid the boy.
“So, you DID buy it?” asked the butcher.
“I did, indeed!” confirmed Droka. “I need you to deliver it to 96 Hillside Road, on the eastern edge of town! Make sure it gets there in time for Solstice Dinner! Don’t let them know I bought it for them. It’s an anonymous gift for them.”
“I will, indeed, sir,” promised the butcher as he set the turkey back in the carriage.
“Before you go,” called Droka. He handed 100 Golds to the butcher.
“A tip?” asked the butcher.
“And a Solstice present!” replied Droka.
“Thank you, sir!” praised the butcher as he got into his seat. “Happy Solstice!”
“Happy Solstice!” returned Droka.
“They’re going to love that,” chuckled Malnar. “When will you tell Twelmek?”
“After I give him his long-overdue raise,” replied Droka. “I think five times his usual amount will help his family.”
“It’d certainly get them a bigger house,” agreed Malnar.
“…Have you ever noticed how wonderful the Solstice is?” sighed Droka happily.
“Every time it rolls around,” chuckled Malnar. “You know, the invitation to dinner still stands.”
“…Even after the load of nonsense I pulled yesterday?” asked Droka.
“You’ve changed,” replied Malnar. “You look happier. I would like to help you continue being happy.”
“Well, I’d be a fool for not accepting, wouldn’t I?” chuckled Droka. “This year, I accept.”
“Come on, then!” cheered Malnar. I must say, it was quite the surprise when everyone met Droka. He joined in the fun, taught everyone another game as well as participating in similes, and told them about the journey that made him change his heart.
Twelmek was running, and I do mean RUNNING, to the bank the next day. He was puffing the instant he got into the building and lit his candle before hearing someone clear their throat. “What do you mean by coming in at this time?” grunted Droka in his old manner.
“I’m sorry, sir,” gulped Twelmek. “I didn’t pay enough attention to the time.” Droka then stepped forward and handed him a piece of paper. Twelmek winced and looked at it…only to find that it WASN’T a notice of Termination of Employment, it was a compensation note. “…Sir, I think you gave me the…”
“Long overdue raise you needed to aid your family?” interrupted Droka. “I did, indeed.”
“…Sir?” asked Twelmek.
“A Happy Solstice to you!” cheered Droka. “I will raise your salary and assist your family in all of its struggles! I will see to it that Teegar can walk with no aid and will ensure she has the best possible life! …Well, what are you standing there, gaping for?! Go stoke up the fires and get some warmth in this place!”
“Y…Yes, sir!” stammered Twelmek, wondering if it was a dream. Outside, Malnar had heard the news. Droka DID donate to help the poor, to the same collectors that visited him two days ago, and saw to it that he would donate the same amount of money throughout every time of the months ahead, until his own death. Malnar smiled warmly, her heart made lighter with the knowledge that change was always possible. She walked down the street and did some thinking by herself until she was stopped by Balmo again. She dashed into an alley to talk to her and a Flame Elf woman that looked familiar.
“Your uncle is true to his word,” chuckled Balmo. “He now understands how to keep the Solstice in his heart.”
“And to Teegar, who will NOT die,” continued the woman as she pointed to herself, revealing herself to be an older Teegar from the future with both of her legs working, “gets the operation needed to save her. Arsha’s CMO did that and your future with all of your lovers is safe.”
“Go Marshii!” cheered Malnar. “May all of divinity bless us on this and every day!”
“We certainly will,” agreed Balmo. “Farewell, Malnar Emboramii!” She and Teegar’s new future faded.
“A Happy Solstice,” called Malnar to the heavens, “and a happy new year!”