Krampus was a numb, teeth chattering mess as he trudged through the endless snow with only his fur and a wool coat to keep him warm. He had long since adapted to the cold solitude of the South Pole, but he still couldn't stop the effects that it had on his body.
His cheeks were flushed as he sneezed, wiping his nose afterwards to rid himself of the burning sensation. He sniffled, irritated that he couldn't breathe clearly through his stuffed nose.
He didn't understand why Santa turned into such a heartless being when he used to be so kind. No matter how much he strained to make a connection, nothing made sense.
Eventually he gave up thinking, instead opting to simply accept his frost-bitten fate. With his gloved hands tucked in his pockets, Krampus walked aimlessly through the vast land.
He had no intentions of dying, for he could survive solely on the sins of children. Glancing back at the footprints that he left in his wake, Krampus sighed, rubbing his shoulders as another wave of wind crawled up his spine. Even if he couldn't die, he was still able to freeze to near death, which was a common experience.
He vaguely remembered the dark shadows that cast over Santa Claus' face as Krampus argued against whipping the reindeer when he flew. Yet the goat-demon couldn't remember the response given to him other than being sent here by one of the king's deer.
He longed for warmth and civilization, even if they despised his existence. However, Krampus understood how hopeless his predicament was and that being eternal in a winter wasteland was far worse than being beheaded. King Santa also knew this, otherwise he would've left Krampus' dead body for the birds.
The weight of his emotions began to pull him down until he finally let himself fall into the snow's embrace. There he stayed, exhausted by his travels. Krampus allowed the snow to pile on his thick brown fur as he fell into a deep sleep.
That is, until a familiar jingle sounded from above. At first Krampus ignored it, believing it to be a figment of his imagination before the pure sound grew louder. He was forced to stand up while he shook off his body. He searched the skies desperately, excitement clawing at his throat from the idea of it being a messenger pigeon from the North Pole.
Alas, upon closer inspection it turned out to be something even greater; one of the reindeer who worked at the palace. His black eyes widened at the realization, waving his hands frantically. It's about time, he thought with a relieved sigh, after so many years alone, someone came back!
The deer looked downwards at the sight of movement, heading to the goat-demon with haste. It struggled to pull an elegant black carriage behind him with all of his might. If it could pull the Great King for a day, it could pull anyone; Krampus no less.
The fresh scars hidden by its fur were brutally hit by the harsh wind as he landed in front of the man. He had certain features―white specks of fur that surrounded its neck as well as the majestic and confident way it strode through the skies―that made it possible for Krampus to recognize the deer.
Krampus stood back in disbelief; he rubbed his snow-dusted gloves over his eyes once more before calling, "S-Simon?"
Before the large animal could answer, Krampus pulled it into a tight embrace. "Simon, it's been a millennium! How're you? The kids?"
The deer backed away before gesturing towards the letter that rested in his pouch with his head, his white breath floating into the sky. Krampus reached for the pouch with trembling hands. He was still shocked from the arrival of his old friend.
I will allow your sins to be excused if you can properly take care of the work I have prepared for you. It is not suggested that you reject my generosity, Krampus.
- King Santa Claus -
He let out a snort. "Short but sweet; the complete opposite of him. Well, I guess it's more entertaining than staying here, right Simon?"
Simon said nothing, only bowing his head in respect.
"Simon? What's wrong? Was I mistaken...?" he asked while criticizing the deer's features.
The deer stared at him for a moment before lowering his head. "My deepest apologizes Prince," he said with a deep voice that reminded Krampus of Simon as a young one, "Your Majesty has ordered all reindeer to never speak a word unless it is addressed to him."
Krampus's eyes widened as he let his mouth hang agape. "What, why?"
Simon averted his eyes with worry. "He said that we were wasting his oxygen."
Krampus clicked his tongue. "He's gotten too full of himself," he muttered, hopping into the red sleigh with a thump. He noticed a set of clothes from his home folded next to him and hurriedly put them on. "What else has he done to the kingdom?" he asked with rising irritation.
The deer stayed silent, focused on adjusting to the additional weight he had to pull to the other side of the Earth.
"Simon!" the goat-demon yelled as he pulled his hood over his head with a growl. "Tell me. What has the king done during the time I was gone?" Has the old coot gone mad from longevity? he wondered, confused by the king's blasphemous actions.
Simon sighed. "You will learn soon, Your Highness. I am not allowed to say."
Krampus never responded to him, only muttering curses until they flew past the tip of Antarctica. With his chin resting on his knuckle, he looked up as light penetrated through the clouds to see a sky splattered with color. Hues of pink and orange mended together as the sun lowered into the horizon, creating a canvas of beauty mirroring on the sea.
Stunned by the art of nature, Krampus took a moment to relax and free himself of any confusing thoughts. He folded his arms behind his back and stretched his legs out before shutting his eyes under the magnificent sunset as Simon flew.
After a few moments of silence, he sighed. "My apologies for snapping at you, Simon. A century of exile does that so a demon."
His friend laughed with a nod of understanding. "That is perfectly alright, Your Highness. You have had a rough time."
"...I guess. Though I wish he would've sent an announcement for when to expect you. I was just about to kill some snow angels," he joked as an attempt to push away his previous thoughts.
"Oh, would you like to return? I'll come back next century." A hint of a smirk glossed over his features when he spoke.
"God, no. I'm tired of this shithole and can't wait to clean off my bundle of joy. I couldn't even teleport to Hell with what little power I had." He grimaced. "For some reason none of the children seem to be committing sins anymore. It's very peculiar. Anyways, how're Henry and Clyde?"
Simon was silent for a moment. "They're... happy now."
Krampus tilted his hairy head, puzzled by the statement from the deer. Yet he didn't comment, only bringing up tales from his snowy adventures on the South Pole to brighten up his friend's mood.
"Simon," he called after relaxing on the coach, "penguins are ladies, too. Treat them well."
"Huh? There aren't any on the North Pole, though?"
"Nevermind," he ended with a chuckle, peeking over the carriage. I'll visit her someday.
By the time they stopped chatting, it was late evening. He welcomed the wind that chilled his body; it was nothing compared to the Antarctic.
The distant lights of the snowy town brightened his mood. Somehow, the town hadn't changed as much as Simon made it sound like it did. Yet as he looked at the back of his reindeer friend, he noticed the healing scars and how his body trembled as they grew closer to Elsva. Krampus tightened his fists, glaring at the ice castle standing in the back of the town.
It wasn't what he remembered; King Santa had the elves craft a gingerbread house out of any sweets they could mine. Yet, that was now replaced a castle of ice thats walls reflected the dim lights flickering throughout the town. Krampus crumpled the letter in his hand as he noticed how much the castle had grown. I bet he forced the elves to do it again, he thought, growling.
As he looked over the edge of the sleigh, he gasped once he saw the current state of his home. No more were there individual houses for each elf and their families―instead there were bleak, narrow buildings the further from the castle. He briefly wondered why they looked so bland, yet when they flew closer the houses returned to their cozy appearance.
A smile broke through his stone cold expression as his black eyes gazed at the eerie place with furrowed brows. He sighed, mumbling, "I'm home," while Simon lowered them to the landing of a nearby house.
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