Motty hated Christmas. Every year was as disappointing as the last. No, it wasn’t presents; those were the least of his worries. Motty was a gnome and gnomes worked constantly. They didn’t get holidays or sick leave. The last of his kind to even mention vacation had been tied to a stump and left for dead.
This Christmas, however was by far the worst. Motty had spent the previous holiday working in the mines and even that did not measure up. The politicians decided the working class, like Motty, needed what they termed a calling to instill allegiance. The high stratification of their class system left two options: a more equitable distribution of acorns or war. Acorns didn’t budge and war was soon declared.
Motty mumbled to himself over the injustice as he marched outside his tree. His neighbors and he were headed for what was surely certain death. The gnomes of the rich neighborhoods could not be seen. Motty assumed they were flying above on dragonflies, safe from harm. They never marched or did much fighting.
The fairies hadn’t harmed a gnome in two hundred years but the politicians insisted they were planning to. That’s who they would soon attack: the fairies of Evamorf. Fairies were a shy lot obsessed with security. Their hill was an impenetrable fortress. None who ventured inside ever returned to tell the tale.
Ji Phi, the Gnome King claimed a fairy attempted to assassinate him. His evidence was dust near his cup of tea. No fairies were found but he stuck to his story. The king never considered he spilled his sugar…
Motty gathered sticks to defend himself. There were few weapons. Potion bottles clanked in his satchel but they were not perfected. Motty wanted to be a scientist working safely behind from the front. He lacked the connections, however. The posts often went to families of higher breeding, leaving the poor with fewer options. Motty continued tinkering, trying new concoctions with little hope of it amounting to much. Before the war he had almost finished a shrinking elixir. It shrunk his coin purse and he didn’t eat for days.
The march was long and Motty’s mind continued drifting. Much taller gnomes marched in front and behind. He never saw what came ahead.
“Form ranks,” a distant voice said. It must have been a general.
None listened. Gnomes ran in every possible direction. Motty dodged bare feet and boots before they smashed him. It was chaos. Commanders fired arrows from above on dragonflies. They were not intended for the enemy.
The gnome who marched in front of Motty minutes prior fell dead. An arrow was lodged deep into his skull. Advancing Fairies soon enveloped his body. They were moving closer. Motty threw his sticks down and ran for safety. Hopefully his own commanders would not kill him.
Motty dodged the arrows from above but the spritely wings of fairies caught up with him. He reached inside his satchel and his hand brushed by the potions he packed. They weren’t perfected but he had to try them.
Motty closed his eyes and threw a vial behind him. He ran for another five seconds before he had the courage to look. It was an amazing sight. The fairies chasing him had transformed to pink ornaments on a large pine tree with presents underneath. For a moment both armies stopped fighting to gaze at its splendor and unwrap gifts.
Minutes passed and none resumed fighting. The rest of the gnomes began dropping sticks and what other weapons they brought. Fairies did the same with their pink daggers. Laughter replaced the anguish of death. The glittering of the tinsel shined bright enough the commanders could not aim from the sky and song broke out below. Motty partially hummed, singing the words that he remembered and embracing his new friends. A festive sweater covered the blood stains on his battle cloak.
Whether the battle resumed or not, it didn’t matter. For the first time in a very long while Motty loved Christmas.