Merla kicked the snow from her boots as she entered the noisy common area. Many of the company sat rather glumly around the tables nursing hot drinks and mindlessly consuming the cooling food. A quick perusal of the room located the majority of the officers seated near the fireplace at the center and with a minimal amount of shoving she was able to make her way there.
"Wha' is wit all ye?" Merla barked as she neared the group. Glaring at Therigwin and Daraia tucked comfortably against one another. "This be WINTER VEIL!! Time of good cheer and party and ye all look worse than me man Durin's ole armor!"
"If you haven't noticed Merla we don't really have much to be cheerful about." Enok replied, his feet propped up to the fire. "Arthas is holed up in that Citadel of his and Light only knows how long it is going to be before the Gnomes are going to be able to blast thier way through the doors so we can get at him." Running his fingers though his graying hair he continued. "Rather than working together the Horde and Alliance are STILL at each others throats." Pausing he rubbed his chin then thoughtfully continued, "Though returning Saurfang's body to his father does seem to have helped a little bit."
"With the exception of Justin and his clan the majority of us are far from our families as well." Schaikera added quietly, her face pensive as she considered the absence of her own children. "I know the younger ones have tried to bring a little seasonal cheer but...."
"I REFUSE to wear candles and colored balls just to make them happy." Syyand sputtered, waving wildly. "I'd look RIDICULOUS! I'm a healer not a decoration!" Arms crossed he slammed back into his chair.
"Well they managed to find an ever green SOME where" Schaikera soothed, patting the pouting druid on the shoulder. "They really have been quite creative all things considered."
All eyes turned to the small tree now glowing in the common room corner and the young people gathered around it under the watchful eye of their father. Leafius with the help of the gnome mage Miep had somehow managed to create small colored mage lights that flickered all over the tree in brilliant array. Ribbons created by the girls from gathered scraps had been tied on almost every branch giving it a rather festive air.
"Well, 't ain't right I tell ya!" Merla countered. "Winter Veil is ment t' be a time of laughter and joy! Not all this pussy foot'n ye been doing!"
"What do you suggest Priest?" Daraia's soft voice carried over the group. "How do you plan to heal this may lay?"
Eyes narrowed the dwarf surveyed the group before coming again to rest on the rogue. "I'm g'na tell ye a story. T'is been handed down from generation to generation in me family. The Story of thee Winter Veil Tree!" Seeing that she had their full attention Merla took a seat, cleared her throat and began.
"Greatfather Winter was preparing for his annual journey around Azeroth when he discovered that four of his gnomes had inexplicably gotten ill and the "gnomes in training" were not able to produce the same number of toys for his deliveries as his regular gnomes. As a result Greatfather Winter began to feel concerned that he would not be able to meet the needs of all the children of Azeroth that year.
Going into his home, he decided to share his concerns with his wife as this usually helped him. Upon his arrival he discovered that his mother-in-law had decided to come to visit for the holidays unannounced. This stressed him out even more as he no longer could discuss anything with his wife for fear that all of Azeroth would soon hear of it.
Going out to the barn to escape all the chatter in the house it was revealed that someone had left the gate open and all the reindeer had gotten out. Now they were no where to be found.
When he lifted up his Gift Sack to take it out of the work shop the seam split and all the toys were scattered across the floor damaging the wrappings.
Frustrated beyond endurance Greatfather Winter headed into his office for a mug of his favorite Winter Ale or perhaps a shot of the Lord of the Frost's Private Label which he kept for special occasions. When he went to the cupboard it was then he discovered why his gnomes had gotten ill. For as all Dwarves know no Gnome can handle good Dwaven Liquor and not a drop remained. In his dumbfounded state he accidentally dropped his favorite Stine onto the floor where it shattered into a hundred little pieces.
Devastated he went to the closet to retrieve his Silvermoon enchanted broom and clean up the mess. It was then he found the mice had eaten off all the straw leaving nothing more than a dancing handle.
Just then the doorbell rang with a loud "Ting-a-ling-a-ling!"
Irritated Greatfather Winter yanked the door open to discover a tiny little angel with a HUGE ever green tree.
Cheerfully the Angel greeted Greatfather Winter "Happy Winter Veil Greatfather Winter! Isn't it a LOVELY day? I have a BEAUTIFUL tree for you. Where do you want me to stick it?
Thus began the tradition of the Winter Veil Tree and its Angel a top it."
Pleased with her work Merla left the now gasping group in a much more cheerful state of mind.
(Many thanks to Dale who first shared the joke that inspired this story.)