Picture it: a noble paladin in shining armor, bearing the light of his god and the shield of his faith. (Along with strong, sharp steel and a solid wall of metal.) A mysterious wizard, swirling cloak and pointy hat covered in fine embroidery of enigmatic symbols. A long-striding ranger with a mighty bow, his knowledge of nature having led his companions to the lair of an ancient beast which had been waylaying caravans travelling in the high desert. The three of them, flumoxed, feet stuck in a simple tanglefoot trap, as a colossal blue wyrm stares down smugly from its repose atop a ten foot high bed of treasures. Floating globes everywhere, shedding light upon the the walls of the cavern beneath the sands, armor and shields from past foes mounted as trophies along the walls. Gloating laughter, a dramatic monologue, and an expression of hunger would be the only reward for years of heroism.
And who was left to save them? Who had brought up the rear, stopping as his friends rushed in, uncaught by the tangling tar pit trap? Who else, but a bard?
Thinking quickly, the bard spoke, "Pardon me, but has anyone ever told you that your scales simply gleam in this light?"
Now, the thing about a dragon, especially an elderly blue, is that a dragon is vain. "Indeed, many, shortly before they join me for dinner."
"Well, they were right, marvelous, just marvelous. I'd imagine it's good application of sand scrubs, does wonders. It's a shame, really..." the bard trailed off in a lamentful pause.
The dragon felt a moment of curiousity, and asked, "A shame?"
The bard hung his head, motioning vaguely in the direction of the dragon's head. "Well, a sand scrub brings out the gleam of your scales like fine enameling, but it seems such a shame how it deepens the cracks around the eyes and mouth. The majesty of age does come with a price, I suppose. I'm only glad I got to see you so close to your prime."
The wyrm's eyes wide, it kept one eye on the bard as it lowered its head to one of the shields on the wall, glancing at its reflection, trying to angle its view to see the corners of its maw. "Cracks, don't be so absurd, there are no curse ME there is a crack, isn't there?!"
As the dragon's attention turned towards the shield, the bard struck once more. "Actually, I do know something that could help with that. A caravan passing by recently went missing with some supplies bound for a tannery. There would I believe have been some wax for treating leather? Applied as you go to sleep, it would seal those in but a twinkling; no one would even know they'd been there at all."
The dragon cocked its head, thinking, as the bard continued. "In any event, there'd be ... oh, dear."
"Oh, dear?" replied the dragon. "What, oh dear what?!" Its head swung close, its eyes narrowing in anger, but also in growing concern.
"Well, sand is excellent for the gleam, bad for the seam, and it seems to be doing your nails no good, either. It's... well, to be quite honest, it's etching your claws." Pointing at the talons, trying to ignore the up-close resemblance to scimitars, he said, "Their natural luster cannot be seen, nor on your horns... horn... hmm. You know, there's a polish..."
"A polish? Where?"
Moving slowly, maintaining eye contact, the bard stopped near the ranger, gesturing to the bow. "My friend's masterwork recurve here is a hornwood bow. See how the rich wood reflects the light? It's almost glowing. There's only what my friend brought with him, but I could demonstrate if you like? Consider it a sample..."
Half an hour later, the party was free, if confused. The dragon was admiring the polish of its treated claw, admiring the sheen. Meanwhile, the bard was demonstrating how to improve the reflection of the mounted armor using a sham from the paladin's pack. Only an hour after that, the party was returning to town to organize a delivery of creams and leather treatments, carrying the payment for the first month's delivery in advance. Within another year, the name Emkay Avoncus was synonymous with the finest in delivered vanity goods to the discriminating monster. With bards across the countryside coordinating and opening new opportunities, many an adventurer learned that the right way to bring in the gold was the Emway.
In this, the time of the deepest darkness of the year, you await the birth of Your holy Son, the child of the Consort, the new Sun King. The warmth of Your Lord has passed, the harvest taken, His body cut down, His face but a memory. In this time, many fall to despair. There is fear in the dark, and in being alone.
You are not alone. You have never been alone. You will never be alone.
We are with You.
We stand with You in the darkness as we have stood with You in the light. In the Spring, we rejoiced with You in the sacred marriage with the Consort. In the Summer, we celebrated the life all around us and the glory of Your King in His prime. In the Autumn, we mourned with You as He fell, and gave thanks to Him for His sacrifice that we all might live. Now in the Winter, we remain with You. We are here to nurture the life within You. We stand by Your side, holding the light for You and Your Son. We stand watch over You in the darkness til the return of the light. We hold the light for the Sun King. His light will never fade, His fire will never die. As You have stood for us, so we stand for You. Your enemies circle and wait their moment to strike, but You need never fear. No matter how they turn their hands against You, we will always be there, Your sword and shield. None shall pass.
We are with You.
We are Your family, Lady. We have been here with you for as long as we can remember. When you were the young Maiden, we were there. In the heart of Your joy as the Mother, we are here. When the Wheel turns and you are the Elder, we will remain and tend Your fires. When the time comes for us to stand and walk forth into the darkness, we will walk together. We know You are with us, just as we remain with You in this, Your dark part of the year.
We are with You.
So mote it be.
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