The Blind Beggar’s Friend
By EM Malachi
“Step right up, friend! Look at these! I’ve got all manner of winter and holiday cards, painted by Alberta Giacco herself. Christmas, Yule, and even Walrus Festival! Get your Season’s Greetings here! Some have faux gold foil! It even sounds expensive…
I can see you are a customer of discerning taste, going for the strange and unique. You want to know about that card? Why would someone want a card with such beastly and daemonic iconography this time of year? Well, it scares the little ones into behaving. Children love to be scared almost as much as they love presents, and Ole Krampus is the one to do it.
Wait, wait, you don’t know the story of Krampus? I thought everybody did. I’ll tell you the story my mother told me while you consider purchasing these dancing ethereal prints:
Many years back, there was a pair of beggars, Old Joe and his friend. Both had seen better days, and the Winter months were cold in Vesper. Still, even huddled under a bridge, home was home. Each year, Old Joe would save a coin here or there, and for the holiday, he would buy a bottle of brandy for the pair to share. It would warm them right up, and they’d retell stories from over the years.
In time, his friend, being the older of the two, passed on, but Old Joe would still scrimp and save for the holiday brandy. He’d pour out a cup for his departed friend and anyone else who’d drink with the old beggar. He’d raise a toast to the New Year, but also to better times, when he was young and had loaded cargo onto ships bound for all over Britannia. He continued this tradition even after the years had taken his sight.
There came a time when this city focused more on progress than the care of its people, and a particularly nasty merchant used his wealth and position to force the poor from Vesper. Most beggars left for kinder places, such as Minoc or Britain, but not Old Joe. The blind beggar had no way to travel, and home was home.
That Winter was one of note, the coldest in a hundred years. The streets were empty, save one, for Old Joe was forced from every doorway because of the merchant’s influence. At the same time, a terrible monster wandered out of the Covetous Mountains, drawn forth by greed and malice. It saw the old beggar resting in the street, and I don’t doubt that it meant to maul him.
Old Joe wasn’t aware of the danger and spoke, ‘Friend, I can hear you even if I can’t see. Since we both find ourselves out and about, please share a drink with me.’ He poured some brandy and held it out. The beast took the tin cup in its claws and drank. The sweet drink, with a taste that hinted at spring, calmed the beast. It sat next to the beggar and listened as he talked.
At the end of the bottle, Old Joe toasted with the monster a final time and laid down. ‘My friend, I think this is my last winter, but I’m glad I didn’t have to spend it alone.’
They found Old Joe the next day, long gone but with a smile on his face. There were two cups and monstrous hoof prints around him, but not a hair had been harmed. As for the cruel merchant, he disappeared that very night, and no trace of him was ever found.
Thanks for listening, friend, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Enjoy life and the little things, but come these winter months, be kind and be good. Share a coin with a beggar, have a drink with a friend, or send that lovely card to your dear granny. Don’t ever be naughty, or Ole Krampus will find you!”