Who: Astrid - Narrative When: December 26th Where: Her Room What: Astrid open's her gift Warnings: None
The others might not have been expecting their gifts but, to some extent, Astrid had been. The majority of her day was spent observing and learning, and from what she’d both seen and read thus far, this was a holiday primary based around gift giving. Oh there had been altruistic themes once upon a time, and before that the much bloodier and more familiar rituals she was more familiar with from her own country. And if that were to be seen as true, then it also had to be seen as true that if the god or gods holding them there were going to decorate their rooms for the holiday, it stood to reason that they would follow through with gifts as well. She expected them to be either useful or terrible, and she could not decide, leading up to the day, which seemed more likely. Gods could be capricious and unpredictable at times, but they always tended to stay within their set rituals. Things had gone smoothly for a time. It stood to reason that something cruel or difficult was soon to follow.
With that in mind, Astrid had not approached her own gift, though she had seen it the very morning it arrived. Instead, she had drawn up her hair, hidden it under a hat, put on a frumpy Vegas sweatshirt from the giftshop, stolen a suitcase from the valet, and lingered in the lobby to watch and see what happened. Several of her fellow prisoners retrieved their gifts with no ill effects, and so she turned her attention to the net. There, too, there seemed to be nothing noteworthy to report. They seemed disconcerted by their gifts, but certainly not harmed. That boded well. At last, when it was the last gift beneath the tree, Astrid retrieved her own much smaller box and took it up to her room.
For a long time, she merely looked at it. At last, finding no reason to continue in mystery, Astrid opened to box. Inside was a foot tall ebony statue, the perfect likeness of Nocturnal. Astrid felt her heart leap. She was not forgotten, even here. Her goddess was with her. But the statue was not alone in the box. Beside her, tucked neatly amidst the tissue paper, was a smaller, thinner box. Astrid pulled it out but did not open it, instead taking the statue and placing her in a place of honor in the middle of her room’s table. That was where she belonged. Only then, did she open the smaller box. Inside was a note covering something wrapped in black paper. Astrid picked it up and read carefully.
You are not alone, my poor lost Nightingale. I have not let them take you from me. I leave this in your care, to help you in your prison, and perhaps help you to find the door that will let you out.”
“It can’t be,” she murmured, laying the note reverently in front of the idol. Pulling the paper aside, Astrid picked up a small, black key. The Skeleton Key. So much effort had gone into retrieving it, and now her goddess gave it to her to seek her freedom and return to her. “I will guard this with my body and my life,” Astrid told the small idol fervently, bowing before it. “And when I am free of this place I will return it to its rightful place in the Sepulcher. Thank you, Nocturnal. Thank you.”