Christmas In Ravenloft

‘Twas the Night before Yuletide, and all through the Domains
The poor tortured victims looked up from their chains.
Strahd’s victims were hung in the dungeon with care,
Because if hung poorly, they’d be liable to tear.

The bodies were nestled all snug in their graves
Unlike poor Azalin who fevers and raves
Madam Eva in kerchief, and I in Strahd’s trap,
Were anxiously listening for a final snap

When out in the woods there arose such a fire,
That it looked to the world like a funeral pyre.
I sprung from the trap with adventurer’s vigour
Leaping clear as I heard the click-clack of the trigger!

The moon rose, blood red from the fires below,
and cast ghastly shadows along drifts of snow
When what to my febrile brain should appear,
But strange lunar illithids, eldritch and queer.

With their dripping proboscises stretched to my brain,
I knew in a moment I had gone insane.
But now, to my poor madman’s mind became clear,
The sound of their mind-flayer moans to my ear:

“Now Xeplz! Now K’rstrix!
“Now Ythrid the Mangler!”
“Now Ulthrig and Maktox
The Cerebral Strangler!
To the top of the Castle! To Ravenloft’s spire!
We must keep our meeting with that fateful vampire!”

Like dry bones that rustle in crypts then expire,
A rattle arose as they climbed ever higher
So up that bleak summit the illithids crawled,
Whilst inside Strahd’s victims still wailed and bawled

And then, with a squelching, I heard on the roof
The castle come open, to display its dark truth
I knew then my end would be painful and gory
As Strahd von Zarovich arose in full glory.

He wore a long cape, from his throat to his heels,
And he bore two sharp fangs that his snarling reveals.
His hands wrung like talons before each fell guest,
And a ruby-gold pendant gleamed red on his chest.
His eyes – how they glimmered! His hair – sleek and black!
His cheeks high and sunken! How straight was his back!
His cruel mouth was drawn in a rictus so grim,
that even the illithids seemed scared of him.
The sword at his side, well, it looked like a prop,
It hurts to describe him, so reader, I’ll stop.

But then, to my mounting surprise and dismay,
He shook rich with laughter, and oh, so did they.
The mind-flayers it seemed, bothered Strahd not the least!
For they were his guests for a dark Yuletide feast!

With a twist of his neck and a wave of his hands,
The Dragon arose and obeyed his commands!
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
As the Yuletide beast took to the sky with a jerk!

And the illithids leapt to it’s plum-pudding back,
And it covered the moon and left the forest black!
This was no mere wyrm that they set out to ride,
But a great Christmas Dragon I’d soon be inside.

And the last thing I heard as I sailed down its throat,
Was the smooth voice of Strahd as it rung out to gloat:

“True, we are monsters, and souls do we lack
But hell, what is Christmas without a shared snack?”

THE END

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