Pitchfork and Pen—A Christmas in Kismera


Ki MacKinnon, one of the most feared warriors in all of Kismera, gazed at her husband with a soft expression that belied her reputation.

This was not the first time Ki had noticed Drace looking distracted and melancholy.
She placed a hand on his arm, over the soft wool of the plaid he wore. She understood the tartan was a connection to the past—and family. Drace referred to them as clans, just as the Werren people had clans. With the exception of his kinswoman, Cerise, Drace had left all ties to family behind.

“What troubles you, my love?” she asked.

Drace looked down at her concerned face and smiled softly. “Nothing. I’m fine.”

“Pah!” Ki exclaimed. “I know you better than that, Drace. Something troubles you.”

Knowing that Ki wouldn’t leave him be until she got an answer, Drace sighed and patted her hand where it rested on his arm and then turned to resume gazing out the window of their chamber. He pulled his plaid tighter against the cold air that came through the opening.

“I’m just having a bit of nostalgia.”

“How so?” Ki pondered aloud.

Drace turned his head to smile down at his wife once more. “I used to celebrate a holiday we call Christmas, the day Christ, the son of God, was born. It is a very special religious holiday. I was just thinking about it. ”

Ki pulled him away from the window to a pair of chairs that flanked a hearth where a fire burned. She moved to close the shutters against the cold and joined him, seating herself across from him.

“Tell me of this Christmas,” she said, leaning forward as Drace gathered his thoughts.

He told the story of Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem, and how much it meant to him.

He also told her of how families gathered together to celebrate, feast, and give gifts.

Ki sat silent as Drace talked. When he finished, she raised a brow in thought.

“When would this Christmas of yours come in our time?” she questioned him.

He sat back to consider her question. “I’m not sure,” he answered. “We just celebrated the end of harvest so it would be approximately a turning of the moon from that. About four weeks or so.”

Ki sat back to think over the marvelous story. “Thank you for sharing this with me. It helps me to understand your God more.”

Drace stood and came to her chair, leaned down to kiss her, and then straightened. “I want to make a round through the stables to check the horses. I won’t be long.”

“Of course, my love,” Ki replied with a smile. Drace almost always made a trip to the stables each night to check his beloved horses.

She watched him leave the chamber as an idea formed in her mind. She rose from her chair and went in search of Cerise.

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“Maybe I’ll just go on down, Ki. It’s getting late.” Drace called over his shoulder as he pulled on a shirt, and tucked into his breeches.

There was a muffled answer from privacy screen which Drace interpreted as Ki asking him to wait.

When she stepped out from behind the screen, Drace paused, taking in her dress.

The floor length skirt was done in the colors of the MacKinnon dress plaid, mostly red with lines of green and white. Ki wore a matching shawl pinned with a small brooch over a white blouse. Her hair hung in a long single braid down her back.

“How…” Drace started. “…Where did you find that dress?”

“I had it made to match your dress plaid. Would you wear it to dinner tonight?” she answered.

Drace hurried to retrieve the tartan and draped it over his shoulder, pinning it with his clan badge.

“Now,” Ki said. “Let us go down to dinner, shall we?”

Drace escorted her down the stairs, and as he neared the great hall he noticed it was strangely quiet. As he and Ki stepped into the hall, what he saw took his breath away.

His aunt, Cerise, stood next to her husband, Lexin. She was dressed in a similar dress of tartan, and Lexin wore a tartan plaid over his shoulder in the MacKinnon hunting colors of soft green.

Ki’s brother Cearan also wore a plaid.

What really stole his breath the most a tall evergreen tree in the corner of the hall,

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decorated with handmade ornaments. He then noticed boughs of evergreen decorating the mantle of the huge hearth.


Long drapes of MacKinnon plaid hung over the hearth and covered the main table.

Candles burned brightly down the length of the tables, adding to the festive look.

“How did you do this?” Drace asked Ki in astonishment.


“I asked Cerise to help me. She showed me the tartan colors and patterns from your clan history book. I showed them to our weavers and they were able to recreate them. Estelle had our dressmaker copy the dresses and your drapes as well. Cerise also helped me plan the decorations for the hall. Do you like it?”

Stunned, Drace pulled her to him for a kiss. “Yes, I like it. I love it, actually.”

“Merry Christmas, my love,” Ki said from his embrace. “I hoped to bring a bit of your world to you this evening.”
“My world is here with you, but thank you, Ki. It means more to me than I can say,” Drace replied as he held her close, feeling the spirit of Christmas surround him.


Read more from Tamara Hartl!

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