In a fit of creativity I decided to try my hand at something different - namely, fanfic written not about original characters but rather well-known names in the Wowverse. My references for this piece can be found at Gallywix's character piece and the original A Christmas Carol. It is very long, though not as long as the original, so I've hidden most of it behind a cut.
Through a series of unfortunate events, all of them accidental and decidedly unorchestrated by any conniving individual, former Trade Prince Maldy was dead. He had been dead for some time now, having met his regretable and completely unintentional demise shortly after being banished from Kezan. Trade Prince Gallywix knew this to be fact; he had the documents confirming, that is, announcing the sad news. He had the unmarked boxes, each packed with explosives, from Maldy's daughter; one for every year that had passed since Maldy's death. And most obviously, most importantly, Gallywix had the title of Trade Prince, the very same one he had worked from Maldy's incompetent fingers.
It was the eve of the Feast of Winter Veil, and Gallywix was in his typical place for any evening - that is to say, he was in his office, at his desk, poring over profit reports while his Number One, Mida Silvertongue, worked diligently beside him. The door opened, which was unusual because Gallywix had specifically given his guards authorization to shoot any interruptions, and besides, all of his booby traps were on hair triggers. If someone had made it past all that, it had to be...
"Happy Winter Veil, son! I got what you need!" Luzik Gallywix waltzed into the office, deftly side-stepping the obvious snake pit and two better-concealed spike traps. He was carrying what appeared to be a brightly-wrapped present. It ticked conspicuously.
"Bah!" said Gallywix. "Ripoff!"
"Winter Veil a ripoff, my boy?" said Luzik. "When I went through the trouble of inventing this just for you? I don't understand why you won't include it in your product line!"
"And I don't understand why you are wasting my valuable time with this. I told you that R&D declared explosive pool ponies unprofitable weeks ago. It would be a ripoff for me to produce your invention. And not the good kind! The kind that rips me off!" He looked at Mida for backup, but she studiously kept her eyes on her work.
"Come now, sonny, don't get mad."
"What else can I be when I'm surrounded by idiots?" Gallywix did not notice his companion's eyes flick towards him. "Happy Winter Veil! What good is it? What's the Feast but a time to throw gold away on gifts and food, to stuff yourself so senseless that you can't balance your own books, to go chasing across Azeroth after some reindeer when you could be drumming up new trade agreements? If I had my way, every moron who goes around saying 'Happy Winter Veil' would have their pockets turned out and their lives indentured to my mines." He glared at his father. "You spend Winter Veil pissing coin away, and I'll spend it making sales."
"Sales of everything but my invention!" Luzik shot back. "What is Winter Veil if not a time for impulse buys? People are so excited about food and fun that they can be more easily talked into purchases they are unsure about!"
Gallywix noticed Mida watching Luzik thoughtfully and frowned at her. "Oh no, don't let this guy give you any ideas. We are not marketing the exploding pool pony. And you," he rounded on Luzik. "I want you out of here before I call security. The ones with battle boars."
"At least come over and have a look at the blueprints!" Luzik protested, backing towards the door.
"As if I could spare the time," Gallywix snarled. "Time is money."
"I could develop something more marketable!"
"Time is money!"
"At least accept this as a Winter Veil gift from a father to his son?" Luzik held out the package, which no doubt also contained documents on construction, pricing, and billing.
"Time is money!" Gallywix concluded, slamming the office door in his father's pleading face. He stalked to the window, where Azshara, serene and chill under a faint layer of frost, stretched out before his stone visage. Behind him, he heard the clock chime and Mida begin to collect her things. He paid her until five, and she was finished working when the clock ticked over.
He turned towards her. "I suppose you'll want all day tomorrow."
She shrugged on her coat, a gaudy, leathery tribute to fashion. "Yeah. It's in my contract, after all."
Gallywix snorted. "So it is, although I don't know why I agreed to a full day's wages and no work out of it."
"Because I'm the best, and I'm worth every penny," Mida replied airily, letting herself out.
Damn her for being right. "Be early the next day!" he shouted after her.
Gallywix finished his own work soon after and took dinner in the silk wing of his palace. It was delivered on the gold-plated back of a snail and contained two helpings of his favorite foods. When finished, he propped his feet on the snail and patted his expansive gut.
Before bed, Gallywix took the nightly tour of his palace. Of course, it was so large that it would take hours to see everything, so he limited himself to just one wing. Tonight it was the glass wing, where he had custom-ordered glassmakers to shape a series of statues in his image. He sighed with pleasure. Marvelous.
Now he went to his chambers, tucked away in the engineering wing. The walls were steel-plated and the door handles silver gears, and Gallywix was reaching for his own door handle when his eyes happened to fall upon the door knocker.
It was shaped like a smoldering bomb - he had designed it himself. And yet, while he looked, it wasn't a bomb anymore but a face, and not just any face, but the face of (former) Trade Prince Maldy.
Gallywix blinked at the face until it faded away as mysteriously as it had come. Then, shrugging, Gallywix entered his rooms and poured himself a stiff nightcap. He rested against the mantel, tastefully outlined in moonstones, and glanced around the room. Everything was in its proper place...except for the wrapped gift on his desk. He closed his eyes briefly in annoyance. Who had his father bribed to get in here?
"Ripoff," he muttered into his drink. Abruptly, the package began to tick, louder and louder as it continued. Gallywix watched it apprehensively, wondering if his pop had decided to do him in after all. As soon as it began, the ticking stopped and was replaced by a curious clinking.
It sounded like coins - a cacophony of metal disks that chimed and grated against each other. It was music to Gallywix's ears. He waited with some excitement while the heavy chunk chunk of cold hard legal tender made its way down the hall to his room. The noise paused. The door swung open.
Standing in the doorway was (former) Trade Prince Maldy. Rather, his ghost. (Former) Trade Prince Maldy was assuredly dead. He looked as ghosts were expected to look - silvery gray, translucent. Gallywix could see deep, clean gashes on his ghost skin; "death by a thousand cuts" had been Maldy's favorite oath when dealing with overhead expenses, and Gallywix had thought it appropriate for his...accident. But what really intrigued Gallywix now was the source of the metallic clinking - (former) Trade Prince Maldy was positively covered in sacks upon sacks of gold. They were tied to his wrists and ankles, wrapped around his midsection, piled on his shoulders. There was even one precariously balanced on his head.
"Didn't expect to see you again," Gallywix said contemptuously, raising an eyebrow.
"Likewise. And yet here I am, against my better judgment," replied Maldy. His voice sounded like it was being carried on the wind down a long tunnel.
"Bringing me some spirit gold? I've never made a deal with a dead man before."
Maldy smiled wryly. "Don't I wish. These sacks represent my greed in life." He raised an arm, dragging two jingling bags into the firelight. "All I can do is lug them around. They don't open, and they don't get lighter." He leveled a glare at Gallywix's skeptical face. "My eternal punishment is to travel around giving away gold to make up for what I didn't give in life, and the same fate will befall you, Gallywix."
At this, the Trade Prince threw back his head and laughed.
Maldy continued, unperturbed. "I don't think you deserve it, but I've come to warn you. You will be visited by three spirits this Winter Veil, and if you don't change your ways, you'll find yourself with your own eternal, unspendable burden of gold."
Gallywix was still laughing when Maldy faded away, leaving faint whispers of tinkling gold coins. He composed himself, wiping tears from his eyes, and finished his night cap. "What a ripoff!" he announced with a leftover giggle.
It seemed as if Gallywix had just laid down when bright light was streaming through the curtains around his four poster bed. He blinked and groaned and considered sleeping in. Time is money. Better get up, then.
The curtain across from him was opened by an unknown hand, causing Gallywix to start. The gap in the curtains revealed the source of the light. A tall humanoid figure, slight but muscular, with long, age-white hair but an unlined, androgynous face, clad in polished white-gold platemail, was standing in his bedroom. Its left hand held the light - a sword gleaming so brightly it appeared to be on fire. Gallywix wondered what an enchant like that cost.
"I take it your one of the spirits visiting me about my greedy ways?" he asked sardonically.
"I am. I am the Ghost of Winter Veil Past." The voice was both low and high, calm and loud, near and far.
Gallywix decided to play along. "What past? Azeroth's?"
Light, clear eyes regarded him seriously. "Your past."
"I hardly think my past would be associated with some...do-gooding paladin." Gallywix didn't like paladins. Their pesky morals and stubborn honesty made them impossible to work with. "Would you mind putting that sword away? It's really bright."
The paladin, or spirit, whatever it was, shook its head firmly. "You will not extinguish me this time. Come with me for your reclamation," the spirit commanded, holding out a gloved hand.
"What's in it for me?" Gallywix demanded. The spirit grabbed him.
They hurtled through time and space, passing dark swirls of stars and misty constellations. Then they screeched to a halt outside a familiar home.
"Drudgetown," Gallywix muttered. "The old house."
The spirit watched Gallywix's face carefully. Luzik was walking up the broken concrete path to the heavily scarred and burned door. In his hand was a familiar shopping bag from the bakery with the best cookies on the planet. "What's he doing?" asked the spirit.
"He's bringing me my birthday cookie," Gallywix said absently, entranced.
Luzik opened the door. "Where's the birthday boy? I have a special delivery!"
Even as a spectator to his own memories, Gallywix felt his mouth water with recollection of those chewy, chocolatey cookies. "It's been a while since I last had a cookie," he said wistfully.
The spirit smiled faintly and whisked them away to another Winter Veil.
Young Gallywix had just handed a loan shark his money - plus interest. Also dynamite. While his remains rained down like a grotesque impersonation of the acid snow typical in Kezan, Gallywix went from shop to shop, recruiting investors.
"Haha, I did do that," Gallywix said gleefully. The spirit glanced at him to gauge his reaction.
"And you used part of your fortune to keep your father in good standing."
Gallywix shrugged noncommitally. "It was the least I could do."
They moved again, this time straight to Gallywix's dramatic coup of the Trade Prince title. Gallywix admired himself dancing with the lovely Nessa Maldy, chuckled when his goons surrounded Maldy, and all but cheered when he threatened the (former) Trade Prince with the goblin's own sword. Watching Nessa reject him in favor of her father surprised him, even after all these years. He frowned at the memory. "Okay, next please."
With a smug grin, the golden spirit brought them to the next Winter Veil.
It was a small, modest goblin home in a small, modest goblin town in some unnamed location. Gallywix didn't recognize it, but he did recognize Nessa Maldy. She walked down the street arm in arm with some nobody goblin, looking happy as can be.
The spirit watched Gallywix searchingly, sure he would be crushed to learn that his greed had driven the beautiful goblin he fancied into the arms of another.
Gallywix was half-salivating, half-cackling. "She looks just as amazing as the day I met her! But what happened to her sass, her flair? What happened to dreaming big and wanting a man with even bigger dreams?" He turned to the spirit. "How long ago was this? Do we get to see more of her?"
The spirit gaped. Trade Prince Gallywix was totally unmoved to reform by this display. In frustration, the spirit abruptly sheathed its sword, cutting off its radiant light and the vision of the memory.
Gallywix practically fell back into bed. The spirit was gone.
He awakened to the clock chime some hours later, not having realized that he had fallen asleep. Gallywix jerked awake, glaring a challenge around the darkened bedroom should another spirit see fit to appear. Nothing happened. The clock chimed again. How could it still be so early in the evening? A noise from the next room prompted him to slide out of bed and investigate.
As his hand reached for the door handle, a booming, serious voice on the other side bade him enter. Gallywix frowned. Not nobody gave him permission to do something in his own palace. He flung open the door.
The lounge had been decorated. The fire was piled high and roaring cheerily, and there were boughs of holly across nearly every surface, including an extremely volatile engineering experiment and his collection of gem-encrusted ledgers. In his armchair sat a dwarf in a loose green robe lined in white rabbit fur, wrapped in a thick dark cloak. As Gallywix watched, snowflakes appeared to spring from the cloak, float gently to the floor, and disappear.
"What do you want?" Gallywix said in irritation.
"Why, I'm the Ghost of Winter Veil Present. And we have just this night to bring winter around Azeroth. Come." He stood, and suddenly Gallywix wondered if he hadn't been wrong about the dwarf part. The spirit in front of him shifted, looming taller than a draenei, then barely higher than a gnome, then somewhere in the believable dwarf height. His hair and beard were long, thick, and pulled into gleaming auburn plaits. The belt at his waist was tooled in silver and had an empty harness, likely for a mace. Gallywix didn't know much about weapons.
The spirit grabbed Gallywix's bicep in an impossibly strong, steady grip, and they set off through space, if not time. Together they soared over Azshara, settling more frost on the lingering grass, then into the city of Orgrimmar, where the residents were bundled up against the chill. The crowds positively thrummed with excitement, opening gaily wrapped gifts here, sharing a roast turkey leg there. The spirit walked unnoticed through the crowds, brushing all he passed with a sweep of his great cloak and leaving good cheer and fortune in his wake.
At last they arrived in the Goblin Slums, a place Gallywix steadfastly avoided. The spirit took them down dingy alleys, over errant rivulets of sludge, and always through a thick cloud of smog. They stopped outside the biggest building in the alley. The handpainted sign over the door depicted a stack of gold coins and the words "Her Tallness."
The spirit flapped his cloak against the sign and went inside. Mida Silvertongue and her assistant Kazit were sitting close to the fire, warming their hands on mugs of hot chocolate. Mida was dressed impeccably in a three piece suit, while Kazit appeared to have grabbed whatever was on his floor. Gallywix scoffed at him. Such a low-rent assistant!
"It's nice to have a day off," Mida was saying.
"I agree." Kazit took a sip of his mug. "Can't imagine you and Gallywix working all alone on Feast day."
Mida snorted. "That's why I had so many lawyers check over my contract before I signed it. That goblin is out to get his, damn everyone else."
Gallywix nodded. "She's right, you know."
The spirit raised a bushy brow at him. There was a ding from the next room and Mida ran to attend to it. She returned with a steaming pot and two bowls.
"My famous Winter Veil chili!" She set it down and ladled it into the bowls with a flourish. "Enjoy!"
Kazit began to eat with gusto. "That's why I'm glad I work for you." he continued. "I didn't have to weasel enough vacation time out of you or worry about being tricked into overtime."
"It almost hurts to hear this," Gallywix said, eyes wide. "She didn't try to screw him out of vacation time?"
The spirit extracted a thin book from the depths of its robes and read aloud, "'If the world was gonna split in half tomorrow, I'd buy the Dark Portal, slap a toll booth on it, and charge refugees the last of their pocket change, the rings off their fingers, a bite of their sandwiches, and a contractual obligation to build me a rocket palace in the skies of Nagrand.'"
Gallywix shrugged. "I would. That's why I wrote that."
With a huff of annoyance, the spirit once again seized his arm and brought them to another house in the slums. This one had telltale smoke stains and missing shingles, and Gallywix was not surprised to find his father inside, hunched over his drafting desk while his lunch went cold.
"Won't even come and see the blueprints," muttered Luzik darkly as he made alterations to the plans in white marker. "His own father, won't even come to share a meal on Feast day."
Gallywix watched this dispassionately. The spirit once again withdrew the book from his robes.
"'If you're a trade prince, you can't afford close family members or friends. "Chum" and "chump" sound the same for a reason.'"
"A neat bit of linguistics for you," replied Gallywix evenly. He missed the spirit's hand grasping awkwardly for the mace handle that wasn't there.
The spirit once again took hold of his arm, and this time they flew across the world, stopping at the smallest jungle hovels and the grandest noble manors alike. They even brushed across a zeppelin as it chugged across the Maelstrom, and a lonely lighthouse on the bitter coast. At the end, the spirit threw Gallywix down, still reeling, into his bed.
Gallywix waited until the spinning sensation stopped before he sat up. The clock struck another hour, and despite the warmth of the fire, the room became very cold indeed. Gallywix could see his breath puff out before him, and as he watched, it coalesced into a humanoid figure.
She was taller than the average human, made even more so by the fact that she hovered just above the ground. Her skin was icy blue, and white strips of cloth covered her. One strip wrapped around her head, creating a deep cowl that obscured her features completely.
"Let me guess," said Gallywix with a mocking eyeroll. "You're the Ghost of Winter Veil Yet to Come."
The spirit inclined her head but did not speak. She crooked a long blue finger at him and he got up, already knowing what to expect. They once again whirred through time and space.
They were in a dusty room somewhere in the Goblin Slums, from the looks of it. A scarred goblin with an eyepatch was organizing junk on shelves behind a counter when one by one, three goblins slipped furtively in the room. They looked at each other appraisingly before approaching the goblin behind the counter.
"Well well well. I was expecting you hours ago, to be honest," the scarred goblin said with a laugh. "Let's see what you've got, then."
A goblin with a fire red ponytail stepped forward and laid a soft bundle on the counter. "Uldum cotton, 1000-thread count sheets from his three sets of bedrooms," she said triumphantly. "And don't skimp on the price, I've done the market research myself."
A burly goblin with a thick white crown of hair above his ears put a clanking bag beside the sheets. "Some of the more valuable goblets and vases from the Classical Wing. My pop was a jewelcrafter, so I know how to identify good gemwork."
The third goblin, shorter than the others and sporting two green pigtails, handed over a crinkling bag. "The last cookie. I daresay it's priceless, but I'm accepting offers." She smirked.
The other goblins looked at her in awe.
"Yeesh, took that right out from under his nose, did you?"
"They hadn't even cleared away the body," she said proudly.
"It's not like he'll miss it anyway, where he's going now." They laughed loudly.
"Tough crowd," Gallywix said. He and the spirit left the pawn shop and flitted silently away. Again they found themselves outside Her Tallest's. They entered.
Inside was positively joyous. Mida was running to and fro about the room, checking a ledger here, pouring over a contract there, having a healthy dose of Winter Veil cheer between every pause. Kazit rushed into the room brandishing a parchment.
"Urgent correspondence from Hardwrench Hideaway, Her Tallest!"
Mida stopped what she was doing and rushed to him, gripping his arms and swaying pleasantly. "Read it!"
He unfurled the parchment. "Sassy sends her regards, Tallest, and says that should you ever desire to outfit your headquarters with traps of a sea-themed nature, she can provide both the sharks and the laser beams for but a fraction of the cost."
"Good old Sassy!" Mida crowed. She kissed Kazit clumsily on the nose and whirled across the room again, shuffling through her papers. "Get me engineers and architects! I want the whole place torn down and replaced with something..." She tapped her chin. "Something garish, and gaudy, and welcoming. It's time for a change of image."
Gallywix wrinkled his nose. "Okay, I'm beginning to see where this is going." The spirit beside him said nothing. The silence dragged. "All right already, show me whatever else you want me to see!" The spirit turned her shrouded face to him, and they were off again.
The graveyard was deep in the wilds of Azshara, and Gallywix didn't recognize the location. Of course, he rarely needed to leave his Pleasure Palace. There was only one gravestone in the lonely plot, the earth before it freshly turned.
Gallywix was not surprised to see his own name, JASTOR GALLYWIX, crudely chiseled into the steel. Below that was stenciled "Betrayed his entire race for a billion macaroons." He snorted.
The icy grass crunched behind them, and Gallywix turned to see his father approaching his grave. He was carrying a paper bag from a bakery.
"So Pops outlived me," Gallywix determined. "I should step up my security detail."
Luzik stopped before the grave, looking at it with hard eyes. He tossed the cookie onto the disturbed earth. "Ripoff."
The spirit's eyes bored into the back of Gallywix's head, and he knew she was expecting some big reaction. He looked at her slyly. "I did it once, and I would do it all again. It was worth every copper."
Icy fingers closed around his neck, lifting Gallywix off his feet. The spirit, despite being so slight, lifted Gallywix's substantial weight with little effort. He kicked helplessly, grabbing at her frozen forearms, but he was too soft and weak to really fight back. Somewhere in a corner of his brain, he found the energy to laugh at making something so stoic so furious. But he was losing this fight.
He blacked out. He must have, and when he woke up he was back in his bed. Natural light came in through the window - he pulled back the curtain to make sure.
Gallywix hit the intercom by his bed, sending a squawk down to the security office. "Hey, what day is it?" he asked without preamble.
"It's the Feast of Winter Veil, sir," came the weary reply. His lower security team was made up of people who hadn't read contracts properly and had signed away a significant portion of their working years to him.
Trade Prince Gallywix got up, washed, dressed, ate, and went to his office like any other day. He drafted orders for better security measures before moving on to the many daily tasks required to keep a goblin cartel running. Sometime before lunch, he ordered a courier service and had a dozen cookies brought up to his office and, feeling particularly extravagant, enjoyed a massage and a gold bath while he reviewed expansion reports.