Etienne coughed. “Yule.” He touched the small of her back and propelled her forward. Behind them, the door swung shut to their home.
“What?” The snow under foot crunched, the air stung her cheeks.
“Not Christmas; Yule. Please try and remember we’re fey, not mortal.” He gave her a wolfish grin. “We have Krampus.”
“Who the hell is Krampus?”
Etienne didn’t have to explain in detail. “Look over there,” he directed her attention to the horned beast prowling through the snow.
“That’s a Krampus?” She stared in disbelief. “Shouldn’t it be scarier than that?”
Etienne snorted. “You were mortal not long ago, can’t you remember some of your humanity and feel fear for the thing that goes bump in the night?”
“No.” She laughed. Okay, maybe it would be scary to see something like that back in the human realm; it loomed above the other fey that shrieked with laughter but hurried out of its way, a couple of them falling to the ground as they were struck by the stick the creature swung. But they escaped quickly, darting out of range. Its long shaggy hair swishing as it swayed round and round looking for something in the snow, eyes glowing a golden yellow as they landed on her and Etienne. “What’s it doing?”
“We’re to be its next lot of victims.”
The old Grace would’ve pushed into his side and feel comfort from his protective arm. New Grace only chuckled as she watched the creature pause and sniff a dwarf draped in furs before turning its nose up and continuing forward. “Is a Krampus with the Dark Court or the Light?”
“Maybe you can ask the King over dinner; if we ever make it.”
“Does this thing take long?”
“Depends on how much fun you want to have with it.”
Oh she liked the sound of that. “Hmm, so it likes to beat people.”
Etienne sighed. “Essentially Krampus punishes the naughty.”
“Which there are a lot in Elysium.” She added.
“And the human realm.”
“This is the first I’ve seen of one or even heard of it before.” She stood her ground as the creature finally stopped centimetres from her face.
It tilted its head to the side as if it was contemplating her.
She resisted rolling her eyes.
Its heated breath fanned over her cheeks. “Grrrr. Naughty,” The word was shoved out of its mouth roughly. A twitch of his wrist and the stick swung back in preparation.
Grace shook her head and tsked.
As the stick came down, she reached up. Under her hand and the mass of hair, the creature’s muscles of his wrist were bundled tight.
The yellow eyes widened in shock.
She flipped its hand and yanked it down as her knee went up and connected with its elbow… snapping the joint.
Krampus bellowed in pain, the stick dropping from its grasp, its other hand coming out to cradle the source of obvious pain.
Grace side stepped and continued walking. “The Queen is going to be pissed if we’re late.”
Etienne slipped his hand under the coat and pressed his palm to her lower back. “She’ll understand that the Wild Hunt Heroine had been waylaid by the boogieman for a moment.”