It truly was heaven, this high place! The Milky Way spread above, those shining rivulets of stars, cutting channels through the delta of night…
But Goran was freezing, too, so he pulled the greasy, odorous blanket closer. Alaric spared him an amused glance as he sat shivering.
“Unlike me, you have no need to ever be cold again, My Lord.”
The suggestion instantly took effect. Goran, looking down at his body, saw a shaggy pelt sprouting. Warmer, almost at once, he released the blanket.
“Ah! I see.”
“You will learn, My Lord. You will learn. Here, on Heldenberg, you can be any creature you desire or any shape you can imagine. You may even pick and choose.”
“You mean that this—thing—with the horns and the claws and fangs…” Goran raised his hand. Sure enough, as well as fur, it now sported a fine set of talons.
“Oh, yes, old Krampus! He has always been about these mountains, one way or another, so the old folks told me very long ago when I was a babe in arms. But what I mean is that you might choose to wear horns while still retaining the form of a handsome man. Do you understand?”
“So is Krampus the shape Zigmond preferred?”
“Yes. Zig purely loved terrifying folks, you know, and Krampus certainly is a fright. But you don’t have to do that.”
“Sometimes Krampus will come to you, now, because he’s a winter spirit, but not always.”
“Not always. Well, that's one good thing, at least.”
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