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Story Time! The Tale Of Santa Bear

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Hey, look! I wrote a fairy tale!

In the land of Polara, which is where my Obligatory Giant Young Adult Fantasy Epic (OGYAFE) is set, they have a folkloric figure rather similar to Santa Claus. But he's got an origin story rooted in the somewhat loosely-defined spiritism that pervades the kingdom. You'll see a little bit of it in things like the traditional opening (the "webs in the heavens" have quite a backstory themselves), but it should stand on its own. I think the only thing I ought to explain is that Polarans refer to souls/spirits as "sparks," which I SWEAR wasn't consciously a Transformers reference. It just seemed like a natural term people who think that their ancestors were shooting stars would develop. Alas, even the Polarans aren't cool enough to have Optimus Claus. YET.

... Anyway.

---

In the old days, when the webs were still sparse in the heavens and the spirits still came to Earth in crowds, there lived a man in the city of Jubilation Lake. He was a trapper; the finest in the land. He would go into the mountains with his traps and return with stacks of pelts--red fox pelts, striped raccoon pelts, soft rabbit pelts, even silvery wolf pelts and rough warm bear pelts. And he used his furs for one thing--to trade them for gold and treasure.

He filled his house with riches. Jewels the size of apples, bars of gold and silver, finely wrought art pieces, he hoarded them all as a magpie dragon hoards glittering pebbles. He became known as Goldeye, for his obsession with treasure.

But though the gold gave off a warm glow, his spark stayed cold, for he had no love in his life. And fear of losing his treasure cooled it further.

Consumed with thoughts of thieves in the night, Goldeye finally went out into the mountains taking with him not traps, but with his chests of gold, and returning with not pelts, but with nothing. His gold remained hidden, far from the prying fingers of thieves.

But a man cannot hide from everything. The day he had taken his last bit of treasure to his secret hoard, the mountains were cold and snowy. As he made his way back toward town, an avalanche buried him. Not even thieves would discover his body.

His spark was displeased. He had amassed great treasure, and he would not let death take it away from him. Rather than return to the sky where it belonged, his spark stayed in the mountains--by the cave where he had hidden all of his fortune. Vowing to guard it forever, his spark sought a form in which to dwell.

After days of searching, Goldeye's spark found a grizzly bear.

The bear was a mean one, and had been a terror to all who came through the woods, so Goldeye reasoned he was doing a good deed when he displaced the bear's spark and took its body for his own. The spark of the bear wandered far and wide, but it does not come into this story.

Thus, Goldeye became Goldfur, the grizzly who guarded his treasure.

Many years passed--cold, lonely years for Goldfur. Tirelessly he drove off all who came into his territory, trappers and woodsmen and treasure-seekers alike. His mountain became known as a place no man dared to go.

But one spring day, someone who was not a man arrived.

Aster was a young woman, brown-skinned and blue-eyed. She lived in a cottage deep in the forest. One day she came to Goldfur's mountain carrying a basket.

Goldfur could not tolerate this. He stood on his hind legs and roared fiercely. "Why have you come to my mountain?" he demanded.

Aster did not falter. "O great golden grizzly," she said. "I seek trespass on your mountain. I want to make spruce beer, and the finest tips are there."

Goldfur considered this. The years had hardened him, but they had also grown long. Something different might be welcome.

"Come, then," he said. "I will go with you. But you may only stay until your basket is full."

And she did.

In the summer, she returned with her basket. "O great golden grizzly," she said. "I seek trespass on your mountain. I want to preserve berries, and the finest berries are there."

"Come then," he said. "I will go with you. But you may only stay until your basket is full."

And she did come. But when her basket was full, she stayed till the sun was low, for she was speaking with him and he did not wish to lose her company so quickly.

In the fall, she returned, basket on her arm. "O great golden grizzly," she said. "I seek trespass on your mountain. I want to make mushroom pasties, and the finest mushrooms are there."

"Come then," he said. "I will go with you." And he did not say that she must leave when her basket was full.

She stayed till the moon was high.

In the early winter, just before he was ready to return to sleep in his den full of treasure, Aster came again. But this time, she carried no basket.

"What do you seek on my mountain this time?" Goldfur asked her.

"O great golden grizzly," she said, "I seek to visit you."

And then he knew that she was kind, because she had seen he was lonely even when he had not. And he knew that he loved her.

But he was still a grizzly, and she a woman. So when the sky darkened and the clouds moved in, he saw her back to her cottage.

And the snow began to fall, and he made his way toward his den to begin his winter sleep. But on the way he climbed past a mighty waterfall, and tonight over its roar he heard a cry.

A woman had fallen into the river. She was clinging to a rock at the precipice of the fall.

In the past, Goldfur might have left her. But newfound love had kindled his spark, and he could not do so now. Ignoring the the icy water, he waded in and pulled her to the bank.

As soon as she was on land, the woman began to glow. Goldfur gazed in wonder. She was a fire fairy.

"Thank you, great golden grizzly," she said. "For this I grant you one favor."

"O fire fairy," said Goldfur, "I have but one wish. Let me be a man again so that I may marry the woman I love."

"Alas, my power is not so great that I may change you permanently," said the fairy. "But I will grant that on sunset at the winter solstice each year, you will wake from hibernation in the form of a man, and a man you will remain until the sun rises again."

And it was so. And on the winter solstice, Goldfur became a man, and he went to the cottage to find Aster. And though he had changed shape, such was their love that she knew him at once, and was pleased. That very night, they were wed.

The year passed. In the spring and summer Aster visited him while he patrolled the forest. But in the fall, he did not see her. And in the winter, he went to sleep.

On the solstice he awoke again as a man. But when he went to find her, the cottage was cold and empty.

He walked on till he came to a house closer to the village. He knocked on the door. "Where is the woman who lived deeper in the woods?" he asked.

"She died three months past," said the man in the house. "While delivering her child."

Then Goldfur wept, for the death of his wife, and for the child he had not known.

Seeing his distress, though, the man in the house added, "But the child did not die! It was taken to the village. Though whether it was then taken in by a family I do not know."

Goldfur grew excited. He wished to see his child. But when he went down to the village, Goldfur saw many children. Some were with loving families, but he others were cold and alone in the snow. And he did not know which one might be his. How could he be a father for a child he didn't know?

The sun would rise soon. Knowing that his grizzly form would frighten the townsfolk, he went back to his den. The gold and treasure he had amassed through his first life filled his mountain, cold and useless. But when the light of the rising sun glinted on it, he thought: even a handful would be a fine birthright for my child.

And he had many handfuls.

He resolved that his child should receive that birthright. And if he did not know which child was, well, then, he had enough for every child.

His wife was gone, but the fairy's blessing remained. Every year at sundown on the winter solstice, he became a man again. And every year he gathered his treasure and walked through all the woods, towns, plains, and villages, and to each child he left a handful of gifts, on the chance that the child might be his. And as the solstice night is powerful for spirits, in the years since he began his annual wanderings, he enlisted the aid of good forest fairies, and they travelled with him on that night to protect children from the bad fairies.

And even today, if children wake up the day after the solstice to find gifts at their doors, they know that Goldfur is still traveling the world each solstice. And thus is he called Father Goldfur, for though he has never found his own child, the great golden grizzly, once a sparkless miser, has become the father to all children.
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denismm
4 days ago
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Excellent alternate Santa Myth.
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eraycollins
4 days ago
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Good story.

Not All Sciencemasters

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2014-11-14-Not-All-Sciencemasters

It’s Day 2 of Sciencemaster Adler‘s Science Rampage! Today’s he’s taking on delusional politicians. Who’s next? Amorous leopards? Bank thieves? Modern dancers? Almost anyone could come under attack by Adler’s reign of fact-based terror. Tune in Monday and find out!

Hey! Buy a t-shirt, willya?

civilserpentssexpope

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denismm
34 days ago
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Eat the data!
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People ask me why my mood's always so acrid. This is why.

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Microsoft CEO to women: Don't ask for a raise. CEO Satya Nadella spoke at the Grace Hopper Celebration and told women to use their "super powers" to get raises.

"A lot of advice is thrown at women to be considered equals in the workplace — lean in, speak up, be confident, demand raises and promotions, don't dress "slutty" — which in itself is problematic because it places the onus on women to correct the culturally intrenched male dominance in workplaces.

(Companies should be the ones working to demolish the "old boys club," and putting practices into place including strict policies on sexual harassment, equal pay, mentorship and paid maternity and paternity leave, for starters.)

However, advice given by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hit a new level of terrible: Don't ask for raises, trust that your "super powers," "the system" and "karma" will get you what you want. I'm not sure what mystical world Nadella is living in, but I imagine that there raises gallup magically into a woman's bank account via a unicorn."
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denismm
69 days ago
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He did apologize later.
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skorgu
69 days ago
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You know I was kind of considering buying windows 10. Not anymore.

The Average Font combines hundredsof characters into a single...

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The Average Font combines hundreds
of characters into a single typeface

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denismm
110 days ago
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Check out http://iotic.com/averia/ for a similar project that produced a usable font.
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michaelglass
110 days ago
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aaaaaaaAAAAAAbbbbBBBBBccccCCCC
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I think I broke Harry Potter

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karlosmadera:

So it’s 3AM and It’s just occurred to me that the most telling scene in the entire Harry Potter franchise is the scene following the announcement of the participants of the Triwizard tournament.

When Harry’s name is pulled out of the cup, literally one of the first things he is asked is “did you ask an older boy to put your name in the cup for you?" or something to that effect, insinuating that, that was something nobody prepared for and that it was something that totally would have worked if anyone had been smart enough to figure it out.

However, in an earlier scene a student is turned into a hundred year old man when they try to artificially age themselves with a potion and put their name into the cup. Meaning someone trying to dangerously age themselves with potion they aren’t familiar with was something the teachers genuinely considered to be more likely than someone asking for fucking help from another student.

image

In other words, the wizards in Harry Potter’s world are so reliant on magic that it doesn’t occur to anyone save for people like Harry that asking for help is even an option in a given situation. This explains why wizards are so fucking ass-backwards at everything, they’re so confident that their magic is capable of doing everything for them that it has never occurred to fucking anyone that perhaps asking for help from the muggle world might be of some use.

Think about it, the wizarding world hasn’t changed in hundreds of years while in that same space of time the muggle world has figured out fucking space travel. I know it’s a cliché to say to say someone could have fucking shot Voldemort, but seriously, somebody totally fucking could have, he killed like 50 people, he was effectively a terrorist, if anyone in the wizarding world bothered to ask for help from the muggles instead of just telling them there was an invisible asshole flying around shooting death curses at everyone, they may have been able to help. 

Pretty much the only reason Voldermort thinks he’s better than muggles is because he’s able to kill them with impunity using magic, something he’s only able to do so easily because muggles don’t understand what magic is. Voldemort is basically like a fucking disease, he’s an invisible, lurking entity preying on mankind from the shadows like a cowardly piece of shit. You know what else did that? Smallpox and we stomped that to death the second we understood it. That’s the difference between muggles and wizards, when muggles don’t understand something, they figure it out.

And here’s the kicker, the only reason muggles don’t understand magic at all is because the wizarding world deliberately withholds information about it. However, even if the wizarding world kept doing that, it’d only be a matter of time until a muggle figured out what magic was and how to stop or harness it because that’s what humanity does, it pushes past what we think is impossible to see what’s on the other side. We didn’t understand the sun as a species originally and now we use it to power satellites and smartphones.

The wizarding world isn’t a realm of infinite possibilities, it’s a universe of strict limitations where boundaries are never questioned. The muggle world is where the real magic happens. That’s why during the course of the Harry Potter books, which are set between 1991 and 1998, the muggle world (our world) discovered dark matter, cloned a sheep and invented fucking MP3s while the wizarding world were literally paying some dipshit to figure out what the purpose of a rubber duck was.

image

Wow, I really shouldn’t think about this stuff when it’s like 3AM, it gets kind of dark.

pull quote:

In other words, the wizards in Harry Potter’s world are so reliant on magic that it doesn’t occur to anyone save for people like Harry that asking for help is even an option in a given situation. This explains why wizards are so fucking ass-backwards at everything, they’re so confident that their magic is capable of doing everything for them that it has never occurred to fucking anyone that perhaps asking for help from the muggle world might be of some use.

iow, it reflects the american obsession with individualism (and, to a lesser extent, guns). i’ll do it myself cuz no one else will help me (because i never asked, but that’s beside the point)

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denismm
160 days ago
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Yyyup. At least the first 20 or so chapters.
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skorgu
160 days ago
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http://hpmor.com/

Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold-blooded? New study settles debate

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Chicken From Hell

Were dinosaurs cold-blooded lumbering creatures or warm-blooded and agile? A new study has come up with a surprising answer.

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denismm
189 days ago
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Somewhere in between, like sharks. (In imitation of SavedYouAClick)
skittone
188 days ago
Thank you.
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eraycollins
189 days ago
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Very interesting.
dreadhead
189 days ago
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Cool
Vancouver Island, Canada
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