Donner slid-staggered on the ice-covered flagstones, all four of his legs going wide before he caught his balance and his hooves dug through the almost invisible ice sheet. He snorted, cursed under his breath, and looked up at the home of the Krampus. It rose from the glacial ice like some clay-mation holiday special anachronism, the rough-cut stone of its thick walls a dark and brooding presence looming out of the blowing snow and Arctic night. No Disney fantasy or late medieval royal whim of a castle, the Fortress of the Krampus was the real thing, a squat and deadly 14th century fortification that promised only murder and pain to anyone unlucky enough to enter its walls.
Donner reached out, caught the bell-chain between his jaws, and pulled. From within came the first few bars of “Jingle Bells,” rendered in the screams of children.
“Fucking Krampus,” Donner muttered, and settled in to wait.