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Krampus Pelznickel

– Krampus is coming! Be afraid of him. Krampus is coming … – the raspy voice of a street tramp unpleasantly cut the ear of young Dylan, nicknamed “The Groom”. Wrapped in a warm cloak, he walked along the snow-covered street, hurrying to hide from the winter blizzard in the nearest tavern, where a mug of warm grog and a goose baked with apples and prunes would warm him. Owner of the “Copper Goose. Great rooms and good drinks without overpaying!” met Dylan almost at the door and hurried to take his cloak and top hat.

– Young master, how nice of you to visit us this evening.
– Today is really not an ordinary evening. – Dylan said as he polished a gold ring with a large gem the color of fresh blood to a shine. – And I already got my Christmas Eve present. Here is this beautiful ring, and with it a handful of voiced coins.

Dylan The Groom patted his bulging pocket.
The owner licked his lips greedily as he looked at the jewel.
– So you did manage to swindle that lonely widow I told you about two days ago?

Dylan immediately stopped his admiration and grabbed the owner by the collar.
– Bite your long tongue, you old fool. I pay you for this kind of information, but that doesn’t mean you can talk about it. You understood me?

– Yes, young master. – Сroaked the half-strangled owner of the “Copper Goose. Great rooms and good booze without overpaying!”.
– That’s good. – Dylan said, releasing him and placing a golden ducat in his palm. – Now, prepare me a good room and a hearty supper. I want there to be a fireplace, more firewood and less bedbugs. It’s a real blizzard outside and I’m chilled to the bone.

A quarter of an hour later, Dylan the Groom was warming himself by the roaring fire in his room on the second floor. The dinner brought by the owner’s daughter was instantly and ruthlessly destroyed, after which the young man dozed off, sitting in one of the deep armchairs opposite the fireplace.
Dylan woke up from a strange sound, the source of which he could not immediately determine.

Outside the window it was still deep night, the fireplace had long been extinguished, but from its burned-out depths there was a not loud tinkling and grinding of metal. Dylan lit a candle on the table next to the chair and looked around.
Inside the fireplace, he saw a huge metal hook on a chain that descended from the chimney. What the jokes? Dylan stood up as a vile demonic laughter sounded from the fireplace, like the howling of a storm. The candle in his hand immediately went out and the young man spent a lot of time before he managed to light it again.

As the flickering candlelight flooded the room, Dylan discovered he was not alone. In the second chair sat some kind of creature that vaguely resembled a man. He saw a woman’s cap with ribbons covering the creature’s head, a scarf thrown over her shoulders, a fur coat and horns. Huge horns going behind the back of the chair.

– Who are you? Dylan asked, trying not to show fear. He was still trying to convince himself that this was some stupid and ridiculous joke.
– You don’t recognize me, Dylan The Groom? – asked a hoarse, vile voice, trying to imitate the old woman.
– I’m sorry, ma’am. There must have been some mistake.
– What are you, mein lieber, I could not be mistaken. After all, you have my ring on your hand, and your pockets are full of money that you conned me out of, supposedly for the treatment of your dying mother.

The cap slipped off the guest’s head, and Dylan saw a shaggy beard, a hooked nose and terrible eyes of a demon. The young man raised his right hand, and in it was a single-shot lady’s pistol, the wonderful work of dwarven-gunsmiths. He didn’t get to shoot. The monster sitting in the chair managed to use its weapon, similar to a sickle. Dylan’s hand fell to the floor along with the gun, severed with one blow. Dylan howled in pain. Spraying a fountain of blood, he fell to his knees. His hand, still clutching the pistol, lay between the guest’s hooves.

– Ho! Ho! Ho! – the demon grunted and raised the severed limb. – It’s time to collect the gifts. This is what I love the most. ‘Cause I’m Krampus and I only go to naughty boys. And you were a very naughty boy, Dylan. – With these words, the demon removed the ring from the fingers that once belonged to Dylan. He stuffed his severed hand into a sack soaked with the blood of other victims.
Pressing the stump to his chest, Dylan wept helplessly. His tears pleased Krampus.

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Krampus Pelznickel