The New Year strains against the crossed pikes of Yule and December, struggling to gain access to the ancient plaza beyond. “Let her in,” booms a thunderous voice from inside the plaza. Stoic, the sentries slide their weapons apart, permitting her entrance. Her face retaining it’s countenance of determination, she storms swiftly inside.
“What have you done?” she cries before even reaching the center of the courtyard. Prosperity, once over-tended, now lies withered, spilling out of its beds in unruly gnarls. Humanity and ethics lay stunted and shrunken, choked out by prosperity’s overzealous spread and spoiled by toxic self-interest. The stench of death and decay fill the courtyard.
“You’re early,” chides a voice from the shadows of the day. The Old Year slinks into the light, his vile body twisted and bent. Under the Crown of the Age, his grimy hair spills downward, hanging in a tattered curtain around his mottled ears. His knotty knuckles protrude grossly from bony fingers wrapped around a warped staff. “No matter,” he sneers, exposing rotting teeth, “Do you like what I’ve done with the place?”
“You’re a monster!” The New Year bellows with rage.
“Oh, I’m no monster,” The Old Year baits, “I’m merely a looking glass. They’re the monsters.”
“It wasn’t fair,” The New Year protests, “You left them no choice.”
The Old Year cackles quietly, “That’s not true at all. They had plenty of choices; you know it, and, deep down, they know it. This is who they have always been. I’ve simply used my time to expose it.”
“No,” she objects firmly, “Before you, they were growing; they were learning. They were trying to be better.”
The Old Year waves a dismissive hand. “Ask them yourself. They resent growth; they despise learning. They’re weary of listening. They are, and want to be, who they’ve always been. I’ve simply cleared away that which obscured it.”