Smokywood Pastures Presents: A Winter Veil Carol

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A Winter Veil Carol is a story from Smokywood Pastures. It's the story of a miser named Scrounge.

The story is being told by Guchie Jinglepocket.

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Smokywood Pastures Presents: A Smokywood Pastures Presentation of A Winter Veil Carol, brought to you by Graccu's Mincemeat Fruitcake—Timelessly Preserved! "She who controls the fruitcake controls the world!" Narrated by Smokywood Pastures' own Guchie Jinglepocket.

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Yardley was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt about that. Killed by an adventurer looking to add to their gold stash, his pockets picked clean. Not even a scrap of linen remained.

This all played out well enough for Scrounge, who got all of Yardley's stuff—including his business, a couple of mounts, everything in his bank, and a few pets that Scrounge promptly sold on the Auction House. Scrounge may have been the sole griever at Yardley's gravesite, but he was mourning the loss of a dependable business partner more than a friend.

This brings us back to the assuredness of Yardley's demise—his death was as certain as taxes. I say this because, as you're well aware, death in Azeroth is sometimes just ... merely a setback.

Scrounge never changed the sign above the door that bore his and Yardley's name. That old copper-pincher just didn't want to pay the local goblin artisans to do it. Oh, but he was a tight-fisted, foul-breathed, rotting mass of flesh. An ideal to aspire to, really—minus the rotting flesh and halitosis, of course.

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Scrounge had a lone scribe working for him at his counting house: Bob Bigheart, a dwarf who could spell his name both forward and backward (well, his first name at least). Which is great, because people like that save you money on nametags, unlike the boneheaded brother-in-law you put in charge of engravings who misspells an entire order of twelve dozen... right, the story.

Bob worked in an efficiently spaced corner with just the right amount of coal burning nearby to keep him from freezing to death—which would have been quite selfish of him really. Unlike the following incredible deal, brought to you by Smokywood Pastures: your first stop for fine Winter Veil foods and drink!

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You’ve found Pepe! Now go buy him for yourself or a friend or a neighbor or just to have on hand to give out as party favors. You’ll definitely need more than one for that. Maybe five—five is good! Why, look at those cute little clippy feet and that rotating head. He’s so soft, so fluffy, so cute . . . and he could be yours! Now! Go! Er, wait! Do it after the story.

Scrounge had a nephew named Ted—a jolly fellow who wasn't bad with money, though he wasn't exactly rolling in it either. Ted showed up in Scrounge's office, interrupting him just as he was about to add some really wicked numbers together—we're talking six figures here.

"Greetings, uncle! Happy Winter Veil" he called.

"How can you be so happy about it?" Scrounge scoffed. "You don't even have enough gold to buy everything from the Smokywood Pastures Vendor."

"I'll be able to buy some things, uncle. I've already been eyeing the Honeyed Holiday Ham for my party—which I'm here to invite you to!"

"Bah, humbug! I'm not attending a party unless you have Graccu's Homemade Meat Pies, too. And Steamwheedle Fizzy Spirits."

"Well, we'll leave the light on for you anyway. We'd still love to have you visit."

And with that, Ted left, trying not to break down in tears after Scrounge's perfectly accurate assessment of how dreadful his party would be without the complete collection of Smokywood Pastures' wonderful products.

Then, to make matters worse: Bob dared to speak up and ask for time off for Winter Veil! Which is, of course, ridiculous, because the Smokywood Pastures staff is available 24 hours a day to supply delicious delights such as the scrumptiously meaty Spicy Beefstick!

Despite these outrages, Scrounge ended his day on a high note. He had foreclosed on a pair of gnomes who were a week overdue on their engineering loan and had increased his coffers by another 500 thousand gold—pretty good, all things considered. He closed up the shop and made the journey home to consume a Smokywood Pastures Sampler – a ritual from his less undead years – prior to bed.

But before he could get some much deserved shut-eye, his plans were interrupted by the appearance of his old partner "The Claw" Yardley—which, as you might recall, was quite unexpected because he was quite dead. Yardley glowed like a visitor returning from the Sludge Fens. He clacked his jaws and claws, forcing Scrounge to put a pillow over his head to drown out the racket.

"Scrooooooounge," his old partner said. Probably. It's hard to tell with him, really.

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At first, Scrounge tried to blame this ghastly vision on a bit of bad Graccu's Mince Meat Fruitcake–which Smokywood Pastures assures you would be completely impossible, as we only use the finest artificial ingredients and flavorings—but he couldn't shake the hallucination.

"You'll be haunted by three spirits this night!" howled Yardley.

"That sounds expensive," said Scrounge. "And whatever for?"

"You have not done enough for your fellow people of Azeroth! The gold you've accumulated is worth nothing if you don't help the less fortunate buy all there is to be bought from Smokywood Pastures' mouth-watering catalog! Expect the first visit Soon™!"

Then as quickly as he had appeared, Yardley was gone, and Scrounge was left wondering why he was being plagued by a commercial ghost when he'd paid the monthly fee for ad-free hauntings.

With thoughts of a complaint letter forming in his head, he lay down to sleep, ready to put the whole horrid experience behind him.

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Part 2

Smokywood Pastures Presents: A Smokywood Pastures Presentation of A Winter Veil Carol, brought to you by Graccu’s Mincemeat Fruitcake—Timelessly Preserved! “She who controls the fruitcake controls the world!” Narrated by Smokywood Pastures’ own Guchie Jinglepocket.

Guchie Jinglepocket from Smokywood Pastures here again to continue our tale! As you may remember, we last left Ebonizer Scrounge after he had just been visited by the spectre of his old business partner, Yardley. He wasn’t very happy that Scrounge wasn’t doing his utmost to spread the Smokywood Pastures goodness. How else are we to increase our year-over-year profit margins if people don’t do their part?

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Scrounge sat in his bed wondering if he had just imagined the entire Yardley conversation or if he really was about to have to entertain more ghostly guests. Three more, even! He wasn’t really feeling up to it, to be honest, and was pretty vexed that he wouldn’t be able to count his gold all night in peace as he normally did.

The clock in his room began to chime one in the morning, its bell a resounding reminder of Yardley’s warning. Scrounge hoped the first spirit was on time so they could fit in a visit to the Smokywood Pastures vendor before the next spirit arrived.

A light began to seep through the heavy curtains that surrounded his bed. He didn’t really need the comfort of either the bed or the curtains. He probably didn’t need a solid gold samophlange either, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying it.

He pulled the curtains aside and looked around the room, not seeing anything of note—then he heard a giggle from closer to the floor. A small blonde gnome with her hair in buns stared back at him, her hands folded nicely in front of her as she peered up at the Forsaken financier.

“Hello!” the gnome said. She looked vaguely familiar, but Scrounge didn’t want to presume. Frankly, all gnomes look alike to him anyway, but he dared not say such things aloud. Not since the last time, anyway.

“I’m Chromie! Nice to see you again. Or is this the first time. . . ?”

Scrounge stared at her as she babbled about time vortexes, temporal anomalies, juxtaposomethings, and a pair of ducks—unable to make heads or tails about what she was talking about. Eventually, growing weary of her ramblings, Scrounge interrupted.

“So are you the Spirit of Winter Veil past I was told of or not?”

“Spirit of . . . OH! Yes, of course. That’s the one. I’m Chromie, the Spirit of Winter Veil past. We’re late!”

“How can you be anything but late for the past?”

“Oh that’s right, you wouldn’t understand,” she said, grabbing him by his tunic as the world started to get all wibbly-wobbly.

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Suddenly, they stood outside a small schoolhouse. Scrounge instantly recognized it as the place where he first learned of the wonderful power of numbers, during a time of his life marked by both great promise and sadness. You see, there was no Smokywood Pastures yet. No Smokywood Pastures Gift Packs, no Holiday Cheesewheel—oh, it was a dark time. But there were numbers—lovely, lovely numbers, and the promises they held.

“I remember this,” said Scrounge. “I was a boy here. I remember hours of wonderful arithmetic while the other children went home for Winter Veil.”

“You remember this? Oh, thank goodness—got lucky there! But yes, it’s true . . . you never really got along with your classmates while you were here. Your only friend was an adding machine.”

“Those were good times, aye.”

“But you didn’t have any money.”

“Well . . . yes, I suppose that part was pretty terrible.” Scrounge replied gruffly. “Is there a point in showing me this, spirit?”

“Oh no, not really. I honestly wasn’t sure where we’d end up, so I’m glad it happened to be a moment you recognized. Let’s go sometime else!”

Chromie grabbed him once more, pulling him down to face her. She looked momentarily confused, and once more Scrounge felt the world shift around him.

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The scene was another Winter Veil celebration, and the sound of music permeated the air. Scrounge soon realized this was his worgen boss Fuzzywick’s party, and there was a boundless amount of Smokywood Pastures goodies for all to partake in. It was a comestible festival, which I’m told means “a pretty awesome party.” A feast for the eyes and ears, and everyone was happy . . . save for Scrounge.

“Spirit, why do you torment me with such visions?”

“What visions?”

“Why show me this party and this time in my past? What lesson can be found here?” he lamented.

“Oh, right. The past . . . I thought I had returned you to the present. Your present, not my present. Light, that would be weird if I took you to my present, wouldn’t it?”

Chromie immediately launched into yet another extremely boring explanation of time and space—which we’ll spare you from by breaking for this amazing offer from Smokywood Pastures’ sponsors!

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If you can’t relive your childhood by going into the past with a time-traveling dragon, fret not! Smokywood Pastures has you covered. Pick up the delightful book Snow Fight and you can relive someone else’s childhood. Buy one for everyone on your Winter Veil list—they’ll thank you for it!

Now back to our irregularly scheduled Chromie. . . .

“As you can see,” said Chromie, “Even then . . . or now . . . people would buy everything Smokywood Pastures had to offer and share it with other people. Smokywood Pastures would profit, and a profitable Smokywood Pastures is good for everyone.” That’s probably what she said, anyway. It’s certainly what I would have said in her shoes.

Scrounge looked unconvinced as she once more lurched at him to grab his tunic. The next moment he found himself back in bed, his gold coins knocked askew from their neat stacks. The last sound he heard was Chromie’s giggle drifting away into the chilly night air. He hoped she remembered to bring him back to the present. He checked his clock to be sure. It was half past one, so she had been off by just a hair. He was lucky that was all she was off by.

Scrounge would have sighed if he were able to, but instead he began counting his coins. He knew he had two spirits to go before he’d get release from these pesky ghosts. Couldn’t they see he had better things to do?

It was a sad state to be in. Yes, Scrounge was an exceedingly greedy fellow, preferring to hoard his gold instead of reinvesting it into the ongoing growth of Smokywood Pastures, helping it grow into the biggest name in the commercial foods and beverages world. Sad, sad indeed.

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Part 3

Guchie Jinglepocket from Smokywood Pastures here again ready to share with you more Smokywood Pastures goodness. This is an incredibly important story I’m telling you here. It could change your life! It could even SAVE your life. So pay close attention as we continue where we left off. It was half past one in the morning. Scrounge wasn’t very happy about the interruption to his gold counting or his dreams of more Smokywood Pastures goodies. The first spirit had come and gone and now he waited for the next to arrive.

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The undead financier Scrounge stared at the clock on the wall. Each tick sounded louder than the clink clink clink of his gold. It rankled him, as he had yet to understand how much he could give to the world of Azeroth – particularly Smokywood Pastures. We at Smokywood Pastures were determined to get through to him, and we were sure the second spirit would be our big ticket.

Light burst around Scrounge and pushed the curtains surrounding his bed aside. The sound of a thousand Winter Veils assaulted his ears and a merry voice called to him. He was not at all happy about it, really, as he took in the sight before him: Greatfather Winter positively glowing with spirit. Scrounge flinched and tried to draw further away but found he couldn’t move.

“Are you the spirit of Winter Veil present then?”

A twinkle lit the new visitor’s eyes.

“C’mon then!” the spirit boomed as he waved Scrounge over. “We haven’t all night! We have things to do, people to see, Smokywood Pastures delights to… erm, delight in!” Once more, Greatfather laughed, a painfully jolly cacophony that made Scrounge cringe.

Next thing Scrounge knew he was standing at his nephew Ted’s Winter Veil Party, the sight of which was sad enough to even touch Scrounge’s shriveled heart. Upon the table, there was but one lone Smokywood Pastures Honeyed Holiday Ham (although it looked like Ted had the good sense to pick up some Steamwheedle Fizzy Spirits too). Ted’s family seemed to be laughing and playing some game or other – most assuredly to distract them from how many of Smokywood Pastures’ holiday delights they were missing.

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Greatfather Winter gestured to Scrounge and said, “Let’s get closer, shall we?”

Scrounge felt a pull and, within a blink, stood within his nephew’s home. The laughing and joyous sounds made him clamp his hands over his ears.

“Spirit, why must I be made to suffer so? This is no party. There’s no Graccu’s Homemade Meat Pies or Spicy Beefstick.”

Scrounge narrowed his eyes at Greatfather Winter. “There isn’t even any of your Greatfather’s Winter Ale. How can you abide by it?”

Greatfather Winter flushed slightly with anger as he bore down on Scrounge. “Yes, this party has an inexcusable lack of Smokywood Pastures’ unmistakable brand of holiday cheer… Something YOU could easily remedy, I dare say. Have you not enough gold in your coffers?”

Scrounge scowled and crossed his arms over his chest.

He started to speak again but Scrounge felt the now familiar jolt of being relocated again. As the sort who rarely used portals (Scrounge always found the idea of tipping a helpful Mage for their troubles offensive), his constitution could hardly tolerate all of this teleporting around. While he’s getting his feet again, let’s check out another word from our sponsor!

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Brrr… it’s cold out there, but you can get cozy while showing your loyalty to either the Horde or Alliance. They can also be used for tent forts, blocking out scary sights, picnics, and so much more! Get yours today!

Scrounge found himself in front of the window of a small home. A gesture from Greatfather Winter indicated he should get a little closer and so, reluctantly, he did. To what did his wondering eyes should appear? Bob Bigheart and probably the biggest ogre he’d ever seen.

“Spirit, why is my employee spending his evening with an ogre?”

“That’s his adopted son, Not So Tiny Tom. He’s a bit of a mouth to feed and you barely give him enough to stay warm at the office.”

“Nonsense. My office operates at well over the legal minimum temperature. That’s hardly your business anyway, isn’t it?”

Greatfather Winter pushed on Scrounge forcing him to look closer into Bob’s humble hovel. The sight that lay before him was far worse than Scrounge had anticipated. There was not ONE scrap, one tiny crumb, not one whiff of any of Smokywood Pastures fine products.

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“This is your fault, you know. If you paid him more, he could afford to buy from the catalog of fine Smokywood Pastures delights. We all suffer for this. Without more gold to sustain the market, Smokywood Pastures can’t expand their offerings. We – I mean they can barely even maintain their current catalog!”

Scrounge scowled once more, stirring up a glimmer of hope in this narrator’s gold infused heart. It seemed he was almost starting to see the error of his ways and then… the glimmer died.

“Bah. Humbug.”

“Have it your way,” Greatfather Winter said patting him a bit roughly on the back. “I hope you’re able to find a new employee easily.”

He turned away as if to leave Scrounge behind.

“Wait!” Scrounge called. “What do you mean, ‘find a new employee?’ This one’s so well worn in! Why would I want a new one?”

“Isn’t it obvious? If Not So Tiny Tom doesn’t get enough to eat, he’ll be eating Bob before the year is out. You’ll have to hire someone new, at the latest minimum wage.”

Scrounge trembled. Recent regulations had increased the minimum wage by nearly half a percent – practically robbery! (Smokywood Pastures would like to assure our readers that all of our employees are paid a fair living wage for their services).

“Is there nothing that can be done to prevent that horrible eventuality?”

“Of course, Scrounge. You have but to feed the beast. Might I recommend buying the entire Smokywood Pastures catalog, oh, let’s say… ten times over? That should hold him until next Winter Veil, when Smokywood Pastures will return once more with their amazingly scrumptious temptations and delicacies.”

Scrounge scowled once more and turned to look back at Bob’s house again. Before he could, however, he felt the gut-wrenching sensation of transporting once more, and then promptly found himself falling out of his bed.

Scrounge had but one more Spirit to visit with before he would be free of these vexations. He still didn’t quite understand the amazing opportunity being given to him. We at Smokywood Pastures pride ourselves on top customer service. In fact, the Spirit Package is the finest we offer!

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Part 4

You remember me, don’t you? We’re good friends by now. I’m Guchie Jinglepocket of Smokywood Pastures, bringing you the tale of how a miserly undead financier named Ebonizer Scrounge woke up and smelled (well, sort of) the soothing aroma of Smokywood Pastures Green Garden Tea. So far, Scrounge has been visited by two of our ghostly associates hoping to teach him the value of spreading holiday cheer by purchasing our bevy of fine products. Let’s continue our story and find out what happens next, shall we?

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Scrounge was feeling a bit put out by the ongoing interruptions of his Winter Veil eve. His age-old tradition of relaxing by himself with his gold had been derailed by spirits—not the fun and festive Steamwheedle Fizzy Spirits, of course, but the insufferable show-you-unpleasant-things-to-try-to-teach-you-a-lesson kind. Now he just had to wait for the last spirit and he’d be left alone to bask in the fire-lit glow of his hard-earned gold. Scrounge had just begun to settle into the plink plink plink rhythm of stacking his gold into neat little piles when he heard a strange, hushed whispering. He was used to sounds being a bit muted—his senses just weren’t the same after, you know, dying. Then undying. I’ve heard it’s a very disconcerting experience. One day you’re alive, then you’re dead, then you’re not dead, but you’re not alive. . . . Anyway, there was something all too familiar about this particular sound. Scrounge looked toward his bedroom window and could just make out a figure silhouetted in a silvery light. The strange whispers seemed to wrap around it, echo and slip into his mind. He squinted against the harsh light to bring the figure into focus. If Scrounge could have sighed, he would have, for this spirit was one he was well acquainted with. Everyone in Azeroth had seen a Spirit Healer a time or two in their life—some a few more times than others. Scrounge was probably in the 95th percentile. She didn’t speak a word as she alighted in his room, not even to recommend any of Smokywood Pastures’ fine and festive treats (such as the Holiday Cheesewheel). Frankly, I’m not sure why we keep her on staff. “Are . . . are you the spirit of Winter Veil yet to come?” Scrounge stammered as he remembered the first time he died—before he became Forsaken. The echoes of his group’s Priest shouting something like “DON’T STAND IN THE FIRE!” and “USE YOUR HEALTHSTONE!” or some other such gibberish still haunted him. Scrounge shook his head in an attempt to dislodge the memory, but instead, a dust bunny and two silver coins fell from his ear. The bunny sneezed twice then promptly hopped away. Scrounge sneered at it. At least that explained the strange thumping in his ears as of late. And hey, free coins, right? His thoughts went back to the spirit before him. She nodded her head—or at least he thought she did. It was really hard to tell the way she sort of wavered in and out of his vision. And then suddenly, Scrounge was wrenched through time and space once again—and the next thing he knew, he and the spirit stood in the presence of Madam Goya and her staff, who appeared to be sorting through some new acquisitions for the Black Market Auction House.

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“What did we get?” asked Madam Goya. “A hat, some old keys, a Savage Crate of Battlefield Goods, some mounts, and some slightly used bedclothes.” Madam Goya paused in thought. Scrounge realized that the objects looked familiar to him. Those old keys used to be on his keyring, but he had lost them sometime in the last couple of years. The bedclothes looked familiar as well, but the hat . . . the hat is what really caught his attention. “Spirit, is that my hat? Someone’s stolen my hat! Was it a Rogue? I hate Rogues. Too . . . stabby. I demand it be returned to me at once!” But the spirit just floated in the air, staring at him. The odd whispering was unnerving. “We’ll sell it all,” said Goya. “In fact, put it in one of those ‘unclaimed’ crates we’ve been selling so many of. You never know what will fetch a copper these days. Besides, old Scrounge won’t have any use for it anymore where he is.” If Scrounge could have still perceived cold, at that moment he would have felt a chill so bone-deep it would have reached his very soul . . . unlike you! Warm up your soul with another fine product from Smokywood Pastures’ proud Winter Veil sponsors!

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Take a fiery little Waving Cinder Kitten home for the holidays! He’ll warm your heart and possibly your house, too, but don’t worry—there’s insurance for that. Get this fiery little rascal now and warm the hearts of everyone in your life this Winter Veil. Now back to Scrounge, who obviously had more questions for the spirit, though she wasn’t much for conversation. Scrounge wasn’t pleased at what he had seen this day. Sadly, it seemed our last spirit was having trouble conveying the most important lesson of the holiday season: “Smokywood Pastures—buy some or else!” We think it has a nice ring to it. Just wait ‘til you hear the jingle. You’ll love it! Once again, the scene around Scrounge changed—and now instead of the Auction House he stood in a graveyard. “Spirit,” he said. “What are we doing here? I am Forsaken, I can’t possibly get any more dead. What poor sap is here?” He looked at the spirit, but still she just stared, that creepy whispering sound swirling in the air. Scrounge quickly realized he’d have to figure out his own answer, so he began to wander about until he found a gravestone that bore a familiar name and read the epitaph. “Here lies Bob Bigheart—his heart was so big that an ogre ate him. May what’s left of him rest in tiny, delicious pieces.” Scrounge shook his head, his expression filled more with disgust than sadness. “Ugh. Slacking off, yet again. No worry, I’ll have him reanimated and back to work in no time.” He turned back to the Spirit Healer. If this was supposed to be some sort of lesson, it certainly wasn’t coming across. “Look, is this how this is going to go all night?” he asked, sure he wouldn’t get anything more for an answer. As expected, her only response was more of the creepy whispering. Scrounge elected to wander around the graveyard a bit more, and stumbled upon a most peculiar sight: a grave marker with his name on it, and a casket-sized hole gaping in the ground before him.

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“Is this supposed to scare me? Didn’t you do any research about me at all before you came?” He peered into the hole, where he saw tarnished pieces of gold and decaying Smokywood Pastures labels surrounding something that looked like his own -- quite unanimated -- corpse. “Wait, how can I possibly be dead? Is there such a thing as dead-dead? Re-dead? This makes no sense at all. And what of my beautiful precious gold? Why is my body covered in Smokywood Pastures labels? Why do I keep bothering to ask you questions you clearly are never going to answer?!” His questions were met only with a whoosh of sound and color, and then he was back in his bedroom once more.

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We hope we didn’t frighten you too much with this one. That Spirit Healer is one scary dame. Join us Winter Veil morning and we’ll wrap this story up while you unwrap your gifts from Greatfather Winter!

Part 5

Smokywood Pastures Presents: A Smokywood Pastures Presentation of A Winter Veil Carol, brought to you by Graccu’s Mincemeat Fruitcake—Timelessly Preserved! “She who controls the fruitcake controls the world!” Narrated by Smokywood Pastures’ own Guchie Jinglepocket.

Hello once again everyone, and may your Winter Veil be replete with gifts from Greatfather Winter and delectable Smokywood Pastures delights. I’m your narrator, Smokywood’s own Guchie Jinglepocket, and it’s been a real pleasure for you to have me tell you the tale of Forsaken financier Ebonizer Scrounge.

Now that the last of our three spirits has paid Scrounge a visit, it’s time to see if he’s had a change of heart, learned a lesson, or shows signs of increased brand affinity for Smokywood Pastures products.

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Scrounge was still slightly dizzy, as one typically is after being forcefully shifted through space and time. The world was no longer wibbly-wobbly, but he definitely was. He sat hard on the corner of his bed and stared at his once pristine piles of glittering gold, now scattered across his bed and floor.

“Well, that trip was a waste of time,” he said to himself.

The clock in his bedroom began to chime four in the morning. Way too early for him to be up and about—not because he was losing any sleep; it was simply a matter of principal. Proper financiers don’t go haring about at all hours of the night. It simply isn’t done.

But then again, Smokywood Pastures is open for business 24 hours a day. Surely he could get this whole rotting business done with and move on with his life. He was certain there was a moral to be learned from what the spirits had shown him, but aside from some marketing ploy by Smokywood Pastures and some bird called Pepe, he wasn’t sure what it could be. So he sat and thought.

And thought.

And thought.

At last, an itch of an idea crawled through his brain. At least, he thought it was an idea. He had been dewormed not that long ago, so it couldn’t be that again so soon.

“Alright! You win!” he shouted into the air.

We at Smokywood Pastures are pretty sure he meant us, but we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’re still paying out legal fees related to the last time we presumed.

Scrounge hurried to his window and pushed against it hard, trying to dislodge years of rust. The hinges groaned against his efforts—or was that noise coming from him? It’s hard to tell when one is undead.

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The windows flew open with a crash, and he began to scan the streets for a likely victim.

“You there!” he called to a draenei standing near a mailbox. “Hellooooo,” he called again, but there was no response. The fellow seemed to be just staring into nothing. Odd.

He spotted gnome nearby and yelled for him instead. “Hey you!”

“Who you calling ‘Hey you!’?” the very put-out gnome replied. “You can’t just go around calling people ‘Hey you!’ and get away with it.”

“Well, I don’t know what else to call you.”

“You could call me Wembly, you know.”

“I didn’t know you were called Wembly,” answered Scrounge.

“Well, now you do. Is there something I can do for you?” the gnome asked him.

“Yes. Yes, I believe you can. I’ve had a very bad night with some commercial spirits.”

Speaking of commercials—we have one last sponsored message for you, just in time to help you haul home all those wonderful presents!

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Need something to put other somethings in? Behold the mighty messenger bag! It holds both large AND small rocks, paper, and stuff in general. Yes, it’s a great stuff holder and carrier. It even has a strap so you can have someone carry it for you! Don’t delay—get this great stuff holder for your Winter Veil haul now!

“Oh, yes sir, I know the type,” said the gnome. “Advertising apparitions got my uncle Willemm last year ’round this time. Those Smokywood Pastures types are persistent aren’t they?”

“Yes,” said Scrounge. “Yes, they are. So look, I really don’t want to have to do anything myself and really just want to get this over with. Might I give you some gold and you can go buy everything from their catalog—twice? No, wait . . . make that 12 times over. You’ll need to deliver one portion to my nephew and another to Bob Bigheart.”

“Oh yes, I know that one,” replied the gnome. “Dwarf what adopted an ogre. I expect it’ll eat him someday.”

“Yes, well I’m trying to avoid that,” grumbled Scrounge as he tossed a large sack of gold down to the gnome, who caught it with his cranium. He went down briefly, but gnomes are hard-headed creatures, and he was back up in a flash.

“Take some of the cheese and sausage and whatnot home to the family, and the rest just give to whoever you wish,” said Scrounge. “Just make sure you sign them up for a Smokywood Pastures catalog. I really don’t want to have to go through this nonsense again next year.”

“Er . . . I’m not entirely sure what to say,” the gnome replied, his heart filled simultaneously with mild gratitude and the urge to hurl a fruitcake at Scrounge’s rotten head.

“Yes yes, happy Winter Veil to you, too,” Scrounge said. And as he shut the window, he swore he heard the sound of carolers singing a soon-to-be-classic holiday jingle. “Buy so-o-o-ome,” their angelic voices proclaimed. “Ooooooor eeellllllse!”

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Our tale has ended, and thankfully our message reached Scrounge in the end despite last-minute marketing-budget cuts. After further negotiations, along with a legally binding contract with Smokywood Pastures for 12 full catalog purchases each year, I’m happy to say that Ebonizer Scrounge is a changed Forsaken. No more will he hoard all of the delicious Graccu’s Mincemeat Fruitcake for himself. Instead he will share it with those less fortunate . . . or face the consequences.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our tale, and we hope even more that you’ve come to truly appreciate the delights of Smokywood Pastures. Don’t forget that Greatfather Winter has left presents under the trees around Azeroth, so go get yours now—and may the rest of your Winter Veil be a profitable one.

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