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The spell broke. The deepest bell let out its twelfth peal. It was Christmas.

Time in the battle-bruised city unwound: men shredded by shot breathed again, boys wore beards, and snow flurried up from cobbles.

“We may never chase down the nut Krakatuk,” said the astronomer.

“I have been a fool,” said Drosselmeier.

“You have been legend,” said the astronomer. “I would not take all the kingdoms in Christendom in trade for our adventure.”

“Then let us home, to dear Nuremberg,” said Drosselmeier, “for whatever the consequences of failure, I will face them gladly, knowing you are by my side.”