- A Christmas Rescueby giraffmang
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A Magical Christmas Tale
A Christmas Rescue by giraffmang
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"Our world relies on magic to exist and people are starting to lose their belief in it." He sighed, "I mean, just look at the place. It's almost deserted. It's dull. It's shabby. At this time of year, we should be flat out, worked off our feet, but it just so depressing! Honestly, I don't know what we're going to do."

The big man let out an enormous sigh as he ambled off in the direction of the workshop door. He grabbed his big red wool-lined coat from a peg and slid into it with ease. Bloody Hell, the stress is causing me to lose weight as well. That's all I need. As he opened the door, an icy wind rushed into the workshop knocking over the long abandoned tools and remnants of toys. He pulled up his hood and ran his hands through his long white beard, as he frequently did when he was worried or deep in thought.

He slammed the door closed behind him, although he was thinking, what's the point? It will all be gone soon enough. He turned around to see a throng of his former workers standing expectantly waiting.

"I'm sorry, guys. There just isn't the demand. There is nothing for you guys to do. It appears that no one is in need of our services any more. It is simple economics. Supply and demand. They don't believe in the magic -- in me anymore. I cannot collect the magic and share it around with you. Sure, we still get the odd letter here and there but just enough for me to keep the skeleton crew going. Essential personnel only. Sorry, guys, but I'm tired. I need to go to bed." And with that he stomped off through the snow trying not to look at the disappointment on the little fellas' faces as he passed them by. They all looked so... dejected.

When he got home, he slumped out of his coat, letting it fall to the floor in a heap. He used to take such pride in his appearance, but what was the point now? He kicked off his big black boots. They skittered across the hall floor. He left them where they lay. He undid his belt and the button of his trousers before collapsing into his armchair in front of the television. He channelled-hopped for a while before coming across a showing of 'Miracle on 34th Street'. He dropped the remote control and thought, if only Mr Attenborough, if only. God rest your soul.

When the movie finished, he eased himself out of the chair, although he really couldn't see the point. It wouldn't be the first time recently that he had just slept there all night and wore the same clothes through the following day. He caught his reflection in the mirror above the fireplace and did not like what he saw. His long hair was now greasy, and looked more grey than white. He couldn't remember the last time he had showered or bathed. He stepped out of his trousers at the foot of stairs. They would do another day, he thought. He had only taken a step or two when he heard a loud knocking at the door. He continued for another couple of steps but the knocking was incessant.

"Oh for fu..." He caught himself just in time. When was the last time I swore? He wondered, decades I think and that was when the reindeer had gotten ill.

He re-traced his steps and flung the door open wide, not caring that he was standing in just a dirty stained vest, and a tight pair of briefs. The sight that greeted him would have been a child's delight many moons ago.

Standing in front of him was a mystical delegation. A united nations of mysticism. Representing the seven shades of magical realms.

"Who do you think I am? Snow White." He asked incredulously. These were seven folk who should never be seen in one place together. "Or perhaps you think I play D&D in my spare time."

The biggest of the ragtag assortment stepped forward. He stood about three foot tall, and was dressed entirely in shades of green, from his pointy little shoes to his stove-pipe hat. Totally in green which was in sharp contrast to his curly red hair and pointed little beard.

"Jay-sus. Ye haven't haff let yurself go, big man," exclaimed the Leprechaun, "Look at tha state of ye."

Santa stepped away from the doorway and into his trousers before flumping back into his chair. "Well, come on in then. You're all looking pretty shabby yourselves, you know."

"Tis tha magic, man. It's starting to affect us all, to be sure," replied the Leprechaun, tapping his shillelagh against his leg.

"What's the club for, little man?"

"Somebody got ta keep these little b'stards in line ya know," replied the leprechaun, pointing at the sprite, the imp and the pixie. "Tricky little buggers too. Had ta chase 'em thru all seven shades o' tha rainbow ta get 'em ta see sense. Had ta clobber tha imp a few times too."

Santa resigned himself to the fact that they were here. "You all better come inside but keep those ones outta my fridge." He indicated towards the sprite, the imp and the pixie, who all smiled back at him 'innocently'. "And don't forget to close the door, you'll let the reindeer in."

Of course, the sprite, pixie and imp all headed immediately to the kitchen and started a food fight with the cereal in the cupboard. Santa merely glanced over and sighed again. He was somewhat surprised when a little fairy flew over and perched on his right shoulder. She had lost a lot of her sparkle and looked more like a night light than a shooting star. Her wings hung limp and only beat occasionally. She looked very, very tired. It almost brought a tear to his eye -- something else that had not happened in a long time, whether through sadness or joy.

Kneeling on the floor in front of him was an elder of the elves. His pointy ears drooping and his cheeks not so rosy. It was a worrying time for them all. All the shades of the magical realm were so badly affected. As children stopped believing at a younger and younger age, it was harder to go on.

"Right. I tink we're all here now, Santa." The Leprechaun cleared his throat.

Santa cast an eye round the room. Pixie, Sprite and Imp destroying his kitchen cupboards, Leprechaun in front of the fire, an elf at his feet (as usual) and a fairy on his shoulder.

"I only count six of you. I thought there was someone from every realm?" Santa asked of the Leprechaun.

Just then, a shower of sparks flew from the television set as it blew up, followed by howls of laughter.

"Aw, Jay-sus, sorry about that Santa. Tha'll be tha bloody gremlin. Lad, get over here or I'll take ma shillelagh to ya again," replied the Leprechaun, gesturing at the now defunct television.

Santa sat and shook his head. He could feel one of his headaches coming on again. The little fairy fluttered uneasily to his temple and pressed one of her little hands to the side of his head. He felt a warm glow and his head started to soothe. Immediately the little fairy's light went out and she tumbled down Santa's chest and came to rest in his lap. Completely exhausted and spent. It was such a sad sight.

"I'll be okay," she wheezed," it just takes more out of me than it used to."

This time a single tear rolled out of Santa's eye and down his cheek. He absently wiped it away and looked at all the magical creatures in his room. All the colours of the rainbow represented -- every shade of the magical realm. They were all suffering.

"There's nothing I can do. My magic is almost gone. I can barely keep this place alive." Santa slammed his hand down on the side of the armrest, causing all seven magical folk to jump in shock. They had never seen Santa so angry, or sad looking. It was he who held them all together. Without Santa, they would all just simply fade away.

"But tha's just it Santa. We," he grinned," have got a plan! Seein' as yur tha keeper o' the magic tho, we need yur approval. It requires a little bit of devilment, but we have experts at that."

The sprite, pixie, imp and gremlin all began grinning, jumping up and down and laughing raucously.

"There are still rules you know. We cannot break them. None of you should be seen out there and no one on the other side, the real world, can get hurt."

"Aw, come on now Santa, sure you break tha rules all o' the time. Just for some milk and cookies. Ya remember tha year the little lass called tha police on ya?" stated the Leprechaun.

Santa thought for a moment, then a strange feeling started in the pit of his stomach. It gradually worked its way up and erupted from his mouth as a huge guffaw, "HO HO HO." His body was trembling, shaking, wobbling. For the first time in a long time, Santa started to feel... happy?

"Thank you, I needed that so much. Right, then. Let's hear this plan of yours." Santa settled back in his armchair as the Leprechaun cleared his throat.

"It's okay. I'll take it from here," said the little fairy sitting up, surrounded once again by a gentle glow, " sorry, but the accent takes a bit of working out sometimes."

The Leprechaun muttered to himself grumpily but took a seat on a footstool beside the fire. "Go on then ya little fly. Don't keep tha big man waitin'."

The little fairy flew round the room and settled on each of the little creatures shoulders and whispered in their ears. Santa could hear a little jingle every time she spoke. Mind control, he thought, the manipulative little thing!

Then, the pixie, the imp, the sprite, the elf, the gremlin and the leprechaun all sat down by the fireside, as quiet as field mice. The little fairy fluttered round the room once before settling back on Santa's knee.

"I know you don't approve of this kind of magic but sometimes it is necessary. Oh, and by the way, you really don't want to look in the kitchen. Now that everyone is quiet and in attendance I can begin. Christmas is the most magical time of the year. It is at this time when all the realms of the rainbow receive their biggest magical boost of the year, as delivered by your good self. Alas, as you know, this has diminished with each passing year. This information is not new but with this year approaching, it is worse than ever before. We might not able to survive another harsh winter. It will become a world without magic."

"We have gotten together, without you, I am afraid but in your recent condition we didn't think you would have been much use! We have a plan to restore the magic to our realms but as the Leprechaun mentioned, it will require the specific skills of some of our more... roguish elements from the rainbow realms. As you know the sprites, imps, pixies and gremlins have a long tradition of meddling in things. Moving items around, displacing them and generally making lives difficult for the big folks on the other end of the rainbow. As you have just experienced, the gremlins, in particular are very skilled at interfering with mechanical and electrical objects."

"The gremlins have had an idea that may just secure our place in the hearts and minds of the big folk for quite a while to come. It will take careful planning and a precise deployment of personnel, something at which you are very skilled, Santa."

Santa found himself leaning closer and closer to the little fairy as she spoke. As she got more animated, she floated up into the air without being aware of it. Her wings beat faster and her glow was brightening with each word. She was getting excited and really believing. He looked up at the ragged little group of beings seated in front of him. They too, despite the fairy magic binding them, seemed eager and excited at the prospect of this plan. Santa was intrigued as he turned his attention back to the little herald fluttering before his eyes.

She continued, "The gremlins have come up with a little idea. While we all think of them as mindless tinkers, this is not so. They have not spent all that time tinkering with technology without picking up a thing or two it seems. Some of them even have a high degree of intelligence, difficult as that is to accept. They have come up with a programme, a virus to affect the internet. Of course it is magical in origin but I am assured it is compatible with earthly systems, whatever that means! This virus will perpetuate itself endlessly. Because it is rooted in magic, they will have no answer for it. No anti-virus protection or firewall will be equipped to block it. It appears to be a work of magical genius."

Santa realised he had started to sweat. He wiped it from his brow and tried to contain his level of excitement. He looked the fairy dead in her face and asked, "But what does it do?"

"Well now, Santa. It is set to attach itself to all shopping websites. When a website is clicked on, the URL is 'hi-jacked' by the gremlin's virus and re-directed to a whole new website set up by the elves. This website plays carols and festive music on a loop. It shows video clips of Christmas movies, slices of Christmas' past, present and future, all emphasising the magic of Christmas. An audience with Santa is the killer blow. This will be monitored by the elves in the workshop here where the big folk are asked to give their Christmas wishes to you. No one will be able to use the internet to shop for Christmas presents. No more 'Black Friday' or 'Cyber Monday'. Replacing the mundane with the magic. Of course, we won't see the fruits of our labours until after Christmas Day. When their wishes appear, as if by 'magic', under the tree while they are expecting a miserable Christmas, they will start to believe again."

Santa found himself grinning. A warmth he had not felt in a long time was coursing through his body. This plan could work. Can we really put the magic back? It would be a miracle. But then a stray thought hit him.

"But what about the shop? Will people just not go out and buy things? They used to do it that way, a long time ago," he asked.

The fairy grinned, "Yes the pixies have that one covered. They, along with the sprites and the imps will venture forth the other side of the rainbow, into the 'real' world when required. The Leprechauns will keep the gateways open for them. They will strategically sabotage supplier orders, misplacing them. The imps and sprites will wreak havoc with the delivery trucks causing them to break down, get lost or be otherwise delayed."

"Homemade gifts?"

"Not many will have the time, thinking that the internet will be repaired quickly which of course it will not! There have always been homemade gifts and these require a sense of magic all of their own, it's a win, win situation for us. So, what do you think?"

Santa sat very still with his hand steepled, elbows resting on his knees, leaning forward. His lips were pursed. He slowly began tapping his index fingers together, lost in thought. All seven little beings watched and waited with anticipation, the fairy magic having worn off the others now.

"Well then, we had better to get to work. There's lots to be done. So,

Gremlin, go and get your kin
And start your little tinkerin'
Leprechaun open the link to the other end
So the pixies, sprites and imps we can send
Little Pixie, Imp and Sprite
Don't be seen, work at night
Are all of my little elves
Ready to finally stock my shelves?
And fairy go and find your kind
We'll need help here, I think you'll find!"

The magical menagerie made their way outside. It had started to snow. The Leprechaun set a small bag of gold on the ground by his feet. All of the others took a step back. Santa came out behind them to watch. The Leprechaun raised his shillelagh above his head and then struck down onto the bag of gold seven times. The snow around the bag began to melt and then with a shudder and a thump, a few sparks shot out and then a blinding white light shot vertically into the sky. After a moment or two, the light started to fluctuate and bend. Then slowly it began to change colour.

Red, and the gremlin was off; orange and the pixies went next; yellow saw the last of the sprites; green became established and strong; blue saw the imps say goodbye; indigo saw the fairy flutter and fade; and violet saw the elf hop home to get the others. When everyone else had gone, the leprechaun lifted the little bag of pulsating, glowing gold and slid off down the green band. As Santa stood watching this magical scene, the rainbow gradually dimmed until it simply dissipated in the snowy night.

For a few weeks afterwards, nothing much happened. Santa got up every morning, showered and groomed. Well, that was a change in itself. He fed the reindeer, chatted with the elves and toured the factory workshop. By the end of the sixth week, he was starting to think that the plan had gone awry.

At the start of the seventh week, Santa got up a little slower than he had the previous six weeks. He slowly pulled on yesterday's trousers and headed downstairs. He stuck on the kettle and threw a spoonful of chocolate powder in a mug. He ran a hand through his beard. It felt different this morning. There seemed to be more of it. It felt... bushier. Santa ran over to the fireplace and looked in the mirror above. Yes, his beard was fuller and it was bright white. Right in front of his eyes, his hair changed from its lacklustre grey to brilliant white. He stared at himself in the mirror and that's when he saw it. It started small, almost imperceptible but it was definitely there. In the corner of his eye, was a twinkle.

Santa flung open the door, stepped out into the early morning light, looked up and saw the brightest rainbow ablaze in the sky

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Author Notes
shillelagh - a cudgel or stick
D&D - dungeons and dragons - role-playing game
rainbow realms - each colour of the rainbow represents a realm of magic inhabited by different beings.

This was written last year shortly after I joined the site. Thought I'd re-post it this year as a sequel is in the works!


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