This is the first year that I’ve been nervous for Christmas to proceed as normal. For once, there have been no problems at all – or at least, nothing that will stop Santa from doing his job and getting presents out to the children of the world. But with the way things stand as they are now, the magic of the day will be completely lost. I take a glance at the clock. There’s just an hour left until Santa leaves on his sleigh. The countdown begins now.
(I’ve been waiting for Jack to arrive for about an hour now, but he’s unusually late. After texting him a dozen times and calling him four times, I’m starting to get a bit worried. Pepper whines from beside me and turns to go back inside the house. Just after I hear the dog door shut behind him, there is a noise from the rooftop.)
Me: * glancing at the roof * Rudolph! I thought Jack said he was picking me up this year.
Rudolph: * jumps into the yard and lands beside me * There’s been a situation.
Me: * raises an eyebrow * A situation? Are we not allowed to have a single Christmas without trying to prevent something or someone from ruining it?
Rudolph: * shakes his head * No, it’s not that Christmas is going to be ruined… per se. Climb on up and I’ll take you to the North Pole. You’ll understand a bit more when we get there.
(I get on Rudolph’s back and he takes off. We fly in silence until he starts to descend a little while later. There is a barren forest down below that should be beautiful, but seems to be missing its essence. The ground is completely made of dirt and so dry that it is cracking in long jagged lines between the trees. No animals seem to live in the forest and there isn’t the song of a single bird in the air.)
Me: Where are we?
Rudolph: * sighs * This is the North Pole.
(As soon as he says it, I can see the rooftops of Santa’s village poking through the tops of the trees in the distance. My mouth drops. I still haven’t completely registered the fact that we are at the North Pole even once we have landed in the square, where George the yeti and Comet are waiting for us.)
Me: * staring around with wide eyes * What did Jack do?
George: * growls *
Comet: He said that it wasn’t Jack.
Me: Then who did? Jack would never let the climate change so dramatically. I’m sure he’s furious.
Rudolph: Let’s just say that Jack has a cousin, of sorts, who can cancel out his powers.
Me: * mutters * What is with that family and causing problems with the North Pole?
George: * growls in agreement *
Me: * louder * Okay, so what does that have to do with Christmas? Is this just affecting the North Pole right now?
Comet: His cousin is visiting at the moment and got sick a few days into the visit with a cold. He can’t control his powers right now.
Me: Which is why you’re having a more than Texas winter right now. Just who is this guy?
Rudolph: His name is Dragos and-
(We all pause as a loud noise comes from a building near Santa’s home. Rudolph and Comet glance at each other before they take off running that way. George growls from beside me and I join him as we follow along behind the reindeer. Before we get there, a steady stream of black smoke is already drifting up in the air. The closer we get, I notice that the building is half burned down. The other half seems to be patched up from other similar incidents. We walk inside, where Jack is sitting beside a boy that has an irritated look on his face.)
Jack: You’ve arrived! Sorry that I couldn’t come grab you this year. This idiot started having a fit when he learned that I got to leave the North Pole for even a few minutes when he’s stuck here until we’ve figured out how to get him back to full health.
Me: No worries, Jack. Is this Dragos?
Dragos: * nods * And I’m assuming you’re Brittany, huh?
Me: Yes, that’s me. * waves away some smoke * Can we move somewhere that’s not filled with smoke fumes?
Jack: Don’t worry, I can fix that.
(A cold winter breeze races throughout the room, causing me to shiver. As it goes throughout the room, it picks up the lingering smoke and freezes the parts of the building that are burned.)
Me: Thanks, Jack. * turns to Dragos * I’m guessing you have powers over fire?
Dragos: * smiles proudly * I do. Much better than Jack’s power.
Dragos: I’d win.
Jack: I’m not so sure about that.
Rudolph: Let’s not start any arguments while the fire guy can’t control his powers. We can’t risk too many more fires.
Jack: * sighs * You’re right. We need to go out and get the cure for this cold.
Me: Why haven’t you yet?
Comet: There hasn’t been a need to until a few hours ago when it started affecting his powers.
Me: Wait, what? All the snow here only melted recently? It looks like it’s been this way for days.
Dragos: * grimly * Unfortunately not.
Rudolph: Comet and I can’t help you all get the cure, since we’re heading out soon with Santa. But we need to solve this as soon as possible. Dragos’s illness is getting worse and the heat affect has only been growing in area. We don’t know how powerful it will get, but I’m sure there will be some negative affects on the climate all over the world if we don’t stop it soon.
Comet: No white Christmases anywhere.
George: * growls *
Comet: He said there might as well be beach parties instead of Christmas parties.
Me: * turns to Jack * And you can’t stop it?
Jack: * shakes his head * I’ve tried, but my powers are just getting nullified by his heat powers.
Me: That’s definitely not good. Okay, so where do we need to go to get this cure? I’m guessing it’s not chicken noodle soup.
Dragos: There’s a cave outside of Santa’s village that we need to walk into. In the far depths of it lies a spring that I need to drink from.
Jack: Or so the old man says.
Rudolph: Santa’s never wrong. That spring has helped him many times when his Chrismtas magic started to wane.
Me: So it’s a magical spring, then? Ooh, could it give me magical powers? I’m totally down for this adventure if that’s the case.
Jack: * snorts * That’s just like you to ask, but no, it only enhances existing magic. It doesn’t give people new powers.
Me: That sucks. Okay, so what’s the catch with the caves or the spring, then? I’m sure this won’t be completely easy.
Rudolph: Finding it. The caves are like a maze and their paths change every single day, so the route to get there is never the same.
Jack: I’ve tried getting there before and couldn’t get to the spring.
Me: Great… Okay, so this will be interesting.
Jack: * grins * At least you can never say you’re bored when you come visit.
Me: That’s a fact.
Dragos: * sneezes and a few flames fly out of his mouth * Can we just get to the spring?
(Rudolph and Comet leave us to go get ready for their flight. We have about an hour until Santa leaves with the toys. George decides to join the rest of us on our trip through the caves and we head out. We get there without any issues, except for Dragos almost starting a forest fire.)
Me: * glancing inside the caves * There’s no way for the caves to catch on fire, right?
Dragos: Not unless there is a lot of plant life inside of them. I’ll try not to kill you all in a fire, okay?
Jack: Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Pyro. Just try your best not to sneeze while we’re walking through the caverns.
Dragos: I’ll try my best, Frosty.
George: * growls and starts heading into the caves *
(We all follow behind George and start walking down into the earth. The entrance is a bit steep, so we move slowly at first. I am starting to think that this won’t be too hard until the ground flattens back out and we arrive at a split in the path. Jack lets out a low whistle as we stand in front of it.)
Jack: Six paths to start off with. It wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t start off with a little difficulty.
Me: * goes and shines my flashlight down one of the middle paths * It’s so long, it’s hard to tell where it leads. Do you think any of the paths meet up?
Jack: There’s only one way to find out. * starts heading down the path that I looked into *
(We all follow behind him and I am in awe once the path opens up into a large space, with still growing stalactites and stalagmites and a pool of water.)
Me: Are we already there?
Jack: * shakes his head * No, it’ll be an actual spring of water. This is just excess water.
Dragos: Maybe it still has some magical properties that will help?
(Dragos goes and cups some of the water into his hand to take a sip. As soon as the water passes his lips, he sneezes and smoke starts to stream out of his ears. We all burst out laughing. The noise reverberates throughout the caves.)
Dragos: Maybe there aren’t magical properties in it.
Jack: It was worth a try.
George: * growls and points ahead *
Me: Right. Let’s keep going. We don’t have too much longer until Christmas starts.
Dragos: * sneezes again * And I think I’m getting worse.
Jack: * takes a step away * I can feel the heat pouring out of you, so yes, you are getting worse. Stay a few feet away before we all melt.
(Dragos grumpily moves a few feet behind us and we move to the other end of the cavern, but into a winding path that takes us even deeper into the core of the earth. The heat coming from Dragos is so strong that we’re now all sweating. After another few minutes, we come the next split in the cave.)
Me: How do we even know we’re going the right way?
Jack: That’s a good question.
Me: Did you even ask?
Dragos: He didn’t.
George: * growls *
Jack: Just because Comet isn’t here to translate doesn’t mean you can call me stupid. I’m assuming that’s what you were saying.
Me: Didn’t you try to get to it before? How did you search that time?
Jack: * shrugs * I just wandered around for a few days until I found the exit.
Me: Jack! We don’t have a few days. We have about half an hour. Why would you not ask how to get to the spring?
Jack: I figured we’d just stumble upon it.
Dragos: How am I related to you? I don’t even know.
Jack: We’re not even real relatives, Pyro. Plus, we’ll know when we’re getting closer to the spring. That level of magic is noticeable.
Me: Glad to know that there’s some hope before Christmas starts.
(There is a sudden howling from somewhere behind us and we all freeze.)
Dragos: Great. Winter wolves.
Jack: They sound pretty far away still, but Dragos’s magic would be the most effective against them.
George: * growls *
Me: We have George.
Dragos: That doesn’t help us if there’s a pack of them. No offense, big guy.
(There are more howls from behind us.)
Jack: Come on, let’s go!
(Jack takes the path to the far left, which we take until there’s another path. Dragos is panting, smoke coming off of his body. He’s standing a little further away now and I can’t help but fan myself to try to cool off. The heat is starting to get unbearable. I can’t imagine what is happening up on the surface.)
Jack: Hurry up!
(Jack hurries ahead, with George following closely behind. I am about to follow into the new tunnel when Dragos falls to the ground behind me. I hear the howls of the wolves and bite my lip. How are we going to make it to the spring?)
Me: Dragos, are you okay? We need to get out of here.
Dragos: * weakly * I’ve been better. I think Jack took the wrong tunnel, though. The other path has more magic pouring out of it.
Me: Then we’ll go that way. I’m sure Jack and George will head back once they noticed we haven’t followed along behind them.
Dragos: * nods * Okay, let’s do it.
(The room that we enter into at the end of the tunnel is full of eight large eggs, almost half as tall as me. I stop and stare.)
Dragos: Keep going. They’re just dragon eggs.
Me: D-dragon eggs?! Just dragon eggs? Dragons exist?
Dragos: * gives me a look * You come to the North Pole every year to do an interview with Santa and know about Christmas magic and you are surprised that dragons exist?
Me: But that’s different.
Dragos: If you want to think that, then sure. Now, come on. The winter wolves seem to be getting closer. I don’t think we’re too far from the spring. I can sense it now.
Me: Thank goodness. Lead the way. You know where we’re going.
(We travel to the other end of the cavern and into another tunnel. And then into another. And another. I am starting to wonder if we’ll ever find our way out of here. Or at least find Jack and George again. Dragos is starting to move slower but a cavern finally opens up in front of us with a large spring pool that is pouring from the ceiling. At the same time, howls sound from behind us.)
Dragos: * falls to the ground * We’ve made it.
Me: Okay, don’t move. I’ll bring some of the water to you.
Dragos: * shakes head * No, I have to drink straight from the spring or the magic is taken away from it. I’d ask you to help me but I’m sure you’d prefer not to be burnt to a crisp.
Me: That’s an accurate assumption. What can I do to be of help?
Dragos: Just don’t get in the way. * stops as another howl comes from the tunnels * And don’t get eaten.
(At that moment, two winter wolves burst into the cavern. Snow flies around them and they shift in and out of focus as if they are made of snow themselves. They both look at me and bare their teeth.)
Me: Don’t get eaten. Got it.
(I start running away, hiding between some of the cave formations. The wolves seem to know to stay away from Dragos since he’s giving off an unbelievable amount of heat. I’m fair game, though, and that doesn’t make me feel better. One of the wolves runs past me while the other one seems to notice me just as it’s about to pass. It turns and growls at me. I run around the stalagmite and in the opposite direction. My foot catches on an unevenness in the ground and I let out a scream as I fall to the ground.)
Jack: * plucking me from the ground and throwing a blast of wintry air at the winter wolf * Every time you wander out of my sight, you get into trouble.
Me: It’s not my fault! Maybe I should just stop visiting the North Pole.
Jack: We both know that won’t happen. Now, let’s try to stay alive until Dragos manages to drag himself over to the spring. My powers won’t do much to get rid of these guys.
Me: How did the two of you manage to find us again? I thought we were going to be separated forever.
Jack: I followed the sound of your screams and the howling wolves. But the spring’s magic also help give it away.
Me: Geez, glad my screaming was helpful. Speaking of which, there’s another wolf behind you.
Jack: * turns around and blasts the wolf * Dragos?
Dragos: I’m practically there! Give me another minute.
Jack: Hopefully we have another minute.
George: * growls as he stops another wolf from attacking Jack and me *
Me: Okay, where are they all coming from?
Jack: They travel in packs! Some followed us, some followed you.
(George picks me up suddenly as a wolf jumps at me. It barely misses me as I dangle in the air. Jack attacks it with his powers and it falls to the ground. I give George a grin as he sets me on the ground.)
Jack: We’re not out of the woods yet. We’re surrounded.
(It’s true. About eight wolves have backed us into a corner of the cavern. I am hiding behind George, unsure of how we’re going to get out of this. Suddenly, a ball of fire flies in front of us and the wolves all jump back. There’s another ball of fire. It rams into one of the wolves. The wolf lets out a yelp and starts running toward the tunnel we entered into. The others follow behind and they disappear from view a moment later.)
Dragos: * stretching his arms in the air * I’m back in full power!
Jack: * creates a snowball and hits Dragos in the face * Took you long enough, Pyro.
Dragos: * gets ready to throw a ball of fire * You want to start something, Frosty?
Me: * jumps out in front of them * Okaaay, let’s just get back to Santa’s Village. I’m pretty sure he’s left by now, but maybe we can get the snow back? And get some hot chocolate from Mrs. Claus?
George: * growls in agreement *
(We head back out of the caverns and the exit is surprisingly easy to find, but I guess that’s magical caves for you. The outside is just as blazingly hot and summery as I had imagined it, but a few moments later the temperature starts to drop and snow begins to fall from the sky.)
Jack: * waving his arms in the air as he works his ice magic * Finally. We’re back to normal. Dragos, please don’t ever do that again.
Dragos: It’s not like I meant to.
Jack: Still. You can’t visit if you’re going to be sick. You’re so weak.
Dragos: I can show you who is weak.
Me: * facepalms * I thought one of them was bad enough.
George: * growls *
(We head back to the Square, but Santa has just taken off for his trip. Mrs. Claus gives us a cup of hot chocolate. I head home not too much later, escorted by Jack and Dragos. While it was a bit of a hectic night, I am glad that nobody tried to actually destroy the North Pole this year or ruin Christmas. Maybe next year we’ll be able to relax without any problems. But maybe my Christmas adventures are just something I look forward to each year.)