Marbel burst into a gallop and lengthened his strides into a run after the Christmas Spirit. All Marcy could do was hold on and duck her head under branches. They jumped over logs and dodged around rocks. Marcy saw the glitter of eggplant indicating an opening to the Mirror World. In the spirit of Christmas the archway was covered in holly with bright red berries. “There!” She pointed as the Christmas Spirit shot through the door.
Marbel huffed and charged through the opening and into a verdant summer. Marcy gasped in shock. Ahead of them, instead of a spark of red and green light was a childlike creature with greenish skin, pointed ears, and a red pointed hat, cape, and outfit. It hovered above the ground, going at breakneck speed.
“Redcap,” Marbel said, turning his head. “No wonder Holda doesn’t want to make them angry. Just a bit further now.”
The race started again and soon, they were deep in this section of the Mirror World and running down a ‘lane’ between evergreen trees. The lane opened up into a large grassy area and in the area there were lots and lots of spirits. The Christmas Sprite flitted off to find Wodan.
Marcy gaped until Marbel shifted underneath her. “You might want to take off that coat before you overheat,” he said.
“Is it always like this?” Marcy asked as she dismounted and took her heavy winter coat off. She tugged at her shirt.
“The Mirror World is a mirror. When it is winter there it is summer here, spring and autumn and on it goes, the cycle of seasons,” Marbel reminded her. “Though things are a bit out of whack. No wonder Wodan is grumpy. Frost is a puckish creature at the best of times.”
Marcy wrinkled her nose. “But doesn’t Santa like Christmas?”
“He loves Christmas. He just also hates leaving the Hunt.”
Across the clearing, Wodan roared. “See what you’ve done! My suit! My suit is ruined! The snow is early, nothing is prepared, and now you’ve ruined my suit. Yes. Run! Run! Both of you sooty pranksters, run!”
Two ravens lifted off into the sky, cawing down mockingly.
“That is your cue,” Marbel said.
Marcy hesitantly approached Wodan. He was a big man with a brown beard and dressed in armor. His helm had two great wings coming off of it. Like Holda, he wore a fur cape and more tied around his calves. One of his eyes was covered with a patch. He held out a few tattered scraps of fabric that had been streaked with black coal. “Ruined!” he muttered. “And it’s almost Christmas. How am I to appear in such a state?” He shook his fist up at the sky. “When I get my hands on you two! Hugin! Munin!”
The ravens cawed more.
“Excuse me, sir,” Marcy said. “May I be of assistance?”
Wodan turned to her and put his fists on his hips. “You? Who are you?”
Marcy forced a smile. “I’m Marcy CantataGallop. I’m here to help with Christmas.”
“At this rate, there won’t be a Christmas,” Wodan grumbled. “You see what those two sooty ravens did to my suit! And the snow is early. Nothing is prepared. Nothing! And where is Holda? The Hunt must continue to chase down those elves to make sure they prepare the toys! She’s missing!”
It sounded as if nothing was going properly. Wodan’s suit was messed up. No Christmas preparations had been made. And the elves were revolting.
Marcy didn’t think she should say that she’d heard Wodan didn’t want to do Christmas. “Well, maybe I can help.”
“I don’t know how,” Wodan continued to grump. “The first thing that has to be done is hunt down those elves! Holda!” he shouted. “Holda!”
“Maybe I can help with your suit?” Marcy asked. “I can get it cleaned!”
“They tore it apart,” Wodan said.
“Then, then, I’ll make you a new one.”
“This just isn’t any suit! It’s a magic suit!” Wodan roared. “One that makes it so I can get down any chimney and into every house without being detected all at once all over the world.”
“That is a special suit,” Marcy said. “If you tell me how to make it, I’ll do my best to make you a new one. Then that is one thing you won’t have to worry about before Christmas.”
Wodan glowered at her and then stroked his beard. “Maybe, maybe you. You have powerful magic about you.” He thrust the scraps of the suit at her. “Track down Holda. She can tell you how to remake my suit,” he said. “Then send her straight back here. We need to hunt down those elves. Staging a revolt. Just before Christmas!”
Marcy nodded and stuck the suit scraps into her saddlebag. “Is there anything else I can do to prepare for your arrival?”
Wodan narrowed his good eye at her. “There’s a lot of work to be done. You can’t do it all by yourself,” he said.
“I can get it started.” Marcy lifted her chin. “What do you want?”
“I want a parade! With children, lots of children, happy ones! And candy, lots of candy to pass out.”
“And then you’ll be willing to do Christmas?”
Wodan blustered a few moments. “Decorations. There will need to be decorations. My horse will need to be prepared. The reindeer need tending. The book of naughty and nice will have to be double checked. And I must get after those elves!”
Marcy held up a finger. “Decorate, plan a parade for your arrival, candy, happy cheering children, prepare the horse, tend the reindeer, the naughty and nice book, and the elves. Is that everything?” she asked ticking things off on her fingers.
Wodan grumbled into his beard. “I guess. For now!”
Marcy smiled. “Then, I’ll go see Holda and tell her you’re prepared to do Christmas.”
Wodan gaped at her. “Now wait a moment,” he shouted.
Marcy smiled at him and mounted Marbel.
Marbel tossed his head and laughed. “Too late, Sinterklaus. You’re roped into it now!” He took off at a trot towards the exit.
Wodan crossed his arms and, when neither of them could see, he smiled into his beard.