Once they were in the normal world, Marcy sent a text to the headmistress of the school. Christmas was in danger! Santa needed their help to save Christmas. Headmistress Thyme sent a text in reply. Marcy was to report to the nearest mentor.
Marcy put her phone away and first went back to Holda. Jack and the little girl were gone. Holda paced back and forth in the snow.
“Mrs. Holda, Santa says that he’ll do Christmas if I repair his suit and prepare for his arrival,” Marcy said. “He said you’d know how to make a new suit. And he needs your help to hunt down the elves that are supposed to be making toys and aren’t.”
Holda smiled broadly at her. “Hah. So he saw reason.” She nodded. “I’ll give you the instructions on how to make his suit. Follow them carefully,” she said and waved her hand. “And don’t let anyone else see them. They’ll disappear once you’re done and the suit is safely delivered to Wodan.”
Marcy accepted the instructions with care. She put them in her sewing journal. “I’ll be careful.”
Holda put up a hand. “Don’t thank the old ones, child,” she said. “We might call upon the favor one day.”
She nodded rapidly.
Holda mounted her horse and galloped away, fading from sight.
Marcy tucked the journal away in her saddlebag. “To Vesper, Marbel,” she said. He nodded. They rode towards the Ruby District Camp.
Vesper greeted them by waving a long candy cane cane! She was in an entirely new outfit. Over her short black hair she had a red and black buffalo check trilby with a black ribbon and big silver buckle on it with a spray of candy canes. She had a circular white leather chest piece with a mint swirl candy on it that buckled with red belts over a white leather half jacket with a fur cuff and red trimmings. Her shirt that they could see was a red and black check and black cuffs. She wore a red kilt with a thick black belt and silver buckle. Her boots were white with red straps and instead of buckles, had more fake peppermint swirl candies!
She smiled at Marcy. “Welcome to Candy Cane Lane!” she said. She winked at Marcy. “I love Christmas!” Then put her finger over her lips. “But shh, it’s a secret!”
Marcy giggled. “I won’t tell a soul.”
Vesper grinned. “Here in Astranar, we go all out for Christmas. Every district has a theme. You can choose to help one district set up for Christmas. I’ve uploaded all the information into your phone. The districts you choose not to help will be decorated automatically.”
She leaned on her candy cane, well, cane. “Let me run down them quickly. Here in the Ruby District, we have a rockin’ peppermint Christmas. Santa’s house is set up here and we decorate in red, white, and with plenty of buffalo check. In the Sphalerite District, Kitty is setting up Gingerbread Junction. They have a gingerbread town complete with a train, and decorate in orange, brown, and gold with lots of icing and candy.
“In the Citrine District, Viva is ready to make sweet music with her Angels on High theme! Angels, musical instruments, and stars make the Citrine District’s Christmas out of this world. They decorate in gold of course! In the Emerald District, Len needs your help with her Elven Holly Jolly. Santa’s workshop is there and elves don’t like to work if they can play! They decorate with holly, bells and, of course, lots of elves, and green and silver are the colors of the season.
“In the Sapphire District, Minnie is putting on the Nutcracker Parade. It’s toyland time. Ladies are dancing, lords are leaping, carolers are singing, and the toys are out in force while the snowflakes float down. Sapphire decorates in blue, white, and silver. In the Morganite District, Lottie needs help with her Woodland Christmas. All the woodland creatures have come out with acorns, pine cones, and berries to make the season special. She decorates with pink, white, gold, and brown.
“In the Amethyst District, Izzy is in a tizzy to get going on the Sugar Plum Fairy theme. She’s turning the area into the land of sweets. Cakes, ice cream, popsicles, macarons, and of course, sugar plums, that is. Of course, it is purple, gold, and white. With Izzy, could it be anything else? And last, but not least, the capitol is putting on a Coastal Christmas! Sand castles, star fish, seagulls, and everything associated with the coast is going up in the capitol. The colors are aqua and cream. There, you would talk with the Princess and Prince!”
Marcy didn’t know where she should go. It all sounded so exciting!
Vesper smiled knowingly. “Can’t make up your mind? Go and talk with all of them. See what they have to show you for their Christmas decorations! All the quests are the same in each district and depending on which district you help, you’ll get a special outfit in that district’s colors. Once you decide, you can’t change your mind. So choose wisely!” Vesper twirled her cane and tugged on her hat. “I’ll wait here for your decision, Marcy! Or, you can go to the nearest mentor and tell them your decision.”
Marcy beamed at her. “Thank you, Vesper. I will!” she said and trotted away. First, she needed to look through the information Vesper had given her. There were so many choices. She put Marbel in a stall with a bucket of water and a good brushing. “I’ll be back soon,” she said. “I just want a cocoa to warm up!”
Marbel nuzzled her in complete understanding.
Marcy skipped to the camp’s cafeteria. Although she wasn’t technically a full time camper anymore, she could still use their kitchen. She got a mug of cocoa and sat down at the table to look through the information Vesper put on her phone. She almost squealed in delight. There were pictures of the special parts of the decorations with a girl modeling the outfit they could earn and a horse showing off the gear.
There were also special Christmas recipes to make and Christmas decorations to produce. There were even some special clothes and gear to sew. Also, there was a new app on her phone, an advent calendar! Every day until Christmas, she’d get something special.
Marcy sipped her cocoa and browsed through all the information several times. She still couldn’t make up her mind. Candy Cane Lane? Gingerbread Junction? Woodland Christmas? Sugar Plum Fairy? She was going to have to go visit all of them. Thank goodness for the train stations!