One barmy July day Kris, Maxwell and Skippy say around the story table of the Enchanted table, simply to relax and enjoy the value of each other’s company.
“Everyone has a gift, yes?” declared Skippy in that particular tone of voice that declared he was thinking aloud. “After all,” Skippy continued, “Maxwell is a Whisperer; he can listen and talk with all the animals of the land, sea and air. And I am a Weaver, I can weave all manner of wondrous things from the finest spiders’ silk.”
Kris and Maxwell both nodded sleepily, half listening and half in the world of their dreams.
“So,” concluded Skippy, “so what is Kris’s special gift? What is it that Kris can do, that no one else can?”
Maxwell and Kris exchanged glances. Skippy had raised an important question and neither of them knew the answer.
“Gifts, gifts gifts,” Maxwell murmured, “Three elves should have three gifts; Kris is one special brother but I don’t know what his gift is.”
There was a pause while all three of them exchanged further glances. None of them knew the answer and none of them was sure how to find out.
“Gifts, gifts, gifts,” repeated Skippy, as he pondered and thought aloud.
“Gifts!” exclaimed Kris with a astonished cry, “Perhaps Santa Claus will know. After all, he is world famous for presents of all sorts. He’s bound to know!”
A flicker of a smile traced its finger across the face of each elf in turn and one-by-one each of them began to beam.
“We ought to travel to the North Pole and find Santa,” added Kris, in a stroke of genius, “That would make an amazing journey!”
And so the three little elves began to pack excitedily for their long trek to the snowy wastelands of the North Pole. They dressed up warmly in the thickness of parka coats and packed their bags with an array of useful items, such as … … catapults, lengths of flaxen string, balls of amber bees’ wax, slithers of garnet stone and a manner of all sorts of useful items that only a child would collect. Very soon they were on the march to the North Pole, walking with purpose, grit and determination like a row of three soldier ants. Their journey took them past mountains and vales, over oceans and deserts through meadows and forests but ultimately they arrived at a single post standing defiantly in the snow. It was a white and red pole, standing on guard in the desolate blizzards of blinding snow, holding a small wooden placard announcing its location, The North Pole.
The three elves spotted a faint hazy lights shining through the misty windows of a tumbled down warehouse and then ran to its doors. With a respectful knock and a mighty heave, they opened its mighty portals and stepped inside to the safety of the building’s interior. There at the far end of the array of toy-ladened shelves stood a small jolly fellow, dressed in red capes, hemmed with white fur-lined edges. Santa turned and faced the three visitors and after a greeting, the smallest of the elves plucked up the courage to ask the important question.
“We’ve come to ask a favour of you Mister Santa,” began Skippy with a slight air of hesitancy. “It’s about gifts.”
“Ah, many children do,” interrupted Santa with a smile, “What is it to be this year? A train set? A tin solider? A sail boat?”
“Oh, no Santa!” interrupted Maxwell, “It’s not that sort of gift. Not that sort of gift at all.”
“We would love to know what my gift is,” concluded Kris.
The words of the three elves mixed and overlapped like the eddies of seashore waves ebbing and flowing around the maze of boulders and rocks at the ocean’s edge.
“Whoa! Hold on little fellows!” interrupted Santa, “I leave gifts of stripped candy canes, Satsuma globes and wooden spinning tops…” “… I’m not able to tell you what it is you need to know. You need to visit the Southern Oracle. She is the only one who can answer your question.”
“And where may we find the home of the Southern Oracle?” asked the three elves in union, for they were desperate to achieve the answer to their quest.
Santa pointed in the direction of the reindeer stables, for it was only them who knew the twist and turn of every pathway around the globe.
“But I warn you,” he finished, “I have eight reindeer and they are most fickle with questions. Only one of them will answer your question truthfully. The others will not.”
“Which reindeer should we ask, Santa?” began Skippy, as he started to name the reindeer one-by-one, “Dancer? Prancer? Dasher? Vixen? Comet? Cupid? …”
“Goodness me!” chuckled Santa Claus, “Not even I know which one to trust, That’s something you’ll have to work out for yourselves!”
With that he bade the three young elves goodbye, as they made they way onto the reindeer stables, and he stood at the door and waved them off. Soon, within a few seconds, they had reached the straw-lined warmth of the reindeer house and they saw a sight that confused their minds. There in the stables stood eight tiny reindeer, each one identical to the others and each one chewing on tuffs of straw from a stocked manager. Maxwell stood by one of the reindeer and tenderly stroked its velvet nose with a gentle caress.
“Can you tell us the way to the Southern Oracle please? We need to find the answer to an important question,” he whispered gently in its ear.
At once all eight reindeer lifted their heads turned and spoke together in a cacophony of chatter. “The Sea of Dreams, The Forests of Furia, The Enchanted Isles, The Swamps of Sadness, The Northern Mountains, The Deserts of Despair, The Western Isles, The Crystal Caves.”
Which one was telling the truth and which seven were not? It was impossible to tell and it seemed as if their question was going to be futile.
Kris pointed to one of the reindeer with a strong and definite finger announcing, “That’s the one! That’s the one you should ask!”
“But how do you know?” enquired both Skippy and Maxwell with a confused look of astonishment etched upon their faces.
“It’s not what they say,” replied Kris with an air of authority, “It’s what they don’t! Look at the quiver of his whisker, the faint trace of his hoof upon the ground, the gleam in his eye and the twitch of the hairs within his ear.” Kris pointed again to the same reindeer and repeated his request; “That’s the one you should ask.”
Maxwell turned to the reindeer and asked again, “Can you tell us the way to the Southern Oracle please?”
The reindeer lifted his snout towards the elves and repeated the phrase, “The Swamps of Sadness. But to get there, you need to travel to the Lonely Plains and pass through its gate.It’s a long and dangerous journey and it is fraught with difficulties at every step. Very few ever manage to reach their destination. You need to be strong and courageous.” The reindeer pointed towards the door of the stables and gave a small sigh. “Be united and resolute,” he said, “Be determined and fearless. For, if not, you will never reach the Southern Oracle.”
The reindeer bowed his head with respect and nudged the elves affectionately. He knew it was going to be a tremendous quest and one that would test their friendship. But, he also knew that it was a journey that they needed to take and no reindeer warning would ever deter them from their chosen journey.