The sleigh skidded to a stop against the edge of a mountain. The mountain was surrounded with clouds and hidden from view. Jessie looked out from the sleigh. She could feel the dampness of the clouds against her fur and shivered. She nestled back under her blanket until Santa called her.
“Hurry, girl. The entrance to the guild hall is just up the slope. Let’s get inside before the dampness gets through our clothes.”
Jessie reluctantly jumped out of the sleigh and followed Santa up the mountain path. It wasn’t very wide and Jessie could look down the side of the mountain. Sharp rocks stuck up from the path just below and Jessie’s knees shook. She whimpered and pushed closer to the rock face. In front of her was the opening to a cave and she hurried to get into the safety of the rock.
As Santa and Jessie entered a ghost blew in from outside and barred the way. “Who dares to enter the Guild of Magical creatures?” It spoke with a sucking sound.
“Santa Claus and his faithful friend Jessie,” Santa replied. “Let’s dispense with the formalities shall we, Herbie. You know I’ve called a meeting. For once can’t you just let me pass without the oath.” Santa moved to go forwards further in the cave but the ghost moved in front of him.
“The oath has been said since I was a boy in my father’s fishing camp. You must say the oath before I will allow you to pass. Otherwise, I’ll eat your friend and send you back on your way.”
“Oh, very well,” Santa sounded exasperated. Santa looked down at Jessie who was shaking and leaning hard against his back legs. “Ghosts can’t eat dogs, Jessie. He’s just trying to scare you.” Santa placed his hand across his heart. “I swear by all the magic of the earth and all the magic in the universe that I shall serve the Guild of Magical Creatures until my dying days. I will protect the guilds authority over the magic on the earth and work to bring happiness and joy to all living creatures.” Santa lowered his arm and turned to Herbie. “Are you satisfied?” he said.
“You may now pass.” The ghost disappeared with a swoosh and Jessie leaned even harder against Santa.
“Don’t worry, Jessie. I won’t let anyone hurt you,” Santa smiled, leaned over and stroked the dogs fur. He quickly stood and marched to the opening in the cave. Santa pushed open lengths of hanging beads allowing Jessie to pass in front of him. The pair emerged into a brightly lit cavern with a single oval table at the center of it. A number of creatures were lounging and gossiping around the table.
Jessie looked to see if she knew any of the guests. She saw Myrtle the Monarch, a moving snowman, several of the head elves, fairies flitting high above, the tooth fairy and others who she didn’t recognize. When Santa entered the room a hush filled the hall. A space opened at the table for Santa to sit down and everyone waited expectantly.
“By now you have all heard that Jack Frost is very ill and that his illness has prevented him from regulating the weather at the Pole. I’m afraid the ice timbers of the great manufacturing facility have begun to melt and we must act quickly in order to prevent the city from disappearing. We must, after all, leave the North Pole intact for our children. Each one of us has the ability to affect the weather with our magic but none of us have the time to monitor the conditions every day. I propose that we create a rotation in order to take turns at the job. Does this make sense to everyone?” Santa stood and looked around the room. There was a general murmur in agreement.
“Good, then that is decided. I also want to talk to the Guild about training a replacement for Jack. Jack is 506 and he will want to retire soon. Does anyone have any objections to me training several of the young elves from the Pole.”
The tooth fairy flew up to Santa’s face. “But that would mean giving them access to our magical powers. Can they be trusted to use the powers for good.”
“I believe so Felicia. You must have visited the pair when they lost teeth and seen their characters. If either becomes a problem we can simply take away their access to the magic. Until they are sworn into the Guild as full members they do not have access to magic without our supervision. You already know that. ” Santa banged on the table. His face was pulled tight and his body stiff. “We must act before the plant melts into a pool of water. Now, let’s take a vote. All in favor say Yes.”
The word yes traveled around the circle and Santa smiled. “Now for the hard part. Convincing the children to take up the cause. Please send your best wishes. I will be in touch when I have approached the elves and started there training.”
Santa stood and moved towards the door with Jessie scrambling to keep up. She didn’t want to stay in a place with ghosts by herself.
When they reached the outer door Herbie had returned but allowed them to leave without a word. The pair traveled down the narrow, dangerous path and climbed into the sleigh where Santa sunk into the driver’s seat and sighed. “I’m glad that’s over, Jessie. The Guild was unusually pleasant today. I’ve known them to argue over chewing gum so they must realize the seriousness of this issue. Now, bundle up under your blanket and we’ll head home for a rest. Tomorrow I’ll approach the elves Flora and Klaus and we’ll start training them.”
Jessie pushed under her blanket just as Santa took off into the sky heading home for a night’s sleep.