The journey to Mount Doubt was long and hard. We crossed frozen rivers, deep valleys, and steep mountains. As we drew closer to Mount Doubt, the colors faded from the land. The snow, once sparkling and shiny, lay dull and grey. Majestic evergreen Christmas trees turned brown and lost their needles.
The land was frigid and barren.
Then, rising in front of us into the clouds like a giant beast, loomed Mount Doom.
Frank signaled for us to stop. As he climbed off the polar bear, it ran away. Whimpering and crying.
“What’s wrong with him?” I asked.
“No living creatures come here. The place is filled with nothing but doubt and gloom.”
I glanced at the others, then swallowed hard. El, Cornelius, and Bumbles all tried to pretend they weren’t scared, but I could tell they were.
“You’re sure the reindeer are here?” I asked Frank.
“As sure as I can be.”
“What does that mean?” El said, moving to stand in front of Frank.
“Yeah,” Cornelius added. “What does that mean? You said you found the reindeer.”
Frank pointed to the ground. “Look for yourself.”
We all looked and saw the hoof prints of reindeer, lots of them, all heading toward Mount Doom.
“Why would the reindeer walk here on their own?” I asked.
“I am guessing here, but it had to be powerful magic. The only one I know of with such magic is Iris the Ice Queen and she lives here.”
“Now what?” I asked. “Do we climb Mount Doom?”
Frank shook his head. “Not we, Joe, you. From here on it’s just you and Max.
At the sound of his name, Max sprung to his feet, pawing at the ground and stretching his wings.
“Well, at least one of us is excited,” I said.
El stepped in front of me. “No way, Frank. Wherever Joe goes, I go.”
“I am afraid that won’t be possible, El.” In the flash of an eye, Frank turned into a snarling wolf. All the dead trees began to close in around us. We scrambled for a way out. Even Bumbles wasn’t strong enough against all the trees.
A voice, screeching and cackling, rose out of the snowy mist. “There’ll be no saving Christmas now. Come along nicely and join your reindeer and Elf friends.”
The branches of the trees wrapped around us. I saw El manage to snap off a limb, but five more replaced the broken one. None of us could move.
I felt myself being lifted from the ground.
“No, stop. Put me down.” I screamed. I tried to break free. Max was lifted into the air as well. I could just see his face; the rest was covered in branches. He managed to wink and smile. I could hear his voice in my head.
“Don’t worry, Joe, I’m here with you. Just believe in what we have to do.”
As we started to move, a dark cave appeared before us. The trees carried us into the darkness, just before we headed further in, I turned to see my friends struggling to get free.
I wondered if I’d ever see them again.