Iris the Ice Queen
The darkness of the cave swallowed us. The light from outside faded. After a few minutes, I was tossed to the ground. An eerie pale glow surrounded me. I looked for Max, but he wasn’t with me.
“So,” a cold voice hissed like air escaping a balloon, “this is who they choose to protect their precious Christmas? A mere boy?”
I spun around trying to find where it came from, but could see nothing. Swirling wisps of snow rose from the ground, twisted like a tornado, then took shape before me.
I backed away, pressing against the chilled rocky wall of the cave. Gliding along the ground, the creature came closer, until it was right before me.
I faced an angry looking, ice-covered, woman. She stroked the head of a wolf standing by her side, once Frank the fake Elf. He curled his lips at me, baring his teeth.
“Who…who…are you?” I said, my voice quivering. I fought against my fear.
“I am Iris, the Ice Queen.”
Her words came on gusts of frigid air, stinging my ears. “What do you want with me? Where’s Max?”
“You, my dear boy, and your sad little dragon are my guests. You’ll stay until the world knows Christmas is no more.”
“I want to see Max,” I took a step towards her. I could tell she didn’t expect this.
“Very well,” she began to fade, “but it will do you no good.” In a flash, she was gone. The wolf gave me one more flash of his teeth then ran off. Something odd about this. Why would she do what I asked?
After a few moments, the wall behind me gave way, light filtered through. I took a step closer, trying to see in. Another step. Then another. I squeezed through the narrow opening and stuck my head out. Max licked my face. He covered me with Dragon slime, but I didn’t care.
Max was okay. That was good. As to me, I wasn’t so sure.
I squeezed through and stopped dead in my tracks. Max danced in the middle of the giant cave, leaning over to lick my face when he got close, then bounced some more. All around him, looking pale and tired, were Santa’s reindeer team and the missing Elves.
While I tried to take this all in, the wall behind me slammed shut. We were sealed in a cave, no way out, deep in a mountain, guarded by a powerful magician, a snarling shape-shifting wolf, and surrounded by an army of dead trees.
I was alone and not sure what to do.
Then, Max slid his head between my legs and lifted me onto his back. He moved to the center of the room. The Elves and reindeer all gathered around us, looking at me.
“Tell’em what you’re gonna do, Joe,” Max said, smiling and bouncing on his feet. “Tell’em how we’re gonna save Christmas.”
I looked around at all the faces staring at me, a mixture of hope and fear shown in their eyes.
“I will,” I said, trying to sound confident, then whispered, “as soon as I think of it.”
TO BE CONTINUED