Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
Perpetual darkness lingered at the top of the world. Thick ice, frigid air, and snow covered the lifeless mountainscape. However, the endless night did not go unchallenged. A single source of light illuminated the sky and drove back the darkness. Nestled between two snow-covered mountain, a little cottage sat with puffy billowing smoke rising from its chimney. Ignoring the fact that the nearest civilization was thousands of miles away, to the casual eye, the house was simply a warm and welcoming home. Still, one might say to themselves, “What an odd thing to find in such a bleak place. How could such a thing come to be?”
Like most things found in the North Pole, not everything is as it appears. The land was unforgiving and cruel. It could take your life within minutes. Only a select number of creatures were given permission to live in this harsh and relentless wilderness. All others who entered this domain did it of their own accord; such as the residents of this tiny little home. However, these individuals were like no other and with a little bit of magic at their disposal, they lived happy and joyful lives.
At first glance, it would appear it was nothing more than a simple, ordinary home inhabited by an elderly couple who loved each other dearly. If this were your conclusion, you would be mistaken. In reality, a magical secret existed below, for the small house was much more than meets the eye. The little house was not just a home but the tip of a mystical workshop hidden beneath the ice.
For centuries, children around the world found joy from the efforts of the hidden workshop. All year round, tiny magical hands toiled and labored to create toys and playthings for all the good children of the world. Elves, the last of the magical creatures from old, dwelt within its walls and used their mystical nature to create wondrous and joyful things for Christmas morning. Three days after the Winter Solstice, the old man would put on his heavy coat and boots, take to the air and deliver his Christmas joy to every last child.
Like everything in the cosmos, there must be a balance. For every night, there must be a day; every beginning has an end. And, with every kind child, there was a naughty little boy or girl to be found.
Far below the bright lights, singing, and happy elves creating and building new and fantastic toys, there was another workshop. There, the warmth of the hearthstones could not reach. While the purpose of the upper workshop was to bring happiness, the other was dark and sterile. It too had a purpose. It was here where the masses of cheap and easily broken toys were made. There was no love put into these objects. Never would a child’s eyes brighten with wonder and awe upon seeing these gifts on Christmas morning. In his wisdom, the old man knew that even a naughty child should not be forgotten during this time of goodwill. However, the old man was no fool and had no desire to waste his resources on such unsatisfying tasks. This responsibility was handed to the banished and exiled elves that inhabited the deepest bowels below the Workshop. Those with selfish hearts and greedy desires. Stripped of their immortality, they wasted away in the dark with only the trinkets and flimsy materials to pass the time.
Erhgra E’tah sat in the poorly lit corner of a tattered workbench. His focus was entirely devoted to the old and worn piece of brass in his hands. The clangs of his hammer hitting metal rang out and echoed through the dark halls and passageways. He pounded the brass sheet relentlessly until the metal slowly began to surrender its shape and bend to Erhgra’s design. Suddenly the hammer flew out of the mad elf’s grasp. He examined his limp hand, trying to will it back into his control. Fury filled his heart as he watched the necrotic flesh sloughed off his bony hand. He didn’t have much time.
His other hand was weak, but still capable of grasp. He reached into his toolbox and removed a long warped nail and stabbed it into the back of his paralyzed hand. He pushed on the nail head until its tip broke through the skin and emerged through his palm. Immediately, the pain surged and shot up his arm. The thick and rigid tendons loosened within his hand, giving him temporary use of his digits once more.
The elf picked up his hammer and resumed molding the shape of the brass plate. With each impact upon the brass, he poured his rage into his creation. How ironic that the product of his tireless work was meant for the ones he hated the most. His deteriorating body was fading fast. He possessed just enough magic to fuel the curse he would cast upon the object. When finished, his gift would be placed with the other junk toys and cheap trinkets. It would make its way to “them” and find a child on Christmas morning. The curse will take hold and slowly begin tearing apart their lives. It will channel their essence back to him and reignite his immortality. The object would pass from one child, then to another, century after century.
He had just enough magic left to evoke his curse!
Erhgra had once lived and worked above. Like any other elf before him, he loved nothing more than to create beautiful and wondrous toys and gizmos. However, in his heart, he wished that he could keep some of his creations for himself. One day, his eyes fell upon a beautiful music box his friend D’lahela had created. The music box was extraordinary; meant as a gift to a King’s firstborn. It was magnificent. Crafted from oak wood, it bore an elaborate gold design on each of its sides. When opened, a figurine of three children danced hand in hand to a beautiful lullaby around a magnificent Christmas tree.
Erhgra E’tah had never desired anything more in his entire life. It filled his heart with jealousy. He became resentful that this precious and rare treasure would go to an undeserving human infant. The little girl didn’t deserve it! It should go to him, he thought. So, under cover of darkness, Erhgra slipped into the work area and took the music box.
Unable to sleep and anxious to put the finishing touches on his prized creation, D’lahela decided to return to the workshop. To his surprise and shock, he caught the elf attempting to steal the special music box. D’lahela was enraged, for greed and thievery amongst elves were extremely offensive and not tolerated. Erhgra begged his friend not to report his transgression, but D’lahela was unmoved by the pleas and turned to tell the others of Erhgra’s crime. Desperate, Erhgra did the only thing left for him to do. He grabbed a hammer and brought it down on his friend’s head over and over again until no more life remained in the broken body.
Despite his meticulous efforts to conceal his crime, he could not escape the sight and wisdom of the old man. Humiliated and dishonored, the elf was banished from the Workshop and his precious music box was taken from him and given to the little princess. Stripped of his immortality, Erhgra E’tah was cast into the cold and dark corridors of the Other Workshop to spend his remaining days, never to create a beautiful thing again. As the seasons passed, his hatred for all children grew and ate away at his sanity. He gritted his teeth knowing that the children of man were given everything and he had nothing!
Hunched over his work, Erhgra feverishly worked to complete his masterpiece. He stared down at the anvil and hammered down on the brass. Each strike brought the faces of a child into his mind.
“It lives in warmth.” The blunt hammer formed the metal into a hollow cylinder.
“It stuffs its face with sweets and treats.” Stumpy legs were welded into place.
“It gets everything it asks from mummy and daddy.” A malformed head and crooked ears took shape.
“It gets anything its little heart desires!” The brass surface was scrubbed of debris and grime.
“It gets everything it wants!” Small turquoise stones were affixed to the brass body.
“I hate it!” One glimmering red ruby stone was bound to the left side of the figurine’s head.
“I hate it!” Finally, a second red ruby was embedded into the surface on the face’s other side.
“I hate them all!”
In the glow of the fire, Erhgra held up the brass figurine. It was a disturbing representation of a rabbit. Its body was a lattice of crisscrossed brass strips bejeweled with a pale blue turquoise stone at each intersection. Its head was malformed and gave the impression of a dead thing instead of a pleasant rabbit full of life. He placed the atrocious thing upon an open silver locket that contained a mirror on each of the hinged inner sides. With the rabbit figurine facing one of the mirrors, he carefully opened a vial that held a clear fluid. It was lymph. The lymph from an elf was the source of magic that flowed through their bodies like that of blood from the second set of unique arteries found within its own circulatory system and pumped by a very special second heart.
Only a few tiny drops fell out of the vial. It splashed onto the figurine and mirrored locket illuminating them with a golden glow. Erhgra closed his eyes and spoke the words of wormwood in his elven tongue. The clear liquid turned black and stained the surface of both the rabbit statuette and silver locket. The glow turned a deep purple then slowly faded. Pleased with the outcome, he gently placed a cloth over the object without making eye contact to obscure it from sight and ever so carefully placed it in a small box decorated with holiday cheer.
Finished with his work, Erhgra turned to leave, pushing past the corpses of several elves hanging upside down from the support beams of the Other Workshop. Their lifeless bodies drained completely of every last drop of magical lymph from slit throats. Erhgra’s calculation had been correct. He had just enough magic to fuel the curse placed on the object. The mad elf smiled and begun to laugh. For the first time in a very long time, Erhgra E’tah’s heart filled with anticipation at the approach of Christmas morning.
The little girl sat in a large pile of torn wrapping paper from the many gifts she found under the Christmas tree. On the morning of December twenty-second, Gabby awoke earlier than everyone else. She went downstairs and glared at the many presents that continuously tempted her. It was as if they teased and mocked her every time she looked at the colorful and beautiful wrapping paper. She would receive such a terrible scolding from her parents, but she couldn’t wait any longer. At first, it would only be one gift she opened. Then it became two, then another and another. Before she knew it, all of her presents had been opened. Despite getting everything she asked for, the desire for more still was not satisfied.
When Gabby stood, a small gift next to the base of the Christmas tree caught her eye. She could have sworn it had not been there before. The wrapping paper was worn and yellowed with age. Written in big words was a tag that said: “To Gabriella.” It was like no other, and she surely would have seen it before now. Puzzled, she removed the wrapping paper and found a box that contained a smaller sealed box and a scroll. She opened the scroll and read:
Congratulations, lucky one! You are the proud owner of Pepe, the Rabbit. Pepe loves you and will be your best friend in the whole world. Pepe is a friend like no other, and he will give you everything your heart desires.
To be Pepe’s friend, you must listen to him, and never disobey the following instructions:
1. Place Pepe on his locket facing the mirror.
2. Never look Pepe in the eyes. He is ever so bashful and only likes to see you through his mirror.
3. You may ask anything of Pepe three times. In three days’ time, he will grant any and all you asked of him.
4. Never look Pepe in the eyes. It bears repeating! He does not like it and will be “upset” if you disobey this rule.
Remember, lucky little boy or girl; Pepe loves you. He loves you more than anyone else in the whole wide world. Pepe will make sure that no one will hurt you ever again. And if you love Pepe, you will listen to him and do whatever he asks of you.
Pepe loves you, and no one can ever come between you and him.
Pepe loves you.
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