Chapter One

Have you ever wondered how elves came to be? Well, have I a story for you. A story of elves, Santa's Elves. Come, sit round the fire and I'll tell you.

Many, many years ago, when we knew very little compared to what humans know today, during a time that is still a mystery to us, there lived a beautiful princess. Her name was Aurelia, Princess Aurelia to be exact the only child to a great king. The King, King Sergius was a great ruler and a loving family man. He wanted the best for his daughter so he had his most loyal and respectful knights court her. The knights, Zoticus, Wybert, Victorius, Timon and Rufus were all very much in love with the Princess and she with them. However, as all love stories go, the Princess could only chose one knight to be her husband. Would it be Zoticus? No, for he is too sickly, Wybert? Too Proud, Victorius was a major flirt. Timon could get quite emotional and Rufus, well he just was not very bright but she loved him anyway. Decisions were terrible to make but Princess Aurelia had to choose one of these men by her birthday.

The night before her birthday, a strange man came to Princess Aurelia in her dreams. The man spoke of a way in which the Princess could have all her knights and not have to choose. He whispered the name of a powerful wizard named Myron who dwelled high in the mountains. Princess Aurelia woke immediately from her sleep and packed some essentials. She crept into the knight chamber and awoke her beloved knights.

"Come with me" she whispered. "To a place where we can all be together"

The five brave knights nodded. Not one of them wanted to be without their Princess. They packed bags and left their home early in the morning before all were awake. They took horses to the bottom of the mountain and tied them their. The climb was steep and difficult for Princess Aurelia but her knights helped her. The climb was long and tiresome and took three days. They had little food and no water by the second day climbing the mountain but it would not stop them. The ground was covered in cold white stuff that we know as snow. They reached the top and saw there was no one around on the slope downwards of the mountain into a barren plain full of the white stuff. That's when the lovers started to quarrel. Wybert thought Princess Aurelia was lying. Zoticus was fed up with the whole trip and started heading back down the mountainside they had climbed. Victorius stayed with Princess Aurelia knowing that if the others left he would be hers.

"Wait!" cried Princess Aurelia. "He's here somewhere, I know he is. Myron! Myron!"

Snow shifted from the hillside. A man appeared under a cavern of snow and smiled at them.

"Princess Aurelia and her knights I assume" he bowed. "A pleasure it is, please come inside"

He gestured to the cavern and waited. Slowly Princess Aurelia and her knights followed him inside where a blazing fire kept them all warm and plates of meat were handed to them.

"Princess, I believe you've met my man Raphael"

"Yes, in my dream"

"He's very wonderful at doing that" Myron the wizard beamed. "Now tell me, what brings the six of you to my mountain top?"

Everyone began to explain at once. Myron held out his hand and bellowed quiet.

"One at a time please"

"I have to get married" Princess Aurelia stated. "To one of these find gentlemen but I cannot pick which one to wed"

"Indecisive are we?"

"Yes. Raphael said you could help us"

"Very well…I assume you want to be with all of your knights"

"Yes"

"Well, how about I make duplicate of you?"

"No"

"Very well…let me think…there is a way—

"What is it man!" Wybert exclaimed angrily.

"I can simply create a new race of creatures"

"Meaning?" Zoticus questioned.

"Turn the six of you into a new race and then you'll get to share the princess and start your own kingdom"

"Where would we live?" Timon asked.

"I'll have to figure it out…let me think, you eat and rest. Tomorrow I will have it"

Darkness crept outside the cavern and the knights soon fell asleep around their princess. Myron the wizard remained awake all night figuring and figuring about his problem. Raphael suggested they become little people with pointed ears and live up north.

"Raphael, you're a genius. That orf Santa Claus is always asking me for help with his toy making. We can turn these six into Santa's Helpers and send them to the North Pole to live and reproduce. I love how your mind works!"

"Sleep"

"Yes Raphael, we can sleep now and tomorrow our friends will be gone"

The wizard and his man lay on the ice floor to sleep.

Morning light shone into the cavern of ice where eight people lay asleep. The shimmer passed over the wizard and he woke refreshed. He stretched and prepared a breakfast for his guests. One by one the knights and Princess Aurelia awoke to find hot meat on the fire and water fresh from the waterfall at the back of the cavern. They ate happily and waited for the wizard to tell them what would happen.

"I have come to conclusion" Myron looked at each of them. "I'm going to turn you into a race known as elves. You will be very little compared to most man and you will be able to withstand the coldest of climates. Afterwards, you will be sent to the North Pole to work as Santa's Helpers in his toy factory. Is that agreeable?"

The knights and Princess Aurelia nodded.

"Here we go"

The ice cavern turned to complete white light that sparkled. The five knights and their princess shrunk to a very tiny size and their ears pointed. Their clothing changed to that of reds and greens and whites and gold. The Princess wore a red dress that had a green slash and the knights wore green leggings with green baggie shirts and red belts. They all wore green hats that hung in the back. Elf hats. They felt themselves fly through the air and land into that white cold stuff but felt it warm. They were outside a small wooden building that was labeled Santa's Workshop.

"This must be the place"

"Welcome!" a cheerful voice bellowed. "That wizard finally brought me some help. Come in"

"And that children is how the Elf was created" Curtis closed the book.

The younger elves he had been reading to clapped their hands happily. Curtis adored seeing their cheery little faces, it reminded him of his youth. After he had heard the story of elf creation when he was young he remembered playing pretend with some of the others where he was the wizard since he was the most genius. Curtis was a plump little elf with straight dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. His face is chubby and he wears glasses that add to the feel of him being super smart, which he is. He would typically be seen in a tanned coat with a silly scarf around his neck and a warm toque.

"Curtis what are you doing?" Brenda another elf and wife of his best friend asked.

"Just reading to the kids how the elf was created"

"Shouldn't you be working?"

"Well, yes but shouldn't someone educate these youngsters?"

"Yes but that someone isn't you. It's Mrs. Claus' job""She's right…sorry kids" Curtis stood. "I'll get back to work now"

Curtis began to walk back to the Pantograph with Brenda following. Brenda was a pretty little elf. She was chubby and short like Curtis with deep red curls and brilliant blue eyes. Her features were small but unforgettable. Her typical outfit would be a royal blue dress that framed her little body nicely and shimmered in the light. At the moment the features of desperation and despair were etched into her face.

"Is something wrong Brenda?"

"I just wondered if you've seen Bernard?"

"You'll probably find him at Princess Aurelia's grave right now"

"Thank you Curtis"

"Brenda, wait, you'll miss the annual lighting up" Curtis stated.

Brenda sighed. She could afford a few more minutes to watch the lighting up ceremony. Every year a set of elves takes it upon themselves to organize the annual lighting up ceremony where the entire workshop would close down. All the elves along with Santa and Mrs. Claus would go outside and stand together while the Christmas lights were turned on closer to December first. Bernard always missed it but Curtis never let Brenda. He enjoyed standing outside with her holding mugs of Abby's hot chocolate and watching the lights turn on. It was always a beautiful sight to see and Brenda wished she could share it with her husband but things were never very stable where Bernard was concerned two weeks before Christmas. This year was just the same.

All the elves were ushered outside and given hot chocolate to keep their fingers warm and of course to drink. They would wait until midnight on the last day of November and turn on all the Christmas lights. There was only one year that the lights had not been lit on this day at this time. It was at least a hundred years ago during the Dark Age of the North Pole.

Lights of green and red coloured all the windows and overhangs of the workshop. Coloured stars and trees and angels and any other Christmas character hung in the windows adding to the emotion of the scene. A large wreath of colour hung on the door with a big red bow in its bottom center. Another wreath hung on the landing balcony with garland climbing along the staircase with coloured lights. The workshop, as usual, was beautifully decorated. Elves sighed and stared at it in awe for a long moment to which seemed like forever for Brenda who just wanted to find Bernard.

After the lighting up ceremony Brenda walked followed the main road of the elf village, which had been constructed on since the Santa Clone had taken over. At the end of the main snow covered road she turned down the unplowed road towards the elf cemetery. It was a dark outskirts road and would normally be dangerous to travel alone in any place but the North Pole. Brenda pushed open the rusty gate and it squeaked. She trotted through the snow quietly and spotted Bernard at their mother's grave. Her grave was a large stone Angel, the biggest in the cemetery with her name on it. Bernard knelt in front of it with his hands folded in prayer. Brenda hated to intrude on her husband so she waited until he stood and walked towards another grave. This one was a little smaller then their mother's but the same Angel of stone marked it. Once he was safe in prayer Brenda crept to their mother's grave and knelt in front of it with her arms folded in prayer.

"Mother" she said. "I haven't been to see you as often as I should but there is something I need your guidance on. Bernard has been a wonderful husband and a caring friend to me but I fear nothing will become of this marriage. He is a wonderful person and I love him dearly but only more as a brother then a husband. I know you had hopes for Ariella and I in our marriages but it seem both have been lost. I understand Bernard's grief and I do not encourage anything that would make him uncomfortable so naturally our marriage is more of friendship then husband and wife. These years have been hard on everyone who was close to Alan and Ariella but especially hard on Bernard for not only did he lose a beloved brother but also the love of which none of us understand. Now I've gone and rambled on I do not remember what it was I wished to tell you"

A cool breeze wiped over Brenda's face as her mother appeared before her. She was beautiful as always with her long blonde hair and white wedding dress. She held out her arms as to embrace her second born daughter.

"My child, I am not disappointed in you," her breezy voice said. "I am proud of you for staying with Bernard all these years and helping him through this most difficult time. The loss of someone dear to you is probably the worst feeling to overcome in the world. It must be even harder on Bernard to know that he was part of the reason everything happened but you cannot deny love when it's staring you in the face. However, you can be a fool to not see when someone you love and wish only happiness for were suffering because of a wrongdoing. I know I did wrong with the matching of Ariella and Alan but I only wanted what I thought was best. I realize that what I think is best isn't always best for my children. I learned that quickly afterward. I am ashamed to say that I did not see the deep connection of pure love and understanding between my first daughter and second son, but now I see my mistake and the consequences were terrifying. Don't ever think I am disappointed in any of you and don't let your judgement over cloud that of any children you may have but Brenda, go to your husband now, he needs you"

"I worry about him mother"

"We all do and you must help him get through his grief" her mother said as she disappeared.

Brenda stood in silence staring at where her mother had been. Her mother was right, as usual, about everything about Bernard, Alan and Ariella, about making your own decisions. Her mother always knew just how to make someone feel better. It seemed to be a talent only mother's possess.

"Brenda?"

She turned around to face Bernard. He looked pale and fragile in the moonlight. His normally gorgeous features were worn from stress and depression and mostly from pain and grief. She remembered and missed the way he used to look at the world. He was always bright eyed and cheery if a bit obnoxious. That was the Bernard everyone loved compared to this new one who has appeared to the world.

"Bernard"

"Thank you" he said and walked away.

She wanted to follow him. She so badly wanted to follow him but knew it was that time of year. He would need to be alone for awhile. She knew where he'd go. He'd be locked in his room or memories. The place full of pictures of his past and he would dwell there alone. Santa would worry again and it would be another big commotion.

Brenda walked back to the Workshop in silence. The other elves stopped and watched her curiously. They had seen Bernard come in gloomily and were worried like usual and thought she had the answer.

"Is everything all right?" Curtis asked.

Brenda nodded. "Just that time of year"

The other elves that were waiting to know went back to work. Again they were disappointed that she didn't have the answer they sought. Brenda walked to the little couch in the workshop with Curtis following her. Together they sat with a sigh. It would be a long two weeks of repetitive conversation. And nobody would speak about the incident to get the pain off his or her chest. Whenever Brenda or Curtis or Abby or anyone who suffered through the Dark Age entered a room the elves that speculated would suddenly become very quiet. Even Santa worried because he hadn't been Santa during the Dark Age he didn't know the history. He only knew Bernard, as he was when he first came to be Santa. He was still obnoxious but he wasn't quite himself then either.

On the first of December, Santa would watch out his window as his head elf came back from his visit to the graveyard and enter his room not to be seen again until about the fifteenth of December. He worried about Bernard a great deal during this time. He never comes out for anyone except the bathroom and only if there's nobody around. When he does return after his seclusion everyone is afraid to ask him about it. This year Santa was determined to find out what it was that kept Bernard bed ridden for two weeks in December when he should be helping get ready for Christmas. He was determined to help his friend get through whatever kept him distance during the first two weeks of Christmas.

He knew bits and pieces of the story. He knew that Bernard's brother had been jealous of Bernard's superiority. He knew that Christmas had almost been canceled under Bernard's watch during what the elves call the Dark Age. Those things just didn't seem like they would affect Bernard as greatly as he was effected at this time. This was going to be the last year for Bernard to suffer. Santa was going to put a stop to the madness hopefully with the help of Curtis who seemed to know the most about it and would know how to help being the best friend and all. Though Bernard would never admit Curtis was his best friend, it was very visible.