Once upon a time…
Long ago, the elves were the dominant race on Earth. While mankind was evolving from apes and migrating out of the African wilderness, the elves already had several great cities around the world. They were stewards of the land, and lived in close harmony with the animals and the natural world around them. They were highly magical, and they used their powerful magic to maintain the balance of nature. As life flourished under their wise tutelage, magic grew increasingly powerful. The planet teemed with life, and the elves lived lives of bliss and peace.
The elves watched as mankind emerged from the darkness, and became self-aware. At first, they welcomed these new brothers, believing them to be distant cousins to their own race, and they intermingled freely. For thousands of years, the races coexisted peacefully.
Eventually, one tribe of man discovered violence, and man spilled the blood of his fellow man. This sickened the elves, for although they had known the pleasures of hunting animals to maintain the balance of nature, they had never hunted each other, nor had they ever showed violence to each other. The spilling of blood tainted the sons of man, and it tainted the magic of life.
The magical taint spread throughout the elves like a plague, wiping out millions of them, until the last few remaining elves were forced to flee to their last home in the frozen North, far away from the reach of man. There, they watched, and wept as the sons of man spiraled further and further into violence, ugliness, and greed. The sons of man never learned how to harness magic, so they grew to depend on their poison taint to help them achieve all the things that the elves had gotten peacefully.
The sons of man forgot the elves completely, and they forgot the magic in the world, too. As they forgot the magic, the world began to die because life is the product of magic, and without magic, the world can not survive.
The last few remaining elves knew this, because they could feel their own connection to the magic fading away, and they themselves began to die off, with fewer babies being born each year. At long last, they could ignore the situation no longer, and so a great council was held to address the problem.
Many different plans were brought forth, and many ideas were discussed. Finally, the wizened old elf known only as “grandfather” slowly rose from his chair. All the elves fell silent as he hobbled into the center of the room and began to speak:
“It seems to me that the sons of man are not born with the taint of fear that causes them to destroy themselves. When they are still children, they believe in magic, and they believe in miracles. The youngest among them are full of life, and full of magic. Perhaps the way to save magic, and to save all life on the planet, is by finding a way to reach the children.
“We must send an envoy to the sons of man, to learn about their children. We must find out what they like, why they are so full of love and joy, and why they lose their connection to the magic as they grow older. By learning these things, perhaps we can find a way to save them. We cannot send more than one elf. The risk is too great, and there are too few of us already. Moreover, the one we send must be young, and full of our own love and light. For as our envoy travels through the human lands, the taint from the sons of man will age her, and will batter her spirit. This will be a tough journey, full of danger and hardships.”
King Duende stood from his throne and joined Grandfather in the center of the room. “Do you have someone in mind already, Grandfather? For when you spoke, you mentioned her. Which child do you mean to send out to the lands of man?”
Grandfather, with his custom twinkle in his eye, put his arm around the king. “Yes, dear friend. I have just the girl.”
And so it came to pass that Princesa Rosalina Duende, youngest daughter of King Duende, left her home in the Frozen Northlands. She wandered the human lands, learning about children. She watched them play and learn, she watched them grow and lose their connection with magic. After many years of observing, she noticed two things: 1.) The human children stayed young as long as they kept playing. Once they stopped playing, they quickly succumbed to the taint within their blood and grew angry and bitter. 2.) They all believed in magic until they were told that magic didn’t exist. Until they were told that they couldn’t do magic, they all believed in it, and could use it. But once they stopped believing in it, they could never harness it’s power ever again.
Armed with this knowledge, she began working on a plan to increase the amount of time that children spent playing, and to spread the belief of magic. She traveled to many more lands of the humans, always trying to spread the joy of magic and playfulness wherever she went.
In one village, she noticed a lot of smiling, happy children, many of whom were much older than the children from other villages, yet still retained their connection to playing and magic. It quickly became apparent to her that Nicholas, the wood carver of the village was an old man, and yet he was full of life and joy. Even as an adult, he could still use magic. He used his gifts to make toys for the children, which he gave them freely out of love.
By this time, Princesa Duende was an old woman, and so she also noticed that Nicholas lived alone. The friendship was easy, and love came fast upon them both. Nicholas believed her when she told him that she was the Elvish Princess, and that her race lived far to the North, beyond the reach of the sons of man. They lived happily together for a few years, with him making toys for the children in the village while she baked all kinds of treats and goodies for them to enjoy. But eventually, they began to succumb to the taint of mankind, for even the purest of souls must eventually pass away. But no so with the elves, and so Princesa Rosalina Duende prepared them both to travel to the Elvish Kingdom where they could live forever.
The children of the village were sad to see them go, but Princesa had a plan. She told them that Nicholas would come back once a year to bring them toys for as long as they believed he would. On one magical night, in the darkest Winter Night, Nicholas would come to them and leave them presents. To prepare for his coming, they should bring a tree indoors, to honor the old gods of the elves, and they should decorate it with festive lights and family trinkets to honor the fairies of the forest. They should hang their wet stockings above the firepace to dry overnight, and Nicholas would live small gifts for them there as well as under the tree. Lastly, they should thank him by leaving a snack for him to enjoy on his travels. When the children asked how Nicholas would manage such a feat, she simply smiled and said: “magic”. The children knew that the old couple were indeed magical, and so they never doubted.
And so the children followed all of their instructions, and were rewarded handsomely by Nicholas that first year.
Word spread from that village to the next, and to the next, and eventually the story of St. Nicholas spread around the world. During the year, Princesa (now known as Mother Claus to the elvish and human children alike) bakes treats for the human children, and fills the elvish kingdom with love and laughter, while Nicholas makes toys for the children. Many elves help out with this, using magic to fashion exact replicas of toys that are popular with human children from year to year. The magical reindeer help him deliver the gifts, and much joy is brought to the world. To this day, St. Nicholas continues to bring toys to the good boys and girls of the world by using elvish magic and the power of belief.
If there is one slight flaw in the magic, it is simply that St. Nicholas always leaves the same note for Mother Claus:
“Dear Princessa. I’m off to deliver the toys. Back in a bit. Love, Nick.”
“Hmph. After all these years together, he STILL can’t spell my name correctly! It’s PRINCESA…ONLY ONE S!” But then she smiles, and thinks that’s a small price to pay for keeping magic alive in the world.