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Pudgy Saves Christmas: Chapter 5

At the base of the stairs, was the great hall.  Doomcock hesitated, and noticed a tall human woman dressed in a red dress, with white fur accents.  She smiled warmly as drawing near.  Thin silver glasses were framing her face, with soft blue eyes.  “Hello Lord Doomcock.”  Doomcock bowed slightly, before taking her hand softly.  “Greetings, Mrs. Klaus.  Might in inquire as to my legionnaire’s medical condition?”  The woman smiled, though sighed. “Pudgy is recovering.  The explosive device was stronger than the elves let on.  The armor turned into shrapnel, which required surgery to remove.  He is in stable condition currently.  Lord Doomcock, what happened.”  The lord, while being diplomatic, did not have to live with Mrs. Klaus.  So, he told her the truth.  As Diktor did, all the color drained from her face. Fine veins started to twitch around her eyes and temples.  The elf covered her eyes, because no one was ever straight to the point with her.  Legends of her temper circulated amongst the elves.  The woman blinked. “Thank you for telling me.  I …. I must consult my husband.  If you will excuse me?”  She let go of Diktor’s hand, and he turned towards the elf who was wheezing from a panic attack setting in.  

Lord Doomcock touched her shoulder, “are you all right?”  The elf shook her head, ” do you…..realize….” then the elf fainted. He kneeled down, and helped the elf woman back to her feet, “No one ever tells her the truth straight up.  She is going to go on the warpath.”  Diktor laughed, “Oh, apologizes, I am a stranger in your lands.”  Meanwhile he knew what he had done and made Santa’s night more interesting.  The two descended the stairs and entered the grand hall.  The stacked stone fireplace had a roaring fire.  A large hand painted portrait of the two Klaus’s was mounted above a large thick mahogany mantle.  Tables had been set up throughout the hall.  The elf led the way towards a side part of the hall, with a long table that could seat 100 humans, or most likely triple the number of elves.   He saw at the far end, there was an ovular shaped table, with high back chairs.  A fine place setting of silver candelabras with white candles being lit by another attendant elf. It was set out with fine porcelain plates, decorated with reindeer leaping around the plate perimeter. Diktor felt his robe tugged, and he looked down, “Please stay within the hall, Lord Doomcock, I must check on Santa’s status.  He will join shortly.” During this time, Doomcock stood and examined the table settings.

Meanwhile in the hospital wing of the castle, Pudgy had woken up once more.  He had smelled something wonderful, and a nurse was wheeling a cart full of trays of food.  An elf nurse entered and smiled, “Oh you’re awake my little friend.  I had to pass earlier, since you were still asleep.   Are you hungry?”  Pudgy nodded, “Yes, pwease.”  The elf nurse wheeled in the cart, and set up a trap over his bed, and with a crank adjusted the bed to a sitting position.  Pudgy smiled, “Oh boy this looks wonderful!”  The elf woman smiled and took off the aluminum cover.  It was a metal tray, with all manner of small foods.  mashed potatoes, gravy, a little rectangle of meat, and a big square of gingerbread cake with thick white frosting.  The nurse also put on the tray two cups, one of milk and one of hot tea.  She patted his head, “eat slowly, and take your time to recover Pudgy.  You had everyone worried, but we have let them know you are all right.  Once you have your meal, you will have a visitor later.  A certain dragon has been quite worried about you and has not been able to fit in the castle just yet.”  Pudgy chuckled and started eating the delicious food in front of him.  The nurse exited the room shortly afterwards.  

As she walked down the hall and noticed Xalthia the red Dragon approaching. She had easily reduced her size and was approaching the nursing station.  “Hello Nurse, is Pudgy awake?”  The nurse smiled, “Yes, I just gave him supper.  So, would it be all right for you to not enter yet?”  The dragon nodded, and headed over to a large bay window that overlooked the star map courtyard that was in front of the castle, before reaching the front building that served as the elvish command structure.  She saw her daughter steaming as the gas that allowed her to grow to her larger size was escaping.  She had to calm down to return to a more manageable size.  She sat down, and curled her tail around her, but continued to look out.  She had no idea if her daughter was alive, and now she was here.  They had had many conversations and were re-establishing their relationship.  A bit of worry crept into her mind, that when the hedgehog recovered, he would want to return to his home.  Her daughter would follow, and she would lose her once more.  She needed to discuss that matter with Santa when the time arose.  For now, she giggled and watched her daughter shrink outside.

The elvish nurse had sat down at her desk, to do paperwork, when she saw the red dragon get up and walk out of the hospital wing.  There was a mail tube behind her, which had air flowing through them.  She could send reports anywhere if she needed to. Santa had asked for a status report, and she had filled out her medical report.  Curling the paperwork, she slid it into a tube, and then put it into the send message tube.  Standing back up, she returned to her rounds, checking on the other patients.  In a couple of minutes, the nurse was soon joined by the red dragon from earlier, with a green dragon in tow.  The elf woman smiled and pointed to which room Pudgy was in.  Xalthia knocked on the door to the hedgehog’s room and opened it.  Pudgy was awake and waved.  The two dragons entered and saw the hedgehog covered in bandages.  Xylenia sniffled, as she sat beside his bed, while her mother sat on the opposite side, each curling their tales around.  “Pudgy, how are you feeling?”  Xalthia asked, and he wiggled his ears, “pudgy feel ok, hurts when moves.”  He trailed off, when he sat Xylenia crying a bit, “don’t you ever do that again!” Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy pwomise.”  Xalthia looked at him, and sniffed, “gingerbread?”  Pudgy nodded and explained what was for supper.  The two dragons giggled and visited with him.  There was a knock on the door, and the elf nurse came in.  She examined the hedgehog and informed everyone.” Pudgy’s injuries were serious, though his special outfit helped protect him from the worst of it.  We’re going to keep him here for the evening, and if all is well tomorrow, Pudgy can leave.” The two dragons smiled, and the nurse exited the room.  

As she left, she saw some elves milling about.  “What is going on?”  They pointed as Mrs. Klaus was yelling at her husband Santa.  He was trying to calm her down as they walked towards the hospital wing.  The elves scattered to their respective positions and waited for the two to arrive.  Papers were put away, lights lit, and floors quickly swept.  The nurse straightened her outfit and waited nervously.  She could hear Santa’s wife clearly, and it was never good when she was upset. “You told me not to worry!  The lizard people were not hostile!  We have maimed elves coming in each day, and a half-exploded hedgehog!”  Santa was listening, but it was no use talking.  The two approached the nursing station.  Mrs. Klaus paused her screaming, and her husband gave the nurse a look “Is our hedgehog friend awake?”  The nurse nodded, “yes.  Pudgy hedgehog is awake, and we are expecting to discharge him after tonight.  Currently he has 2 dragons visiting him.”  Santa nodded, and walked with his wife, reaching the door to Pudgy’s room. As the two entered, they found giggling dragons as the hedgehog was telling a story of what his little cabin was like.  Santa smiled warmly as the hedgehog waved, “Hi Santa!”  The man adjusted his stance, as his wife elbowed him to move.  The room was now at maximum capacity.

“I am glad to see you awake and doing well my young hedgehog friend.”  Santa adjusted his silver spectacles and looked at the two dragons. “Pudgy, I have been informed you will be able to leave the hospital tomorrow.”  Pudgy nodded, and Mrs. Klaus smiled, “I am glad you are ok.” Santa looked at the dragons, “could you please leave a moment?  I need to speak to Pudgy.”  The two humans exited the room, to allow the dragons to leave.  They re-entered the room.  “We just had dinner with your friend Lord Doomcock.  He informed my wife about certain matters. She was not pleased, ” he trailed off as he looked at her.  She shot him a look, and he turned back.  “Pudgy, in the outside world it is December 22nd.  We have precious little time, and this business with the Vril has delayed things.  We will be able to meet the orders, but delivery is going to be an issue.  I have asked Lord Doomcock for his assistance.  He has advised that you can assist us.  Are you feeling well enough to help?”  Mrs. Klaus’s voice boomed, “HE JUST RECOVERED!”  Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy loves to help Santa! Pudgy says yes!”  

The woman stomped her foot, “NO!”  Santa turned to his wife, “honey, if he is not well enough….” The women’s blue eyes were burning, “I will be the judge of that.”  Santa laughed quietly, and he looked back as a green dragon snout was pushing the door open to peek inside.  “Mrs. Klaus, I believe our time is up.”  She turned and laughed quietly, then turned to the hedgehog, “please just rest Pudgy.  I will visit you tomorrow.”  She turned and exited the room, with Santa smiling as he left.  The two dragons came back inside, wanting to know what happened.  Pudgy excitedly told them what Santa wanted him to do.  Xylenia smiled, “I agree with Mrs. Klaus.  You need to rest.”  Xalthia bounced, “this is a high honor!” Xylenia looked at her mother, and she smiled back. As the two looked back at Pudgy, he had drifted off to sleep again.  Xylenia smiled, and pulled his blanket up to tuck the hedgehog back in. “We should go, mother.” Xalthia nodded and started to exit the room.  Xylenia hesitated then slowly exited the room.  As she joined her mother, they walked out of the hospital wing, and turned into the main hallway.  The carpet was thick, and a deep red color.  It was so soft underfoot. As the two dragons maneuvered the rows of elves scurrying to and fro, they reached a large central plaza, where the various wings connected to one another.  It was also when Xylenia spotted Lord Doomcock.  She was in no mood to speak to him, so she followed her mother to the wing where she resided.

Lord Doomcock noticed the dragons as they turned down a hall, and he was reviewing the little signs that hung from the ceiling above.  His elf attendant had excused herself after the dinner.  His truth telling Mrs. Klaus resulted in a diplomatic faux pas. It was a tense dinner to say the least.  It was also when Santa revealed the extent of the Vril attacks.  The reindeer and sleigh were one part of a multi-faceted toy delivery operation. The volume of toys had exceeded their operations many years past.  So, Santa used specially trained elves to deliver via teleportation methods.  The elves were efficient and had mapped out most child locations to the nearest 10-foot radius.  The same crystals Doomcock relied upon for his operations, Santa used as well.  Vril had also noticed this and began to alter the locations of them. Santa had asked him, if he could use Doomcock’s data on the crystal locations, to help ensure proper delivery.  The lord at first declined, as it would expose Xanadoom to possible attack from the Lord of the North.  A series of tense negotiations occurred, which resulted in an agreement.  Pudgy would help deliver, while Doomcock would be in operations to ensure no shenanigans occurred.  The lord agreed and had finished the terse meal with a visibly angry wife. It was then he realized the benefits of having no spouse.  The lord had reached the hospital wing and stopped at the station where the nurse sat working on paperwork.  She looked up and shrieked a little at the human in regal attire with the gold mask.  “Y … yes? How may I help you?”  Doomcock spoke with a friendly tone, “where is Pudgy Hedgehog?”  

The nurse nodded, I believe he may be resting, you should come back tomorrow.”  The lord was not used to being told no.  He stood there looking at the clearly uncomfortable elvish woman.  She stood up, “follow me, if he is awake, then you may visit him.” The lord followed the elf nurse, who opened the door and checked on Pudgy.  She exited quickly, “you may visit for a couple minutes, then he really must rest. As Diktor entered the room, he found a heavily bandaged Hedgehog smiling tiredly.  He waved, “Hail Lord Doomcock!” The lord stood there looking at his young Legionnaire, “Hail Pudgy.  I am very relieved to see you are still with us.   Has Santa stopped by to explain?”  Pudgy nodded, “Santa wants Pudgy to help deliver toys!”  Doomcock nodded, “yes, that is part of it.  I also will be monitoring operations from Santa Command. We will talk more tomorrow. I am glad you are ok, you … had me worried.”  He turned, “rest well, Pudgy, goodnight.”  Pudgy waved, “goodnight Lord Doomcock.”  As the lord left the room, the nurse came back in, and adjusted the bed flat ok once more.  She dimmed the lanterns, and tucked him in. She smiled at the little hedgehog, and then shut the door as she left.  Pudgy was safe, and warm in a soft bed.  He fell fast asleep, and elsewhere in the castle his dragon friends were curled up under blankets fast asleep as well.

After a good sleep, Pudgy was given another yummy meal, washed up, and re-bandaged.  He had been discharged from the elf hospital.  Orders were sent from high elvish command for the hedgehog to report to central command.  He had followed the directions in the letter given to the nurse and had reached a lobby full of stone benches.  After checking in at the front desk, he was sitting waiting.  In time, Xylenia and Xalthia joined him, having received similar orders.  An officer appeared and escorted the three to a training room.  It was a boot camp of sorts, to get everyone ready for the task at hand.  It was all hands-on deck, with all reserves being called in to assist. Solstice town was called in from the south.  The trio sat listening to a rather boring lecture. But one of vital importance, and each yawn drew a stern look.  Hours of training passed, and after an oral exam, the 2 dragons and hedgehog were now officially sworn in as Santa elf assistants.  They were issued elf hats, all white with a green stripe.  Hats on, they were led to a large room with hundreds of elves milling about. They were being funneled out to a large warehouse floor.  Which as the mass of elves turned into neat rows of elves funneling through 4 archways in front of them, Pudgy saw the elf from the research bay alpha, “hi Larry!”  Pudgy said while waving.  

The elf man turned, “Pudgy! Hello!  I’m glad you are ok. We heard you were blown up!”  The other elves turned, and little gasps were heard all around. As they proceeded forward, Larry spoke, “research alpha has been restarted thanks to you.  I’ll be reporting to General Sleigh next week.”  Pudgy smiled, “Pudgy glad.”  He started to go through the stone archway, and it was a long tunnel dimly lit by gas lamps.  As the tunnel opened, Pudgy and his friends saw a huge area.  It was bigger than two football fields.  Toys were lined up in rows, and elves were positioned.  As they shuffled along, they reached a checkpoint. A tall elf in a silver hat pointed, “you two dragons, head over to section G.”  The dragons started to walk away, towards a mountain of toys.  Each section had a huge letter hanging from the ceiling.  Pudgy approached the checkpoint, “Hedgehog!  Report to section H.”  Pudgy was able to break free of the mass of elves and scampered over to the big H hanging above.  There were 10 large doors, glowing with a shimmering wavy light.  Pudgy saw another elf with a silver hat.  He waited for instructions.  “Listen up White hats, I’m in charge here.  I am officer Springles, and for the next 28 hours, your butts belong to me!  Hedgehog, here!”  The elf threw Pudgy’s vest with the Xanadoom crystal.  It had been repaired.  As Pudgy put it on, he noticed extra pockets being added.  “Everyone lines up!”  Pudgy joined the other elves with white hats in a row.  They were nervous, and Pudgy bounced ready to go.  The staging grounds were paved with pressed concrete.  The walls were painted with various Christmas scenes.  The ceiling was arched with huge gas lamps.  

“EVERYONE AT ATTENTION!  SANTA ON DECK!”  As the elves snapped to attention, Pudgy mirrored and stood up straight.  It started off as a small murmur, which grew into a roar of cheers.  Santa was striding up the center, fully dressed in his ornate red and white outfit.  His boots polished and he passed the sections one by one, saluting the section leads.  As he passed Pudgy’s section he stopped and waved at Pudgy.  Pudgy started to relax, until his section lead snapped at him, “back at attention white hat!”  Pudgy snapped back to attention.  Santa laughed, and continued forward.  He walked to a large platform and ascended to a platform.  His voice boomed, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”  The elves cheered!  Pudgy bounced and cheered too.  “LOAD THE SLEIGH!”  The elves started to move, and Pudgy started to help move toys wrapped in bright packages. The energy of the room was so intoxicating.  Pudgy was getting swept up and was booking it as fast as his legs could carry him.  He watched as Xylenia and Xalthia were being hitched to large wagons and were moving toys to the various sections. When you have 200 elves moving at top speed, the sleigh is quickly filled.  The reindeer were being moved into position, and Santa ascended to the sleigh.  The crack of the leather reins, and whoosh the reindeer started to pull the sleigh.  

The elves’ cheers turned into a roar. As Santa trailed out of sight, the elves moved back into position.  Pudgy joined his group of elves in white hats, and Springles stood at his podium, and reviewed papers.  “OK WHITE HATS, LISTEN UP!  Santa has been delivering toys for years.  The problem is, he is only one man, and we hit max delivery capability in 1985.  We elves have been helping to deliver toys direct to homes since then.  Each of you has a teleportation crystal, and they are attuned to these gates.  I will give you your orders, you pull the presents, and you go through the gate.  We have 27 hours to deliver worldwide.  We must match the outside world time.  We only have 6 hours.  So, I hope you are ready.  When the clock strikes above, we go.” Pudgy looked up, and there were a series of clocks, one for each time zone.  His section elves were milling about a table, so Pudgy headed over and saw it was a snack table.  One elf poured a cup and handed it to Pudgy.  Pudgy “thank you!”  He exclaimed and sipped.  It was bitter, and black.  He drank it quickly.  Then his ears and nose started to wiggle.  The bell rang “WHITE HATS GO!”  The elves started racing, grabbing packages and racing through the shimmering gates.  Pudgy ran to grab a purple package labelled gate 3.  Pudgy started to scamper and raced through the gate. The teleportation grid was warm, and he saw snowflakes.  

A room started to materialize, and Pudgy saw a large tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel.  The hedgehog moved the package under the tree.  As he turned, he saw a brunette woman with pigtails asleep on the couch.  As the hedgehog turned, the woman sleepily opened her eyes.  “Pudgy?”  The hedgehog waved, “hello.  Pudgy helping Santa and Doomcock.  You look familiar.”  The woman smiled as she sat up on the couch. “I’m Stellar Heather” Pudgy waved, “pudgy glad to meet you!  Pudgy on clock, have to go!”  He tapped his crystal and poofed in a cloud of snowflakes.  Pudgy rematerialized in the gate, which drew an admonishment from Springles. “Hedgehog, too long, deliveries should take no longer than 90 seconds.  Get the lead out!”  What the elf did not know was something Cobalt did.  You NEVER give Pudgy coffee.  Which just kicked in as Pudgy grabbed a package and bolted to gate 4.  Springles saw him go and come back 30 seconds later.  The elf’s mouth dropped open as Pudgy started out delivering the other elves.  The mountain of toys started to dwindle, which Springles ordered a resupply.  Xylenia pulled up A wagon of toys, and saw Pudgy burst out of the gate, grab a present, and scamper back.  She blinked as the elves unloaded, “head elf, what did you give Pudgy?”  One of the unloaded customers laughed, ” just a cup of coffee.”  The dragon blinked, “did you say coffee?”  The elf nodded, “Yes … why?” Xylenia giggled, “his friend Cobalt told me to never let Pudgy drink coffee or listen to something called Yakety Sax.”  The lead elf looked at his podium and found a radio.  Pudgy busted out of the gate and grabbed a package before running back through the gate.

Far above the floor, Lord Doomcock was monitoring the situation. He saw large computer screens.  Santa’s position on the map was charted, present delivery status was also proceeding.  There was an anomaly, section H.  An analyst elf in a green outfit turned the cameras.  They saw the hedgehog running as fast as he could go.  The dragons had already resupplied section H in under 10 minutes.  Lord Doomcock was proud, his legionnaire was showing up Santa’s elf workforce.  He turned to the section chief and beamed, “that’s my hedgehog!” Meanwhile back on the floor Pudgy shot out of the gate, and over to the snack table.  Another elf handed him a coffee, and he sipped it.  Pudgy’s ears and nose were vibrating.  Section leader Springles strode over beaming, “we are 10% ahead of schedule.  Flippy, keep the coffee going, we may be done in record time.  Xalthia had just pulled up another wagon of presents, for resupply number 3.  The other elves were racing.  Pudgy grabbed a package and bolted for gate 7.  Whoosh he was through again.  He scooted between Bionic Belly Button’s legs, and started arranging presents.  He waved at the giggling lady dressed in a long Doomcock shirt, who waved back.  Then Pudgy disappeared in a shower of sparkles.  It was as this occurred, some of the other Darlings mentioned seeing Pudgy dressed in a white Santa hat delivering presents.

Pudgy shot through the gate, and grabbed another present, before racing back.  It was as this was occurring, that several higher up elves began to appear, watching this.  They examined the coffee, and the gates, and times the hedgehog’s movements.  It was as he returned, one lead picked up the hedgehog.  His little legs kept going, and the elf could feel his pulse racing.  He sat him back down and whoosh off he went.   The lead rubbed his white beard and walked off.  Springles was ecstatic, his section was beating all others.  The other white hats were rising to meet or exceed Pudgy’s numbers.  It was when Xylenia returned with the 4th wagon she called over, “no more coffee for Pudgy please.”  Springles stormed over, “and why not dragons?”  A medic elf stopped, “wait, you’re giving coffee to the hedgehog?  Don’t you know that’s dangerous?  His heart can’t take that much caffeine!”  Springles at first was going to retort back, but rubbed his chin, he didn’t want one of his subordinates getting hurt or worse on Christmas eve. “Ok, no more coffee.  FLIPPY, 86 the coffee for Pudgy, switch to cocoa!”  Flippy saluted and watched as a clearly bedraggled hedgehog limped out of the gate.  He was still vibrating and collapsed.  Flippy helped Pudgy up to a bench and told him to rest.  The other elves started to run past.  Springles saw his production statistics drop, but he knew he had to give Pudgy a break.  

He motivated the subordinates, “ok elves, time to show up the hedgehog!”  Xylenia giggled and went back to the present staging area.  Long wagon trains were pulling up to a loading platform.  She saw her mother with a full load trotting off ahead of her.  Xylenia pulled up, and frantic dock worker elves with no shirts on were steaming as they worked hard. The logistics head shouted, “40 more wagons to go!”  The docks cheered, and Xylenia pulled out as the lead pointed to section A.  She saw Pudgy get off the bench and into a gate then whoosh, the hedgehog was in a new house.  A brunette woman with shoulder length hair was sipping an adult beverage as Pudgy moved presents into place.  She waved, “umm, hello.”  Pudgy waved, “hi, Pudgy helping Santa!  Hey are you Bloodhoney78?  Cobalt says you are always nice to chat with.”  The woman nodded, “why yes I am.  Oh, my goodness, I thought Stellar Heather was just kidding about seeing you delivering presents.” Pudgy waved, “bye, Pudgy on clock!”  And whoosh he went in as cloud of smoke.  The woman looked at her drink, and giggled.  

Pudgy bolted through and raced back and forth.  The coffee was wearing off.  So, he was slowing, so Springles turned on the radio.  Boots Randolph started to play Yakety sax.  When Pudgy heard it, he started to scamper quicker.  The other elves sped up too.  Logistic elves were furiously taking notes, as whole new manuals were needing to be made.  The dragons were hauling 4 times the presents the elves could.  The big clocks rang above.  The floor chief yelled, “ONE HOUR LEFT!”  Xalthia had the last Wagon load, and was heading to section Z.  As Pudgy exited the gate, he collapsed on the ground.  He had nothing left.  Crawling, he made it to the bench.  Springles the lead elf rushed over and helped him to the bench patting his head. “Pudgy, we’re done!  You rest now, no more running.”  The other white hats were emerging from their gates and sitting down on the benches.  Everyone in section H was exhausted.  There was a lantern above their section, which was turned off.  The 10 gates started to dim, and then turn off.  The other sections gasped and started to book it.  One by one, the same thing occurred, as the elves completed their assignments, the lamp would turn off and the gates close.  Eventually, all 26 sections turned off, and the cheering started. Xylenia and her mother were unhitched from the wagons, and they walked over to Pudgy’s section to check on him.  The little hedgehog was steaming, and wet from perspiration. But he was no longer vibrating, which was good.  The other section leads were talking to Springles, who was boasting about and talking up his white hats.  There would be promotions.  

He wanted Pudgy back next year.  The elves started milling about again and moving towards the front.  Pudgy and the other white hats stayed put, they couldn’t move.  All muscles were burning, and no one had any energy left.  The cheering started again as Santa was on approach, returning from his delivery run. The reindeer team pulled his sleigh with a shower of sparkles occurring underneath, till they landed into a central track within the platform.  Santa was tired but waved and exited the sleigh.  The 26 section chief elves reported in.  They began their reports, and Santa listened.  It was as Pudgy finally could relax; he was able to recover.  He scooted off the bench and was walking with Xylenia and the white hat elves for Santa’s annual speech.  It was quick, with many silly jokes.  Then everyone turned and started to exit the floor.  Xalthia scooped up Pudgy and put him on her daughter’s back so they could walk at a normal pace. They maneuvered the crowd of elves through the castle to reach the great hall. Refreshments had been laid out, with all manner of good things to eat and drink. As Pudgy waited in line, his crew laughed “No more coffee!” Pudgy made a tray of goodies and sat on a wooden bench munching away.  His two dragon friends joined him, as well as Glitter and Larry.  Excited talk from many elves filled the hall.  Another year’s work was done, and everyone got time off to recover.

Glitter smiled warmly, “I am so glad you came to help us Pudgy and Xylenia. I will be sad when you have to go home.”  Larry nodded, “I agree.”  Xalthia frowned, “let’s not talk about that right now. I still need time to get know my daughter.”  Xylenia grinned at her mother. Pudgy looked at Glitter, “is there a way to send a message to my friend Cobalt?  It’s been almost a month since I left.”  Glitter nodded, “yes, we can do that tomorrow.  For now, eat, drink, and be merry.”  Pudgy smiled, and went to get another tray of goodies, then returned. The after party did not last long, and everyone meandered back to their various rooms.  The out of town elves headed to a hotel of sorts that was outside of the gates.  Pudgy and Xylenia had gone to Xalthia’s quarters.  Everyone passed out from exhaustion once the door was shut Christmas day in Santa’s castle was quiet.  Everyone was sleeping, and there was scant activity occurring.  Pudgy would wake, shift position, and fall asleep again.  He had somehow wound up between the two dragons, but he was too tired to care.  Everyone could sleep in. Pudgy was sore when he woke fully up and maneuvered out of the dragons that had surrounded him.  He had a moment to explore Xalthia’s residence. It was larger than the elf rooms, with a big window that looked out to the snow-covered mountains. 

He located the dragon business room, and after a time had passed, and a good washing, out came a fuzzy happy hedgehog.  He saw there was a stove tucked away in the corner, and cabinets.  Locating various foodstuffs, he got to cooking quietly.  Soon a wonderful smell started to fill the room. The dragons started to stir, and sleepily opened their eyes.  Pudgy has been busy baking all manner of sweet breads.  The smell had wafted out into the hall, which had attracted the attention of the occasional elf.  Pudgy was moving slow, as he had really overdone it yesterday. Xylenia munched on poppyseed bread, while Xalthia was looking at a nut bread that Pudgy had offered.  She didn’t know she even had food in her cabinets.  As she gingerly took a bite, the nutmeg hit her tongue immediately. Pudgy nibbled on a chunk of sweet bread.  There was a knock on the door, when a person wearing pink pajamas entered the room.  She sniffed and asked for a piece. Pudgy handed her one, and she giggled then bounced away.  The dragons were talking, as Pudgy hugged Xylenia.  She giggled, then watched him hug Xalthia.  The mother dragon smiled and hugged back.  Pudgy looked up at the two, “Pudgy going to miss you two.” They blinked, and Xalthia hugged back, “you don’t have to go Pudgy.  You can stay here with Xylenia and I. ”  Pudgy looked up, “but Cobalt would be sad. I need to go back home,” he sighed.

Pudgy hugged his dragon friends, and politely excused himself from their room.  He started to scamper down the eerily quiet hall and headed to Elvish high command.  As he turned a corner, he found Glitter walking with Santa.  They spotted Pudgy and waved.  The hedgehog scurried up to them and looked up at Santa.  “Pudgy love Santa, love the elves, love castle, but…. Pudgy need to go home now.  Pudgy gone almost a month, and Cobalt is probably worried sick now.”  Santa nodded, “we were heading to Xalthia’s room to come get you actually.  I had prepared a speech, to advise why you cannot stay here.  But this simplifies matters.  Your friend, Lord Doomcock, has already departed.  He left for Xanadoom earlier.  Beings and creatures from this land are better equipped to reside here full time.  In time, you would have grown ill h ad you remained.  So, it is good that you wish to go home.”  Pudgy was immediately hugged by Glitter.  She was sniffling and teary eyed, “I’m going to miss you Pudgy.  Please stay safe till next Christmas.”  Pudgy hugged her back, with a questioning look, “Next Christmas?”

Santa started to laugh heartily, “why yes my young hedgehog friend. You are invited to return next year as well.  In addition, your Xanadoom transport crystal is now attuned to our lands.  You need to contact us first, and then can transport directly to the castle.  No arduous journey through Canada.”  The man picked up the hedgehog and hugged him gently.  He also picked up Glitter and sat her on his shoulder.  In a short time, Santa had carried them to an archway, near elf command, and he sat the two down on the floor.  Santa touched a silver handle and the gateway started to shimmer.  Pudgy checked his crystal was secure and hugged the two once again.  “Pudgy going home now.  Thank you, Santa, thank you Glitter.”  The two waved, and Santa spoke, “I should thank you.  You returned our wayward dragon, saved countless elvish lives, saved my life, helped deliver presents. You are an amazing hedgehog to say the very least.  Now, you should head off.  Your friend will be waiting.  Pudgy waved, took one last look at the castle, and scampered through the shimmering gate. The warmth of the castle disappeared and in a swirl of magical snowflakes, Pudgy found himself outside of his cabin.  There was a blue sky above, and his little cabin was covered with a thick blanket of ice.  He opened his door and scooted inside.  He was home again, and the clock read Thursday 12/26/19.  It was noon, which meant Cobalt was at work.  He felt dizzy suddenly, and collapsed into his bed, falling into a deep sleep.  Santa was right, he had to acclimate back to this world.  The feeling was like jet lag and would go away.  Christmas was saved, and Pudgy was safe once more.

Pudgy woke up as the sun was setting, and saw Cobalt walking up the trail towards his cabin.  He excitedly leapt out of his bed, threw open his cabin door and scampered up to his friend.  The man scooped the hedgehog up into his arms and hugged gently.  They spent several quiet moments hugging.  Cobalt secured the cabin, while holding Pudgy. Then carried his hedgehog friend to his home for a Christmas celebration of fun, good food, and rest. The hedgehog looked up as the moon was starting to rise, as Cobalt shut his door. Pudgy’s adventure was over.

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

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