Alys and Sparky at Christmas – Part 2


The first thing that Alys and Sparky noticed when they arrived in the secret Swiss valley was the lack of snow. Sparky puffed out his cheeks with an accompanying cloud of disappointed dark smoke. The ground shook slightly as George padded round the side of the Edelweiss Paradise factory but there was no sign of Otto and the rest of the gnomes of the valley.

‘Where is everyone?’ asked Alys, wishing she’d worn a warmer robe. Despite the lack of snow, it was still very cold in Switzerland.

‘I’ve already ferried two dozen of ’em up to Lapland.’ He shook his great green wings. ‘Here, put this on.’ He dropped a fluffy sheep’s wool cloak in front of her. ‘It’s freezing up there,’ he said, nodding towards the starry northern sky.

Alys donned the cloak gratefully and Sparky snuggled inside the collar. George stretched out his left wing. ‘Hop aboard and hang on!’ A moment later, the great green dragon launched himself into the air and they began climbing high into sky.

Sparky, of course, was used to flying, although not so high and not so fast, but dragon flight was new to Alys. She sheltered behind the scaly ruff on the back of George’s neck, grimly holding on, while they hurtled through the night sky so rapidly that the stars were just bright blurs. She tried to concentrate on what George was saying.

‘…it’s the lack of snow,’ he was explaining. ‘Santa’s Starlight Snowmobile can’t get off the ground’. His great wings flapped faster. ‘They’ve almost fixed it but now we’re running out of time for the Christmas deliveries.’

Sparky had crawled out from underneath Alys’s cloak and was perching behind George’s left ear. He stared open-mouthed at the glowing green of the Northern Lights arching high above them and a shower of silvery sparks issued excitedly from his nostrils. But there was no time to admire the view. George had already begun his descent, plunging through the inky blackness towards a big brightly-lit barn.

George glided to a graceful halt, extending a wing for Alys to climb down. Sparky flew to her shoulder and they hurried over to where Otto was working on a huge upturned snowmobile. Behind him the barn was a hive of activity with dozens of elves and gnomes securing piles of presents to a long line of waiting trailers.

Catching sight of them, Otto beamed. He called over his shoulder to the unmistakable figure who was standing on the other side of the snowmobile. ‘They’re here, Mr Claus, sir.’

Sparky let of an excited stream of scarlet smoke as Santa as approached them. ‘So pleased you’ve come,’ he boomed. ‘We’ve solved the problem with the snowmobile,’ he indicated a set of shiny silver wheels with big bouncy rubber tyres, which Otto was busy securing in place, ‘but we’ve lost so much time.’ He put his hands on his not inconsiderable hips and glanced up at a set of clocks, high up on the front of the building, which showed all the time-zones across the world.

Alys frowned. Every clock was set to midnight. ‘Surely it’s already Christmas morning in Australia?’

Santa grinned. ‘Ah, well, we do have a little bit of leeway in Lapland, but the tonttus can’t hold the clocks back much longer.’

Alys looked up again. Tiny white-bearded men in pointed red caps were holding onto the hands of the clocks. Suddenly there was a roar of alarm from one of them. The hour-hand on the Australian clock had broken free of his grip. Sparky shot up to his aid, jamming his tail between the hour-hand and the clock face.

Sparky winced through little puffs of purple smoke. ‘I can’t hold it for long, Alys. Try the spell we used at Agatha’s!’

Alys whipped out her wand. She closed her eyes, visualizing the pages of ‘Tweeking Time, a beginners guide’.

A loud groan came from the Japanese clock’s tonttu. More groaning, and the hands of the Indonesian clock broke free.

‘Hurry, Alys!’

Alys raised her wand and began the incantation. It was quite a long and complicated spell, but Alys’s memory didn’t fail her. She continued to utter the time-tuning words, speaking slowly and deliberately.

The hands of the clock that governed the time in Pakistan began to spin, as its tonttu lost his grip.

‘Can’t she hurry up a bit?’ asked George in a loud whisper.

Sparky shook his head. ‘The time you take to make the spell is important.’

With a final flick of her wand, Alys completed her incantation. The shrill shriek of seizing cogs rang out, setting everyone’s teeth on edge, and the hands of the clock were frozen in time.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

‘Bravo, Alys!’ Santa clapped his hands together. ‘Let’s get to work!’

Otto put a final turn of the spanner to the nuts of the shiny new front wheels and George gently flipped the Starlight Snowmobile over. Santa climbed aboard and revved the engine. He let out the clutch and felt the wheels gain traction. ‘Ho, ho, ho! We’re in business,’ he shouted gleefully as he reversed over to the line of trailers. The little army of elves and gnomes coupled up the highly-piled trailers and climbed aboard.

Santa drove carefully drove out of the barn. He looked down at Alys and Sparky. ‘Well, aren’t you coming?’ He looked down the long line of trailers. ‘Take a seat behind Otto, I’ll drop you home at midnight and you won’t miss a minute of your Christmas!’

Alys and Sparky exchanged glances and grinned. It was going to be the ride of their lives.

Alys and Sparky at Christmas – Part 1

Even the combined efforts of the entire Western Witches’ Coven had failed to produce more than a light dusting of frost come Christmas Eve. Sparky stared gloomily out of the kitchen window, a sad stream of silver smoke issuing from his nostrils.

‘Come on, Sparky, cheer up,’ said Alys brightly, pulling ingredients from the store cupboard. ‘You can help me make the Christmas pudding.’

The diminutive dragon raised a small purple eyebrow. ‘You’re not going to make it from scratch are you?’

‘Of course,’ Alys replied with a slight frown, consulting her copy of Conventional Cookery for Witches.

While the light outside dimmed, they measured and poured and, stirring sunwise for luck, they both made a wish, adding a handful of small silver charms, which Alys had quickly conjured up. The charms fizzed and buried themselves in the sticky mixture. Alys poured it into the pudding bowl, sealed the top in waxed paper and gently lowered the bowl into the large water-filled saucepan that was bubbling gaily on the stove.

Sparky read from the recipe book. ‘It’s going to take a whole six hours to steam,’ he said, eyes widening.

Alys nodded cheerfully. ‘Then it should be ready by midnight. We won’t forget that.’

Later that evening, after a celebratory supper of mince pies and custard, they were relaxing by the festive fire that Sparky had conjured up from Alys’s Creative Christmas Spell Book, a slim volume that only opened on Christmas Eve and offered a brand-new yuletide spell each year. This year the dancing flames made memory pictures.

‘Look, Sparky,’ said Alys excitedly, pointing to a pair of pulsating pink parsnips that had popped up amongst the flames. ‘It’s those ugly vegetables that won us the Witches’ Institute Flower and Produce competition!’

A little stream of proud pink smoke flared from Sparky’s nostrils. He started to chortle and the pink smoke turned to green as the bewildered faces of the two botching builders appeared, grisly green hair sprouting from their heads. ‘That served them right, didn’t it?’

Alys blushed slightly. It wasn’t in her nature to harm anyone, but they had deserved it. She started to giggle.

The clock on the mantle stood to attention and cleared its throat, preparing to strike. Alys glanced up. ‘It’s nearly midnight, Sparky, which of one of your presents are you going to open?’

Sparky flew over to the shimmering Christmas tree, which the Retired Cauldron had generously sprouted that morning. The tree was now proudly bearing their presents on its outstretched branches. The diminutive dragon looked up, stroking his chin with a thoughtful purple paw. ‘I can’t decide whether to open the one that’s obviously a book or…’

He was interrupted by a loud ping from the Magical Messaging Machine. Alys and Sparky hurried over to the table, which still bore faint water marks from the recent Immersive-Experience incident. The Machine’s screen sprang to life and the big friendly face of George the Dragon appeared. His usually jovial expression was creased with concern.

‘Sorry to bother, but we’ve an emergency!’ His large yellow saucer eyes glowed glassily.

‘What kind of emergency?’ asked Alys and Sparky together.

‘The gnomes had a magic-missive from their elf cousins in Lapland.’ He lowered his voice. ‘I’m not at liberty to say over the witch-waves, but think you can guess who it involves.’ George’s scaly green ears waggled anxiously. ‘Will you come? Please.’

Alys and Sparky looked at each other, then turned to the screen and nodded vigorously.

George’s face relaxed. ‘Come over to my place and we’ll go together. Please hurry,’ he urged.

The screen went blank.

Excited emerald smoke issued from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Come on, Alys! Lapland. You know what that means!’ The diminutive dragon hovered by the doormat, while Alys snatched up her wand and hurried over to join him. ‘Edelweiss Valley, Switzerland,’ Alys enunciated.

As they disappeared, the clock cleared its throat again and began to strike midnight. The saucepan on the stove spluttered in response.

to be continued tomorrow…

A small cute purple dragon
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