Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (2024)

The adventure began in the early hours of one Christmas morning.

It was two o’clock in the morning when the two sisters woke up. Marie, who was a light sleeper, was feeling giddy with excitement at the thought of Father Christmas visiting with all their presents; so excited that she had not been able to eat all her dinner the previous night.

Unfortunately, they had to share a bedroom, mainly because Debbie didn’t like sleeping on her own. She snored and talked in her sleep, too. Often, they kept each other awake, laughing and giggling until mom or dad came in to tell them off. When they went to bed the night before our story, they had really tried to stay awake, but after having a very busy Christmas Eve going to see Father Christmas at the local department store in town, they had both fallen asleep as soon as their heads had touched their pillows.

Now, awake again, they wondered if Father Christmas had been to their house yet. Excited to see what he had brought them, the sisters got out of bed, put on their slippers and crept down the stairs, remembering to step over the creaky floorboard, as they didn’t want to disturb their parents who were sleeping soundly in the bedroom next door. They could hear their dad snoring so were quietly confident they were safe from being caught.

As they reached the bottom of the stairs, they crept along the hallway and stood inside the doorway to the playroom.

“I don’t think he’s been yet; it might be too early,” whispered Marie as she walked into the playroom, closely followed by her sister, who was holding onto the back of Marie’s nightdress.

Then, the two girls heard something strange.

“What’s that noise?” whispered Marie, looking around.

“It sounds like someone is crying,” replied Debbie, trying to see where the noise was coming from.

The playroom was a large rectangular room with mismatched wooden furniture. The floor was laminated and the walls were painted in an eggshell blue. The room was lit by two wall lamps. Overall it had a fairy-tale-like look to it.

In one corner of the playroom next to the rocking chair, near the doll’s house, sat a rag doll facing the wall. She had long blonde hair which she wore in pigtails tied with a shiny pink ribbon, a red dress with white spots, and the reddest, shiniest shoes with a shiny black buckle right at the centre. She was crying, and the closer the girls got to her, the louder her crying became. Big fat tears were rolling down her red cheeks, splashing onto her spotted dress. At first, they didn’t notice what was lying in her lap. As they tip toed closer, they saw it was a little white sausage dog with pointy ears. It looked very dirty and frightened, and was shaking nervously as it saw them watching him.

“Who are you, and why are you crying?” asked Marie shyly. The doll slowly turned around to face them and, still holding the dog in her arms, jumped up with a start and looked at the two sisters.

“My name is Katie and I have fallen off Father Christmas’s sleigh,” said the little doll, still crying big, fat tears.

‘Please stop crying,” said Debbie, giving Katie her favourite handkerchief out of her pyjama pocket. She reached out and began stroking the little dog gently, as he was still shaking too.

“How on earth did you manage to fall off Father Christmas’s sleigh?” asked Marie.

“This little dog was blown off the sleigh by a very strong wind. I tried to hold onto him but I fell off myself,” said Katie through her tears, as she cuddled her new-found friend and tried to wipe her tears away withDebbie’s handkerchief at the same time. “When I saw your friendly-looking house I managed to squeeze us both in through your playroomwindow. I hope you don’t mind.”

“What is the little dogs’ name?” asked Debbie.

“I don’t know” said Katie. “I’ve tried to ask him, but he hasn’t made asound since he fell off the sleigh and I picked him up.”

“Then we shall give him a name,” said Marie bossily. “Because he wasblown off the sleigh by a strong wind, let’s call him Windy.”

“Do you like your new name, Windy?” asked Marie, gently stroking the still frightened dog.

“Windy can’t answer you,” said Katie in a sad voice.

“Why not?” asked Marie.

“Because he has lost his bark,” replied Katie.

“Lost his bark?” cried Debbie in surprise, starting to laugh. “Whoeverheard of a dog losing his bark?”

“Well, you see Debbie, Windy is a clockwork dog, and when he fell off thesleigh, he lost the key that winds him up. It was carried away with thewind and I couldn’t catch it, so until his key is found, he will not be able to bark or make any noise at all,” explained Katie sadly.

Windy nodded his head in sorrowful agreement; his hearing was workingfine and he had thankfully stopped shaking.

“But how do we get him another key?” asked Marie. “Can we go andbuy one?”

“There is only one way I’m afraid,” said Katie. “Windy must be taken back to Toyland so that we can ask the toymaker for another key from his workshop.”

“How do we get to Toyland?” asked Debbie in a disbelieving voice,secretly not sure she believed in Toyland, even though she was talking toa doll and a clockwork dog.

“By magic,” replied Katie wistfully.

“That’s silly. I don’t believe in magic!!” scoffed Debbie, rather rudely,realising how silly that sounded.

“If you don’t believe me, I can show you right now,” Katie told her. She began rubbing one of her red shoes with her left hand, and using her right hand, pointed a finger in Debbie’s direction. In an instant, Debbie started to rise slowly into the air and floated all around the playroom, her slippers barely missing the books and toys on the bookshelves. The little white dog was so afraid that he quickly scampered into the doll’s house and peeped through a window to watch the flying little girl.

“Now do you believe in magic?” laughed Katie, looking up at Debbie.

“You look like a flying canary in your yellow pyjamas!” said Marie.

“Please let me down! I do believe in magic now, I really do,” yelledDebbie, still flying round the playroom, having to cover her eyes with her hands.

Katie clicked her fingers, which broke the magic spell. Debbie gently andslowly came sailing to the floor, landing rather more heavily than she would have liked on some floor cushions in the corner of the playroom. She sat there for a second feeling quite bewildered.

“Alright, now that you have shown us that you can do magic, please tellus how we can get to Toyland so we can help Windy?” said Marie, as Debbie, having recovered from flying, went to the doll’s house, picked upWindy and gave him a kiss on his nose.

“A trip in a golden coach is what will get us to Toyland,” said Katie,looking around the playroom for what she needed. She saw the sisters’ very tall Christmas tree sitting in the corner, all lit up and sparkling with baubles and tinsel.

“Do you see those fairy lights hanging on your Christmas tree?” asked Katie, pointing towards the tree.

“Yes, I see them,” answered Marie. “They are shaped like goldencoaches; my dad bought them for my mom last Christmas as a present.

“Well, watch them very carefully,” said Katie, as once again she rubbedher red shoe with her left hand, and pointed with her right hand towardsone of the golden coaches hanging on the tree. There was a flash oflight, like a sparkler on bonfire night being lit, and suddenly thereappeared out of nowhere a full-sized golden coach in the middle of theplayroom!

“Oh, my goodness,” shouted Debbie and Marie at the same time. Then they covered their mouths with their hands, suddenly realising that they werebeing loud.

The golden coach filled the room: it lookedold, disused and dilapidated.

“I really hope you can change that back again,” Debbie said lookingunsure all of a sudden.

“Of course I can. But for now, we shall use it to get us to the city ofArboron where Toyland is,” said Katie, inviting Marie and Debbie toclimb inside.

“How can we go anywhere in that?” grumbled Debbie. “It looks like it will collapse at any minute, and it has no horses to pull it, and everyone knowsthat horses pull coaches.Also, we haven’t had our breakfast yet,” she moaned, rubbing her tummy.

“Anything is possible on Christmas Day with a little bit of magic,” saidKatie, as she magically rubbed her shoes, and a mug of hot chocolateand biscuits suddenly appeared in both of the girls’ hands. Theygreedily ate the biscuits and drank the hot chocolate.

Just as they had finished their drinks, the coach began to lift very slowlyoff the floor, wobbling a little as it got its balance. Suddenly, with awhoosh, it went flying through the open playroom window. Either thewindow had gotten bigger or the coach had gotten smaller, neither sisterwas sure.

Marie and Katie were sitting on the floor of the coach, holding hands, andDebbie was looking through one of the windows, holding Windy tightly inher arms so that he could see the view. They flew off into the morningsky, flying swiftly over the roof tops.

“Look Windy! There’s my school,” shouted Debbie excitedly. “Andthere’s my teacher, Mrs Tadpole, taking her dog for a walk.”

“Hello MrsTadpole, Merry Christmas,” cried Debbie out of the coach window.

“She can’t hear you silly!” Marie was laughing at her littlesister. “And don’t lean too far out.”

They flew across the snow-covered rooftops, valleys, mountains andseas, anxiously looking out of the windows at the views whizzing beneath them.As the coach began to slow down, it appeared to be looking forsomewhere to land. Far more gracefully than it looked, it landed in aclearing in a wood.

The city of Arboron was built in the shadows of anenormous mountain called Rainbow Mountain. Its appearance wasmatched by the backdrop of ever-clear skies which had helped shapethe city to what it was this day.

“We are in the Mysterious Wood and we need to get a move on.” Katiewas trying to put Windy in her pocket as she spoke.

“I think I’d like to go home now,” Debbie muttered, climbing out ofthe coach, quickly followed by Marie.

“It isn’t a bad place to be. Most of the creatures are sleepy or asleep;they won’t bother us too much. As long as we stay away from JaggedWood, we will be fine,” Katie told them.

The wood was tremendous, clear and young. Its canopy was marked bywillow, sycamore and oak, their crowns allowed cascading lights toshimmer through. Swooping branches swayed from the willow trees anda variety of flowers, which desperately tried to avoid the shadows,looked almost out of place in the otherwise uniform scenery.

A disharmony of beastly noises echoed in the air, and clashedwith the swaying of tree tops in the wind.

“Where is Jagged Wood?” asked Debbie and Marie.

“Beyond RainbowMountain,” said Katie.

“Where is Rainbow Mountain?” chorused the sisters.

Changing the subject and realizing the girls were still wearing theirnightwear, Katie turned to them both.

“Now before we go you must bothhave some decent clothes, so stand still a minute.”

First she pointed to Marie. PING! her nightdress vanished and in its placeappeared a stylish emerald green jacket which flowedwith a cowl neckline, gracefully revealing an ornate dressunderneath it. She hada large ribbon worn higharound her waist. On her feet were the most beautiful soft velvet greenballet pumps.

“WOW!” was all Marie could say, spinning around.

Debbie crossed her fingers behind her back and prayed she didn’t haveto wear anything so fancy and old fashioned.

Turning to Debbie, Katie performed her magic. PING! Debbie couldbarely dare to open her eyes. In place of her favourite pair of yellowpyjamas she wore an ornate top.Over the top was a long sleeved purple silk jacketwhich came down to her knees. She also wore a pair of trousers, which werequite wide and went down to furred boots. They felt verycomfortable and were quite simple in design.

“Can I have a different outfit please?” asked Debbie, not altogetherpleased with looking like she did, preferring to wear jeans, hoodie andtrainers, and maybe even a cool cap.

“No, there isn’t time,” Katie whispered, starting to walk quickly down one
of the paths signposted ‘To Toyland’.

As they made their way down the winding uneven path, they saw thesilhouettes of creatures similar to those you would see at home in yourgarden or when out for a walk. They saw thin creatures, crawlingcreatures, and what they thought might be hairy creatures of some sort.Debbie kept brushing tiny creatures off her coat until Marie told her tostop it. They could feel their excitement rising as a whole new worldunfolded before them.

Chapter Three

Eventually they came across a weeping willow tree with attractive trailingbranches and leaves so long and green that they seemed to reach for miles;they looked like long fingers crawling over the floor.

The gang stopped and stood in front of the tree. They looked up and upand up; it was so tall that they could barely see the sky beyond.

“Wow,” Marie and Debbie cried in unison.

“That’s the Crawling Willow Tree,” said Katie.

“It’s so big,” whispered Debbie, trying to catch Windy as he beganrunning and jumping around the tree trunk, biting at the leaves as theywrapped themselves around his long body.

“As long as this Willow tree is alive and green, it will protect all who live inArboron Kingdom, especially Rainbow Mountain. Those who have triedto kill it have never been seen again. Stories are told that they get pickedup by the long crawling branches, which wind themselves around thebodies of their enemies and lift them high up into the top of the tree.”

“Why would anybody want to kill such a magnificent tree? And why doesRainbow Mountain need protecting?” asked Marie.

“Inside Rainbow Mountain, inside a chest, lie many precious stonescalled Obsidians. Many years ago this volcanic glass was mined andused by armies to make powerful daggers and swords to defeat theirenemies and win many battles. Its imposing, mysterious black hue hasperhaps also made it an amulet of protection,” said Katie. “It’s been saidto contain potent properties which make for a great defensive spell.”

They hurried on past the Crawling Willow tree and came to a clearing inthe wood. There, down a small hill, was Toyland.

As they entered the rather large wooden gates (which were guarded bytwo very serious looking toy soldiers) into Toyland, the first building theysaw was the Town Hall. It was truly an eerie sight. So many toysforgotten. No matter how many toys made their home in this land nowyou couldn’t help but be overcome with loneliness. Life had not justcome to a stop, it had completely disappeared.

From the outside, the town hall looked uncomfortable, uninviting andunfriendly. Large stones and stone beams made up most of thebuilding’s outer structure. It was impossible to see through the closedwindow, but the sombre mood from within could be felt outside.

Yet there was somethingin the air; a sense of magic and new life just around the corner.

The group hurried past the town hall.

“First we must find Mr Woodworm,the toymaker,” said Katie. “He makes all the toys in Toyland, so he willdefinitely have a key that will help make Windy bark again.”

“There is Mr Woodworm’s shop,” Marie pointed out, seeing the sign forthe Toy Shop before the others did.

As they headed up the path towards the shop, it was easy to see itssimilarity to the structure of a house you would live in, with its low, square-shaped roofcovered in red tiles.One small chimney poked out the centre of the roof. Many smallerwindows let in plenty of light to the rooms below. On either side of thepath was a modest garden, covered mostly in grass, and a few flowerpatches and with a small pond.

The sign above the front door said ‘The Nodding Toad Shop”, and anactual green toad sat bobbing about on the spot.

As they entered through the old wooden door they were welcomed bythe crackling and heat of a roaring fire at the far end of the room. MrWoodworm stood behind a large counter coughing into a dirtyhandkerchief and made no effort to acknowledge their presence. Theshop itself was packed. Several long tables ran the length of the roomand were occupied by what seemed to be dwarves working away quietlyon a variety of broken toys. The gang had to weave their way throughthe tables to get to the counter, having to step over broken toys thatlittered the cobblestone floor.

“Good morning, Mr Woodworm,” greeted Katie politely, as she gentlytook Windy from Debbie and put him on the counter.

“Hello children!” beamed Mr Woodworm, looking up, putting hishandkerchief in his pocket and wiping his hands on his apron. He was atall, round man with golden, wavy hair slightly covering a craggy, happyface. Beady silver eyes set deep within their sockets watchedprotectively over his dwarf workers.

“What can I do for you on this fine Christmas morning?” he asked.

“lt’s Windy, the clockwork dog,” replied Katie. “He was blown off Father Christmas’s sleigh this morning. I tried to save him, but the wind wasmuch too strong and I got blown off too; and when we landed, I couldn’tfind the key to wind him up anywhere. Now poor Windy has lost hisbark.”

“Please can you give us another key, Mr Woodworm,” Debbie pleaded. “So we can wind Windy up, and he can bark again?”

Mr Woodworm walked over to the Toyshop window and, rubbing hispointy chin, looked towards the sky. Turning back to the small group witha strange look on his face he said, “Can you describe the wind for meplease Katie?”

“It was very strong, dark and powerful; it was so cold, as though it couldfreeze us in minutes,” she said, sounding suddenly very worried, andstroking Windys’ head as though to calm herself as he nuzzled her hand.“It stopped as soon as I climbed through Marie and Debbie’s playroomwindow,” she finished, looking at Mr Woodworm.

“That, my dear, was no ordinary wind. Those were the Dark Elves. Theynow live in Jagged Wood, at the far side of Mysterious Wood, and arenot to be trusted,” Mr Woodworm told them as he walked back aroundthe counter.

“D-d-dark…E-elves…!” said Debbie as she tried to comfort Marie, whowas now hiding behind her little sister. “Who or what are they?”

Mr Woodworm rubbed the back of his thin neck and said, “Dark Elvesare known for their aggression, deceit, and stealth. They are very brutaland cruel by nature, having little mercy when it comes to cheating,battling, or anything dealing with the life of another being. They havelittle respect for even their own kind at times, waging war against eachother.”

Katie, who had been concentrating on Windy, suddenly spoke up.

“I thought it might be, but I wasn’t sure. I have never seen one before.”

“How did they come to be Dark Elves?” asked Marie.

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (1)

Chapter Four

“I will try to explain,” said Mr Woodworm. “Hidden in the MysteriousWood, just beneath the Creeping Willow Tree, is the Elven city of Litalos.The elf king, Alred, and his queen, Amera had two children: a son,Dalamus, and a daughter, Anarina. They were loved so much but werevery different. Dalamus stood at over 6 feet tall with long sleek whiteblonde hair hanging over a thin radiant face. Sparkling pink eyes set wellwithin their sockets watched energetically over the woodlands he hadworshipped for so long. He was cheeky and always fun to be around,playing tricks on his friends and family.

“Anarina also stood at almost six feet tall, with white long wavy hair andclear aquamarine eyes, a true angel amongst elves. She was quiet,studious, and hardly ever left her parents and her home in the willow tree. Shewas the more spoilt of the two, but Dalamus didn’t seem to mind hissister getting all the attention. That is until one day the city of Litalos wasraided by a malignity of Goblins.

“Many elves were killed in the raid,among them the king and queen. One goblin in particular named Sluzz,is the one who fired the arrows into Alred and Ameria. Sluzz is the objectof Dalamus hunt; Dalamus has sworn to avenge their deaths and kill allthe Goblins in the Kingdom by making a sword out of Obsidian.

“Over time, he got together an army of elves. They were promised greatfortunes if they brought him the key that unlocks the chest where theObsidian stones have lain buried for years. They failed in their quest,so he put a curse on them, and turned them into wind creatures that nowhaunt the Jagged Wood. They are under a spell and must keep trying tofind the key, for only then will the curse be lifted. Along with Dalamus, theDark Elves will never stop hunting for it”.

“Anarina wears a locket made out of Obsidian around her neck, given toher by her father; she never takes it off,” said Mr Woodworm. “Inside thelocket is the key to unlock a chest in Rainbow Mountain where theprecious stones were placed many years ago after being mined by anarmy of dwarves. She made a promise to never lose the key and to keepthe precious stones safe, as in the wrong hands they can cause great evil.”

“Where does Anarina live now?” asked Marie, finally creeping out frombehind Debbie.

“At the top of Rainbow Mountain, in a castle that is heavily protected by agroup of trolls whom she managed to rescue from Dalamus. She fledthere after her parents were killed. She has tried many times to save herbrother from the dark side,” said Katie. “The Dark Elves must havethought Windy’s key was the key to unlock the chest. It is thought thatAnarina sent it into the mortal world disguised as an ordinary key to keepit safe, but nobody knows where.”

“Dalamus will not rest until he has that key,” said Mr Woodworm. “Thereare only three things in the world that elves fear: the sea in a storm, anight with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man,” he told them.

“We should bring our dad out here then,” said Marie in a quiet whisper,so only her sister could hear. She heard Debbie giggle and smiled toherself, imagining her Dad out here. He would love an adventure.

Looking at the faces of his expectant visitors, the toyshop owner walkedout from behind the shop counter and stood in front of them. He took hisglasses off his nose and spoke to them.

“I am very sorry children, but I cannot help you because I have no keys,”said Mr Woodworm, shaking his head and rubbing his chin. “Thathorrible cat Walla Walla Whiska has stolen all my keys; he broke into myToy Shop last night and took them all.”

“Do you know where he has taken them?” asked Katie.

“To his cave in Rainbow Mountain!” explained Mr Woodworm, wiping hiseyes with his handkerchief.

“And where is Rainbow Mountain?” the sisters chorused, as theyremembered Katie hadn’t answered the question earlier.

“Out of Toyland, through the Mysterious Wood, past the Crawling WillowTree, on the edge of Jagged Wood,” said Mr Woodworm.

“Is Jagged Wood as scary as it sounds?” said Marie.

“Jagged Wood is endless and dark. Coiling vines dangle from every tree. Flowers no longer grow in the rich soil; there is no colour in JaggedWood. There are few creatures that live there; the ones that do arenocturnal and rely on their hearing and taste buds to get around. Theyhave big eyes but their sight is lacking. They have short beaks and no visible ears and their heads are fairly large in comparison to theirbodies. Let me get a map and I will show you how to get to RainbowMountain safely,” said Mr Woodworm.

As he disappeared into the back of his shop through a curtain made ofwhat looked like thousands of spiders webs knitted together, a cat thatwas sitting next to the fire hissed loudly at Windy, who still sat on thecounter minding his own business. Windy, who was not used to cats ofany description, shot up off the counter, jumped down onto the floor andscuttled out of the front door.

Debbie and Katie were looking at the map Mr Woodworm was showingthem, so didn’t notice Windy’s escape. Luckily Marie did, so leaving theshop, she ran out after the clockwork dog.

To her left and right she thought she could hear faint singing comingfrom a wooded area to the right of the toyshop. Looking up above theshop door she saw the toad; he was nodding, grinning and pointing to the right. Taking this as a helpful sign she ran into the wood.

She wasstill running when she realised she could no longer hear singing. Stopping to catch her breath she shouted, “Windy where are you?”

Looking around, she could see the wood was large, misty and thick withtrees, curving and creeping, with swooping vines hanging from the trees. Shecould hear a mishmash of animal noises filling the air, and the smellstransported her back in time, but she could not remember from where. Suddenly she felt very afraid.

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (2)

Chapter Five

Still calling Windys’ name, she began to tread very carefully over thecreeping thick vines, aware they could wind around her ankles and trapher at any moment. Feeling a chill around her, she put up the hood onher coat, grateful for its thick material. As she put her hands in the deeppockets, she felt her left hand touch something; lifting it out carefully shesaw that it looked very much like a magic wand. No, it couldn’t be… couldit?

Deciding anything was possible, she began looking around her, butseeing nothing in the thick mist, she held the wand in front of her face. She was not sure of what she was hoping it would do, and somehow thought sheshould come up with a magic spell like the ones she had read about inDebbie’s spell book last year. It wasn’t really a book; more a pamphlet ofinstructions that came in the box, but Debbie insisted it was a book andthe magic made it look like a pamphlet. Her sister was a member of themagic circle and often performed tricks with dice, rope and beakers toamuse her friends.

She remembered one spell she read about in the pamphlet called Stuulsis Persoigeo: this was supposed to create a magicaltrail marking where somebody has walked.

Hoping she was pronouncing it correctly, she held the wand out in frontof her and cried “Stuulsis Persoigeo!” as she flicked her wrist as firmly asshe could.Not expecting anything magical to happen, she was thrownslightly off balance as the appearance of the wand began to change intoan intricate, azure glowing shaft. As she landed on her bottom on a bedof dirty leaves and dead vines, the wand dropped to the ground.At the same time the whole of the wooded area lit up and she was ableto see clear paw prints in the soil. Only they weren’t the only set of prints to be seen.

Getting to her feet, she picked up the wand. Making her way through the wood, following the footprint trail, she held the wand in front of her asshe went. This time she didn’t call Windy’s name, she kept quiet.

As she walked forward she thought she could make out a silhouette of something or someone in the distance. Feeling very brave now she hada magic wand in her hand, she made her way towards the shape. Thenshe heard a familiar noise.

“Windy!” she cried with relief, as the clockwork dog jumped into her arms,
almost (but not quite) knocking the wand out of her hand. “Let’s get out ofhere,” she whispered, but the little dog jumped out of her arms and ranback towards the silhouette.

As she squinted through the mist, she saw it was some sort of caveman;she recognized his appearance from her history class at school.He stood tall and very straight, dressed in ragged clothing. What looked like what was once a shirt was now a dirty stained piece of fabrichanging from one of his shoulders like a discarded old towel. Insects orrodents had chewed hundreds of small holes in it. He was wearing arugged vest over his shirt, which looked far too big for him. The right legof his trousers was torn at the knee, and the left leg full of holes. But atleast he had shoes to protect his feet, although they were missing laces,way too big for him and the left toe had come loose from the sole. Hewore a multi-coloured scarf around his neck and had it wrapped aroundhis face in a way that covered his chin. It was old and ragged but lookedclean. His hair was sticking up in every direction. His face was kind yetsorrowful, his eyes were small and brown with long lashes. He had a scar above his right eye that he kept rubbing every few minutes as though it reminded him of something or someone.

He looked familiar, but Marie couldn’t place where she knew him from.The caveman bent down and picked Windy up gently and walkedtowards Marie. Being in two minds of whether to turn and run, she stayedput as she decided that she wasn’t leaving Windy with this person in a dark misty wood.

He came to stand in front of Marie, handed Windy over, and said in adeep but friendly voice, “My name is Gullon.”

Marie took Windy from him and said carefully, “My name is Marie.”

“What brings you into Jagged Wood? It’s far too dangerous. You shouldleave,” said Gullon, constantly looking around him.

Marie told him the story of how they had gotten here, and why she wasnow standing in a dark, misty wood talking to a caveman holding aclockwork dog.

“Why are you here?” Marie asked. “Are you lost?”

“I used to live on a farm on the opposite side of Mysterious Wood withmy family,” he said, pointing in the opposite direction. “There were lush,green fields spread between the patches of woodland. All around horsesand sheep grazed. It was peaceful and we kept ourselves to ourselvesuntil it got destroyed by Dark Elves,” said Gullon.

“Dalamus?” said Marie.

“Yes,” he said looking down at the ground as he spoke. “I was outtending the sheep early one morning when I saw flames rising from myfarmhouse. The sky was glowing red and the air quickly became thickwith smoke, ash and embers, enough to destroy anything or anyone inits path. As I ran towards home, I knew all was lost. We had come underattack by the Dark Elves. You can’t see them coming, only feel them onthe wind. I managed to hide in the sheep barn and when I returned to myhome it was no more than a pile of ash and timbers. My family all gone. Iguessed they were looking for something, There was nothing of value onthe farm so cannot think what they were after. I have no possessions leftand am living here, biding my time until I can get my revenge on Dalamus,” said Gullon, tears sliding down his dirt stainedcheeks.

“I am so sorry” said Marie.

“It’s not your fault, don’t be sorry. I will get justice,” said Gullon.

“Would you like to try my magic wand?” saidMarie, holding out the still brightly lit wand.

Gullon stared at the wand.

“May I?” he asked holding out his hand.

Placing the wand in his hand, Marie told him how she had found thewand in her pocket and wasn’t sure who it belonged to.He held the wand as though it were a precious baby, turning it over andover in his large hands.

“This wand is made out of Pine Wood, which tends to favour those witha kind heart. The handle is made out of Hazel Wood, which in turn tendsto seek out those with a talent for defensive spells. However, thecombination of this strand of Pine Wood and Hazel Wood means thewand will seek out somebody with a loyal heart,” said Gullon, handing thewand back to Marie.

“What shall I do with it?” said Marie.

“Let the wand decide,” said Gullon, turning to walk away.

“I want to help you,” said Marie.

“You will do when the time is right,” said Gullon, and vanished into themisty wood.

Holding onto Windy very tightly so he couldn’t escape her grip, and using the light from the wand, she made her way back through the wood to Mr Woodworm’s toyshop, hoping the others were not panicking about her disappearing. It didn’t take her long; it was almost as though she hadonly just stepped out of the door of the toy shop. For in an instant shewas back in front of the counter in time to hear Debbie say,

“Then we shall go and get the keys back.”

She was studying the map that was laid out on the counter in front of them all,obviously without thinking, and as though she hadn’t hear a word Mr Woodworm said about those woodland creatures, and also as though hersister had not just vanished from the shop and appeared again out ofnowhere. She took Windy off the counter and stepped into the streetwith Katie and Marie following.

“Be very careful!” shouted Mr Woodworm through the shop door as theyleft the Toy Shop. “There are many creatures protecting RainbowMountain and its magical powers. They are not always fond of strangers,and Walla Walla Whiska is a very naughty, evil cat who doesn’t likehaving visitors”.

“We will be careful!” yelled Marie, as they all climbed into the goldencoach. “We shall get all of your keys back, Mr Woodworm. Wait for us atthe bottom of the mountain.”

She thought she sounded more confident than she felt.

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (3)

Chapter Six

They made their way back to the golden coach and waved goodbye untilMr Woodworm, the Toyshop, and Toyland were specks in the distance,while Windy raised a paw as once again they rose into the air and madetheir way to Rainbow Mountain.

The heaven-touching apex of Rainbow Mountain was drenched in abrilliant light. Spikes of thin light impaled the snow in a bristling, movingline. It seemed to radiate with magical energies thanks to the preciousstones buried deep inside its core.

A new Elveden kingdom castle had been built at the tip of the mountain,which protected the stones and the land in which it lay. This was whereAnarina lived. Attempts to replicate this source of magic or anything likeit had all failed, but this didn’t stop the dark forces from trying.

“Look, there’s Walla Walla Whiska, sitting in front of his cave,” criedMarie, as the golden coach flew down towards Rainbow Mountain.

The big fat cat was the size of a rhino. Long spiky whiskers sat either side of his fat nose,which twitched when he moved. He had thick, rough skin covered inthick coarse reddish brown hair. A large, wide mouth and long tonguekept flicking and licking the ground, catching creatures to eat.

The coach landed a few feet away from the cave and as Marie andDebbie climbed out, Katie rubbed her red shoe and pointed to the coach,which promptly shrank back to the size of the Christmas light that washanging on the Christmas tree just a few hours ago.

“We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves, do we?” Katie asked,putting the small golden coach in the opposite pocket to where Windy sat.

Slowly they all walked across to where Walla Walla Whiska was sittingon a rather large tree stump.

“Good morning, Walla Walla Whiska,” hailed Katie, trying the friendly and polite approach first. “Would you please give us Mr Woodworm’s keys sothat we can find the key that will wind up Windy, our clockwork dog?Then he will be able to bark again.”

“No, you cannot have the keys, ” murmured Walla Walla Whiska angrily,not really paying any attention to his unwanted visitors, as he was toobusy eating some kind of black, furry creature that was wriggling aroundand trying to jump back onto the ground. “But you will stay here with meas my prisoners and polish all my keys,” Walla Walla Whiska sneered.

Just as he was about to make a grab for them with his big paws, therewas a flash of light so bright they had to cover their eyes. Then, just asquickly, the light disappeared.

Before they had a chance to realise what was happening, with oneswipe of his large paws, he grabbed Marie, Debbie, and Katie, snatching theirshoes off. He marched them into his dark cave, down some steep stonesteps and pushed them all into a smaller cave.

He grabbed poor oldWindy by the tail, tossed him in, and slammed the door on the fourfriends, then locked it tight.

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed Walla Walla Whiska, “I will bring the keys later. Ifyou don’t polish them all as bright as a new pin you will get nothing toeat.”

He walked up the stone steps, sat outside the cave, growled and wentback to eating his furry meal.

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (4)

Chapter Seven

As their eyes adjusted to the darkness of the cave, the temperaturedropped in the massive underground chamber, sending a chill downtheir spines. Inky black water splashed against a narrow strip of earth thatdisappeared into the darkness before them, and jagged teeth of stonecame from the shadows above. They began seeing shadows of figuresaround them, huddled in every corner, staring at the newcomers. Thefigures turned out to be other toys; some looked like they had been therefor a long time. Suddenly the sisters were very afraid.

“Oh dear,” cried Debbie. “We are locked in here for ever, and Windy willnever get his bark back! And I will never get to see my friends again!”

“Yes, you will, and yes, he will!” whispered Marie, kindly giving her littlesister a hug. ‘‘Katie can do some magic, can’t you Katie?”

“No, I can’t”, replied Katie sadly. “Remember I can only do magic by firstrubbing my red shoes, and that nasty cat Walla Walla Whiska has takenmy shoes away. He must have heard about the magic shoes and notknowing which ones they were, he took them all.”

“I think I have an idea,” whispered Debbie, as she cuddled Windy.“When Walla Walla Whiska comes back with the keys for us to polish,we can find the one that will wind up Windy by trying them all and seeingwhich one will fit.” She knew she sounded more confident than she felt.

“And how will that get us out of here?” puzzled Marie. “We are locked in, don’t forget!”

Pointing to gaps between the bars of the door, Debbie explained,

“After he brings us the keys to polish, Walla Walla Whiska will probablyfall back to sleep. Then we can wind up Windy and send him throughthose bars. He can then creep up and grab Katie’s shoes, then she willbe able to use her magic to get us out of here”.

“That’s actually a good idea,” said Marie, impressed but a little annoyedthat she hadn’t thought of that. “Let’s wait then, until Walla Walla Whiskacomes back with the keys.”

Sometime later, the children heard Walla Walla Whiska’s heavy footstepsas he walked down the stone steps. They heard the jingling of keys ashe unlocked the door.

“Hello my pretties,” scowled Walla Walla Whiska. He filled the wholedoorframe of the cave, he was so big. “Here are my beautiful keys. Makesure you have cleaned all of them by the time I come back.”

He threw them onto the floor, turned around and ambled back out,slamming the door loudly behind him. He walked back up the stonesteps, and they soon heard him snoring loudly as Debbie said he would.

“Quickly,” whispered Katie excitedly. “Let’s see which key will fit Windy.”

They tried all the keys as fast as they could, with the little bit of light theyhad from one of the toys torches. Very soon the children found a keythat fitted Windy. Marie wound him up and stood him on the stone floor.

“Bow Wow,” barked Windy, as he ran and jumped round the roomexcitedly. “Thank you, Katie, for bringing me to Toyland and thank you,Marie and Debbie, for being so kind. I listened to Debbie’s idea forgetting us out of the claws of Walla Walla Whiska and I am now ready togo through the bars to find Katie’s magic red shoes.”

“Quickly then, Windy” cried Debbie. “And mind Walla Walla Whiskadoesn’t get his paws on you.”

Windy ran towards the door and disappeared from sight. The cave waseerily quiet and when Windy hadn’t returned after a few minutes, everyone thought that hehad been captured by Walla Walla Whiska, and they would be keptprisoners for ever. But after another very long five minutes, Windy poppedhis head through the bars of the iron door. In his mouth he carriedKatie’s magic red shoes.

“Oh, good dog!” praised Katie throwing her arms round him. “Now let’sget out of here”.

Katie quickly put on her shoes and started to rub as she pointed towards the locked door.

“They aren’t working,” squeaked Katie in a panic.

“It’s open,” said Marie, as she flung open the big, heavy door. “WallaWalla Whiska must have forgotten to lock it after he threw the keysinside”.

Gleefully she picked up the bag of keys, and they all tiptoed up the stonesteps, closely followed by Windy and all the other toys that had been
kept imprisoned.

“Look, thank goodness Walla Walla Whiska is still sleeping,” whisperedDebbie.

“Let’s slowly crawl past him back to the coach” spoke Katie nervously.

But as they were crawling past Walla Walla Whiska, Windy started barking.He didn’t mean to, but he had been without his bark for such a long timethat really he couldn’t help himself.

Walla Walla Whiska awoke with a start and looked round.

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (5)

Chapter Eight

“Thieves! Robbers!” shrieked Walla Walla Whiska angrily. “Come backwith my keys, you horrible children!”

Suddenly there was a gust of wind which gathered all the leaves up offthe woodland floor in a cone shape into the air. The leaves circled upand down with such force that Debbie found it hard to stand her ground. Sheshielded her face, as the light coming from the cone was intense. As thewind stopped and the leaves fell back down to the ground, a tall thinman stood in front of her. He had dark purple skin, white hair, almost pearlescent, hanging loose past his shoulders, and black eyes that boreinto hers.

‘Dalamus,’ she thought.

“The key, give it to me,” said Dalamus.

“I don’t have a key,” said Debbie. She stood up really tall, so as not toseem so small against the elf’s six feet tall frame.

“I know you have it. I have been following you all since you landed inthat silly coach,” said Dalamus.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Debbie shrugged, trying to lookco*cky and brave, yet trying really hard not to wet herself.

Dalamus rose a few inches off the ground, heading towards Debbie. Ashe did, she put her hand up in front of his face, more to shield her eyesfrom the bright light he was emitting than anything else. When she saw that he had stopped in mid-air, he was moving his head from side to side, up anddown, and his mouth was opening and closing, but no sound was coming out.

His long, thin wiry limbs were flailing about in anger but Dalamus was going nowhere.

Debbie was aghast, astonished, yet all of a sudden she also felt confident and fearless. Not quite believing what was happening, she turned around tothe others and shouted,

“Run, run! Katie, take Windy to the golden coach as fast as you can!Marie, slide the bag of keys down the rainbow to Mr Woodworm. I willhandle Dalamus and join you in the coach,” she shouted, feeling verybrave and quite the warrior.

Marie was frozen on the spot, holding the bag of keys and staring atDalamus. All she could think about was poor Gullon and his family beingkilled. She wanted to get the wand out of her pocket and put a horriblespell on him but she couldn’t get into her pocket, either of them. Theyseemed to be sewn together.

“Come back, come back!” yelled Walla Walla Whiska.He wanted to chase after his prisoners with the keys. Instead he foundhimself staring up at the evil Dalamus, the most feared elf of Arboron, being suspended in the air by a small child. He forgot all about the keysand made a dash back to the safety of his cave, swearing to never comeout again. The toys disappeared very quickly and Marie was much toofast for him anyway.

She ran to the bottom of Rainbow Mountain, but couldn’t see a rainbowanywhere. Instinctively she reached into her pocket, now not sewntogether, got out the wand, and pointed it at the mountain. She closed her eyesand imagined a rainbow with its red, pink, yellow and green colours vividagainst the mountain. When she opened her eyes, there it sat. Withoutthinking, she quickly put the bag of keys on the top of the rainbow, gave ita firm push, and watched it slide down to the bottom, where MrWoodworm was waiting to catch it. He gave her a wave and a wink thendisappeared.

Then Marie ran as fast as her little legs would carry her, back towardswhere they had agreed to meet, just in time to see Katie take the coachornament out of her pocket, place it on the ground and conjure hermagic shoe-pointing trick at the coach ornament. It sprang into full size, and was hovering ready for take-off. All the while Windy was hanging outof her coat pocket, barking madly at the funny dark angry elf hovering inthe air.

Debbie quickly followed, having broken her unexpected magic spell byputting her hand back into her pocket, where she felt something moving.It was small, soft and very wriggly but she had no time to look, and ran tocatch up with the coach.

Katie rubbed her shoes, and thankfully thegolden coach flew into the air back towards Toyland.As they went, they looked down and watched as Dalamus slowly got upfrom being thrown onto the floor by Debbie, obviously just as shocked asthey were at what had just happened to him. His eyes bore into the eyesof Debbie as the coach flew off into the night sky.

The message wasclear:

This isn’t over!

“Goodbye, Dalamus,” mocked Debbie, as the coach flew higher andhigher into the sky.

As the golden coach flew over Toyland, they saw Mr Woodwormcounting and polishing his keys.

“Farewell children, and thank you for returning my keys! Goodbye Windy,have a safe journey home. See you very soon, Katie,” called MrWoodworm, waving. As the golden coach flew over he did not know what hadjust happened in the Mysterious Wood.

Marie turned to look at Debbie.

“What just happened there? How did you do that? Were you scared?”

Debbie shrugged her shoulders as though it was nothing unusual whileKatie simply looked a Debbie and winked. Marie didn’t notice.

The coach landed safely back in the children’s playroom. They alljumped out, with Marie having to try and keep Windy from not barkingtoo much. Katie rubbed her red shoes and pointed to the coach. Itquickly became small again so Marie could return it to the Christmastree.

“Katie and Windy can sleep in our doll’s house” yawned Debbie, as sheplaced the rag doll and clockwork dog inside the house and closed thedoor. The sisters knelt down together in front of the tiny window andwhispered, “Promise you won’t do any more magic, Katie?”

“I promise” replied Katie, with a twinkle in her eye.

I rather think she willthough, don’t you?

The girls said goodbye and walked out of the playroom, closing the doorsoftly behind them. Sleepily they climbed back up the stairs, carefullyremembering to step over the creaky floorboard on the way up. Theygot back into their beds and fell asleep as fast as they had woken up.

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (6)

Chapter Nine

“Good morning, you two,” said Dad, standing in the doorway of the girls’
bedroom. “It’s time to get up and see if Father Christmas has been”.

“Where is Mom?” Marie asked, stretching and yawning, and looking at herdad.

“Making breakfast,” said dad.

“What did you do to your head?” Marie said, as she noticed a cut abovehis right eye that she hadn’t noticed before.

“Oh, this? A box fell on me in the garage yesterday,” he said, pausing by the bedroom door and touching thecut. “Hurry up and come down. We’ll wait in the playroom foryou,” he called from the hallway.

Marie sat up in bed and looked across the room at her sister in the
opposite bed, who had just woken up.

“I had the strangest dream last night,” said Marie, rubbing her eyes.

“What was it about?” asked Debbie, sounding curious, as she had alsohad a very peculiar dream, but didn’t want to share it just yet with her bigsister.

Marie described the dream in detail to her sister. She remembered all of it –even the fat cat that sat on Mr Woodworm’s shoulders. As she wastelling Debbie how they had fought off a dark elf with magic, she noticedthat her little sister wasn’t paying attention to her. This wasn’t unusual, asDebbie was prone to getting distracted, and she was only five after all.

“Are you listening to me?” Marie asked, annoyed.

“My pyjamas are covered in biscuit crumbs and I don’t know why,” saidDebbie, brushing her hands across her yellow night clothes. For a split-second Marie looked shocked, then shook her head as if to shake athought from her mind. “You had some last night before bed, don’t forget,Debbie”.

“Oh yes, I did, I forgot,” Debbie laughed, not seeming entirely convinced.

The girls got out of bed, put on their slippers and dressing gowns.Debbie thought she saw something moving in the pocket, but shook herhead, told herself not to be silly and walked downstairs.

Mom wascoming out of the kitchen with a tray of hot chocolate and toast as thegirls reached the bottom step.

“Did either of you girls leave the playroom window open last night?” Mom asked. “When I went in there earlier, it was wide open, and I’m
sure that I closed it before I went to bed like I always do.”

The two sisters looked at each other open-mouthed, but said nothing.

“I’m not mad at you,” laughed mom, seeing their shocked faces.“Come on, let’s see what Santa has brought you, and drink your hotchocolates before they get cold,” she told them.

Debbie spoke before thinking, saying, “I don’t think I can drink another
hot chocolate, the last one was too much for me,” then clamped her
hand over her mouth before she said anything else.

“Don’t be silly Debbie, you didn’t have hot chocolate last night, you hadhot milk,” Dad said as they entered the room.

Inside the playroom Dad was standing next to the tree staring at it. Just

“What are you looking at love?” asked Mom. “Come and sort out thepresents or it will be lunchtime soon, and I need to get the potatoes inthe oven, or they won’t be as crispy just as you like them.”

“It’s this coach light,” said Dad, still looking at the tree, confused.

“Has the fuse gone?” replied Mom “We have plenty of spare ones in thedrawer in the kitchen if it has,” she added, half-concentrating on putting thetray of drinks and toast down on the desk without spilling any on the newcarpet.

“No, no the light is working fine,” Dad said, still staring.

“Then why on earth are you standing there, just staring? I asked you to come and sort out the presents from under thetree.”

Marie and Debbie began to giggle as they helped themselves to thetoast. They always found it funny when their mom told their dad off; dadwould pretend not to hear and mom pretended to get madder.

“Well, this little coach, for some very strange reason, has got mud on thewheels, and I’m obviously wondering where it has come from,” Dadfinally said, turning around, holding the little golden coach in his hand.

“Oh no!” said Mom, standing next to dad to take a closerlook at the golden coach. “Maybe one of the girls took it out into thegarden to play with.”

She turned to the girls with a questioning look.

“It was Debbie,” Marie said quickly, pointing at her sister, who very nearly
spat toast crumbs all over her sister. “I saw herdo it. She did try to clean it afterwards though, before hanging it back onto thetree.” Marie was now trying to get her little sister out of the trouble she hadjust gotten her into.

“Ok sweetie, but next time can you ask me first? As they aren’t reallytoys, they’re ornaments, meant for everyone to enjoy. Now let’s startopening the presents.” Mom smiled at them both.

Marie started ripping into the presents in her pile.She had gotten everything she had asked for.

Debbie walked over to a very large gift that was standing by the window.She slowly began to rip away the paper and shrieked when she sawwhat is was. It was a rocking horse. Just what she had always wanted!

“I’m going to call him Windy,” said Debbie, climbing onto the saddle ofthe horse with a little help from Dad.

“What a great name that is,” said Dad. “Where did that name comefrom?” he asked, as he helped Marie to climb onto Windy so she wassitting behind Debbie. He gave the horse a gentle push to start itrocking.

For a change, both little girls were lost for words, as they sat on the new
rocking horse named Windy.

Their parents both went into the kitchen to prepare their Christmas lunchwhile the girls stayed in the playroom with their new toys.

“So you had the same dream as me then?” Marie whispered quietly to
her sister who was still sat in front of her on Windy’s back. “That’s really
funny isn’t it having the same dream?”

Marie jumped off Windy and went off to play with one of her other new
toys. Debbie stayed where she was rocking gently back and forth,holding onto the black shiny reins. Her eyes fell upon the dressing-upchest in the corner, and she was sure she could see the edge of the coatshe had worn in her dream, thinking she had imagined it.

Her eye then caught the doll’s house in the corner of the room. There,through the window, she saw Katie the ragdoll and Windy the clockworkdog beside her. As she looked at them, remembering her dream, shecould have sworn she saw them both smile and wink at her.

“Yes, it is really funny,” Debbie replied, grinning. Now she really didbelieve in magic.


Children’s Christmas Story written by Marie Phillips

Windy and the Lost Key - A Christmas Story | Bedtime Stories (2024)
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