With the leprechauns dancing like maniacs to the mesmerizing tune from CelticDao’s flute, the enslaved shadows sensed freedom from their oppressors, and were seen fleeing in all directions, each in search of the person to whom it belonged.
Crow, secretly ashamed of himself for being temporarily overcome by the need to sing, scribbled in his notebook, sensing that another story was nearing a successful conclusion. The tunnel back to The Foggy Duck was dug, and all that remained for the friends was to enter it and be swept back to a cozy barstool in their own dimension.
But wait, Phoenix, who was blind but had vision better than most, was speaking:
“If we leave now, the whole thing will start all over again, won’t it? I mean, sure, if the scene that Caritas has kindly described for me is accurate, the leprechauns are temporarily incapacitated, and the shadows have fled back to their owners. But what happens when CelticDao stops playing? Won’t the whole thing start up again? Won’t the leprechauns simply round up all the shadows again and enslave them? It seems to me what is needed is some kind of re-education process. Sinterklaas is the head guy here, isn’t he? Shouldn’t we have a talk with him, and persuade him that the enslavement of shadows is not acceptable?”
Everyone’s jaw dropped, because they knew she was right. How could they all have overlooked something so obvious? Clearly, Phoenix was the smartest person here.
But it took someone with real authority to move a concept into action; it took an Administrator. And so it was Selene, with her pumpkin medallion gleaming brightly, who said, “Phoenix is right! C’mon gang, let’s find Sinterklaas!”
And so the Foggy Duckers, with the exception of CelticDao, who was keeping the leprechauns at bay, and Caritas, who was keeping Laurel at bay, swept back through the Toy Room, walked down a hallway and found a door with the gilt letters “Sinterklaas” written on it. Without knocking, they opened the door and entered.
They found him sitting behind a mahogany desk.
With a voice that sounded like thunder, Moon Cloud spoke:
“Sinterklaas, you should be ashamed of yourself. You bring joy to millions of people in our own dimension, but here in this one, you are running a slave camp. And not only that, you have a mahogany desk! Don’t you know that mahogany is an endangered species? We’re druids, and we don’t take that sort of thing lightly, you know!”
“Slave camp?” said Sinterklaas. “To have a slave camp, one would have to have people, and what you are referring to are shadows, and shadows are not people. Shadows represent the dark side, and ridding the world of them makes everything cheery and bright. No, child, you are wrong in your accusations.”
Beith spoke next:
“What you have constructed in this world, Sinterklaas, is a boring place. All worlds have a summer of brightness and a winter of dark, and it is right and proper. People also have light and dark sides, which is what makes them whole. That and several nice pairs of shoes, that is. And by the way, I’ve been a very good girl this year, and here’s my list.” The redhead dug in her pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper, which she tossed lightly onto Sinterklaas’s desk.
Reading upside down, Crow saw that the paper contained an extensive list of nothing but shoes, in a wide variety of colors and styles.
Sinterklaas sighed. “Children, you have convinced me. Oh, what have I done? How can I ever set things to right?”
It was Wolfwalker who had the answer:
“You have a huge workforce in place already, Sinterklaas. If you would retrain the leprechauns who have been patrolling for shadows, you would have enough to build toys and dig coal, and you could rotate their schedules so that none of them had to dig coal all the time.”
Sinterklaas slapped his knee and said, “Eureka! I’ll do it!”
And so the Foggy Duckers knew that they had successfully righted an injustice, and with Sinterklaas, they walked back outside. CelticDao stopped playing, and in a booming voice, Sinterklaas called to the leprechauns:
“All leprechauns, hear me! I have seen the error of my ways, and we will no longer enslave shadows. But there is much work to be done in order to be ready for Christmas. I shall need all of you leprechauns to work even harder than before, but we shall work together, and we shall be happy, and we will all have health insurance.”
Smiles were seen on the sea of leprechaun faces. Some picked up picks and shovels and started to dig coal, while most of them raced up to the Toy Store and got immediately to work.
Satisfied, the Foggy Duckers entered the tunnel and were swept back to The Foggy Duck. Barstools rocked with their sudden arrival.
Furtively, Crow removed a bottle of Laphroaig from the shelf. The old reporter had never paid for a drink, and he wasn’t about to start now.
But it was Gladys who said, “Welcome back everybody, and happy holidays. The drinks are on the house! Anything you want, but we’re out of blueberry cider.”
And when everyone had a full glass, there were clinking noises as toasts were made and friendships reaffirmed.
“Happy holidays everyone,” said Kat Lady, “And to all a good night!”