Hey everyone. I meant to have all these chapters up by now, but due to a personal illness I was unable to meet that goal, but I’m going to try and make up for lost time and hopefully get the entire series up by the end of the year. I hope you guys have been enjoying the story so far and enjoy the rest.
Chapter 15: The Babe in the woods
Many, many years after his induction into Santa Claus, INC old Saint Nick was taking a walk in the forest to the west of Claus’ castle.
“I’ll never get used to this body,” Nick remarked to himself as he stopped for yet another breath and looked down at his rotund belly with disgust.
“Why did they have to make me so fat?’
Nick’s complaints were interrupted by a strange noise coming from a westerly direction, further into the woods.
“That sounds like a baby crying,” Nick said out loud as he started in the direction of the noise.
Nick followed the noise to its source: a small baby, bundled up in a red and white blanket and lying underneath a large pine tree. Nick looked at the baby in puzzlement and looked around.
“Hello?” Is this your baby?” He called out, but the only answer was the wind whistling through the tree branches
Nick took one last look around, but once he determined no one was around, he bent down and picked up the baby.
“It’s ok little guy, I’ve got you now,” Nick said soothingly as he began to rock it back and forth. The baby’s cries turned into a cooing noise.
“Ho, Ho, Ho,” Nick laughed boisterously, causing the baby to shriek in fear.
“Ok, Ok, I’m sorry. It’s ok.” Claus whispered soothingly as he cradled the baby and began to walk back towards Claus’ castle.
“Where did you find this baby?” Claus asked as the last of the Santa Council filed into the grand hall for an emergency meeting Saint Nicholas had called.
“I found him in the woods, underneath a pine tree.”
Krampus shifted nervously in his chair as all eyes in the room fell upon him.
“I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Krampus protested, but the other Santas raised their eyebrows suspiciously.
“Ok, ok, I may have left him there for a snack later.” This received disgusted gasps.
“What? I’m a demon. I eat babies. This one just happened to be a twin and I was too full after the first one, so I put him by the tree to eat later.” Krampus shirked under the continued scolding looks of disgust.
“Don’t look at me like that. You all know what I do on my vacations.” Everyone reluctantly nodded.
“What are we going to do with him?” Saint Nick asked
“Well I’m not terribly hungry, but I suppose I could eat,” Krampus offered.
“No,” Claus interjected, “I say we find a nice family for him.”
“Uncle…” Jarvis spoke up timidly.
“Yes?” Claus asked, turning to Jarvis.
“What if my and I wife take him?”
“An elf raising a human?” San asked incredulously
“I don’t know…”
“Come on, what will it hurt?”
“Ok, but if he becomes too much then we will find a human family for him,” Claus consented
“I promise I will take good care of him,” Jarvis said with a giant grin on his face.
“What is the baby’s name Krampus?” Claus asked
“I don’t know, but I snatched him from the town of Kris Kringle.”
“Then we shall call him Kris Kringle.”
Kris grew up at the North Pole amongst the elf, becoming a strong young man and an excellent toymaker. While he was happy at the North Pole and loved his adoptive parents Jarvis and Lizer there was always a part of him that longed to know where he came from.
One night, not long after his 18th birthdayKris apprehensively entered Claus’ office.
“Come in Kris, have a seat,” Claus said joyously as he looked up from checking the naughty list and gestured for Kris to take a seat.
“Thank you, uncle Claus,” Kris said nervously
“Why are you so nervous?” Claus asked
“I have come to ask a favor.”
“Go ahead name it, you know you can ask me anything.”
“I wish to travel to the town where I was born to find my real parents,” Kris said, avoiding looking directly at his uncle.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Kris replied confidently, looking up at Claus.
“Hmm..” Claus stroked his chin, pondering this.
“Please, I just want to know who they were,” Kris looked at his uncle with pleading eyes
“Very well then. You may go. “Claus finally said after a long pause.
“Thank you, Uncle Claus,” Kris practically shouted as he rose from his seat and hugged the elf, lifting him off his chair.
“I will allow you to take one reindeer and you must go to the Master Woodsman in the Wintergreen Forest and he will make you a flying sleigh for your travel.
“Thank you,” Kris said once again as he left Claus’ office, a lightness to his step/
That night Kris, along with his new companion, Pepe the reindeer, found themselves lost in the Evergreen Forest. Kris looked around frantically for the hut of the Woodsman, but he could hardly see in the pitch darkness of the forest. A sudden chill filled the air, causing him and Pepe to shiver incessantly. He pulled to reindeer close to keep them warm and they continued to trudge through the snow.
“Perhaps I should have waited until the morning,” Kris said to Pepe, who only shrugged.
Suddenly a maniacal cackling echoed through the trees surrounding them.
Kris’ eyes widened with fear as he turned to Pepe and asked, “What was that?” Pepe shook his head, his whole body trembling with fear.
Something flashed by Kris and Pepe, causing them to jump in fright.
“Who’s there?” Kris called shakily.
“It is I, the Evergreen Witch,” a raspy and putrid voice screeched, “and you are trespassing on my land.”
“I am dreadfully sorry Ms. Witch,” Kris apologized, “I was only looking for the Master Woodsman”
“Why would you be looking for that old fool,” the voice demanded
“He is to build me a sleigh so I can go visit the town of Kris Kringle”
“You will not make it to Kris Kringle…” The voice snarled, devolving into a bought of lunatic guffaws.
The Evergreen Witch, a stout, hideous creature with green pockmarked skin, a hook nose, a burning red eye, appeared before Kris and Pepe. Hatred radiated off her body and seemed to warm them despite the wintry cold.
“You will pay for trespassing on my property,” she roared as she raised her wand.
Something silver glinted in the moonlight as it flew right over Kris’ shoulder and struck the witch, causing her to drop her wand.
“Begone Witch, this is not your property,” a commanding voice thundered as Kris turned to see a giant man in a robe made of out leaves and reindeer antlers on his head running towards them.
“You may have won this time Master Woodsman, but I shall return,” Evergreen grumbled as she disappeared back into the forest.
The Master Woodsman approached the spot where Evergreen had been and picked up the silver object: a shiny ax.
“Are you the Master Woodsman?” Kris asked
“Yes, I am the Master Woodsman” The man replied
“I am Kris Kringle, Claus sent me to get a sleigh from you so I can go to the town of my birth.”
“Oh yes. Well it is much too late for me to make your sleigh now as I was just about to go to bed, but if you stay the night with me I will make you a sleigh tomorrow morning and you can be on your way.”
“Thank you, sir. I hope I am not intruding on you.”
“Of course not, I welcome guests. I get’s very lonely here in the Evergreen Forest.”
And so, Kris and Pepe spend the night in the Master Woodsman’s hut and in the morning, he awakened to find the Master Woodsman had already made his sleigh for him.
“Thank you for everything,” Kris said to The Master Woodsman as he climbed into the sleigh, grabbing the reins that were now connected to Pepe and snapping them.
“Goodbye, my young friend and good luck.” Nok, the Master Woodsman called has Kris’ sleigh took off, head for Kris Kringle.
Kris arrived in the small town of Kris Kringle around sunset the next day, landing in the woods just outside town. He quickly got out of the sleigh, covering it up with nearby branches. “We don’t want someone stealing our ride home.” He said to Pepe.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back.” He whispered to the reindeer as he tied his reins to a nearby tree “Watch the sleigh for me.”
Pepe laid down on the ground and sulked, awaiting his master’s return.
Kris stepped out of the woods and into town, admiring the small wooden houses and stores all around him and the people hustling and bustling about. Kris had been to a couple human towns before with St. Nicholas, but if was different to see the buildings in the daylight, not to mention the townspeople who were normally sleeping when he and Saint Nicholas came to town.
Kris put on a bright smile and skipped merrily through town. The adults who saw him glared, perhaps angry at Kris for daring to be so joyful, but the children he encountered stared in wonderment and curiosity.
Kris smiled a jolly smile at the children and handed out toys he had made to bring for all the children.
One of the mothers scowled at Kris and reproached him, “What are you doing? Don’t you know that toys are illegal in Kris Kringle”?
“What? By whose authority?” Kris asked
“By order of Baron von Grinch,” The mother said matter-of-factly.
“Where is this Baron von Grinch? I must speak to him immediately.” Kris said.
“He lives in that castle over there,” The woman replied, pointing to a looming castle in the distance.
“I shall speak to him at once.”
“Good, go speak to him and leave us alone” replied the woman grumpily as she hastily ushered her kids away from Kris, forcing them to drop their toys right there on the street.
With a sorrowful wave to the children, Kris set out for the Baron’s castle.
He arrived at the Baron’s castle and was stopped at the door by the guards. The Baron’s right-hand man, Heinrich Wonky, a tall, muscular, but shrewd-looking man was there to greet him.
“State your business with the Baron?” Wonky ordered
“I am here to speak to him in regards to his ban on toys,” Kris replied
“His ban on toys has already been thoroughly discussed and there is no need for further discussion.”
“Please, I only wish for a moment of his time.”
“Alright, but only a moment” Wonky eyed Kris warily, but ushered him into the Baron’s castle, and lead him before Baron von Grinch, who sat on his throne, gnawing on a drumstick leftover from the evening’s dinner.
“What do you want?” Baron von Grinch bellowed as Kris and Wonky approached. The baron was a disgustingly obese man with balding black hair and small beady little eyes that looked like flecks of coal.
Beside Baron von Grinch stood his daughter Maria, a beautiful woman with shimmering golden hair and dazzling blue eyes that immediately entranced Kris. She looked radiant in her white fur robe and smiled warmly as she served her father another plate of food. Baron von Grinch hastily grabbed the plate, putting his turkey leg down so he could shovel more food into his face
Kris stared up at Maria, grinning softly. She glanced at him, but averted his, gaze her, cheeks turning rosy red.
“I simply wish to talk to you about the toy ban.” Kris stammered.
“There is nothing to discuss,” Baron von Grinch hollered.
“Father, please hear the man out. I have not seen him before in the village. He must have come a long way.,” Maria said soothingly, giving Kris a faint smile.
“Yes, I have. I have come from the North Pole.”
The Baron let out a snort of derision, “The North Pole? The North Pole? If you come from the North Pole then you probably know jolly old Saint Nick.”
“Yes I do. I know him very well.” Kris replied enthusiastically
“Then you can ask him why I never received the toy duck I wanted for Christmas when I was five.”
“Is that why you banned all toys in Kris Kringle?” Maria asked incredulously, giving her father a disapproving look.
“Yes, If I cannot have the toy I want then neither can the kids of Kris Kringle.”
Kris cleared his throat and looked directly at the Baron.
“If I talk to Saint Nicholas and get you the toy duck then will you lift the ban?” He asked.
The Baron thought about this for a long while, scratching the hair off his already thinning head. “I suppose I will if you can get me that toy duck.” He eventually replied certain Kris could not fulfill his bargain.
“What is your name stranger?” Wonky asked
Kris thought about the answer hard before answering. He knew he couldn’t use the name Kris Kringle so instead, he simply said, “Scott Calvin”
“Return quickly Scott Calvin for I am not a very patient man.” Von Grinch snarled.
“Yes sir,” Kris replied as he gave the Baron a bow and Maria a gentle smile, causing her to blush. Von Grinch watched his daughter with his suspicious, beady, coal eyes, but said nothing.
Kris returned to the woods and his sleigh. At the sight of Kris Pepe leaped up, nearly strangling himself on the rope that was tied to him and toppling over in excitement.
. “Easy boy,” Kris helped untangle the rope and smiled at Pepe. “I have only come to retrieve something”
In the sleigh, Kris retrieved the magic snowball he had been given by Winter before leaving the North Pole. It allowed him to speak to anyone at the North Pole. He rubbed it and said, “I wish to talk to Claus.” Within seconds Claus’ face appeared in the snowball.
“Hello, Kris. How are things in Kris Kringle?
“Not very well Uncle Claus. I tried to hand out toys, but I found out the Baron has put a ban on toys.”
“Yes, he claims Santa Claus never gave him the toy duck he wanted so now he’s punishing all the other children.”
“What is the name of this Baron?”
“Baron von Grinch.”
From a drawer in his desk, Claus drew out a giant red book and flopped it down on his desk, hard. With a grunt of exertion, he opened the book and began flipping through the pages.
“Ulrich von Grinch?”
“I don’t know. I guess”
“He did ask Santa for a toy duck almost fifty years ago, but the toy was lost. By the time we realized the mistake it was already too late.”
“Can you make another one?”
“Yes, certainly. It should be quite easy to make. I will have it made and San can teleport it to you shortly.”
“Thank you, Uncle Claus.”
Kris sat down to wait by his sleigh with Pepe the reindeer, patting his head. “I guess I’m going to be staying here with you for a little bit.”
Two hours later there was a slight pop and a black toy duck materialized out of thin air with a note pinned to it that said “A very Late Christmas present to Ulrich von Grinch from Santa Claus”
Kris immediately snapped the toy up and giving Pepe, a good luck rub under his chin before setting out at a brisk jog for the Baron’s castle.
The Baron was surprised to see Kris return, as was Maria, who gave him a flirtatious smile and shifted nervously, causing the Baron to squint his eyes and glower at Kris.
“Have you brought me my toy?” Baron von Grinch demanded
“Yes,” Kris replied plainly pulling out the duck from the pocket of his jacket and presenting it to the Baron.
A girlish giggle of delight escaped the Baron’s lips and he blushed, embarrassed.
“Wonky?” He bellowed, a little too boisterously to compensate for his girlish giggle.
Wonky appeared right beside the Baron. “Yes, your majesty.”
“Prepare a feast and go to the town and tell the townspeople that the ban on toys has been lifted.”
“Right away sir.” Wonky exited to make arrangements.
“You must feast with us, Scott Calvin.” The Baron said to Kris
“Umm.. I don’t know….” Kris said hesitantly
“Please, it would be a great honor,” Maria interjected, smiling brightly at Kris.
“Ok,” Kris consented, returning Maria’s smile.
“Do you have anywhere to stay?” The Baron asked
“I was going to stay at the local inn,” Kris replied
“Nonsense, you can stay in this castle for as long as you like. You will be our honored guest.”
“Ok,” Kris relented
Maria smiled brightly and the Baron let out a whoop of joy as he scooped the black duck he had been given and looked at it lovingly as if there was nothing else in the world..
Kris feasted merrily with the Von Grinchs that night and stayed for a while with them in their castle. He would journey each day to the woods to check on Pepe and the sleigh, but besides that he spent most of his time in at the Castle with Maria, who he would walk with during the day and sit around the fire with at night. He soon forgot about his quest to find his real parents and all his friends at the North Pole.
Finally, one night, Kris found himself sitting alone around the fireplace with Maria after Ulrich and Wonky had gone to bed. As they sat quietly Kris cleared his throat, apprehension apparent on his face in the soft glow of the fire.
“Maria?” Kris began.
“I need to tell you something.”
Kris began to say the words, but as they were about to leave his tongue he leaned in and kissed Maria instead
His lips only met her briefly before grasping nothing but air as Maria withdrew from him.
“I’m sorry Scott. I should have told you, but I’m engaged to be married. My fiancé.is coming here tomorrow and we are to be married in two days.”
“Oh, I think I should go to bed,” Kris said quietly as he got up to leave. He looked back in hopes Maria would stop him, but she just smiled weakly at him.
The next morning Kris woke early to find the entire house in a state of frenzy. Wonky and the servants were cleaning vigorously, making sure things looked good for Maria’s fiancé, Giorgio Noel II, the son of a prominent banker in the Republic of Genoa. while Maria hustled about, supervising everything. As he walked the halls he could hear the Baron singing joyfully in the tub “I love you, my ducky, I love you, my ducky…”
There was a loud knock at the door and Maria started to rush to open it, but Wonky stopped her.
“Allow me, madam,” He said as he marched towards the door, opening it. Giorgio, a tall man with long black hair, light bronze skin, and stunning brown eyes, stood in the doorway. When Kris looked into his eyes he almost fell in love with him himself.
“That’s your fiancé?” he whispered to Maria as Giorgio waltzed into Baron von Grinch’s castle like he owned the place
“Yes,” Maria replied quietly, giving Kris a weak smile with just a hint of sympathy. Kris looked away from her, unable to handle her sympathy.
“You must be Scott Calvin,” Giorgio said warmly as he approached Maria and Kris and offered his hand. “Baron von Grinch has told me a lot about you.”
Kris politely shook Giorgio’s hand. “Maria was just telling me about you.”
“Oh, well it is a pleasure to meet you.”
“You too,” Kris replied weakly as he withdrew from the handshake and sulked off, leaving Giorgio and Maria alone.
That night, Kris, who knew he could not watch the woman he loved get married to another man, snuck out of Baron von Grinch’s castle and into the woods were Pepe and his sleigh awaited.
“Hello old friend,” Kris greeted Pepe with a gentle scratch on the chin. “What do you say we go home?” He asked.
Pepe practically flew off right then and there. Unlike Kris, he had not been having the greatest time. Sure he found a few forest deer to hump, but he longed to be back at the North Pole as he wished all the deer could be North Pole deer.
A heartbroken and sad Kris quickly loaded up his sleigh and left the town that was his namesake, never even finding out who his parents were. He smiled sadly as he left, hopeful he might see Maria again someday…
 The other twin was a girl and in an alternate timeline, her brother was eaten instead and she began Kristina Kringle. Perhaps her story will be told in the sequel A Briefer History of Santa Claus, Incorporated
 Not long after arriving at the North Pole Lizer had discovered her now ex-husband Jangle in a one-horse open sleigh with her sister Cindy and after divorcing him had married Jarvis., despite them being cousins.
 Going by the date he was discovered and not the actual birthdate as that could not be confirmed.
 The Master Woodsman was an old friend of Sinter’s who was very adept at making, whose real name is Nok, wooden objects with magical properties. He lives in the woods outside of the Claus’ Mansion and makes all the sleighs.
 It was even lonelier for the Master Woodsman now that he had broken up with his girlfriend, a ponderosa pine named Rosie. He had tried to date since then, but the dating pool was very low and the one date he did have, with the Evergreen Witch, had not gone well.
 In fact, he had shown more love to the duck than his own wife, which is probably why Maria’s mother left.
 Giorgio had even been childhood friends with Christopher Columbus, who had asked him to sail with him to the new world, but Giorgio had politely declined, endeavoring to take over the family business, Noel and Son Banking instead. He had however sent Christopher a celebratory stripper gram when he heard he had discovered the new world, but the stripper died of starvation and scurvy on the way to America. It was the thought that counted at least.
 Which he would in a few years after Baron von Grinch’s heart grew three sizes and exploded.
 If he would have stayed he would have found out that his mother died during childbirth and his father died not long after. He would have also discovered that Heinrich Wonky was his uncle on his father’s side. Alas, he did not stay so he didn’t learn any of this. It was probably for the best that he never met his parents as his dad would have beat him and his mom would have gotten drunk nightly and told him the family secrets which included the fact he may not be his father’s son, but perhaps Heinrich’s.