I stood amongst the cedar trees, my snowshoes caked with snow, listening and waiting. I checked my weapons again, the icicle in my left, the sharpened peppermint stick in my right, making certain I had not cracked them without noticing. This would be the final battle. There was not enough belief in the world for all of us.
I had tracked Grandfather Frost for miles before catching him by the shores of the Baltic. Hours we fought, before I finally knocked him down, then held his head under the surf until he finally grew still. When I let go, he melted away, leaving only a faint scent of snow and gingerbread.
I made camp in the forest, but that night a sound woke me. I awoke to find a small present wrapped in silver and gold by my head. I unwrapped it to find a lump of coal and a note: I SEE YOU.
I burned the coal and the note in my campfire. “Ho ho ho,” I whispered in the flickering light. In the morning I traveled north. I knew where to find him. It had come down to the two of us, as I had known it would all along.
Behind me I heard the sound of jingle bells. I turned and there he was, blue eyes blazing above red robes. “Kris,” he said with a wink.
I nodded back. “Nicholas. I’ve got a present for you.”
As we charged, our laughter echoed in the forest.