Date: 24th December.
Location: The Workshop, North Pole.
The generator began to hum and the stage lights flickered then slowly came to life. They lent a soft light, which spread shadows about the stage. Nick remained at the dais. His bushy white eyebrows furrowed as he tapped his fingers, one by one, while the mysterious puzzled pink face disappeared into the cloud. Malakai had replaced it at its centre. His skinny frame protruded from the clouds remnants, which he waved away before he straightened his suit. Click. Click. With the snap of his long-bony fingers, the crystal disappeared.
Malakais silver hair sparkled and his yellow eyes glowed above the audience who remained in darkness although their chatter filled the room. What they had witnessed? Was it another of Nicks infamous stunts? Surely he wouldnt try something like this after what happened last time. Would he?
Malakai walked to the centre of the stage. He raised a finger to his lips, quieting the audience, but not so the Directors, who chattered behind cupped hands although Norbert banged his gavel. The Chairman has the floor, he repeated, over and over emphasising each statement with a bang.
And I would gladly surrender it for an explanation of the spectacle we have just witnessed, said Nick.
That was my intention, Malakai said as he turned sideways to face between the audience and the Board, swaying between both, to address them simultaneously. First good people, my apologies for my late and dramatic entrance. My role as chief auditor has necessitated my absence today to collate information, which I will present to you now. That such evidence came to light today, the day of our annual general meeting, is a happy coincidence for as you know it is rare to have so many stakeholders gathered under one roof. The matter is of utmost importance. It concerns not only the fortunes of S.A.N.T.A. Inc. but also the existence of Elves on this planet. You see, dear people, I have uncovered evidence that humans have discovered the Gateway, and they plan to use it against us. Its a conspiracy so large and so bold that it is almost beyond reckoning. Mankind wishes to domesticate Elves, like cats and dogs.
Malakai paused. He allowed his words to diffuse their way through the audience whose eyes widened further as the silence continued. The seconds ticked by in silence until he snapped his fingers. Click. Click.
A screen appeared upon the stage. Next a pointer materialised in his hand. He continued
With the exception of those involved within Omnispheric accountancy, most of you wont have seen these, he said as he waved the pointer to the screen where a three-axis graph appeared before him. They are the accounts for the Gateway, which record the flow of magic from the Omniverse to the Earth. As you are aware, F.O.M.P. controls magic throughout the Omnisphere and as its licensee on earth we are singularly responsible for every micro-ziotule of magic that enters the Gateway. We hold unlimited liability for any breach that may occur as a result of its loss or misuse. And this, dear people, is my tragic news. An envoy from F.O.M.P. has contacted me today. They have audited our accounts and discovered a leak. S.A.N.T.A. Inc. is under investigation." Malakai took a small pair of gold-rimmed glasses from his pocket, taking a sip of water from a crystal tumbler before turning to face the screen. He cleared his throat to quiet the hum of the audience.
"If we consider the diagram on the right you will observe a disparity between the readings during three consecutive months. June, July and August, said Malakai as he ran the pointer up and down each peak during his two-second pause. Allowing for Strods Law of Magical Absorption; Kaylee's Inverse Square Law, we are showing a deficit of twelve-and-one-half-per-cent! To put this into perspective our greatest accountancy error to date was in 1842 when Chief Statistician, Parvy the Elder, celebrated is 1,000th birthday for two-hundred-and -seventy consecutive days. Even at his most debauch the median level of accountancy error was calculated at two-and-a-half per cent! Malakai paused as he looked into the audience. Twelve percent is beyond mistake. It is beyond miscalculation. It can only represent a breach of security.
A loud murmur broke from the audience.
Norbert interjected. Thats quite and accusation Brother Malakai, but wheres the evidence?
Malakai continued. Less than ten minutes ago a face appeared upon the stage with mine. A human face whose appearance can only be explained by
Yes, replied Norbert. I agree. The face was human.
Norbert nodded his head slowly. He gripped his chin, tilting his head to the side.And?
The human can only have appeared by magic, replied Malakai.
Yes, Norbert conceded. Get to the point.
Someone must have supplied him with the magic or shown him how to get it!
Who would do such a thing? said Norbert.
Who more likely than another human? Malakai continued. Who is the only human within our ranks with sufficient clearance to gain access to the Gateway? Who spends almost as much time among humans as he does around Elves? said Malakai as he gazed scornfully toward his Chairman.
Nick turned to face Malakai. His eyes squinted as he took a deep breath and prepared to speak.
I call for an adjournment, said Norbert and instantly the stage rotated and a partisan wall dropped to separate it from the auditorium