When young Moon's dream comes true, her and her savior's world changes for the better!
"No! No, come back! Dasher, Prancer, Vixen. All of you! Come back! Boys!" Feelings of distraught and worry filled Mr. Nick. His reindeer had run away. They had gone because they were tired of flying around the world once a year just to deliver presents and get no credit.
This is bad, he thought to himself. This is VERY bad.
Christmas was only two weeks away and he needed something to pull his sleigh or else billions of kids would be greatly disappointed when they woke up Christmas morning only to find that Santa Claus hadn't delivered their yearly gifts.
What am I gonna do?
Part one: Moon's dream
The snap of the whip sent stinging pain surge through Moon's body, blood running scarlet down her once beautiful white coat and silvery mane.
"Come on!" her master ordered her. "Pull, damn it!" With a grunt of effort, Moon surged forward into her harness, the leather pinching and biting her chest as she pulled her enormous load of logs up the steep hill. Her massive hooves sank into the wet, snow-soaked ground, making the task even more difficult.
After some more whips, shouts, and even a hard kick in the foreleg, she finally reached the top, her master "Whoaing" her to stop.
Moon stood where she was, head hung low, and legs trembling. Every part of her screamed with pain.
There has to be a better life than this, she thought depressingly to herself. The memory of her parents' deaths flashed through her mind, the feelings of sorrow threatening to overwhelm her.
Her father, Ironclad, had been working his whole life, and in his younger years of life, died of pure exhaustion. This, atop of her own physical strains of enslavement, proved too much for Moon's mother to handle after birthing her. Soon after, Star couldn't pull the desired loads she was assigned and was shot in front of Moon's own eyes.
"That's what happens to the likes of ya if ya don't work," her master had said while holding on to Moon's mane, forcing her to watch her mother be killed.
No, Moon thought quietly. Not killed. Slaughtered. From that day on, she worked as hard as her body would physically allow.
Though she was now stronger than any other typical clydesdale, she, along with every other horse at the mill, were given no time to properly rest, therefore the horses' bones where breaking while just walking, their muscles aching while laying down, and will to live growing thinner by the day.
In the midst of her thoughts, Moon was yelled at again and felt the sharp bite of the whip tear open a new gash on her side, being right between two dark bruises that came from her cruel master.
Turning back down the hill for the hundredth time that day, she ignored the screams of protest that shrieked from her body. She just couldn't wait to go to the stables to sleep.
There, at night, she dreamed.
She dreamed of being something more than a workhorse. Or at least being treated nicer with good food, good stables, and no whips.
Like Santa's reindeer.
It sounded ridiculous to the other horses, but it was a paradise in her mind. She loved the thought of being able to trot on open, empty air. Flying through the night sky being able to look down below and finally see and know of something that was beneath her in the world.
Because here at the mill, she and every other horse there were at the bottom of the food chain.
That night while Moon was asleep, she dreamed of being hitched up to a big red sled, the head of the team of eight reindeer behind her. Her breath caught in her throat as she turned her head and saw a large man walking towards her, dressed in all red with white fur lining the edges of his clothes, a huge smile breaking through his thick white beard.
Coming to stand beside her, the man said, "Your gonna lead this team tonight, Moon. Your gonna mean something in this cruel, cruel world. I promise." An indescribable feeling bloomed in Moon as she looked down into his sparkling blue eyes. She trusted him more than she had ever trusted anyone else in the world.
But a harsh cry cut into her dream, jolting her awake.
"Let's go ya worthless asses! Time to get to work!" Hurriedly scrambling to her feet so she wouldn't get whipped, Moon trotted over to the line of troughs that her master was filling with old horse feed and a poor excuse for hay.
Moon sighed as she began to chew a mouthful of hay.
It's gonna be another long, cold, miserable day.
Part two: Saint Nick's discovery
As Santa plodded through the knee-deep snow, he thought deeply about what his new sled team should look like.
They have to be a big animal, he thought. And muscular, with drive and spirit. He paused for a moment, fixing the dark red, leather gloves he was wearing as part of his disguise he used when he decided to come down from the North Pole and walk among everyday people.
He was in mid stride when he heard a harsh command and the crack of what sounded like a whip up ahead. More shouts and cracks soon followed, and walking towards the sound, he found that among between the snaps of the whip and the commands there were sounds of snorts and whinnies as well.
Picking up his pace, Mr. Claus spotted a small wood cabin with an extremely worn-down wooden barn standing behind it. Going up to stand on the porch of the cabin, he looked around to make sure no one was watching, then peeked in the window. Seeing that no one was inside, he continued to follow the sounds. But before heading up the steep hill that the noises were coming from, he looked in the broken-down barn.
His interest sparked as he saw freshly flattened straw and fresh hoof prints in the barn. Looking in the newly fallen snow, he saw giant hoof prints.
"There aren't any toes," he said quietly to himself. "They have to belong to a horse. At least nine." Following the prints, he trekked up the steep hill where the sounds of a whip snapping and horses snorting growing louder.
As he continued up the hill, he saw that, trailing after the hoof prints were depressions in the snow that looked like the horses were dragging logs up the hill.
This thought made him mad.
That plus the whips, he thought to himself, don't sound good. Finally coming to the top of the hill, his eyes widened in shock as he took in all that he saw.
There were about nine--as he predicted--Clydesdales, being worked, whipped, and yelled at by an old man whose scruffy beard was gray with age, his voice scratchy and hoarse.
Searing with rage, Mr. Claus stomped over the man, who was raising his whip to hit a young white Clydesdale, grabbed his raised arm and threw him to the ground. Giving the man a hard glare, he reached down, ripped the whip out of his hand and punched him, knocking him out cold. Turning to the white Clydesdale, his hard expression melted into empathy as he held up the whip, and looking right into the horse's blue eyes, tossed it far into the woods behind them. All of the other Clydesdale had stopped and stood staring at him.
"It's ok," Mr. Nick quietly said to the horse as he reached up to take off the leather harness that wrapped around the horse's chest and shoulders. "I won't hurt you. I promise." The horse seemed to trust him, for she didn't move an inch and remained calm the whole time. Letting the harness drop in the snow, Mr. Claus gently patted the beautiful animal and started towards the other horses, undoing their harnesses, too. When finished, he whistled to them and, trusting that they knew what he meant, he started back down the hill, the sound of crunching snow behind him.
While walking, the young white horse that he had removed the harness from first caught up with him and walked by his side the whole time. Old Saint Nick knew that she was something special right away.
Continuing to walk, but stopping a lot to let the poor horse rest, they finally reached the edge of the forest where he had begun his journey. And by the tap of his foot, a large, red sleigh appeared in front of them, it's smooth surface glinting and shining in the light of the setting sun. he had to rely on the strongest winds to get them all home, for there was now thousand of pounds of extra weight. So, filling all of the large horses in the back of the sleigh, he used what magic he could muster to raise them far enough into the sky, and catching a tail wind, guided them home to the North Pole.
Part three: Moon's new life
"All right team, tonight's the big night! Time to shine!" Moon's heart raced as she let the elves' words of encouragement ring in her head. It had been two weeks since Santa had saved her and her new team from their cruel master. But now, after been fed properly, cleaned, and trained, she, along with her team were ready for this. And no one made fun of her anymore. A few had even apologized for their harsh words.
But that didn't matter anymore. What mattered was that she had a new life. She had endured the torture and was now getting rewarded for it.
And by all the stars, was it worth it.
She was being walked into the loading room, a huge chamber where all the presents were loaded into the sleigh for the trip around the world. Her elf handler gripped Moon's reins, pulling on them gently to lead her to the loading room. She was the last in line, her beige friends plodding in front of her.
As she entered the loading room, she was being lined up against a far wall, the hustle and bustle of elves and small utility vehicles with flashing orange lights on top of them filling the room.
And through it all, Moon was still able to spot the red coat of Santa walking towards them. She reared and whinnied in delight, her friends following her lead.
As Santa approached them he smiled and called to them all, "Hello, my friends! How are you!" He looked into Moon's eyes and whispered, "Hello Moon. I hope you're excited for tonight." Moon threw her head up, nodding and neighed in joy. Chuckled, the big man said, "I knew you were." Placing a warm hand on her neck, he nodded to Moon's handler who let go of her reins and walked off and began calling to the other horses' handlers. Pointing to places in front of the sleigh where the soft harnesses lay on the ground waiting for the horses to be put in them, he stood there until it was only Moon who remained against the wall.
Simply keeping his hand on her neck and walking forwards, Moon followed him to where the last harness lay. Moon's heart leaped in her chest as she was put at the head of the team. When Santa had finished tightening the straps of the harness around her body, Moon reared and brayed loudly in pride. The rest of the team threw their heads and whinnied with her, agreeing with his choice of leader.
Coming back down on all fours, Moon snorted and looked in the blue eyes of her savoir and best friend. Smiling, Santa winked at her and patted her neck. Walking away, he began calling out orders to his elves.
Looking forward to the giant door that was opening in front of her, Moon thought, this is my night to shine. My night to mean something!