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The story opens with a quick overview of Santa's castle in the Laughing Valley. Its focus soon switches to the five Caves of the Daemons in nearby (though unnamed) mountains. These creatures are pagan daemons rather than Christian demons, in that they are not servants of Satan or necessarily evil. Four of the five, the Daemons of Selfishness, Envy, Hatred, and Malice, certainly are bad, but the fifth, the Daemon of Repentance, is a more ambiguous figure.
The Daemons of the Caves resent Santa Claus because children under the influence of his gifts rarely visit their caves. They decide to frustrate his efforts and counter his influence. (The Daemon of Repentance goes along with the plan, since children cannot reach his remote cave without passing through the caves of his compatriots beforehand.) The Daemons first try to tempt Santa Claus to their own vices; they visit him one by one, and attempt to lure him into selfishness, envy, and hatred. Santa Claus merely laughs at their clumsy efforts. (The obvious model for these episodes is the Temptation of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels.) Failing at temptation, the Daemons instead kidnap Santa Claus; they lasso him as he is riding in his sleigh on Christmas Eve, and bind him in their caverns.
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