Monday, 7 December 2015

Cruel Yule: Part 2 - Elf Service

Elvis was not a happy elf. He was sick of the same old, same old, night-after-night routine of sitting in circles around the green fires, drinking acorn mead, chewing on dried beaver hide and listening to Wilbur The Ancient churn out yet more tales from his glory days, back when the world still believed in the little people.

Trouble is, the world had moved on. Wilbur and his kind hadn’t. They still thought they were the ones that came to mind when the sons and daughters of men thought of small creatures of age-old wisdom, instead of the bat-eared syntactically-challenged Yoda with his nonsense about The Force.

Struggling to his feet, Elvis stretched to his full two-foot-six (he was tall by elvish standards) and scratched his belly. Dooley, his best friend since they’d graduated Carpentry College 42 short years ago, looked up from the deep and meaningful conversation he was trying to have with the luscious Entynne and shot him a quizzical look. Elvis dismissed his unspoken question with a wave of his hand.  

From his potato sack of honour in the corner, Wilbur the Ancient farted spectacularly and scratched his armpit, before starting the eight thousand and fifty-seventh telling of the tale how the Elvenfolk had chased the winter away for at a few short months of the year, when the world was still young and trying to work out what it wanted to be when it grew up.

Elvis rolled his eyes, made a few “stab me now” motions to his old friend, and strolled over to the shed window. Cold light spilled over the sill but he couldn’t see what was on the other side. These sheds weren’t built with elves in mind. 

Looking around, his green eyes settled a on a collection of used paint pots, huddled together in the corner like sheep on a rainy hillside. That would do, he thought, and he dragged two over to beneath the window – one for each foot. They were enough to raise his gaze to just above the sill, giving him a good view of the bleak farmyard outside.

Over the squeal of the blizzard, he heard the beasts in the barn getting restless, beating their horns against the wooden walls and stamping their hooves on the beaten earth floor.  The steam borne of the warmth of living, breathing animals packed tightly together meeting the frigid night air rose out from under the eaves.

Across the yard, the flickering light of a dying fire threw exaggerated shadows. A small square lantern sat on the desk in front of the window, and in its glow lay Klaus, sprawled over piles of papers with a hand clasped firmly around a battered pewter tankard.
Elvis checked the yard again. The snow on the ground was undisturbed. No footprints led from the house to the barn and back again.

As if in confirmation of his growing suspicion, an angry bellow rose from the low wooden hut and the sound of antlers battering the door tore through the night.

Great, thought Elvis. The old man’s drunk himself into a stupour and forgotten to feed the reindeer. Tomorrow morning will be fun and games. If there's anything worse than a hermit with hangover, it's a herd of ravenous reindeer that haven’t been given their evening nightcap.

He hesitated, wondering what to do. A strong sense of duty tugged at his conscience, but just as strong were the fears planted in his elvish mind by bedtime stories of dark creatures hiding in the corners that moonlight couldn’t reach, just waiting for a foolish young elf to venture out and give them a midnight snack. 

Visibly trembling with indecision, Elvis wondered what would happen if he did nothing and left the beasts hungry for just one night. 
Just how bad would that be? 
After all, it wasn’t his job to….
...The sound of splintering wood made the decision for him. There was more than enough work lined up him and Dooley tomorrow without having to rebuild a barn.

Grabbing his jolly red and green hood (how he hated having to wear a uniform!), he crept over to the door and carefully opened it an inch. He stuck his pointed nose through the gap as if to smell for any danger, then pulled it open just enough to slip though without being noticed by Wilbur’s rapt (or snoring) audience.

Stepping gingerly into the open, his eyes as wide as saucers as he peered into the dark corners for hidden foes. Nothing moved but the snowflakes gusting through the air – any other creature with half a brain would be tucked up somewhere safe and warm, even the those who preyed on adventurous elves. Gulping the air as if to swallow a giant helping of courage, Elvis dashed in the direction of reindeer shed.

As he reached it, a creaking sound made him look back, to see the small but perfectly formed figure of Entynne creeping out of the elf shed and skittering across the yard to join him.

“Oi! What are you up to Enron?” she breathed as she reached the barn door where he was standing.

“Elvis.”

“Oh yeah, right. Sorry.”

“I think the old man’s passed out for the night without feeding the beasts.” An angry tap dance of hooves within confirmed his fears. “So I thought I’d better do something, otherwise there’ll be hell to pay in the morning.”

Lilac eyes stared at him in disbelief.

“But that’s not your job, Eldrin.”

“Elvis.”

“Yeah sorry.... 
So, d'ya want a hand?”

Now it was his turn to stare in disbelief. Gulping back his nerves, Elvis nodded thanks and pushed the door open to let the lovely Entynne enter the barn.



…want to know what happens next? Stayed tuned.

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