Chilling wind swept across the frozen landscape as night began to set in. It was snowing only lightly, but the temperature was dropping quickly, which for Tyramini meant her time was quickly waning. The tiny elf, barely more than six inches tall, was walking past some trees, where the snow wasn't higher than her knees, clutching her partly soaked, trembling as she walked. Her long, golden hair had partly frozen already, her pointy ears had long since gone numb, and life seemed already to be fading from her deep green eyes.
Although she wore a suitably warm, green tunic, it was useless wet, now only retaining the water as it slowly turned to ice. If she didn't find someway to save herself soon, she would die.
Her teeth clattered as a puff of her breath dissipated as she exhaled. 'How
how could it all go so wrong?' she thought to herself. 'Why did it turn out this way?'
Another strong gust came through, as the braches above her quaked. Tyramini hugged herself more tightly, then quickly looked around. Finding a nook between some tree roots, she hurried over to escape the wind as quickly as she could, huddling up.
Part of her wished she'd stayed home today, with her family, in their nice, cozy abode within a large oak. Her father might have a fire going, her mother and older sister preparing a nice, warm meal. She would be cozy, relaxed, safe, not frozen to the bone. Now she might never see her family again.
Yet, another part of her told her that she'd done what she needed to do. She couldn't have known events would turn out this way. And what of all the people she'd helped?
Elves in the land were friends of nature, and helpers of all those in need, whether they were plant, animal, or human. Even though in this day and age humans seemed to have forgotten their smaller friends, the elves still aided them where they could, even if it was in secret.
Tyramini was one who'd devoted her life full time to seeking out those in trouble, lending both hand and her magic wherever she could. Her family, and even her village council, felt that she was too young to be engaged in such tasks, for at seventy-four, she was still very young. The world was still dangerous for one so small, even with her magic.
A smile crossed her face as she reminisced, wondering if they hadn't been right. But, no matter how much they'd warned against it, the joy she felt when she was able to bring happiness to another for her outweighed any peril.
She remembered the very first human she'd helped, some twenty years ago, back when she was still training in the magical arts. It was summer then, and she was practicing her leaf riding, a particularly elfish mode of travel. As the leaf she was riding on, enchanted by her magic, carried her over a small creek, her sharp ears picked up someone crying. Both curious and worried, she speedily headed in the direction of the sobs.
Very quickly she came to the source; it was a small boy, light of skin, dark of hair, who was huddled beneath a tree by the stream. Her hand covered her mouth, covering a gasp, as her heart went out to the poor child. He seemed no more than perhaps five or six, and she couldn't see any adults nearby. Likely he was lost. Her first thought at the time was to quickly call for one of the other more experienced elves in the area, but just as she was about to go find one, she reconsidered.
She couldn't just leave him! And surely there was something she could do. After mulling it over a few moments, she decided to take action. With a simple gesture, the leave descended down to where the boy was, floating at about his face level.
"Hi there!" Tyramini said with a smile and a wave. The boy looked up from his legs, still sniffling, and his eyes went wide upon seeing her. "Hey, now, don't be afraid. I'm here to help you. Are you lost?" she asked soothingly.
He responded by nodding his head. "I see, don't worry," she said. "Do you know where you came from, or where your parents are?"
Looking about him nervously, he stammered. "N
." He buried his head in his knees again, and began weeping again. "
"Ah, ah, it's okay, it's okay! You don't have to cry," she quickly replied, holding her hands up. 'Poor boy,' she thought, wondering how to calm him down. An idea then struck her.
She hopped off the leaf, landing lightly on the ground, and cleared her throat audibly. When the boy looked up at her, she extended her right hand to her side, and channeling some magic, created a pink ball of light. The boy 'ooh-ed' at this, and she extended her left hand to her side, creating a yellow ball of light, to which he was similarly impressed. Giggling a bit, she then proceeded to juggle the two lights. The child, finding great interest in this seemed to stop crying. As he calmed down, she created more lights, a light green one, a teal, and a pale orange. When he'd gone from crying to laughing, she flung the lights over her head, letting them burst into quite fireworks.
The child clapped and squealed. "Wow, that was amazing!" he said. "Hey, hey, what are you, anyway?"
"Me? I'm just a friendly little elf," she laughed warmly, approaching him, hopping onto his lap. "My name is Tyramini, what's yours?"
It took a moment for him to try to take in her appearance. "A-Alexander, but everyone calls me Alex."
She smiled as she walked toward his abdomen. "Alex, then, good to meet you." She gently took a bit of his shirt and tugged. "Come on, I'll help you find your mother.
For the next ten minutes, Tyramini rode on Alex's shoulder as he walked. She sat against his neck, trying to be close and comforting, as she led him along. With her powers she read nature's messages, trying to sense the presence of another like him. A few tips were gained from some friendly squirrels, and finally near the edge of the forest she saw a woman looking frantically, and calling out the name Alex.
"Mommy!" the boy shouted, running full speed into her arms.
"Alex! Oh, my Alex! Where were you?" she asked, tremendously relieved.
"In the forest, Mom. An elf brought me back!" he said excitedly.
His mother looked at him curiously. "An elf? What do you mean, dear?"
"The elf lady right here
huh?" As he looked to his shoulder, he found she was gone. "She was right here, really!"
Sighing, his mother hugged him. "It doesn't matter, sweetheart, you're safe now. Let's go home."
As the two of them turned to head home, Alex looked back to the forest, and a gleam caught his eye up in a tree. He smiled, seeing Tyramini with a yellow light. She burst it, and then waved at him. He happily waved back, before going on with his mother.
In the branch of the tree, she put a hand to her chest. It was a wonderful feeling she had then, such a wonderful feeling.
An icy gust blew a few snowflakes over the nook, a few landing on the head of the shivering elf, snapping her back to the present. 'Yes
such a wonderful feeling,' she mused.
Since then, she trained continuously in her magical arts, and strove to be one of the world's helpers as quickly as she could. Some though that such a young elf wouldn't know her own limits, but she had assured them she knew not to overuse her powers. Confident at the time, it was overusing her powers that got her into this mess. She tried to hold herself even tighter, hoping to at least keep in some warmth.
The day had started off like many others, with her taking off early in the morning from home, flying about in on one of her leaves, which never withered, even in the bitterest of cold. As she was often prone, she flew toward the small human town, as taking care of the tall folk was something she specifically volunteered for. It had been a pleasant day. She first to the part, wishing to feel the love in the air that was often present at the frozen pond used for ice skating. Seeing a fairly young couple in a bit of distress, she wondered what was troubling them so. The young man seemed a little nervous speaking to the woman, and frantically felt about his coat. She wondered what could be the problem when her sharp eyes picked up a small box near the edge of the rink. Realizing the problem, she quickly worked a spell to whisk it near him. Upon seeing it, he gave a shout, and quickly picked it up. He moved closer and first apologized to the woman for his clumsiness, spoke a few words, opened the box to reveal the ring, and was nearly knocked down by the kiss that he received. Both seemed elated.
Tyramini grinned as she put her hands to her cheeks, happy that she'd been able to help them. She next encountered a lost puppy, looking sad lonesome. She played with the puppy a bit, getting it to follow her around the park, until its owner saw it. The puppy ran to the young girl, much relieved. Another good deed she was on a roll today!
Several more times that day she was able to bring some happiness to others, each time relishing the heartwarming feeling she got each and every time. Later, when the sun began to sink over the western hills, she figured she'd give one more pass through the town before heading home. Flying over the main street, far above the traffic, she looked down to see some children crossing the street, one with a ball. Just as the lights changed, the one with the ball accidently dropped it, and it rolled into the street. Quickly the child chased after it, even as an oncoming car headed right for him, having a hard time stopping on the slick road.
Her heart completely leapt into her throat. The child! She had to do something! No time to think!
Conjuring up all the power she could, she sent a strong gust of wind at the young human, which caught in his coat, and blew him back as the car careened past. The parents quickly rushed to the child, seeing if it was hurt, as Tyramini breathed a heavy sigh of relief. That was close, way to close.
Even as she felt relief for the child's safety, she began to feel weary. She also noticed her leaf began to wobble and sink. 'Oh no,' she thought, 'I've used too much power
." Trying to fight an oncoming wind, she tried to maintain control of her leaf to no avail. The gusts blew her around as she descended, and she gave a tiny scream as she splashed into the creek that ran along the outside of town.
Freezing water surrounded her, and she struggled as much to get to the surface as she did to keep from gasping water. Eventually she was able to swim toward the rivers edge and drag herself out.
After some struggling against the wind, the terrain, and the frigid air, Tyramini now found herself hiding as she was, wondering just how long she had before she froze. Slight tears fell from her eyes, freezing against her cheeks, as she thought of her family, her village, her home, and if she'd ever see them again. She wondered if they were out looking for her, seeking to find her, and wondered if when they did, she'd be anything more than a lump in the ever increasing snowfall. She closed her eyes, pressing her face against her legs in hopes to find some warmth that was no longer there. Growing tired, her awareness began to fade.
"Ah!" she gave a shout as she shook herself awake. She'd fallen asleep, though only for a little bit, but enough that she was partly covered in snow. Realizing this, she tried to move around, only to find her limbs stiffened, and stuck to her clothing. This was bad, very bad. Any longer like this and she would perish.
Desperately she looked within herself, for some last bit of magic, even a spark. She had some, but she'd only be able to cast one spell. Seeing as it was now or never, she focused and chanted to herself, turning the mystical energy into heat. She felt it flowing through her body, to her toes and fingers, which she hoped were not frostbitten. Too soon after it started, she felt it give out, and she sunk a little in exhaustion, having used the very last of her magic until she could channel more, an impossible task in her current state.
It had been just enough though. Her limbs could move, and she felt that she could stand. Where she would go, however, she didn't know. She couldn't make it back to her village on foot like this, and she had no power left to call to any animals to aid her.
Managing to get to her feet, and decided that trying something was better than giving up, she set off once again. Each footstep was grueling, for she had to trudge through much heavier snow. Elves could traverse snow quite easily, but without her magic reserves, Tyramini sunk more deeply than she otherwise would.
Minutes passed as she hiked, not sure where she was going, and her eyes not able to see clearly. Her pace began to slow, and her body started to sway. Something drove her on, told her to keep going. Images of the life she'd had filled her, all the happiness she'd known, and all she'd brought to others. If only she could go a little farther then maybe, just maybe she'd live.
Her body gave out, and she collapsed in the snow.
There was nothing left in her, the cold having taken its toll. She tried to get her legs to stand, they would not. She tried to prop herself up with her arms, to find they wouldn't budge. With a pitiful groan she tried to at least roll over, and at least managed that with her last bit of effort.
Looking now to the canopy, she felt she could see some stars past the few clouds as light snowflakes fell on her. She knew her body had to be shaking, but she was so numb she couldn't feel it, only the deathly chill that swept over her. Her senses were dulled, and she could feel her sight diminish.
In spite of everything, she managed to smile. Perhaps it wasn't so bad. Many had been helped because of her, several whose lives she'd saved. They would still be around, living merrily, even if she wasn't. She would be found, in time, but if nothing else, her memory, what she'd done, would live on. She could be happy with that.
Letting her eyes close, once again, she felt prepared to let herself go, to wherever the winds would take her. Even now she heard them dimly, the crunching of snow as they approached
Or were they? It certainly didn't sound like the great winds. Her thoughts were jumbled, but she was pretty sure that winds didn't have footsteps. They seemed fairly large too. Though faint, she felt there was a presence standing over her.
oh! Oh my, it
its an elf!"
The words were a little dim in her ears, but she knew now that someone had come for her. The voice was deep and full of concern, and was much greater than that of an elf. With a bit of effort, she opened her eyes, which had not quite frozen shut.
Above her loomed a large figure, dressed in brown, which seemed to be crouching down toward her. It's voice was deep and masculine it
it had to be a human.
"Hey, hey! Are you alright?" the man asked worriedly.
help me!' she Tyramini shouted in her mind, but she could only groan in reply.
I'll help you, hold on," he said.
Her eyes had cleared a bit as she blinked away the cold, a newfound hope rose within her. Yes, she could be saved now. She could see him more clearly; the brown was a long coat, and upon his neck was a red scarf. His eyes were a dark brown, as was his hair, which was a tad long. He removed his gloves, putting them in his pockets, and reached toward her.
She was a little nervous at first, seeing the two large hands coming for her, but it passed. Immediately, she could feel the heat coming off them, so soothing amidst the frigid air. At first he wafted away some of the light snow that covered her, and she then felt the great fingers that curled around her back and legs. When she could feel them envelop her, she felt herself carefully lifted out of the snow. His face moved ever closer to her as she was raised to it, which looked handsome and kind.
"My word, you're nearly frozen. Just relax, I'll take care of you," he said. She could see his eyes darting around, as if searching for an answer. When he seemed to find one, he spoke gently to her. "Don't panic, uh
miss. I'm just going to heat you up. I won't harm you, I promise."
'Yes, help me! Please! Please!' he mind yelled, but outward she could only manage a weak, agreeable murmur, and a slight not of her tiny head.
The man nodded to her, and she felt her body gently sway and she was tenderly moved to his right hand, his fingers wrapping securely around her. With his left, he lifted his scarf, and she stayed calm as she was brought underneath it. Within the scarf, the cold was entirely shut out, and as his fingers loosened as she was carefully held to his neck, the hand softly pressing her against it.
She turned her head to the side, pushing her cheek to his skin, which to her now was incredibly hot. Warmth
it seemed too long since she'd felt any, and now it surrounded her completely. The crystallized ice in her hair, her clothes, her boots, it all seemed to melt instantly, and even the dampness that resulted was not a bother. Already she could feel life flowing back into her body, though it was slow at first.
Tyramini felt the man's body rise as he stood. "I'll take you back to my place. We should get you a warm bath and some dry clothes or
or something." She felt her self begin to move along with him, as he started to walk. "I'll take care of you. You'll be alright." She felt the vibrations of his voice as they passed through her.
Her arms had enough motion now that she bent them at the elbows, enough that her hands could feel his soft skin. Just beneath the surface, she felt his rhythmic pulse, easing her mind, and driving away any fears for her life. Shifting her legs a bit, they joined her arms in wrapping along the curve of his neck. It was a tiny hug, but all she could manage.
'Thank you,' she thought but wished she had the strength to say. 'Whoever you are, thank you.'
Time was immaterial to her, being in such a state of bliss, but even so the man's trek back to his home wasn't that long. She couldn't see much in the darkness of her shelter, but could hear his steps change from crunching snow, to something more like stone. She heard a slight creak and a large door opening and closing. "Whew, cold out there. Hold on a moment, I need to take of my things."
She gave a pleasant coo into his ear, though she now could manage more. Her body was shifted down, settling onto his shoulder, her front still against his neck, and his right hand slowly moved away. She pouted a little at the sudden loss of body heat against her back, but the scarf was still there. As the man went about undoing his winter wear, her body lightly swayed. Before too long, she felt the hand return over her back, where part of her hoped it would remain, and felt thick fabric of the scarf around her loosen as he unwound it.
When her vision was unobstructed, she took a look around with only her eyes. It was a quiet, inviting home, much like her own, but had devices humans had in these days, which she didn't really understand. Humans seemed to be able to work their own magic, at times. Her clothes were almost steaming, and it was nice to be inside again. The man slowly made his way for one of the comfy looking chairs, and eased his way down. She was a bit tickled inside that he was being so careful as he handled her.
"Hey, is it alright if I move you a bit? I'd, um, like to talk to you," he asked.
"Certainly, go ahead," she replied, even as she hoped to stay where she was.
"Okay, I'll be gentle," he said. She felt his neck tilt, and relaxed as her weight was shifted into his palm. His thick fingers squeezed around her only slightly, and her perspective changed as she was moved away. His other hand had risen, and she was delicately set a little onto it, and eventually found herself sitting between his cupped hands.
She looked up to his caring eyes, which then met her own, and she smiled up to the much larger human. He seemed to get a bit red in his cheeks and looked away a moment, then returned. 'How cute,' she thought with a sweet giggle.
The man seemed hesitant to speak. "Um, so
how are you feeling? Your not chilled anymore, right?"
Giving her head a slow shake she replied. "No, not anymore. I'm fine now, thank you. Really, I thank you. You're very kind."
"Oh, well, thank you," he answered. "I
I do what I can."
'Such kindness,' she thought. She examined his face more closely; he seemed familiar somehow.
"So then, ah
I should get you a bowl of hot water, or something, and, ah, get those clothes dry. Oh, don't misunderstand me! I won't peek or anything.
That got a heartfelt laugh out of her. "Oh, don't worry about that, I trust you," she said. She cocked her head in thought. "I'm curious though, how is it that you know of elves? Most humans I think no longer believe in us."
"Oh, well," he cleared his throat. "Actually, I've believed in elves since I was little, he said. "I've known for a long time they were real."
Blinking curiously, she inquired. "Really? How's that?"
"A-ha, well, there was this one time back when I was young
I don't quite remember everything, but there are some parts I definitely remember. I was out chasing after a rabbit one day and got lost in the woods. I tried to find my way back, but, well, it was pretty much hopeless for me. Then the elf flew in on a leaf, and
I remember her juggling, which was pretty neat, and then she helped me get back to my mother. I never forgot her kindness. I'd always hoped I could see one again."
Tyramini's jaw had practically dropped with her shock, but she had enough sense to close it. "I see, sounds like a wonderful experience."
"It was," he said. "Well, anyway, shall I draw a bath for you?"
"Wait, hold on!" she exclaimed. "I mean, that
that can come later. For now, could you
just hold me for a little while longer, like you were?"
The man now looked a bit surprised. "Oh, um, sure. Okay, no problem. He then went about returning her where she was, and soon she was again near his loving warmth. This time, she wrapped herself in a more thorough hug.
Alex. You've become a fine man," she said, closing her eyes.
"Huh? Hey, how did you know my name?" he asked.
She giggled again, nuzzling he face against him. "Don't worry. I'll tell you later."
And so the two remained, for a time, close to each other on that cold winter's night. In her life, Tyramini had always enjoyed spreading kindness and good tidings to all she could, never asking for anything in return save the joy she felt by doing so. However, gifts like these, which moved her like no other, she was all too happy to receive.