The elf flew in on a blustery October evening. He came to call upon the door of one Shortstack P. Fiddlesticks, the resident giant of Hollowshead. It had been far too long in the little elf’s mind, a reunion with good ‘ol Shortstack was long overdue. With a quick rap of his knuckles, the elf heard Short stack’s thunderous voice echo on the stone walls of his mountainside cottage at the edge of the village. “Who’s there?” It roared. “It’s me, your old pal B. Tallman!” The little elf replied. There was silence, and then the door seemed to creak open of its own accord. Mr.Tallman happily stepped onto the red velvet rug of the entrance hall, and into the inviting candlelight which was a stark contrast to the thick blanket of fog outside. There came a shuddering tromp from somewhere in the back of the house, and out clomped Shortstack to greet his guest. After a hard shove of the door to keep the winds from plunging the hall into darkness, a warm salutation, a bone crushing embrace, and a throaty chuckle later, the giant invited the little elf into the parlor. This reception space was well furnished with a forest-green chaise longue, a mahogany coffee table, and two red velvet armchairs facing a crackling fire, perfect for the chill eve.
A bell was daintily rung by the giant, and a maid approached at once. An order for tea and biscuits was placed, and Mr.Tallman’s tweed jacket and stocking cap were taken away to be stored. “Well now,” the elf began, settling himself into the armchair on the right, and turning to his old friend. “How have you been? I believe we have much to catch up on.”
Shortstack P. Fiddlesticks grinned and perched himself on the edge of the available armchair. He cleared his throat in that certain way that precedes any tale worth hearing, and launched into his account of events.It began with a journey up the mountainside. The village had long been complaining of a startling smoke emanating from the very top of the feature, and logically fearing a dragon had taken refuge, sent the massive Mr.Fiddlesticks to delegate.
As much of an honor as it was to be entrusted with such a task, Shortstack had a deeply hidden secret that only his closest circle, Mr.Tallman included, knew. He was absolutely, irrevocably, unmistakably, a coward. A dragon slayer he was not. A mountain climber he dared not compare himself too. And an adventurer, well that was simply unimaginable. However, with cowardice comes every type of fear, including that of ridicule. So the giant conceded and began to pack the essentials. The only available rope was a thick bungee cord, so this he packed, along with a unicorn figurine for luck, and a large stick for poking the dragon from afar to get its attention.Satisfied, Shortstack began his ascent.
About halfway through the journey, Shortstack began to notice something. The temperature, which was expected to become cooler with the added height, was instead becoming much much hotter. The giant paused, one hand on the rope, and one tightly gripping his uni figurine. Then he looked up and up, and that was when he finally noticed from whence the smoke was sourced.
Suddenly, the doors at the end of the parlor were opened and the maid reentered, steaming tea and a full tray of scones, crumpets, victorian sponge, and Japanese fruit sandwiches in hand. She quickly crossed the room and set the tray down on the coffee table between the two, curtly curtsied, and vanished without a backwards glance. Mr.Tallman happily heaped fresh cream onto his steaming cup and turned to Shortstack.
“Well? What happened next?’ The giant turned a bit sheepish and cleared his throat once more. “Well, it turns out the mountain is actually a volcano.”
The elf paused, his cup halfway to his mouth, bottom jaw dangling. He seemed to be dumbstruck. “P-p-pardon me, I-I think I misheard you.”He finally managed to stutter.
The giant roared with laughter. He leaned forward and accentuated his laughter with a jolly clink of his cup to the tiny elves. “Yes, yes I know. It can be quite unsettling. That was indeed my very reaction.” He went on to illustrate an image of him, frozen, dangling in midair from a bungee rope. It was at this state of stasis that Shortstack’s precious unicorn slipped from his clutch and careened with maddening force to the ground below.
Now, the giant may be a coward, but disloyal he was not.Without a second thought the giant was soon hurtling through the air after his precious companion. Weighing more than 10,000 times that of the figurine’s, he reached the article in no time and was therefore left with a much more pressing and fast-approaching issue. Namely, the literal rock-bottom.
Now, this is the point where opinions may diverge. Those of a more imaginative and magical frame of mind will call what happened next nothing short of the kind of luck that only a miniature unicorn can bring, while those of a more boring mental constitution will label it as “logical”. Whatever one chooses to believe, the giant was indeed saved. With a hefty bounce, the bungee cord announced it had reached its end, and thus Shortstack was heaved upwards with such a force, that he surpassed his previous point of ascension and landed with a thunderous boom, on the very lip of the mountain.
At this point, Mr. Tallman’s eyes were practically bulging outside of his head. He studied his large friend incredulously with the obvious amazement at his old friend’s current state of well… life.
Mr.Fiddlesticks, encouraged by Mr.Tallman’s expression of awe, continued with an invigorated zeal for telling his tale.
“So there I was, staring into the blood red hellfire inside the belly of the beast…”
The giant had never felt such heat in his life. Steam escaped from the bubbling surface in slow, snaking vapors, slithering up to the very top of Shortstack’s towering height. In case there was any doubt, it was at that point very clear that this was no dragon. This was something much, much, worse.
There was only one thing to do. The giant drew his weapon(stick), and very, very carefully, reached out and poked at the lava. And once again, something happened that could either be analyzed with that magical sphere of thought, or the logical and scientific portion of the mind that the giant believed to be much more applicable to this event than the one before.
“For you see, my dear old Mr.Tallman, what I had failed to realize was that this was no ordinary stick.”
The giant drew out the stick in question and the elf drew in a gasp. He recognized that long wooden twig as the property of the Great Wizard Nobodius Minorus. It was indeed no ordinary stick, but rather a magical wand of unimaginable power. Therefore what occurred at the top of that mountain(volcano) was most definitely the only logical thing that could happen.
When the tip of the wand made contact with the top of the boiling lava, the substance was immediately transformed into the chillest of ice.
From this ice, the temperatures surrounding the village dropped exponentially. The October gusts were brought to life, like a door had been swung wide open. And the giant was knocked right over, and barreled once more toward the ground below. With the wand in one hand, and the unicorn in the other, Shortstack transformed his stationary friend into a living beast. The grateful unicorn took flight the second his wings were able to unfurl, with the giant straddled on his back, and the howling winds whipped his face and wiggled the end of his great white beard.
“And that” the giant concluded, “was that.” We set his cup and saucer down and turned to face his companion.
The elf remained spellbound, his gaze longingly fixed upon the magical instrument in Shortstack’s oversized hands. Finally he managed to blink and shook his head, forcing his mind out of the dazed state. His lips parted and he uttered the single question, “May I?” His free hand reached out for the wand, while his other gently set down his cup beside Shortstack’s on the coffee table.
“But of course.” The giant obliged his friend, hastily closing the gap between the wand and the elf’s hand. Mr. Tallman’s fingers closed around the device and cautiously brought it before his eyes for a close inspection.
“Magnificent.” He mumbled under his breath.
The elf was once more lost, this time deep in the intoxicating sweetness of daydreams. In some he sprouted wings and soared out into the glistening rain. In other, he was suddenly the richest little elf in the village. But no. There was one dream, one wish above all others that he cared for most of all.
He looked up at Shortstack. Accordingly, Shortstack looked down at Mr.Tallman. Their eyes met, and in a twinkle of magic that comes once in an autumn’s full moon, they seemed to read each others’ mind. No word was spoken. The elf simply lifted the wand, gave it the slightest of waves, and it was done.
When the maid reentered the room with a trolley for the empty dishes, the swinging door nearly knocked her over upon its journey back inside as she froze upon the threshold. For what she was met with inside was not what she had left behind.
On a blustery October evening, in a mountainside cottage at Hallowshead, sat two old friends before a parlor room’s every-so-cozy fireplace. On the seat in the left was a certain Mr. Tallman, a giant of an elf if ever there was one, and to his right, his good old friend, Shortstack P.Fiddlesticks, a dwarf of a giant as ever there could be. They conversed as good friends do, trading stories, indulging in mouthwatering scones, moist victorian sponge, and the creamiest Japanese fruit sandwiches, and sipping from now tepid cups of tea.
“It has been a lovely evening. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr.Tallman?” The short one said to the tall man.
Mr.Tallman reached his lanky arms over to the fire and placed one more exceedingly long twig onto the woodpile. “Indeed it has, Shortstack. Indeed it has.” Then he settled back into his velvet armchair, and the two friends listened to the crackling of the fire and enjoyed the warmth the newest addition to the flames had brought upon this perfect chill eve.
Jazlyn Rodriguez is the author of the short story “The Giant and the Elf”, her first published piece. She lives in Nebraska’s bustling city of Omaha along with her older sister, her parents, two German shepherds, and her beloved wall of books. She is excited about moving into a college dorm for her Freshman year in the fall, and in the meantime enjoys filling her summer with plenty of outdoor adventures to film for her Youtube channel, as well as to accrue plenty of tales worth retelling during cozy evenings, over cups of steaming peppermint tea, and in between the pages of her trusty old adventure journal.
"Seminee clasice, decoratiuni interioare living, Thomas Antqiues" by Baakie is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.