Deep in the hidden depths of Finhorn Forest there lived a small village of tree elves. As their name suggests, the small creatures occupied many of the trees dotted about the tiny settlement. A few of the older inhabitants dwelled in cabins built around and into the surrounding landscape. In one of the tree houses lived Grumpty the pygmy elf. He had all the appearances you would associate with a regular elf. Pointed ears, narrow eyes, an irregular shaped face. However Grumpty lacked one thing that all other elves possessed. Height. He was more in keeping with the size of a short dwarf then a tall elf. This caused many problems for Grumpty, as he never felt truly accepted by his family and friends. Many of the older elves found great pleasure in teasing Grumpty and he recalled one night in particular when he had overheard his parents arguing about him. His father had made a comment about how disappointed he was with Grumpty. His mother had defended him adamantly but it was too late. The damage was already done. Grumpty felt like an outcast, living in a community where he didn’t belong.
One day Grumpty was playing with some of the teenage elves by the village waterfall. Unusually, the other elves were relatively nice. They hadn’t played any pranks or teased him about his height. Grumpty was happy for once and wished that it could happen more often. Unfortunately, this momentary period of bliss was suddenly shattered, when Ogle dared Grumpty to go outside the village, into the forest alone. Young elves weren’t allowed out of the village by themselves. There were too many dangers such as wolves and humans. Being the ringleader of the elven gang, Ogle always had the final say. The other elves weren’t so bad when he wasn’t around, fearing authority too much to push things too far. But when Ogle was present he brought out the worst in them. Not to mention none of them would dare to challenge his decision for fear of receiving a beating. Grumpty considered arguing even if it meant getting beaten. Ogle and his gang were scary but Grumpty feared the forest insurmountably more. But then again why shouldn’t he go outside the village? It wasn’t like he felt any attachment to the village. His own father resented his existence. Plus, it would be brilliant to wipe the cocky smile from Ogle’s face. Eventually Ogle grew impatient and shoved Grumpty hard in the chest. Grumpty stumbled back, tripping over a hidden branch and landed in the pool at the foot of the waterfall with a loud splash. Ogle’s cronies sniggered as Grumpty emerged a few seconds later, spluttering and coughing. Ogle led them away, leaving Grumpty to flop back onto land. He was in a foul mood, not helped by the fact that his tunic and shorts were soaked right through. Grumpty fished his acorn hat out of the pond and marched stubbornly through the village. He received many puzzled and curious glances as he stormed past. At the edge of the village Ogle and gang were loitering, probably hatching another evil scheme. They turned upon seeing Grumpty approaching and burst into laughter, pointing and clapping. Much to their astonishment Grumpty ignored them and strode past, heading for the path leading away from the village.
A short while later Grumpty found himself wandering between the tall trees of Finhorn Forest, his moleskin boots squelching through the undergrowth. Grumpty glanced over his shoulder and felt frightened all of a sudden. The village was no longer in sight. The realization that he was now on his own began to slowly dawn on him. Grumpty suddenly took stock of how dark it was becoming and shivered, his damp clothes making his nose run. A fallen log on the path ahead forced him to stop and he took the opportunity to rest for a minute. The log was high but he managed to scramble up it and perch on the edge. His short legs hung over the lip, shaking slightly from a combined lack of warmth and nerves. An owl hooted in the trees above, causing him to glance around nervously. The tall, dark trees were imposing and Grumpty couldn’t shake the feeling that the towering forest had crept closer when he wasn’t looking. A flapping noise floated to Grumpty’s ears and turning he let out a loud yelp, as an airborne owl scooped him up in its large talons.
Ogle sat in his bedroom, throwing a large pinecone against the wall. Ogle was not having a good day. All his mates had gone down to Lughorn Lake, as part of their school trip. Ogle wasn’t allowed, due to being grounded on account of stealing acorns from Father Mugleaf’s churchyard. Ogle let loose some of his aggression on the pinecone and groaned, as it missed the wall and sailed out the window. Reluctantly, he pushed himself off the bed and moved to the window. Peering over the ledge, he scanned the forest floor for the fallen pinecone. A large shadow emerged over the patch of grass. Ogle recognized the outline of two great wings and shrank back inside, terror stricken. But instead of a mighty winged predator, Ogle was astounded to discover the small form of Grumpty soar past. Two massive white, feathery wings were fixed to his shoulders. Ogle watched on amazed, as Grumpty slowly descended and came to alight on a large, mossy rock. What Ogle didn’t know and continued to not know for some time, was that it was all an illusion.
The night Grumpty had been taken by the owl he was taken back to the creature’s nest. The mother owl’s plan was to feed her young owlings with the lost elf. However upon hearing the short elf’s heart wrenching story, she took pity on Grumpty. She literally took the young elf under her wing and spent the next two years raising him as one of her own. The mother owl even helped Grumpty fashion a pair of makeshift wings. They were constructed on a skeleton of branches. It wasn’t advanced enough to manipulate the feathers to allow flapping. However if taken high enough, Grumpty would be able to glide above the trees for a while. And this is exactly what happened. With the aid of mother owl and some of the younger owls, Grumpty was escorted high into the air. There he was let free by the owls and glided back to the village where he had grown up. Ogle wasn’t aware of this plan and genuinely believed that Grumpty had died and returned as an angel, in order to punish Ogle for his nefarious deed.
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