The news of Grumpty’s return had spread like wildfire throughout the village. As more elves learnt of the alarming news a crowd had begun to gather around the large mossy stone which Grumpty proudly stood upon. Chores and jobs were suddenly forgotten about and the young elves were even allowed out of afternoon school lessons for the special occasion. For the first time in Grumpty’s life he felt a sense of awe and respect from the elven community. Whispers and hushed voices rippled around the converging group as they gazed up at him with excited and startled expressions. The only elf not in attendance was Father Mugleaf who was cowering behind the oak alter in the village church. Mugleaf had been tending to his acorn trees in the churchyard when he had glimpsed the flying form of Grumpty. Due to the bright midday sun all he had managed to make out was a large, black shadow with giant wings. Fearing it to be a demon sent from the underworld to punish the elves for their sinful ways he had dropped his watering can and scuttled hurriedly inside. Unfortunately no one had been able to reach Mugleaf to inform him of the creature’s identity as he had bolted the church doors shut, hoping that the holy place of worship might protect him from the winged terror. When silence had descended, Mugleaf ventured a peek over the alter but hurriedly ducked down when he heard what he believed to be the sound of elves screaming in terror. But he was mistaken. The elves were not crying out in fear but instead cheering in delight as Grumpty proudly displayed his impressive wings. No one more so then Barkle The Inventor who upon seeing the majestic form of Grumpty atop the stone had shouldered and barged his way to the front, eager to understand the mechanics of the custom made wings. As Grumpty twirled on the spot, allowing the cool breeze to ruffle his feathers, he grinned from ear to ear at his captivated audience. They were taking him seriously now. Not just a pint sized elf that they could make fun of and use as a football anymore. Grumpty now felt a tremendous amount of power and influence over the small assembly and he was going to exploit it as much as possible. Barkle jumped up and down like an excited puppy as he scrutinized the elaborate wings.
Later that night there was much rejoicing at Grumpty’s return and a great feast was put on to mark the occasion. Grumpty couldn’t seem to get a moment’s rest. If it wasn’t Barkle pestering him about the design of his wings then it was the younglings asking him to tell them stories of his grand adventures beyond the forest wall. Grumpty was growing tired of Barkle and his continual stream of questions but he took great delight in recalling his adventures to the little ones. As the night of festivities carried on and the acorn wine began to flow more steadily, Grumpty felt a fuzzy warm feeling flow through his body. The other elves adored him and since his arrival he had been plied with heaps of gifts and mountain sized plates of food. He had lapped it all up, filling his gut to the point of bursting and drinking his body weight in wine. The only dampener on the evening had been when Ogle had arrived at the party. This hiccup was soon remedied however when Ogle had tried and failed miserably to embarrass and upstage Grumpty. Ogle had been heckled and booed until eventually he relented and retreated to a corner of the party tent to sulk in the shadows. Grumpty glanced over at where Ogle sat and was delighted to see how miserable he was looking. Ogle caught his eye and Grumpty raised his cup of acorn wine to him. Furious and red faced, Ogle had stormed out of the party, leaving Grumpty to giggle with the younglings.
The next day Grumpty was roughly awoken by a series of loud bangs on his treehouse door. Feeling a little worse for wear, he cradled his head in his small hands and staggered to the door. The early morning sunlight blinded him momentarily and caused a searing pain to shoot through his head. When he had recovered from the shock of the outside world he was surprised to find Ogle waiting outside.
A small cluster of elves stood huddled around the mossy stone, their expressions grim. Grumpty sat on top of the stone, deep in thought. During the night Ogle’s mother had gone missing. Ogle had presumed she had gone to the lake to get fish but after three hours there was still no sign of her. Nut, the village elder and continual bearer of bad news believed that a teen wolf might have kidnapped her as part of their initiation into wolf adulthood. As much as no one in the village wanted to face that grim prospect the truth was that it was a regular occurrence. Azral The Trader had learnt from his travels to the neighbouring villages that there had been a spree of kidnapping related incidents in the last couple of months. Grumpty sighed and glared at Ogle. Here in front of him stood the boy who used to torment him on a daily basis. Who single handedly ruined his childhood years. And yet Grumpty couldn’t help but feel sorry for the distraught elf. Menace or not, no one should be separated from their mother. So, bearing this in mind Grumpty climbed slowly to his feet and announced that he, Grumpty, would go with Ogle in search for his mother. Ogle was so grateful for the kind gesture that he threw himself on the ground and begged for forgiveness for his past sins.
After much discussion and deliberation it was decided that a small team from the village would accompany Grumpty and Ogle on their journey into the forest. Azral and Nut would provide navigation as they were the two elves with the most extensive knowledge of the forest itself. Barkle would also tag along as his skills as an inventor might come in useful when setting up a camp. Lastly Father Mugleaf had joined up as he felt guilty at his action of barricading himself in his church and leaving the village to it’s fate when Grumpty had arrived.
So the six elves set off from the village and Grumpty found himself traveling alongside his arch nemesis.
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