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“So, you do not wish to present your daughter to me in joining,” Joulupukki looked directly at Raðulfr and spoke in a serious tone. “Well, this may change things. I thought she was of good quality, but if her father will not present her himself than maybe I'm mistaken.” He could barely contain his laughter as he said this. Jessica's eyes were bulging and she struck him hard on his arm.
“Who do you think you are Elf King,” she said a bit too loudly. The people closest to them looked up and stared at them for a moment before returning to their browsing.
“Shhh,” came from all of them but her father.
“Elf King,” Raðulfr questioned?
Embarrassed and a little taken by surprise Joulupukki thought it best to be honest with Jessica's father.
“I am temporary King of the Elves in the Village Clan,” Joulupukki told him, “The official ceremony is yet to come.” He would have to tell him if he came with them. He thought now was as good a time as ever.
“Elf King? That makes no sense.”
“I wanted you to know what I am before Jessica and I were joined.”
“But it makes no sense, Joulupukki, your mother was not an elf.”
“No, my father was. He was King of all Elves.”
“Then you are a half elf to a king?”
“That's correct,” Joulupukki said with a bit of vacillation in his voice.
Jessica's father grew quiet for a moment and seemed to be internalizing this
new bit of information.
“I understand if this is a problem for you.”
“It is,” was Raðulfr's response. “We are but simple people Joulupukki, or should I call you Your Royal Highness or Your Majesty. How could we expect you to allow our blood to taint yours. I will not hold you to your promise.”
“And the fact that I am half elf,” asked Joulupukki?
“Half elf? I suspected that you had elfin blood from the first time I saw you. I mean look at those ears and the blue of your eyes, and only someone who had magic could make those exceptional toys that you made. Your mother and I grew quite close before she left us and I am proud to say she sometimes had need of a confidant and allowed me to serve her as such. She spoke of your father on occasion and made it quite clear how much they loved each other." His eyes grew a bit sad as he remembered her words. "She also told me that he was an elf which confirmed my suspicion about you. What she didn't tell me was that he was of royal blood and that she was a queen. It is of no concern to me that you are half elf. What matters to me is
your character and that is exemplary.”
“Thank you my friend,” Joulupukki smiled at him. “Now as to your beautiful daughter, you may release me from my promise; however, I do not release you of yours. I intend to join with her, when she is ready, hopefully very soon, and,” he hesitated before continuing, not sure if they would see the humor in it, “as King I command you to accompany us to our celebration,” everyone started laughing, drawing the attention of the others still browsing the bins and shelves, as Joulupukki leaned next to Raðulfr's ear, “and if that doesn't work I will beg you to come.”
“No need, Your Majesty,” he bowed deeply, “I will come.”
The half elf rolled his eyes and chuckled.
“Please, it's still just Joulupukki, if you don't mind.”
They readied themselves for the journey to the village. Raðulfr closing his shop with a sign saying 'I will be gone for several weeks, please help yourselves to what remains of my food stock', leaving it sitting in an open storage room covered in skins in the cool of the open air. As soon as he was ready and Jessica had gathered fresh clothing they made their way back to the plateau where the deer awaited them. They hitched the animals to the sleigh and lifted from the ground. Jessica tried to explain about the deer and the fact that they would be flying through the sky to her father, but the concept of flying was too foreign for him to be able to grasp it. All five of them crammed into the small space in the sleigh, Joulupukki driving, Jessica next to him, her father to her right and Lumi and Bréagán standing behind the bench.
As the team lifted the sled from the ground, Raðulfr immediately started
showing the stress from this new experience. His blood drained from his face and his normally pale complexion became ghostly. His grip on the side of the door turned his knuckles white. Bréagán noticed his friends distress and placed his hand on his shoulder.
“It may help if you focus your vision on a spot on the distant horizon, and, if need be, lean your head over the door and empty your stomach, but try not to move too much until you get used to this. He tried to do as the elf suggested but it took just a few minutes before he was emptying what little he had in his stomach. After drinking a sip of water, his queasiness settled and he was good for the rest of the trip. They set a course that took them in the direction of the Northern Sea and by the time they reached the coast Lumi had taken over guiding the sleigh. Lumi, Jessica and Joulupukki were again sharing the bench and Bréagán and Raðulfr had retreated to the cabin. As they approached the coast Joulupukki reminded Lumi,
“Remember, the Village has left the shore and should be well out to sea by now. We will continue heading on our current course and we should see it in a day or so.”
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