The preparations were almost complete when Lumi reappeared down stairs. He seemed preoccupied and burnished an all encompassing smile across his face.
“Lumi... Lumi,” Joulupukki had to repeat himself to gain the Elf's attention. He looked at Joulupukki. “Would you please grab those two skins of water,” pointing at them. “I already have some but better safe than sorry.”
Lumi grabbed the water that was already prepared and sitting on the table by the rear door. Joulupukki had blankets in his hand as he walked out of the cottage toward the stable. Entering the building he saw the team ready to go. They decided to make it as easy on the deer as possible and chose to double the number that they used in the trial run. They tested the sleigh and found that expanding the room magically, in fact, did not add weight to the sleigh; however, they did have to take into account the death boxes and the
bodies themselves. Although his mother was buried in the winter a bit more than a year before and would likely be almost fully intact, his father was fifty years gone and they expected little more than bones. They also had the dried food that they carried, additional grain for the deer and a good amount of water. Gwaldon approach him as he tossed the blankets into the front seat of the sleigh.
“We added a second door to the box on the inside of the sled,” he explained pointing at it. “It will allow you access to the room in case one of you needs to rest without having to ground the sleigh.”
“Excellent work, Gwaldon! What of the other changes I see?
“The foot rest has been angled for better comfort. We extended the mud guard above its original height and curved it back to cut the wind so you will be warmer and to make it easier for you to talk to each other. One of the master glass makers fitted two small pieces of glass to either
side of the mud guard so you can see in front of you and keep an eye on the deer. It is infused with his magic and is very strong. You should not have to
worry about it breaking. The mud guard can also fold down out of the
way if you choose not to use it. The sides have been fitted with doors to keep any sleepy careless elves from falling out.” He glanced in Lumi's direction, but Lumi was too preoccupied to hear him. The Elf King chuckled.
“You have outdone yourself,” Joulupukki said to Gwaldon as he slipped his arm around his shoulder. Ceridfen walked over to him after speaking with the Stable Elf.
“Here,” she said to Joulupukki, “These may come in handy.” She extended her arm and handed him two large, soft pillows. “They should help keep your bum from getting sore.”
He thanked her with a hug and a laugh and tossed the pillows beside the blankets on the front seat.
“Joulupukki,” Lumi yelled. “Come look at what Dyndoeth has done.”
He moved to the back of the carriage but no one was there. As he opened the small hatch the cubicle expanded into a moderate sized room with two beds fitted to one wall and a covered chamber made for holding the death boxes. It was large enough for Lumi
and Dyndoeth to stand in without hitting their heads.
“Wow, Dyndoeth, will the sleigh be able to fly,” he asked?
“I believe it should. As large as it seems, I have only added a small amount of weight with the bedding, and food and water. I have added glow bugs in the little cages for light. It won't be much but should provide enough to make meals.”
He helped Dyndoeth crawl through the opening and then Lumi. Gathering the elves around him and motioning for Rådyrvokter to join them he could not keep his emotions from creeping in to his voice.
“I do not know any words that I could say that would express the feelings I have for each of you. Thank you seems so lacking. Lumi, I have felt the greatest kinship with you, since first we met, and Dyndoeth, you have been a mentor and guide to me since my arrival. Knowing that you and Gwaldon stood with my father when he needed you, and again with me when I needed you, fills me with the greatest of respect for both of you. Ceridfen, I understand why Aisling was your friend. The two of you are very much alike, headstrong and capable, yet loving to a fault. It's a good thing you are married to a man that I could easily see as my father, otherwise I might sweep you up for myself.”
Cerifden slapped his shoulder and mutter,
“Silly boy,” as her cheeks reddened.
“Rådyrvokter, my friend. You have shown me kindness and looked past both my ignorance and foolishness. You have been invaluable in helping me to reach this goal of mine, so, as inadequate as it is, thank you all.” Each elf wiped the moisture from their eyes as they all shook Joulupukki's hand, a human custom they were quickly becoming used to. “Are you ready Lumi?” Joulupukki asked the young Elf. His response was to leap over the door into the passenger seat of the sleigh. “If you would,” he motioned to the Stable Elf, who promptly fed the required amount of magic grain to each deer, while advising Joulupukki not to over work them and make sure they had plenty of grass to graze and water to drink at each stop. Before he stepped into the sleigh, using his magic he embossed 'NydeligEn' on the driver's front corner.
Ceridfen looked at him and asked,
“May I?” He nodded.
Using her magic she wrote 'Aisling' on the opposite side of the sleigh.
He smiled and said,
“Thank you,” as he slid into the drivers seat. Without another word to the elves, he snapped the reins and yelled, “up,” as he called each hreinin deer by name. They smoothly slipped through the open doorway of the stable and flew off into the still dark sky, the marker in the distance, clearly visible, guiding them to their destination.
Copyright © James Inman | Year Posted 2021