Eating Clouds

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Chapter 6: Human

Eddy cleared his throat after the little boy had calmed down a bit. “Now that we’ve sorted this mess out, I’d like to ask you a question.

Ozzy frowned. “Alright. What do you want to know?”

The little elf hovered in the air in front of the boy’s face, examining every inch. “What are you?”

Ozzy shrugged. “Just a human, I guess.”

The loudest gasp sounded, and the whole forest seemed to follow in Eddy’s shock. There was no wind, the leafs stopped moving, animals stayed in their holes, even the water seemed to only whisper.

“H-HUMAN?!” the little elf stuttered, his eyes almost popping out of his round head. Ozzy looked around, feeling the change in the atmosphere.

“Yes, I am a human. I’m looking for the little elves’ village to learn about magic.”

“H-H-HUMAAAN?” the little elf cried out again. The boy didn’t understand a thing, but knew that the book had been absolutely wrong about the little elves. They weren’t pretty and very rude.

“Yes!” he said again, hoping Eddy would hear it this time. “You’re a little elf, not a gnome. I’m a human, not a…what did you think I was, exactly?”

Eddimeus took his head in both his hands, his face slowly growing pale. He seemed to be realizing a terrifying fact. “A human…oh lord.”

“Yes!” Ozzy said again, feeling panic rising from within him. For some reason, the trees seemed to bow over to him, attempting to grab him with their sticky claws of branches. “Can we please go find your fruits? E-…Ed…Edmus?”

“Just call me Eddy” the little man mumbled softly, lost in thought. A human, looking for the elves’ village to learn about magic. It must’ve been faith that brought the two together.

Just imagine, Eddy thought to himself. He would be the one to bring the king his first human student in a hundred years. Say goodbye to the stupid harvesting jobs, from now on this little elf was going to be an explorer! Sir Conclectus, you can put that ‘not fit’- paper in your-

“You wanna see Gilmore, eh?” Eddy asked eventually. Ozzy nodded his head quickly. Finally, the little elf said something.

Eddy smiled. “Alright. I promised I’d take you there, but first we have to look for pearmelons. We can’t arrive without.” The little elf pointed at the boy’s shirt. “We can use that as a sack. You’re a great help already.”

If Ozzy had been a little older he might’ve noticed the sarcasm in the elves’ voices, but the age he was now he could only wonder what a pearmelon would look like.

“Pearmelons” he said out loud, tasting the letters. It felt weird in his mouth, as if something was off. “What are they?”

Eddy narrowed his black eyes at the boy, with a slight disbelief in them. When he saw the boy was being honest, he shook his round head. “Where’re you from?”

“The city” the boy answered truthfully. “It’s my first time being here.”

Eddy slapped himself on his forehead and grunted. The reward for bringing this loon to the village better be good, he thought. This was going to take a while. “Beyond the Grey Stream, no? Well, that explains a lot. Just listen to everythin’ I say, because this is gonna be important. In this forest there grow fruits known as ‘pearmelons’. They’re about as big as my hands together.” The little elf made a bowl of his tiny hands and held them up, as an example. It looked like the pearmelons were as a big as an average strawberry. “They’re mostly orange, and can be found alongside the riverbanks. In Gimore we have fields full with them, but they’re mostly used to create medicine. They’re not eatable, only the ones which grow wildly are.”

“How many do we have to collect?” Ozzy asked, wiping his shirt clean. Eddy shrugged his shoulders.

“I’m guessing about fifteen, which is above APE.”

“Ape? Why an ape?”

Eddy rolled his eyes, as if Ozzy was the stupidest person he’d ever encountered. “Average Per Elf, you smartass.”

He softly landed in the grass, and started walking alongside the river with somehting which looked like pride, as if he’d accomplished something great. Ozzy had no choice but to follow him, slightly confused. He felt really nervous, because he was almost there. Just fifteen little fruits, and he could go the little elves’ village. He couldn’t wait to meet the king, and to start learning about magic. He was so lucky to have met a little elf. It might’ve been bizarre circumstances, but they managed.

“Eddy?” Ozzy asked, as he decided to walk next to the little elf. “How did you fell into the river, exactly?”

Instinctively, the little elf grabbed his purple hat, and started coughing, as if he got something stuck in his throat. “I…er, well, kinda a long story. See, it’s like this…there was this branch, and this squirrel got stuck. I helped ‘m out, but then he started screamin’ and runnin’ and the branch broke in two and I fell but he got away and….well, that’s how I got here.”

Out of frustration, the little elf kicked a tiny stone away from his feet. Without a warning, he made a sharp turn, walking into the forest. The boy followed the elf silently, which made Eddy a little anxious. He looked up at the boy, his eyes squinted in distrust.

“Just laugh, already. I know it’s hilarious, ha, ha.”

The boy frowned. “Why? Is it a joke? Did you lie?”

Eddy shook his head. “No, I told you what happened. Don’t you want to crack a smile at least?”

The boy scratched his invisible beard. “No, not really. You saved someone. I don’t think that’s funny. Jokes are funny. Well, some of them.”

Eddy stared up at the little boy, his big black eyes turning bigger than they were already. He suddenly tripped over a small rock, and saw the ground suddenly coming really close to his face. Just in time, the boy managed to grab hold of the elves’ pants, and pulled him carefully back on his feet.

The little elf patted his trousers clean, feeling his face burning up. He felt guilty for being impolite to the boy earlier that day. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome” the boy answered.

The two little ones stood still in front of a fallen tree trunk. The human boy stepped over it with ease, but was called back by his friend who shyly asked if he would be so kind to carry him over it. Eddy clung his thin arm around the thumb as Ozzy took a step. But before the boy could set his foot down at the other side, the little elf suddenly called out.

“Wait! Stop! Don’t move!”

With his foot still in mid-air, Ozzy started to tremble over his whole body.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. The elf didn’t answer, but instead stood up and sniffed his nose, as if he smelled something.

“What is it?!” Ozzy asked again, as his leg started to feel sour. He got an index finger gesturing he should shut up as an answer. Eddy closed his eyes and sniffed again. Loudly and somehow professional, as if he’d done this a hundred times before. After a few seconds he opened his eyes again and scratched with a concerned face his chin.

“Right” he mumbled serious. He stretched out his thin arms, pointing in the direction parallel to where the tree had once stood. “That way. Now.”

“So I can move now?” Ozzy asked, almost begging.

“Yes! And hurry up a bit, will yah?!”

Relieved, Ozzy put his foot back on the ground, and followed the directions the elf gave him. “Did you smell them?”

The elf lifted an eyebrow. “Smell what?”

“The pearmelons, of course!”

Eddy rolled his eyes. “No, it was the fart of a squirrel. Of course it was the pearmelons! Not very sharp, are you?”

Ozzy grunted, a little annoyed by the way the little elf treated him. Without warning he let the little man slip off his hand back on the ground. “You’re heavy.”

The little man blinked in confusion, as the boy continued walking. When he came to his senses he jumped in the air, his face turning red again.

“Whatta thing to say! Ain’t nothing wrong with respecting your elders here!”

“The fatties, you mean” Ozzy mumbled without turning around. The little elf grunted angrily and was already shouting in his own elfish language, but the boy ignored him. The little man was really getting on his nerves.

Then he realized something. He stopped and turned around. “Elders?”

Eddy straightened the sleeves of his shirt and patted his gardening suit, with something which hinted pride. To Ozzy it looked more like arrogance. “Yes. Since I’m older than you, you gotta respect me.”

“How can you be so sure?” the boy replied, knowing that one human year was five for the little elves.

The little man chuckled. “You’re still a kid. I’m an adult already.”

Ozzy crossed his arms skeptically. “How old are you, then?”

“22” the elf said, almost shouting. The boy placed his index finger on his chin as he calculated the difference. When he came to a conclusion, he burst out laughing. Eddy frowned and felt a bump in his confidence.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, his high pitched voice skipping a few octaves. Ozzy wiped a tear from the corner of his eye.

“In human years, you would be about 4,5 years old” he grinned.

“Eh?” was all the little man would say. Then he shook his head, as if he was trying to wake himself up. With renewed faith he placed his hands on his round hips. “How old are you then, in human years?”

“Ten. Fifty in little elves’ years.”

For the third time that day the little man slapped his own forehead with his hand. “You’ve gotta be jokin’.”

Ozzy grinned brightly. “So you better respect me….kiddo.”

Eddy shook his head. “You’re so gonna take advantage of this, aren’t you?”

The boy nodded. “Oh, yes.”

The little man sighed sadly, as Ozzy turned his back on him and continued to walk towards the pearmelons. “Hey, old man!”

The boy giggled in himself, glancing over his shoulder. The elf looked ashamed, his head bowed and his ears red.

“Can I just ask you one tiny favour?”

The boy shrugged. “It’s gonna cost yah, but alright. What do you want?”

“Can I…sit on your shoulder? You walk way faster than I do, and it’s quite the distance….ain’t a big deal, right?”

The boy stared at the little man, then pursed his lips and nodded. “As long as you don’t order me around, it’s fine by me.”

And so the little boy carefully placed the elf on his shoulder. Eddy made himself comfortable, and sighed relieved. With one hand he took hold of the boy’s ear, to prevent himself from slipping off.

“Hey, don’t squeeze!” Ozzy warned. The elf rolled his eyes, and the shy ‘kid’ from just now had completely disappeared.

“Ah, stop cryin’, man!” he said, as he crossed his thin legs. “Get going already!”

The boy sighed, knowing he shouldn’t let himself be persuaded like this. As he continued to walk he could feel the elf swing with every move. It was quite the experience, having a living creature on your shoulder, but it wasn’t annoying or anything. Well, that was when the little elf had his mouth closed. With him being so close to an ear the high pitched voice echoed through the boy’s head like the bells of a church. Very unpleasant bells.

“Can you really smell pearlmelons?” the boy asked after a while. He could see the little elf nod his head from the corner of his eye.

“Yup. Every little elf can…”,he interrupted himself and chuckled, “but of course mine’s a little better than the rest.”

“Why’s that?”

The elf proudly lifted his chin. “Because I’m from the pure bloodline of the Tolkons. We have extraordinary noses, we're known for being the best in our village. My father is quite famous. He can smell magic from miles away.”

“Smell magic…” Ozzy mumbled to himself. He then cracked a smile. He found himself thinking of Gerald, who’d tried so hard to teach him ‘someone uses magic, not does it’. But if the little elves could smell magic….

He suddenly wondered what the old man was doing at the moment, now that the little boy wasn’t in the shop any more. He hoped for him the scary woman with the screaming child wouldn’t return any time soon.

“What’s that?” Eddy suddenly asked, shaking the boy from his thoughts. He was squeezing in the ear next to him, trying to get his attention. “Why’re you smilin’?”

The boy shook his head. “It’s nothing.”

“That ain’t nothing, mate” the little elf continued stubbornly. “Come on, tell me. Who’re you thinkin’ of?”

“Just….someone.”

“What’s this someone to you? Probably dear to you, otherwise you wouldn’t be smillin’ like an idiot.”

Ozzy opened his mouth to give a witty answer, but then closed up. He realized he actually didn’t know what Gerald was to him. He just thought he was nice.

“He’s just nice” he then said out loud. “It’s just an old man in a bookstore. He has a very grant moustache, and eyebrows, which actually aren’t eyebrows at all, but eye-moustaches. I go there to read and not buy, but he doesn’t mind. Not anymore. In the beginning he would often get mad, but he changed his mind and now he likes having me around. His wife died and he really misses her. He must be very lonely, I think.”

The little man nodded, and it almost seemed like he was genuinely interested in what the boy had to say. “Eyemoustacheman. Never heard of that creature. Almost sounds like my gramps, though I doubt his personality is anything like that creature.” A shiver seemed to go down the spine of the little man, and Ozzy could almost physically feel it. “Gramps is the strictest person you’ll ever meet. He also has a thick moustache and eyebrows, and he gets angry at me all the time. He always says how my father would be disappointed and blah, blah, blah….” The little elf sighed. “I think we’re almost there. There are the pearmelons.”


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