3. On Thin Ice

The Problem Escalates

Tinker Bell, in her green winter outfit and her wings covered in a coating of frost, is flying hither and yon through the tall evergreens of the Winter Woods helping her sister, Periwinkle, gather pine nuts.

“I’m surprised you’re not with your visiting Faerie friends since they just got here, Tink,” says Peri.

“They’re going to be here for some time, and I promised I’d come with you to your off-season job today,” replies her sister.

“I appreciate it,” says Peri, “You hadn’t seen this part of my life before.”

Having finished the one she was at, Tinker Bell flitters to another pine cone and starts plucking seeds. “These are delicious!” she smiles as she pops another pine nut into her mouth and begins to chew thoughtfully. “You’re lucky to get them fresh right out of the cone. By the time they get to Spring Valley they’ve lost half of their flavor.”

“Tell me about it,” smiles back Periwinkle. “Most of us gatherers have to force ourselves to put the nuts into the baskets and not into our mouths.”

The pair flies to the higher branches where the sun is beaming down upon them.

“Whew! This is hot work,” Tinker Bell grumbles.

“Tink, your wings!” gasps Periwinkle, shocked.

“What?” asks Tinker Bell. “I feel nothing wrong with them. In fact, they feel as light as a feather.”

“That’s just it,” says Periwinkle, worried. “The coating of frost has completely melted. Quick! Get to the ground so I can reapply fresh frost before they tear.”

“No need to, Peri,” says Tinker Bell once on the ground. “I’m cooking in my coat,” then sheds it to find that she is quite comfortable in the heavy sweater she had under it.

“You’re crazy!” shouts Periwinkle. “Put it back on before you freeze to death!” but in the next instant it is she who is wobbling on her feet.

“I don’t feel well,” moans Periwinkle, crumpling to her knees.

“You’ve been eating too many pine nuts, haven’t you?” Tinker Bell half laughs. “Serves you right, Peri.”

“Tink!” moans Periwinkle weakly then keels over onto her side.

“Peri!” cries Tinker Bell, realizing that her sister is in real distress.

“Cover me with snow,” says Periwinkle and Tinker Bell does so without question.

“Something’s gone bad with the air,” moans Periwinkle. “I feel like it’s burning out my insides and I’m about to lose consciousness.”

“I’ll help you get to a healing talent,” says Tinker Bell, seeing that being covered in snow has helped Periwinkle get back some of her color and strength. But the flight back is long and arduous because of her sister’s need to rest several times and be covered in snow again.

When they arrive, they find total pandemonium breaking out all over. The hallways to the healers’ chambers are crowded with sick and the air thick with the smell of vomit and fear.

A healing talent comes to quickly examine Periwinkle. “She’ll have to wait,” she tells them. “There are others far worse off than she is.”

“What’s going on?” asks Tinker Bell.

“I don’t know,” replies the healing talent. “All of a sudden folks began to tumble out of the sky. Do you have any ideas, Miss Bell?”

“Tell me the symptoms,” Tinker Bell asks the healer which she does then for a time Tinker Bell stands thinking and frowning.

“What?” asks the healer impatiently and with fear in her eyes.

“This is going to sound crazy,” replies Tinker Bell, “But in the Summer Lands and in Spring Valley these are the classic symptoms of heat and sunstroke.”

“Do you know how to help?” the healer asks, a bit relieved to find someone who knew what was happening.

“Yes ma’am, and I’ll be glad to,” Tink replies.

At sunset the temperature in the Winter Woods dropped sharply. Many recovered well enough to be released. Tinker Bell is in a state from helping the healing talents by doing triage and worrying over her sister.

At one point she caught a glimpse of Lord Milori talking to the head of the Healers, but had no time to speak to him.

After the healing talents thank her and tell her that they now have a handle on the situation, Tinker Bell, supporting a still weak Periwinkle, is helping her to get home. As they head out, they look inside a room where there are candles and incense burning as many stand about cloth-wrapped figures gently weeping.

They now see Lord Milori as he moves about the room, comforting and trying to reassure those in attendance.

“It would seem that I’m among the lucky ones,” chokes Periwinkle in tears as she and Tinker Bell head on.

The blond Faerie makes sure her sister is comfortable in her home, lying down with a glass of iced tea by her side.

“I think I’d better go report this to Minister Snowflake,” Tinker Bell says, gazing at Peri, who is now looking and feeling a lot better.

“She probably already knows,” the Frost Faerie replies.

“You’re right, but I also want to know what is going to be done about it. We tinkers might have a job of work to do,” says Tink.

“Like what?” Peri sits up and takes a drink of tea.

“Like… I dunno, building another snow maker.” Tink is thinking, her brow furrowed.

“It would have to be huge to cover the entire Winter Woods,” grins Peri. “And where would you get that much ice?”

“Yeah, it—” Tinker Bell stops and gives her sister a sour look, which makes her laugh.

“It’s turned colder, so let me give your wings a quick frosting, and you can go,” says Peri. She stands up and with a few gestures restores the protective cover.

“Thanks Peri, I’ll come check on you tomorrow, if I can. You stay safe, okay?” They exchange a hug, and Tink was off to the warmer lands.

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