Fire Elf

We haven't seen one of those in a while...

One February morning, a small creature was briefly spotted running towards the Ducal castle at death-defying speed. What it lacked in size, it made up in speed. And ugly. It absolutely excelled at ugly.

It almost crashed into the gate, but the guards had been forewarned, and had managed to open it in the nick of time.

The creature barged into Guðrún's private chamber, and came to a dead stop, brandishing a package and a clipboard.

"Duchess Guðrún?", said the racing goblin.
"From the Witch Queen. Sign here."

A promise can finally be kept.

Guðrún signed the paper and gave it back to the goblin, which took a sharp turn and dashed off. She opened the package. "All right!", she hooted. This was what she needed to keep the promise she had made late last year, and it carried a strong message that she was indeed expected to keep it.

But it was brought to her by Racing Goblin instead of just being Transported into her lap. There was a message in that, too.

She grabbbed her broom and told her lady in waiting to "call Krakatoa Heklúdottir on the Crystal Ball network, and tell her to come to the house of ... uh ... Kel and Atra". It was not clear at the moment who in fact owned the house, but Krakatoa would know where to go.

When Gurn arrived, Krakatoa was already there. Kel greeted Gurn coolly and made quite a show of being preoccupied with her baby, but Atra at least seemed more happy to see her.

When Guðrún arrived, Krakatoa was already there. Kel greeted Guðrún coolly and made quite a show of being preoccupied with her baby, but Atra at least seemed more happy to see her.

"Where's Ragna?", asked Guðrún.
"I thought she'd stayed with you," said Atra, slightly alarmed.
"Rrright," said Guðrún. "That is strange, but let's solve one problem at a time."
The other women gave her a blank look.

"I've got this." She showed them the key. Krakatoa got the message at once.
"YES!", she said. "Let's go and free that-"
"Uh-uh," said Atra. "Not me."

Still fussing over little Fay, Kel looked up out of the corner of her eye.

The conversation gets interesting.

"Look," said Guðrún. "We promised the elf..."
At this, Kel's ears really perked up. Kel disliked the Duchess intensely, but on the other hand, the mission that Atra was refusing to go on could be interesting. Besides, there was something odd about Guðrún...

Guðrún briefly glanced back at Kel. There might be some leverage here.
"All right," she said unpleasantly, turning to Atra again.
"If you really think that fire elf is a demon, have it your way. Kra's got a good education, the two of us will be able to handle it."

Color by Drooling Fan Girl.

The most important and urgent question of all.

"Ha!", said Atra. "Did you really think-" Slowly, following Krakatoa's gaze, she turned in Kel's direction.

Much to Guðrún's surprise, Kel didn't jump up and argue. Instead, she seemed immersed in thought, occasionally moving her lips as if mentally playing out several scenarios.

She stood up.
"How long is this going to take?"

It'll take a night by broomstick.

"It'll take a night by broomstick," said Guðrún. "Something tells me it's not a good idea to Transport there again - and in any case, it's a lot trickier without time being stopped."

Krakatoa agreed, and if the mention of time being stopped registered at all in Kel's mind, she didn't press the issue.
"I'll wrap Fay up warm then," she said.
"WHAT?", said everyone else in the room.

Atra angrily grabbed Kel by the collar. She was surprisingly strong.
"Are you seriously taking a three-month-old baby on a long flight to a castle owned by our enemies where there's a savage Fire-Elf and a fire that makes people younger?"
"Where I go, Fay goes."

Blink and you see it.

"All right!", said Atra. "I'll go and help the Duchess wrangle demons!"
"Ha!" scoffed Kel. "As if it's safe for you to take a long trip at your... age..."
Kel looked at Atra, blinking. For a moment there, she saw a young woman, instead of the elderly witch she knew.

"You were hit by the Fire, weren't you? AND you," she said, turning to Guðrún.

And Baby makes four.

After that, Kel insisted that she should be the one to go - she wasn't going to leave Fay behind, but promised to keep the baby away from the Fire. Guðrún decided that a part-elvish witch would be more likely to keep the Fire Elf at ease, and so that evening, three witches and a small baby left for a night flight to Iceland.

Color by Vlerq. Vlerq is one of my pals at the studio; as an art teacher, he sets high standards for the rest of us. Vlerq is also known as the founder of the underground magazine Gr'nn, and the regular cartoonist in the comics fanzine Zozolala.

Fay is a model baby for traveling, really.

Guðrún turned out to be a considerably less skilled flyer than the younger witches, and they had a few problems with turbulence, not to mention fatigue.
Strangely, Fay remained silent all night, sometimes sleeping, sometimes taking in the surroundings from her carrying-sling in wide-eyed bewilderment. It wasn't until they set foot on dry land that she loudly insisted on breakfast and a change into something more comfortable and less dirty.

Talent undeveloped.

Feeding the child through five layers of clothing took a while. The other two took the opportunity to confer.
"She is pretty reckless," said Krakatoa.
"Indeed," said Guðrún". I dread to think what that child will grow up to be like. But..."
"I wish I'd had her under my wings when she was younger."
"Well, there's an opportunity here... what with the Fire being nearby..."
"Hmmmm.. Someone would be delighted to control a teenaged half-elf. You know whom I might be speaking of."
"So let's..."
"Let's not, and say we did."

We will be right behind you.

Before they entered the remodeled bedchamber, Guðrún briefed Kel on her task.
"The elf is weak, but there's no way to predict what it will do once rejuvenated. The process is apparently very unpleasant, and these creatures were said to have vicious tempers. Kra and I will carry out the actual release and drag it into the oven. When it comes out, we'll be right behind you. Cowering, no doubt."

The restoration of the fire elf.

The elf was pushed into the oven. Because of the terrible state it was in, they waited for an hour before letting Kel open the door.
"Watch out for sparks," they said, rushing out of the room.

Kel opened the door, carefully pulled out the elf, and backed off.

The creature had obviously been restored to its former vitality.

The Fire Elf is a formidable creature.

Once recovered from the shock and pain of rejuvenation in the Oven, the creature raised itself up, making Kel feel a dread not unlike that caused by the sight of the front of a Viking ship. Its eyes now glinted and glared.

Kel glared back.

Just when one of them would have to look away, the elf shot a burst of flame from its hands, scorching Kel's headdress.

Derailing it works.

The fire from the elf's hands was regular fire - Kel was still the same age. She took a step back, still eyeing the elf. She considered whether she should allow herself to Change... If the elf didn't turn her vegetable form into brushfire, she might be able to entangle it, change back and...

For the first time, she became aware of the elf's physical proportions, which were obviously and abundantly female. HA! Wouldn't Jodoque love to see that! A wry smile formed on her lips, puzzling the elf. What was she doing here anyway? Why was she, of all people, trying to fight a feral, half-mad magical being that was probably about twice as strong as her?

Unbeknownst to the other two witches, Kel breaks the tension between herself and the Fire Elf, who are in a standoff, by making a proposal. It surprises the elf, definitely.

Outside. Guðrún and Krakatoa listened at the door.
"In theory," said Guðrún, "she will break the elf's rage by saying or doing something so absurd, so mind-bogglingly irrational, that it will be forced to stop and think about what the hell is going on. The Elvish in her will take care of that."
"Well, she is capricious..."
"I don't care what her star sign is, as long as she gets herself out alive."

Finally, Kel remembered.
"Hey, wanna see my baby?"

Kel emerges from the room with the red, naked fire elf, who seems a lot calmer now. The fire elf admires the baby, to the consternation of Krakatoa and Guðrún. Fay has a keen interest in the fire elf's pointy ear.

Kel came out of the room, trailed by the elf which was wearing a puzzled, curious impression - a common enough reaction when Kel was involved. She swooped towards the baby which had been half asleep by the door, picking her up and holding her up to the fire elf. The others were aghast.
"Ooh, she's a beauty," said the elf.

Evidently, Kel trusted the creature, and vice versa. As for Fay, she was not at all afraid of the large, red supernatural being in front of her, but the shape of its ears fascinated her.

The fire elf, who just a few minutes ago seemed absolutely savage in her red, naked glory, now appears quite rational. Guðrún invites the fire elf to the Witch Queen's court. The baby interrupts the diplomatic process by pulling on the fire elf's pointy ears, with glee.

"Like I said, she's one quarter elvish. I think you can tell - can you?", Kel chattered on as the elf took in its surroundings.
"You freed me," it said.
"Feeling better?", asked Guðrún.
"I had... the rage. I'm sorry."
"Forget it." Guðrún hesitated. The Witch queen sponsored your release. If you'd care to visit her at court...
The conversation was interrupted by the baby, and not for the first time, Guðrún thought the reason Fay cried so little was that she was biding her time until she had an opportunity for mischief.

The red, naked Fire elf declines the offer that the witches Kel, Krakatoa and Guðrún made her, and takes her leave.

"No, I think I'll pass on that," said the Fire Elf. "You have my thanks, but..."
Without finishing her last sentence, she walked away. Out of the castle, into the cold Icelandic winter air.

"Well, it was worth a try," said Guðrún. "You can't really control those creatures, of course....What did you have to go and let her near your baby for?"
"That's what I came here for in the first place," said Kel. "So my child could see a real elf!"

"Well, I wonder what that will have put in her little head."
"A really big lunch, probably, " said Krakatoa.

nude fire elf dives off snow-covered cliff into the North Atlantic, as the witches Kel, Krakatoa and Guðrún watch

A few hours and a short nap later, as they were flying back on their brooms, they saw the elf trudging towards a cliff. It stopped at the edge, then executed a surprisingly elegant dive into the icy ocean.

Fay in the future, fearlessly juggling flaming torches. This is a point of continuity for the year 1013. Meanwhile in the present, naked Kel and Jodoque discuss the day's adventure involving a fire elf.

Kel slept like a log, waking up only to throttle the baby in her mind and feed and change her in real life. Fay seemed to know not to push her luck, in any case.

At dawn, she confided to an exasperated Jodoque that she hoped the child would remember something from her meeting with the elf, which Jodoque thought was unlikely and not worth the trouble.

But who knows? In fact, twelve years later, Fay Davignon would take up torch juggling, and got good at it very quickly, because she was as unafraid of fire as she was of anything else.