This story begins just like any good fairytale. It begins A Long Time ago, in a faraway kingdom, in a land much like our own. Also like any good story, this one has a hero. In particular, a boy going by the name of Sprite. Only, he isn’t quite a hero yet, and he will have to do quite a bit of growing up before he can properly earn that title.
This boy lived in a small mountain village, far north from any real cities or large crowds of people. The houses in that village were made of brick and wood, much like any houses should. However these houses where much more flimsy, and some where even thatched, which if you don’t know, is nothing more than hay piled neatly on top of a house to make a roof. What’s more each person who lived in these houses had either built it themselves, or had help from their neighbors. As you might have guessed from looking at such houses, the village hasn’t been there very long. In fact, it didn’t even start out as a village, but rather a large hunting outpost.
Even the people who eventually moved there, did so only because they wanted to be left alone. Pretty soon the outpost had a mill, a butcher, a blacksmith, and as of a few months ago, a chapel. Throw in a couple of houses here and there and you have the village of White Brook.
As with everyone else who lived in White Brook, our hero, Sprite, had not lived there very long either. In fact he had only moved there two months ago with a woman who he called mother, but he was not actually related to her.
The woman’s name was Greta, and the two of them had moved in with Kelly the local preacher who ran the chapel. Kelly also happened to be Greta’s brother. Yes you heard me right, brother. He insists it’s a man’s name and will tell you that the name means warrior in their native language, however to this day it still gets a chuckle every now and again.
Anyway, shortly after the two of them moved in with the preacher, Greta promptly handed young Sprite over to the village blacksmith as an apprentice. The boy didn’t like the job at the forge very much, or rather he didn’t like the blacksmith very much. The man wasn’t mean to him or anything like that, however, the man did eat onions, and nothing offended the boy’s nose more than the smell of onions.
Sprite, as it turns out, was not the Blacksmiths only apprentice. Seeing as the blacksmith had no son to pass on his skills too, the man did have a daughter, and he made her work just as hard as if she had been his son. His daughter’s name was Lorain, and it was actually this girl who gave our hero the name of Sprite.
You see, despite the two of them working in the same shop together for a number of months, the two of them did not talk to each other much. Well, the boy didn’t talk at all. Lorain however, did enough talking for the both of them. Though mostly it was to talk about anything random that would pop into her head, or to scold him loudly whenever he made a mistake or handled a tool wrong.
Eventually though, Lorain got tired of referring to the boy as “Hay you” or “not like that dummy.” And since he didn’t talked, let alone give his name to anyone, she took to calling him Sprite.
A sprite, as you probably know, is a type of fairy or spirit. Sometimes you could see their brilliant lights and colors fill the night sky with their great dance.
Anyway, for Lorain the name seemed appropriate as the boy reminded her of one of her favorite bed time stories. Eventually, the name just sort of stuck, and soon everyone in the village started referring to him as Sprite. Even his mother, Greta.
As you can probably imagine the boy, didn’t like this very much. Actually he found her quite annoying, but what’s worse is just like her father she ate onions and nothing offended his nose greater than the smell of onions.
One day at the forge, the village children came by to try to get more players for their game. Nearly all the children in that village were about the same age as Sprite and Lorain, except perhaps the butchers son, little Lodi. The game they were playing, Hide and seek.
Like all children, when they see others having a great time, Lorain found it incredibly difficult to not drop what she was doing and joining in the fun. And eventually that’s exactly what she did. After much goading from the other children, most particularly from the boys in the group who she played with regularly, she put her tools away and ran off to play.
Just before rushing out however, an idea came to her. She turned back to Sprite who, too her surprise, was still hard at work at the forge, and hadn’t even noticed the other children.
“Want to Play too Sprite?” she asked. The boy looked up with surprise. As if the question was a wild animal growling at him. The boy shook his head no. Lorain was about to try again but then her friends lost patience and started to run off. So she told the boy to watch the shop then she ran off herself.
With cries of “common Lorain!” the children all ran off to play their game. As it turns out they had all agreed to play just outside the village on the edge of the woods for their next game. They weren’t supposed to be there, and if any of their parents found out they were playing so far out from the village, many of them would have been in deep trouble. However, they were children and children don’t always do as they are told. Once more all of the best hiding places where behind trees and under logs. None of these things could be found within or around the village, so they had to go into the forest if they wanted a challenge.
“Ok little Lodi. You count to a hundred, then come and find us.” Said one of the older boys. And just like that they all darted off. Behind trees, rocks and under every stump and bit of moss they could find. Lorain on the other hand, wasn’t very good at finding hiding spots, and what’s more, all the good hiding spots were taken in the first few seconds of counting. Like most girls her age, she didn’t like losing very much, and she thought she might improve her chances of winning if she found a hiding spot a little deeper into the woods.
The first tree was no good. “Too thin”. She went further in. The second tree was no good. “Ewe spiders”. So she went further in. Pretty soon she finally found a tree that she didn’t mind hiding behind and so she held her breath and waited. And waited. And waited. Then she realized she could no longer hear Lodi counting. “He couldn’t have gotten to a hundred yet.” She wondered why, then had he stopped counting. She cautiously stepped out to see if she could spot the others hiding, but there was no one there. “I didn’t go that far in, did I?” thought Lorain.
A wind blew down from the mountain which made her shiver from the cold. She was just deciding to head back, when a noise like the shuffling of leaves rustled behind her. “Darn it” is what she said because she thought Lodi had finally found her. However it wasn’t Lodi standing behind her. She turned to look. Her hair stood on end. Standing only a hundred feet away was a large black Dog. A wolf. She had never seen one before, but she had heard there howls many times and her father had described the beasts too her. She had been told that unlike Lodi’s dog however, wolves were wiled which meant they didn’t like people. Unless it was for Dinner.
Lorain backed up. Then she noticed the wolf wasn’t alone. Two more stepped out from amongst the trees. Lorain ran. Which is the one thing you should never do in front of a wild animal. Running away makes them want to chase you. Running away makes them want to catch you. And the wolves were very good at catching things that ran away.
She sprinted past her tree and over a log she had passed up earlier. The wolves, as expected, chased after her and were already half way down the hill. She ran a few more steps and the wolves where almost on her. Desperate for escape Lorain ran at a tree where the branches where just low enough for her to reach.
She ran at it at full speed. Her lungs burned and she felt tears running down her face. She leapt and caught the first branch. When she tried to pull herself up however, her leg suddenly felt heavy. Then it hurt. The wolf grabbing hold of her leg pulled down hard. It pulled down almost as desperately as she pulled trying to stay up. Eventually, though she could hold on no longer. She fell, landing on the wolf same wolf that had been gripping her leg. It yelped and tossed her off. She landed and the wolves eagerly rushed in for dinner.
Seeing no escape, she closed her eyes and waited for their hot breath and teeth to reach her. But it never came.
She could hear their yelps and barks, of what sounded like terror. However, they sounded like they were getting far away. Building up her courage, she opened her eyes and to her surprise there was only one wolf left and he lay still at the base of the tree, and standing over the wolf was Sprite. The boy from her dads shop. In his hand was a sword. One covered in wolves’ hair and something red that reminded Lorain of tomato juice.
Of course she had seen the red stuff before. Once when she had skinned her knee, another time when she had cut herself carving a birthday present for her father. However, she had never seen so much before. Not even when her father would take her hunting. She had always looked away when her father prepared those meals.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, a boy charging in last minute to save the girl from a bunch of wolves. Sounds a bit far-fetched. Let me explain. Remember earlier I told you how the woman Sprite lived with wasn’t actually his mother. Well she was his mentor. Before she was his mentor however, she was a Knight vigilant. The knight vigilant were a group of warriors or body guards from the South who exclusively served the Empress in the capital city of Eden. However, they didn’t have an empress anymore, as the last one died almost seven years ago. Lorain briefly remembered her father saying something about a monster that had attacked the city.
Anyway, it made sense to Lorain that Sprite knew how to use a sword. Everyone knew his mother had been teaching to be a knight. That’s not what bothered her, however and it wasn’t the wolf either.
He wasn’t even looking her way, his eyes where darting back and forth in the direction of the howls, watching to see if the brutes would come back. A few minutes passed then he let out a sigh, then almost immediately went stiff again. And he turned slowly to face Lorain. His eyes were wide with terror. He reminded her of a frightened deer. One move, and she thought he would dart off into the woods.
A minute passed then the boy cast his eyes down in shame. As though he was expected her to scold him for doing something wrong. Lorain got up slowly and approached the wolf cautiously.
“Is it dead?” she asked looking from the wolf back to him.
The boy looked up, apparently surprised at not being scolded by her. Yet he didn’t answer.
“Why did they all run away?” she asked.
He didn’t answer.
“You saved me?”
Again, he didn’t answer.
Do not misunderstand Lorain’s questions. She didn’t know it yet but it wasn’t the fact that he had killed the wolf that drover her curiosity. What really bothered her was that, this small, scrawny, child had somehow scared off two big ferocious wolves. The glint of a gold amulet that hung from his neck caught her eye.
Even if he had killed one of them, she couldn’t help but wonder if that would still be enough to make them run away? She wished she hadn’t closed her eyes during the whole thing.
There was one thing Lorain knew for sure though. There was something mysterious about the boy she called Sprite. If there is one thing children can’t stand it is an unsolved mystery.
Then something accrued to her.
“What’s your name?” She demanded forcefully.
The boy didn’t answer.
Lorain decided to take a different approach.
“I promise not to tell anyone about the wolves if that’s what you’re worried about. Thanks for saving me by the way. That was really brave of you.” She extended her hand in as friendly a manner as she could muster. Which, for her, took effort.
He looked at it unsure of what to do. Lorain, on the other hand, didn’t move this time. She didn’t care how long she had to wait. He would shake her hand. And eventually he did. Well she shook his hand. But he didn’t try to take it back so to her it still counted. Then she tried to let go. His grip was like a vice. He didn’t even seem to notice she was trying to take her hand back. It took her two tries to get free and it was only because he finally realized what she was trying to do.
“Well we should probably get back to the forge before Father gets back.” She started to walk off then she stopped and added “After work today would you like to have dinner with us?”
The boy shuddered at the idea of onion soup, then slowly shook his head apologetically.
Lorain, having done her best to thank him, turned to head home. As she did though, the boy finally spoke.
“Jursha!” Lorain couldn’t believe her ears. She almost jumped from the sound of his voice.
“My name is Jursha” he spoke calmly and with a dignity not suited for someone his age.
She smiled, grabbed his hand, and ran for the house. Being dragging along behind her, Sprite, or Jursha, wondered silently how he had made friends with the onion girl.