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“That must be her,” said Victoria while pointing towards the open sky. A few hundred feet above the horizon a hang-glider floated carelessly over the fields, against a back-drop of grey, flat-bottomed clouds. The occupants of the ground-skimmer watched as the small shape became larger the closer it got – seemingly from the size of a bee to the size of a large eagle.
“I’m so pleased you decided to pair with a smelf, Victoria. It’s a big commitment but well worth it in the end. She has the facts and mental aptitude - and you have the life-experience.” Zovonamir looked out the window at the oval parachute.
Victoria shrugged, obviously worried. “I’m still not sure about the pairing – or if I’ll be able to help her at all.”
Zon could see the smelf clearly now and he grimaced. “Well, you could start by telling her to wear a helmet. This will protect her most valuable asset – her brain.”
“I’ll make a note,” she said.
“Please do. All a smelf really has to offer is their brain and the knowledge uploaded by the Confederacy. Without that knowledge they’re worth practically nothing to anyone. Do you like your smelf, Victoria?”
“I’ve only seen her three times so far: at her birth of course; after her uploading; and now at three years old.”
“It must be something important for her to make such an impromptu journey.” They were now on the outskirts of town. “There is one more thing you must remember, my young friend. No matter how much they resemble children, do not pick them up, unless they offer. They are an esteemed race and are not to be talked down to. Their enhanced intelligence vastly outweighs our own.”
“I understand that, Zon. Why would you feel the need to remind me of something so basic?”
His eyes softened, allowing the young girl to see into his hazel eyes as he leaned forward. “I only remind you because you are childless and might be tempted to see Lana as a way to fill that need. I can assure you a smelf is much different than a human child.”
“Thank you for your warning, Zon.” The ground-skimmer came to a stop suddenly. “Well, here I am, right on time. Farewell for now.”
The 3-foot smelf had already chosen a table on the restaurant’s patio, against a wrought-iron fence. She wore a shift-dress of striped terrycloth that came to just above her ankles and had a hood.
The woman took a seat at the table, closest to where the smelf was standing. “I’m honored that you’ve come to visit, Lana.”
“I’m here on important business for the King,” she answered, getting to the point. “I was advised by my tutor to seek out my human.”
“What does the King want?”
“He wants to know the number of dwarfs in Parish Centuria now!” The smelf lifted her eyebrows as though the difficulty of the task was obvious.
“It’s not as if he asked for the number of stars in the sky,” said the human.
“2,354 stars are usually visible from one location with the naked eye at 3 AM,” Lana answered stoically. “The King is impatient and wants the number of dwarfs now, and they don’t keep written records for census.”
“I will be delighted to accompany you on your quest, but couldn’t you simply approximate the number of dwarfs by visiting an average village.”
“I didn’t think of that! And then use the German Tank equation!”
“The number of dwarfs can be estimated as the maximum observed age minus one, plus the number of dwarfs seen divided into the maximum observed age. The German Tank equation. Thank you.”
Victoria began to stand. “Well if we are to make it to the closest village by nightfall, we’ll need to leave now.”
The smelf looked at the woman quizzically. “Can you tell me why I’ve had trouble relieving my bowels?”
“Perhaps you need to eat more fruit to increase the fiber in your diet.” The woman reached over to a bowel of fruit on the table and handed a peach to the smelf. Lana began to eat it and smiled.
“Thank you again. We can go now,” she said. Victoria placed a Kumquat inside her purse.
The journey in the ground-skimmer proved uneventful and they easily made it to Volicheck.
Walking through the community, Lana immediately began to make mental notes of the number of dwarfs coming and going from their underground homes, and the approximate age of the dwarfs they encountered. By the time the pair had reached the opposite edge of the village the smelf was smiling – reassured that she would definitely be able to bring the king the numbers he wanted. “6,538 – plus or minus 3.”
There was now a mist in the air as they stood beside a stream. “My hair is getting damp and I forgot to bring my cap,” said the smelf to Victoria.
“You have a hood on your dress, why don’t you put it up?”
“I always thought the hood was merely ornamental,” she said.
Victoria reached over to pull the hood over her head, but stopped suddenly. The smart elf nodded her permission, so the human adjusted the cloth over the smelf’s head.
“You know a great many things, human. I very much appreciate your help and will be seeking it again very soon, I’m sure. We can head back right after I find a café and a bathroom.”
The woman couldn’t help but chuckle, leading the smelf towards the center of town.
On the way home Lana became sleepy in the ground-skimmer and asked Victoria if she could sit on her lap. As the human looked at the face of the sleeping smelf, she was glad she had chosen to mentor this small, brilliant creature, wondering what their futures together might hold. She smiled to herself and thought happily, “Who am I to blow against the wind.”
micheledutcher - I think the Smelf (smart elf) idea should be used in video games and stuff. A creature capable of being downloaded at a young age with all the info on the web (or a magical cave) would be so cool.
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