Tomtra and his 100th removed cousin, Mangus, have inherited a faery burgh in Lapland, Finland. After 100 years of living together, Tomtra is at his wits end with his disgruntled, grumpy cousin. When he goes to the King of the Waning Year's home in search of advice, the King suggests that he be a traveler and sends him off to Sweden...This book is the prequel to the faery folk series.
"Give me that! Nyt !" I cried as Mangus and I fought over who would light the hearth. We were struggling over the flint box and it was quite a tussle as he pulled one way and I the other.
" Ei --you give it to me, Tomtra!!" Mangus' pinched face looked even more pinched as he worked up a sweat in the scuffle.
I had just gotten back from an errand and was carrying in my butter jug when I saw him getting ready to light the hearth. Well, that was unacceptable--it was my job! And my job alone! We had agreed on that, but Mangus didn't care. He just wanted to cause trouble, like always.
Let me explain rather quickly so I can get back into the fight. Mangus is my 100 th removed cousin and he and I inherited this faery burgh from a very, very, very distant relative. I didn't even know who Mangus was until we both showed up at the burgh on the day we inherited the place. I love my home, but Mangus has made it quite miserable since the beginning. He hasn't changed, even after 100 years.
Mangus clenched his teeth and said, "I'm two inches taller, a pinch smarter, and a whole lot of a better cook! Give it here!"
Do you know how many times I've had to hear this? First of all, I am abundantly smarter than he is. Second of all, I cook as if there is a little bit of paradise in my tasty morsels. As far as Mangus being taller, well, that is true, for I cannot lie.
I cried, "Here--take it!" I made sure I was pulled back quite tightly before releasing it. I had to laugh when he fell flat on his backside, though, I was still angry and went straight to my room, then slammed the door behind me.
I took a deep breath and looked out my window, trying to forget about the miserable person I had to live with. I breathed in again and thought how beautiful it is here in Lapland. Wildflowers covered the entire area as they spread out to the mountains. Our burgh is swarmed by them, and the air outside is so fresh and thick with their scent, but that is not the reason that keeps me here. I gaze out into the woods and know my precious becklesperry bushes are there--spread far and wide. Humans won't dare enter that area, for the thorns are incredibly hazardous. Many a time, I have sliced my hands and arms from them, but the becklesperries are so highly prized and coveted.
Let me tell you a little about becklesperries. They are rare and hard to find and they grow in my backyard. The fat, juicy yellow berries stay plump throughout every season and are made into wine. Almost all know about this spectacular wine. No, I'm not talking about humans, but faeries, trolls, gnomes, dwarves, ogres, and anything else that exists in the faery realm. Most will do anything for a glass of becklesperry wine. We have a storage room here in the burgh where I keep my stash on the left and Mangus keeps his on the right. We each have our own way of making the wine, and let me tell you, Mangus' is sub standard!
At least Mangus and I agree to keep the location of the becklesperries a secret, for we would be overwhelmed with faery folk encroaching on our burgh and the woods behind it, but I'm not really sure how long I can take Mangus and his surly ways. It is springtime and Mangus is here constantly! When fall comes, he is away most of the time to help King of the Waning Year for Yule. Yes, it's true, Mangus likes to help with some things, especially when its for children. He just doesn't seem to like me , for whatever reason.
I sighed and glanced out the window again, then I decided to visit the King as he should be home relaxing and growing portly for the winter months to come.
Since brownies are not faeries, we cannot fly, but we can surely leap! I'm not talking small leaps that take you a foot or so, oh no, I'm talking about vast, huge, and wide leaps! Did I mention that we brownies are quite small? Although, Mangus is two inches taller, and he won't let me forget it!
So, yes, I leapt to the King's house rather quickly and all his cherished reindeer were outside eating up as many wildflowers as they could muster. There was Noora, his great white horse, who stood by the entrance of his door and whinnied when she saw me. I knew what she wanted, and I gladly gave it to her as I held my palm out. The becklesperries were swiftly cleaned from my hand, and she was in bliss.
As I rapped on the door, a booming voice said, "Come on in, Tomtra!"
King of The Waning Year sat in his royal chair wearing his green suit, which he would be changing to red once fall and winter arrived. His chubby cheeks were crimson, as usual, and his white beard and hair were short for the warmer months, but soon enough they would grow long. He wore a holly wreath on his head, but took it off to scratch above his ear. His stomach was going quite rotund and he told me to quit bringing so many creamyums or he wouldn't be able to walk anymore!
I placed a little jug of wine at the offering table and sat across from him.
" Kiitos , Tomtra!" he cried, pleasantly eyeing the jug.
"Oh-ho-ho!" I said, "Anything for you, King!" It always felt good to be in the company of the King, for he made anyone feel happy and jubilant. Beside him, was a table containing his meal for the day. "Ahh, I see you've been mushroom picking--eh?" I looked at his huge dish of false morels in a cream sauce.
" Kylla ? --yes!" He rubbed his expanding belly. "Mushroom hunting today; berry picking tomorrow," he said.
"Excellent!" I said, eyeing the rest of his meal, which looked to be fowl topped with crushed juniper berries, a loaf of bread, and a big chunk of gammalost cheese that was beginning to stink up the entire room. The only item from our ilk were the butterputters, which were made by Mangus. I knew that they weren't mine because if they had been made by me, the King would have devoured them already!
As his broad, chunky fingers delved into his meal, I thought back to my fight with Mangus and wondered what to do about him. My face must have turned seriously grave for the King remarked, "What ails you, Tomtra?"
"It is Mangus!" I blurted, "He hates me! He makes everything eternally miserable at the burgh!"
"Indeed!" the King said resoundingly, "You're just now telling me this--after 100 years?" He raised his shaggy eyebrow so high that I thought they would fall off his face.
"I didn't want to cause trouble, and besides, it has gotten worse!" I said gloomily.
"Hmmm," the King said as he popped a butterputter in his mouth, then hastily spit it back out. "These are terrible!" He swiftly washed it down with a glass of mead.
" Those ," I pointed out quite clearly, "Were not made by me!!"
"I know, I know...." he mumbled. "Mangus brought them by this morning and I didn't want to hurt his feelings."
I made a face at that because I couldn't even imagine Mangus being hurt by anything! I couldn't help but get riled up again, which the King noticed.
"Relax, Tomtra, relax!" he said loudly as his voice reverberated through my chair. "We will come up with a solution!" He took a big mouthful of mushrooms and drummed his fingers on his thigh, deep in thought.
"I just can't think of anything," I said hopelessly.
"Tell me," he said, "What has kept you at the burgh this long?"
"The becklesperry bushes, of course!!!"
"Indeed! That was a silly question of me!" He laughed deeply as I watched his belly dance the jiggle. "Have you ever," he was still laughing, "Ever," he repeated, "Felt like leaving Finland?"
"I could never leave my becklesperries!" I cried.
"Hmmm," he said as he took a bite of the fowl with the juniper berries. "How about you go a traveling, and whenever you have a need for becklesperry wine, Oona will bring it to you?" he suggested.
I mulled that over. "What about Mangus?" I asked.
"Well, what about him?" the King said boomingly.
"Will he give her my stash?"
"Of course he will!" he cried, raising two shaggy eyebrows for good measure. "If not, he'll have to deal with me!"
I nodded as the idea was sounding better. "Where shall I go?" I asked rather lost.
"Hmmm." He took a gulp of wine, then another. "I could send you to my brothers, but they are too far and wide. I think I shall send you to the west."
" Kylla --yes! You're going to visit my friends, the Elle Maids, who are wood sprites. You'll have a fine time with them, AND you will be the only male!" He winked profusely at me, but I was only worried about how to get there.
"I will have to take many great leaps to get to Sweden."
"Don't be silly!" he roared, "Oona will take you. She will take you anywhere you want to go."
I stood up and placed my green cap securely on my head. "Right! Well, when will this happen?" I asked eagerly.
"In a few," he said. "You go home and collect your things, then Oona will pick you up."
And that was that. As I left the King's home, I spotted Oona up above in a tree. She was waiting on me, waiting for the delicious berries as Noora had earlier. I threw them up high, one after another, and she scooped down joyously to retrieve them. She was a beautiful thing, a great white owl was she, in case you didn't know.