Confluence of Spheres
A Gnome who will fight for friends and finger snacks to the bitter end
Willow’s laughter echoed through the town as he ran home, the noon sun shining down. The aftermath of another epic prank left in his wake . He lived on the branches of two entwined trees on the town’s northern outskirts. Upon reaching his favorite perch he surveyed the fruits of that morning’s work, the wide smile on his face shrank and turned into a deep frown, it hadn’t worked. As Willow was lying on a branch contemplating what to do a couple birds, one red and the other blue, and a flying squirrel approached him.
“What’s wrong?” The red bird asked.“Oh, hi Berry.” Willow sighed, “No matter how hard I try, no one ever seems to smile anymore. They used to think my jokes were funny. I dont understand why they aren’t happy anymore.” “Well maybe you should…” the blue bird chirped up, “be thinking bigger, I mean the same joke over and over can get tiring, so do something different, it can’t lose.”
“Something different eh? Something bigger?” Willow pondered aloud while scratching his chin. “That is brilliant Happy!” He shouted suddenly, “But what should I do?” He glanced over to his three friends, “Does anyone have any Ideas?”
“How about we replace all the sugar in town with salt.” Happy the blue bird chirped.
“Hmm that would be funny, but I don’t want to eat salty pastries. But good start Happy.” Willow replied.
“How about giving everyone some Acorns.” Squeaked the flying squirrel.
“Hmm and they’ve been made Super Spicy I like that idea Moondancer.” said Willow excitedly.
“No. I mean just plain delicious acorns.” Moondancer replied
“I dont get it where’s the joke.” Happy wondered.
“Yeah” Willow agreed, “I just dont get it, also I’m not sure if everyone likes to eat acorns. But still a good idea we can tweak for later. Do you have any ideas Berry?”
“Yes, Yes I do.”
“Let’s here your dumb idea.” Happy said pointedly.
“Happy thats not a very nice thing to say, apologise to Berry, there are no bad ideas.” Willow frowned at his blue friend.
“I’m glad to hear you say that Willow.” said a voice that seemed to come out of nowhere.
“Who said that?” Asked Willow,
“I did” The voice answered.
“Oh. My. God……… I can talk to trees? This is great I bet trees have some neat things to say.” Exclaimed Willow.
“No I said it,” The voice corrected slightly irritated
Willow looked around quizzically . “Are you a bug?”
“No I’m not a bug, just look…” The voice’s irritation had grown to greatly annoyed.
Willow’s eyes went wide with realization “IT’S A GHOST!!” Berry, Happy, and Moondancer, looked around a bit nervously and since they had a no ghost policy they quickly said their goodbyes and left for a more non ghost having zone.
“I’M NOT A GHOST.” The voice shouted.
“Oh then why can’t I see you?” Willow responded wisely.
The mysterious voice let out a long sigh and replied “Look down.”
Willow looked down and saw another gnome, one that he was quite sure he’d never seen before, standing at the base of one of Willow’s trees. He was dressed in grey and black, rather unlike the colorful clothes typical of Willow’s village, he also had daggers worn on either side. Willow climbed down to meet this strange gnome and when he got down to him he whispered,
“Watch out there’s a ghost around here,” Then raising his voice exclaimed. “I am Willow nice to meet you what’s your name?”
The strange gnome stared at Willow for awhile before saying. “My name is Tinker, I couldn’t help but overhear your problem, and was wondering if the reason everyone was upset was because of you and your constant jokes?”
Willow looked at him pondering what he had said and then started laughing “Oh thats a good one,” He said between fits of laughter, “of course not.”
“But if they don’t think your funny you could just be annoying them.” said Tinker.
Willow stopped laughing, “Look friend you’re new here so let me give you the same advice my mother used to give me.” Willow said as he put his arm around Tinker and turned toward the town, “If someone seems to be mean and angry don’t be upset, just remember that there are circumstances beyond your control. They could be having a bad day, or week, or year, just treat them kindly and you can help bring out their smile.” Willow stopped and turned to face Tinker. “So you see everyone is just grumpy, so it is my duty to bring the smile back to the faces of my friends.” after a pause, “I got it, you can help me develop a plan for Operation: Smile Storm. whaddya say?” Tinker stared at Willow for a while before agreeing to help.
Positioning himself next to the trees he picked up a stick and wrote in the ground Operation: Smile Storm and off to the side a cloud that was raining smiley faces. “Now everyone in town is really nice but they are in a bit of a sad phase. That’s where we come in, we need a plan to make everyone happy. I mean Mr and Mrs Elm used to be two of the happiest folks in town always smiling asking how my day was. One time they baked cookies for me…”
(Two Hours Later)
“Now Mr Huckleberry would always go out on his raft fishing up and down the river. One time he caught a fish as big as me..”
(Four Hours Later)
“And that’s how Mr Oak lost his toe” Willow cried, doubling over with laughter. Tinker at this point was sitting against a nearby stump wondering just what was he was trying to accomplish and if it was worth all this. It was.
“Now where were we?” He managed to say after regaining his composure, “Oh yes the plans we got are Operation: Salty Surprise where we replace all the sugar with salt, and Operation: Nuts-A-Plenty wherein we give everyone in town some nuts. what do you think?”
The sun was just beginning to set as Willow finished. Tinker just sat staring in disbelief at Willow. It took all the willpower he could muster to keep his expression calm and collected. He was so focused on maintaining his composure that he hadn’t noticed that Willow had stopped talking and was staring at him with intense exuberance.“Ah, yes ,” Tinker responded, shaking himself back to attention. “I was wondering what makes people happy around here?”
Willow pondered this for a while and said “Finger snacks?”
“Ok anything else?” Tinker managed to say calmly, a tight knot forming in his brow.
“Small animals?” Willow said blankly.
“What kind of animals?” Tinker pressed, the knot growing.
“Oh there’s birds and squirrels and…” Willow began but was quickly cut off by Tinker.
“What do squirrels like to eat?” Tinker interjected, a breakthrough or so he thought.
“Small berries and nuts.” answered Willow matter-of-factly. “So you’re leaning towards Operation: Nuts-A-Plenty.”.
“No I….” Tinker started, but was quickly cut off.
“OOH! I get it. More of a Salty Surprise type eh?” Willow said slyly.
“NO THAT’S Not…..” Tinker again started to say and again was quickly cut off.
“Look I’m getting a lot of mixed signals here. You need to speak clearly when you talk to people.”
At that moment Tinker felt that he was for sure going to kill this gnome, and it took all the restraint in this world to stop it from being right then and there. As the rage in him subsided he thought of the moment when his daggers would end Willow’s life and it was all he needed to continue.
“No, no my friend what I meant to ask you was where do nuts come from?” A large menacing grin, which Willow was oblivious of, spread across Tinker’s face.
“Ooo, trees!” Willow exclaimed with a snap of his finger.
“Yes!” Tinker shouted returning Willow’s exuberance “Now is there a tree around here that makes people happy?”
“Well, MY treehouse makes ME happy. But I don’t think I can do anything with that.” Answered Willow with chin in hand and deep in thought.
“Any other tree?” Tinker spat the question through gritted teeth.
“Oh, The Golden Oak! Everyone loves that!” Willow beamed.
“Yes, so if there were more of them then they might be happier.” Tinker’s rage and frustration subsided with a true smile.
“Exactly, if we where to plant one of its acorns, then we could grow another one. I bet everyone would be happier then.”
“Ok so where is the acorn?” Tinker’s smile shifting into a sneer.
“Its locked up in a secret location.”
“Well then let us go and get it and make those people happy.”
Tinker turned from Willow and started heading for the town, but before getting too far Willow stopped him.
“This is awkward, um, but no one outside the village can know where it is. Sorry.”
“But I’m inside the village now so it should be ok right?” Tinker replied slyly.
“It means people not from the village,” Willow walked up to Tinker with a sympathetic look on his face, “you are not from the village so I can’t show you, but thanks for the help.”
“I understand.” Tinker responded, beginning to shake with rage and frustration.
Willow patted Tinker on the head “There, there I know you won’t be able to see me in action but I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow how does that sound?” Tinker stood there a moment shaking and stewing. Upon regaining his composure, he cleared his throat and managed a humble response.
“Of course, of course I…understand. I look forward to hearing all about your grand exploit.” And with that he turned and left Willow, all the while muttering under his breath words like; moron, imbecile, and delusional.
After he left, Berry landed on Willow’s shoulder and asked “is he ok?”“He’s just sad he won’t see me being amazing.”
“Oh well don’t do anything stupid.” As she flew away.
“Do I ever do anything stupid?” Willow asked.
It was near midnight when Willow got to the room that held the sacred acorn. As he stepped through he heard a noise behind him and when he turned Tinker was there.
“I thought I told you not to come. If someone finds you here…” Willow whispered.
Willow stopped talking as Tinker walked forward, a big grin on his face “There’s something I’ve wanted to do since I first met you.” Willow started to back up. “Honestly I didn’t want to but after spending so long with you I understand why no one likes you.” Still walking forward Tinker reached behind his back. “Now, I was gonna just knock you out when I stole this stupid acorn but I think I’ll kill you instead.” Willow found himself backed all the way up against the pedestal that held the sacred acorn as Tinker neared him. Tinker pulled a dagger from behind his back and with a movement Willow couldn’t see, felt a pain in his side. The pain started spreading through his body his vision darkened and then he felt nothing.
When He woke up he found himself in bed. Trying to get up he felt a sharp pain in his side, looking down to see it bandaged. “You’re awake.” A young female gnome said walking into the room, leaned back out into the hall and called out “He’s awake now.”
“Thank you Lilly.” Willow recognized the voice, it was the village elder, Rose. “How are you feeling Willow?” she asked as she sat in the chair next to his bed.
“I’m fine.” Willow groaned.
“Do you know why I’m here?” asked the Elder.
“I’m sorry, I just wanted everyone to be happy and I thought if there were two sacred trees… is everyone mad at me?” Willow answered dejectedly.
“So far I’ve managed to keep it a secret but it won’t stay that way for long. What are you going to do?” She sighed.
“It was my fault the acorn got stolen so I’ll get it back.” He said mustering as much determination as he could.
“I see,” The Elder nodded pointing out, “It will be dangerous.”
“Nothing I cant handle. I better hurry if I’m gonna catch up with that thief.” At that he jumped out of bed and ran back home leaving the Elder.
Willow sat in front of his house looking up to its branches “…And that’s why I have to go. But I just don’t understand why Tinker would do that. HE seemed so nice.” Almost in response, a gentle breeze blew its way up the tree. The sound of his windchime drifting down to him.
“You’re right!” He exclaimed pounding his fist into his palm, “He probably was coerced into it, maybe he’s in trouble and doesn’t know what to do.” He jumped to his feet and called to his friends Berry, Happy, and Moondancer.
“Oh there you are Willow,” Berry said as she flew into sight,“we’ve been worried about you and haven’t seen you in days.” She landed on the grass, Happy following shortly after with Moondancer.
“I’m fine guys, don’t worry about it, but I’m gonna be leaving the village for awhile.” Willow told his friends in his usual bright and cheery way.
“What? you don’t have to go, stay here I’m sure we’ll come up with a plan that will work.” Happy chirped in distress.
“I’m sorry but if I have to go and fix a mistake I made.”
“Than we’re coming with you.” Moondancer said and both Happy and Berry nodded in agreement.
“Thanks, you three are my best friends, but I need you to stay here to look after mom and dad ok?” He quickly climbed up to grab some necessities, popped back out and took a long last look and his home. He dropped back down to the base of the trees and walked up to his friends tears in his eyes, tears in their eyes, gave them all a big hug and said good bye. Then he turned away wiping his eyes clear and shouted back as he disappeared into the forest.“With any luck Tinker is still nearby and I’ll be back by week’s end.” His usual bright grin returning.