Etwas the Elf

Etwas the Elf
Our heroine, photo by Maia Ycot

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Little Elf and The Swordschicken

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of green grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she saw in front of her a chicken with epaulets on its shoulders and an epée in its hands.  "Ba-buck-ba-buck-chook-chook-chook!  En garde!" the rooster cried as it lunged at the much smaller elf.

"Howdy, Mr. Rooster!" the elf greeted as she duck a slash of the blade.

The chicken lunged again, plunging his blade forward towards the elf who ducked and rolled in the mud. The rooster waved the blade over and brought it down like an axe yelling "Le victoire, c'est a moi! Taktaktak."  Before the blow could land, Etwas was on her feet and somersaulted over the poultry, springing to her feet, a clump of tailfeathers in her triumphant hand.

"To you," Etwas shouted, "Victory.  For me, I'll do with a tailfeather pillow for my butterfly to sleep on." She laughed.  The rooster sneered.  And leapt forward flapping its wings to take air and achieve the advantage of aviation.  But a rooster can't fly and hold a sword at the same time and the foil fell and stuck in the dirt at Etwas' feet.  When the chicken came down, Etwas was upon it in an instant, the blade glittered in the sunlight in the expert hands of the elf.

"You meesed, ma Elf! Buckbuckbuck!" the rooster said, it's voice full of sarcasm and screech.

"Au contraire, Pard!" Etwas laughed and held up the blade which had the rooster's epaulets, a tiny "E" carved into each.

"Sacre bleu!" said the chicken "Caw chunk chunk chunk!"

And ever since then, the Elves have a saying "the hands that fill the pillow must also hold a blade."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Etwas and the Long Journey, Part V

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf and her butterfly, Rascal, were gliding back down to earth after being sneezed by a lava giant.  When the breath finally slowed and rascal could get his wings under control once more, they saw lights to the northwest.

It looked warm there and for several days, every time the pair had tried to rest something had flung them in the air and both were very tired, and, frankly, getting a bit irritable.  They reached a silent consensus to go have a nap under the bright lights.

"Vrooooooooooooooooooooooooom!" A noise louder than a sneezing troll burst above them and an enormous something other, blunt like a dwarf spear and bigger than 20 giants with enormous wings that didn't flap once rocketed out of nowhere to right above the elf and butterfly.  Behind it came a windstorm which once again picked the twosome up and shook them about and spun them but this time the gale didn't fling them high into the air but pulled them after the enormous metal spearbird with the blue-and-gold tail.

"That must be a paralytic roc," Etwas observed.

Finally, the spearbird slowed on the ground and the elf and the butterfly were cast aside.  They crashed into an open black box being carried by a human woman with a soft pink-and-white spaceheater inside.

"This must be some kind of spa," Etwas observed and soon elf and butterfly were asleep in the lap of the pink warmer.

When Etwas awoke, the two were in the most brilliantly lit longhall they had ever seen.  A voice spoke in Icelandic.  "Welcome to Icelandair flight 681 to Seattle.  We have sealed the cabin door, please turn your handheld electronics to the off position.  Thank you for choosing Icelandair and enjoy your flight."

"You're welcome," Etwas said sleepily and then, aside to Rascal "handheld what?"

And ever since then, Etwas always puts her seat backs and tray tables to the upright and locked position when she flies commercial.

Programming note: The ladies are due in for three weeks later today so, once again, I promise a story a day but not that it will appear here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Etwas and the long Journey, part IV

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf and Rascal the Butterfly were walking through the Hidden People community of Reykjanesbaer with every intention of flying south for the deepest nights of winter when they stopped to rest on the burst bubble of a long-ago lava.

The ground began to rumble and shake.  Nearby elves emerged from cracks in the rocks and ran.  The sound went "Brr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr-rr-upp!!!!!!!!!!!"  Etwas and Rascal, comfortable watching the other Elves run were surprised by the burp at the end which shook the rocks they were resting on.

Suddenly, the bubble of stone started to rise.  Etwas and Rascal, who had already travelled farther than they'd ever travelled before were pretty content to ride along and see where this all was heading.  Rascal just hoped for a little bit of south from the ordeal.  Before long, Etwas crawled to the edge of the volcanic dome and looked down at the Earth.  Far below, she could see stones that had been piled on top of one another and which, from this distance, seemed to be in the shape of elves.  That made her proud.

Thunderclapped from below them and Etwas perceived they were moving.  With rascal flittering beside her she crawled down the dome and saw that below the dome there extended a twisted chin and below that an enormous body and below that long legs covered by a black skin of frozen lava.

"Chhhhorrrr!!!!!!!!!" The lava giant sneezed sulfur and blew her and Rascal once more into the wet wind, hurling them far away.  Her last sight of the giant, it was rubbing its obsidian nose and reburying itself into it's hole.  Finally, the air around the pair drained away the inertia and Rascal caught the elf before she tumbled to Earth.  Rascal looked up at the stars and calculated glumly that they'd been blown northwest.

And ever since then, Etwas tries to bless people before they sneeze.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Etwas and the Long Journey, Part III

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf and her butterfly, Rascal, were leaving blá lonið for the warm South when a hard gale caught the butterfly's wings and tossed the pair high into the air.  

Northward, instead of southward they were carried and higher and higher into the sky.  Etwas tried to look down and see where they were but the bitter cold made just the act of opening her eyes painful.  

"Hey! Get out of the road!" came a deep voice.  Etwas covered her eyes with her hands to open them and saw a brightly lit red nose on a tiny, flying reindeer.

"Reindeer can't talk!" yelled the elf.

"Road hog!" boomed the voice again and Etwas saw that the sound came from behind the red-nosed reindeer and eight black-nosed comrades in a big sleigh in which sat a jolly old elf in a red coat, with a red hat- the plaintiff. 

The stream of wind didn't grab so hard up there and soon Rascal could direct his flight once more.

"I'm not turning for you, butterfly!" St. Nicholas roared.  "There were three good children this year and I have to get from Emma Lynn's house clear out to Payton's before the sunrise!  Now git!"

Suddenly the sleigh lurched and dove as Etwas yanked on the tails of the reindeer in turn.  "You've been very bad, Santa!" the tinier elf accused.  "Staying up all night and whatnot.  Watch out Grylla's cat doesn't get you!"

The jolly old Elf continued on his way, chastened.  He looked both ways before crossing over roads, kept his sleigh at a reasonable speed and went to bed each night on the early side.  Etwas and Rascal settled down to earth in the Elf country along the coast by Reykjanesbaer.

And ever since then, Etwas is careful not to stand in front of the well-intentioned and bearded.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Etwas and the Long Journey, Part II

Once upon a time, Etwas and Rascal were resting by the waters of the Blá Lonið trying to choose a destination for their very long journey when the northern lights rose in the sky and were followed by frozen rain.  The pair huddled under the shelter of a broken column of basalt and the butterfly slowly flapped its wings to draw in the heat from the geothermal lagoon.

"We could go north to Grimsey and shake hands with a Puffin," Etwas contemplated out loud but a sudden gale drowned her voice and Rascal just stared at her.

"We could also, I suppose, go see Finland.  I hear there are a lot of Elves in the north."  Falling ice clanked upon the stones all around Etwas' feet.  Her words were lost in other pitter-patters.

"Want to go pan for gold in the Yukon?" Etwas directed the question at Rascal but so much snow was now blowing under the stone that her words were muffled and even she could hardly hear herself.  She sat a moment enjoying the silence and Rascal did too.  Then the butterfly danced a quick jig and pointed with his antennae.

"Ok," Etwas answered.  "South it is."

And ever since then, Etwas defers to butterflies on matters of migration.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Etwas and the Long Journey, Part I

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she decided to take a longer journey.  She ran home and saddled up Rascal.  Then she filled a pack with dried berries and a flask of honey for Rascal.  She threw a blanket around Rascal's neck, lest the butterfly get cold on the journey.

"Hi, ho, Rascal," Etwas cried, mounted at last.  "Awayyyyyy!!!!!!!!!"

Soon the two friends were up over the mushroom and it disappeared finally beneath them.  Far to the North, the pair passed over Ingolfsfjall and turned West.  The ground rose and steamed when they passed over Hveragerdi and continued to rise.  Soon they were over the great reservation where mystical hills and valleys drained to the West.

For days the pair travelled and again and again, the landscape changed.  Suddenly the earth was dominated by human habitation and commerce.  The pair persevered stunned at the lights of the urban world and the aurora in the sky.  Occasionally they stopped and rested but not for long.  The pair were committed and continued even in harsh winds or piercing cold.

Finally, the two nestled for warmth near the waters of blá lonið.  "So," Etwas turned to Rascal.  "Where do you think we should go?"

And ever since then, Etwas always tries to find her destination before she arrives.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

*Etwas and the big rock

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she ran into a big rock.

"Howdy, Mr. Rock!" Etwas greeted the stone.

"Hello, Etwas," said the big rock.

"Watcha doin'?" Etwas asked.

"Not much," the boulder answered.  "You?"

"Running around, mostly.  Forests of grass, canopies of clover.  That sort of thing."

"You know what I'd really like really like to do?"

"What's that?"

"Stretch!  I've always wanted to yawn and stretch."

"I get it!" Etwas chirped.  "I've always wanted to spend a day sitting around on the ground."

And ever since then, Elves and rocks are more ambitious together than separately.

*Cowritten with Stevie Elfsmoosher

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Elves at Stonehenge

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she realized it was time to leave for her appointment.  She turned to the north and followed the natural lines of spiritual force to the mountain where her promise awaited.

She climbed up a tree whose top swayed near the cliffside.  She let the breeze carry her back and forth until she was close to the shear face and when the tip was nearest the side, leapt and took hold of an exposed root.  She leapt and grabbed the root.

One hand over the other, she shimmied up the exposed root until she reached a tiny cleft in the side of the mountain.  She stuck her hands inside the crack, one over the other and then her tiny toes.  In this way she managed to reach the tableland at the top.

Over the tableland she ran until she reached the Western point where at long last she reached a deep crevasse.  From the abyss she heard a sound. "Shoop, shoop, shoop, shoop, shoop!"  A cloud of dirt and shards of stone appeared above the top of the crack in rhythm with the sound and sprinkled her face and her hat with disembodied mountain.  "Shoop shoop shoop shoop shoop" from below.  "Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, poof" above.

Etwas dove over the rim of the fault in the top of the edge of the mountain.  On the way down the smooth sides of the stone met her back and she began to slide until finally, she reached the bottom.

"Did you bwing the wedge?" Eamon the Elf asked her, standing over his pick and shovel.

"Howdy, Eamon!  Of course I did."

"Sweahh," said Eamon.  Put it dayuh." and he pointed to a thin crack that spread in the bottom of his excavation.  Etwas fit the diamond into the center of the crack and pushed it as far as it would go.  Eamon swung his pick and hit the diamond true.  "Ping!" and then a deep rumbling noise emerged from the rock in the mountain.

"Whoa, boy!" Eamon cried.  "Bettah ho'd onto de wock!"  Both the Elves grabbed the side of the stone while the separation between the sides started to groan and grow.

"Push!" Etwas cried and the two tiny Elves braced their feet against the opposite sides and pushed with all of their might.  Finally, the entire western end of the mountain began to move and with a roar fell away from the rest.  The two Elves held tight to the falling scarp of stone and soon they were plummeting, attached to the great slate wall.  Down and down they fell until the wall exploded, shattered when it struck something hard and pointy with a loud "kaboom!"

When the dust finally settled and they could see, they discovered themselves in a mop of dirty, coarse and curly hair, just as they'd planned.  "Happy birthday, Stevie!" the two elves cried.

"Whoa!"  Said Stevie Elfsmoosher, the big, mean, ugly ogre.  "That's a lot of rock!"

"We gived you a stonehenge!" Eamon chirruped.

"Stone head," Etwas whispered to her tiny cousin.  "That's 'Stonehead.'"

And ever since then, elves always bring a thoughtful present to a birthday party.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The little elf and the tol'able snowman

Once upon a time, Etwas the elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when the snow started to fall.  Faster and faster it fell.  The drifts began to build, soft snow, the kind a little elf can fall right through.  Indeed, Etwas fell into a drift.

It was warm in the little snow cave her plummet made.  But here's the thing about Elves- if they have no work to do and no tricks to play, they like a little company.  Etwas started to build a snowman to play cards with.  She pulled in snow from the walls of the cave and rolled them up into a big ball.  She went back to the walls and pulled in some more snow to make a smaller ball.  This ball she placed on top of the larger ball.

Then she went back to the walls and pulled in yet more snow and made the snowman's head.  Once that was in place she realized she needed some sticks for arms, some stones for eyes, something stumpy for a nose, a hat and a scarf.  She widened the snow caves walls some more until she reached a mulberry bush buried in snow.

There was a single late mulberry and she pulled the bottom drupes apart to make the snowman's eyes and mouth.  The top of the berry she used for a nose.  She made arms from the vines.  She braided dead mulberry leaves to make a scarf.  All of this she carried back to the snowman and assembled it all.  Then she realized it needed a hat, so she took off her own and placed it on the snowman's head.

Etwas declared her snowman just fine.  "I'll call you 'Snjókall!'" she added.  The wide walls of the snowcave were now too far apart to support the snow on top and the echoes of Etwas' exclamation brought down the roof.

"Guess I'd better get to work," said Snjókall and he started excavating himself and the tiny Elf, using the green elf hat as a pail.  Once they were back under the sky he thanked her especially for the hat.

And ever since then, Etwas always shares something whenever she makes a new friend.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The elf and the pixie

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came upon her cousin, Payton the Pixie who was fluttering her wings and staring up the trunk of a begonia.

"Howdy, Payton!"

"Hi, Etwas!"

"Watcha doin'?"

"Looking for someone to play cards with.  I thought I saw some aphids up there."  Payton flapped her little wings quickly and elevated, turning a little bit from plumb from time to time, to the height of the begonia blossoms, but seemed to find no aphids.  "Just one ladybug is all I saw."

"Well, I like cards.  Maybe see if the ladybug wants a game?"

Payton raised herself up again and frowned.  She landed and said "Now there's just a little frog up there."

"Well, maybe invite the frog."

A third time, Payton bobbed and weaved vertically and this time a hawk swooped down, the begonia shook, and Payton landed a third time.  "Now nobody's there."

"Boy," said Etwas, "nobody wants to play a game of chance anymore."

"It's a pity," Payton answered, "how about Uno?"  The two played cards, told stories and laughed until sundown.

And ever since then, Elves always keep on the alert for signs of missing gamblers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The elf, the fox and the sour grapes.

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came upon another fox standing below an arbor.  The fox was staring balefully at the grapes which were out of her reach.

Etwas greeted her. "Howdy, Missus Fox!"

"Hello, Etwas," the fox sulked.

"What's the matter?"

"No matter," Mrs. Fox answered.  "I can't reach those grapes but they're probably sour."

Etwas jumped up the trunk of the vine and nestled in among the grapes at the top.  She picked one.

"Maybe," she said, "but they're still fun to chuck!" She winged a few of the suspected sour grapes at the fox and jumped onto her nose.  The fox snapped at Etwas who jumped onto the fox' tail as the fox wheeled in circles trying to bite her own backside until, finally exhausted, she lay down laughing alongside an invigorated Etwas.  When she finally stopped laughing, Etwas said "I'm just glad you weren't hungry for butter!" The fox and the elf laughed at that some more.

And ever since then, Etwas calls grapes by the name "findubermaleelon" which, in Elfish, means "the sweet fruit of the sourpuss."

Monday, December 5, 2011

The elf and the astrologer

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came around a corner and saw a fox standing on its hind legs with a telescope held up to its eye.  On nearby stump lay a chart of some sort on which the fox intermittently made notes.

"Howdy, Mr. Fox!"

"Hello, Etwas."

"Watcha doin'?"

"Checking the stars."

"For what?

"For signs."

"You mean like wolf tracks?"

"Like portents and omens."

"Portents and omens?"

"Evidence of that which hasn't happened yet but will.  Important things!," the fox growled. "I look to the stars for clarity."

"Keep looking," the Elf suggested as she cast her gaze to the sky.

And ever since then, Etwas believes that for every chart there must be a dictionary.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The tiny Elf and the flow of commerce

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came upon a new stream burbling across a low point in what had been a dry meadow.  Etwas jumped over the new brook, then jumped back.  Then she decided it needed a name so she sat down to listen to the water babble.

After a while, a grasshopper rafted past on a raft of pine needles.  "Howdy, Mr. Grasshopper!  Whatcha doing?"

"Why," answered the grasshopper, "I'm testing this new stream to see if it's a good way to ferry food to my cache.  And I'm hoping for rapids!"

"Good luck, Mr. Grasshopper!" Etwas hollered after him as he shouted "wheeeeeeeeeee!"

After a while, a little mouse poled his way up the stream.

Etwas greeted her.  "Howdy, Miss Mouse!  Watcha doin'?"

"I'm looking for love, little elf.  Looking for love.  I've never been up this way before.  Hope the ride gets wild."

"Good luck, Miss Mouse!"

Etwas sat a while longer listening to the water bubble and splash.  Then 10 ants floated past on a birch leaf loaded with breadcrumbs.

Etwas waved and called "Howdy, Messieurs Ant!  Watcha doin'"

As one, the ants rose to bow and answered "We're taking food to our home to store for the summer and hoping there are no rapids."

And ever since then, the little stream is called "Finance."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The elves in the blizzard

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when it started to snow.  It was no average Icelandic snowstorm with terrific winds and overwhelming drifts but a real icelandic blizzard that assassinates the sun and smothers the ground and replants trees besides themselves.

In moments, Etwas found herself buried and took out her knife to begin the process of building a way to the surface.  She built a little cave and spit to make sure which way down was and infer from that up.  She dug a little ledge in the snow and dug deeper to make another one.  For fun, she dug her stairs at a slight angle and by the time she reached the surface, the staircase spiralled like a pig's tail.

She reached the surface and the snow was still falling heavily and the world was still black and the air was still silent.  But then she heard footsteps nearby.  They were familiar footsteps.

"Howdy, Eamon!" she called to her cousin.

"Oh, hi, Etwas!"

"What are you doing out in this weather?"

"I'm getting wost in de snow!" Eamon the Elf replied.

"Fun!" said Etwas.  Can I come with you?"

"Shooah!  But don't weave no feetsteps," Eamon scolded.  "It's funna if you pwetend you awen't dayah."

Etwas shimmied up a nearby tree and took two leaves which she tied to her feet so that she would leave leaftracks instead.  Eamon was inspired so he looked around until he found a nest of birds, huddling together in the weather.  He plucked two tailfeathers and made his own snowshoes so he could leave tracks like a goose bouncing along the ground on its bottom.

The two trudged along in circles and arcs and curlicues until Eamon said "OK!  We'ah heah!" and the two sat down to build a tiny fire and roast currants.

And ever since then, elves will tell you that home is wherever you're lost.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Etwas the Elf and the priest of Odda

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she found herself in Odda.  A tall, red spire rose above the low hills and Etwas decided to explore the caves nearby.

In one of the caves, she found a gnome pacing back and forth in the darkness.  It was hard to see, but the gnome seemed to be wearing a bishop's mitre, priestly vestments and a large rood around his neck.  "Come on, Dark one.  I can take you!" the gnome was muttering.  A halberd rested on one arm.

Etwas greeted the gnome.  "Howdy, Mr. Gnome!"

The gnome turned and rushed at her, raising the pole-ax.  Etwas darted between the gnomes feet and yanked his tail.

"Oh!" the gnome declared in a gruff voice.  "I thought you were a demon."

"I get that sometimes," Etwas admitted.  "What are you doing in this cave?"

"Stamping out paganism."

"Just in this cave?"

"For now."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"We can only do as we're called to do.  As for me and this here cave, we will serve the LORD."

"That's nice.  So what if a pagan came in here to get out of the rain?"

"I'd stomp them! I'd punch them! I'd chop them into pagan croquets with my halberd. I'm outstamping pagans in this cave and, one day, beyond.  Wait!  I hear one now."  In fact, a bat was pinging the walls as it left its nest.  The gnome chased the bat around for a while, bashing the walls with the blade as he stumbled and scrambled and fumbled.

"Ok," the little elf allowed, "I don't want to interfere with Heaven's work so I'll just see myself out.  Careful the stone doesn't dull your blade."

"See you, Etwas," the gnome barked over his shoulder.  "And don't worry about me.  The LORD has a sharp blade waiting for me in the hereafter!"

Etwas went back to her outdoor play.

Ever since then, elves and gnomes give no comfort to the heathen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Elf and the Assisted Self-Improvement Center

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she decided to go pay a visit to her Uncle Gummi. Gummi was mostly a troll with some mad scientist thrown in. Nobody remembered whether he had started as a troll and become a mad scientist, or if he had been a mad scientist first and was turned into a troll. But most suspected that he had done the work himself. 

 Uncle Gummi ran an assisted self-improvement clinic on the banks of the Þjórsá river. Nobody was sure, but many who knew the place suspected he built his clinic by the raging river to drown the wailing sounds that came from inside. Regardless, he was rarely low on paying customers. 

"Howdy, Uncle Gummi!," Etwas yelled over the howling when she came in the door. 

"Oh, hey there, Etwas! How are you feeling?" 

"Oh, I'm fine, Uncle Gummi!" Etwas answered quickly. "Pink of health, yessiree." 

 "Want to meet some of my new patients?" Uncle Gummi showed Etwas into a room where a tiny fairy was folded double, her itty-bitty body rotating around legs 20 times as long as a fairy's natural size. "This is Golarun Stormsdóttir. She came here because she is the fairy godmother of an Ogre and felt her gifts weren't taken seriously because she was so small. So I chopped off her feet and sowed willow branches between them and her ankles. How you feeling about yourself now, Golarun?" Bent over at the ceiling, Golarun's face and body was level with Etwas' eyes, but upside-down. She held out a tiny thumb in what would be the upward direction, measured antenna-wise.  "That's great," the self-improvement guru encouraged as Etwas backed out of the room.

Uncle Gummi took her to the next room.  Opening the door revealed a bumblebee that was smashing from wall to wall out of control with contrails following its wings.  "This here is Kent.  He's a drone who read that bumblebees are aerodynamically incapable of flight, and can only leave the ground because they don't understand physics.  Well, once he read that he lost his confidence and, with it, the ability to work.  So I put together two tiny afterburners for his wings and now he's flying better than an eagle.  Isn't that right, Kent?"  The bee nodded once before the motion sent him into a forward spin that he only got under control by grabbing Etwas for ballast.  "Why, that's just fine, Kent."  The bee managed to cram his nose into a corner and keep still for a moment so he dropped Etwas onto her uncle's shoulders.

"And the best part is," Uncle Gummi whispered into his niece's ear, "he'll never sting again.  Long before he can get his business end backed up to stab you a good one, your skin'll burst into flames."

"Nice fix!" Etwas agreed, backing out the second door.

The third door opened into a long hallway with a stairwell at the far end lit by a flickering green glow.  Etwas could hear noises exhoing in a distant cavern.  "Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat Weeeeeeowwww!!! rat-a-tat-tat thud."

"Well, I'd better get back to work," Uncle Gummi said.

"Don't want to keep you," Etwas offered.

 "Oh! I brought you some potato cakes!"

"My favorite!" Gummi thanked her.  "And you know, I have a goose coming by tomorrow who's been trying to figure out how to ice skate..."

Etwas turned to leave but took the wrong door at first.  Behind it, in a dark  room, sat what looked like a toad except that its eyes glowed like a lightening bug, a fork flickered where its tongue should have been and where its front legs should be were talons like on a condor.  And its head was covered, save a patch here and there of green skin, with what Etwas initially thought was hair but, on closer inspection, turned out to be thousands of tiny wings.  "What did he need help with?" Etwas asked as soon as her speech returned.

"Oh," explained Gummi, "That's Doug.  Nothing wrong with him at all, but it seems to make him feel better to hang around here and watch me work.  Placebo effect, I'm thinking."

And ever since then, Etwas tries to adapt to situations instead of changing for them.