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Trust Contest 2021 Prize - Field Trip

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Jacob smirked when Bowman flitted towards him. As he predicted, the fussy sprite wasted no time scolding him. “Could you be any more of a stompy giant?!” he complained, banking in a wide arc around Jacob’s long, striding gait. “You’ll scare everyone off before you even show up.”


Jacob had put a lot of work into walking carefully enough to avoid that exact situation. Even knowing he could do more, he was confident in his skills. Naturally, that did nothing to stop Bowman from scolding him. Jacob would worry about the little guy if he ever kicked that habit. “Nah, I won’t,” he countered. “I had you to warn everyone I was coming. They know I’m on the way. Bet I’ll even have a big welcome party.”


Bowman scoffed. “Welcome party or not, you’re blasted loud, Jacob. No storm clouds to be seen and yet there’s thunder.”


That earned another chuckle from Jacob. “Dude, what’s got you so worked up? Trying to convince people you trained a giant again?”


Bowman groaned, and Jacob spotted the look on his face before he could flit away. “Bowman, you don’t need to fret about it. I’ll be on my best behavior, like I always am. No one will find a reason to scold you, at least not from me.”


Another little scoff. This time, Bowman swooped close so he could land on Jacob’s shoulder. With his perch claimed, he finally admitted “Fine. You’re right. But if someone gets upset, I might just get chased out of the village. Last visit a nestling climbed into your hood but I’m the one who got bopped for it!”


Jacob laughed, though he tried to rein it in with Bowman perched on him. “Dude, they wouldn’t do that. And if they did, you can just chill with me. That’s not so bad, right?”


“Ha. If any nestling gets in trouble, I’m pointing at you, giant.”


Jacob rolled his eyes, but wasn’t surprised. “And if someone tries to bop you, I’ll probably have to let ‘em. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m not trained, right?”


“Oh, climb a dead tree. And then behave. We’re almost there.”


~~~


Jacob had visited Wellwood several times before. It never went as badly as Bowman assumed it might, though not for lack of griping. Most of the residents of the village trusted Jacob to be near their vulnerable homes; he’d stood up for them against other humans before, after all. He protected the secret even from his own family. Even those who were still wary of him didn’t begrudge others a chance to visit with him. Jacob had no intention of forcing someone to be around him if they didn’t want to, anyway. He had plenty of visitors as it was.


True to his word, he behaved well. He put up a calm front for Bowman, but in reality Jacob was careful to watch every move. He didn’t want to break that fragile trust he’d built up with the wood sprites of Wellwood.


While some of the younger sprites came to see Jacob, with their parents nearby just in case, Bowman had spent some time wheeling about in the air, chasing or being chased by other sprites his age. It was a pleasantly uneventful afternoon, as far as Jacob was concerned.


He made his way back to his clearing near dinnertime. While the sprites all wandered home to eat, Jacob wanted to be well away from the village. Seeing him eat made them nervous sometimes, and it made him feel awkward. He’d go have his dinner at his camp and the sprites needn’t be bothered.


The clearing, his temporary residence whenever he visited, was just as he’d left it earlier. His tent waited to one side with some firewood piled next to it. A plastic cooler sat in the shade next to a bucket for water. He had a sturdy line tied between two trees to hang up some of his other belongings, particularly food he didn’t want some forest critter to drag away.


He took a few steps towards that line only to halt in surprise at the sound of a giggle. The sound startled him enough that he swayed in place from the sudden stop. It was not a sound he expected out here, not with the village so far behind him.


“Alright, very sneaky,” he said to the open air before looking down at the pocket on the front of his hoodie. An innocuous pouch of fabric, it fascinated most of the sprites that encountered it. They didn’t have pockets on their clothes at all, so he didn’t have to wonder why.


Gingerly, Jacob reached a hand into the pocket, wary of bumping into tiny wings at the wrong angle. A small figure shifted away from his fingers and another giggle emitted from the pocket, and he couldn’t help a faint smile of his own. Whoever it was, they were young and quite pleased with themself for their deception.


A deception Jacob would take the blame for, he was certain.


“C’mere, kiddo,” he said, scooping his hand beneath the miniscule sprite and ferrying them out into the open. Little movements fluttered on his palm as they settled, and before he even had them in view he felt little hands clinging to his thumb for stability.


It turned out to be one of the nestlings, an absolutely tiny child with wings too small to do more than flutter along on the ground. His light brown hair was mussed and staticky from the pocket, and his wings stretched out as soon as he was back in the sunlight. He grinned at Jacob as he rose to eye level with the would-be giant. “Hi, Jacob! I was hiding!”


“I noticed,” Jacob replied, amusement coloring his voice. “You’re … Vel, right?”


If possible, the boy’s grin brightened. “Yeah! I’m Vel! I wanted to see your, um, your camp! So I was real sneaky.”


That exuberance was hard to deny, so Jacob only shook his head ruefully. “You don’t need to be sneaky to come visit me here, Vel. I’m sure your parents wouldn’t mind bringing you, but you should have asked so they’d know where you went.”


The boy stuck out his lip in a defiant pout, and his little wings flared open in a show of confidence despite the way his arms still wrapped around Jacob’s curled thumb. “But I wanted to be sneaky! And my mama wouldn’t have said yes, not when it’s dinnertime. But I thought, maybe, I could just have dinner here! Then when we go back she won’t get upset!”


Oh she’ll be mad alright, Jacob thought. Just probably not at you. It looked like Bowman’s worrying earlier would come to pass and Jacob would earn a few tiny bops.


He looked over his shoulder as if he might see a pair of angry sprite parents darting out of the woods right then and there. When he looked back, he was met with some very potent puppy eyes from Vel. “Okay,” he conceded, earning another enthusiastic grin. “But you’ll have to be good, and you have to promise me you won’t hide in my pocket again, okay? It’s not safe for you to be in there without me knowing.”


Vel nodded vigorously. “Okay! Yeah! I’ll be good, Jacob, I promise!”


“Good, we don’t want to make your mom worry any more than she already will,” Jacob replied with a faint smile.


Jacob had no doubts the kid would do his best, but really the responsibility all rested with him. He sighed and determined not to let that thought worry him; it wasn’t like he would let Vel wander into something dangerous, and the kid really couldn’t go all that far on his own. His wings were still small, occasionally fluttering involuntarily.


He moved his hand closer to his chest, offering his tiny guest better stability as he continued towards his hanging food bags. “You might end up having a dinner of human food, I can’t remember everything I brought,” he warned.


Vel didn’t seem worried. “Yay! Is it candy?”


Jacob had to chuckle at that. He grabbed one of his bags down from the line and made his way to his dormant campfire to have a seat. “No, I’m not gonna feed you candy for dinner,” he chided. “You need something healthier to make sure those wings grow big and strong.”


Vel pouted up at him, but didn’t have any further arguments. He clung tighter to Jacob’s thumb as he settled himself on the ground. He watched the sturdy food bag curiously, eyeing the zipper as Jacob opened it up.


First things first, Jacob rummaged in the bag with his free hand until he found a handkerchief, little more than a worn swatch of cloth he’d meant to use as a napkin. This he set on the ground before finally lowering Vel down. “Here you go, bud. You can sit here so you’re not right in the dirt, sound good?”


Vel scooted himself to the edge of Jacob’s hand, pausing to survey the offered picnic blanket before he hopped down. His wings fluttered and his arms shot out to his sides so he could prevent a stumble, and then he grinned proudly up at Jacob. “Thanks, Jacob! It’ll be fun! I’m gettin’ hungry! What’re we gonna have?”


Jacob couldn’t help an endeared smile. He gently nudged at Vel’s tiny stomach, earning a burst of giggles. “Hungry, huh? Let’s see what I have, maybe we can fill that tummy right up.”


“I betcha have a lot,” Vel mused, dropping to a seat while Jacob searched through his bag. “That bag is big enough for a whole house! Maybe two!”


“It’s pretty big alright,” Jacob agreed. “Gotta have a lot so I don’t run out while I’m visiting. Then I’d have to eat leaves, and those don’t fill me up as well as they do for you sprites.”


Vel giggled some more, but was distracted from responding when Jacob produced a few clear baggies from the large canvas bag. Raisins, granola, trail mix, and a few other things that kept well were separated into the bags; Jacob set aside a few that definitely wouldn’t work (thankfully Vel didn’t notice the M&Ms in the trail mix before it was out of sight again). Jacob picked out a raisin and a broken shard of a banana chip, thinking they’d be plenty to get the kid started.


He held them out and Vel, his eyes wide, took both in his hands with an endearing kind of reverence. “Thanks, Jacob! These look really good! This … what’s this yellow thing?”


Jacob helped himself to some granola, but before eating any he explained the food for Vel. “The yellow thing is a dried piece of a banana. It’s a kind of fruit. The other thing is called a raisin. It’s a dried berry. They’re still good like that, I promise.”


Vel wrinkled his nose in thought, then eyed up the two unusual fruits in his lap. “That sounds like winter food,” he pointed out. “But they’re not cold!”


"Nah," Jacob agreed, keeping an eye on the fascinated little sprite. "Maybe they were cold when someone dried them out. I don't know how they make 'em."


Vel nibbled at the banana chip and pondered it. Jacob took the kid's distraction as a chance to sneak a few more bites of granola. Vel didn't seem as worried about it as most of the adult sprites, but Jacob didn't plan to take any chances upsetting him. The kid had an innocent trust in the would-be giant in his midst. Breaking that trust would be deplorable.


After a few minutes of quiet, Vel finally had a verdict. "I like this banana thing," he announced, holding up the piece he'd barely made a dent in. "You said it wasn't gonna be candy, but this is just as good as candy! It’s kinda hard but I don't mind 'cause it's really yummy!"


"Well, good," Jacob said with an endeared smile. "It’s good for you. Much better for those wings than candy would be " To punctuate his claim, Jacob nudged one of Vel's fluttering wings with a fingertip.


Vel squirmed away on his makeshift picnic blanket, clutching his banana chip close to his chest as he did. “Wait, wait, I wanna try the other thing too!” he said in between giggles.


Jacob relented and nodded pointedly at the raisin Vel had left behind in his scrambling. “Oh, that thing right there? I thought you were leaving it for me.”


Vel gasped and dove for it. “Nooo, I still want it! I promise!”


“Alright,” Jacob conceded, doing his best put-upon expression. “Go ahead and try it out. Whatever you don’t manage to fit in your tummy can go home with ya, okay? Maybe your parents would like it.”


And maybe a peace offering will get me out of trouble, he amended silently.


Vel fidgeted to settle himself comfortably again. “Yeah! I bet they’d like to try it. Winter food that isn’t cold is so weird!”


Jacob hummed thoughtfully. “I bet it is,” he said, sneaking some more of his own food while Vel was preoccupied. “I wonder what your mom and dad will say about it.”


~~~


Soon enough, it was time to head back to the village. The sky was turning orange at the edge of the horizon. No matter the begging faces he got, Jacob’s resolve only wavered a bit. He really couldn’t let the kid stay out too long without his parents knowing where he was.


Arriving back at the village, he had a feeling he knew which of the trees held Vel’s home. A number of adult sprites fluttered around it in agitated patterns. They barely noticed his return to the village.


Until he cleared his throat. “Um. Hey, guys.” He held up his hand, fingers curled for the security of the nestling sitting on his palm. “I had someone sneak back to my clearing with me when I left for dinner.” Vel waved at the nonplussed adults.


Several of them darted over to Jacob, heedless of his size. Among them was none other than Bowman himself, who came to a hover right before Jacob’s face. “What did I tell you about behaving?!” he scolded.


Jacob blinked and leaned back. “I did behave! Vel here is very sneaky. So I gave him some dinner before bringing him home.”


Vel was grinning at a sprite woman that had landed right on Jacob’s hand to check on him. “I was so sneaky, mama!” he announced. “We had fun! Jacob let me keep the leftovers!”


At least he had Vel to smooth things over. Jacob could tell by Bowman’s narrowed eyes that he’d be bopped later. “It was just a little field trip. Won’t happen again without permission, I promise.”


“It better not,” Bowman warned, as if that was all it took to keep a nestling from misbehaving and landing Jacob in trouble.

A prize for Firenze11 for placing in the 2021 Trust Contest!

The request this time was for some quality fluff between Jacob Andris, a human, and Vel, a young wood sprite of Wellwood. Jacob is the gentlest giant around, so it's no wonder that little sprite wanted to hang out with him!

Jacob, Vel, Bowman, and Wellwood belong to me. 
© 2021 PL1
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LaEscritora's avatar

This is so cute. X3 Sneaky lil Vel has no concept of his friendly neighborhood giant getting in trouble on his behalf.

t-404's avatar

"Don't sneak to my camp or else I'll give you human food that tastes as good as candy and let you keep the leftovers."

...I know there aren't any other options when it comes to smol sprites, but there might be unintended consequences :D

Firenze11's avatar

Hehehe, oh Vel. You're too innocent and adorable for your own good. Thanks for writing it! It was great!

PL1's avatar

It's so hard to say no to such a cute kid, even if it means getting yourself in trouble!


Thanks for the prompt! It was fun to write <3 I'm so glad you like it!