I sit in the tower. I don’t remember what I did to get up here, just that some nutball ten years ago put me in the unsheltered top of an abandoned military defense station. I’ve heard the story of Rapunzel, of course, and yes, my hair has grown long and wild, for I have no scissors. For these ten years I have hung my hair over the tower wall, waiting for rescue. None have come this way. I have contemplated tying my hair to the tower somewhere and doing the trick that mountain climbers use to get down, but any place to tie the end of my hair has eroded from the winds. It is an extremely ancient tower, and it used to belong to Roman soldiers or something like that, I forget who. You really can’t blame me for forgetting, because I HAVE spent ten years here. I am desperate for escape. I have been living off of the food the birds drop, and my stash is running low.
Yesterday, the strangest thing happened to me. This dog came while I was asleep. It licked my face and woke me up. When I said, “Well, how did you get up here, you pwecious wittle doggie…” and went on like that, it didn’t answer my question but did something more surprising. It said, “Climb onto my back and I will take you to a place where there is a prince who cannot find a wife. You never need starve as you are again.” I laughed. “Now how do you plan to do that?”
“You would not believe me,” the dog replied. “You believe I can talk… wait, you believe I can talk? And you can talk to me! No human has ever talked to me! You will surely understand me, I suppose, since you must be magical. You must be…”
“WHAT are you TALKING about?!?!”
The dog dropped his head. “You have not seen. You must not believe.” And the dog leaped into a nearby oak and disappeared.
I must be seeing things. Birdseed and rainwater can do that to you.
The next day, the dog was back. He brought a hairstylist and some venison with him. He also brought matches and wood to build a fire to cook it on.
The hairstylist said, “Eh… how short do you want this hair cut?” I shut my eyes and said, “Shoulder length. Please. I’m sick of this tangled mess.” I sighed with relief as the rat’s nests disappeared. The hairstylist brought a new change of fine clothing for me, plus some makeup and a mirror so I could straighten myself out. I have to say, I looked prettier than I thought I would. The dog quickly built a fire (with his paws! Dogs don’t even have opposable thumbs!), somehow, and left the venison to cook. Then they went back into the tree and disappeared. I changed as soon as they left, then turned to the venison. Mmm. It was a very far cry from birdseed. I remembered that imaginary things don’t give off a scent — an old wise woman once told me that. The venison smelled delicious. All right, so I wasn’t seeing things. I must be dreaming, then. But then, if you eat something in a dream, you never wake up. I could live with that. I don’t mind… but I’ve noticed that in a dream you never get tired, and I’m plenty tired now. So I’ve met a talking dog. How do I explain this? It must be magic. There is no other way to explain it… and if you met a talking dog, which you probably never will, you would be so desperate for an explanation, you’d believe anything, too.
The dog was back a third day. He was alone, but he had supplies. He fixed me breakfast, and he brought water and toothpaste and a toothbrush, because my breath smelled rancid. I had given up keeping clean ages ago and focused on survival and hanging my hair down off the edge, so someone may see it. He said, “My master still cannot find a wife. He is handsome and kind. All he wants is someone who will not turn him down because of one strange thing. I promise safe travel and immediate rescue. You have waited, what? Eight or nine years, by the shape you were in. Gone vegan, eh? I suppose you had to. You don’t look the type to build a bow and hunt. I suppose nobody taught you to ever skin a rabbit or start a fire. Ah, well. Doesn’t matter now. Will you come with me?”
“Well, I suppose you were able to transport the hairstylist. I guess it’s safe.” I followed him back into the oak tree he used, trying to keep up with the agile hound. When I finally reached the main trunk of the tree, he was sitting there waiting patiently for me. Then when he knew I had caught up, he fussed around with a leaf a little and then told me to start climbing down the tree. I reached the bottom after a while, but before climbing down from the final branch, waited for the dog. He soon joined me. He said to climb all the way down and watch my step. Unfortunately, the tree was pruned so that there weren’t enough branches to reach the ground. The dog told me to jump, and I decided that I would rather do that than stay in the tree and starve to death. The dog had planned ahead, and a net broke our fall. It was the strangest place I had ever seen. There were pieces of giant log everywhere. It was pretty, in a strange way. In front of me stood the cutest little elven boy I had ever seen. The ONLY little elven boy I had ever seen. But still cute. The dog walked up to him and dropped his head. “Master, I have found you another girl. She talks to me. She understands me.”
“And why is that important?” I asked. “I don’t know what talking to a dog has to do with this, and I don’t know why I can talk to the dog anyway.”
“See?” said the dog.
The elven boy nodded and slowly said to me, “Savva Chikik onvrse fonna.”
“Hello? I don’t speak elf, sorry.”
“She knows but the human lang,” The dog explained.
The boy gave a sharp nod. “Me say, only Chikik talk animals. Me no learn much Englisho. Rest of village speak Chikian. You must be Chiki? Or you not know? You taken from here?”
I looked around. It did look familiar.
The dog said, “I found this one in a tower. She was living on birdseed, apparently. If she was taken from here, it was about nine years ago.”
“Hmm. Copy me,” the boy told me. I followed his hand movements exactly. In my palm a small plant was growing. He told me to keep doing what I was doing. I eventually held a full-grown plant in my hand that looked exactly like his. He was pleased that we had the same type of plant. I didn’t know why until he performed a spell called Revive. The next thing I knew, my clothes were made of leaves, like his, and I was an elf. The boy explained that this happened a lot, actually, and I was put under a spell and put in the tower for political reasons. Ten years ago someone tried to kill me for my position in the village. I was once an elven princess. The Chiki that tried to kill me has been long since beheaded, so I need not worry. I realized now that the boy’s vocabulary had greatly improved, which he told me was because he was speaking his native language and I understood it like English. English! Now I knew why nobody had come to rescue me. I had been calling for help in English, not Italian! I was obviously thought to be a tourist who was exploring the ancient Roman tower!
I now understood. I could understand the dog because I was once a Chiki, which I had figured out was what the elves called themselves. The dog, before, must only have had found human brides for his master, who either disliked him because the elf thing was too weird or maybe because he didn’t speak Italian. There must not be any single Chikik in the village. He was such a nice guy that even if he hadn’t been a prince, I would have married him.
So he found a small log and I enlarged it, suddenly remembering how to do so. No, I’m NOT telling! I also learned to drive the trees, like the dog. I’m not telling how to do that, either!
It turned out that the prince was a great poet, and he made a living out of it. I figured out I was very good at real estate and sold so many houses (both in the human world AND the village!) they had to enlarge the security dome around the Chikian world!
I mostly left law-making and things like that to my husband, but I was the judge of the court. It was a long and happy marraige, and I plan to live it out for my entire life, which, as an elf, will extend centuries from now.
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