On the first day of December

It was the last of twilight. Far to the west, a corner of the sky was orange and teal of an ancient, contemplative hue. Otherwise night had fallen, cold and clear. Stars above and frost below had begun to dust the darkness.

A little bearded fellow — an elf, in the tongue of some, but of many names — was walking around a lake with a lantern. The lake was thinly iced-over. Frozen grass, reeds, and twigs crackled under his boots. Suddenly, he stopped.

Had he seen in the corner of his eye, under the lake's surface, a momentary, darting line of light? He held his lantern out over the lake, bringing it to crystalline illumination. "A reflection," he concluded dismissively.

He resumed walking, now holding the lantern on the other side of himself from the lake. And reeled again to a stop.

An evanescent streak of light under the ice that time, surely? He peered out, straining his eyes against the night. Nothing.

Any yet... there! Further out this time. Like a shooting star.

Nothing. Nothing... Again! And again! Dazzling, arrowing light bursting ephemerally up under the ice as though trying to break through it. Now here... now there! The little bearded fellow stood there a long while.

He then hurried home. Stoking up the fireplace to a blaze, he sat himself with toast and butter before it, warming his cheeks in its glow; pondering.

This is the first part of an episodic tale written in November and December 2022. Next part.

Last updated: 19:19 (GMT+1), 1st December 2022