"I'm just... not like you guys you know? I mean look at me, I'm almost 6 feet tall I can't even fit in these caves without crouching! I bang my head on every entrance, my hands are too big to carry any of the tools..." The dark mountain cave echoed with the voice of a young man who looked to be about eighteen years old, locks of brown hair extending out from a red elf hat that was way too small.
"Budum, Jack, we've done so much for you! Staid and Nappy have tried to expand the cave entrances so you can fit through them, and Chef has to cook three times as much food just for you, budum!" A tiny man with dwarfish features and an equally dwarfish orange hat responded to his much larger friend.
"I know. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, it's just..." the large young man peered out of the cave entrance longingly, "it's just that I feel so different. I've always felt different but now, it's just so obvious."
"Wh-wh-why is it ob-obvious, budum?" asked another dwarfish figure timidly. This little guy was dressed in green.
"It's obvious! Look at me!" Jack's voice resonated throughout the cave drawing the attention of someone outside.
"Shh! Budum, someone might hear us," the elf in orange exclaimed!
"Bu-budum, hide! Someone's come-coming!" responded the elf clad in green. The larger "elf" quickly followed behind them as they ran into another cave dwelling to hide.
You see, these little men aren't dwarves or elves, they are sprites. More accurately, they are Harvest Sprites and they work alongside the divine Harvest Goddess to bringing fertility to Flowerbud Village. And, actually, humans can't see the Harvest Goddess or her sprites...so why were they hiding from this human?
The sprites dressed in green and orange easily made it through the smaller cave dwelling entrance, but the larger man had a much harder time. He had to crawl on his stomach to make it through, and it had been a while since he had been inside this particular crevice, so he was having a difficult time fitting through the hole.
"Budum, Jack! Hurry!" the two sprites exclaimed with their tiny hands raised in panic.
The two sprites were now pulling on Jack's arms, both of them yanking to pull him through the tiny cave entrance.
"OH MY GODDESS!" shrieked a distinctly human—and distinctly female —voice on the other side, "someone's trapped in here! Help! Help! SOMEBODY HELP!"
Finally, the sprites pulled at the same time and Jack came flying into the tiny cave dwelling, knocking down all the tiny stoneware and knick-knacks that decorated the tiny room. From the other side of the cave wall, they could hear the girl running away as she called for help.
"Uh-oh," Jack said sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his head, "guess that human saw us."
"Humans can't see harvest sprites you dumb-dumb, budum!"
The response came from a third sprite who was indistinguishable from the other two except that he was dressed in a very bold shade of purple. The two sprites in orange and green motioned for him to be quiet, but he didn't notice them.
"What?" a perplexed look was straining Jack's face as he sat awkwardly in the cramped space, "what do you mean? We always have to hide from the humans so they don't' see us..."
"Oh, budum, don't listen to him! He doesn't know what he's talking about, budum!" said the orange sprite to Jack.
"Budum, I do so know what I'm talking about!" shouted the sprite in purple.
"B-Bold, please, be quiet, budum," the sprite in green begged, "the hu-humans might here us talk-talking, budum."
"Human's can't hear or see sprites, budum! What is wrong with you two? Budum, you're acting weird!" shouted Bold, the boldly dressed purple sprite. Then he noticed the large "sprite" in the room (how could he have missed him?) and quickly shut his tiny little mouth. The three sprites stood awkwardly in the room, their miniature little eyes darting back and forth between each other.
"Huh? I'm confused... you guys always told me that we have to hide from the humans and be very quiet so that they don't see or hear us."
"I just heard something!" said a male voice on the other side of the cave wall.
"That's where I saw the person! They were stuck in that hole!" exclaimed the female voice from ealier.
The humans could be heard rummaging around the cave while the sprites and Jack sat quietly on the other side of the cave wall. Suddenly, a human hand jutted through the tiny cave entrance and groped around. The hand hit one of the tiny sprites, but glided right through him! And the hand didn't seem to notice that it had touched the other sprite. How strange, Jack thought to himself, as he watched the hand move through his sprite brothers as if they didn't exist!
Then the hand swung around and hit Jack right on the bum! He was shocked, why had the hand been able to touch him?! He had just watched it glide through the other sprites! The hand kept hitting Jack and so he swatted it away with his own.
"GAH!" exclaimed a man on the other side as he pulled his hand out of the cave hole, "there's an animal or something in there!"
"Karen, you probably just saw an animal..."
"No, it was a human! I KNOW WHAT I SAW RICK!"
"Okay kids, it was probably nothing. Weird things happen in these caves, it's best you two stay out of here anyway." Jack recognized this voice, it was one of the carpenters that worked in the mountains.
The four sprites remained silent until the humans could be heard no longer. No one spoke about the incident afterwards, but Jack couldn't help but ponder everything that had just happened.
For the remaining days of winter, Jack's thoughts were consumed with the incident that had happened in the cave. Why had his sprite brothers lied to him about humans being able to see and hear sprites? And why was the human hand unable to touch his sprite brother, yet, it had touched him? Jack always knew he was different, but he never dreamt that he was this different.
Even though it was the last day of winter and the sprites were busy preparing for the upcoming spring, Jack was not feeling very festive. This was one of the most fun times of the year for the sprites, they would feast, craft little gifts for the children of the town, and relax before the hard work started in spring. The sprites were responsible for the blooming of all the land's flowers and crops, so the wintertime was their only time to rest and celebrate. But Jack wasn't in the mood to celebrate.
"I really am different," Jack said to himself as he pulled his red elf coat around his chest, the air was beginning to warm with the breath of spring but the morning fog was still quite chilly. His big, brown eyes gazed out over the mountain peek and out onto the tiny village. He had never been to the village before. From the vantage point of the mountain, Flowerbud Village looked so small. Everything looked so small to him, too small for him, and nothing seemed right.
He watched the morning sun slowly illuminate the village as the lights turned off one by one. He watched for a long time, wondering why in the world he felt so sad. A tear escaped down his cheek... why was he so sad? Without thinking, he ran down the mountain and through the familiar forests that he had played in with his sprite brothers when he was still a small boy. The forest had been the only home he ever knew. But he wanted a new home now. A home where everyone looked like him, a home where he could fit in and not feel so different. He kept running and running until the forest was behind him. Eventually, he came to a crossroad just outside of the village where he just stood there, wiping the remaining tears from his eyes.
Suddenly, he saw a very short man dressed in red coat and matching red hat walking out of the village. The man was shorter than Jack, but not as short as the harvest sprites, and he was much much wider too!
"Oh hello, you must be Jack."
Jack was startled. How did this funny man know his name?
Author's Note: I was inspired by JadeSkull16's request for a Harvest Moon story based on the Christmas movie "Elf" and decided to give some backstory about Jack's relationship with the Harvest Sprites. I took some liberty with the sprites; even though this story takes place in the Harvest Moon 64 world, these sprites are more like the Friends of Mineral Town/Back to Nature sprites. Originally, I intended for this to be a one shot, but I always write too much and end up with multi-chapters. I know the story started off a bit sad, but I promise it will have a happy ending :]