"The Exchange"

"The Exchange"

Ingram was a curious creature. He liked to meander the earth wafting hither and thither on the winds letting them take him where they wished. If you caught sight of this winged shadow the satchel slung above the joints of his wings would immediately mark him as different. Ravens do not usually carry bags of trinkets but Ingram was no ordinary bird. He consorted with the great mysteries of this world and so found himself becoming less and less birdlike though his form remained the same. 

On one beautiful summer evening Ingram caught sight of a quiet grove of trees and decided to roost there for a night. Whilst looking for the perfect perch he spotted a beautiful cottage worked into an old tree stump. His inquisitive nature got the best of him and to his great delight he found a mound of sparkling and colorful stones piled outside the cottage. “Surely one or two won’t go amiss,” he whispered aloud to himself as he selected a few glittering crystals from the pile. Having deposited his treasures into his magical satchel he hazarded a peek into the nearby window. He found within a room of workbenches filled with glass jars and an odd collection of botanicals. Amidst all this controlled chaos a gnome had drifted off to sleep, it’s shirt covered in an array of stains and its hat resting in a pool of purple liquid that had bubbled over nearby. “This must be the artist,” Ingram thought to himself as he slowly lowered himself from the ledge and took his leave.

The next morning Ingram awoke well rested but without the desire to move on just yet. He found himself perplexed as to what the young gnome could be working on and decided to observe. He found a nice unoccupied hollow near the gnome’s home with a good vantage point of the workroom and the shiny rock pile. He watched as the figure emerged from the makeshift cottage and sauntered off through the woods eventually returning with an armload of flowers and assorted greenery. There followed a day of working in the window. Ingram watched as the little gnome toiled away and several times threw the window wide shouting obscenities and casting various crystals into the heap outside. “Whatever has he to be disappointed about,” Ingram said aloud, “Well if he doesn't want them then I shall relieve him of his unwanted creations!” After dark Ingram helped himself to many more of the sparkling rocks eventually filling the bag about his neck. 

This continued on for some time. The gnome would go on his walks and toss out his failed attempts at whatever he was trying to produce while Ingram watched. Ingram eventually had to make a home for himself but not too close to the gnome lest he decide that the rocks were valuable after all and he should like them back. The raven still found himself wandering away and back again depending on his mood, and he took to returning with gifts for the gnome. He would return with seed pods from far away flowers that bloomed in an array of colors with sparkling hearts of pigment. A fitting trade he thought for the iridescent stones he took for himself. The gnome of course had no idea that the missing castaways were being replaced, and was even more confuddled the following spring when a rainbow of color began to pop up outside of his workshop. Ingram continued his watch in secret, perfectly pleased with himself as the gnome began to collect his gifts in small amounts retreating into the workshop to continue his latest experiments. “What joy, to see what comes next,” Ingram intoned sleepily watching yet another day come to a close in the peaceful grove.

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