I turned my head, slowly, and came nose-to-tiny-nose with the air spirit. It smiled cheerfully, a swirl of silver-white in the warm morning sun.
“Hello hello!” It’s voice tinkled like frost-covered leaves blowing in a playful breeze, and I couldn’t help but smile back at its evident joy.
“Hello there,” I said softly, and then, because it seemed polite, I glanced downward and said, “Would you like to meet my daughter?” The spirit gave a shriek of delight and dove towards my daughter’s head. I closed the shawl just in time. “Perhaps from a distance?” I asked. “She’s very small yet, and not used to the cold air.”
“Sorry sorry!” the spirit was contrite, but still vibrating with excitement. I pulled back the shawl once more and it floated a respectful distance above us.
“Ooo,” it said. “So soft and warm! So pretty! Pretty pretty!”
“I think so,” I said, warmth blossoming in my chest.
“But… why did lady call if not for cooling?” It asked at last, landing next to the leftover cheese and applying itself industriously.
“I need to know if you can help me with a name.”
“Name? Name for girl child?” the spirit looked up, curious.
“No, she has a name. I need the name of…” I paused, considering. How to describe the creature?
“I made a bargain with something… sort of like you. But not of the air. More like… of the shadows. But stronger. Bigger. More solid. Very pleased with its own cleverness, and its knowledge of the old magics. All black, with long ears and a long tail, and eyes that glow in the moonlight. And a great many sharp teeth. Do you know it?”
The spirit gave a little shudder. “Bad bad bad,” it said. “Lady should not deal with such as that one.”
“That I know,” I said. “But I had no choice. And now I need to know its name, so I can undo what harm I’ve done.”
The spirit shook its head. “Don’t know,” it said, sadly. “Don’t know that one’s name. Sorry, sorry. That one is sly, and keeps its secrets well.”
I swallowed my disappointment. Of course it would not be so easy. “That’s alright,” I said, reaching out to give it a little caress along its finely feathered back. It giggled with pleasure, and took off again.
“Call the others,” it advised. “Maybe a more powerful one knows that one’s name.”