Tikkä is your average Finnish schoolgirl, until one day, she’s told by Smila, an elder, that she has to save the fairies she doesn’t believe in, from extinction.
Once upon a time, Tikkä lived an ordinary life in North Finland – she went to school, fished at weekends with her friend Joss, and if they caught enough, she’d bring one to Smila, the elder, who exchanged it for blueberries.
Then one evening, everything changed.
Smila held out her hand. In her palm was a tiny disc.
‘It’s a fairy compass. It was brought to me by a snow goose.’
She laid it in Tikkä’s palm. The girl felt a buzzing. ‘A fairy compass? And why is it vibrating?’
‘Ah. I was right. It’s a sign.’
‘What kind of sign?’
‘The world is out of balance. You have been chosen to undo the harm being done to the fairies. Keep the compass with you. It’s a key between their world and ours.’
‘But what do I do?’
‘You will know when the time comes.’
Tikkä went home, and forgot all about the conversation.
The following Saturday, she and Joss went fishing. As she removed her parka jacket, she felt the pocket vibrate. ‘The tiny fairy compass,’ she laughed, and told Joss the story.
‘Wow. You have magic. Let’s get my grandfather’s magnifying glass, and look more closely,’ said Joss.
Why not, thought Tikkä. Anyway, the fish weren’t biting.
Joss’s grandfather was happy to lend it. The needle pointed north, like any compass. They smiled. ‘Let’s go then!’
Though still February, there was barely enough snow to ski. Eventually reaching the Great Glacier, they gazed around in surprise. It had shrunk, and great floes of ice were floating around it.
The compass was hopping. ‘This is weird,’ she murmured. ‘Maybe I have electric energy. My mum gets shocks when she touches our car door.’
‘You don’t believe what Smila said?’ said Joss.
‘Joss, we’re too old for fairies.’
‘What do you mean?’
Tikkä pulled her hat off. ‘Fairies aren’t real.’
He took her other hand and uncurled her fingers.
‘The compass,’ said Joss, ‘explain that.’
It was still jumping like a grasshopper. But only in her hand. In Joss’s, nothing happened.
She laughed. ‘Ok, it’s a mystery. Let’s see.’
Laying the compass on the snow, she moved the magnifying glass over it. The glass caught a shard of sunlight, which darted across the compass. In a flash, the disc grew bigger and bigger – until it was HUGE, and she was like a tiny pea at the entrance of an enormous ice palace. A giant circular door slid open. Just in time, she grabbed Joss’s hand, and yanked him after her.
They stared up at fissures in the high ice walls, then looked down at the pools of water at their feet. In and out of crevices came flying tiny creatures. Some of them seemed to be gasping, slipping to the ground, their translucent wings vanishing.
Tikkä was stunned. So it was all true! Joss was the smartest, most intuitive person she knew. She felt ashamed for not believing, and squeezed his hand as they took in the shimmering all around them.
A fairy hovered by her shoulder. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Tikkä. Short for Jäätikkä.’
‘As the oracle said. Come with me.’
They followed her to where a tiny figure rested on an ice bed, green wings pulsing feebly.
The compass seemed to be a microphone and translation device too, for Tikkä could hear and understand everything.
‘The girl named for the Glacier is here, my queen.’
The queen’s eyes fluttered open.
‘Show her. Tell her.’ Her voice was a weak tinkle.
The queen’s fairy-in-waiting beckoned them to an alcove.
‘We are all interconnected. When humans do certain things, such as piercing earth’s crust, they trigger earthquakes and leakings which over-heat our home. Just one degree warmer, and we fairies will die. If we’re not here, inside the Glacier, to regulate the ocean temperatures, then humans and all living things will die too. The Glacier is melting already. But you can help cool things.’
‘How?’ said Tikkä.
‘Just trust,’ came the answer.
The compass pointed towards symbols set into the wall. Suddenly, she knew what to do. She ran her hand over them, until she felt an indent in one. Tikkä pressed the disc against the symbol. It slotted in perfectly.
The queen slowly sat up.
‘You’ve shifted the balance back. Thank you! For now, you have kept us safe. But the disc operates like a trip switch. If humans continue hurting the earth, it will seize again. Next time, for good. Tell them to heed the warnings of the bees and whales. If each human follows their own intuition, between us all, we can recover.’
The water at their feet froze. Tikkä and Joss shivered.
‘It’s. Too. Cold,’ managed Tikkä through blue lips which were rapidly frosting over. She slipped to the ground, Joss falling beside her.
‘The result is more powerful than expected. She has strong energy. Summon the clan.’
In a moment, the air was swarming with fairies.
‘We need to keep them alive. Breathe!’ The warm breaths of a thousand fairies flowed over the two. Once their colour returned, the fairies lifted the pair as though they were light as cloud.
‘But what portal did they use?’ one asked.
Faintly, Tikkä said, ‘Magnifying glass.’
The fairies hummed over them, and discovered the ancient object. ‘Of course. An heirloom.’ A dozen fairies held it in front of the compass.
‘We need light.’ Tikkä shivered as she spoke.
‘Beam!’ cried the queen. The whole clan shimmered brightly, until a spark caught in the glass, and the pair were wooshed back, back….to Smila’s house.
Tikkä blinked. ‘Smila! It worked. And we saw thousands of fairies! But still I don’t understand. Why me? I didn’t even believe…’
‘Your name, sweetheart! It means Glacier. That was a sign. I always trust my intuition.’
‘That’s just what the fairy queen said we should do.’
With that, they all tucked into blueberry pancakes, glad to see the thickly-falling snow settling.