As far as the generations of ducks of St James's Park remembered, the ducks there always had two patrons.
The Light Elf and the Dark Elf.
Their Elves were obviously two intertwined parts of Mother Nature, almost always together. The Dark one usually orbiting the Light one.
The Light Elf was soft like feathers of a newborn duckling and nurturing like a mother duck, often bringing food and treats for the ducks. The duck legends also recounted stories that many generations of ducks ago the Light Elf used to bring soft and fluffy treats for them. The more contemplative ducks, the Duck Philosophers of the Duck Tribe, theorized that the long lost treats could have been something similar to those weird things people sometimes threw to their ponds - though curiously, as far as new generations remembered, they have always avoided these things.
(“Did you make a miracle so they wouldn’t eat bread and other pastry anymore, angel?”
“I told you, Crowley, it’s bad for them!”)
Their Dark Elf was more mischievous. Like an unruly duckling often playing tricks - such as dunking the ducks - though never to harm. Actually, for the younger ducks it became quite a rite of passage to be dunked by the Dark Elf.
(“Crowley, I’ve told you that many times you should stop doing that.”
“If they wanted me to stop, angel, then a bunch of the little buggers wouldn’t swim to me immediately as I came near the pond. Look, I dunk one of them at the rest looks disappointed that I didn’t chose them !”)
There were many stories told from one duck generation to the next about their Elves. Some were lost through time, some became too incredible for the young ducks to believe through many retellings and the change of times, but there were a few so popular that they became what the ducks of St James's Park called the ‘The Four Elf Lovely Legends’ (The FELL ).
The one where the Light Elf gets angry
Their Light Elf was usually like the sun: warm, happy and gentle. Up until certain day the ducks believed that the harsh elements of Mother Nature - because Mother Nature contained all - existed only in the Dark Elf.
The Light Elf and the Dark Elf were almost always seen together, sitting on those weird human long tree stumps, standing near the ponds and feeding their duck wards, or just walking through the park. But, they never actually came and left together . They always came from and parted to different sides of the park, and if they actually came from the same park entrance then never at the same time , one always came first and waited for the other, and then after one left the other waited for some time before following in the first Elf’s footsteps. It was most peculiar.
One day the Elves spent a good portion of the day on a blanket on the grass. The blanket had a pattern the ducks associated with the Light Elf and that the Duck Lore called ‘tartan’. It seemed that the Elves were eating and drinking a never-ending series of plates and bottles apparently hidden in the basket.
The ducks that observed them - because of course they were observing their Elves - were quite confused by this. The Duck Tribe had explored these human basket contraptions that humans had abandoned in the park several times, and there was no way all those bottles and plates could fit into the Elves’ basket.
The ducks that were watching the Elves discussed this weird phenomenon and then agreed: the Elves’ basket must have been bigger on the inside!
One of the ducks quacked that it would be a good place to hide their Duck Tribe if those humans who a week ago tried to ducknap them returned.
Yes, there was a group of humans so daring that they came with big nests, bags and other weird things to take their Duck Tribe away - to ducknap them! When the alarm of the Watchduck (the duck guarding the perimeter) sounded the ducks flocked and fought the humans. It was a tactic they had successfully employed many times before - for some reason humans never expected their tribe to fight back. And while they managed to drive the hoodlums away, this time it was quite a close thing. If those ducknappers returned with more humans, the tribe could lose next time.
So the tribe observed their Elves and the wondrous bigger-on-the-inside basket.
In the evening the Dark Elf got up and slowly walked away. His steps were a little uncertain as if going through all those plates or bottles made him tired.
The Light Elf seemed in no hurry to get up and follow his elf counterpart, probably waiting again for some time before following in his footsteps. He spent some time lying comfortably on the ground and - huh - a blanket and a pillow with tartan pattern appeared there and the Light Elf snuggled into them.
Not long after that the Light Elf fall asleep.
That was new. Their Elves never stayed with them overnight. How wonderful!
As the darkness begin to fall over the park, the humans slowly trickled out not even glancing at their Elf sleeping peacefully as if they couldn’t see him, and the duck tribe went to sleep as well.
All was well until...
The Watchduck sounded alarm! The ducknappers were back!
The ducks attacked the intruders with their best ability (they had spent quite a lot of time in the last week perfecting different tactics and formations).
Suddenly, a bright light appeared and calm but still terrifying voice asked, “Just what in Heaven is going on here?”
It was their Light Elf!
And he looked… furious. It was quite terrifying in fact - or it would be if the ducks didn’t know that the Light Elf came to their help. Then the light got even brighter.
The ducks then, after it all ended, couldn’t quite agree what had actually happened, but the ducknappers had disappeared and the injured ducks had been healed.
Since then the next duck generation noticed that sometimes a lone ducknapper tried his luck but he was always easily overpowered, it was never more than one and never with nets or guns.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the day after the Light Elf had defended them, he met at the park with his Dark counterpart again, both of them taking long strolls through and around the park, muttering and making weird gestures (the Light Elf often bringing his arm down and the Dark Elf up).
The one with the War with Swans
The Elves were always observed through the duck generations, the important observations were added to the collective duck memory - the Duck Lore - and retelled through the stories. And the ducks of course discussed what it all meant.
The Duck Philosophers created many theories about their Elves.
One of the popular discussions among them was if the Elves were part duck.
Who would have thought that the answer to this important question would emerge in the war with swans?
The Swan Tribe lived in the park as well. The ducks didn’t spend much time thinking about them. They knew the swans were larger, prouder, often swam in pairs and also left the park for winter, but that was it. They didn’t truly mingle with the larger birds to find out more about them.
And it would have probably stayed that way if one duck didn’t overhear a swan discussion by accident.
Such nerve! Such cheek! How dare those overgrown pigeons to think that? !
Apparently the swans thought that the Light Elf and the Dark Elf were their patrons!
No, such thing was not to be tolerated!
A group of Duck Philosophers was sent as envoy to the swans to explain to them how the things truly were. About the collective duck memories and experiences. About the Elves being theirs.
It did not went well. At all.
In fact those proud turkeys had the audacity to be offended by the very notion!
The next weeks were spent by angry quacking and hissing about the truth of the matter (the swans especially liked to hiss the argument that sometimes the Dark Elf could be heard to hiss as well).
The situation was slowly getting worse and the more vocal ducks were quacking about taking actions.
It all went to head one evening. It wasn’t known who attacked first but soon the whole main pond and mainly the air above was filled with angry ducks and swans fighting.
The swans were larger and their wings more powerful but the ducks were more numerous and they could maneuver better in the air.
There was much noise and movement and feathers and-
And then, suddenly, a light - the Light Elf’s light that they had heard so much about from their ancestors - appeared. Furthermore, all the birds were suspended in the air as if the time stopped, but they were still realizing what was happening, that they couldn’t move a feather.
And all of the sudden they heard wings. Wings that sounded even much larger and much powerful than swan wings.
(“Oh dear, when you said that your protection ward started sending you weird notions I thought that the poachers are back somehow. What do you think is going on?”
“I don’t know - I’m still trying to keep myself in the air. Flying after such a long time is not easy, angel.”
“Perhaps you should stretch your wings more often, my dear. I mean, when you are not making your demonic deeds and you are relaxing. You know, try to fly a little bit, not just swim in the Loch Ness in your snake form.”
“You don’t like our trips to Loch Ness?”
“I didn’t say that .”
“Mmm. Can you speak ‘bird’, angel? I don’t remember much. Currently I’m trying to learn ‘rat’, I think they would make good minions.”
“I can try, can you unfreeze their heads?”)
What followed after the ducks heard the wings - which belonged to their Elves (!!!) - and them communicating (they didn’t understand them though there were some discussions lately that the tribe should start trying to understand the elf language) was absolutely unprecedented!
Their Light Elf spoke with them! In the bird language!
He was not very good in it, but he somehow managed to convey that he would be very sad if the ducks and swans fought.
The ducks and swans then immediately agreed to stopped fighting. No one was allowed to make their Elves sad!
Judging by the faces that the Dark Elf was making at them, he agreed.
And thus the War with Swans ended with them agreeing: the Elves were patrons of them both . (Though of course the ducks knew that the Elves liked the Duck Tribe better - after all, was the Dark Elf dunking the swans? No, not at all, thank you very much!)
But the skirmish with swans aside, the ducks finally got the answer. Their Elves had hidden wings ! They were certainly part duck!
(Of course, the Duck Philosophers couldn’t just let it lie and began almost immediately questioning if it was not actually the other way round and if the ducks were not part elf).
The one where they try to contact other duck tribes
Duck generation after duck generation the Duck Tribe lived in the St James's Park during the warm weather and when it started getting cold the tribe flew to their warmer place which they called the Winter’s Nest . The half lost Duck Lore said that it had been created by the Elves for the Duck Tribe to be safe and warm during the cold weather. The ducks never saw their Elves to visit the Winter’s Nest, but they believed the story.
The Duck Tribe only knew well these two places, but in time they started to become curious about other tribes as well.
It was actually another peculiar thing. Sometimes a foreign duck joined their tribe, though it was not very often. It was usually a lonely duck that lost their tribe for one reason or other so the ducks were not very surprised that the new duck seemed quite confused about things such as the Elves, Duck Philosophers or the attack formations - after all they would be also distraught if losing their tribe.
But as this trend continued over the generations, the ducks were started to question it. It seemed as the Duck Tribe was the superior tribe. Smarter, more organized, more developed and the only one watched by the elves.
So they decided to form a Duck Expedition to find and observe other duck tribes.
( “I’m telling you, angel, they are planning something.”
“Are you talking about Hell or the ducks, my dear?”
“... both.” )
The tribe carefully selected the ducks for the expedition from the volunteers and they underwent a serious training regimen.
The tribe was not taking the matter lightly.
The Duck Expedition took five weeks during which the duck explorers visited many tribes and observed many ducks.
The whole tribe gathered when they presented their findings. The other tribes were much less developed - their culture, science and lore was seriously lacking, and when question they never encountered the Elves!
( “Crowley, have you ever wondered if all those miracles we do here influence the park in some way?”
“Sometimes, yeah.” )
The ducks of the St James's Park unanimously agreed, the Duck Tribe was truly superior!
The one where the Dark Elf is soft
The ducks now knew that the Light Elf could be angry and scary - that he also contained the elements their ancestors had believed only to exist in the Dark Elf.
But was the opposite also true? Could the Dark Elf become warm and fluffy the way that the Light Elf usually projected?
That was not confirmed for a long time.
Generation after generation of ducks (and especially Duck Philosophers) could only speculate on the subject.
Meanwhile the tribe thrived and flourished: they watched as the elves strolled through the park and took care of their duck wards, they created elf theories such as why the Dark Elf changed his appearance more often than the Light Elf, they experienced a ‘Dark Age’ when the Elves visited only separately (the story went that the elves - who at that time wore big head coverings - argued and light elf threw something into the pond though it immediately caught fire and sunk down), they celebrated the reunion of the Elves in that time when the city was attacked, they quite enjoyed the ‘Beatles Age’ (they didn’t know why the age was named after insects but their Dark Elf who was getting better about speaking bird told them), they quacked their way through the ’ Disco Age’ (again told by the Dark Elf whose appearance was very odd in this time and often danced very weirdly in the park - the Light Elf was usually even more pretending that he doesn’t know the Dark Elf when that happened). And then came the ‘ The Nanny and the Gardener Age’.
It came to be like this:
“So, angel, there are two free posts at the Dowlings: a nanny and a gardener. Any preference?”
“Oh, dear, I don’t know, do you have any?”
“Mmm, not really. Well, I am really good with plants. I can quite imagine to terrorize those little green bastards.”
“Oh my, yes, I can imagine it too. Ehm. On second thought I think I would prefer to be a gardener if you don’t mind, my dear.”
“Suit yourself, I’ll be the Mary Poppins then.”
“Angel, you really should start watching movies. Though she is also in books I think.”
“But I have so many old books to read, and I’m not finished with my gramophone records collection yet! Mmm. Perhaps in a couple of decades.”
“If there will be any.”
“Point. By the way, are you sure you can play a Nanny for several years?”
“Of course. You know I was in several plays.”
“But usually in your snake form. And the last time you were in a play you bit someone. You know, 1987 Antonius and Cleopatra with Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins.”
“I behaved impeccably! The Stage Manager said so!”
“I am sure he did. So, a new play for us: ‘The Nanny and the Gardener.’”
It was not only true that the elves were getting better in speaking bird, the ducks were also getting better in understanding elf (and human).
They didn’t comprehend the whole thing they had overheard but they understood that the elves were entering a new era and called it ‘The Nanny and the Gardener’.
It needs to be said that whenever the elves visited in the next couple of years there was a certain veil of nervousness about them.
But it was not only the elves that had problems. It seemed as all the animals were a bit tense and confused as if sensing that something was coming. The flying ones, such as birds or bees, seemed to be even more attuned to it than others.
It seemed to had an impact also on the eggs. Some now hatched more quickly and some seemed to take their time.
One year, a duck called Blue Feather laid her eggs especially late, and then, to make it worse, eight of her thirteenth eggs refused to hatch - the little buggers were taking their time.
It was now a couple of days after the original date the tribe was supposed to leave for Winter’s nest, the ducks spent those days hoping that the eggs would hatch or that something would happen. Their experiments with baskets proved that they can construct a safe contraption for young ducklings that they can carry but so far weren’t able to create anything that would keep eggs safe and warm. They had now ready a vessel to carry the young ducklings, but those eight eggs didn’t hatch and didn’t hatch.
The tribe was starting to become worried because the weather was becoming worse and they had some younglings between them that were already able to fly and that should go through the journey in the more favourable weather.
Perhaps they could divide the tribe? Most would leave now, take older and weaker members of the tribe and also the vessel with five hatched Blue Feather’s ducklings to the Winter’s Nest, the rest would stay with Blue Feather and the eggs and wait for the eggs to hatch and for the ducks to come back with the empty vessel.
They quacked it over but before they could realize their plan a figure emerged from the misty park.
“What are you guys still doing here?” said the Dark Elf who was alone.
They quacked the problem.
The Dark Elf sighed.
Then looked at the eggs.
Then sighed again.
He crouched over the eight eggs that Blue Feather showed him and slowly and very carefully put them in his pocket. (that was quite interesting if weird because his pockets didn’t bulge at all).
“Alright, guys, go to your safe place, and you duck mama don’t worry, you’ll meet your spawns when the winter is over. But not a quack about this to anyone, Aziraphale would never let me live it down, okay?”
The tribe, happy that the elf was handling the problem, left for Winter’s nest. Most of the young ducklings were even whining about wanting to go back to their eggs and being taken to the Land of the Elves as well.
Over the winter the ducks often wondered what was happening in the Land of the Elves with the eight ducklings and couldn’t wait to come back to their park to find out.
And then the winter was over. They went back home.
After they landed the eight duck that had been lucky to spend their first quacks in the Land of the Elves were waiting for them, and oh boy did they have stories to tell!
The Land of the Elves - or perhaps just the part where the Dark Elf lived - had grey walls and was divided to several sections.
The Dark Elf made one of the sections just for them, creating there a little pond. He gave them for some reason soft fluffy animals he called ‘plushies’. There was a duck plushie that he called ‘Duck’, there was a black snake plushie with red belly he called ‘Jörmungandr’ and there was a quokka plushie he called ‘Aziraphale’. The quokka wore a little thing on its neck in the shape of a butterfly and had lighter hair on its head.
But they could also waddle to the other sections - there was a section with plants, there was a section where the Dark Elf slept and there was also a section where they often watched stories with him on something called a ‘TV’ - the Dark Elf usually sat in his char and they were perched on him somehow. Sometimes he also took the quokka plushie to watch the stories on TV with them. In this room there was also a big desk with a decorative box in which he kept the shells from their eggs that he sometimes showed them.
There was also a secret room that was full of something called books and the ducklings had to promise to the Dark Elf that they won’t reveal this to someone called ‘angel’. Apparently the fact that the Dark Elf sometimes liked to sprawl on a comfortable sofa with a glass of wine nearby and read a book was an incredibly important secret.
The Dark Elf also named them - he told them that he named them after some of the important events in history.
They were called: Eve, Shem, Jesus, Petronius, Arthur, Hamlet, Bastille and Anthony.
But they did not spend all of their time in the Dark Elf’s dwelling. Sometimes they went to visit another of the Elf’s wards. The ward was a human child called ‘Warlock’ and they often swam in one bathtub with him which Warlock greatly enjoyed. Then they made themselves comfortable on Warlock’s bed with him and together listened to the Dark Elf’s voice as he read a story from Grimms' Fairy Tales.
The ducklings that spent the winter in the Land of the Elves (the other ducks named them ‘Dark Eight’) became instantly admired and revered ducks. Not only they were ‘cool’ (that was a word that the Dark Elf used often and tried to teach also the Dark Eight how to be cool so now they could spread the knowledge) but they brought an answer to the question that the tribe pondered for many generations.
Yes, the Dark Elf could be soft.
This day was weird.
The Elves were at the park again but there was something… off about them. The ducks couldn’t put their duck foot on it but there was something going on.
The Elves moved all wrong - the Light Elf was orbiting the Dark Elf and not the way around, the Light Elf was not excited about food and… wait what was happening?
Oh no! The Light Elf was getting ducknapped!
The Watchduck of course sounded the alarm.
Meanwhile the Dark Elf was also attacked.
The ducks created several formations and attacked those fools who dared to attack their elves.
While the battle was going on several ducks sneaked to the Light Elf to loosen his binds.
The villains got a reinforcements though - a tall person with several beings wearing light colours and a short person with several beings wearing dark colours appeared.
But not only the gangsters got reinforcements, the ducks got them too! Swans, geese and pretty much every bird in the park attacked the delinquents as well.
“That’s enough!” bellowed the tall bastard and a purple wing appeared to swat the nearest duck away.
The duck was thrown off and hit the nearby ice-cream stand
“Anthony!” yelled the Light Elf and the ducks realized that the injured duck was indeed Anthony, one of the Dark Eight.
The Light Elf, who was until now watching the proceedings with a confused look, got to his feet and with an air of a furious mama duck and clenched fists marched to the tall bastard who was watching him with a disdainful look.
“Never touch one of my ducks again, you fucker,” hissed the elf, and swung his fist.
The tall bastard was sent flying. His mighty uncontrolled voyage cut down the willow in its path.
And the next.
And the next.
The whole battle stopped to look at the tall bastard moaning and lying on the ground in the distance. They all seemed surprised.
Especially the Light Elf.
But he quickly got over it and fixed his bowtie, “Anyone else?”
The hoodlums looked at each other before quickly disappearing (only a couple went to get their fallen tall bastard first).
The Light Elf quickly went to heal Anthony and then told the avian army to make a line for them to be checked by the Elves for injuries.
That night the avian population of the St James's Park celebrated their victory. The Elves, after healing them and doing some magic after which they again moved normally (the Dark Elf also made a weird comment about ‘tartan collar’) got a blanket from somewhere and started having a picnic.
As the ducks watched their elves a new discussion was starting to brew among them. Perhaps it was time for the Four Elf Lovely Legends to become the Five Elf Lovely Legends?
The duck that was hidden in the bush nearby the Elves’ blanket (the duck won this great honour in the quick impromptu raffle) reported this:
“Do you think they'll leave us alone now?”
“At a guess, they'll pretend it never happened.”
“Mmm, I really thought that Agnes’ prophecy was supposed to tell us something, angel.”
“Who knows, perhaps we’ll use this trick some other time, my dear.”
“Maybe. By the way, your strength - is that new?”
“There was a reason I was picked as the Guardian of the Eastern Gate, you know.”
“No, I mean… the duck is called Anthony?”
“Uh… that is… ehm...”
“Perhaps it’s connected to the egg shells you keep in the decorative box on your desk?”
“Angel! I told you not to open it!”
“I’m sorry, my dear, my curiosity got the better of me.”
“It’s okay. I helped to raise a couple of ducklings one winter.”
“You think that Warlock never spoke to me about his bathtub friends?”
“That traitorous fiend! I told him not to tell you!”
“We should visit him, you know, to check how he is.”
“Yeah. Perhaps I’ll take him to visit his bathtub friends.”
The Dark Elf poured a red fluid to their glasses.
“To the ducks?”
“To the ducks.”