It was a cold winter’s evening, and Biggles the Chicken was on the road. Wind whipped abound him, tossing his scarf around, and almost blowing off his well-worn tophat. With the coming snows, he had decided to set off for home, to visit his family and share in their warmth. But the travelling was hard — the snow was deep, the roads treacherous, and the daylight short. It was coming up on Solstice, and what little he saw of the sun barely warmed his freezing feathers.
He was tired from his journey, and the moonwas already high above, so Biggles started looking for some place to sleep. He had not seen any sign of civilization in the snows all day, and he despaired — if he stayed out in the cold, surely he would freeze to death.
He was about to give up hope when he saw a shape looming in the darkness. He quickened his pace, drew nearer, and saw that it was a building — two buildings — a village! For an instant, he had visions of a warm meal and a fire, a bed for the night. But then he realized something was wrong. There was no light in this village.
He approached cautiously, mindful of the swordcane strapped to his back. As he neared, he saw a crowd of people huddled in the village square.
“Hello, villagers,” he called. A few turned warily to look at him. “Where is your light? Where is your warmth? Why do you all cluster in the cold?”
A woman stepped forward, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Behind her, Biggles could see a firepit in the centre of the square — dark and empty.
“Greetings, traveller,” the woman said. “Our light is gone. Our Yule Log, our fire has been stolen from us. We huddle here in mourning — I fear we will not survive.”
“Who would steal your fire?” Biggles asked.
“The ravens from the north. They are greedy for light and fire. They think nothing of their victims.”
“This will not do,” Biggles said. “I will take battle to them, and I will return your fire. But I am weary and cold — come, villagers, standing outside will help nothing. Let us all gather in the biggest house — together, we can keep each other warm in the night. Come morning, I will set off to save your fire.”
Though the villagers did not think such a small chicken could recover their fire from the big ravens — they had not heard of Biggles or his prowess, after all — they thanked him and took his advice, and they all gathered in the biggest house and together, they kept each other warm in the night.
And when morning came, as promised, Biggles set off to find the ravens.
Of course, daylight was short, and the sun was soon setting once more — and Biggles had not yet found the ravens. But when the sun had set and the cold darkness bit at his feathers once again, he saw a glow in the darkness.
That must be the fire, Biggles thought. The ravens must be near. To prepare himself, he took his swordcane in hand, and hurried forward towards the glow.
Biggles had encountered ravens before. They were big, strong birds with greed in their hearts and trickery on their minds, so Biggles was ready for anything. But when he came upon the ravens and their fire, he was taken aback.
There was the Yule Log burning in the centre of the ravens. But they were not revelling in their vistory over the villagers or jealously guarding their treasure. Instead, they huddled around the feeble flame, their feathers quivering. For without the protection of the village firepit and the magic of last year’s Log, the Yule Log burned only weakly, casting little warmth.
And here were the ravens, freezing in the winter snows along with all the other creatures.
Pity softened Biggles’ heart. He put his sword away, and slowly approached the ravens. As he did, a few turned warily to look at him.
“Hello, ravens,” he called. “You have light, you have fire, and yet you all cluster in the cold. Why?”
One of the ravens stepped forward, her wings wrapped around her. “The fire is dying. We cannot keep it lit for much longer — I fear we will not survive.”
“You have taken the Yule Log from its rightful place,” Biggles said. “Without the protection of the village firepit and the magic of last year’s Log, the fire cannot burn. You must return it to the village.”
“But without the fire, we will freeze to death,” the raven said.
Biggles shook his head. “You need not. Come to the village, and you and the villagers can keep each other warm — there is no reason you cannot share the log. After all, a fire loses none of its warmth by sharing it with more creatures.”
At this, the ravens smiled, for Biggles was right.
They thanked him, and flew the Yule Log back to the village. When the villagers woke in the morning, their fire was burning brightly in the village square. Through the winter, they shared their fire with the ravens, and everyone was warm and safe.
As for Biggles, he continued on the road to his home and family, to share in their warmth — together.