01- The Doll Maker's Wish

Once upon a time there was a doll maker who lived all alone in a small house in the middle of the wild forest, with only his many dolls and beautiful wooden toys to keep him company. His name was Sweden and was a very particular looking man.

Everyone in the nearby little town feared him for his intimidating ice-cold gaze and very tall board body that made him look like a massive wild bear, but it was only appearance: the doll maker was caring, very kind and a talented artist that nothing more wanted from life than making his own little family. But all the girls were too scared to talk with him, and even worse spending the whole life with him, so he hided himself in the forest to avoid as much people as he can.

He came to think that humans were annoying, uncaring and sometimes they could be selfish and even a bit cruel.

But one day, a long dark snowy day during winter, loneliness has became unbearable for the kind doll maker: he wanted someone who could stay by his side without judging or fearing him, someone that could fill his life with joy and light … someone like a son, or even better the cute adventurous little boy that has always dreamed.

But it wasn't that simple having a child. You can't simply go to the nearby market and buy him like a pair of boots or a new blanket! If you want a child you have to get married first, show your wife all your love and then waiting patiently until the Gods bless your family with a healthy child. And, unfortunately, Sweden was always alone: the poor man never had the chance to make his own family.

So he had to rely on magic.

Late at night he went out in the forest searching for the perfect piece of wood that, after a lot of work, would become his beloved son and, just near the iced pond, the kind doll maker found a fallen tree that was knocked down by a thunder during a storm the last summer. It was perfect, the light colored wood coated with the power of the Gods that can be easily carved in the shape of a thin little boy.

So he took the piece of wood home and worked on it day and night until, in a bright sunny day at the beginning of May, the life sized doll was finished. It was so perfect in every little detail that could look almost alive: Sweden has put so much love and care painting its thin body a very light shade of pink, making sure to put just a little bit of cherry pink on his round cheeks to add an healthy blush and had painted its hair a golden blonde adding shadows and little lights to make it look soft and silky like real locks. But the most beautiful thing in that doll were the eyes, round lively and a breathtaking shade of blue like the sea during summer. There was only a little thing out of place, its eyebrows were a bit too thick and dark for the doll's childish face but even them were a sign of Sweden's love: he had painted them when it was too dark to find the right shade that matched the hair and his hand too tired and shaking to draw the thin crescent moon shape that was in the doll maker's mind.

He had sewed for his little wooden son a cute sailor outfit with a matching hat and small leather boots, and putted them on the thin doll being careful to drape the clothes perfectly like they would do over a living body.

"H're y' go" mumbled Sweden placing the little hat on the boy's head "now y' 're p'rfect!" the kind but always glaring doll maker almost smiled seeing how cute and adorable his masterpiece looked. Then he traced the doll's round cheek like he was wiping away a tear or a little stain imagining to touch soft warm skin instead of wood and painting. He wanted so bad that the cute wooden doll would came to life, he wanted to hear his voice and see him running around happily: in his head the kind doll maker had already given him a high pitched voice, an adorable bell-like giggle and an adventurous attitude.

Now the doll needed a name, a little magic that would make it unique like a real human being so he named his wooden son Sealand. A cute name for a cute little boy.

And now Sweden has only to wait until the Gods would hear his late night prayers, and maybe be merciful enough to put the spark of life in Sealand's little heart.

And then, at Midsummer night, Sweden's wish was granted.

It was very late and, like every night, the kind doll maker has fallen asleep while working, his blonde head leaned on the project of a new doll, the pen in his right hand and the other as a pillow, and little Sea layed down on the soft couch like he was really asleep.

The whole scene was gently illuminated by the Midnight Sun's pink light, and then at one point something amazing happened: a graceful figure appeared in the middle of the room, only a lightly glowing shadow at the beginning that became more and more clear until it looked like a young man clad in a beautiful light blue and white outfit. The graceful figure walked silently to the couch, leaning gently over the wooden doll and then placed his glowing hands one on Sea's forehead and the other on his little chest whispering a sort of chant until the boy's little hand moved a bit.

Then he stood up again waiting for the chant to work his magic and bring life into the wood, a soft smile gracing his angel like face; after a bit the doll blinked a couple of times gazing around himself quite confused and then looked down at his body, studying curiously his own hands and then lifted up his shirt to stare amazed at his chest rising and falling gently with every breath.

"Wow!" beamed the living doll jumping down from the couch "I'm alive! I'm alive like Papa! That's soooo awesome!" he made a little happy dance around the room until his still weak legs gave up making him nearly fall.

"Take it easy, my dear!" smiled the magical figure picking the small child up "You've just woken up and you already have to learn how your body works! I'm Finland, your Fairy Guardian, and you are…?"

"Sealand! My Papa named me like this, so I'm Sealand!" grinned the little boy throwing his thin arms around Finland's neck happily "Thank you Mr. Fairy Finland! I'm so happy to be alive! It's so cool! You're so cool! Everything's so cool!"

After a bit of time spent just enjoying Sealand's overexcited ramblings, the young Guardian putted the little boy back on the couch and looked seriously into his big blue eyes "I know that this is new to you and you are very amazed but now you have to listen to me very carefully, ok?" said taking the child's hands in his own "I could grant your Papa's wish and make you alive only 'cause his heart was pure. My magic only works on pure souls, so you have to be a good boy, listen to the elders and stay away from dark magic or you'll become a doll again. But if you'll be good and do something very brave until the next Midsummer Night, I'll made my spell definitive and you'll become a real human boy, not only a living doll."

Hearing this, Sealand clapped his hands enthusiastically bouncing up and down on the couch like a tiny maniac "Really? Can't wait to! Papa would be so happy! And then we can make a big party with a big cake and lots of music and we can invite you too! It'll be soooo awesome and-''

Finland silenced him gently placing his index over the boy's rosy lips "Of course, honey" smiled the young Guardian "but meanwhile you have to be a good little boy, listen to your Papa and go to school everyday, ok? During this year you'll meet some magical creatures that would help you and keep you on the right way" continued in an almost whisper helping the living doll lay down again "but you don't have to worry about that right now… just sleep and get ready for the first day of your life…" said kissing the boy's forehead gently

"Goodnight, little Sealand" whispered the Guardian placing a thin blanket over the sleeping boy "I'll hope to see you very soon, honey!" then he disappeared in a glowing cloud of fairy dust.