Authors Note: Golden Pursuit is one of my recent stories I wrote in early 2016. While it’s a bit on the silly side, it still shows where I’ve advanced in my style, skill, and overall experience. Hope you enjoy!
In a hole beneath a knoll sat a red bearded leprechaun. Pinched between his short fingers was a smoking pipe as he leisurely awaited the cease of the trickling rainfall. His chestnut eyes scanned the green hills that masked the horizon, and his chest rose and fell with heavy sighs as a puff of smoke escaped his lips. He’d learned to be patient, eager as he was, in his waiting. If he could spot it first he knew the reward would be his. After all, he’d been in pursuit of his treasure for over a century.
As the sun broke through the clouds in a glorious array and the rain was dispelled, his eye caught sight of what he hoped to find. Spreading across the sky in a line of coruscating color was the ever illusive rainbow. As a young leprechaun he had yet to claim one as his own, and he knew the season was brimming with eager leprechauns as himself in pursuit of their very own rainbow; for at the end was a pot of gold.
Those outside of the secluded world of leprechauns thought their race were the ones to hide the treasure at the foot of a rainbow, but in truth it was often so that the loot was already there and leprechauns were the first to find it. Their senses were quite in tune with the scent and allure of gold, their only rival being the goblins.
He skittered from his hole and stored his pipe in a pouch at his side. With a skip in his step and his lips pursed he whistled a tune of merriment. His feet knew where to carry him, for though the rainbow’s end deceived most, it could not deceive the lust of a leprechaun. On he went across the fields and down the road made of red brick. No crack or crevice could slow him down, no screeching crow or creeping fox could frighten him.
The journey was as simple as most, for danger did not present itself more than accidentally to such a small and unseen being. After days of traversing the peaceful land he came to a halt with his toes pointed out and his hands curled around the hem of his green square cut coat. There, burrowed in a cluster of luscious grass was a black cauldron that glowed and overflowed with gold.
He did not hesitate to rush to the pot, where he licked his lips and brushed his hands together. It was like laying eyes on the most magnificent of feasts, yet nothing filled his hunger more than treasure. This was it, he thought. His shoe mending days were over and his life of true pleasure had begun.
“Pardon me, but I do believe you’re gawking at my gold.”
The leprechaun pivoted on on his heels as his heart jolted, for he hadn’t expected to hear another being present. Hovering in the air with sparkling wings fluttering behind her was a faerie dressed in a glorious gold gown. Even her eyes were golden, and her hair just the same.
“Your gold?” he retorted. “Why have you need for it?”
“Why have you?” She turned her button nose up at him, a strand of hair slipping from behind her pointed ear and into her face. Her nature of defiance stirred a warm feeling within him that he didn’t recognize.
“I’m a leprechaun; gold is my everything!” With wide eyes he stared back with every fiber of opposition he could muster.
Her wings flitted, and in a flash she darted from high above him to being nearly nose to nose. Her eyes met his and he was sure she would burn right through him with her glare. Still, he stared her down in hopes she would relent. The longer he gazed at her, however, the stronger the warmth inside of him grew. Her eyes were purer than even the gold he longed after, and her hair shined brighter than any treasure he’d ever seen. She was a creature beyond anything he’d encountered, yet he was frustrated with her for making him feel so.
“I am a gold faerie, and this gold is my own. You haven’t any right to take it from me. Your people are always stealing from us and I shan’t stand for it!”
As he scrunched his brow he could only think of one thing to say. “Tell me, what is your name? I will give you mine if you like, if only to make it fair.”
Unsure of his motives, the faerie moved back a foot. “I am Aurous.”
“The loveliest word I’ve ever heard spoken,” he muttered.
Her nose scrunched and her head tilted even further up. “You promised me yours, now deliver if you have respect to do so.”
“I am Bryne, but it’s not as good a name as yours.” Yes, he’d quite figured out what was making him so warm. It was love. He’d only heard tales of such a thing, but he was sure it was what he was feeling. After all, how could anything be more wonderful than gold?
“If you want my gold, you’ll have to kill me for it.”
“Kill you! I would be ashamed if I did so,” Bryne declared.
She eyed him suspiciously, but the sincerity in his soft gaze convinced her he was true.Then, as Aurous cautiously let her guard down and her wings slowed to a gentle flutter, the sound of heavy snorting interrupted them. Coming from among a bush was a greedy goblin, his fingers curled like claws and his mouth split in a grimace. Bryne puffed out his chest and snarled back at the creature, for there was nothing more that he hated than a goblin.
The beast sprang through the air in quick bounds as it slashed and clawed in preparation of destroying all that stood in his way. Aurous rushed to her gold and spread her limbs across it, her eyes were wide with fear. Bryne felt a cold pain fill his chest as he observed her terror, and now he hated the goblin even more.
“This rainbow has no vacancy for you!” he declared. With a snap of his fingers he sent an electrifying spark toward the goblin. The creature had not anticipated such a retaliation, and as the bolt struck him he yelped.
The two fought, one clawing and the other snapping sparks, all the while moving closer to the gold. Bryne wanted nothing more than to prove his strength to the faerie, but it seemed the goblin had an upper hand on him. In between snaps, the creature lurched toward Aurous and grasped his filthy mitts around her.
Bryne gasped, for it was too late to try to save her. The goblin clawed her wings and sent her collapsing to the ground where she lay with her eyelids rested. Suddenly the cold pain within Bryne’s chest turned into a burning fire that heated him until he couldn’t contain it.
His skin became redder than his beard, his eyes black, and his throat filled with a cry of fury. Faster than anything had ever moved he attacked the goblin, clawing at it as if he himself were one of the beasts. He snapped and flicked and poked and pried, every gesture sending bolts through the creature’s skin until it screamed for mercy. When the goblin was able to break away he sprinted off, his leg dragging in a limp as he did. The beast disappeared in the brush again, and Bryne felt a moment of victory.
He spun around, and there lay Aurous still. Across from her sat the unprotected pot of gold and he knew, if he wanted, he could claim it as his. Whether the faerie still lived or not he didn’t know, and it ached until he rushed to her side. Lifting her head into his hands he wished to see those golden eyes open, but she didn’t stir.
“Perhaps I came for the gold,” he said, “but I found a treasure I’d never wish to lose.”
As his eyes shut and a tear trickled from them, it slipped down his face and off a bristle of his beard. It fell all the way down and landed on Aurous’s nose at the very tip, where it spread across like a dozen tiny droplets. They seeped into her skin and a twitch of her wings went unnoticed by Bryne. However, as her eyes fluttered open, he gasped and blushed that she could see him crying.
She did not scold him, though, but instead she smiled. It seemed the last bit of beauty he had yet to see of her, and suddenly everything about her became more radiant than his heart could bare. Yet surely, he hoped to be able to bare the unbearable for as long as his life would allow.
And so the two became the protectors of that rainbow, but Bryne knew he wasn’t there to watch over the loot; he wanted nothing more than to protect the priceless treasure he’d grown to love. Needless to say, he’d known from the start that this rainbow contained his very own pot of gold.