My toes felt grain slide between them, and I registered the warm sensation of sand enveloping my feet as I walked onward. A toothless, old man in red robes greeted me with a wide smile. His eyes squinted from the noon-day sun, but I could still see the graciousness dancing with apprehension in his eyes. Other younger men in different colored robes extended their hands in welcome. I shook the hand of a monk in white robes, and he led me on, past the pyramids and open tombs, to where my desert path was to meet the forest’s edge.
My indigo robes seemed to sublime into the sky as the landscape gradually shifted from tan to green. I found myself in leather sandals, woodswoman garb, with a bow in hand and a stash of arrows on my back. I turned to look behind me, to signal my safe arrival to the monks, but the desert had vanished.
I don’t remember much of my walk through the forest, and before I knew it, I was locked in a high room in a castle. I re-oriented myself with the environment. The stones making up the walls were old, some cracking. There was little furniture in the room, only bookselves, a sparsely decorated table with a globe and time piece, and a solitary red leather chair. I was with my partner, who looked to be of a hybrid elvish and dwarfish nature. I had no idea what I looked like, but feeling the spikes of my hair, part hedgehog would not be a stretch. My partner looked worn-out, slightly beaten and woozy. I saw some scrapes on my own body, and quickly realized that we were being held captive.
I heard the heavy door open behind me. An older man with long gray hair dressed in burgundy robes slipped in the room quietly. Seeing my confusion, he held a finger to his lips to silence any outbursts that I may have been inclined to make. It was apparent to me that he was likely breaking many rules by conversing with prisoners.
He spun the globe and set the time piece. He whispered to us the details of the opposing army’s plans. We had come for the princess, but they were planning to make an example of her to their people in hopes of instilling martial law. They planned to frame her as a traitor and then publicly execute her. With the king close to death and his only child slaughtered, it would only be a matter of time before the kingdom was theirs. We had a finite amount of time to rectify the situation and save the princess by absconding her to another land.
Time was already ticking. I saw the time piece moving more quickly than I had originally anticipated. The old man told us that there were only two ways out of the room. Either we walk out the door he came in by (he would leave it unlocked) with the certainty of immediate battle, or we could slip out the window, travel on the rooftops until we found a way to the ground. We choose the latter. The old man left us, and we quietly opened the window. From the rooftops we could see the military critters meandering among the villagers, drinking sloppily, sniffing the air and smiling smugly.
“We’re not going down there,” I told my partner. I closed my eyes, turned inward and called out to the Comet-Fae to come to our aid. Immediately we were rushed off the rooftops like fireworks shot off into the sky. No one noticed our departure since the Comet-Fae covered our sky-fire tracks. As we flew like rockets over the land, wind assaulted our eyes and faces. We barely could keep our cheeks from puffing outward. The wind was loud against our ears, so loud we wouldn’t be able to hear each other’s shouts if we could manage them.
The Comet-Fae dropped us off on a grassy hilltop and then sublimed into the clouds. At the hill, we met a small critter with tattered green clothes (leaves?) and skin the color of dirt. He had a disproportionately large mouth and friendly but tired eyes. He complained about how hungry he was. Looking through my pockets, I found only five coins. Upon seeing them, his eyes got big and he began to drool as his tongue flopped out of his mouth. He hopped about in a frenzy demanding the coins “Gimme! Gimme!” As I tossed them his way, he ate them up greedily.
A random source moving through the nearby trees announced that he was a leprechaun, and contrary to popular belief, leprechauns live off of currency, consuming jewels, gold, silver and coins. Typically they will have a large enough supply to sustain them their entire lives, but with rainbows and travelers running low in this area, this particular leprechaun had not eaten in quite some time. For reasons unknown to me, he could not bound away without repaying us. Supposedly, for every meal you gave him, he was obliged to grant you a wish. In times of surplus, it was very difficult to coax a leprechaun into consuming your currency for a wish, as they usually had plenty themselves. A traveler would try to bargain while the leprechaun made him jump through hoops and complete nonsensical tasks only to wear the traveler out to the point of slumber. When the traveler awoke, the leprechaun was usually gone. This one, unable to refute his act of gluttony, conceded without much trouble. He approached us in a straightforward manner and asked what our five wishes were. He counted on his fingers as I wished away.
“I wish that we are able to save the princess in time.”
“I wish that her safety and our safety are assured.”
“I wish that we will have an army of Fae from this forest.” At this, his face became colored with apprehension.
“And I wish that all the Fae to accompany us will survive safely and remain intact.” He smiled.
“I wish that the triumph over this army lasts for ages so we do not have to re-engage in battle with them.”
And that is where I awoke in my bed.