I was a young man back then when I stumbled upon that old wicked Hawthorne tree. A young man with no understanding of what that day would bring…eternity.
It was a warm spring day and the air was crisp, the forest smelled fresh. I had just finished working on O’Carroll’s farm, one of many a hard day tending the fields. A lot of men would complain by the ways of work but i enjoyed it and found it to be very therapeutic. I never tired to the amazement of my peers, how much work could one man do in one day? They used to mumble to each other. I would smile and nod like a fool and get on with my labours.
This day as of many days I had started my trek back home through the forest to my village. I had walked but 20 to 30 minutes and the forest was thicker and the light drizzled through the dark roof above. I heard the sweet birds chirping merrily high up in the branches as if they were enjoying the same day as i. Every tree had a flock of birds sitting merrily tweeting, all trees except one tree, a tree that i had just noticed. The Hawthorne.
It was a beautiful ancient tree full of grace with it’s own battered branches holding out their own against the winds of time. Arms stretching right to heaven as if in celebration to the one Christian God himself or possibly the devil.
The Hawthorne tree was not natural. Not even close, it held secrets in its bark that went right to the deep underlying roots. I had heard many tales as a boy growing up in my village and that i should be be wary of this magnificent tree, to never break a branch or be doomed for eternity. The tree held a certain energy and as little children we used to find a tree that we thought might be a Hawthorne and bravely we would snap a twig off a tree. If i had of known i would never have even tried to break a branch, luckily not one of us had seen a real Hawthorne Tree.
My thoughts broke from the childhood memories and i shook my head as if dazed and confused. I turned away from the tree being a little anxious but something caught my eye and i swiftly looked back. My eyes widened in shock as i looked on.
I saw him. I could never forget him. His very existence was burned into my soul that day.
I saw him slumped under that God awful Hawthorne tree, he was small in stature but the body was in proportion, about three foot tall he was. His little red hat was tipped over his one eye and a small tooting sound escaped from his mouth. He was sleeping soundly.
I crouched down quickly as he stirred a little, he grumbled something discernible. It sounded like Gaelic but nothing i had ever heard before, it was melodious.
I saw from my crouched position his little suit and it was the brightest burgundy with little shiny gold buttons, his shirt a fine white and braces the colour of night. The thing that amazed me was his shoes, so polished they were that it looked like black marble. His sleeping position made him look like a statue but I could see his chest slowly going up and down through his contented breathing.
I crept slowly from my crouching position to get a better look, I had heard of the Leprechauns before but only in childhood stories, i could not believe this. I thought maybe Mr O’Carroll had worked me too hard today and this was the aftermath.
Nevertheless I approached carefully towards this little creature, tooting from his sleep, I was so close to that cursed tree. I had no idea what i would do when i got near or if he ever woke up, my thoughts betrayed my body as suddenly before i could get any nearer a twig snapped under my foot, i cursed myself for being such a fool. This sleeping creature woke very quickly, his body popped up from the ground un-naturally and he twirled around three times until our eyes finally met. It seemed like a lifetime as he stared into my eyes and it seemed I’d stopped breathing. I shook off the spell that he was throwing my way, entrancing me into the other-world. The faerie folk were known for whisking people away by their magic and i needed to be alert.
His eyes glowed angrily as if he had been caught out but he grinned as he saw I was still in my crouched position. He let out a merry little laugh as his eyes widened and relaxed.
“Ah, ye got me there now! I was having a wee snooze. And who might you be? Friend or foe?” The creature said pointing a gnarly little finger my way.
I stood up, feeling like a fool having been caught sneaking. I felt a bit ashamed that i had dared to intrude on a magical being by stealth. Maybe i should have just walked on.
“My name is Fergal, just a man on his way home to his family” says I in a nervous, shaky tone. I did not know what was to become of me.
“Ah, Fergal, well come sit with me” he ushered me over with his small hands patting beside him, he clicked his fingers and a wooden chair with a plush cushion atop appeared out of thin air beside him. “I’d like a wee chat wit you, if you be so kind”. His voice melodic and childlike. His eyes staring at me intently and his pupils looked like they had golden flames inside, i shook my head and whisked the magic away from me. I needed to be so careful, he was dangerous.
A flash of anger crossed his face and was gone in an instant, he did not like the fact i didnt succumb to his devilish ways.
Cautiously I sat beside him on this extremely comfortable chair, wondering what on earth I could talk to a leprechaun about. I needn’t have worried because he started anyway. His eyes narrowed a little as he looked up at me.
“So I guess we have to sort the wishes out Fergal” He said slyly with a little glimmer in his eye, the golden flames appearing, i did not like his tone “You can have three, but please I beg of you not the crock of gold.”
“Why? What’s wrong with the gold?” I was excited by the notion of the gold, the leprechaun had a saddened expression on his face. He stroked his little beard in contemplation as if stretching through time into memories long past. He looked away from me towards the direction of the path to O’Carrolls.
“I always get asked Fergal, the truth of the matter is that I dont actually know where it is. It’s beyond wishes now. You see I have been around for a long long long time, I hid it near my youngest age” the leprechauns wizened face shook with rage. “Just don’t wish it”.
I sat there with the leprechaun in the stillness of the forest pondering what was to become of me, he would look up at me grinning every so often. Almost like he was reading my mind.
“Hush!” he said and held up his hand. He kept looking around the forest, sniffing and cackling. It was horrific to look upon.
I couldnt believe i was talking to this little creature, i promised myself in that moment to never utter it to anyone in the village as theyd think me mad. The priests would have me by the neck alone, id never go against them.
“Yes Fergal! Keep it to yerself” the leprechaun said offhandedly as he was in contemplation. It shocked me that he read what seemed to be my mind. It suddenly dawned on me that I had never asked him his name.
I looked at him and his mouth widened, grinning from ear to ear. He waved his hand and in front of us a banquet table appeared from thin air. A barrel of fine stout dropped on the table. Music was playing somewhere that he had magicked, fine fiddles and lutes playing and entrancing me. I got off the chair and felt the need to dance, he danced with me and he laughed which made me laugh. Suddenly his laughter turned to a menacing cackle and he stopped, he clicked his fingers once more.
Chairs appeared and he bade me to sit, so I did.
Now I don’t know what you’ve heard about the wee other crowd folk but they are tricksters and deceivers, liars and crooks. I was impressed by this little man but I was wary, this unknown creature was wily and i knew it well. I could tell by his eyes, they glowed with mischievousness and danger.
“My name is Conarght” he said as if he read my mind earlier. With that sentence he finished with a sneer, almost like he felt contempt for even letting me know his name. He jumped high up and landed softly on the chair next to me, then bounced on to the table. Conarght did a little jig up and down this table, he was entertaining to watch and i found myself clapping to his jig.
He waved his hand in two opposite circles, a mug appeared in each of his hands. One small red and gold lined and the other a bigger mug that was blue and silver lined. The mugs were both made of the finest metal and glistened with flecks of gold.
He invited me to eat to which I politely declined as I had heard stories of folk disappearing after dining with the faerie folk. There was a flash of anger but it dissipated as we continued to converse in generalities. He told me of his many adventures in time long before i was there, he said that there were so many that he couldn’t talk about because there were ancient secrets he could not reveal.
He told me of the old kings of ulster, the Fomarians and invaders of old Ireland to which I scoffed. He was displeased at my mockery, even punched the table hard that it felt like lightning struck and he put me right verbally.
“One day the world will see it to be true!” He screeched. Then he calmed, smiled and poured some stout for himself and me. “Mortals are all the same.”
I longed for the stout as I was thirsty, he knew it. I reached for the cup, I noticed his eyes narrow and darken as i did so. I grabbed hold of my senses before it was too late, i would not be a prisoner to this imp. I put the cup straight down, so hard that the mug fell over and the liquid trickled out over the table. He glared, his eyes burned with hatred.
“Fergal, in one way or another you will be staying here forever…with me.” He hissed and spat. I looked at him with contempt, i had heard about leprechauns and wishes and my heart started thumping. Maybe i could try this one last trick on him. So i began my gamble.
“I have three wishes Conarght! I know well enough straight and true that you won’t hurt me until the three wishes are up!” I shot back with conviction.
“Well…now…I suppose…” the leprechaun turned his head away, his eyes frantically turning from side to side, his tongue was out and seemed to touch his nose. I looked disgusted at the sight, his head turned quickly, twisting to look back at me and then back into the previous position. Deep in thought, his mouth turned into an evil grin and he looked back at me.
“Alright Fergal, I’ll tell thee thus. I will not harm ye or your kin for now. Here are four gold coins.” The leprechaun dropped them onto the table, four dull duds sounded. “Hold them near because they are more precious than air.”
“Four gold coins?” I asked in exasperation and worry “why ever would you offer these to me?”.
“Ah, well there is a catch to it so there is” the leprechaun grinned menacingly “it’ll take four years to be rid of these, that’s one year for each coin”.
I was worried about what I was getting into with this devil, I gulped as I asked “and what if I refuse Conarght?”
The leprechaun rose to his feet and stared deep into my eyes. I felt his voice go straight to my soul as he uttered.
“Be wary of your decision as I shall make your life worse than all the plight of Ireland. Worse than every disease in the known world. The worst luck to ever befall a human being, yes even worse than Cormack Mac Art who was stabbed by his own!” The leprechaun smiled menacingly and calmly sat down “or you could do the tasks I ask” he twirled his little finger around his Brown beard. He hummed a little merry tune.
I was scared beyond measure, how could I defy the little creature. He had me ensnared, I knew it and he knew it.
“Well I guess I have no choice Conarght. What are the tasks?” I asked worried about what it entailed.
“Ah!” He sat down quickly “All in good time, what I would suggest is to go home and wait for me. Remember this though, be careful what you wish for!”
With this he snapped his fingers three times, instantly
He put out a long finger and slowly tipped his hat down, the table dissipated and all the objects faded away. He sat under that Hawthorne tree in the position i had found him.
“Time to go home Fergal, its getting late now, go home”
I looked at him in horror, his one eye peeping from under the hat menacingly. It was indeed getting dark and i decided to run home as quick as i could, i heard cackling in the background as if he was following me home. This was the day i had met the Devil.
I woke up in bed after the race home and exhaustion from Conarght. It was now night time and i was restless. The darkness surrounded my room like the dark magic from my encounter. My six brothers all snoring deep and hard in the knowledge they were safe. The racket however could have woke the banshees of the hills from their mournful sleep.
I for a brief moment felt relieved thinking it was all but a dream however the feeling passed quickly. I had sweated profusely in my restlessness and the beads ran down heavy from my saturated forehead.
It was too real to be waved away a dream. The little leprechaun was too real and his voice was burned into my brain.
It was 1959 and I reminded myself this could only happen in a dream. However, I remember working the whole day on O’Carroll’s farm, was that a dream? I was so confused. I went through doubts and reality, what was real and fake. I even believed it could be the aftermath of a magic trance, i held my head in my hands and stared at the floor.
My body jerked in unison as i remembered!
The coins! I reached for my trousers that I had worn in this encounter and searched frantically. In my rush I heard four dull thuds hit the wooden floor, I peered over my bed. The moonlight streaming in through the window, illuminating four gold coins.
I was overwhelmed with anxiousness.
A whisper in my ear.
“Await my return Fergal! Keep them safe four me” The leprechaun said behind my right ear, his hot breath felt like acid on my skin. I heard his laughter and his tiny silhouette figure bouncing from chest to chest then up to the window sill. My brothers did not stir at all, just continuous snoring.
With a final menacing look, the leprechaun touched his crooked hat and adjusted it, he then gave me one evil look then hopped out the window. Cackles surrounded the field he run away into.
I jumped out of bed finally after what seemed a lifetime, scared witless was i. I didn’t know what I was doing. I just wanted to be free of this little man. I ended up not sleeping a wink and i felt sometimes he was at the window watching and waiting. Sometimes hearing pitter patter footfalls or heavy breathing.
So the next day I went to the church, I lit a candle for the wee folk as I thought perhaps he would know. The candle lit at once and when I said the name of my captor the flame went straight out. The candle never lit again.
The priest watched me in vain and came over to ask who I lit a candle for. I just said Connor which raised even more questions. I didn’t want to be angry with the priest so I politely took leave.
As I got out the church I felt eyes on me, then a voice. The voice beckoned me to the forest by the village.
The voices beckoned me to the forest from the church, like a strong magnet i was drawn in their direction. It was seducing me, swaying me into a dreamlike state almost like Conarghts but felt safer. However I tried to resist the calls but it was too strong for my mortal mind, the seduction was impossible to resist. A current of persuasion, a tidal wave of comfort.
Whatever it was it took me deep into the forest, must have been an hour or so i traveled, so deep that I didn’t know where I was. The voices grew stronger and stronger, urging me forward until it suddenly stopped. Silence for what seemed a lifetime.
I snapped out of the trance, I looked desperately around to find the source of where the voices might have been. Upwards i looked and i saw sunlight trying to break through the roof of the trees but only ended up with little specks on the ground.
I trembled as i was scared for my life. What had brought me here?
As my mind raced and I panicked, my eyes dropped to the ground and I noticed a massive ring of some sort. As i looked closer i noticed it was a ring of mushrooms but these mushrooms were all the colors of the rainbow.
The silence was abruptly ended.
“Fergal McKay, son of seven and father of none!” Came a small voice, more of an announcement than a question. The voice was soothing and melodic, i felt at ease instantly but still an amount of fear lingered.
“It is I Fergal McKay! I beg of you to show yourself as I am afraid.” My teeth chattered with fear as i uttered these words.
“No need to fear us Fergal, son of Thomas.” Came another voice, soothing like the first but a different tone.
“Yes no need to fear us but HIM! You need to be careful seventh son!” Another voice said with a hint of urgency.
“Conarght of the solitary folk, he will trick you, or try to at least. We saw you lit a candle for him” yet another voice spoke.
“I thought it might help ease his heart of hatred for me and release me” I said turning around to look for the bodies of the voices.
“Do not. We blew out the candles as it would be blasphemous to that God. We respect religion but Conarght would himself be utterly delighted. We need to guide you through this new chapter in your life. The hardest part has started.” A mellow voice said in my ear.
“Are you the wee folk of history my mother told me about?” I asked matter-of-fact.
Weeping. Many voices weeping.
“We will reveal all Fergal, right now we need to protect you” a little arm grabbed my shoulder then climbed over. It was the same size as Conarght but beautiful. Her wings were translucent and glittered in the specks of sunlight.
Her little dress was a dark purple and her eyes a golden shade to match her hair. I was falling in love with her and then she snapped me out with her voice. She saw me blushing but went on.
“Conarght will arrive tonight at your house, he will ask you to leave your house. Refuse him thrice. He will kick up a fuss and threaten but we have your house protected. He would not dare interrupt the magic of the Tuatha De Danann!” I did not understand any of this and her little voice broke my heart, almost like a bittersweet song.
My head was swimming, tuatha de danann! The mythology was true! I couldn’t cope with this, I was drawn into a secret world of the faerie folk. The Tuatha De Danann were myths passed down generations, i would never have believed it all to be true.
The little faerie put her hand to my face and it soothed my soul. She flicked her wings and flew around my head, laughing. She touched tree leaves high above and with each touch the leaves turned to a bright white light. The forest below was illuminated.
I looked around and to my amazement there were millions and millions of tiny winged creatures staring up at me. All laughing and rejoicing. A little band began to play and the dancing commenced.
The same little faerie came and sat on my shoulder again.
“My name is Erith, daughter of Elith the master of dance” she said merrily ” I am at your service Fergal, always”.
“Why am I here?” I asked, I didn’t want to look at the beautiful creature as I was afraid of falling in love, i believe any mortal would fall for her within seconds.
“All in good time Fergal, you have an important role to play” she said with a tiny amount of sorrow. “Home is closer than you think” she looked at the mushrooms, shook her head and the sorrow was replaced with joy.
“Come!” she commanded, her tiny hand pulling my shirt and i was pulled up, surprised by the strength from her.
I stayed there with the wee folk for a long time, it seemed i had spent a week with them but it had been an hour or two. They actually fed me food and drink and I was not scared, there was something so familiar about these folk like I belonged here somehow which of course was impossible to me. What Erith had said about home being closer than i thought played on my mind a lot.
“Nothing is impossible” said a little voice that belonged to Erith “but you should be going soon, it’s getting dark”.
“Yes, I should, I don’t want to keep the leprechaun waiting now” I groaned sarcastically. “But please could I have a guide out of the forest?”
“Yes of course Fergal seventh son!” A flick of her little hand and two little orbs of light appeared “follow these lights, they will guide and protect you”.
“I thank you, Erith daughter of the forest” I said hoping to impress, I received giggling. I think i had been too eager in my respect. I felt embarrassed and walked towards the lights.
So I followed the lights out of the forest, it seemed like miles and miles. The undergrowth of the forest going from soft under my feet to the hardness of dry stone.
My heart fell when I saw we were approaching the Hawthorne tree, that same tree I saw the devil Conarght. I hurried past the tree as the little lights tugged me quicker. I felt his presence but couldn’t see him. The tree gave off the all too familiar aura of fear.
His eyes were on me, I could tell, he was seething with rage. So tangible i felt his wrath but i knew i were in the protection of Faeries. However he did not show, for half an hour or more I walked without a hint of leprechaun tricks.
The lights just kept a few yards ahead of me and I worried occasionally if they were deceiving me but I believed deep in my heart they were not.
Eventually the forest came to an end and there lay a perfect shape for me to pass through between two trees. I could see my village, it was now twilight.
My father must be worried I thought, and my brothers what would they think?
I hurried home past the church and other houses. I opened my door and was amazed by what I had seen. A feast with all my kin laid before my very eyes. These were hard times and I wondered how this came to be. My father too ill most days had become youthful and happy. He was eating like a madman, wallowing in this rich food.
I knew it must have been the fairy folk who delivered this sumptuous feast. I was happy as I wanted my family to have the best, however magical it all seemed.
My father looked up and saw me, he was beyond happy and ushered me to his side.
“My son, what have you done to provide us all of this?” He waved his hand across the table like a King presenting his territory. My brothers toasted me with whatever was in their hand. It felt like the old days when my mother was alive, when everybody was happy and joy filled the air. I silently felt my heart drop at the thought nuy I snapped quickly out of it.
“Is this my doing da? I don’t think I’ve done anything worthy of this!” I replied.
“Son, there were 10 hampers left on the table around tea time with a note.” He reached into his pocket “this note!”
I unfolded the note and read :
To Fergal, the seventh son. I hope this finds you well,
Erith Daughter of the Forest!
I crumpled the letter quickly, my face was a picture of amazement. Daughter of the forest, was that the inside joke? Was that why they had all giggled? They really had some insight if they did. After all tea time was during my encounter, at least i thought it was.
Nevertheless, I told my father I had met a rich woman because the truth would of scared him witless. Probably stop him eating too. I explained that I had done a good deed for this rich unknown woman who perhaps returned the favor by the feast. They were satisfied with my answer and i was relieved as no more questions arose. I ate some of the delicious feast and it was truly sumptuous, the honey ale was smooth too. It dawned on me suddenly that i was extremely tired.
So I took leave and went to lay down.
As I lay down and closed my eyes I opened them briefly and I saw that cursed leprechauns face staring down into my eyes. So close he was to my face that I could feel his ancient breath on my nose. He was not happy, in fact that was an understatement. His foot tapping impatiently on the wooden floor, his face grimaced and he tutted.
“I warned you Fergal, seventh son, to be careful what you wish for”
With that he waved his hand.
He held me with those old golden eyes, his teeth were bare and I could see they were sharper than i had thought. He growled in frustration then suddenly looked away.
“Come with me Fergal” he said soothingly, i shook my head as a firm no.
He put his hand to his beard, he stroked it as if pondering the meaning of life. His eyes went sideways fast and back, he was scheming as he had done before so in the forest.
“Why are you here? Whatever did I do?” I plucked up the courage to say. To this he held his little hand up.
“Wait a moment now” he demanded. He was annoyed, irritated and very angry.
I looked around the room, I was to sit here while this magical creature acted like the high king of Ireland himself. Well I was getting tired of him and his fancy ways, I wish I’d never went near that Hawthorne tree.
Suddenly, he looked up smiling at me.
“Now, fergal, would you ever believe I won’t be needing your help no more” he said grinning “I’m sure you’ll be glad of it, so I need one last thing of ye”.
“And what is that?” I asked suspiciously.
“Well, can ya tell the faerie folk to take the enchantment of this house? I won’t be needing to threaten anymore” he said sincerely, almost had me and all.
“Now Cornaght! Come now, you must think of me a fool! What should happen if I could even call off the faerie magic? I imagine you would double cross me somehow, put all the bad luck on me” I defied him, I really hated the creature.
At this he was enraged, so enraged that lightning hit a tree near the church in my village. He started cursing my name and insulting my family honor, if he were a man he would have been punched to the ground.
“Leave now this house at once” I demanded him and he was taken aback, he stopped his cursing and looked straight at me. He was like a statue in his shock.
“Fergal, or seventh son as they like to call you, ye can’t get rid of me that easily. Now, boy, give me the coins and I’ll leave ye in peace” he rasped. I shook my head. I don’t know why but it was my instinct to keep them, even though every fibre in my body wanted to throw the coins in his face.
“Leave this house!” I said loudly.
Conarght got extremely angry, he was hopping up and down on the spot. Another lightning strike closer than before. The little creature went to wave his hand as if to strike me, when nothing happened he realised his error.
“A thousand curses fergal! A thousand!” He screamed.
He started pacing up and down the room. I laid back down on the bed knowing I was safe, that he could not hurt me here. It made him even angrier that I was comfortable in his presence.
“Why did you have to find me fergal” he was still pacing up and down “I’ll have to find a way now out of this, you’re under protection from them…what to do…”.
“Just leave me be Conarght” I said exasperated “can’t you just leave me out of whatever you’re doing, I don’t understand any of it”.
“Ah! So it’s alright for you to come tumbling into my affairs and leave unscathed. We are both in a bit of bother. You to me and I to them. It’s miserable.” He stopped pacing and put his hands on his hips.
“Just leave this house”.
With that he was gone, disappeared. I was relieved and I fell soundly asleep.
I dreamt I was a tiny baby in a cot, smaller than an average baby. As I saw my little hands I noticed they glittered like the fairies in the forest. I looked up and saw my mother, except I didn’t recognize her. This beautiful woman had black hair and golden eyes, a trait of the faerie folk. She turned and I noticed the wings.
This seemed so familiar and yet not real. Was the events of the past week catching up with me in dreams? I woke up.
The rooster was crowing and the leprechaun was nowhere to be seen.
As I got up from my slumber I felt the doom overwhelm me as I knew I had to leave the safety of this house to go to the fields for work. I would have to avoid that dreaded forest. I rubbed my eyes to shake off the sleep or lack thereof. When my hands came down something reflected into my eyes, it came from the window sill.
The gold coins were there, he must have tried stealing them from the house but the magic must have stopped him from doing so. I must admit I did a small laugh because I knew how he would have been, hopping mad he would have been.
He would have cursed the whole night back to the Hawthorne tree.
My brothers were still sleeping, I tried waking them so they could get up and do chores and some to leave for their own work. One by one they got up, their bellies still full of food from the night before.
I took hold of the coins and got dressed, ready for the new day. I walked for miles around the forest to get to o’Carroll’s farm. I was put straight to work tilling the fields.
As I worked I could not shake last nights encounter with that wretched creature. What did it all mean? Was it real? Was I dreaming about someone else? Or me?
So many questions.
I kept working through the questions in my head whilst ploughing and tilling. Then he came. I groaned.
“Now Fergal, give me the coins” he said calmly and patient.
“No! Go away devil! I have had enough of you! Be away with you!” I shouted.
The leprechaun hopped onto a bucket of seeds I was carrying.
“Are ye sure ye wanting to go down this road fergal?” He angrily spat “all I want is rid of ye now!” He sat down cross-legged on the bucket of seed as if in defeat.
“Well it’s your own fault so, trying to trick me” I said.
He instantly stood up, pointed his gnarly finger at my heart.
“You mortals are all the same, pushing the blame to someone else. You shouldn’t have seen me, ye shouldn’t have talked…” I stopped his little tirade.
“If I remember rightly King Cornarght” I bowed mockingly “you bade me to sit for a “wee” chat”.
He was not happy with my mocking.
He looked me up and down as if studying me, he was looking for answers to why I was special. Why was it the faerie folk had helped me? His eyes were all over the place, left to right, up and down, around and around. There was something about me he could not put his finger on.
Suddenly his eyes lit up, he looked scared as if some realisation had hot him. Something had scared him. Something dark hurt his soul and he ran away.
I shrugged my shoulders and carried on with my work. O’Carroll’s daughter came over with a flask of water an hour later.
“Fergal, you’re a grand man, look at the work you’ve done!” She brushed her hand across the field. “My father will be proud!”.
I was a little startled at the work I had done, then I looked at her green eyes and was more startled by that. She liked me.
“Ah, Kate tis nothing. I’m paid to work” I said to her staring at her beautiful auburn hair.
She got a bit lost in our moment, she shook her head fast and offered me the drink. Then she run off as if embarrassed
I then heard giggling in the field. Then light flapping. The faeries.
They must have helped me with the fields. I drank the water, it was refreshing. More better than leprechaun stout, I chortled at the sad joke.
I continued to work hard into the evening until it was time to go. I packed up my things and left the fields after saying goodbye to a puzzled Brendan O’Carroll. He saw the field was ploughed and tilled all by me, I did a 7 man job in a shift. Nevertheless he was thrilled and gave me some extra money.
“You’re a good lad Fergal, regards to your da!” He waved as I went.
I walked down the little country lane around the edge of the forest when I saw a woman in the woods. She came closer as she saw me, her face. I knew it. She edged closer out of the forest.
It was the woman from my dreams. My mother.
“Who are you?” I asked the woman “I saw you in my dream last night”.
She didn’t speak, she stared and seemed like she was floating rather than walking. She touched my head with her long finger.
Flashes of memory, a fairy mother with her child. The child cooing then a black creature appearing over the mother. The darkest black, shrieks coming from it. It could only be a banshee.
The mother protected the child and with the love of a mother one final blast of pure magic. The banshee flew away.
Another flash of memory.
The mother running with the child Iin a basket to a nearby village. Running Past a familiar church, to a familiar door. My heart raced. The baby turned from fairy to human size. Wings disappearing. The mothers wings disintegrating.
The basket was left by the door. My door.
Flashes of the boy growing up, the mother watching from afar. My mother.
Another flash of memory of the banshee wailing around a Hawthorne tree. A leprechaun angry and tormented by the wails. The banshee travelling miles and miles searching for the child that eluded it.
The flashes ended.
I looked at my mother, we stood there for what seemed an eternity. I broke the silence.
“What am I?” Tears in my eyes.
She hugged me, brought me close. Whispered in my ear “A changeling, my son”. I pulled away, I could see the hurt in her eyes.
“The woman of the mounds wanted you” she trembled “the banshee”. We were looking at each other with worry.
“You must not go back home, ever. Conarght of the Hawthorne will have informed the banshee. He is in league with evil itself” she stopped suddenly.
The clouds were turning dark, a storm suddenly coming. In the distance a wailing, the banshee. My mother urged me forward.
“Come, we must get to our home” she ran towards the forest, I ran behind her. We ran for ages it seemed, the devil on our tails. The wails coming closer to me.
I followed my mother through tree trunks and over rivers. She didn’t slow and I found it hard to keep up. We stopped suddenly and she put her finger to my mouth.
I looked behind and saw the dark figure of the banshee looming. It stopped and seemed to look left and right by a clearing. Something moved to the right, the banshee followed it.
I saw a small figure appear from the clearing, he went to the left of the clearing. The leprechaun.
“They’re helping us Darthel, my kin are helping. Come, we must hurry” she whispered.
So we ran on, past the Hawthorne tree and down the incline. We ran past a few clearings until I saw something familiar. A ring of mushrooms.
We jumped into the ring together.
What happened next was unbelievable. We dissapeared into thin air then a floating feeling, I was drifting slowly down. I looked around, I could see a huge cavern. At the bottom thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights. Like stars that fell to the ground.
“You’re home Darthel! You’re finally home!” My mother was overjoyed and we spun around and around above the many lights.
I didn’t quite know how to feel.
“Be still my sweet Prince, your kingdom awaits”
We fell to ground gracefully. Around us thousands of tiny folk gathered cheering and rejoicing. The sound of sweet music filled the massive cavern. We were like giants my mother and I, the little fairies like little insects.
A familiar little hand was on my shoulder, Erith.
“Welcome home my Prince, this is your kingdom” she said happily. In the background I heard a harp. Six of the little faeries zooming in and out of the strings to make beautiful music.
A giant drum being bounced upon by another set of faeries, the music filled me with happiness. I was overjoyed, I looked at Erith worryingly.
“What of my family? The people who raised me?” I uttered.
“Do not worry,they will be looked after by us unknowingly all their life. The faerie folk are indebted to them forever. You can visit anytime you like sire”.
I was satisfied of the answer. I knew they would be OK, I was worried the banshee and leprechaun had went there. I took out the four gold coins.
My mother’s eyes widened.
“Give them to me Dearthal!” She urged “these are from Conarghts treasury, he has erred”.
My mother put the coins in her palm and brought it to her head. She concentrated hard and uttered “Conarght of the gold”.
I heard a wailing sound then suddenly a crash to the ground. It was him. He got straight up and brushed himself down. He was annoyed and his face was showing complete distaste.
“What..now..where?” He turned around three or four times. The fairies all closing in a circle around him. He looked dismayed.
“Conarght of the gold! I demand your obedience now!” My mother commanded.
“Of course Nerath of the bow, I respect your wish!” He knelt feebly, I could tell he was lying. So this was my mother’s name Nerath.
“Why have you summoned the woman of the mounds? Was it to murder me and my son? SPEAK!” Her voice was thunderous.
“I didn’t know it was your son, your kin” he said “but I knew he was special” he gave me a look of distain. I ignored him which made his ire worse.
“Very well, I’m afraid consequences have to come for you” she clicked her fingers. Four fairies carried some iron handcuffs.
The leprechaun screamed and kicked, his protests fell on deaf ears. The iron cuffs were placed around his hands, he screamed in agony. They melted into his hands, dissolved into his skin.
“You have no power until the iron is removed. I will remove them with one task. Banish the banshee” mightily she roared, like a warrior queen.
“That’s impossible! You might as well ask me to kill the devil!” He yelled back.
“This is your problem now, we shall stay here until the deed is done!” My mother looked victorious over the leprechaun.
Until. A wailing was heard.
The leprechaun smiled, grinning from ear to ear and with two words struck the heart of my mother with fear.
The wailing continued, the banshee was nearly though the magical barrier. My mother uttered quickly a few words and I was gone. I was still with them but not physically, I could see everything but not do anything. I could see the scene of everything.
My mother looked in my direction and put her finger to her mouth. I got the message.be quiet!
My mother was taller than all the faerie folk, I wondered why. But any questions I had were abruptly stopped.
The leprechaun was chuckling hysterically, he had won in his opinion. In his hysteria he hadn’t noticed I’d vanished, he started looking around and around trying to find me.
His laughing stopped.
“Where is he??” He bellowed.
“Gone, Conarght” my mother retorted. “Away from the likes of you!”.
“You’ve doomed us all you fool!” He screamed back “give me my power back to at least give me a fighting chance”.
“So you would turn on us the moment she arrives” my mother calmly and patiently said “not a chance!”
The leprechaun looked truly defeated, I even saw a golden tear well up in his eye.
The banshee was near, I looked up and saw a black mass slowly descending down. Almost like death creeping on his victim. Ironically that’s what a banshee was.
The black mass was gradually falling faster.
It fell without a sound. A towering figure in black robes floating around the area we were in. It hovered around, it stopped at a few faery folk then began to look again. It stopped at the leprechaun and wailed.
The leprechaun winced. His eyes filled with golden tears, the banshee looked around again. It came to a stop in the middle of the circle.
A flash of light.
The banshee discarded it’s robes, there stood a beautiful lady. A lady of fantastic beauty. Her clothes were black and gold, she had a fantastic head of red.
“Where is the one they call seventh son?” She sang in her deathly voice. She looked at my mother “I wanted him long ago, hes mine!”
I winced when I heard these words, I’m glad she didn’t see me. I wished… the leprechaun looked straight in my direction when I thought it.
The wishes! I had three wishes!
I must think it through, this was a great turn of events. The leprechaun looked worried. He screamed to that banshee and pointed my direction.
“He’s not yours and never will be!” My mother said as the banshee flew fast to the area I was at. It grasped at the air bit I had moved.
Think! What should I wish for?
The leprechaun looked at me again!
“There! There! He’s there!” He was hopping up and down.
The leprechauns powers were diminished, if I wished it would be in vain. I went to my mother’s side and began whispering for her to release the leprechauns powers.
I don’t know if she heard me. Hopefully.
The banshee was going mad, twirling around, grasping at the air.
“Tell me! Or I will make this my new home!” The banshee threatened.
Weeping. Horrendous weeping from the wee folk.
My mother flicked her wrist.
“No, I will not give up my son!” She said squaring up to the red headed banshee.
The leprechauns magic was restored. I began my first wish. I wish for the leprechaun to banish the banshee forever from Ireland!
The leprechaun looked at me in exasperation.
The banshee started to convulse, her screams hurt everyone’s ears, she started to melt into nothing. The leprechaun was beyond angry. He watched the smoke rise from the ground.
His tears had dried up, a gold tear stain on his cheek.
“Second wish, your heiress” he said through gritted teeth, mocking me.
I wish for my mother’s fairy nature to return forever.
My mother’s wings grew back instantly and she flew up and around to the cheers of the crowds below.
“Granted sire” he said licking his lips, is eyes narrowed “last wish”.
“No more Conarght!”I appeared again “put the cuffs on”.
The leprechaun howled and screamed, his magic lost. My mother flew down and interrupted.
“Take him to the cellar of Eriths house! I’m sure he’ll be comfortable!”
“I wished I’d never laid eyes on ye Fergal!” The leprechaun screamed curses and threats as he was dragged away by the wee folk.
“You’re home and you’re finally safe son!”
“I know mother, but can we stay away from that Hawthorne tree?”