A short story written for the Fantasy Unraveled Contest, March 2021.
To be honest, I never could work out where you humans got the idea my sort were in any way generous. We've all discussed it, and none of us have got a clue. So, right now I'm going to set the record straight - us leprechauns, well, we're miserly and money-grabbing. If one was ever spotted with a pot of gold you can rest assured that it was not his.
Patrick, saint that he is, makes a perfect target. I mean, look at him. He hardly lifts his eyes up from the ground as he goes in search of snakes. Why does he do it? That's something that puzzles me, for they've never done him any harm.
Merciless, he is, with that staff of his. There's no magic in what he does. All he does is capture them, put them in a bag and fling them out to sea. There's no love between us and those slithery beings, but they are not deserving the drowning that he's doling out.
Saint of not, we're going to steal his gold.
Patrick doesn't notice us as we peer down from branches, following him in plain sight if only he could be bothered to look. We even set about letting loose the snakes whenever we can. If he thinks he is going to rid this world of them anytime soon he is sorely mistaken. Every rescue we carry out gives us longer to locate his stash.
"I heard," said Shammie, "that these saints have gold above their heads."
"What? Like a crown, you mean?"
Shammie shook his own head. "Not unless it's a hover-crown. Their meant to have a golden ring drifting above them."
I stuck my head down through the leaves. "Well, there's no gold there. Just white hair and a bit of a bald spot."
So where did he keep it. We were flummoxed. He didn't stay in one place, but went from house to house, staying for a day or two in return for removing the snakes that slithered around in the gardens. He had no visible pockets, no money bag slung over his shoulder or belted around his waist. There was only one way to find out, and that was to confront the man.
With Shammie behind him, I swung down from the branches and landed in front of him. At last this Patrick lifted his eyes above ground level.
"There's no use trying to escape," I said. "We've got you surrounded." A lot of people might have looked behind to check but he didn't. Just as well, really.
"We are not going to hurt you, not if you just hand over your gold."
The old man's face creased in a frown. "Gold? I have no need of it, so why would I have it?"
Shammie and I exchanged glances. "Everyone wants gold, as much as they can gather, and you are no exception." I took a step towards him.
"Not me," he said. "Saints have no use for wordly goods."
"Well, leprechauns do."
"So where do you keep yours then?" he asked.
"We keep our gold in big pots," Shammie said, before I had a chance to silence him.
"Like this?" And there he was, this old guy, standing there with what could only have been one of our pots. Before we had a chance to wrest it from his hands, Patrick tossed it in the air and... it vanished!
"Where's it gone?" we both demanded.
"Oh, it's still around somewhere. You'll need to follow the rainbow to its end if you want to find it."
Shammie and I looked up at the sky. "What rainbow?" I asked.
This old guy, Patrick, gave a sly grin. "You'll have to wait until one appears."
Shortly after that, Patrick got into his boat and sailed away. If he thought that he had got rid of all the snakes he was very much mistaken. Maybe he had just given up. So now, every time there is a rainbow in the sky, us leprechauns have to race the would-be thieving vipers towards its end. We saved them from being drowned; they owe us. But then there's not a bit of honor amongst snakes.
And as for the end of a rainbow, well, we've not quite made it yet. But we will. And if you should find it first - keep your thieving hands off our gold!