Cover for Lost Rainbows by J.A. Marlow
Chapter One – Theft (Lost Rainbows – Serial)
By Connie Cockrell
Shamus O’Malley is on a quest to recover the Leprechaun Kingdom’s magic rainbows and gold before the rainbows are lost forever. To do so he must travel to the new world where he finds the evil wizard, David Bannon, intent on using the magic from the rainbows and the gold to conquer the Leprechaun Kingdom. He also finds an ally, Becca Bannon, the wizard’s niece. Can Becca and Shamus recover the rainbows and gold and defeat her wizard uncle?
This entry is part 1 of 16 in the series Lost Rainbows
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It was a typical evening in the court of the Leprechaun King, Mac Shadenan. The throne room was full. Harpists, drummers, flautists and horn players were halfway down the left wall from the King. The center of the hall’s polished wood floor was filled with dancers. Shamus O’Malley was standing on the right side of the hall near the buffet table, a silver goblet of Irish Whisky in his hand.
Dressed in his court best, he tugged at the collar of his lemon-yellow shirt. Like most of the male leprechauns present, he had on his cherry-red wool weskit and frock coat with seven rows of seven buttons. It was annoying to button all forty-nine buttons but luck was luck. He didn’t want to push any away. His pantaloons and stockings were white and his brogans were black leather and as shiny as his polishing could make them.
He had his eye on Princess Lyeen. She was dancing in the middle of the floor with that half-wit Banar Donovan. Shamus sipped his drink. Banar, he snorted to himself. More like banal, and boring to boot. Lyeen wouldn’t be givin’ him a second look if it weren’t for the five rainbows with their pots of gold at the end that he owned. He put the goblet he was holding down on the table and began to edge his way into the dancers. As soon as the music for this dance stopped, he was going to ask the Princess to dance.
She was a vision. Like most leprechauns, a smattering of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose, accenting the creamy, smooth skin of her complexion. Merry blue eyes flashed with her laughter. Best of all though, to Shamus, was her hair. His own could be best described as orange. But hers, left unbound as was customary among unmarried maids, hung to her waist. The burnished gold highlights in her dark red hair set off the gold of the dainty, diamond-encrusted crown around her forehead that held her hair back from her face. She’d chosen to wear green today, setting her apart from the traditionalists in the court. When she’d come into the room earlier in the evening, she’d set their tongues wagging.
“She’s not wearing the traditional red!” one old biddy whispered loud enough for the people on the other side of the hall to hear.
Her neighbor nodded. “What are young people coming to?” she lamented. “Defiance, that’s what it is.”
That’s what Shamus loved about Lyeen. She had spirit and flair. Too bad her father didn’t consider Shamus’s worthy. True, he was tall for a leprechaun, four foot three inches, which worked in his favor. But there was only one rainbow among his whole, large family. The gold was spread thin. Despite that, he was determined to get the Princess’s attention, gold or no gold.
He had nearly reached her when the guardsmen at the door to the throne room called out, “Courier for the King, the great Mac Shadenan! Make way for the Courier!”
The dancers split apart, moving to each side of the hall. He was separated from the Princess as she moved to the other side. Reluctantly he backed up to make way. The courier, dressed in woodland colors to better blend into the environment, entered the hall and staggered across the floor to the king. Dirty and road weary, the man looked as if he had been through every bramble in the kingdom.
Twenty feet from the throne, the courier dropped to his knees in exhaustion. King Mac Shadenan leaned forward on the carved, backless wooden seat. The red pillows could barely be seen under the red wool cloak the king wore, with a gold harp pin holding it together at his shoulder. His advisors, two on each side of the throne, whispered to each other.
“What say you, courier?” the King asked.
“My Lord,” the man gasped. “The rainbows are gone!”
While one of the advisors hurried to the courier’s side with a goblet of wine to help revive him, the court burst into loud cries and lamentations. Shamus noticed that Banar grew quite pale. Princess Lyeen, though, he saw with a great deal of admiration, straightened her spine and, head held high, strode to the front of the room to stand beside her father’s chair.
There was so much confusion and consternation, the King signaled the guard near him to pound on the floor with the butt of his spear. He stood up.
“What is this caterwauling? You all sound worse than the animals in the humans’ zoo at feeding time.” King Shadenan glared at the people in the hall. The horror of being compared to those poor creatures confined in unnatural habitats stunned them. They shut up.
He stepped off of the throne’s platform and pulled the courier to his feet. “Come, man.” He clapped the courier on the shoulder. “You’ve had a bit of wine to refresh yourself. Tell us your news.”
The courier nodded. “I’m Draum, son of Fitz.”
The courtiers nodded. Fitz was a high-ranking member of the court. Draum was in service to the King, as every courtier’s able-bodied sons were at one time or another. Shamus had been a courier himself upon his eighteenth birthday for twenty years. That had been a long time ago.
“Sire, the treasury was robbed. All of the guards are dead. I don’t know how I escaped the explosion but something large and ferocious chased me nearly all the way here.” He looked down at his appearance. “My apologies, Sire, for appearing before you in such a state.”
The King clapped him on the shoulder. “No need to apologize, young Draum.” He motioned for one of the guards standing near the throne to come to him. “Take Draun to the baths. Get him food and drink and fresh clothing. We’ll talk to him again in two hours.”
The guard led Draum away through a side-door of the hall near the throne. The courtiers refilled the hall and whispered to each other. Shamus began edging his way to the front of the room. The Advisors had surrounded the King. As he neared he could hear a furious discussion going on between them.
“Sire,” the eldest Advisor said, “we need to send guards to assess the damage.”
“Yes,” said the youngest. “How do we know if Draum is telling the truth?”
“Majesty, we should send someone to bring back the rainbows.”
The King stood still in the rain of comments and suggestions, nodding at each person as they spoke. Shamus moved up to stand directly behind the King. When the suggestions died down, the Advisors waited for the King to speak.
“We will send an investigator,” the King announced. “Someone from our court, someone trustworthy.”
They all nodded.
“But who?” the eldest Advisor asked. “Perhaps the savage beast that chased Draum is still lurking about.”
“I’ll go,” Shamus piped up.
The entire group turned to stare. Shamus began to blush under the inspection.
The King nodded. “It’s dangerous, you know. The beast may still be outside the sidhe.” Their villages, the sidhe, pronounced shee, were hidden by magic. The leprechauns had long separated themselves from the world of men. King Mac Shadenan ruled all the sidhe of the leprechaun kingdom, scattered far and wide across the men’s countries of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The leprechauns kept track of the world of men but since the loss of their gods, the Tuatha De Danann many centuries ago, they had no choice but to hide. It was safer to stay in their hidden kingdom, and they flourished in their own way.
Shamus breathed a sigh of relief. As a courier, he’d always gotten along with King Mac. “I understand, Sire. But the kingdom’s treasury has been stolen. If we wait too long, all evidence of the dastard will be gone and the trail cold. I’ll leave immediately. The sooner I go, the sooner the rainbows may be recovered.”
Lyeen had joined the circle of Advisors. She smiled at Shamus and he nearly missed the King’s words.
“Good idea, Shamus. You will be my representative in this. Leave at once. Draw whatever you need from the armory.”
Shamus bowed. “Thank you, Sire. I’ll depart as soon as I can.”
He turned and hustled down the middle of the court, the courtiers parting in front of him. The murmurs began as soon as he passed.
To be continued…
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© 2015 Connie Cockrell