Chapter 1

Sean stood in his bedroom looking at the pitiful amount of gold in his hand. It was really kind of embarrassing how little gold there was. All he had was the gold from a gold tooth, a couple links from a gold chain, and part of a gold earring. Based on his experience from the previous year, he figured that this magic gift was going to be pretty weak. He wondered if maybe he could postpone this for a year.

"It's not very much gold," Sean said.

Looking at what he was holding, Suzie said, "You're right. I bet you have about ten dollars worth of gold there."

"If that much," Sean said.

Suzie said, "Are you sure that I can't give you some gold?"

"The dwarves told me that the rules said I have to get the gold using magic," Sean said.

"Are you ready to face the dwarves?" Suzie asked.

"Not really. I can't put it off for much longer. It's almost noon," Sean said looking over at the clock.

Suzie asked, "So how long do you think it will take?"

"Last year it only took about five minutes. I doubt it will take that long," Sean answered.

"Really?"

Sean said, "Come to think of it, it might take a little longer. It could take thirty minutes for the dwarves to stop laughing at the pitiful amount of gold that I have."

"I'll wait for you to return," Suzie said.

"I'll be back soon," Sean said leaving his bedroom.

He walked through the kitchen on his way to the backdoor. His mother looked over at him and said, "Don't go anywhere. I'm making soup for lunch."

"I've got to meet with the dwarves," Sean said.

"Today is the day?"

"Yes."

"I think I might have forgotten about that."

"I'm sure you did," Sean said.

"Didn't you give them some silver last year?" his mother asked.

Sean answered, "Yes."

"What are you giving them this year?" his mother asked.

"Gold," Sean answered.

"You're supposed to take some gold to them?" his mother asked suddenly interested.

Sean answered, "That's right."

She said, "Let me see how much gold you have."

Sean held out the little bit of gold that he had managed to collect. It was cupped in the palm of his hand. A crazed look of avarice came over her face upon seeing the little nugget. When she reached for it, he closed his hand.

"You can't have that."

"Sorry, I couldn't resist," his mother said. "Can I see it again?"

"No," Sean said.

"Pretty please with a cherry on top," his mother said while holding her hands like she was praying and batting her eyelashes at him.

Sean took a step back and opened his hand. He had to close his hand when his mother lunged for the gold.

She growled, "I gotta have that gold."

"I need to go," Sean said.

"It'll cost you a piece of gold to get past me," his mother said.

Sean pointed towards the front door and said, "There's a leprechaun over there."

"Where?" his mother said looking around wildly.

Sean ran out the door while she was distracted. He could hear her shouting, "You tricked me!"

Happy to have escaped from the house with his little bit of gold intact, Sean started walking down the path to where he had met Chom, Pip, and Clea the previous year. It was a beautiful morning and the weather was pleasant unlike the previous day that had been hot. He was wondering what kind of magic gift he would get when he ran into Liam on the way.

"Hello, Liam."

"Hello, Sean."

"I'd stay and chat for a bit, but I've got a meeting with some dwarves," Sean said.

Liam acted like he was reminded of something. He said, "I just remembered that today is the day you trade some gold for a magic gift."

"That's right," Sean said.

Liam said, "Let me see your gold."

Sean was about to show the Leprechaun his little bit of gold, but reconsidered the idea in light of his mother's behavior. The only one more fixated on gold than his mother was Liam. According to the elves, the leprechauns had grabbed every bit of unowned gold within a hundred miles.

Suspicious of Liam's motives, Sean asked, "You're not going to try to take it from me, are you?"

"I'd rather not answer that question," Liam said looking away.

Sean said, "That's what I thought."

"I could help you carry your gold," Liam said trying to sound helpful.

"Where would you carry it to?" Sean asked.

"I'd store it in a safe place," Liam said.

"Let me guess ... that safe place would be with the rest of your gold."

Liam looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, "What a splendid idea."

Sean said, "I appreciate the offer, but I'd rather not. I better get going. I don't want to be late."

Liam stamped his foot and said, "I really thought that would work."

It didn't take Sean long to reach the place where he was supposed to meet the dwarves. He knew it was the correct place because Chom, Pip, and Clea were sitting around waiting for him.

"Hello," Sean said.

Chom got up and said, "Are you ready to exchange some gold for another gift of magic?"

"Yes, I am," Sean said.

Holding out his hand, Pip said, "Let's see your gold."

Sean opened his hand and showed his gold to the dwarf. Pip and Chom raised up on their toes to look at the nugget. They burst out laughing.

Barely able to talk because he was laughing too hard, Chom asked, "You call that a lot of gold?"

Clea came over to Sean and looked at the gold in his hand. She started laughing as well. Sean stood there holding out the pitiful amount of gold thinking that maybe he was optimistic in predicting that it would take only a half an hour for them to stop laughing.

Much to Sean's surprise, the dwarves managed to contain their laughter after about five minutes. Pip held out his hand and said, "Give me the gold."

Sean handed the gold over to Pip. The dwarf closed his hand around the gold. All of the impurities flowed out between his fingers and dripped to the ground. Pip opened his hand and looked at the small amount of gold that remained.

"That isn't much gold," Pip said.

"Hey, I was in competition with the leprechauns in finding gold," Sean said defensively.

Chom said, "I guess we don't have to ask who won that competition."

Pip asked, "We don't?"

"Think about it," Clea said rolling her eyes.

"Oh ... yeah," Pip said.

Pip handed the little bit of gold back to Sean.

"It's not enough?" Sean asked.

Pip said, "You need to break off a little piece of it."

"How little?" Sean asked.

"Considering the small amount of gold that you have, you had better make it as little as possible," Chom said.

Sean searched through the many pockets of his pants until he found a magnifying glass. He held up the magnifying glass and looked at the gold nugget. He used his magic to cause a very thin strand of gold wire to rise up from the nugget. He looked at the very end and broke off the smallest slice of the gold wire that he could see through the magnifying glass.

He asked, "How's that?"

"How's what?"

"That little bit that I removed."

"What little bit?" Pip asked looking in Sean's palm. "I don't see anything."

"That little bit right there," Sean said holding the magnifying glass over the gold.

"That?" Pip asked.

"Yes."

Pip said, "It's not very big."

Chom said, "Let me see."

Sean held out his hand for Chom to look at the piece of gold he had broken off the nugget. Chom put his eye almost in Sean's palm looking for the piece of gold.

Chom said, "We might have a problem."

"What kind of problem?" Clea asked.

"We might have a big problem with it being so small," Pip said.

"It's too small?" Clea asked.

Chom said, "We'll be here all day."

Pip said, "Sean, you have to say the name of an animal and form a little statue of the animal out of the gold. Each time you do that, you'll lose the amount of gold that you just removed from the nugget. You'll keep doing that until you run out of gold."

"Duck," Sean said while creating a small statue of a duck.

Pip hit his forehead with the flat of his hand. He said, "You weren't supposed to start yet."

"I wasn't?"

"I hadn't finished telling you the rest of the rules," Pip said.

Clea said, "This is a disaster."

"What?" Sean asked.

Chom said, "The first animal you make is going to be your familiar."

"My what?"

"Your familiar," Clea said.

"What's that?" Sean asked.

Pip said, "It's going to be your animal companion."

"So my animal companion is going to be a duck?" Sean asked.

"That's right."

Sean said, "That's great! I like ducks."

"Really?" Pip asked.

"Yes."

Pip said, "I guess you can continue now."

"Dog ... cat ... chicken ... sheep ... cow ... horse ... donkey ... jackass... ," Sean said turning the nugget into a statue of each animal after saying its name.

Pip said, "We're going to be here all day at this rate."

"We're lucky he didn't have more gold."

"You can say that again."

"We're lucky he didn't have more gold.

Two hours later, Sean was still naming animals, "Aardvark, anteater, kangaroo, koala bear, Kodiak bear, grizzly bear, brown bear, panda bear, black bear..."

"This is boring," Clea said.

"How much has he done?" Pip asked.

Chom answered, "He's gotten through about half of the gold."

"How many more animals does he have to name?"

"He's only halfway done," Chom said.

Two hours later, Sean was still naming animals. "Great white shark, killer whale, sand shark, mako shark, octopus, squid, giant squid,..."

"He knows a lot of animals," Pip said.

"It's kind of amazing when you think about it," Chom said.

Clea said, "He's slowing down."

"We could be here all night," Pip said.

"Do you think he'll run out of animals first or gold first?" Chom asked.

"Animals," Clea said.

"He doesn't have much gold left," Pip said.

An hour later, Sean was down to his last little grain of sand and he had run out of animals, fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. He had even run out of insects. He was searching his memory trying to come up with another animal.

Chom asked, "Is he done?"

"He's got one more," Pip said.

Sean said, "Humans."

"You can't do humans!" Pip said.

"Why not?" Sean asked.

"They aren't animals," Chom said.

"Yes, they are. According to my biology teacher, humans are mammals just like monkeys," Sean said.

Chom said, "No one has ever done humans before."

"Can he do humans?" Pip asked.

"I guess he can," Clea said. "The gold is gone."

Pip said, "Come to think of it, Merlin did do humans. He thought he could get laid easier that way."

Clea said, "Merlin was a horny little fellow."

"Did it work?" Sean asked.

"No," Chom said.

"Darn."

Clea said, "I knew it."

Sean said, "I still don't know what my magic gift is."

"You can do magic on all of the animals that you just said," Pip answered.

"What does that mean?" Sean asked.

Pip shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know."

"That's for you to discover," Clea said.

Sean said, "I guess I'll just have to experiment."

Chom said, "Just one last thing."

"What?" Sean asked.

Chom picked up a small rock. A nugget of silver appeared in his hand. He compared the two and then removed a bit of the rock by rubbing his thumb over it. He handed the rock to Sean and said, "We've got to adjust the range of your magic."

"How do I do that?" Sean asked.

"Throw it as far away as you can," Chom answered.

Sean launched the little stone at about five hundred miles an hour at a forty-five degree angle from the horizon. It disappeared into the distance. Sean wondered how far it went.

Scratching the side of his head, Pip said, "He wasn't supposed to figure out that little trick so quickly."

"That is a major increase in range," Chom said.

Clea said, "I told you he wasn't as dumb as he looks."

"That isn't saying much. He looks pretty dumb. Not being as dumb as he looks could still leave him pretty dumb," Pip said.

"So how far is my range?" Sean asked.

"We'll let you know when we find it," Chom said.

Pip said, "It could take us a little time."

"A couple of days, at least," Clea said.

"Maybe a couple of weeks," Chom said.

"It could even be months," Pip said.

"What should I do until then?" Sean asked.

"Just assume that if you can see something and it's the right mass, then you can magic it," Chom said.

Sean said, "Great. Now what?"

Pip said, "You practice your magic until this time next year. You'll get the third and last gift of magic."

Chom said, "Come back here with copper."

"Copper?" Sean asked thinking finding a couple pounds of copper in the dump wouldn't be difficult.

"You better bring a lot of copper," Clea said.

"Pounds?" Sean asked.

"Think more along the lines of tons," Clea said.

Sean said, "That's a lot of copper."

"You've got to use magic to get it," Chom said.

Sean said, "That figures."

"I exist and this is my area."

"Who was that?" Sean asked.

"I exist and this is my area."

Chom asked, "Who was what?"

"Someone is talking to us," Sean said.

Pip looked around. He said, "I don't see anyone."

Clea said, "I don't hear anyone."

Chom said, "It must be your imagination."

"I exist and this is my area."

"Whoever it is, just talked again," Sean said.

"I exist and this is my area."

"I still don't hear anyone," Clea said.

Sean looked around and spotted a bird in the tree. It said, "I exist and this is my area."

"It's that bird," Sean said while pointing to the wren.

"I guess you can listen to animals now," Chom said.

Pip said, "It didn't take him long to figure that one out."

"I exist and this is my area."

Sean looked up at the wren and asked, "Can't you say anything beside that?"

"Sure I can," the wren said.

"Now he's talking to birds," Chom said.

Pip said, "At least we don't have to listen to him talking to us all of the time."

"So why do you keep saying you exist and this is your territory?" Sean asked.

The wren answered, "It's very important. There are three things I have to say all of the time."

"What are they?"

"I exist and this is my area. Get out of my area. I'm handsome, strong, and smart so one of you pretty chicks should want to have my babies," the wren answered.

Sean said, "I can see where they are important messages, particularly the last one."

"It is the most important one of all," the wren said.

Sean said, "That reminds me. Suzie is waiting for me to return."

Chom said, "I'm sure she's gotten bored by now."

"Probably found someone better looking," Pip said.

Sean said, "That's not possible."

"Why?"

"I'm the best looking thing around here," Sean said.

When the wren fell out of the tree, Sean walked over to where it was rolling around on the ground. Looking over at the Dwarves, he said, "I didn't know birds could laugh."

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Magic / Humor /