by Diana McCollum
Iris plopped down on her white cloud bed only to find it lumpy and hard. She stood up and waved the clouds aside to reveal her sisters the brats uh, harpies: Aello, Celaeno, and Ocypete. They tittered, and flew up to the corner of the room, out of her reach.
Iris unfolded her wings and waved them back and forth, creating a breeze strong enough to blow the harpies out of her room. Before Aello left the room she shouted over her shoulder, “Father wants to see you now, Iris.”
Summoned by her father, Thaumas, one of the sea gods, meant one of two things. Either he had found her future husband or something was wrong in the mortal world. Whichever it was, she was screwed. Her father and mother, Electra, goddess and patron of Gilly Pond in Ireland, insisted the time had come for Iris to marry. Her mother wanted grandbabies and her father wanted her settled and living in her own household. Father’s hands were full trying to rein in the hyper-active triplets.
Iris was content in her father’s residence. To marry would mean leaving all she knew behind, and losing her independence, what little she had. It wasn’t like she didn’t have suitors. She had plenty. In fact the handsome Zephyrus was interested in her, but she didn’t want to be a slave to any god. They could be very egotistical, and demanding.
The mortal world should be in good stead. Let’s see I watered the appropriate clouds for rain, I placed the proper number of rainbows, and I delivered all the messages left in my inbox by the various gods. This time she had remembered to change to mortal form when delivering the messages from the gods, so she was good there. Nope, she couldn’t think of any reason for father to be upset with her.
The blue sea motif on the walls of the hall way and the cool tile on her bare feet sent a chill through her as she descended the length of the passage way. One more level down and she would be at her father’s chambers.
“Cian Boyle is in charge of the leprechauns at Gilly Pond, the leprechauns are having problems with the fairies.” Thaumas boomed. “This is upsetting the balance of Harmony in the Fairland’s meadows and forests surrounding Gilly Pond. Oceanic Electra, what are you going to do?” He struck his staff on the floor for emphasis.
“I’m sending Iris with a message for dear Cian to come for an audience with us.” Electra moved to his side and stroked his arm, hoping to quiet his ill temper. “I think you and I can kill two birds with one leprechaun.”
“Speak plainly, Wife. I’ve no patience for riddles.”
“Cian needs our help. And we need his. He is a close friend with Zephyrus, God of the West Wind. You remember at the banquet last week, the young man who asked for our Iris’s hand in marriage?”
“The same young man that Iris said she would give her wings up rather than marry?”
“The very same one.” She sighed, “Iris has naught against Zephyrus, but wishes to keep her independence. Iris claims marriage is not for her.”
“Yes, yes, go on.” Thaumas entwined his fingers with Electra’s. Pulling her closer; he kissed the back of her hand. “Pray tell Wife, what devious plan are you cooking up?”
Iris straightened her robes, tied the gold cord belt around her waist into a pretty bow, and knocked on her father’s door.
“Enter,” Thaumas bellowed.
“Good Eve, Father.” Iris curtsied, still perplexed as to why she was summoned.
“Iris, we have an important errand for you. We need to speak with Cian Boyle. You must fetch him here. The leprechauns and fairies are at odds in Fairland and, your mother’s Gilly Pond is in danger. The balance is off and something must be done.” His tone left no room for argument.
“Yes, father. I’ll leave immediately.” Iris would never dare to disobey her father, even if all she wanted to do was take a nap on her cloud bed.
As she turned to leave her mother reached out and touched her sleeve.
“Leprechauns are tricksters. Be careful dear, and bring only Cian. Bring him directly here.” Mother smiled at her.
After fetching Cian, Iris led the short little man down the long hallway to meet her father.
“I’m not liking being here,” he said. “The gods, egad, I cannot believe I’ve been summoned. Tell me missy, where is the goddess Electra? I know her. She is kind. I’m not so sure about the rest of them egotistical gods and goddesses. They might just put me on a platter, serve me up!” Cian wrinkled his bulbous, red nose as much as was possible. He stroked his gray beard, took his hat off and then put his hat back on.
“Really Cian! No one is going truss you up and bake you. Mother and father just want to talk with you. They understand there are some problems in Fairland.” Iris folded her wings in and patted the little man on the head. “I promise no harm will come to you.”
She knocked on Thaumas's chamber door.
Electra opened the door. “Please come in.”
“Cian! Dear friend!” Electra took his small hand and led him over to Thaumas’s throne.
“That is all daughter, we’ll see to Cian’s return to Fairland.” Thamus said.
Iris took her leave, feeling a bit left out. Hadn’t she brought the reluctant leprechaun here, and for what?
The next morning Iris was awakened by the harpies. Aello tickled a feather across Iris’s nose, causing her to sneeze, which sent the small harpies scattering across the room.
Celaeno and Ocypete buzzed back over to where Iris lay and dove at her like oversized bees.
“Get out! Don’t you have some flowers to pollinate or something?” Iris threw a pillow at Ocypete as she made a dive knocking the small robust harpie across the room.
The mad laughter of the harpies echoed down the hall as they made their escape.
Aello buzzed back, “Father wants to see you, right now Iris!” She tittered.
Iris rubbed her temple. What now?
“And so there you have it, Daughter.” Thaumas stroked his long beard. “You must settle the feud between the fairies and the leprechauns, and you must do this while you are in mortal form.”
Iris had never seen such a sparkle in her father’s eyes before. If it was that important to him, she would do her best to solve the feud.
Shortly after leaving her father, Iris landed at the edge of Gilly Pond. She placed her clothes and wings behind a bush. In her mortal form she’d have no use for them. She summoned her magic and covered herself with mortal clothes.
“Cian?” She called. “Cian?” Exasperation laced her voice.
“Ah-h, girly, I’m right here.” Cian stepped from behind a fallen oak tree, leaves crunching under his black buckled boots. “Do not be so loud least them treacherous fairies know ye are here.”
“So what’s the problem between the leprechauns and the fairies?”
“They are claiming we stole the gold from beneath the rainbow.”
“And did you steal the gold?” Iris knew how much leprechauns valued gold, and how they were known to steal or trick others out of their gold.
“It was given to us, by the head fairy himself.” Cian brushed some dust from his coat sleeve, not making eye contact.
“Given willingly, or did you trick him?”
“I say he gave the gold eagerly, but if you asked him he might say he was tricked.” He nonchalantly scraped his boot over the leaves. “We leprechauns want to be taken seriously.”
“Then you must stop tricking the fairies. I want to give the leprechauns a very special job. You can’t use trickery and you must guard something precious with your lives. It is a very important job. I’ve already talked with the fairies and they’ve agreed.” She smiled at the nervous little man. “The harmony of Fairland depends on the fairies and leprechauns working together.”
Cian squinted up at her. “Is it really important, will we garner some respect from doing the job well?”
“Yes. Whenever I place a rainbow at Gilly Pond, the fairies will place pots of gold at the ends of the rainbow.” She poked him gently in the chest, “You and your fellow leprechauns will be the security detail. You will guard the pots of gold until the rightful owners follow the rainbow to the ends and claim the pots of gold. This is an important job that only trusted leprechauns can do.”
She spoke elevating her voice so that the leprechauns hiding in the forest would hear her words. “Are you all willing to accept this mission?”
A chorus of 'Yes!' rang from the forest.
“By Gilly, by golly I think you’ve solved our problem.” Cian started to waddle towards the forest. But stopped and turned, “Iris, I have a bit of magic meself.”
He toddled back and handed her a small round stone. “The very next time you meet a west wind; you must place this stone on the ground before you and face the wind. Repeat three times, ‘There is good fortune in the west wind, show me your true nature.’ Then give this stone to the first person you encounter. I promise you will not regret it.”
What an odd little man. Iris slipped the stone into her pocket. She picked her way through the meadow towards Gilly Pond. Rounding a huge boulder a gentle west wind caressed her face and gently lifted her hair from her shoulders. The wind swirled around her caressing her like a lover.
She fingered the stone. What the heck? The smooth stone was growing warm, and began to pulsate. Pulling it out she lay it on the ground before her and repeated what the Leprechaun had said. “There is good fortune in the west wind, show me your true nature.” She repeated the magic charm three times.
The wind picked up speed, and twirled around forming a whirlwind in front of her. Dust and leaves blew about and in the middle of the whirlwind a form took shape.
Her heart beat faster and her throat tightened. The figure emerged and held out his hand.
“Zephyrus!” Iris picked up the stone and when she placed it in his hand his fingers encircled her hand.
“Iris,” his voice was hoarse with desire. “I’ve longed for you to be my wife and partner. Why is it you’ve given me no audience?”
“I’ve no desire to marry.” She said. “I come and go as I please except for when my father has an errand for me to do. I’ve no wish to give up my freedom.”
“Ah-h, my beauteous, Iris, I wish for a partner in marriage, not a slave.” He pulled her into his arms and brushed her lips with a kiss.
Followed by a second deeper kiss that took her breath away and stirred feelings deep inside of her.
Iris pulled back to stare into gentle gray eyes, set in a handsome face and knew in her heart that Zephyrus was meant for her.
The deal was sealed, and the stone in their hand grew cold. Iris slipped it back into her pocket.
Iris belonged to the West Wind, and Zephyrus belonged to her.
Once her clothes and wings were back on, she rose hand in hand with Zephyrus up to the heavens. Iris looked back once waving her free hand to create a spectacular rainbow on Gilly Pond.
Thaumas held his wife’s hand, “You were right my love, Iris settled the dispute and all is well in Fairland. Thanks to Cian, Iris is with Zephyrus. The world is as it should be.”