For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kirsten Doyle challenged me with "Chasing rainbows" and I challenged Bewildered Bug with "Dr Seuss rewrites a portion of Dante's Inferno...."
"In a time long lost, on an Earth you wouldn't recognize, before humanity, before time, before legend... Here is why you cannot chase rainbows, my child..."
"Look, it's really quite simple," the leprechaun said, slowly, enunciating each syllable. "Take the ax there, in your hand, and--" He lifted his arms up, and brought them down swiftly. "--slice the rainbow! Any idiot could do it."
The troll nodded, then, after processing the words, grunted. "Then you chop light," it muttered authoritatively. "I no need to do it."
The leprechaun sighed. "Yes, as I explained, you do need to do it. I get the gold, you get your bridge back! See?" he said, exasperated, pointing toward the clearing on the edge of the forest.
The troll gazed up from the shadows of the trees toward the rainbow of light spilling into the clearing just beyond. Distantly, beyond the shimmer, he could make out the bridge--his bridge, his home--the path to which was now blocked by the cascading colors.
The leprechaun sighed impatiently as he watched a tear collect in the corner of the troll's eye. "None of that now, you big ape," he snapped. "What are you, some kind of fairy like me? You're a troll! Act like it!"
"And as soon as you slice through the Sky Queen's color shield, you'll get it back... Yes?" He nodded, as if nodding himself meant the troll would nod, and hence his point would be made.
"Cut light, get to bridge?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed. "Yes, yes, yes! Exactly! Cut the light, get to your bridge!"
The troll pondered the words of the small green man. He'd seen the pretty lights before. He saw what happened to other trolls, other axes. It wasn't pretty when one tried to break through the Sky Queen's light, whether it was to get at her gold, or simply to access a path or a road or a home...
Not. Pretty. At all.
He was strong. He knew this. He'd been the one, after all, who had finally knocked the Large Billy Goat Gruff down to size--and hence had a nice meal for weeks! He was the troll with the largest bridge in the oldest forest for a reason! Every little trollette for a thousand miles was his offspring! He, Tünder Troll, was king here!
But was that enough?
He pondered still.
The leprechaun, aware now after several of these types of moments, pulled out a pipe, stuffed it with tobacco, and arranged some moss at the base of a tree for a nice smoke and a nap. This, after all, could take a while. Trolls never came out of complex thoughts quickly, easily, or sometimes at all...
And thus was quite surprised when Tünder began strolling out of the trees toward the end of the rainbow. "Tünder? Buddy? You're really going to...? Yippee! That's right big guy! Go for it! Swing that ax! Save your bridge!" He bounded and leaped from branch to branch, stump to tree, grass to sky! This was it! This was the moment he got his gold back from the sky bitch!
He bounced along behind the ponderous beast, cheering and babbling, and thus was caught completely unawares when Tünder stopped--and he ran face-first into the troll's nether side.
"Ach! Wha-- Yuck! Haven't you ever heard of leaf-wiping? Ugh! Hey--hey! Why'd you stop, big guy? What's the--"
The troll pointed.
Before the light, shimmering brighter than any color behind her, stood the Sky Queen. She nodded once, sagely, slowly, as the unlikely pair acknowledged her with astonished eyes. "Duncan, you silly little thief," she said, meeting his light green eyes with her steely blue gaze. "You dare to try to attack the light with this brute?"
"Why... What...? Me? No, gosh, no," the leprechaun tittered nervously, bouncing from foot to foot nervously. "I was just... Trying to prevent him, you see, from... From, you know... I told him there were other bridges..." he trailed off.
"My bridge," Tünder stated, pointing beyond her shoulders, beyond the rainbow.
"Hmm, yes, I see," she said, turning her head ever so slightly. "But as your noble small friend pointed out, there are, indeed, other bridges. And this, at the moment, is where my treasures need to be stored."
She mistook his silence for uncomprehension. "You see," she started again, speaking more slowly, a wary eye on the leprechaun, "there's just no way to store gold in the heavens. Thus, I am forced to keep it here, on your land. It is not up to me where the rainbow lands, nor up to me when it changes location.
"So you see, my lumbering giant, sooner or later, you will have your bridge back. There's no need for violence. You just need patience, that's all. Sooner or later, the heavens will shift and the rainbow will store my treasures elsewhere!" she finished brightly.
Duncan had now slipped up on to the troll's shoulder and whispered vehemently: "She's scared, you see? She knows you can do it, she knows you can destroy the rainbow and get to your bridge! You can do it!"
"Silence, you vile little sprite!" she cried, stamping her scepter, causing the ground to tremble. "Take one more step toward the light and it will be considered an act of war!"
Tünder regained his balance, considering. Duncan, having fallen from the troll's shoulders, dusted off his normally tidy green suit.
"You've no right!" Duncan shouted, picking a leaf out of his beard. "This, this is our land! You send down your light, blocking creatures from their homes, their lives! I know why your rainbow lands where it does! I know about your thieving little light shield! Wherever there's gold, suddenly the light shows up, suddenly the land is deprived of it's metals and gems! You think we're stupid? You think we're just going to let you have it all? I don't think so, Highness!" he finished, spitting out the honorary term like poison.
She smirked and waved her scepter threateningly toward the green fairy creature.
Then Tünder stepped forward once more, raising his mighty ax.
"You wouldn't dare!" she sneered. She took a step back as the troll came closer. "You? You really think you'll be the one?" She laughed evilly, maniacally, then, with a quick motion, spun her scepter and launched a beam of light directly at the troll's chest.
It slammed and scattered as it struck--but still he came forward, ax raised. "My bridge," was all he said, as if acknowledging the blow as nothing more than conversation.
Again she attacked, her brow beginning to sweat with nervousness. Another beam of light shimmered from her scepter, again slamming into the troll's chest.
Still he plodded forward, ax held high resolutely, every step precisely measured.
She continued backing away, continued blasting light at the beast to no avail. When at last she could back no further, trapped against the rainbow shield, she fixed her eyes on Duncan. "You! You will pay dearly!" she sneered.
Duncan, piggy-backing on Tünder's back, waved cheerily. "I'm getting my gold back, wench! Looks like you're the one finally paying! Haha!"
"Argh!" she screamed, and, sending another bolt of light in their general direction, grabbed the red light of the rainbow and zipped up out of sight.
Tünder, having tuned out the noise and light of the screaming queen and the leprechaun on his back, reached the rainbow. With one last tensing of the shoulders, he let out a primal grunt and swung the ax with all his might.
Light shattered in silence. Blinded, the troll staggered back, dropping his ax, hands shielding his eyes. Duncan ran screaming for the trees. A giant sound, like thunder multiplied, boomed across them, sending them flying to the ground.
It was a few minutes before either one of them sat up.
Duncan rubbed his eyes. There, in all it's pure beauty, stood a gigantic iron pot filled with gold! He screamed again, this time with unmitigated joy. "It's mine! Yes, yes, yes! Tünder, you did it! You did it! Look!" Duncan leaped straight up into the air and dived right into the gems and coins. "Woo-hoo!" he shouted again, and began laughing uncontrollably.
Duncan stopped. Blinked. "Oh, yes, yes, your bridge." He turned around, "Yep, stinky old bridge still there. Have fun with that."
Tünder smiled. Troll smiles are ugly things to say the least, and Duncan cringed, gold temporarily forgotten by the sight of rotted teeth. Tünder didn't notice however, in his joy to race back under his bridge. His home.
... and this is why you can never find the end of the rainbow, my child. Chase all you want, but that gold is gone, and when Tünder swung his mighty ax, he not only got to go home again, he forever prevented the Sky Queen from being able to steal from us on earth again... Rainbows no longer touch the earth, my child. And they never will again...
Previous Challenges I have answered:
- [Week 1: All of Me]
- [Week 2: Child's End]
- [Week 3: Seeking Bonds]
- [Week 4: Just So You Know]
- [Week 5: Justice & Mercy]
- [Week 6: Tale of a Fateful Flick]
- [Week 7: Hell or High Water]
- [Week 8: Streaming Summer]
- [Week 9: Piss & Vinegar]
- [Week 10: Set It Free]
- [Week 11: Four Horsemen, Three Gods, a Transgendered Devil, and Lazarus Under a Pear Tree...]
- [Week 12: Worth a Thousand Words...]
- [Week 13: On the Down...]
- [Week 14: Hey Mister, Can You Spare Some Love?]
- [Week 15: Forever Is...]
- [Week 16: Death of a Betsy...]
- [Week 17: Big Bad]
- [Week 18: Coffee: Hot, Black, & Strong]
- [Week 19: The Queen's Confession]
- [Week 20: The Witch of Picassoid]
- [Week 21: Me, Mouse-self and I...]
- [Week 22: "O, Great Genie..."]
- [Week 23: A Funeral for Sven]
- [Week 24: Priceless]
- [Week 25: Empty]
- [Week 26: Armageddon It]
- [Week 27: Good Night and Good-Bye...]