He sat on a tree stump, head in his hands, deep in thought.
It was in the wee hours of the morning that he had gotten the notification. It had not been a dream even though he had been wakened from a sound sleep.
It seemed like a vision, but more real than a vision could ever have been.
Now he sat alone in the darkness waiting for the one who would be delivered up into his hands for safekeeping.
He would be her protector, her guardian, her mentor. It would be an awesome undertaking for the power this girl weld was formidable. And it was something that he only had a glimpse of and she no clue.
Undoubtedly, he would need to enlist the help of his entire clan; the clan of leprechauns that he was the chosen leader.
He scratched his cinnimon colored beard in thought. He had not had time to call a meeting to inform everyone what was afoot; he would do that at first light when she had been delivered into his keeping.
If what he had been told was true, she had already been through hell – and it was just the beginning.
First, to have lost her parents, then her lover, to be thrust into the company of strangers who had all but killed her… He shook his scraggly head in disbelief.
Silently he promised her that he and his clan would care for her no matter what it took or how long it took her to be rid of this curse that had been place upon her.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of people cutting through the forest and coming towards him.
As the two ghostly figures gently carrying the form of their daughter came into view., he rose from his seat and went to greet them.
The girl’s hair was so long that it dragged the ground and picked up twiggs and bits of dried leaves as they had travel with her.
Carefully, they placed her on the soft green grass at Shannon’s feet. He was aghast at at the sight of her.
She was dressed in a lad’s clothing as trying to disguise herself, passing herself off as a boy.
It hadn’t worked.
They had discovered her plans to escape from them and had cut her down.
He gave his head a shake. Well, she was in his keeping now and he would let no more harm come to her.
The two spirits, sadness etched on their faces, said nothing, only nodded at her and stepped back to let him take her.
As they faded into nothingness, a sound came from behind Shannon heralded that Shannon had been joined by two more of his clan.
Their shocked expression caused him to explain the girl’s dire situation to which they immediately went to her aid.
Together, they stayed by her side until the sun’s first rays peeked through the boughs of the trees and she began to stir.
Panic set in as she discovered her situation. But with Shannon and his clan to calm her, she soon accepted her fate.
What else could she do? She gave herself up wholly to his instruction.
In the days that followed, Shannon was surprised and pleased to find that she had a gentle streak in her that remained in spite of what had befallen her.
To be sure, she had to nurture a more hardened outlook on life, but if she came across some woodland creature that was hurt, she immediately went to its aid.
Such was Samson, a monstrous horse whose leg had been caught and mangled in a trap.
Bringing Shannon to the creature’s aid, she followed his instruction and concocted a poultice to put upon the wound and tearing off a sleeve of her shirt to wrap around it. Then Shannon cast a sleeping spell over him to make him rest until the medicine had done its work.
The massive horse was so grateful that he would allow none save herself to approach him and mount him to ride.
It was on one such outing that they suddenly crashed through some bushes and came upon the bank of a river.
Samson stopped short catching Cassie unaware and toppling over his head and into the water.
She sputtered about, kicking and splashing trying to swim out of the river.
For whatever reason, perhaps the fact that she had such power, but was thrashing about so helplessly, struck Shannon as funny.
Hilarious , in fact.
“Can ye not swim,” he asked.
She only sputtered and tossed her head about.
“Well, now would be a good time to learn, girl.”
Realizing that she was not going to die by drowning, she calmed and began moving her arms and kicking her legs as Shannon told her to do, while he mimicked her from the bank of the river.
She was always quick to follow his lead, never questioning him, only obeying him perhaps a s a child of his own should do; a fact that endeared her to him all the more.