This story was written in answer to The Word of the Day Challenge. The word I had to use was ‘Jester’
Jester means: A professional joker or ‘fool’ at a medieval court, typically wearing a cap with bells on it and carrying a mock sceptre.
Here’s what I came up with …
Fenella had grown into a tomboyish teen beside the ancient highland loch. She’d learned at school beneath the sandstone spire of the village church. Her life one big adventure amid the pastel cottages, rolling green hills, evergreen forests and majestic glens. She’d hiked and climbed all around the loch but preferred the silvery waters of the lake itself. Every day, despite the cool temperatures, she’d go for a swim, or take to her little rowboat for an hour or two.
Never though, had she been to the mysterious island at the centre of the lake.
‘Never set foot upon the shores of that island – it’s cursed! The angel on our church tower was erected as a ward to keep the evils there at bay.” Her father, mother and grandfather would tell her every time she asked about it.
“I have to know,” she said one misty morning. Dressed in her blue striped T-shirt, denim dungarees and wellington boots, Fenella went to the little dock. With her wild ginger tresses bound with a shoelace, she loaded lunch and her trustee survival kit into her boat and cast off. She’d had her little white dingy Baby Swan since she was six. Now, at seventeen she was a strong helmswoman and still adored her vessel. With an oar in each hand, she drew herself over the near ripple-less surface of the loch.
“I’ll row around the far side, that way no one will see where I went,” she said with the cool breeze in her hair, whilst pulling hard at her oars.
The island had a rocky shore just waiting to shred the bottom of the Baby Swan. Undeterred, Fenella scan the island and picked a route in. With delicate manoeuvres, she deftly rowed into a little sandy cove. Smiling in victory. she pulled the boat high to avoid becoming marooned.
“Okay, little island. What mysteries do ye hold?” she said with her hands-on-hips and an intrepid smile on her freckled face.
The island was shaped like a large half-submerged turtle with war wounds. It was mostly grass meadows with scrubby bushes and heather patches. A crevice ran across it and few stands of tree occupied one side.
It was the craggy crevice which drew the eye. A tiny cave entrance was visible there. Fenella took a torch from her kit and jogged over to it; her heart racing with trepidation. Reaching the cave, she dropped to her knees to look inside.
“If Father could see me now, I’d be a dead lass walking,” she breathed.
“You may be dead before he gets the chance to kill you. Didn’t they warn you its dangerous to venture here – more so in there.”
Fenella shrieked and backed out of the cave. She glanced about but nothing seemed to be there. “Who a-are ye? W-where are ye?” she asked.
“I am called Fayn. I’m a Loireag. You’ll only see me if you believe in me.” The voice was crystalline but in a deep masculine way.
“A water fairy! There’s no such thing!” Fenella still glancing about her, scoffed the idea even though she knew of them from local folklore and fantasy.
A purple thistle flower appeared hovering in the air.
Fenella smiled and applauded. “That’s very clever-Ahh!”
Water shot from the bloom soaking her face.
“Hey! That wasn’t fairy-like at all. You’re supposed to be sweet, kind and caring. That was just rude!”
A deep rumbling laugh erupted right in her ear.
Fenella flinched and look, now she could see the little man. Two inches high and wearing a suit of yellow water-lily petals.
“Now you see me – Now you don’t” Fayn vanished. Reappearing on her other side, he sprayed her again.
“Huh, so you’re the fairy version of a magical clown, are ye?” Fenella scowled. “I don’t think you’re very funny!”
“My apologies. I was the Jester for the fairy king’s palace – you know. Hard to break such habits.” Fayn bowed and began juggling snail shells he conjured from the air.
Fenella grinned and applauded. “Very good! So, what’s in there?”
“Ooh, don’t go in there! The Brollican lurks in the darkness. You’re fortunate for she only ventures out at night.”
“The Brollican – the Gaelic Boggart leaves in there?” Fenella knew it to be shapeless unless it became that which scared a human most.
“The very same,” Fayn said in a mystical voice. “The rotten shite-hawk stole all my gold in a game of poker – I’ll have you know.”
Fenella chuckled. “Oh, you’re not scared of her then?”
The Loireag drew himself to his full inch and a bit in height. “I Fayn, am scared of nothing!” he proclaimed.
A screech filled the air – Fayn screamed and vanished.
Fenella rolled onto her back in a fit of giggles. She reached into the top of her dungarees and hauled Fayn out. “That was a seagull!”
“Oh -phew, that’s a relief!” Fayn wiped his brow.
“FAYN! Why are you on my island!” A feminine voice erupted from the cave, deep enough to cause small amounts of earth to cascade to the ground.
“Hahmm.” Fayn sucked in a nervous breath. “W-why Nessa, dear. I hoped you might consider allowing me to be your private Jester. You know allow me to earn back some of my gold.”
“Huh, why would I do that?”
Fenella heard a sniffing noise.
“Did you bring a human with you?” asked the voice.
“Err, no — This ginger biscuit brought herself here,” Fayn replied.
“Ginger biscuit! You’re a meanie for a jester.” Fenella glowered at him.
“I meant you’re sweet and lovely – you know?”
“Snivelling git, isn’t he, girl?” said the voice as a black shadow wafted into view. “You’ll make me laugh every day for ten years; if you want your money back.”
Fayn looked like he’d been shot. “I er … Well. Maybe – I. Um. O—”
“Don’t accept, Fayn,” Fenella said eyeing the mist with suspicion.
“This is none of your business, human girl.” The Brollican mutated into a great cobra and hissed at her.
Fenella stuck her tongue out at it. “Huh, I like snakes. Ye stole Fayn’s money by cheating. Ye don’t get to order him about so he can retrieve it. Give it back!”
The mist became a monstrous hairy spider.
“Ooh, creepy – Not!” Fenella folded her arms.
“There was a little girl who was as strong as could be. Nothing scared her; not a snake, spider or flea. With a shout and a retort, she frightened the demon with a glare. Then was the rotten Brollican who ran away with fear!” Fayn rhymed while dancing about the heather.
Fenella giggled at him and then focused on the spider. “Well? Give him his gold back!”
The spider changed into a small haggard woman wearing a tattered black dress. “Okay, but I’m going to cook you for my tea!”
“Yuck! Look, just because I said she was a ginger nut, doesn’t mean she tastes like one.” Fayn landed in Fenella’s lap and pinched her arms.
“Ouch!” she cried.
“See, there’s no fat on her, only wiry sinew. She’ll be worse than chewy old kelp.”
“Hey! I’m not going on anyone’s menu.” Fenella shook Fayn off as he continued to pinch and prod her to prove his point. “Brollican, you will return his gold or I’ll bring father’s spade and fill in your cave. Got that?”
“Well you are a feisty little sapling, aren’t you?” the Brollican revealed a little sack in her hand and tossed it Fayn. “You win, Jester. Now be gone before I change my mind. “Same goes for you. Get off my island or it will be in the cooking pot for you.”
Fenella made to speak again but the Brollican returned to her misty form and vanished into her cave.
“Why, thank you, dear Fenella.” Fayn beamed and jiggled his gold in the sack as they walked down to her boat.
“You’re welcome, I don’t like scoondrels of any sort,” she replied having stepped inside.
“Before you go – do you know how to find Leprechaun gold?”
“At the end of a rainbow?” Fenella guessed.
“Nope – You follow him on Twitter!” Fayn burst into laughter – transformed into a trout and vanished into the water.
Fenella chuckled most of the way home. Now you and she know the secrets of the Mysterious Island.
Thanks for reading this and my other short stories, my friends. As always there are more stories to be enjoyed (I hope) in the Short Stories tab.
Have a great day!