Back at the beginnings of European history, before the great druids of old, back when Stonehenge and the other circles were being erected the power and civilizations of the dwarves were coming to an end. The civilizations of man were spreading and cultivating the wildernesses of Europe. Farms and villages were being carved out of the great forests that blanketed the continent and its surrounding islands. Eighteen hundred years before Christ walked the earth there lived a dwarf named Leapekin in what is now called Ireland. This is his story.
By the time this story began Leapekin was already getting past his prime at one hundred and thirty years, and he was one of the few remaining people of his race to live on the emerald island. Through the years of his early life, he was able to accumulate an enormous stash of wealth by using his magic and knowledge to help those around him, but Leapekin was a bitter dwarf. He was angry because he and his kin had always been master workers of stone and earth but they have been replaced by the stone workers of the bigfolks. The men have even begun to erect the great stone rings without the help of his people. Their engineering machines have replaced the magic used by the dwarves in such endeavors, and he was bitter because of the waning of his race.
Ever since the catastrophe of Kharmazuk (the great earth shake that destroyed most of the dwarven cities and unleashed the deadly disease upon them) his people continued to dwindle until there were few left. Over the past several years he had become poor, lonely and had only a bleak future before him. His bitterness ate at him while his means slowly but steadily became more meager.
One night while he sat in his underground chambers contemplating what was to become of him, he looked around at his remaining personal treasures. There were still a few pieces of richly carved furnishings, big gold buttons on several garments that hung neatly on the wall and a few choice jewels in a case on his mantle. As he sat gloomily in his worn chair he thought about selling his great war axe.
"With its gold and jewel encrusted handle the thing should fetch at least a few good coins," he muttered. Then suddenly standing up, he shook his head no shouting, "I will not sell it!" and sat violently back into his chair.
He was determined to hang onto what he had left, and absentmindedly stroked his long straggly beard as was his habit whenever he was deep in thought. Leapekin sat for hours first thinking of one scheme then another. He just had to find a way to save what was left of his belongings, and the more he thought the more bitter he became, and the more bitter he became the more he hated the bigfolks who'd usurped use usefulness.
The dwarf was still anguishing over his life and current dilemma when he finally got up and readied himself for bed, and just as he was beginning to drift off to sleep a thought came to him. Even in his tired state, he was wise enough to know it was best to sleep on it and explore the feasibility of the idea in the morning.
Early the next day, Leapekin thought over the possibilities as he ate his tiny breakfast comprising of a hard biscuit and a thin slice of cheese. The more he thought about his plan, the more he liked what he was thinking. In fact, he became quite pleased with himself, and was even uncharacteristically cheerful when he finally left his home to try out his new scheme.
Once he'd made his way to the settlement of the bigfolks, he simply walked around as inconspicuously as he could while keeping his ears open for an opportunity to present itself. He looked curiously around at the small mud covered cloth and stick huts of the inhabitants and wondered. Like others of his race, he could never understand why the bigfolks insisted on living above ground where they were vulnerable to predators and bad weather.
Leapekin had been walking about for nearly an hour before he came upon his first opportunity. Two peasants were discussing the pending sale of a cow later that afternoon, and the dwarf knew this was his chance. Pretending to look at some plants along the path, he managed to get close enough to overhear the conversation until he learned who was selling the cow. Armed with this information, he scurried along to the tiny farm mentioned, and once there he sidled along the hut until he was in a place where he could hear well but not be easily seen. The later was simple since he used his magic to help keep from being noticed.
It wasn't long before he heard a conversation between the farmer and his wife concerning the pending purchase. After hearing what he needed to learn, he quickly made his way back into the settlement to find the man who wanted to buy the cow.
"For a small fee, I will tell you the true worth of the animal and what the farmer is willing to let it go for," he told him.
"How much?" asked the peasant suspiciously.
"Fifty percent of the difference between your offer and what the farmer would take."
The man couldn't believe his luck and paid the small fee Leapekin demanded, and so began his career of spying, deceit and mischief.
Over the next fifty years, Leapekin acquired quite a bit of wealth. He was always willing to perform some mischief, spy or pit one man against another ... all for a price of course. His greed for more gold quickly became an obsession, and he no longer cared for his own comfortable home and its furnishings, and when his welcome had finally worn out he simply moved to another place where he would begin again.
During this time in his life he'd lived in the hollow of a great tree, a cave, an abandoned hut, anywhere that afforded him shelter for a time. Besides the gold, he got a tremendous amount of satisfaction bringing misery upon the bigfolks in his work, and in a way was pretty much happy himself. He used his magic to avoid discovery and things worked out for him quite nicely.
As the years went by, Leapekin took to wearing dark green clothing so he could quickly blend into the forest if chased. Rarely was he discovered in his work, though he did have a few close calls over the years. A quick illusion for a momentary distraction was usually all it took to make his escape. By the time a pursuer turned their attention back to him he was gone. He was also surprisingly fast. Even with his short legs, he could outrun even the fastest of the bigfolks.
All in all, the dwarf did quite well for a very long time. He did his dirty work for the rich as well as the poor, the powerful and the unknown. Anyone willing to give him at least one gold coin for his terrible service. He was never very popular of course but he didn't care. He had his gold and was exacting his own kind of revenge on the bigfolks while getting it.
Nothing lasts forever however, and Leapekin and his lifestyle were no different. One day in late August he did get caught. He was being paid by a local king to spread suspicion and discontent between a few of the noblemen living nearest his castle. This was his favorite type of work. It generally paid the best and wrought the most misery upon those involved. A repeated comment spoken in what was thought private, a well placed rumor and such was usually what it took to accomplish the deed.
Perhaps he was caught because his illusion wasn't as strong as it once was or maybe he simply didn't move as fast as he used to. Whatever the reason, the inevitable happened. The man who'd caught him spotted the dwarf just as he was about to dart away. The nobleman had finished negotiating with an important friend, and as he turned he saw Leapekin's shadow, and though it wavered weakly against the stone wall next to them he was able to surmise the dwarf's location, and in the time it takes to blink one's eye the man grabbed him.
The nobleman would have only been too happy to throttle the small dwarf then and there, but Leapekin begged for his life and offered the man a large sum of gold for sparing him. Daring not to let him go, the nobleman and his friend tied a short rope around the dwarf, and tightly held onto it as Leapekin led them away from the castle and through the woods until they came to the dwarf's hiding place. Only after he'd grudgingly given the men the promised gold did they let him go. Of course, with his hiding place compromised, Leapekin was forced to move once more.
It didn't take him too many months to replace the gold he'd lost, but the incident left him even more bitter than when he'd started, and he began pulling his mean tricks whenever he had an opportunity. It didn't even matter whether he was being paid for it or not.
A few years later he was caught once more, and later that same year he was captured yet again. As he began to get caught more often, his horded treasure also began to slowly dwindle. By then, it was rapidly becoming more difficult for him to replace it, and by the time he'd worked his way across the emerald island to its southern most tip, there was no place that had not heard of him. He had grown quite old by then, the last of his precious gold was gone, and he could no longer work his magic nor could his aged legs carry him very fast.
Penniless, old and bitter, he finally disappeared into the forest never to be seen or heard from again. What he did however, would live on down through the ages even to our present day, and though the centuries have distorted his name just about everyone has heard the story. The story of, “if one were lucky enough to ever catch the leprechaun he would have to give you his pot of gold!”