Rayeldu felt in his pockets and looked at the bottom of his shoe, wondering if he had unwittingly picked up a four-leaf-clover. That day, everything had gone absolutely right—which was a first in his life.
To begin with, someone had set a complete breakfast down at a table in front of a café and then left it—probably to go fetch a napkin from inside. That had been their mistake, and Rayeldu’s great fortune. For the first time in ages, he enjoyed a good—and filling—meal.
Then he had stopped by the pub to see if there were any good rumors, and along with hearing that there would be a fine coach passing through his territory, he managed to get some attention from the pretty girl behind the counter. He’d pressed her hand and winked at her before going out to wait for the carriage, and felt his chances with her were good.
Relieving the passengers of the carriage of their possessions had been childishly simple. The guards were few and unprepared, and the passengers obliging. It had consisted of a lord with a man about Rayeldu’s age and a girl just younger, all of whom were carrying plenty of money. The girl was also bejeweled—until Rayeldu relieved her of her baubles. The girl had given him a dark look from deep green eyes, but he noticed a flicker across her face before she handed him her gold purse. The flicker was almost a smile. Rayeldu wondered what had caused the smile—but he shrugged it off, assuming it was his good looks and the excitement of meeting a real bandit that had done it.
As soon as the carriage had driven off, the curses of the young man inside it audible for a good while, Rayeldu had taken to looking through his spoils—and it was what he found there that caused him to check to see if he had picked up a good luck charm.
He dumped the contents of the bag the girl had given him into his palm, and found it to be a pile of gold. This was enough to bring a grin to Rayeldu’s face—but it got better. When he set down the bag to more fully admire the gold, he heard it clink. Picking it up, he realized he had not emptied it, for there were still coins inside. He dumped these out. But still the bag was not empty.
He stared at it. Could it be possible?
He held the bag up-side-down, and coins poured out of it in a never-ending stream.
The bag was magic. The gold would not stop.
Rayeldu stared. Then he laughed. He grabbed a handful of gold and threw it in the air. Some of it bounced off him and rolled away—but what did he care? He would never run out of gold!
Thoughts of what he could do with the gold swirled around his head. He could buy a manor —no, a castle! He would have servants and maids and cooks. Easy street had appeared before his feet, and by gosh he was going to take it!
Gathering up the gold he had spilled out, Rayeldu started towards town.
Something froze him in his tracks.
The maiden had smiled.
She had passed over the bag of gold without a murmur--the magic bag that would never run dry, that would keep him in riches for the rest of his life—the bag which had most certainly blessed her life. Yet she had smiled.
Was the girl mad? That seemed the only explanation, and yet….
Rayeldu shook his head to get the girl out of his mind. Whatever her reason for smiling, it didn’t matter. He had what he wanted—what he had always wanted. That was all that mattered.
A week later, Rayeldu sat at the head of a long table within a fine manor —his manor—finishing off the divine lunch his cook had offered up. He leaned back in his chair and smiled contentedly, fingering the bag at his belt. All the gold he could ever want…. Whoever said that riches were a curse must not have had any.
Looking up, Rayeldu was startled to see someone sitting across from him. A thin, wiry man with short blond hair, a child-like face, and keen eyes.
“You seem to have done very well for yourself,” the man said, tenting his fingers and smiling—an eerie smile that made Rayeldu shiver.
“Who are you?”
“Why, I’m the man who owns that little bag of gold you’ve got there.” The man’s eyes glinted in the candlelight.
Rayeldu tightened his grip on the bag.
“It isn’t yours,” he said.
“It is,” the man corrected, “I lent it to a young lady friend of mine, and I was very distressed when I heard she lost it. How good of you to take care of it for me.”
Rayeldu reached for the bell to summon his guards.
“Don’t bother,” said the man at his table.
Ringing the bell, Rayeldu received no answer. Leaping to his feet, he raced out of the room. His guards lay asleep at the door. When Rayeldu raised his gaze from the men, he found the stranger standing right in front of him.
“Now, about my gold,” he said.
Swiftly, Rayeldu drew a sword from the belt of one of his fallen guards. The stranger laughed.
“Must we play this way?” he asked, his childish words and his childlike face contradicting his tone, which was dangerous.
“Get out of my house!” Rayeldu lunged towards the man, who vanished.
“Ah, but it isn’t your house.” The voice came from behind. Rayeldu whirled round, and there the stranger stood. “It’s mine.”
“It isn’t!” Rayeldu had never come closer in his life to stamping his foot. “It’s my house! The gold is mine! You can’t take it!”
“Oh, my dear man, I never intended to take it.”
“No, no. You may keep the gold. I am here to discuss my terms.”
“Well, yes. If I’m going to keep paying you—that is, if you are going to keep my bag of gold—then I must be compensated. There are things you must do for me.”
“Oh?” Rayeldu began to understand, and he didn’t like where this was going. It sounded too much like a job. Then again, what other job had unending wages? Cautiously, he asked: “What do you want me to do?”
The stranger who owned his gold laughed.
“Oh, I’m certain I shall think of something.”
Today's Novel Idea Prompted by: "Create your own fantasy world using any of the following elements: magic, elves, secret dungeon, a captured prince, and a self-replenishing bag of gold." Courtesy of Mrs. Powell's Fantasy Writing Prompts.