"If knowledge is power, why is the government running the show?"

nce upon a time, a leprechaun named Mendaal tired of having to move his pot of gold all over creation every time the weather changed. Add to that having to guard it from the greedy humans. Whatever god it was that let them equate a simple spring rain with the lottery at his expense surely was low on his list of favorites.

ften they claimed he was a greedy man, but funny how they would have taken it all had he not guarded it from them. Not to mention that Fort Knox wouldn't exist for hundreds of years. Imagine a single human getting his paws on the lot of it. That would upset the economy something fierce. He was protecting them from themselves as much as the gold. For sure, it was quite a burden to place on one man's shoulders.

f course, they kept undoing the laces on his shoes, too, and that irritated him until he realized that by the time they were finished laughing at their little victory, they forgot that the little man who had just vanished had only to be captured to get the gold. Hiding their shoes in retaliation only bought him even more of a head start. How he loved those forays into town at all hours. Rather daft, those humans.

h my, I seem to be going on. I'll get back to the story. Our little hero found that hiding the gold got harder every year. He gathered more gold, his pot had to be replaced by a larger one, and his burden became too heavy to keep carting all over the island. A sound plan of action was called for.

ff into the woods he wandered in search of a few hearty souls to aid him in his adventure. Among the thieves, the murderers, the unwanted and the merely insane, he slowly gathered a small army. Promises of gold surely helped. The dishonest, the desperate and the dim witted will be led by greed even faster than the greedy humans in town. Now to train his army.

n the road to Dabishum, an errant knight named Hargot rode with unbroken lance and a dejected look which announced the obvious: he had lost at the tournament. Equally obvious that he was either heartbroken over the loss of a lady as well as the games, or that he was now an unwanted former Champion who had embarrassed his master by losing three down to an unknown and unheralded former squire riding in place of his master injured sliding in horse manure into the stable door. Hey, stranger things have happened.

ur hero had little trouble finding out that the latter was not far from the truth, and cultivating his assistance was surely easier than lugging his gold about. In return for gold, he agreed to train and lead the vagabond army. Of course, restoring his honor (not to mention avenging his loss of favor and exilation) weighed heavily in his deciding to sign on. His armor was stripped clean by an armorer turned highwayman, and the royal seal was replaced by a rainbow and pot of gold.

h, spirits preserve me if this should fail, our hero muttered. He had to count on his would be commander to knock these lads into shape while he snuck off with his gold on occasion. And of course, the attack would have to coincide with both timed events and the unlikelihood of a rainbow allowing his return on the same day.

n the appointed day, the tournament had ended, and the town was understandably unable to understand the significance of five score men marching on their town. Maybe the half spoiled meat that was used at the banquet, combined with the generous flow of ale had something to do with that. Taking the town with no more bloodshed than Hargot getting a splinter tipping one of the tables (it seems wood has a way of splintering merely at the sight of him), our hero was installed as the new Lord of the Shire, and the fallen Paladin was installed as the Captain of the Guard. His "army" was of course all around pleased to have received their gold in payment.

ver the next several months, housing starts boomed, local merchants saw their sales soar, and in all quarters, an economic boom sprung from the generosity of our hero in the tossing all of his gold to his army. Without even taxing the crops, he regained all of his gold quickly. At first, silver was issued as the standard currency (replacing the gold), and then the leprechaun issued paper notes that were backed by the metals.

ddly enough, these humans value having the things gold could buy as much as they valued the gold itself. Very shortsighted to be sure, but their not chafing about where the gold went made matters easier to manage. His shire now had the wealth of substance as well as the substance of wealth, and it suited everybody just fine. Beats being a serf an day.

h, I forgot about the carting and moving the gold bit. Well, the armorer was immediately pardoned, and had returned to his old trade. First, however, he was commissioned to duplicate the crest from the armor belonging to the Captain of the Guard. This started from the spires of the castle, down the turrets, around the apartments to the drawbridge. It could be considered unfortunate that the bottom of the design vanished every time the drawbridge was lowered. It could, except that when a rainbow vanishes, the gold is no longer there for would be brigoons to find.

ur problem is still unsolved, you say? Oh, the gold has to be moved every time the gate opens, is it? If a cloth is placed over a spoon, does the spoon vanish merely because it now lays out of sight? Well, then, pipe down and hear the whole story. Learning how to rustproof iron pots over the years served our hero well. He had the bottom of the castle sealed with a special paint. Gold never rusts, corrodes or changes. The moat was drained under the guise of sealing the bottom of the castle. The gold left with the rainbow that never really left.

ne last thing. Our hero married a fair damsel, and had many charming children with whom he could be proud to have left his posterity. The sight of them singing the anthem, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" brought a tear of joy every time he heard it. Almost dear enough a sound to make a man forget it was written by the village drunk, who soiled himself on a regular basis and kept muttering something about a place called Kansas.

f course, humans are greedy, his wife included. A prenuptual was signed, and it stated therein that all of the gold could be spent upon one condition: it had to be found. He retired to his shire in peaceful happiness, and even learned to like the sight of rainbows.

f course, Mendaal didn't have telemarketers to contend with, so happiness was much easier and more simple in those days, but that's another story all together...

Wait! Coming soon to a newsstand with absolutely no shame near you! Our Next installment: A Connecticut telemarketer in King Arthur's court!

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