With my newfound free time I managed to do loads of things including writing a few short stories. Here is one that I would like to share with you :-)
" The Leperchaun and the Shoemaker "
a fairy tale (that could ring a bell for game addicts )
Once upon a time, a Leperchaun approached a Shoemaker and showed him a small wooden chest.
"Would you like to see what is inside?" the Leperchaun asked
"Well, why not?" answered the Shoemaker.
And the Leperchaun opened the chest and showed him the shiny beads, jewels and stones that it contained. They were beautiful, very bright, of all colors and shapes.
"Oh, these beads are very beautiful" said the Shoemaker
"Would you like to have them?"the Leperchaun continued "I will only ask a very small price for them."
"And what would that small price be? Because I must warn you that I am certainly not ready to spend too much for those beads, however beautiful they might be."
"A small price it is indeed ! Almost negligible, for I will ask you only for the Idle Moments of your life. Nothing more than those moments during which you have nothing better to do, or are bored."
"This does indeed seem a small price", the Shoemaker replied, but, feeling suspicious, he added, "There aren't any strings attached, though? And this isn't permanent, is it?"
"Oh my", the Leperchaun answered with a broad, friendly and warm laughter, "there are far too many nasty legends spread about myself ! You shouldn't believe any of them, for I am only an honest and straightforward business man ! So I would never impose you anything that you do not chose of your own free will!"
"So this is the deal, right ? I get the beads, only in exchange for the Idle Moments of my life, and I can give you the beads back whenever I wish and get back the Idle Moments of my life ?"
"We certainly have a deal, my good friend" the Leperchaun confirmed and gave him the box of Shiny Artefacts.
So the Shoemaker gave up the Idle Moments of his life to the Leperchaun, and got the Shiny Rocks in exchange. He was very happy about the deal, for indeed he could not recall making anything really meaningful from the Idle Moments of his life, and was glad that he could at least obtain beautiful beads in exchange for them. He was very proud of those beads, and enjoyed examining them and counting them.
After a while the Leperchaun returned to see the Shoemaker, saluted him in the most friendly way, apologized for bothering him again and asked him whether he would like to see more beads of the same kind.
"Why, of course !" the Shoemaker replied, for he had in fact grown very much infatuated with the beads he owned.
And the Leperchaun showed him new shiny stones, which were even more beautiful than the ones the Shoemaker already owned.
"If you would like to have them, I could gladly give them to you, against a most insignificant price, for I will merely ask from you the Unimportant Moments of your life."
The Shoemaker pondered for an instant, for he was very eager to own those new beads which were shinier than the first ones. And in examining the Unimportant Moments of his life, he did realize that they were spent on many things that, while appreciable, could be done without. Shopping for minor stuff, meeting with some people he barely knew, spending extra time at his shop were some of the Unimportant Moments of his life that came to his mind and after all, yes, he could definitely do without these, as it would not affect his life too much. So he gladly took the Leperchaun's offer.
And so he gave up the Unimportant Moments of his life to the Leperchaun and enjoyed owning all those bright colors and shapes, with a lot of pride and excitement.
After some days had passed, the Leperchaun returned to see the Shoemaker and asked him whether he would like to meet other people who, like him, enjoyed owning and counting the Shiny Artefacts which the Leperchaun offered.
"Oh I would definitely like to meet these people !" the Shoemaker exclaimed, "for I am sure that I have a lot in common with them if they are, like myself, fond of the shiny beads. These fine people would most certainly become true and dear friends and we would care for each other as long as we live."
So the Leperchaun took the Shoemaker with him and brought him into a large room were many other men and women were assembled, all wearing shiny jewels and rocks of all colors and shapes, and all talking eagerly about these very rocks in a vivid and passionate manner. The Shoemaker, though, was in shock, for he realized that some of these people had rocks and stones far more shiny than the ones he had. In fact, his own Artefacts seemed almost dull and pale in comparison with these other ornaments.
So the Shoemaker turned to the Leperchaun with anger and snapped "Why is it that these stupid people, whom I hate already, have better beads than the ones I own ?"
The Leperchaun took a glance at the Shoemaker and answered : "Why is it, you ask ? Why ? Why, my good friend, I am most disappointed at you for your selfishness and lack of ambition ! For I must say that I have already given you a lot, and you on the contrary have shown very little generosity in what you are giving me in return ! These people here are very serious about earning shiny ornaments, and have made great sacrifices for them. How on earth could you think you deserve as much as them when you are only willing to give up so little ?"
Upon hearing these words, the Shoemaker felt ashamed about himself and realized how ungrateful he was to the Leperchaun, as well as not committed enough to owning precious shiny stones. He apologized to the Leperchaun and asked him what he could give up in order to get these more fanciful ornaments.
"Oh, barely anything, my very good friend, for I am of a giving and generous nature. I will only ask of you for your Peace of Sleep, in exchange for all these bright and beautiful ornaments."
The Shoemaker did not take long to answer, and gave up his Peace of Sleep. And so he lost those sweet moment of abandonment after a day's work, he lost the joy of waking up to a new morning, the warmth of napping in the sun on a beautiful August afternoon, he lost the clarity and resolve that come after a well deserved night of sleep. He would collapse to the ground sometimes, but the meagre hours he spent unconscious were populated by horrible nightmares inspired by the Leperchaun. Yet he was content that he had abandoned his Peace of Sleep, for he received many more colourful stones in exchange.
Soon the Shoemaker asked the Leperchaun to return, because he still felt he didn't have enough stones to keep and admire and roll between his fingers in awe. And the Leperchaun asked him, this time, for his Skill and Craft as an Artisan, in exchange for more fanciful stones.
The Shoemaker hesitated, because he loved his profession of shoemaker. But then he told himself :
After all, I have toiled in the past only for other people's benefits. I have worked many hours to assemble solid and warm shoes, but they were merely for the comfort of someone else's feet. I will not be the one who's feet are wet if the shoes I make from now on have small holes in them, nor if they do not last as many months as the ones I used to make. I am really a fool for being so keen on being a good artisan, when instead I could be receiving many beads whose shape and colours are very different from the ones I already have !"
And so the Shoemaker accepted the Leperchaun's offer, and renounced his Skill and Craft as an Artisan. From that day, he was not able to craft shoes as strong and reliable as he used to, nor able to work as fast nor as much as he used to. His customers were unhappy about this, but the Shoemaker did not care as long as he could spend time admiring his large collection of beads, which now occupied almost the entirety of his attic.
Still he felt he didn't have enough beads for his satisfaction, and begged the Leperchaun to give him more. The Leperchaun answered that he might be able to provide the desired stones, but that in exchange the Shoemaker would have to give up the Strength and Lifeliness of his body received at birth. "But do not worry" the Leperchaun added, "you will still keep just enough strength and movement that you will be able to enjoy the sight and touch of all the jewels I have lavished upon you, and which truly make you one of the biggest owners of colourful artefacts in the world." Upon hearing these last words and learning that he was already one of the biggest owners of colourful artefacts in the world, the Shoemaker felt an extreme pride, and readily took the Leperchaun's offer.
After losing the Strength and Lifeliness of his body, the Shoemaker found out that his legs and breath, almost like that of an old man, could not carry him as far as they used to. But he was still able to walk to his attic and watch his stones, as the Leperchaun had stated. He also noticed that his eyes were not as piercing as they had been, although they could still see all the bright colours of the stones, as promised by the Leperchaun. As for his hands, his back and his neck, they were plagued by pain and discomfort because he no longer had the Strenght and Lifeliness of his body, but the Shoemaker did not care about it as long as he could lie in the middle of his stack of beads and feel the pride of owning so many of them.
During one of the afternoons that the Shoemaker was spending in the dark room where he kept his beads, his wife entered.
"Come in my sweetheart," the Shoemaker said in an excited voice, "take a seat for I would like to show you the latest Jewels I have acquired and tell you a few facts which will surprise you about how rare they are, for indeed very few people in the world besides myself have ever laid their eyes on them."
"My love", she replied, "I really do not want to talk about those rocks. In fact, I would very much like to go out with you in the sun and take a long walk in the beautiful landscape, you and me holding hands like we used to do in the past."
"Oh, well certainly, but there are a few things that I need to finish here before we take this walk. So maybe you should wait for me downstairs while I do these things, and we will shortly take our walk as soon as I am done."
"My love," she continued as tears came to her eyes, "I need to tell you that I am worried about you, and miss the husband I used to have. For you spend all your time locked in this room with a collection of horrible stones that all look alike. You look weak and tired, and are no longer even able to build a decent pair of shoes. I love you, my sweet husband, please allow me to help you, together we can overcome the horrible power that this wicked Leperchaun holds over you."
"I will have no more of this nonsense" the Shoemaker interrupted, "which only shows how ignorant you are. As for my friend, you must have some strange imagination to believe that he is a Leperchaun, for indeed only a credulous, superstitious and dim-witted woman would believe that there exist such things as Leperchauns. Much less does he hold any power over me. In fact, he is a friend only by my own choosing and we only spend time together when it is my desire to do so. And I must add that the reason I choose to spend time with my very good friend is that he is an entertaining and interesting person, certainly much more so than my boring wife."
Upon hearing these cruel words, the Shoemaker's wife long withheld tears finally burst out and she left the room. When he saw this, something in the Shoemaker's heart was torn and he wanted to run after her and tell her he was sorry. At this precise moment, the Leprechaun magically appeared right next to the Shoemaker.
"Well well, dear friend" he said to the Shoemaker with a grin, "how is our collection of Precious Stones faring this morning?"
"Oh", the Shoemaker said wearily, "in fact I was a little troubled by..."
"Hush hush, I know something that might cheer you up", and with that he opened a box full of bigger and better Precious Stones, so bright that the Shoemaker's eyes widened in awe and amazement when he saw them.
"Ha, I can see you like them ! I must tell you that, in a minute, these astonishing and amazingly rare stones could be yours. And in fact, not only would they cost you next to nothing, but by taking from you the small price I have in mind for these wonders that are in front of your eyes, I would actually be doing you the favour of freeing you from a most cumbersome burden."
"How is that ?" the Shoemaker asked
"My dear friend, you will surely have noticed by now how demanding it can be to care for a Loved one. And your wife is asking you to give her some attention every day, isn't she ?"
"Indeed," the Shoemaker approved, "my wife wants to spend some time with me every day, to talk with me every day even when I have very important things to do like rearranging my vast collection of precious stones, and she is never short of projects that we might do together !"
"Well," the Leperchaun added, "and I will prove thereby once again how good a friend I am, I offer you all these stones. And the only thing that you will have to give up in exchange is the Love and Attention and Care of your wife. So it seems indeed that I am both making you a present and relieving you of something that is in reality a huge weight on your shoulders."
The Shoemakers' heart screamed and bumped upon hearing this, and tried to get the Shoemaker back to reason, and back to the love of the woman who loved him so much. Yet the Shoemaker found out that, if he decided to concentrate on the Magical Stones of the Leperchaun long enough, he could manage to almost completely silence the voice and pleading of his heart, and after staring at the stones for a while his heart's protest was hushed to a mere whisper and he accepted the Leperchaun's offer.
And so the Shoemaker at once lost the Love and Attention and Care of his wife. After this, he spent the entire day in his attic, collecting and arranging the Precious Stones of the Leperchaun.
And he spent the next day in there as well.
And then the days turned into weeks.
And the weeks turned into months.
And the months became a year.
And soon many years had passed in that fashion.
During all these years the Shoemaker had no moment of distraction or pleasure or surprise, for he had given up the Idle Moments of his Life and the Unimportant Moments of his Life to the Leperchaun. Neither did he enjoy the happiness of slumber at any time during these years, for his Peace of Sleep was no longer his but belonged to the Leperchaun. He did not spend much time working either, be it during the cold winter or during the warm summer, because the amazing Craft and Skill as an Artisan he once cherished had become the Leperchaun's possession. However he did suffer from pain and the misery of being crippled, for he had given up the Strength and Liveliness of his Body. And most of all, during all these years he was alone, for he had allowed the Leperchaun to deprive him of the Love and Attention and Care of the women he had chosen as his wife.
But he never lacked precious stones or jewels or beads or any shiny artefact that one could imagine, and they were his world during all these days.
When all these many years had passed, one day the Leprechaun returned and told the Shoemaker :
"Well Shoemaker, I believe we both know how this must end, and indeed I am here to finally claim your Soul."
Upon hearing these words, the Shoemaker was struck with the horror of all that had happened. And when he looked at all the stones in his attic, he realized that they were not very different from the numerous rocks and stones that were found along any dirt road, and he wished desperately that he could do something to repair the wrongs he had brought onto himself and others, in the vain pursuit of utterly worthless objects.
At this moment the Shoemaker's Good Fairy answered his call and appeared next to him.
"Oh Shoemaker, "the Good Fairy said, "how could you allow yourself to fall in the trap of the Evil Leperchaun ? But all is well now, you called me and I am here to help you."
"Oh, Good Fairy how I wish I had not been so stupid as to fall for the sweet words and shiny stones of the Evil Leperchaun ! But is it possible for me to get back everything I gave to the Leperchaun ?"
"Alas, nothing that has been done can be undone, Shoemaker," the Good Fairy shook her head with a sad gaze, "but there is hope, and amends can be made, and by choosing another path you may do your best to recover all that can be recovered." "Take my hand and allow me to help you," she added, "have trust in my powers and I will give you the strength to fight the Leperchaun and reclaim what once was yours."
The Shoemaker's heart was filled with joy that his Good Fairy could help him, and he was about to take hold of the hand that she was reaching out to him.
And then the most surprising thought crossed his mind.
Indeed, he told himself after all, couldn't he keep some of the precious stones of the Leperchaun ? or maybe wait a little longer ? maybe he could ask the Good Fairy to come back the next day or the next week ?
"Oh how absurd this is ! I must find the courage to leave the evil Leperchaun forever behind me" he told himself, but still could not bring himself to move towards the Good Fairy.
And so he fell to the ground, crying, and took his head in his hands, not knowing whether he would decide to accept the Good Fairy's help or stay with the Leperchaun...
What was he going to decide ?
Well this point, fellow reader, is where our story has to end, because the storyteller has no way to know what the Shoemaker will finally decide. Will he chose the path of Light or the path of Darkness ? Will he remain forever the slave of the Leperchaun ? No storyteller can know this, and indeed it is now entirely up to the reader to decide how this story will end.