The intoxicating aroma of buffalo wings and crab legs filled the nostrils of a dangerous and cunning little trickster. Who knew the unlikely combination is nearly impossible for a trickster to resist? After all, why would anyone want to attract one of those arrogant half elf/half witch breeds? Their vile presence is enough to make the strongest stomachs sick with nausea. Nevertheless, the aroma filled the air and within minutes of first nostril contact the trickster was on the scene.
Like a ghost he appeared out of thin air. His red corduroy jacket appeared first, followed by the rest of his greenish grey skin as he found himself outside an open kitchen window. A quick survey showed nobody around except a young girl. Trickster squealed with excitement,
“What a fine trophy she will make!”
With a wave of his hand and twitching of his bony fingers a box, framed in gold and silver, appeared. On the outside was an inscription that read “to Lie is to Live.” The gold hinges sparkled in the sun’s light as he opened the box. Lying inside, on top of fine silk, were tiny statues; 99 in total. 99 games played, 99 opponents and 99 souls turned to stone figurines; this girl was to be next.
“How fitting” the trickster said, rubbing his greedy hands together in delight. “A meal for a trickster king in celebration of my 100th victory, what a fine day this is” he grinned while brushing his fingers gently across the box.
Seeing no reason to delay the frightening introductions, the trickster disappeared and reappeared at the kitchen table.
Harley’s brown hair nearly touched her lower back as she balanced on her tippy toes reaching for a cup hiding in the back of the cupboard. Although it was a beautiful weekend day she wasn’t feeling like her perky self; in fact she hadn’t felt like herself all month.
“Almost got it” Harley encouraged herself as the tip of her finger breached the rim of the cup.
“Total vulnerability” the trickster thought as he loudly cleared his throat.
“Ahem. Might the young lady be interested in a friendly game?”
Harley screamed. Her heart raced inside her chest as she swung around and pressed herself close to the wall; just the reaction the trickster was hoping for. It only took a second for deathly fear to give way to curious confusion as she laid eyes on the creepiest little creature she’d ever seen. Was it an elf kicked out of the North Pole for being so ugly? Maybe it was a leprechaun, but there was no rainbow and certainly no pot of gold. Whatever it was, it was eating all the buffalo wings and crab legs!
“Hey get your own meal!” Harley cried, but it was too late. Plates that were piled high with delicious buffalo wings smothered in barbecue sauce, and crab legs paired with a garlic butter dip were as clean as the second they came out of the dishwasher.
“My dear please allow me to introduce myself,” the trickster elegantly began while picking at his jagged teeth with a crab claw.
“I am but a poor trickster in need of some company. You see I love to play games but everyone knows that in order to enjoy a proper game two players are needed. So if you would just entertain me for a bit I promise I will be on my magical little way as soon as we are finished.”
“No, of course not, get out!” shouted the girl but the trickster did not budge. “Leave!” she shouted on last time as she nearly kicked the chair he was sitting on out the open kitchen window; but the trickster simply disappeared then reappeared in another chair.
“Now what kind of lady attacks her guest with no warning at all? I am starting to feel as if I am not wanted here, but that cannot surely be the case for I am magnificent, yes?”
“Oh it surely is the case” Harley confirmed. “I don’t know who or what you are but you are ugly and unnatural and you need to leave now!” Harley never had a problem telling things how they were, and she wasn’t holding back today, not after watching her tasty meal devoured before her eyes.
“Sticks and stones, my feisty friend, sticks and stones” the trickster teased. “In case you haven’t noticed yet getting rid of magical me isn’t an easy thing to do, or is it?”
“Dude, what’s with ending every sentence with a question? Who does that?” The frustration in her voice was like music to his ears. A little anger and frustration in the opponent always made the game more fun.
“It’s your fault I’m here, luring me with a meal no trickster can resist, so now it is your duty to play a game with me” the trickster huffed. “The game is very simple. No board, cards or dice are needed, just this crystal. You see you do not know me and I do not know you so we must ask each other questions in order to become acquainted” the trickster explained as he set the little white crystal on the table.
“Really? Oh my, that sounds so amazing can we please play now, oh please-please-please?” Harley responded with her hands folded together and her big puppy dog eyes glaring into his, impatiently waiting for his answer.
The trickster, not expecting such a thrilling response, asked “You want to play…”
“NOT!” Harley interrupted. “I’m not playing any stupid games with a freaky little monster. Now you better leave because my mom…”
“Your mommy will do what?” the trickster inquired with a devilish grin that sent goose bumps shooting through her 11 year old body.
She held her tongue and quickly thought about the situation. “This little thing looks harmless enough but I know this game is some kind of trap. The last thing I want is to play his dumb game but if that’s what it’s gonna to take to get rid of him, then I’ll do it. Unless…”
Harley, as if taking a closer look at the crystal on the table slowly and quietly moved into position. “BOOYEAH” she shouted as the trickster’s chair crashed into the wall; breaking into pieces. But just like before, the trickster simply disappeared and reappeared in another chair as if nothing happened. Covering her disappointment with a fake smile Harley limped to the last remaining chair and asked,
“So how does the game work?” The words tasted bitter but she knew it was her only chance.
“Ah ha ha, yes, yes dear that’s the spirit.” Trickster grabbed her wrist and skipped around the table, his size 4 boots thumping all the way.
“Now sit here and let me explain the rules. Everybody has something they want more than anything else in the world; and depending on the moment, that something could be anything. The mysterious part of the game is that you may not even be aware of what it is you desire most but this magic crystal will shine bright when the correct answer is guessed. The first human or trickster to figure out what the other desires most by asking skillful questions, wins.”
The game sounded confusing and Harley was sure there was more to it than what this little trickster was letting on; and just like in class, when Harley didn’t understand something she raised her hand.
“Put your hand down girl this isn’t school nor am I your teacher and if I were you would fail,” he snapped. He was pleased at the anger in the young girl’s eyes while Harley was thinking “happy place, just go to your happy place!”
“Now, young lady the only questions you may not ask is the one you want to ask the most which is, ‘what is the thing you want most in this world,’ or any version of that.”
Trickster’s eagerness and arrogance were apparent through his fast and jumbled speech. If she could just reach out and strangle this annoying little green creature this would be over and she might actually finish packing her stuff tonight.
“I hate moving, I wish we could just stay here,” she thought, briefly forgetting about the creature before her still babbling on. But, reality snapped back like a whip as she realized something important,
“I’d better keep these feelings safe because that’s probably the type of information he is after.”
Harley was a sharp girl, but to out trick a trickster, and beat him at his own game, well, that would take more than just smarts. It would also take some good ol’ fashion *umph, an iron will and a little magic wouldn’t hurt either!
“Now, let us start off with something simple to ease us into the game. I know from the papers covering your food storage device that your name is Harley. While I would never name my offspring that it seems to suite you. Now you may ask me what my name is.”
“I already know what your name is” Harley said.
“Child, don’t be silly. How could you know my great name when I haven’t given it to you?” the trickster laughed.
Trickster gasped. “Why you, you little brat how dare you insult me with your potty mouth for I am the Great…”
“Mr. Poopstick” Harley cheered. “Poopstick, Poopstick,” she sang and danced.
“Stop that!” he shouted.
“Stop that!” Harley repeated.
“Why I never…” he huffed.
“Why I never…” she huffed.
“What are you like two years old?” he pleaded.
“What are you like two years old?” she pleaded.
Harley couldn’t help but chuckle a bit on the inside. Boy did it feel good to have the trickster so flustered, but she wondered how long she could keep this up and was it enough to get rid of this little green elf.
“Great Mr. Poopstick” Harley continued “why is the sky blue?” she asked looking out the window deep in thought as if she were trying to discover all the world’s mysteries right then and there.
“What? What does that have to do with…wait a minute, my name is not Poopstick!” he pleaded once again.
“Well you said we should ask each other questions!” Harley protested with one hand on her hip and the other pointing at the trickster.
“This girl,” the trickster thought. “She looks so innocent but she is like a tiger; an annoying little tiger who will be the end of me if I do not end this game soon.”
A trickster forced into ending the game so soon was unheard of. Prolonging the game was more their style but at this rate he would never uncover the clues needed to collect her, not with her mimicking his every word and asking silly questions. But the trickster still had a magical cheat up his sleeve and he was ready to use it. Wearing his devilish grin once again, he calmly faced Harley and bowed low before her and said,
“My lovely dear I believe we have gotten off on the wrong foot. You see this is meant to be a fun and entertaining game for us both, and as a sign of good will I will grant you one wish if you play along properly. Out of all the tricksters I posses the most talent and magic, and can make the slightest wish come true. All I ask is that you finish the game and whether you win or lose I will grant your wish.”
Trickster, still bowing low before the girl, struggled to keep from laughing through the lie. His magic words, like a deadly poison, quickly seeped into Harley’s mind, affecting her every thought.
“Darn it! I wasn’t expecting this little guy to be so convincing. What’s wrong with me?”
Harley knew his words were nothing more than a lie but then again what if they weren’t. What if he would grant her just one measly wish then she could stay home and not have to move.
“It’s not true,” Harley kept telling herself but the juicy apple of an offer looked so tempting.
Trickster kneeled down before the girl, his face kept low and hidden as he continued probing her emotions with his magical words.
“My dear, I beg you not to pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity. When have you ever met a magical creature like me? Until today you never knew anything like me existed and up until now you have been nothing short of a brute instead of treating me like the hidden treasure that I am.”
Trickster put all his deceitful magic into his last sentence, “I am your treasure” he gracefully hissed.
The words sunk deep down into Harley as images of packing boxes and the trouble of making new friends flashed through her mind. The word “Why?” slipped from her mouth and the trickster knew the internal struggle he was putting her through was working. Suddenly, she felt what she thought was a glimmer of hope sparking inside of her. Her sadness lifted as she realized kneeling before her was a treasure; a once in a lifetime treasure that could grant her whatever wish she desired, a treasure that belonged to her!
The more time she took to consider the offer the more infected she became by his poison. With each passing second she came closer and closer to giving away the answers that would trap her in a stone figurine, hidden away in a box forever. The game had been short yet well played by both, but how could a trickster, whose motto is “to Lie is to Live,” ever be beaten? Harley continued to slip further away until she wasn’t aware of where she was.
“Harley” the trickster whispered in her ear. ”I’m going to ask you some questions okay dear?”
Harley’s head nodded ever so slightly and the trickster began to laugh in victory. Meantime, random thoughts and memories began to come and go in Harley’s semiconscious mind. Harley began to giggle as she saw a zebra telling a lion, “excuse me, you’re biting my butt,” a scene from one of her favorite movies, Madagascar. Like a safety mechanism, more scenes from Madagascar kept playing through her mind keeping Harley barley conscious. Murmurs and mumbles mixed with giggles began to slip from her mouth as the trickster thought
Slow and cautiously, for the trickster did not want to wake the girl from her magical sleep, he positioned his ear close to Harley’s murmuring mouth, hoping to collect valuable information.
“Poopstick!” Harley shouted sending the trickster jumping like a jackrabbit and hollering like hound dog. “Don’t be near the King” she said, impersonating the ring tailed lemur, King Julian to a tee!
Losing control the trickster dug his nails into the floor as he panted and wheezed, “MY NAME IS NOT POOPSTICK! Why do you call me that ridiculous name?” he cried while spit shot from his quivering mouth.
Harley hit her head with her hand as she shook off the magical cobwebs clouding her judgment. She knew that she was just seconds away from losing the game, but she couldn’t think about that now because it was time.
Trickster clenched his jagged teeth as he began to growl “MY NAME IS…”
Quickly, Harley silenced the monster. She reached out and ever so gently placed her fingers on his lying lips. She held his hand and guided him to the table with the confidence and grace of a princess. Was this the same annoying little tiger? Had she been transformed into something else before his beady red eyes?
Confused, the trickster asked “Are you a white witch?”
“Little trickster, there are no bad witches, white witches, elves or half breeds in this world. There are only humans and people that were once humans who chose to live a life of lying until one day they woke up ugly little creatures. What was on the inside slowly changed their outward appearance and poisoned their mind until there was no boy or girl left, only a sad little trickster.”
Trickster sat. He did not think, he did not breathe he only listened. But when the girl, still holding his hand, waved her other hand over the table and twitched her pretty fingers he knew he’d been setup. The irresistible meal was bait, her frightened reaction was fake and her annoying take on the game was planned. But how she escaped the sleep-state he did not know.
“I have no doubt that you have the power to grant me what it is I want most, but I have also hunted enough of you to know a trickster can never be trusted. I don’t know why I have been given this gift but it is my responsibility to use. I’m only a kid but even I know that life can be tough and life can be unfair sometimes, but we all must deal with those times in good character. I don’t know why you chose to live life the way you did but this game is over.”
“Trickster,” Harley sternly called. “I know what you want more than anything in this world.”
Trickster’s eyes opened wide as he coward in fear. He immediately tried to disappear and hide in the shadows of some dark dirty alley but he could not. Once the game had started the magic crystal had bonded them together.
“You want me to know your name.”
The crystal cast a bright light on the trickster’s face, freezing his expression forever as it shrunk him down to a small figurine. Harley sighed. She picked the trickster off the chair and admired the statue of the foe that nearly turned her into stone; it was identical as were they all. She placed it next to the others in her jewel encrusted box and closed the top. She felt like herself again. She smiled as her fingers brushed across the inscription on the lid; she read it out loud,
“to Love is to Live.”
The End of the Story But Not the Adventure…