Lions, Tigers and Bears - aka Nulli and the Leprechaun 4 (Absolute Write Blog Chain - October 2013)

This post is part of the October 2013 Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month, the prompt is "Lions, Tigers, and Bears--Oh my!." This flash fiction is also the fourth installment of what I have now decided will be the Nulli and the Leprechaun web series (and yes, I did play hooky last month...learning Italian seriously messes with my creativity).

While it's self-contained, links to Part 1-3 are below.
#1 What the Leprechaun Said (AWBC March 2013)                
#2 Wrong Place, Right Time (AWBC May 2013)
#3 Child of the Devil (AWBC August 2013)

Previously, on Nulli and the Leprechaun...

Luc (aka "Child of the Devil")  ignored him. "It seems my cousin ("Shawn the Leprechaun") has a soft spot for you. He's being very patient with your maidenly fears."

"We first met less than fifteen minutes ago," Nulli protested.

"And you should have been flat on your back in under one. I'll leave the two of you alone now--but with one little parting gift." With another flash of red light, Luc disappeared.

Nulli turned to face the leprechaun. "Do I even want to know what he meant?"

And now...

Shawn the Leprechaun cleared his throat. "I'm pretty sure he was referring to the lion, tiger and bear."

"Oh my." Nulli turned her head to the left. Three predatory animals had materialized in their pink dungeon. She didn't have the slightest clue why Luc would consider this a gift. More importantly, how would fending off a fatal attack hasten her physical relationship with Shawn? She couldn't very well have sex while wrestling a bear.

She elbowed Shawn's stomach. "I think it's time you did your finger-snapping thing and got us out of here. This time, I would very much like to be returned to my apartment."

He flashed a grin. "I agree. T'would be a great place for our first time."

She opened her mouth to argue before biting her tongue. It made more sense to to correct his assumption after he rescued her from this potentially fatal situation.

He raised his hand. The ensuing popping sound was followed by a flash of light. But when her vision adjusted, she found herself in the exact same place she had been before--in a pink dungeon, next to a leprechaun, with a lion, tiger and bear, positioned a few feet to her left. "Shawn...if this is a joke, it isn't funny."

His green eyes widened. He snapped his fingers again and again. Each time, they were transported back to the exact same place. The lion growled.

She grabbed the leprechaun's hand. "Stop it. You're making him angry."

Shawn lifted an auburn eyebrow. "How do you know it's a he?"

She rolled her eyes. "Male lions have manes. Don't you watch the Discovery Channel?"

He favored her with a sardonic look. "Television is a poor facsimile of real life and a complete waste of time.

Since her protector had proven his complete uselessness, she focused her attention on the threat. "Good kitty..."

Both the lion and tiger roared.

Shawn bent down and whispered in her ear, "Now you're making them angry."

She stomped her heel on his toe. He grunted. "Ow! That hurt...wait, why the hell does it hurt? I'm immortal. I shouldn't have felt anything."

"Another one of Luc's parting gifts?" She couldn't care less about the status of his toe. "By the way, in case you weren't already aware, getting mauled by a lion, tiger and bear will be exponentially more painful." After noticing his bewildered expression, she added, "There is also a high probability of permanent injury and death."

He stared aghast at the collection of animals. "We need to kill them."

She couldn't help but wonder why he had only just arrived at this conclusion. "Can you pull it off without magic?"

He clapped his hands. When they remained empty, he stared at his palms with a horrified look on his face. "I should be holding a sword."

She tilted her head to one side. "I think it's been made glaringly clear we're supposed to solve this problem sans supernatural aid."

He pointed his finger at his own chest. "Me? How the hell do I kill a lion, tiger and bear without weapons or spells?"

She took a step forward toward the trio. In unison, they snarled.

"I wouldn't do that that if I were you," Shawn warned in an exasperated tone.

His chest warmed her back. She turned and smiled. There was something to be said about a leprechaun who continued to protect her despite real and potent threats to his well-being. Shawn was already very tall, but the gesture seemed to add an inch to his height. "If one of them did try to bite, what would you do?"

His gaze didn't waver. "Whatever it takes to keep you safe." He glanced sideways at the lion, tiger and bear. "But I would prefer it if you refrained from testing my conviction."

A flash of intuition took Nulli over. Something about this scene didn't quite fit. To be fair, nothing about the past twenty minutes meshed well with reality. But a peculiar facet of the tableau nagged her. She pointed at the shiny gold collars circling each animal's neck. "I think we need to take those off."

"What on earth would give you that idea?" He nonetheless tugged her elbow and walked forward,  shielding her with his body. The lion, tiger, and bear bellowed in unison.

She swallowed air. "It's a hunch--a really strong hunch."

Instead of dismissing her statement, Shawn took another step toward the trio. The black bear made a guttural sound and batted its paws.  "Okay. Any hunches on how I'm supposed to get near those things?"

She frowned and walked forward. "I don't think you're supposed to. You need to let me do this."

His body became a solid barrier. "For safety reasons, I'm not going to turn. But trust me, the expression on my face screams 'hell no.'"

"Look, I have a feeling these are all trials." She wished she sounded more confident than she felt. "Luc appeared to tempt me--I had the perfect excuse to sleep with an extremely hot devil's child. I didn't. I passed test number 1."

Shawn didn't budge. "Let's pretend for a moment I believe you. What, pray tell, is the point of test number 2?"

She licked her lips. "Courage for me, and trust for you." Once the words passed her lips, she was overwhelmed by a sense of certainty. "Both form the foundation of a good relationship."

"It sounds like something my damn relatives might be insane enough to do." His broad shoulders lifted and fell. "But how can we be sure this is just a team-building exercise?"

Nulli reached forward and took his hand. The slight tremble against her fingertips triggered a warm and fuzzy feeling. "I guess we just need to have faith."

And thus I reached my 1000 word limit . So where is this heading? I have no idea--it'll depend entirely on next month's prompt. Stay tuned!

Check out this month’s other bloggers, all of whom have posted or will post their own responses:

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3 - (link to post)
Ralph Pines - (link to post)
ishtar'sgate - (link to post)
skunkmelon - (link to post)
pyrosama - (link to post)
julzperri - (link to post)
dclary - (link to post)
BBBurke - (link to post)
Sweetwheat - (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes - (YOU ARE HERE)
Angyl78 - (link to post)

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