“A copper scale to enter and if you reach the top of the rapids without falling off, you’ll win three silver scales!” O’Dooley the leprechaun was making his pitch beside the stream as the silver salmon jumped their way up the short stretch of rapids. The sprites hovered around the stream’s banks, both on foot and on wing, eager and curious to see who would be the first to take up O’Dooley’s challenge and see if they could separate him from some of his coin. The payoff was good but they all knew from past years that riding the migrating fish any distance was not an easy task. The fish got big enough for brownies, pixies and even leprechauns to ride, but most of the jockeys would be sprites.
O’Dooley would probably lose money on the fish riding challenge itself but he would make money on the side bets. He’d probably make enough to fill another of his pots of gold, given that all the leprechauns just starting their day of running book on the rides, jockeys and mounts were either working for him or paying him a tenth of their take to be here. Even Black Shaunnessy, the only one who’d take money on the injury or death of a jockey, paid up without a quibble. O’Dooley used goblins as enforcers for a reason; there were far fewer arguments over business.
The first taker of the day was a young male sprite named Duskskimmer. He handed O’Dooley his copper coin from wherever it was exactly that the naked sprites kept their money and strode to the starting point. Goblins kept the spectators back from him, their employer didn’t approve of people pushing the jockeys to change the outcome of a bet. A long, silver fish broached the water and Duskskimmer jumped, using his wings only a fraction to correct his trajectory, and landed squarely astride his chosen mount, just behind its gills. He stayed on it when it went back under the water, keeping only his head in air, then it jumped again to clear the rocks and he stayed on to the cheers of the crowd. He clung to the scaly creature’s back for three more jumps, then it dragged him all the way underwater and when it launched itself for the fifth jump, he came off, saving himself from the churning stream only by using his wings. The crowd cheered, it had been a fine first ride of the day and he’d almost made it to the end of the rapids. Emboldened, more sprites queued to pay O’Dooley their entry fee.
O’Dooley smiled happily and jovially at them all. It was going to be a long and profitable day.