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The San Francisco Leprechauns

The San Francisco Leprechauns

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The San Francisco Leprechauns

Lunghezza:
375 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
Jul 29, 2012
ISBN:
9781476315683
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

The San Francisco Leprechauns.
There is trouble in the kingdom of the Faerie Queen. Druid Lochlain has failed in an attempted coup and is biding his time for the next attempt.
Consequences follow when recognising that Leprechauns are an endangered species, plans are put in place to restock the population.
In doing so two young twins, a brother and a sister, are accidently recruited and due to technical magic difficulties they have to be returned to modern San Francisco. But they need new bodies. This is arranged by Venus, the strategic planner and former cat of the Druid Lochlain. However all does not go smoothly.
In modern Sann Francisco Druid Lochlain arrives as does the mythical Grey Man with the 'embrace of death.' They intend to use these two young returned Leprechauns for their own ends. Here you will meet the druid, Venus the cat, Puca the poodle, drug cartels, Vampires and the undead, and Gentle Michael the Leprechaun who has come on vacation to check out the twins, his former students.
A mixture of modern urban life and fantasy as Irish Mythological creatures clash in the chaos of modern San Francisco.

Pubblicato:
Jul 29, 2012
ISBN:
9781476315683
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Irish writer of:Irish American Fantasy:Kate and the Raptor DinosaursDruids Raptors and EgyptiansThe New York DruidThe Chicago Druid and the Ugly PrincessThe San Francisco LeprechaunsThe Boston Druid and the WizardThe Great FuryThe Dublin FosterlingThe God of Death takes a holidayHard Boiled/Irish humor:Dark Drink and ConversationMore Dark Drink and ConversationRomance/Thriller:The Irish DetectiveLove on the Dark Side of the CityTwisted Love and MoneyForensic AffairsDebits and CreditsThese books are also available on Amazon.com (print), Audible, Kindle, Barnes and Noble etc,.

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Anteprima del libro

The San Francisco Leprechauns - Thomas Kennedy

time

Part one

Chapter one

There were no fishermen at sea on this day in 1847, locked as they were by the storm in the safety of Dingle harbour.

And the tourist boat that seldom came to the Skelligs in the winter had stayed berthed and the crew had taken to the hot whiskey and dark porter in a local public house where they mixed with local farmers and fishermen, in for the day and sheltering from the savage weather. Hardy tourists from England and beyond mixed in but could not understand the low musical Gaelic of the locals.

Unknown to the locals or indeed human kind, this was the day of the regular one hundred and fifty year Strategic Review Conference of magical beings and as usual those of magic had gathered at Little Skellig , coming from human world and Otherworld in order to participate.

Three hundred and fifty million years old, the rocks of the two islands were of Devonian sandstone, as were the mountains of the mainland that formed a spine down the centre of the nearby peninsula. Despite their appearance, these two rocky and steep outcrops had no volcanic connections and stood like sentinels on the edge of the wide Atlantic. Presently uninhabited by man, the Christian monks had come to the larger of the two islands in the sixth century, but had not endured beyond the twelfth. The remoteness, combined with difficulty in approach had preserved the traces of these monks in carved staircases cut into the rocks, a ruined Abbey and a number of abandoned stone hermitages.

Around the cliffs and peaks more than twenty thousand pairs of gannets had made it their world in which to shriek, soar and dive.

An aerial view would give no indication of the activity within the little Skellig where a great cavern had been cut by the sea and then raised by millennia of seismic activity to a hidden position within the core of the island. On this day it was full of noise and activity and for all practical purposes, oblivious to the storm and turmoil outside.

The Faerie Queen had responsibility for the organization of the conference and many hastened to her bidding.

The fairy folk, used to decorating the stone interiors of their fairy forts, had decorated with the glow of summer warmth and with spider threads in gold. Goblins happily served as hewers of wood and drawers of fresh water, not to mention doing the cooking and arranging the endless supply of strong mead for drinking. An orchestra of Nymphs, Pixies and Sprites belted out tunes and the dancing was on occasion, frenzied.

The Druid Lochlain, the last druid of the ancient race of the Fir Bolg, and famed master of the dark magic, had been retained as conference host and keynote speaker. All were wary yet respectful of him, fearing his power to call down the dark magic.

When the Faerie Queen raised her arm at dawn the all-night music and dancing stopped and the real work began. The Faerie Queen laid out the order of business and the details of breaks including lunch.

She explained that following a series of talks, including an update on spells, mixed breakout discussion groups would be formed. Druid Lochlain would act as facilitator and visit each group in turn to listen in for a while and maybe suggest the way forward. Each group would be given ten minutes to report back to the main meeting before lunch.

The keynote speech would be delivered after lunch. The topic was - ‘Magic, its place in the modern world.’

After lunch further breakout groups would examine special areas and then report back to the main meeting. The intention was that each group of magic beings would be tasked to examine their own area, review key tasks and establish benchmarks for future behaviours.

Then following open discussion of the issues arising, the Faerie Queen would sum up and establish action plans. After this they would resume the social interaction and commence the blow-out wind up party.

Following a well run morning session and a splendid lunch, Druid Lochlain gave a powerful provocative keynote speech on the role of magic and this fired up the delegates such that they faced into the afternoon sessions with a measure of enthusiasm.

The after lunch breakout groups were specially selected to reflect commonality of interest. The target was to deal with issues and revert to the main meeting by mid-afternoon.

The leprechauns were surprised to find their names down under a group called, ‘Endangered Species is there a way forward?’ Although small in number they were well regarded, and had been given a well appointed meeting area for their discussions. They were further alarmed to find that they were matched with the Puca group and tasked together with the Puca, to do a future review for both groups.

There were six leprechauns, Paddy the Terrible, Oxen Owen, Gentle Michael, Smart Sean, Miserable Tadgh and Young Paddy. Each was dressed in traditional costume for the occasion, with large buckled black hat, tailored green coat, waistcoat and breeches. The shoes were of fine leather with gold buckles. Their waistcoats were designed to accommodate buttons in rows of seven but they were in a sorry state with only six buttons remaining. The traces of a recently removed button taken in memory of the recent death of Oisin the Unfortunate, could still be seen against the cloth.

They were to be joined in group session with the two remaining Pucas, Puca mor and Puca beag.

They were puzzled as to the whereabouts of the Pucas until Smart Sean pointed out that there were eleven chairs in the small conference room. The two shape-shifting Pucas then broke up in laughter and resumed their normal ugly pimpled dwarf like shape, leaving nine chairs as expected. Exasperated, Paddy the Terrible smashed his shillelagh against rock floor and shouted for the meeting to come to order.

They had just settled in to their places when Druid Lochlain arrived to kick off the session and act as facilitator.

As I have to facilitate at several breakout groups I can’t stay for your full session. But I will try and get you started. And remember you will need to make a succinct report back at the end of the session, he explained pleasantly.

The group nodded in unison.

Paddy the Terrible, you chair this meeting, Lochlain instructed.

Confirmed, Paddy said nervously.

Paddy the Terrible cleared his throat while the others watched anxiously.

Suggest a start with the minutes of the last meeting? Lochlain prompted.

Last meeting? Paddy asked, confused.

At the last conference which as I have no need to remind you, was a hundred and fifty years ago, Lochlain began.

Poor Oisin was there... Miserable Tadgh interjected with a plaintive cry.

There was recorded in a minute of the main meeting, an action plan under the heading Leprechaun, Lochlain continued, ignoring the outburst.

Young Paddy raised his arm.

Yes? Lochlain prompted.

Oisin was tasked to lead the group of him and me to action the action plan actively, he explained.

And?

He died.

And what were you tasked with? Please remind the group?

Yes do! Paddy the Terrible added to reinforce Druid Lochlain. The Druid gave him a touch of a smile in acknowledgement.

We were to report and recommend on the fact that leprechaun as a species are dying out, Young Paddy said after a glance at his notes.

And? Lochlain prompted.

Yes? Paddy the Terrible added.

Young Paddy seemed to tense and gather his thoughts.

We began with a survey of the existing population.

All six?

Seven, Druid Lochlain. For Oisin was still amongst those present at the time.

And?

We’ve been very busy, Young Paddy began.

Indeed, Paddy the Terrible confirmed. The other leprechaun nodded in support.

It has been a hundred and fifty years, Lochlain pointed out. His gaze had grown disapproving.

Still, Young Paddy said with a shrug, made nervous by the gaze of Lochlain.

We hit a snag, Miserable Tadgh interjected.

A snag? Lochlain asked impatiently.

The survey revealed that there are no female leprechaun, Paddy the Terrible admitted.

Lochlain took this on board in silence.

And nobody can remember how leprechaun come into the world, Young Paddy added.

The matter rested there. We had a number of meetings on the issue, but then Oisin had his accident, Oxen Owen contributed in his deep voice.

Oisin the Unfortunate was well named, Gentle Michael said sympathetically.

An idiot, he was an idiot! Paddy the Terrible stormed.

Gentle Michael shrugged. Oisin wasn’t to know...

As I heard the story Oisin had, as is normal, hidden his crock of gold at the end of a rainbow when the accident happened, Druid Lochlain said.

Right, all the leprechaun agreed.

But as chance had it, that rainbow settled on an active volcano, Gentle Michael explained.

And he was afraid his crock might melt, Young Paddy expanded.

But why did he not wait until the rainbow shifted? Lochlain asked.

He was an idiot, Paddy the Terrible stormed.

Why do we have to sit and listen to these idiots? Puca mor interjected crossly.

Because there are only two Puca’s left, Lochlain pointed out.

It’s the magic mushrooms, Puca beag pointed out.

The what?

Yes if we eat magic mushrooms we reproduce exponentially, Puca mor explained.

Without females? Gentle Michael asked in astonishment.

We divide. One becomes two; two become four, until we reach sixty four.

Wow!

Can we do this? Miserable Tadgh enquired.

Tried it at a party, Smart Sean said with a wry grin, and nothing happened, it doesn’t work that way for leprechaun.

O.K. let’s do the easy bit first, Lochlain suggested.

Right? Paddy the Terrible asked.

Puca mor and Puca beag, tell me why doesn’t one of you take the mushrooms? Lochlain asked.

Puca beag is too young and the Faerie Queen has majikified me, Puca mor explained.

Explain, Lochlain insisted.

Last time Puca mor shape shifted to get into her bedroom he was caught, Puca beag said maliciously. But before he was caught he...

Enough! Puca mor thundered.

Enough, Lochlain agreed.

I made a disgrace of myself, Puca mor confessed. But...

No buts, Lochlain said briskly. In summary we just need the Faerie Queen to allow a portion or two of magic mushrooms and you’ll be sixty four Puca in no time?

In less than a hundred and fifty years, Puca mor offered.

I’ll talk to her, Lochlain promised.

I expect she is still cross.

I’ll ask her to consider the bigger picture. Magic folk are under siege what with the spread of human kind.

Why don’t we deal with human kind? Paddy the Terrible demanded.

Maybe we should start a war? Lochlain said with a teasing smile.

The life force is now with the human kind. We have decided that our place is Otherworld. There is no need for a war, Gentle Michael reminded them of Official Policy.

We have agreed a separate path, Smart Sean said in agreement.

Right, Lochlain said briskly, turning to the Puca.

Yes? Puca mor asked.

We have a potential solution to the Puca problem. Leave this with me. This group must now focus on the leprechauns, Lochlain instructed.

Right, Paddy the Terrible agreed.

I can remember when each of our seven buttons had seven buttons, Miserable Tadgh began.

Now we have only six buttons, Young Paddy added.

Gentlemen this is a crisis, Lochlain thundered.

As he spoke Lochlain stood and made his exit.

There was a silence after the departure of the Druid Lochlain.

Gentlemen we have a lot of work to do, Paddy the Terrible said in a low voice.

A nap? Oxen Owen suggested.

The lunch of gannet soup followed by roast gannet and a dessert of gannet and nettle cream had been a great success and a portion of mead had been allowed. During lunch the music had been light and brisk as befit a business conference. Nonetheless the group could feel a certain lethargy...

Almost by magic, the great hall had been transferred from a dining hall into a conference chamber. All signs of the lunch settings were gone and the hall was now reminiscent of the great opera houses of Europe, but without the usual side boxes. The art work was elaborate but offset by the simplicity of the oak chairs arranged in a sequence of semi circles rising upwards towards the back of the hall.

At the front a raised podium faced the assembly.

When the bells called the assembly back to the great hall the groups came out of their break-out rooms, some relaxed, some confident and smiling others quiet. The leprechauns yawned a bit but generally their mood could be described as grim.

The seats in the front row were reserved for group leaders and Paddy the Terrible broke off from his comrades and with their whispered wishes of good luck to bolster his spirits, he made his way to the front row.

The Faerie Queen ascended the Podium and waited until they settled. Then she addressed them.

Order of business will be reports back from the breakout process. Then we will throw the item out to general discussion. Please contribute but keep comments short and relevant as we have a lot to get through, she explained and continued,

"There will be an interlude before dinner when there will be some free time and as usual there will be the Fairy Market with stalls set out in the main ante-room. Can I remind those who wish to purchase a banshee wail that this can only be used where humans have given grave offence. Also, to avoid abuse, spells may only be purchased against prescription. The Drimnagh Witch Mourne assisted by her team of Brandon and Sperrin, will hear requests for all spells including Banshee wails and will screen out as necessary.

I will be available for petition during this period.

The night will finish with a farewell party as usual. However unlike the last conference there is a ban on extra earthly phenomenon around the island. Please confine your enthusiasm to the internal caves of the island to ensure that our presence here continues to pass unnoticed."

The Faerie Queen paused to allow the prolonged applause before getting down to specifics.

I will summarize the discussions and action plans will be put into the minutes.

This was greeted with a good humoured groan.

First we will begin with the report back of the endangered species group. I call on the leprechaun Paddy the Terrible to come to the podium. And please Paddy, leave the shillelagh at your seat.

This caused a ripple of laughter.

While Paddy is gathering his notes may I remind you all that tonight is the night of the full moon of Samhain, when the gates between the worlds stand open and Otherworld touches to the earthly world. Those licensed to go ashore must leave before midday tomorrow.

Paddy the Terrible came to the podium.

If I had three wishes, he joked, None of them would be to have to mount this podium.

There was a ripple of relaxed laughter.

For I have a terrible solution to a terrible problem, he began and the meeting became very quiet.

Chapter two.

Other than the fact that it was still foggy, the rainbow that touched earth at dawn just outside San Francisco of October 1847 was of normal appearance. It only lasted a few seconds and was not seen by any of the locals in this sparsely populated spot.

This is a fine mess you got me into, Puca mor protested and threw the bundle he was carrying violently to the ground.

Gentle Michael picked himself up from where he had landed on his behind at the foot of the rainbow.

Blame yourself, Gentle Michael said mildly. The Faerie Queen set you a bargain. Magic mushrooms if you help the leprechauns.

True, Puca mor said, sounding less aggrieved.

Gentle Michael struggled to his feet, still a dazed by the impact on landing.

I nearly lost my crock of gold on the way in. That rainbow was terrible steep, Gentle Michael said.

Paddy the Terrible was a bit drunk when he made it. Sure wasn’t he well started on the celebration for the night?

I should have paid more attention, Gentle Michael admitted.

You were too busy dancing that jig.

It wasn’t a jig it was a Ceili called ‘The Walls of Limerick.’ Great bit of Ceili that.

The Bodhran drum, the Harp and the fiddle, such great music they make for the dancing, Puca mor enthused.

True for you, Gentle Michael agreed.

Now that we are here, put that crock of gold somewhere safe and climb into the clothes in this bundle, Puca mor instructed.

As he spoke Puca mor opened the string and denims and cottons tumbled to the ground.

Gentle Michael went behind a bush and took off his formal leprechaun suit and changed into the disguise provided.

You look like a human child,’ Puca mor said with a laugh as Gentle Michael emerged from behind the bush, and adding Well almost."

I left my suit on the crock and I hope they won’t be found, Gentle Michael said.

They’ll think you’re a child, Puca mor said more reassuringly.

Do you know what this is for? Gentle Michael asked, holding out a heavy saddlebag.

Money, the Faerie Queen said it might be useful, Puca said.

Right so, I’ll bring it along.

Good idea.

Ready? Gentle Michael asked.

Why did you bring your crock of gold, for what use will it be on this trip? Puca mor chided.

It is the beacon for the Rainbow we’ll need to get back, Gentle Michael explained.

Ready so. Puca mor said with a shrug. Get up on my back and be quick.

Don’t go without me, a cat said.

A well made, sleek and smooth black cat, wearing a velvet collar inset with gold and ivory, climbed out of one of the saddlebags and stretched as she spoke. She had green intelligent eyes and a confident presence.

What? Puca mor asked, startled by the sudden appearance of the cat.

Venus the cat of Druid Lochlain, the cat introduced herself.

The druid said we should borrow his cat, Gentle Michael explained.

What use are you cat? Puca asked, a bit put out by the inclusion of a cat that seemed at best somewhat overbearing in manner.

Please call me Venus. I’m a planner, and I have brought a plan, the cat explained.

As Gentle Michael got up onto the Puca’s back it shape shifted and became a horse. It was large and black and with flared nostrils.

Whoa! Gentle Michael said, grabbing the mane to steady the Puca. This won’t do! he added as he slipped and slid trying to get on to the sleek back of the large horse.

The Puca shifted shape again and this time included a saddle and reins and a saddle bag holder for the money.

Gentle Michael picked up the heavy saddlebag with an effort but had difficulty reaching the stirrups, so the Puca bent to accommodate him and then stood high as Gentle Michael swung on to his back. Once aboard Gentle Michael tied down the saddle bag.

Venus jumped with agility on to the back of the saddle and helped balance the leprechauns.

I hope you can stay on a horse, Puca mor said with a touch of sarcasm.

I can surely, just stay steady, Venus replied.

I like being a horse, I do it a lot, Puca mor said and began to walk and then to trot.

I was a bit surprised they picked me for the mission, Gentle Michael admitted as they rode along.

There seems to be a lot of gold scattered around here, Puca mor remarked.

My fault, Gentle Michael admitted. I lost a skim off the top of the crock as we hit the downturn.

Your loss, Puca mor said without sympathy.

No bother, I can get more, but maybe we’ll pick it up on the way back?

If we get the time. We have to take a rainbow back at or before mid-day at the latest, Venus pointed out.

Right.

The Druid said you were the one, that’s how you got picked, Venus added.

I was happy in my little place in Connemara. I want to get back to being a leprechaun.

Michael, life as you knew it is over. Now you are responsible, Venus said.

For?

For the perpetuation of leprechauns, Puca mor threw in.

What did he mean when he said my life was too happy and it needed meaning?

Puca slowed his trot while he considered the question. Venus opened her mouth to explain but realized in time that the question had been directed at the Puca.

Michael, Puca mor said. You have to deal with the demands life makes of you.

Why?

Because... Because it leads you to your destiny.

They passed a Sawmill and followed what had become known as the American River towards the town.

Stop, Venus instructed as they came over a rise and could see the town.

The Puca stopped trotting and walked.

We need to reconnoitre, Venus instructed.

With a sigh the Puca stopped and let Venus and Gentle Michael off its back. Then shape-shifted again and became a large raven.

Venus showed her cat teeth nervously but passed no remark as the large raven regarded her with a jaundiced eye.

I’ll take a look, Puca mor offered and rose into the sky with a leisurely flap of large black wings.

They watched as the raven headed towards the town.

We can walk on, Venus suggested.

Gentle Michael picked up the saddlebag of money.

This is heavy, do we need this?

Just dump it, Venus instructed. If we need it we can come back, but it is a silly addition and I certainly was not consulted.

Right so, Gentle Michael said and dropped the saddlebag into the river where it quickly sank into the current.

Venus shook her head in disbelief. Now they definitely would not come back for the money. But she said nothing and they continued on their way.

The raven landed with an unpractised clumsiness and then resumed shape as a horse.

Gentle Michael and Venus remounted.

What did you do with the money? Puca mor asked.

Too heavy.

Puca mor shrugged as best a horse could and moved to a trot.

Report? Venus suggested.

San Francisco is a small city. I’d guess in the region of a thousand inhabitants.

Good, we need out of the way locations, Venus said approvingly.

Any children? Gentle Michael asked.

Yes, my guess is that the locals are breeding like rabbits.

So what do I have to do? Gentle Michael asked.

You’ll find out, Puca mor said grimly.

We’ll need to get a carriage, Venus said.

Pity then that you two threw away the money, Puca mor said with satisfaction.

Can you not shape into a horse and carriage? Venus asked.

Puca mor laughed a horse laugh.

A horse is as big as I can get. A carriage is too complicated.

We’ll have to steal one so, Venus said in her planning voice.

Can I still be the horse? Puca mor asked.

I suppose so, Venus conceded.

What about me? Gentle Michael asked.

You have to be an orphan and find the way to the orphanage.

Do they have one?

I expect so. Most towns of this size do.

The orphans are to be led out using a piper’s tune, Venus added a few moments later.

I can do that, Gentle Michael said proudly.

Piper and play pipe and tune? Venus tested.

Sure.

I have the spell to make a magic flute, Venus added.

And I’m to lead them? Gentle Michael replied with a smile.

You could buy them sweets if you had money, Puca said, scoring a point with satisfaction.

The magic is enough. Gentle Michael you just have to get into the Orphanage and then lead them out, Venus said confidently.

Right.

Then we head out of town like a bat out of hell, Puca mor said excitedly.

There was an overhang of frost and fog as Venus, Puca and Gentle Michael reached the outskirts of San Francisco.

On the way into town Venus discussed a second reconnoitre with Puca, who shape shifted back into a raven and did a more detailed search. Gentle Michael continued on foot while carrying Venus on his shoulders.

They reached a funeral home by following the raven’s lead. Venus then laid out a plan and rehearsed with the Puca.

They watched as the Funeral Home Director opened up his premises. He was anticipating a busy day ahead with several funerals to boot hill requiring hearse and horses and a procession of relatives and interested town folk. As he kicked the barn doors open he spat out a forceful spit of chewing tobacco onto the dank ground.

As rehearsed, Venus used her talking cat routine and Puca mor shape-shifted to an all-in wrestler to overcome and tie up the local undertaker so they could steal the hearse. Fortunately they had got there early enough and the coffin was still in the morgue.

The orphanage was quiet as Gentle Michael knocked on the front door. After what seemed an interminable wait an old woman opened the creaky door. She frowned at Gentle Michael but without speaking she stood back to admit him.

You must wait until I fetch the master. He’s still abed and will be a while yet. You can sit on the hall bench and wait. Not a word and don’t fidget, she said.

As Gentle Michael stood in the hall she closed the door. If she had noticed the hearse across the street she did not see fit to remark on it. Gentle Michael sat as instructed.

As the old woman shuffled up the stairs Gentle Michael took out the magic flute and began to play. He did not recognise the tune but he kept blowing and moving his fingers.

Children came as in a trance. There were eight. He had expected seven, but the seventh had the eight by the hand and it seemed they were inseparable. Afraid to stop playing, Gentle Michael stood and taking position at the front he led them out.

Venus had backed the hearse up to the wooden boardwalk and Gentle Michael led them into the

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