Copyright 2019 - Liam O' Leamy - reporter leprechaun.
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As if leaving home for a new school wasn't enough, Liam must help his uncle recover a magical crown stolen by a treasure hunter. Along the way, he makes friends with Dana and tries to keep his true identity a secret. 

    Join Liam and Dana on this adventure and discover how they solve the mystery of the polluted river and return the stolen crown.

CHAPTER ONE

A new start

 

His father decided to send him away. His mother agreed. She said a change of school would be good for him. Liam surprised his parents when he agreed to the move, telling them that he didn’t fit in at home. Leprechauns were good at magic, all except him. No matter how hard he tried, he had yet to master the basics.

The older he got, the more frustrated he became. He had enough skill to use magical objects but had dreamed of becoming a true master. That dream had died. At twelve years of age, his parents sent him to live amongst humans where his magical ability would not matter. He hoped they were wise, it would be awful if he felt awkward there too.

Humans had stopped believing in magic and leprechauns a long time ago. However, old stories told of dark days when treasure hunters knew that leprechauns existed. Those days could never be allowed to return and Liam promised to keep his magical abilities a secret. With his promise fresh in his mind, he left for his new, human school.

His mother had arranged a room at a guest house and the land lady, Ms. Murphy, thought he was just another schoolboy. A kind, elderly woman, she had only asked him to obey some house rules. These included an eight o’clock curfew every night. It was easy for him to keep, for he had nowhere to go. Since his arrival, he kept to himself and spent his time alone. Sometimes, when alone, his imagination brought him to times past.

There, humans hunted for his peoples’ gold and leprechauns disappeared without a trace. His parents never explained what happened to those who went missing and this fear of the unknown never left him.

One evening, he sat at the desk in his room where a half-filled page of homework reminded him of how different things were in his new life. His English teacher had asked him to write an essay describing his experience of leaving home. The problem was not what to write but what to leave out.

It might look suspicious if he described how he nearly died the first time he tried to cross the road because he misjudged the speed of a car. Before he moved to town, he had only seen cars on a television that his uncle owned. 

Then there was the evening spent opening and closing the fridge. Nobody used fridges in his village. He’d wanted to see if the light stayed on when the door was shut and even thought about climbing inside but figured he’d make himself a sandwich instead.

He decided not to draw attention to the differences between himself and his classmates. Instead, he described how he missed hanging out with his old friends. With his homework complete, he sat on his bed and wondered if leaving home had been such a good idea.

Boredom drove him to practice the little magic he knew. He stood in the center of the room and, from under his hoodie sleeve, removed an armband. He knew he could get the first piece of magic to work as he shrank to two and a half feet tall. However, he grew nervous and doubted his ability to grow again.

 

His father had made the green metal armband for him and it was the only magical object he owned. Replacing the armband, he closed his eyes and imagined himself growing to the size of a twelve year old. This was where he had trouble in the past. Magical objects were difficult to use. Nothing happened. He clenched his fists until his nails dug into his palms. Still, nothing happened. He was in trouble. Even Ms. Murphy would notice something was wrong when she saw that he'd shrunk.

 

Then, without him doing anything differently, the armband became warmer and he grew back to his human height. Although relieved at growing again, he did not understand why the magic worked sometimes but other times failed him completely.

His mobile phone chimed. Someone had sent him a message. He suspected it came from his uncle, Patrick, as his parents didn’t use phones and he had no human friends.

 

Come to the waterfall at Ballyboreen forest, tonight - Patrick.

 

His delight at having somewhere to go cooled as he remembered he needed permission to leave the guest house. It was too late to ask Ms. Murphy, who went to bed early, so he decided to sneak out later in the night. He set his phone alarm for midnight and caught a few hours of sleep.

 

The alarm rang, but it didn’t wake him completely. He struggled with getting out of his bed. Concentrating on the furry carpet as it warmed his feet, he slowly came to his senses. The thought of meeting his old friends gave him a burst of energy and he pulled on his black combat trousers. He grabbed his favorite hoodie, opened his bedroom door and listened for signs of life from Ms. Murphy’s room. He heard only silence.

 

Carpeted stairs allowed him to softly creep to the front door. 

liam o leamy stairs

 

Outside, he unlocked his bike, switched on its lights and cycled to the forest. His eyes had adjusted to the night by the time he looked around the muddy car park at the edge of the forest. 

Trees formed a dark wall in front of him and a lone Jeep was parked nearby. It was unoccupied, so he ignored it.A full moon helped him to spot a trail leading into the woods.It followed the bank of a river which he hoped led to the waterfall.

 

He did not fear the night until a voice called out.

Watch where you’re walking, big man.”

He looked down to the side of the trail and smiled. His friend Michael Dunphy stood under a bush carrying a crystal jug. He wore a red jacket, a black hat with a gold buckle and stood two feet tall.

Be careful. You might step on us little people,” he said.

Liam immediately felt awkward about his height and how he towered over his friend. He removed his armband and shrank. “Hey. What are you doing here?” he asked.

It’s the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year, the day with the longest night,” said Michael. “We always come here for a feast. How could you forget?”

Liam was surprised that he had forgotten.

The excitement of moving to a new school had distracted him.

    “There is more. Tonight’s feast will be huge, because the elders are choosing a new king.”

Oh wow. I had no idea. My uncle sent me a text, but he never mentioned a new king,” said Liam.

He’s a strange one, your uncle.”

Where are you going with that jug?“

To the waterfall. Today, a water boy and tomorrow king of the world. Your parents are at the feast. Go on over and get me some food. Leave the trail and follow the music. See ya in a few minutes. Take it handy,” said Michael.

 

The dancing tune of a fiddle guided him to a clearing in the forest. He resisted the urge to go straight for the food spread out on three long tables in the center of the clearing. Instead, he looked for his parents amongst the dancers and singers, but he decided his father would never be so carefree.

Sure enough, he spotted his father, a shoemaker and craftsman, sitting on a tree stump. As usual, he was working, skillfully adding a red stone to a golden crown. Liam recognized the crown and felt proud. It

belonged to the ancient High Kings of Ireland and was a powerful magical object. Only a few people were trusted with guarding it and soon it would be placed on the head of the new king.

Hey, Dad.”

His father kept tapping the red ruby with his hammer.

Hello. I’m back,” Liam said, waving his hands.

Yes, yes. I see you, boy,” said his father without looking up. “Please, stop fooling around. This is delicate work.“

Eventually, he stopped working and raised his eyebrows. Adjusting his glasses, he looked Liam up and down.

My goodness, where are your normal clothes?”

What? These are my normal clothes. I’m dressing to fit in at school,” Liam replied, folding his arms. ”Look, I’ve kept my hat and my waistcoat. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I should keep them. Not everybody dresses like you do. If I walk around with pointy shoes and green trousers, I’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Seriously, that is not a good look anymore.”

 

That will do. It’s good to see you again.

You can tell me all about humans and your new school after the crowning of the king. Until then, let me get on with my work.”

Liam understood the importance of the ceremony and why his father needed to do his best work. A new king was allowed to have one gem stone added to the crown. This only happened once every fifty years, when the king took responsibility for using the crown to protect the village. The crown had immense power and its wearer gained knowledge of all magical amulets and buried gold in Ireland.

Before you go, have you said hello to your mother?”

Not yet,” he said, sensing the conversation had ended.

A burst of laughter broke through the fiddle playing. He scanned the crowd and found his mother amongst the merrymakers.

You made it,” said his mother, hugging him.

Hiya mum.”

 

Look at you, only gone a week and already you’ve changed. You must tell me everything. What is the world like beyond our village? Your uncle has such great stories of the strange things humans get up to. 

Are they just like on the television? “

I suppose they are. Everything is a bit different, but I am getting on fine. Although, it is good to be back here again. I had totally forgotten about the feast.”

But, enough of my talking. You must be hungry, there is plenty of food. Help yourself before all the good stuff is gone.”

 

 

He didn’t need to be asked twice and stuffed his face with cakes before picking up a chicken leg. With his belly full, it was time to relax and have some fun. He nibbled on the chicken until his friend emerged from the bushes. His joy at seeing Michael did not last long. Something was wrong. His friend wobbled from side to side, letting water spill from the jug. Liam ran and caught him by the arm.

Are you okay?” he said, taking the jug and helping Michael to a seat.

Feeling sleeeepy.”

Liam heard his mother’s voice beside him.

Hand me that jug,” she said, sniffing the water. Worry lines appeared on her forehead and she poured the water onto the ground.

 

The water smelt bad. Michael, did you

drink it?”

Just a small drop,” he mumbled.

I’m bringing you home with me,” she said taking hold of his arm.

Liam, make sure nobody drinks from the waterfall.”

Liam watched as they disappeared in a cloud of green smoke before standing up on the nearest table.

Attention, everyone. Do not drink from the waterfall. One person has already gotten sick.”

People in front of him turned in his direction and he struggled to understand the expressions on their joyless faces.

 

Run!” a voice screamed.