His feet hurt.
Aidan stopped by a stump on the ground, plopped his exhausted body down, and pulled off his green boots. Blisters covered his heels and made his green skin turn red and irritated. He gave a weary sigh and looked around the woods.
He’d been searching for the human girl for ten days now and wasn’t having any luck. His parents would be so embarrassed. He’d never heard of any other leprechaun making the kind of mistake that he had. But he was determined to fix it before the Queen found out about the stolen pot of gold and he became Leprechaun-non-grata.
This was his first assignment as Gold Keeper. And his pot of gold had been stolen by little human girl, a child no less. So mortifying!
He heard them coming before he saw them. To the human eye, they would have appeared almost invisible because they moved so quickly through the air. But to the Leprechaun eye, the fairies appeared from everywhere. From the trees, the leaves on the ground, suddenly, he was surrounded!
And leading the pack, was none other than the Queen of the Fairies herself, Queen Matilda.
This was just great, Aidan thought, just what he needed, a spiteful Queen lording it over him that his pot of gold had been stolen. He’d have to do his best to make sure she didn’t find out.
She circled around his head, an annoying buzzing sound from the rapid beat of her wings. Hovering in front of him, she crossed her arms and gave him an impish grin.
“Well, well, well,” she began, “if it isn’t none other than the newly appointed Gold Keeper! Aren’t you a little young to be keeping gold, Aidan? I mean, you’re not even 500 years old yet!”
Aidan gave her a frown. “I’m old enough to keep gold!” He was 492 years old, rather young by Leprechaun standards to be a Gold Keeper, but he wasn’t going to tell her that.
“Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt that you come from a long line of successful Gold Keepers.” Queen Matilda flew closer and perched on the end of his bulbous nose. His eyes crossed as he struggled to keep her in focus. Her shoes tickled his nose and he wrinkled it, struggling not to sneeze.
The Queen braced herself, using her hands to maintain her balance, the razor sharp talons of her nails biting into the tender flesh of his nose. Recovering her balance, she stood proudly and looked down her nose at him.
His eyes still crossed, Aidan eyed her warily.
“So,” she began, “I hear you have a little problem with your gold, Aidan.”