The leprechaun’s heart leapt. The large Asgardian mushroom he had planted in the spring was now full grown. Of course, here, within the realm of magicless Sanctuary, the mushroom would not offer him any protection. Its particular scent however, would prevent indigenous animal species from sensing he was there. Especially the goddamn cats!
He knew the Earth boy’s routines cold. From this crop of cedars on the riverbank behind the lad’s house he had been monitoring him for five years by Sanctuary Reckoning: a peculiar practice of using planetary rotation and orbits around the planet’s star to reckon time. Science, he had heard it called. An unusual concept for the leprechaun, but a necessary adaptation he presumed, in the one place in the multiverse where sorcery didn’t work.
Lying out into a prone firing position beneath the mushroom, he snapped the demon-wing leather strap that held the rifle on his back. A wide grin split his flaming red beard. Getting paid in souls was enough to make the risk of breaking the most sacred law in reality worthwhile in-and-of-itself. Getting to lay hands on an ancient Martian sun pistol — modified by Goibhniu himself into a rifle no less — made this mission a no-brainer. At least to the mind of a Leprechaun.
For Leprechauns, everyone except them seems to know, operate under a delusion that they uniquely possess an excess of good luck’. It was a presumption that had made them the go-to cannon fodder of the contract espionage agencies serving the soul-trading houses of the Realm of Fey. They had become especially useful for these forbidden incursions into Sanctuary where entities unburdened by such deficiencies would never dare to tread.
Now to wait, the Leprechaun thought. With my luck the boyo’ll be here in a jiffy.
The woman’s legs ached from crouching on the rooftop of Andy Crowley’s house. It had been nearly three hours since the Leprechaun had laid on his belly and pointed his weapon at the house. She intensified her awareness in her left hand to bring its phase-variance into enough alignment with the bricks of the chimney that she could stretch out her stiffening hips. She didn’t like doing it. She didn’t like being on Sanctuary period. No one who knew the consequences of getting caught did. Present company excluded. Present company being, the idiot Leprechaun laying prone in the cedars with a Martian Sun Pistol.
How in the United Hells did he get a Martian Sun Pistol, she thought. She herself was dressed in the Nemes helmet, waste-wrap, sandals and silver bracers of Martian infantry. It was common practice to dress in Martian fashion when breaching the Eden Edict. The Martians were the only beings from outside Sanctuary Rim who were permitted to step foot upon the magicless realm. But how had this one gotten his hand one of the legendary sun pistols.
Bad, she thought. She knew Lord Arawn’s loose alliance with Lucifer had given him access to remarkable riches and resources. But this —
Her head snapped around at the sound of the bicycle skidding to a stop at the end of the laneway that lead to the house. To her mind, what happened next was not possible.
The boy was astride his bicycle. He wore the denim pants and white boots (high-top running shoes to you an me) that portrayed the advanced technological capabilities that had emerged among beings forced to make their way without magic. His blonde straw coloured hair blew in the wind. And to her complete dismay, his eyes had rolled upward into the whites of the wizards gaze. The blazing indigo eldritch fire of his third eye was upon his brow. And it was fixed squarely on her.
Then, from behind her, though she had never seen one before, she recognized the glimmering gossamer thread of a death-ray from a Martian sun pistol. Like spider-silk she thought. Then, after a delay, for sound traveled slowly here, the ray’s atomizing hiss reached her ears.
The indigo light of Andy Crowley’s third eye was gone.
In the dark, all she could make out was the Earth boy’s bicycle falling with a bunch into the gravel.
The Leprechaun’s misbegotten sense of his own good luck ended abruptly under the heel of a Nike Airship hightop. Andy Crowley was anything but a conspicuous consumer, but he did believe in purchasing quality equipment that would provide both superior performance and longevity.
The illusion he had cast at the end of the driveway had worked perfectly.
He knew before he had lifted his shoe that the crushed leprechaun would not be there. just as he knew that when he looked up on the roof, the banshee dressed in the Heliopolitan-reverent garb of a soldier of the Martian Solar Dynasty would be gone too.
There was something he didn’t know. Why all the sudden interest in him?
He felt pretty good about having outsmarted two out-planers with one move. He opened his hand to observe the twenty-sided icosahedron he held there. It was ice cold. Emerald green whisps of aetheric-plasma curled from its purple surface into the cool autumn air.
Reflexively, he blew on it like a gunslinger blows the smoke from the barrel of his sixshooter after dropping an outlaw.
Nick would be home soon. He would talk him out of doing homework and they could listen to RUSH and play Archon.
Leprechaun assassins and Martian spies aside, life was pretty good.
To be continued…