A small car pulled into the train stop outside a small village. A teenager got out of the car and waved at Cerdic. “Hey, McNiall! Over here!”
Eyes rolling Cerdic started walking over to the car. “Call me Cerdic.”
“Nope, I call you McNiall until I know you better.” The boy motioned at the back seat. “Dogs in the back,” he motioned at the front seats, “people in the front.” He paused and looked like he just remembered something. “Oh, my bad.” He held out his hand. “I’m Veron Aelfson. Nice to meet you, McNiall.”
Cerdic shook the outstretched hand. “Nice to meet you, Aelfson.”
“Yeah, you can’t call me that in public. If you want to retaliate you can call me Smith, that’s what we go by in normal society.”
“Mr. Smith. You don’t happen to know a John Doe?”
“Funny, funny, droll. Get in. We have to find that leprechaun.” Veron opened the back door and put Grimm in the back seat by opening the dog crate and letting him walk in. “I’ll put the crate in the boot.”
– – –
“So, Smith, what can you tell me about leprechauns?”
“They draw people away from danger of the magical kind by pretending to tell them where their gold is when they get caught. They resent being caught by shape changers and werewolves. They don’t always wear green clothes as depicted in modern culture and are often confused with gnomes.” Veron motioned at a notebook labeled journal on the dash. “Page 75.”
“Eric said I wasn’t allowed to read the lore books yet.”
“Well, I say you should read about the creature we’re going after. I’m the field commander and I’m making a field decision.” He took a sharp left turn, causing the book to fall into Cerdic’s lap. “There, see? Read.”
“Well, if I’m not supposed to I’ll just blame the kid then.”
“It tends to work, especially since I technically outrank you.” Veron flashed him a quick, broad smile then focused on the road again.
“Right. Seniority and all that.” Cerdic picked up the book and turned to page 75. He began to read aloud. “The minotaur…really?” He thumbed backwards a couple of pages. “The leprechaun. There we go.” He glanced at Veron. “Why do you people always get the page for minotaurs first?”
“Oh, I could’ve sworn it was on 75. Odd. Did Eric turn to minotaurs first too?”
“Yeah.” Cerdic read the information on the page. He noticed some secondary script to the side that was in seeming jibberish. “What is this stuff to the side?”
“Oh, just scribblings. Nothing important.”
“Scribblings? Looks like letters to me.” Cerdic shrugged and looked back at the English. “So, not much is here. They seem to like using scarves and can usually be found in forests. You guys already mentioned everything else.” He looked back at the strange script.
Grimm barked a few times, surprising Veron who swerved a little into the right lane.
“Woah. Glad there’s no oncoming traffic. Do we need to stop for the little doggie’s room?” Veron glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw Grimm pawing at the door. “I’ll take that as a yes. Pulling over.”
While they were pulled over to let Grimm do his business Veron went to the trunk and pulled out an ice chest with sandwiches and soft drinks in it. “Want one?” He offered a sandwich to Cerdic.
“No, I ate on the train.” Cerdic was still looking at the scribblings in the corner of the notebook page. “Does that look like the Norse rune for ‘th’ to you?”
Veron took the notebook back. “Fine. They’re my personal notes. This isn’t the first leprechaun I’ve been sent to find. The first one warned of a mana storm. Usually they only warn of things that affect non-magical humans. The mana storm did cause headaches in non-magicals, but nothing serious. In warlockes, however, it caused debilitating migraines if they didn’t ingest Blue Ash.”
“It was. My parents had a difficult time working through that storm even with the Blue Ash.”
Cerdic grabbed a soft drink from the cooler. “What’s Blue Ash?”
“An ash that’s made from burning wood that’s been infused with healing magic. Well, what we use is. True Blue Ash isn’t found on Earth.” Veron whistled at Grimm. “C’mon boy, we need to get where we’re going.”
Grimm plodded back and jumped into the open back seat. He tried to close the door himself but failed.
“Here, I got it.” Cerdic closed the car door then motioned to Veron. “After you, Smith.”
“No, after you, McNiall.”
– – –
A small copse of trees just outside a busy city came into view. Veron pulled off the paved road onto a gravel one and continued heading for the copse. “So, this is where the reports are coming from.” He pulled his cellphone from his pocket and started texting on it. “Just sending in a progress report. We have arrived.”
“You could wait until we’re actually stopped to do that.”
“I could, but where’s the fun in that?” Veron tossed the cell on the dash and returned his attention to the road. “I don’t know why you’re being sent on this mission. Pretty much anyone else would do.”
Cerdic nodded. “Eric said you were on a less important mission. I got the feeling everyone is on some sort of assignment.”
The car came to a stop at the end of the gravel. “Well, we’re just a short walk away now. As for everyone being on assignment, you’re probably right. My family has been going back and forth all over Europe. I get to stick around the same general area, but they’ve been from one end to the other and back at least once each.” Veron got out and let Grimm out of the back seat.
Exiting the car himself Cerdic pulled a compass and an electric torch from his pockets. “It’s going to be dark in a few hours. You have a torch, right?”
“Yeah, we’ll probably need them.” Veron pulled his own torch from the door pocket of the car and put it in his jeans pocket. “I think the leprechaun will want to tell us what’s wrong, but it will try to keep away from us at first.”
Grimm walked around to the trunk of the car and pawed at it.
“Yeah, I think maybe we should eat first.”
Veron walked to the trunk and opened it. “Good idea, boy. Here.” He tossed a couple of sandwiches at Cerdic. “One’s tuna and the other’s ham and swiss.” He pulled out a couple of drinks and two sandwiches for himself and shut the trunk. “Here.” He handed a drink to Cerdic.”
Cerdic ate the tuna sandwich and half of the ham and swiss. He gave the rest of the ham and swiss to Grimm.
“So, the thing that’s going on is some powerful guy is building up an army of informants. Apparently a Medakus went missing in Oregon in the US and his mom is certain he was trying to find his father who is also missing. She claims that Warren Albrite is behind it. Here in Europe we’re trying to find our own informant amongst his informants so we can find out what he’s planning. A magical event that will affect non-magicals is not something we want on top of that.”
Setting the drink bottle on the top of the car Cerdic turned to look and Veron. “And how much of that were you supposed to let me know?”
“None of it, but you need to know how important this leprechaun hunt is,McNiall. It’s not some vacation. It’s very important.” Veron shoved the food trashin the trunk and shut it. “Let’s go.”