THE HIGH KING OF NEARLY ALL IRELAND AND THE LEPRACHAUN
Once upon a time (and a very good time it was) the High King of Nearly All Ireland sat in his nine-pillared hall and called for the King of the Leprachauns.
Quite unusually the King of the Leprachauns turned up. \”Yes, sorr,\” he said, \”And phwhat can Oi be doin for ye, sorr?\”
\”You can cut that crap out for a start,\” said the High King, who seemed a little tetchy about something.
\”Er… yes boss.\”
\”What is it I hear,\” asked the High King, \”About the Great Nine-Pillared Hall of Ireland falling down?\”
The leprachaun scratched his ear and looked at the high rafters. He seemed a little blinded by the light reflected from the carbuncles and emeralds shining upon the pillars holding up the golden rafters. \”Falling down?\” he said.
\”Yes,\” said the High King. \”The filidhs and ollamhs have been singing songs about it for weeks, they\’ve made satires upon it that would raise a blister upon the face of Oengus Og himself and in point of fact, quite a few of my chieftains and warriors are in fact suffering from boils and acne.\”
\”Ah,\” said the King of the Leprachaun. He was now twiddling a finger in his ear.
\”In fact, I understand that many of the fine nine-, seven- and five-pillared halls that you\’ve been building all over the land are looking distinctly unstable, not to mention some of the eleven, thirteen and fifteen pillared ones still going up hereabouts.\”
\”Ehm,\” said the leprachaun. He appeared to be looking for an exit. There wasn\’t one. The spotty chieftains and warriors were sitting about the High King\’s fire, all with their spears and shields in their hands, and they were looking both nervous and tetchy themselves. There was also a mysterious cloaked figure by the door.
\”To be honest,\” said the High King, leaning forward menacingly, \”I don\’t really care about the other halls. I care about this one. This is the really expensive one. This is the one with pillars shining with gold and diamonds. This is the one we\’re sitting in.\”
\”Yes,\” said the King of the Leprachauns who seemed to wish he wasn’t. \”Ah, this is all very interesting,\” he ventured, \”But is no one going to challenge for the Champion\’s Portion?\”
\”The Hero of Nearly All Ireland is in fact playing at the hurley, at the moment,\” said the High King\’s Druid in a chilly tone of voice. \”He\’s busy.\”
\”I\’ve been informed,\” continued the High King, \”That what you\’ve done is used fairy gold to build all the various halls and duns throughout the land.\”
\”Possibly, possibly,\” said the Leprachaun, \”Maybe. To be sure, whare\’s the harm in that…\”
\”I told you to cut that out,\” hissed the High King,\” I\’ve been told that the kind of fairy gold you\’ve used is the kind that\’s spatio-temporally unstable.\”
The Leprachaun blinked. \”Sorr? Er… boss?\”
\”It\’s reality-challenged,\” said the Druid. \”It disappears after a bit.\”
\”Ah,\” said the King of the Leprachauns. He seemed to be starting to sweat.
\”And while I personally don\’t give a used rat\’s dropping for the peasants who got big ideas in their heads and mortgaged their fields and their herds and their children to buy themselves a hall with two more pillars than their neighbours using the very finest fairy gold,\” said the High King, \”I am concerned that you may have been foolish enough to use the same stuff as the foundations and pillars of this very hall that we\’re sitting in.\”
The King of the Leprachauns said nothing. He seemed to be worried by the mysterious blocky figure in the black cloak which was moving closer to the fire.
\”Now I\’ve been telling the filidhs and ollamhs that of course, I\’m not going to go and ask the Romans for more gold to hold up this hall,\” said the High King, \”I\’ve been telling them that ever since we agreed to join the Roman Empire on a clear basis of greater sovereignty, there is no chance whatsoever that I would go cap in hand to beg for gold from the Romans under any circumstances and in fact I haven\’t.\”
\”Ah,\” said the King of the Leprachauns, mopping his brow.
\”But recently,\” said the High King, \”I\’ve noticed the roof here slipping a bit.\”
He looked at one of the booths which was blocked off and hidden behind a screen. There wasn\’t any gold around that pillar which turned out to have been built of sawdust and had collapsed. The Hall was in fact a Hall of Eight-pillars which any fool could tell you was a bad idea and bound to be unlucky.
\”So tell me,\” said the High King, \”Upon what foundation and with what material was this hall built?\”
The King of the Leprachauns looked around at the stern-faced chieftains and warriors of all Ireland and was very grateful that the Hero was off at the hurley since he was notoriously unstable.
\”That would be gold,\” he said to the King, fronting up, \”The very finest, highest quality gold from the hills of Wicklow, the best, the shiniest gold from our own good selves, made of purest atmospheric turbulence and hydrogen dioxide and solar prismatic displays with a sprinkling of ungulate faeces, under a temporally-limited but still completely fair contract and…\”
The cloaked figure stepped forward and threw off the cloak. As everyone expected, it was a Roman Procurator in full shiny breastplate, complete with legionary eagle and feathered helmet.
\”Irrumater!\” roared the Procurator as he brought his gladius down on the head of the King of the Leprachauns, just before the rest of the pillars turned to sawdust and the roof fell in.