Note: This takes place maybe 10 years before events in my book, Blood of the Dragon. The character has a supporting role in the book, but I expect him to be one of the main characters in the sequel. This is a writing exercise to help me find his voice.
I did not expect the human to accept my offer of lunch. None ever have before, but she is young. Maybe she is simply intrigued that I said I would pay her only in gold.
I don’t like the way humans look at me as if I am not worthy of being near them. I know I am not beautiful like my former master, but I am a king and I do not wear rags anymore. They should bow when they see me, not sneer down their fat noses! That is why I want this website. She is very clever and makes ugly people appear beautiful and smart. That is what I want. The world should see me that way.
I don’t eat with humans often. They ruin their meat, cooking it until there’s no blood left, but the pub I will meet her in makes a very tasty turnip pasty with perfectly golden brown crust, and serves a wonderful Irish Cream Ale that makes me dizzy when I have too much. The pub has dark corners as well, which are good for staring out of but not for peeking into.
The waitress knows me and shows me to my favorite table close to the kitchen exit but still a dim corner. They like my gold, even if they don’t know the design. Human banks always take my gold. It must melt down just fine.
My tankard is in my hand and a bit of froth above my lip when she arrives, squinting in the dim pub. I squint back at her dark shape outlined in the doorway by an overly bright afternoon sun. I watch and wait to see how long it takes for her to find me. Eventually she does—there are only a couple of other patrons this early—and threads her way past the tables to me.
She’s a bit wobbly on those heels. Those are clearly not shoes made by me. Her choice of clothes is strange: gray leggings and a gray-white striped shirt that hangs a bit loose, colors that remind me of when I was a servant, but she clearly thinks they make her look pretty. She might be pretty. I certainly have noticed human men stare at forms like hers that are plump in the rear and chest. I don’t like fat unless I can eat it. I do like her hair; it is long and as brown as rich dirt, and her skin is fair, not ruined by too much sun. These contrasts in her appearance—beauty and ugliness—make me think of how the world sees me: what I can make for them and how I appear to them.
Her young face is the same: small blue eyes that almost glitter and a cute little nose, but a wide mouth that does not stop chomping gum. I sip my ale until she reaches my table, my eyes never leaving her figure. Humans like that, but it scares them too. They are flattered but fear I like them too much.
“Hagr Cummins?” she asks timidly. When I nod, she says, “I’m Sara Walsh.”
I put the tankard down and gesture for her to sit. I want to laugh, but humans are too stupid to understand the joke of the surname I have chosen. “Little bent one” is what it means.
“Would you like a drink, dear one?” I ask with all the politeness I can muster. She stares at me, a bit aghast. The humans who do that all think they are too pretty for one like me, even if I am a king. This is why I need a website. When a human sees me, I want them to already know how rich I am. Even pretty girls would like how I look then. I could change that right now if I put a bag of gold coins in front of her, but I don’t want her to know how wealthy I am. Not yet.
“Just water,” she says as she sits, and I snap my fingers for the waitress.
As we wait, she fumbles for small talk, settling on the unseasonably warm weather. Mostly I nod, letting her talk. When I was a servant, my master would do the same, and I would always say too much. Then I’d feel foolish. So I let her ramble until she grimaces and addresses the point of our meeting.
“So, you’re the king of shoemakers?”
I nod. I’m the king of much more, but I never let humans know that. They never believe the truth until it bites their nose off, and even then they pretend the world is what they want it to be. I reach into my bag and pull out a pair of heels, setting them on the table. They are black like hers, but the lines flow with more style. The heel is narrower and taller. The color screams, “Wear me and be beautiful.”
“Try these on your pretty feet, Sara Walsh. If they fit, they are yours.”
Her eyes widen at my offer. I want to snicker but my master’s beatings taught me that I can only do that with those I rule. She reaches for them as if they are made of glass, then gasps as her fingertips brush the leather. When the look in her eyes, initially full of astonishment at how soft and supple the leather is, transforms into desire, I know I will not have to give up any of my gold.
Tentatively, she removes her shoes and slips her feet into these. Of course, they fit perfectly, better than any shoe has ever fit her. She stands, bracing herself on the table and I smile. She has never worn such a narrow heel and expects to fall.
She lets go and takes two small steps, then a third and fourth that are normal, and she does not wobble. She struts to the door and back. The other patrons—all older men—stare at her hips, entranced. She clearly feels their eyes, and her countenance twists from desire into greed as she once more sits. I smile, knowing she is mine.
“They are perfect! It’s like magic! Do you really mean I can keep these?”
“Oh yes, Sara Walsh. These and many more can be yours if we reach an accord. I will keep you supplied in all the shoes your heart can desire if you can make my shoes famous.”
I already know her answer. She is ready to sell her soul for Leprechaun Shoes because her shoes are indeed magic.