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Of LEPrecons and Daemons

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

"Irish businessman will pay large amount of U.S. dollars to meet a fairy, sprite, leprechaun, or pixie."

The ad was posted on the Internet. Indeed, it generated numerous fraudulent responses, but the person who placed it only needed one true lead for his purposes. He had studied all he could in the mundane world he inhabited, but he knew the important secrets of the Fairy would only be known by others of their kind.

After a wild goose chase in Cairo, at last the trail led to Ho Chi Minh City. Artemis Fowl the Second, latest in a thousand-year-old line of criminal masterminds, sweltered in the heat of a Vietnamese summer, carefully noting every detail of the passersby as he waited to make contact with his source. He was accompanied by his devoted servant, Butler, who served as confidante as well as being an amazingly lethal bodyguard.

Artemis' mission was a simple one. If he could gain knowledge of his enemy's plans, he knew he could restore the greatly diminished family fortune. Equipped as he was with an armed fortress, the latest in information technology, and devoted family retainers, he believed he had an excellent chance of gaining a leprechaun's ransom in gold.

It was his own plan, and he was quite possibly the only person on the planet capable of executing it. For Artemis Fowl was twelve years old, young enough to believe that magical realms existed, yet his mind was as brilliant and calculating as any adult's.

Perhaps he underestimated his opponents, genius though he was. The People may have been driven underground eons ago, but they were well-prepared to face outside interference, possessing a magically driven arsenal of attack spells and weapons that would make any Hollywood action hero envious.

Artemis is not aware that the leprechaun he wishes to ensnare is actually a member of the LEPrecon, an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police. Officer Holly Short, amber-eyed neophyte on the force, is more than a match for the likes of one Artemis Fowl who is, for all his cleverness, only a Mud Person.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

What Lyra enjoyed most was scrambling across the rooftops of Oxford, committed to the serious fun of war that raged amongst the children of all the colleges and the townies in between. There were pummelings with armfuls of rock-hard plums, mud fights, and even the occasional kidnapping. Yet for all of her wild behavior, Lyra was not an ordinary child. She was a lonely, genius child with aristocratic blood in her veins, and every so often some unfortunate young Scholar would be dispatched by the Master of the College to round her up for a hot bath and tedious lessons.

Sometimes she was even brought around for an audience with her uncle, the dark and mysterious Lord Asriel. On those occasions, Pantalaimon, her personal daemon, would accompany her, as he was never more than a few feet from her, no matter whether he wore the form of a mouse or large brown moth. Her uncle's daemon took the fierce form of a sleek ocelot. Lord Asriel never showed much interest during these interviews, and Lyra bore them as patiently as she could, eager though she was to rejoin the fun outside the stuffy walls of her college home.

Perhaps she was drawn to the college's Retiring Room that evening because she was on no account allowed to be there. The elegant old room, filled with portraits of past Masters, was off limits to all but Scholars. Certainly no females were permitted in the chamber.

It was after dinner, and the Scholars would soon be filing in for their poppy and wine. Voices and footsteps echoed down the hall towards the Retiring Room. Lyra and Pantalaimon scrambled behind an armchair. She waited, listening intently as the Master ordered a decanter of the '98 Tokay, remarking as he did so that it was a favorite wine of Lord Asriel who was an expected guest that evening.

Before her incredulous eyes, Lyra watched as the Master dismissed the Steward and carefully emptied a packet of powder into the rich, golden wine. He threw the packet that had held the powder into the fire, stirred the wine, and replaced the stopper. The old Master's daemon, in the form of a raven, squawked softly, but he spoke to it quietly before leaving through the same door he had entered. What he had said to calm his daemon, who was a reflection of his own soul, Lyra could not imagine.