Authors: Kate McMullan
Suddenly the bridge lurched again. Wiglaf lunged
for the rope as a second troll heaved himself up from underneath.
“Back off, Grock!” growled the first troll. “This lad mine!
Now Wiglaf rememberedâKillerfish River Bridge was where the troll Grock lived! For a short time, Grock had been a student at DSA. Wiglaf had tried to be his buddy, but the troll just kept playing horrible tricks on him.
“Grock!” cried Wiglaf. “Am I ever glad to see you!”
“Why, buddy?” asked Grock.
“That other troll wants to eat me,” said Wiglaf. “But you can stop her, right?”
“Got any books, buddy?” asked Grock. “My sister love to gobble books.”
The girl troll licked her lips again. “Mmm, Grackle love books. Books yummy. Cookbooks my favorite!”
“Alas! I have no books,” said Wiglaf. “But I have something even tastier.” He held out Angus's pack.
“Lower the pack, Wiggie!” shouted Angus, who had nearly reached him.
The trolls turned toward Angus's voice. Grackle's eyes lit up.
“Two lads!” she cried. “That one look real juicy.”
“That pack's not his to give away!” Angus called to the trolls as he came closer.
Wiglaf's jaw dropped open. Angus hadn't been coming to rescue him. All he cared about was saving his stash!
“I have to give her your pack!” he cried. “Or she will eat
“You don't know that for sure,” said Angus. He reached his friend and grabbed back his pack.
“What in pack?” asked Grackle.
“Is goodies?” asked Grock. “From yer mommy?”
“What if it is?” Angus hugged his pack to his chest.
“I remember. You mommy send
goodies!” said Grock. “Marshie mallows and jiggle wormies!”
“Jiggle wormies!” exclaimed Grackle. “Give here.”
“No!” cried Angus.
“We eat goodies first,” said Grackle. “Have
for dessert.” She poked Angus in the gut. “Guh-huh, guh-huh!”
“Nooo!” Angus whimpered. He squeezed his pack more tightly than ever, and suddenly an idea popped into Wiglaf's head.
“Hey, trolls,” he called. “We have more goodies.”
“We do?” said Angus.
“Three more packs!” said Wiglaf, flashing him a look. “Big packs! Not like this little one.” He nodded toward Angus's pack.
“Right!” said Angus, catching on at last. “Three gigantic packs! Loaded with goodies!”
The trolls listened, wide-eyed.
“Carrying them slowed us down,” Wiglaf went on, “so we, uh, we buried them by the red rock before we crossed your bridge.”
“Want goodie packs,” Grackle said, drooling a little.
“Go get goodies, buddy!” said Grock. “Bring here!”
“The packs are too heavy for us,” said Wiglaf. “But you could carry them.”
“Stay with lads, Grackle,” ordered Grock. “I go get goodies.”
“No, I get goodies!” said Grackle, and she took off running.
“You not gobble up all goodies, Grackle!” cried Grock, and he ran after his sister.
Wiglaf and Angus turned and ran pell-mell in the opposite direction to the end of the bridge.
“Run!” Wiglaf called to the other questers.
The three joined Wiglaf and Angus, running up the road and away from the trolls of Killerfish River Bridge.
hen the five could run no more, they collapsed in a clearing, gasping for breath.
“Nice work, Wiggie,” Angus said, and he told the others how Wiglaf had tricked the trolls and saved his stash. “And our lives,” he added.
“You should reward Wiggie with some stash,” said Dudwin.
“Not a chance,” said Angus.
“Too bad we didn't get to fight those trolls,” said Erica.
“I was ready for battle!” added Janice.
“The trolls!” exclaimed Wiglaf. “By now they will have figured out that there are no buried goodies. Let us be off!”
The questers scrambled to their feet.
“Here we come, Worm!” Wiglaf cried, and they quickly marched off toward the Lair.
As he trudged up steep hills and down, Wiglaf thought about Worm. Right after he'd hatched, he was so small that Wiglaf and Angus had wrapped him in a blanket and carried him to Daisy in the henhouse. And the day Worm had first opened his eyes, he'd looked right at Wiglaf and said,
How Wiglaf loved that dragon!
At last, signs began appearing by the side of the road.
THIS WAY TO THE LAIR!
VISIT THE LAIRâOPEN EVERY DAY!
Soon they were joined on the path by more and more people heading for the Lair. Wiglaf wondered why a dragon cave would be so popular.
The sun was high in the sky when they passed another sign:
YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!
Wiglaf broke into a run, and the other questers ran after him. But when they reached the cave, they all stopped short. Could this be the right place?
Over the mouth of the cave, a big sign said:
LAIR SHOPPING CAVE
WORLD'S LARGEST HOME IMPROVEMENT CENTER
“Erica?” said Wiglaf. “Check the map.”
“Greetings!” called a hefty man coming toward them. He had black hair and a beard to match. “Alfgar, here to help you. Go on in! Carts are to your right. Whether you're fixing up your hovel, cottage, or castle, you've come to the right spot!”
“Good sir,” said Erica, “we were told that dragons gather in this cave.”
“They did, lass,” said Alfgar. “But the dragons flew off a few weeks ago, and there was no sense in letting twenty-five thousand square feet of space go to waste, soâ¦” He raised a hand toward the sign that said:
LAIR SHOPPING CAVE
“Where did the dragons go?” cried Wiglaf.
“Who knows?” said Alfgar.
Wiglaf groaned. They had marched through rain and mud. Sticker bushes had scratched them. They'd nearly been eaten by trolls! And here they were, no closer to finding Worm than when they had set out from DSA.
“Sir, is there no one here who knows about the dragons?” Wiglaf asked.
“One dragon stuck around,” said Alfgar. “You can ask him. He runs the loading dock outside the back entrance of the cave.”
“A cave doesn't have a back entrance,” said Erica.
“This one does,” said Alfgar. “It's so big it goes under the hill all the way through to the other side. Say, did I mention that we have a special on lumber? But if you're wanting ladders, hammers, nails, or gold paint, you're out of luck. Sent those items over to Dragon Slayers' Academy yesterday, and we're all sold out.”
“To DSA?” said Angus. “But why?”
“Who knows?” said Alfgar. “But we have some nice, yellow paint. Looks gold if the light's dim.”
The questers thanked Alfgar and hurried into the cave. They passed aisles of paving stones, mortar mix, gravel sacks, sod plugs, do-it-yourself thatching kits, and ready-made wishing wells. At last they reached the rear entrance and went out to the loading dock.
A sand-colored dragon was stacking bales of straw in a wagon. Other wagons were lined up along the road, waiting to get their goods.
“Excuse me, dragon?” called Wiglaf.
“Name's Bob,” said the dragon.
“We are looking for a young dragon named Worm, Bob,” said Wiglaf. “He's green and has yellow eyes with cherry-red centers. Was he here?”
“Yep.” Bob nodded. “Said he was raised by humans. Came here to hobnob with other fire-breathers. Learn what we dragons had to teach him.”
“Stop yapping and keep loading!” cried the wagon driver. “I have to make it to West Ratswhiskers by sundown!”
Bob tossed the last bale into the wagon. Then he called out, “Next!”
“Do you know where Worm is now, Bob?” asked Wiglaf.
“He was talking about maybe flying north to go to dragon school,” said Bob as the next wagon pulled up to the loading dock. “Can't recall the name.”
“Was it Dragon Slackers' Academy?” asked Angus.
“That's it,” said Bob, loading a thatching kit into the next wagon. “Don't know if he ever got there, but that's where he was headed.”
“Thank you, Bob!” said Wiglaf.
The questers jumped down from the loading dock and made their way up a winding path. When they reached a shady oak tree, they sat down to figure out what to do next. Angus took out his stash and nibbled, but never offered to share.
“Going to Dragon Slackers' Academy will be risky,” said Wiglaf.
Erica pulled out her map. “And it's a long, long walk to that school.”
“I have blisters on every toe already!” cried Angus. “Look if you don't believe me!”
“I have an idea,” said Wiglaf. “Let us summon Zelnoc. We can ask him to put a spell on us so we can fly to Dragon Slackers' Academy.”
“Remember what happened last time he tried that?” asked Erica. “That wizard turned us into dragons!”
“I never said it was a great idea,” Wiglaf muttered. “But what else can we do? Perhaps he has become a better wizard by now.”
“I'll summon him!” cried Dudwin. He chanted
the wizard's name backward three times: “CONLEZ! CONLEZ! CONLEZ!”
A blue light flashed, and out of the light stepped a blue-robed wizard with a pointed hat.
“Toadstools!” said the wizard. “Who summons me to the Dark Forest?”
“Me, wiz!” said Dudwin.
cried the wizard. “Watch out or I shall turn you into a newt!”
“No!” cried Wiglaf. “My little brother meant no harm. We need your help, Your Wizardness.”
Zelnoc squinted. “Ah, it's you, Woglib. You've summoned me at a very bad time. Ziz was just demonstrating the Wonder Wand. You toss it up like a baton! Twirl it behind your back! Quick! Tell me what you want, Wuglop, so I can get back to the demo.”
“We raised a baby dragon,” said Wiglaf. “Now he has grown into a full-size dragon andâ”
“Is he too big?” asked Zelnoc. “My shrinking spell is foolproof!”
“We need a flying spell so we can fly to our dragon,” said Wiglaf.
Zelnoc stroked his beard. “Just learned a new flying spell, but I haven't tried it yet,” he said. “How about I turn you into puffy, white clouds that float on the wind?”
“We need to travel fast,” said Wiglaf.
“Okay, the flying spell it is,” said Zelnoc. “No guarantees, mind you.”
The wizard began to chant:
“Fly spell! Fly spell! With my fl
I send these earthbound creatures skyward!
Off the ground! Up in the air!
y where you will, I don't care.”
“I feel dizzy!” cried Dudwin.
Wiglaf felt dizzy, too. And he was growing smaller. Much smaller! Had the wizard put the shrinking spell on them by mistake?
“Fly, oh, fl
y, wherever you might.
Fly for a day or fl
y for a night!”
A buzzing sound filled Wiglaf's ears. Was another of Zelnoc's spells going wrong?
utter, glide, and soar!
To break the spell, say, âFl
y no more!'”
“Done!” Wiglaf heard the wizard say. “I'm gone.”
hat's that crazy wizard done to ussss now?” squeaked Erica.
“Turned us into fliessss!” squeaked Angus.
“Woe is usssssss!” buzzed Janice.
“Wiggie, what shall we do?” squeaked Dudwin.
“Let me think,” said Wiglaf. They could chant the words to break the spell. Then they would no longer be flies, but that meant a long hike to the dragon school. Wiglaf wanted to find Worm
“Let usssss fly to Dragon Ssssslackers' Academy,” he squeaked. “Do you remember the way, Erica?”