Authors: Kate McMullan
“Fine!” Mordred opened his fist and Wiglaf dropped to the ground, landing at the headmaster's feet.
And suddenly the headmaster's feet seemed to soar upward all on their own!
Wiglaf raised his head and saw the headmaster dangling from Worm's teeth.
Worm gave him a little shake.
“YIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!” shrieked Mordred.
“Let him go, Worm,” Wiglaf said firmly.
Worm opened his mouth.
Mordred fell to the ground with a THUNK! Angus gave him a hand up, and he staggered off after his backers.
“Dragons can be a big attraction!
Think of it:
Dragon Gold Casino
!” he cried as he chased after the terrified trio. “We'll make a bloody fortune!”
But Lady Drippingwealth, Count Moneypots, and Sir Fuzzydice hurried across the drawbridge with never a backward glance at the desperate headmaster.
ordred limped back to the castle yard and collapsed on the scrubbing block in a puddle of tears.
“All my dreams and schemesâ¦,” he sobbed. “Ruined!”
Now the royals came out from the stables. Other families crept out from their hiding places. Everyone stared and pointed at the dragons, but they kept their distance.
Except for Dudwin, Erica, Janice, and Daisy, who cried, “Worm!” and
as they ran to the dragons and greeted them like long-lost friends. Then they sat down together in the grass. Worm snuggled close to Shirley.
“The minstrel's song came true, Wiggie,” said Dudwin.
“That's what I told him,” said Angus. “There was a sudden change of weather.”
“Families came, the sky darkened, and everybody ran around yelling âWoe!'” said Dudwin.
“We thought you were lost, Worm,” put in Erica.
“And now you're found!” exclaimed Janice.
“But the minstrel sang of a brave prince who would stand his ground,” said Wiglaf. “But Prince Rex was the first to run away.”
were brave and stood your ground, Wiggie,” said Dudwin.
“But I am not a prince.” Wiglaf shrugged. “Still, the minstrel did get most of it right,” he said and beamed at Worm. How happy he was to have his baby dragon back!
“AttenTION!” called Frypot from the platform. “Sorry about the little interruption. Everybody sit and we'll finish graduation.”
The royals took their front-row seats again. The other families sat back down behind them.
“Whoever doesn't have a diploma, come and get it,” said Frypot, not bothering with names.
Some Class I lads and lasses ran up to the platform.
Frypot tossed diplomas at them and then said, “That's it! Bye-bye!”
“Wait!” bellowed Mordred, running toward the platform and wiping his tears and his runny nose Baldrick-style on his sleeve. “WAIT!”
He stomped onto the platform and grabbed the megaphone from Frypot.
“Don't rush off!” he cried. “There's been a littleâ¦change of plans. Dragon Slayers' Academy is open again. Yes, parents, youâ”
Suddenly, a loud voice called out above the headmaster's: “KNOCK KNOCK!”
Wiglaf cringed. It was Fergus!
Mordred's violet eyes bulged. “Whoâ¦who's there?” he said.
“Harry!” cried Fergus.
“Harry?” cried the headmaster. “Harry who?”
“Harry up and finish your speech so we can all go home!” cried Fergus.
“Har-har!” laughed Prince Rex. “That's a good one!”
“No need to go!” cried Mordred. “School is open!”
“But, sir!” said Torblad. “We've graduated. We're done!”
“Yes! We're done!” shouted students and parents,
and they rose from their seats. There was much hugging and slapping of backs and then the families headed for the castle gate.
“Come, poppet,” Queen Barb said to Erica. “Let's go home. Popsy and I have to pack!”
“Royals!” cried Mordred, running up to them. “I want to make you aware of a special DSA graduate degree. Your Erica is a perfect candidate!”
“Sorry,” said Queen Barb. “Erica has other plans.”
Mordred turned to Queen Marge and bowed. “Where is that fine lad of yours?” he asked. “Happy to have him in Class I! Or, is he a very gifted lad? We can skip him up to Class II, no problem!”
“We shall find a school closer to home,” said Queen Marge.
“Alas!” wailed Mordred. He staggered off, weeping bitterly.
Wiglaf turned to the dragons. “Soon DSA will be no more,” he said. “If you still wish to be married here, we must act fast.”
He led the pair over to the sobbing headmaster. Dudwin tagged along.
“Sir?” said Wiglaf. “These dragons would like to be married here.”
“Here?” Mordred stopped staggering. He blew his nose on the hem of his tunic and looked up at the dragons with damp violet eyes.
“At my castle?” he said.
Worm and Shirley nodded.
Mordred sniffed. “This castle has just had a major makeover,” he told the happy couple. “Perhaps you saw that as you flew in. And golden castles don't come cheap.”
“My family is loaded.”
“Loaded?” yelped Mordred. “As in tons of dragon gold?”
“Tons and TONS.”
Mordred bit the side of his thumb. He was near tears again. But now they were tears of joy.
Molwena, Fergus, and the brothers walked over to Wiglaf and Dudwin.
“Ready to go home, lads?” asked Molwena.
“Not yet,” Wiglaf said. “The dragons are about to get married.”
“We want to stay for the wedding,” said Dudwin.
Molwena sighed. “I love a good wedding.”
“You stay then,” Fergus told her. He turned to Wiglaf. “Bring us some gold when you come home,” he said. “That's why we sent you off to school in the first place.”
Fergus pounded his chest with his fist, producing an earsplitting farewell burp. Then he led eleven of his sons toward the castle gate.
At the gate, the yellow-haired brothers turned and all together called, “Come home soon, Wiggie! We miss you!”
Wiglaf smiled and waved. Maybe going back home wouldn't be so bad after all.
“We miss pounding on you!” called one brother.
“And tripping you!” called another.
“And giving you noogies!” called the littlest brother.
Wiglaf stopped waving. Going home was going to be much worse than he had imagined.
verybody still here, pitch in for the dragon wedding!” shouted Mordred.
“A real dragon wedding?” exclaimed Queen Barb.
“We must stay!” said Queen Marge.
“I say!” said King Ken and King Homer together.
“Aw, blisters!” said Prince Rex. “I want to go home!”
Molwena helped Lady Lobelia cover the graduation platform with white silk. Daisy draped it with greenery that she'd gathered nearby and made a ring of flowers for Shirley's head.
Once more, the royals took their places on the front-row benches. Wiglaf thought Erica looked none too happy to be sitting next to Rex. Frypot and the few remaining students and parents sat behind them.
The DSA bell began to chime, and Brother Dave stepped onto the platform.
A large man in a black robe appeared at the castle door. A black, mushroom-shaped hat hid his face. He walked across the castle yard and up onto the platform to stand behind Brother Dave. He pushed back his hat and smiled at the wedding guests. His gold front tooth glinted in the sunlight.
Wiglaf gasped. It was Mordred! What was he doing up there? He had no time to figure it out for now. Worm bounced over and stood in front of the platform. Wiglaf and Angus hurried over to stand beside him.
Brother Dave gave a nod to Lobelia, and she began to sing “Here comes the bride!”
Shirley Dragon appeared from behind the castle where she'd been waiting. Wearing the wreath of flowers on her head, she walked between the benches to stand next to Worm.
After a few well-chosen words wishing the dragons a long and happy life together, Brother Dave said, “I now pronounceth thee dragon husband and dragon wife. Thou may kisseth!”
Then Worm and Shirley spread their wings and took to the air. They hovered above the wedding guests in the sky and bent their heads toward each other with their tails pointing down, touching at the tip.
“Look!” cried Queen Barb. “They've made a heart!”
“Isn't love grand?” said Queen Marge.
“Gross!” cried Rex. He stuck his finger down his throat and made loud, gagging sounds.
“Stop it, Rex!” cried Queen Marge. “I hate it when you do that!”
“Me too!” said Erica.
“Good-bye, Worm! Good-bye, Shirley!” Wiglaf called to the dragons as they flew off and disappeared into the clouds. How happy he was for them! And happy to know that Worm could always find him, even back in Pinwick.
“Awright, wedding's over!” shouted Mordred. “Student teachers? Get to work on that new sign!”
The young men picked up their ladders, paint pots, and brushes and rushed over to the castle gate.
“I'll spell the words for you,” Mordred barked at his hapless crew.
“M-A-R-R-Y-I-N M-O-R-D-I-E-S W-E-D-D-I-N-G C-A-S-T-L-E. Got that?”
Now Wiglaf understood Mordred's getup for the wedding. He was planning to become Marryin' Mordie!
“And paint this!” Mordred bellowed at his workers. “D-R-A-G-O-N-S W-E-L-C-O-M-E!”
“What a fine wedding, Wiggie!” Molwena dabbed at her eyes with a lacy handkerchief.
“Mother!” cried Wiglaf. “You must give back Queen Marge's hanky!”
“Why should I?” said Molwena. “She gave it to me, didn't she? You and Dudwin tell your friends good-bye. I'll wait by the drawbridge.”
“We'll park beside the moat, poppet!” Queen Barb called to Erica. “Don't be long!” The royals climbed into their enormous, golden carriage and it rolled toward the castle gate.
“How I shall miss you all,” said Erica. “And dear, old DSA.”
“I shall miss this school more than I can say,” said Wiglaf. For what awaited him at home? Cabbage soup and eleven brutish brothers. At least Dudwin would be there with him. That was a comfort.
“Me three,” said Dudwin.
“Definitely!” said Janice with a loud snap of her gum. “After DSA, the Knights' Noble Conservatory will be so boring.”
“Guess what?” said Angus. “I'm staying here.” He didn't look happy. But he didn't look that unhappy, either. “Uncle Mordred said Frypot needs an assistant for baking wedding cakes, so he hired me for the job.” He grinned. “Stop by anytime for a meal!”
“Be sure to come visit me at the palace, everybody!” said Erica.
Janice snapped her gum as she gazed at the practice dragon, scrubbing block, and crumbling turrets of the DSA castle. Then she cried, “Farewell, DSA!” just as the minstrel had predicted.
“Good-bye, Mordred, sir!” called Wiglaf. “Thank you for everything!”
“It's Marryin' Mordie!” the ex-headmaster shouted back. “Got that? Go on, then, all of you.” He gave half a wave. “And don't come backâtill you're engaged!”
iglaf and his friends hugged Brother Dave. Then they walked across the DSA drawbridge one last time.
Janice waved and started up Huntsman's Path toward the Knights' Noble Conservatory.
Wiglaf looked around. He saw Queen Barb sitting on a grassy hillock not far from the royal carriage. Next to her sat Queen Marge, her golden hairnet sparkling in the afternoon sun. And there, to his great surprise, was his mother, sitting on the grass and talking to the queens!
Wiglaf and the others drew near, but the queens and Molwena were deep in conversation and paid them no attention.
“I could not help but notice your fine, yellow-haired sons at the graduation,” Queen Marge was saying to Molwena. “How many sons have you?”