Table of Contents
This one’s for you, Dylan Brandt—K.M.
GROSSET & DUNLAP
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Text copyright © 2006 by Kate McMullan. Illustrations copyright©
2006 by Bill Basso. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. DRAGON
SLAYERS’ ACADEMY and GROSSET & DUNLAP are trademarks of Penguin
Group (USA) Inc. S.A.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2006021336
eISBN : 978-1-101-14207-3
ummer vacation was over. Wiglaf of Pinwick was itching to get back to Dragon Slayers’ Academy. That’s why, on a blue-skied fall morning, he stood outside his family’s hovel in his DSA uniform. All he owned was tied in a bundle at the end of a stick.
“Dudwin!” Wiglaf called. “Are you coming?”
Wiglaf’s third-youngest brother darted outside with a pack on his back. “I can’t wait to go to school!” he said.
Now Wiglaf’s father, Fergus, and his mother, Molwena, and his eleven other brothers crowded together in the hovel doorway.
“Bye, Wig!” the brothers called. “Bye, Dud!”
As the two started off, Fergus called, “Knock, knock!”
Wiglaf rolled his eyes. His father told really, really bad knock-knock jokes.
He answered, “Who’s there?”
“Howard!” cried Fergus.
“Howard who?” said Wiglaf.
“Howard you like some cabbage soup?” boomed Fergus.
Molwena bustled over. She thrust a flagon of warm cabbage soup into Wiglaf’s hands.
“The hovel will seem empty without you lads,” Molwena said. Then she twirled around three times and spat on the ground for good luck. “Wiggie, promise to keep an eye on your little brother.”
“I promise, Mother,” said Wiglaf.
At last, with more waving and good-byeing, the lads set off.
“I cannot wait to see Daisy again,” said Wiglaf as they walked beside the Swamp River.
Thanks to a wizard’s spell, Wiglaf’s pig, Daisy, spoke Pig Latin. Wiglaf’s mother did not want Daisy around, for she feared that a talking pig would bring bad luck. So Daisy had spent the last weeks of summer with Erica.
“Lucky Daisy,” said Dudwin. “Staying at the Royal Palace. Oh, look, Wiggie. There’s the message tree.”
The lads stopped beside a gnarled old oak. Messages of all sorts hung from its branches:
Get in touch with your mother right away!
Dudwin pointed to a message with a drawing of a dragon.
“Wiggie!” he said. “Read this one.”
Wiglaf read aloud:
The water dragon known as BUBBLES has been spotted in Leech Lake. Do not be fooled by his friendly blue eyes. Or his cheery smile. BUBBLES is dangerous—VERY dangerous.
Here is how ye shall know him:
Bubbles von Troubles
Duckie McScales (slain by Sir Trom, the brave and bold)
Often heard saying:
he’s not a flamer
Favorite thing in all the world:
playing “Blue Dragon ” on his horn
B on a tree
“Ah-ah-ah-ah?” said Dudwin. “What does that mean? I don’t think Bubbles sounds so scary.”
“You never know with dragons, Dud,” said Wiglaf. He opened the flask. They held their noses and gulped down most of their mother’s cabbage soup. Then the lads walked on.
At last they reached the slimy waters of Nowhere Swamp. In the middle was a patch of quicksand known as Wizard’s Bog. A row of rocks poked up, making a path across the swamp.
It was right here, a year ago, that Wiglaf first met Zelnoc. It was here that the wizard put a Pig Latin speech spell on Daisy. It was here that Zelnoc gave Wiglaf his magical sword, Surekill. Too bad the wizard had forgotten the magic words that would make the sword leap from Wiglaf’s hand and slay a dragon.
“Be careful crossing, Dud,” said Wiglaf. “The quicksand is very quick.”
“Oh, fie, Wiggie!” said Dudwin. “I’ve crossed this swamp a hundred times. Watch this!” He began hopping from rock to rock on one foot.
Wiggie’s stomach knotted up as he watched. Why did Dudwin always have to show off?
“I’m almost across!” Dudwin shouted. Then he took a bad hop and splashed into the swamp.
Wiglaf raced across the rocks toward his brother.
“Wiggie, help!” cried Dudwin. “I’m sinking!”
“I’m coming, Dud!” cried Wiglaf. When he was close enough, Wiglaf stuck out the stick that held his bundle. “Grab on!” he cried.
Dudwin grabbed the end of the stick.
“Pull harder, Wiggie!” wailed Dudwin. “I’m going down fast!”
“I’m trying!” called Wiglaf, wobbling on a rock. He was half afraid he’d fall, too.
Then suddenly his brother began to rise out of the quicksand. Up, up, up! Wiglaf had a funny feeling that he wasn’t the one pulling Dudwin up. How was it happening?
Dudwin let go of the stick. He kept rising.
“Look, Wiggie! No hands!” cried Dudwin.
Now Wiglaf saw a pair of scrawny arms under his brother, lifting him out of the swamp. The arms were followed by a pointed hat. The hat was followed by the face of an ancient wizard.
“Zelnoc!” exclaimed Wiglaf.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out.” The wizard continued to rise magically out of the swamp. From the tip of his hat to the soles of his slippers, Zelnoc was coated in swamp ooze. So was Dudwin. The wizard glided over and set Wiglaf’s brother down on the bank.
“Thanks, wiz,” said Dudwin. “That was awesome.”
Zelnoc smiled. “What sort of gift would you like, lad?”
“I get a gift?” said Dudwin.
The wizard nodded. “Wizard Rule Number 886 says that if I save your life, I must give you a gift.”
“You don’t have to take it, Dud,” said Wiglaf. Zelnoc’s gifts could backfire in strange ways.
“Surely you jest!” said Dudwin. “I love gifts! Okay, wiz—do you have something that will turn me invisible?”
“No, Dud!” cried Wiglaf. “Zelnoc’s spells-they always go wrong!”
“Hush, Wiglunk!” said Zelnoc. “I’ve been soaking in the power-restoring quicksand for three weeks. My magic is in tip-top shape.”
The wizard extended his skinny swamp-oozy arms out in front of him and turned his palms up. He began to chant:
Give this lad the Invisible Cap!”
A light flashed. ZAP! And Zelnoc was holding a bright blue cap decorated with silver lightning bolts.
“Awesome!” said Dudwin.
“For you, lad,” Zelnoc said, placing the cap on Dudwin’s head.
“What do you think of my spells now, Waglip?” asked the wizard.
“Do you know the magic words to make it work?” Wiglaf asked.
“I certainly do,” said the wizard huffily. “When you want to become invisible, lad, say, ‘Zippity Zap.’ And when you want to reappear, you say, ‘Zappity Zip.’ That’s all there is to it.”
“Zippity Zap!” said Dudwin.
Instantly, he vanished.
“Can you see me?” asked Dudwin’s voice.
“No,” said Wiglaf. “Reappear now, Dud.”
“Zappity Zip!” said Dudwin.
And there he was again.
Wiglaf breathed a sigh of relief. It was amazing. Zelnoc’s spell worked perfectly. Three weeks in the swamp really had done the trick.
“Thanks, wiz!” said Dudwin.
“Tah-tah, lads,” said Zelnoc. “I’m off to see Zizmor. The Amazing One is still miffed at me for breaking his brand-new Cloud Maker. But now, with my powers restored, I can fix it!”
A blast of purple smoke rose around the wizard. When it vanished, the wizard had, too.
“Zounds, Wiggie!” exclaimed Dudwin. “This cap shall make me the envy of all the Class I lads and lasses!”
“Just be careful, Dud,” said Wiglaf. “If you go showing it off at school, Mordred will take the cap away from you.”
“That’s not going to happen!” said Dudwin. Then he cried, “Zippity Zap!” and vanished.
Wiglaf leaped over the rocks after his invisible brother. He had a feeling that this cap would bring nothing but trouble. And how could he keep an eye on Dudwin if he couldn’t even see him?
iglaf and Dudwin, visible once more, ran over the drawbridge and through the gatehouse of Dragon Slayers’ Academy.