Excerpt from my work in progress

In the wake of last Thanksgiving’s Turkey dinner and pumpkin pie, with feet elevated, and sipping cinnamon flavored hot apple cider I had a certain epiphany from one of my lit classes,  trying to recall the ascerbic wit of the infamous Dr. Samuel Johnson, and a certain idea of a conceit formed itself..

In 1921, a sportswriter named Haywood Broun, wrote a children’s story called “The 51” Dragon.” This story became the idea of a conceit.

Conceit – Wikipedia. the free encyclopedia In literature, a conceit is         an extended metaphor with a complex logic that governs a poetic passage or entire poem. By juxtaposing, usurping and manipulating images and ideas in surprising ways, a conceit invites the reader into a more sophisticated understanding of an object of comparison. With some effort and diligence I was able to rediscover the words of Dr. Johnson:

“The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”

“The only end of writing is to enable the reader to better enjoy life or better to endure it.”

And finally,  “The happiest part of a man’s life is what he passes lying awake in bed in the morning.”

 

The First 51” Dragon

On the Monday after Easter Sunday, an Owl arrived at the Keep of Castle Spence, the letter informed his Grace, Duke Spence that his second son, Horatio Spence, had been accepted at Hogwaerts Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry, for the term beginning on September l” l532. His Grace, Duke Egbert Spence, hemmed and hawed, and finally harrumphed in total satisfaction and announced to his wife, The Duchess Spence, “The lad got in to Hogwaerts!”

Her Grace, Lady Sarah, Duchess Spence, grinned in exultation and remarked, “Well, most likely he may succeed there!” Her Grace, Lady Sarah, was the epitome of English Noble beauty, having a most pleasant and endearing complexion, of white Carrera skin, flaxen gold hair and a bosom that failed to be constrained by nature. She had delighted her husband the Duke with a fertility that was also seemingly unrestrained. Horatio Spence was the second son of six sons, and brother to eight sisters, which left the Duke with a quandary of what to do with them all. The first son, Dogbert, would in line inherit the title, duties, and obligations which befall the nobility. Horatio now had a place, and a noble calling to follow as well. His Grace, the Duke, was a Wizard of mediocre talent, but he had married a Muggle of inordinate beauty and intelligence, so there was hope of a great legacy.

Horatio was born a towhead, and while he kept most of his white hair, it had begun to fade into golden blond in places, but that was not the nature of the problem facing the Duke and the Duchess. In fact, it was in the nature of their children that caused the Duke and the Duchess their greatest concern. All of them, save for Horatio, seemed to take after their Mother, with great intelligence and striking beauty. Horatio, it seemed was endowed with both his Mother’s beauty, and his father’s physical athleticism, that is, in a short time since he had passed puberty, his enjoyment of physical activities had resulted in an amazing physical development. On the practice field he mastered all the arms sword, halberd, spear, crossbow, and had ridden in the practice Jousts with such ferocity that only the experienced Knights would ride against him.

On the other hand, every attempt at lessons seemed to result in a ledger of blots, smears, and unintelligible words.

To be kind, writing and lessons, was just not his cup of tea. To be unkind, Horatio was a bit slow.. So the news of his acceptance at Hogwaerts was a godsend. So at the end of the summer, Horatio, with a dozen servants made the caravan, that went the high trail North into the Scottish Lochs, and was delivered to the Headmaster. Also delivered was the tuition payment for all four years, which the Duke had added as a bit of necessary insurance.

There was a great crowd of arrivals at the Entrance Gate to Hogwaerts, with a gaggle of elves with lists, yelling out who goes where, directing arriving First Years to the Great Hall, and all the rest to assorted queues for baggage and boarding of servants for the night.

In the Great Hall, when all the noses had been counted, and the numbers added up correctly, the Headmaster nodded to the Gate Keeper and the Great Doors to the Hall were closed, and bolted shut. He then stood at the Center of Headmaster’s Table on the Dais and spoke..

His voice resonated in each ear as if he were standing next to each First Year..

“I am Headmaster Patronus Foxworthy, and here at my table are the Professors and instructors who will be teaching you what you need to know, and tomorrow you will be introduced to them, but tonight you must first be Sorted. Each of you will be sorted in the tradition of Hogwaerts. Each House in Hogwaerts is named after a founding member of Hogwaerts:

Goodrich Gryffindor          Gryffindor House

Helga Hufflepuff        Hufflepuff House

Rowena Ravenclaw        Ravenclaw House

Salazar Slytherin       Slytherin House

With that one of the elves held up a list of First Years for Headmaster Foxworthy, and he called them, one at a time, by name, in alphabetical order, to come forward, and be Sorted. As each First Year came forward, Headmaster Foxworthy placed the Sorting Hat on the head of the First Year, and then it announced the House that the First Year had been Sorted to.. and as each House was announced the first time, the House banner appeared from the ceiling beam for the House Table ~ and soon each House banner and House table was arranged and began to fill with First Years.

It was well toward the end of the first hour of Sorting when the name of Horatio Spence was called. Horatio was bold as brass and marched directly up the middle to stand before Headmaster Foxworthy. He folded his arms behind his back and held his head high and his chin forward. With that the Headmaster placed the Sorting Hat on Horatio’s head and waited for the decision to be announced. But nothing happened. Then a wisp of blue smoke curled from the tip of the Sorting Hat and all could hear it say, “Curious?” Then all could hear it clear its throat and loudly announce, “Yes Yes, Gryffindor!”

Such pause indicated to Headmaster Foxworthy that the Sorting Hat had come across something special in a First Year that merited Special Attention. As each First Year was Sorted, the elves were busy at work directing baggage to each house, so that after the First At Table dinner, each student would find that every piece of baggage had been delivered to their new room assignment and roommates, and all had been put away properly, and all baggage stored in the basement between the wine cellar and the dungeon. The First Years’ At Table dinner went well, with the occasional list and discussion of Hogwaerts Traditions and rules, and so on, and after dessert and a Good Night Cup of mulled wine, they all retired for the night.

Well, Headmaster Foxworthy had noted the curious pause of the Sorting Hat over Horatio Spence, and on a regular basis kept after his professors and Instructors to let him know of anything unusual about Horatio Spence. In the first term there was nothing of interest to report, and the usual response to the Headmaster was just, “Ordinary-Student, nothing — special.” But second term the Sports Instructor reported that Horatio Spence mastered broom riding the first hour, and had been later seen at the Quidditch field and had signed up for the practice squad. And so it went, Horatio Spence continued to excel in anything that required physical prowess, and had even become a popular figure in his class. His second year he became Varsity Quidditch team and helped Gryffindor House to the Quidditch Cup final, and despite a flurry of goal shots, at the end Slytherin House managed to hold on and win the Cup.

In the off season, Horatio trained for his Quidditch skill set and was able to master the more intricate moves, and was the absolute ruler of the field for his Third Year Quidditch Cup, and Gryffindor House won the Cup with a rare 22 to zero beating of Slytherin House. Even Headmaster Foxworthy was impressed with the inspired play of Horatio Spence.

It was, however, at the end of Third Year that several of the Professors came to Headmaster Foxworthy, with the estimation that Horatio Spence, although a mediocre student in his father’s footsteps, was even worse, and in fact would probably fail in any attempt to pass the OWLS, the entrance exam for Fourth Years that was required to become a level entry Wizard.

It was of such concern to Headmaster Foxworthy that he went to his private Headmaster’s Archives to see if he could find the source of a memory that glimmered briefly during these discussions of Horatio’s shortcomings, with the Faculty. When he found what he was looking for, he smiled, and thought to himself, “This is just the thing!” At the start of Fall Term, and Horatio’s 4th year, he had the Provost and Assistant Headmaster call Horatio and bring him to the Headmaster’s study. When all were present, the Headmaster pointed to a set of chairs arrayed before his desk and said, “Please sit and listen to what we wish to offer you! I and the faculty here at Hogwaerts have noted every year your special talents, and abilities, and have come to the conclusion that you are the one person we have been looking for these many years.”

“We would like you to spend your 4th year here at Hogwaerts to train to take up the position here as Master of Dragons. For that purpose we have made these special wands which will arm you and your squire, The wand core is made from the heart string of a Dragon, and an alchemist used a cup of Dragon blood to make the gold tip, and the wand itself is made from the heart of a black oak, and the handle has been shaped from a Dragon’s claw.”

And with that Headmaster Foxworthy held out an ebony wand box, embossed with the Hogwaerts’ seal. Horatio held the box with both hands, arms outstretched with a stunned look on his face, and was speechless.

“Yes, Yes!” continued Headmaster Foxworthy, “take it out and get a good grip on that handle.. nothing like it any where else..” And with that Horatio opened the wand box, and took out a wand from the case, got a good grip and waved it as to make an incantation ._ but suddenly stopped and looked at the Headmaster..

“It’s warm,” he stuttered in surprise. “Yes, indeed it is, Horatio,” continued the Headmaster, “It is part of the magic of Dragons, that they are indeed living creatures, despite the Muggles thinking them to be imaginary,” “It is also true that Dragons are difficult to slay as well, since their skin is scaly and interwoven which usually makes them impervious to arrow, spear, or thrusts from the long sword.”

“However, in the history of this office of Dragon Master here at Hogwaerts, there was the discovery that a certain way of making swords results in a blade that cuts right through Dragon scales. Every year the Ministry of Magic collects the stones that fall from the heavens, which some call meteorites, and send them to the Ministry’s Swordsmith. And months of work results in a blade that holds an edge that will cut through anything. But it is an unusual sword for it’s length, width, and weight!’ Two of the Professors came forward, as it took two of them to carry the sword, and stand it upright, in its’ scabbard, in front of Horatio. The scabbard was ebony dark and the handle silver.

Horatio took hold of the handle with his right hand, and with his left hand the middle of the scabbard, and swung the scabbard up and over his shoulder, and drew the blade from the scabbard. For a moment no one said a word, and then the Headmaster, quietly said, “No one else can hold that sword by only one hand!”  Horatio nodded in agreement, and spoke quietly, “It is indeed heavy, but it floats in my grip, and bends to my wish.” And with that he let the sword fall backward, and it slid in a whisper back into its’ scabbard. There was a round of congratulatory handshakes, and then a house elf appeared with a tray of crystal glasses, and a decanter of the Headmaster’s Port. Afterwards, Horatio went back to his room, and found that the house elves were finishing a set of hooks above the fireplace for him to hang the sword, so he and his roommates could admire it at their leisure. The next day, a special study carrel was setup in the Hogwaerts Library, along with a rather impressive collection of case studies and memorabilia related to previous Dragon Masters, and their accounts of encounters and battles with Dragons. With such ferocity on the part of Dragons in these accounts, Horatio paid close attention to the details, and it soon became apparent that mastery of the Great Sword would indeed ensure success.

So with diligence and perseverance Horatio every day, after lunch, carried his Great Sword to the practice field where the elves set up huge tree trunks and tree limbs to represent the thick part of Dragons. With stroke after stroke Horatio dismembered everything in sight, hour after hour, leaving the elves in exhausted condition.

One bright afternoon on the practice field, an owl swooped down and deposited a note into the hand of Horatio, and in a blue wisp of smoke, it announced “Your presence is required in the Headmaster’s chambers:   “IMMEDIATELY!””

So Horatio sheathed his sword and began the march across the school grounds, to the Headmaster’s Chambers. When he got there the groundskeeper was sitting outside the door, and growled at him “They are all waiting on you, Master Spence!”

Sure enough, when he got inside the door there was the Headmaster, all the prefects, and the Professors. There was also a gangly, lean, and lanky third year, standing next to the Headmaster. The Headmaster rose from his desk, and spoke.. “Horatio, the time has come to set things right, and we have decided on young Master Smartly, as your Squire. Tonight, after dinner service, we will conduct your investiture as Dragon Master, and you will henceforth be Sir Horatio Spence, Dragon Master.. and young Grievous Smartly will serve as your squire. Of course, both of you have to continue with the curriculum here at Hogwaerts, but there is time on the weekends to do some dragon hunting.”

With that there was applause all around, and the Mistress of Potions had already brought a flagon of Port, and glasses were filled and several toasts were proposed, and glasses emptied in their honor. Then the Master of Defense Against the Dark Arts unrolled a chart, and with a whispered charm, the Chart glowed in numerous spots, and he directed a finger at a not far away forest.

“See Horatio, the forests on the other side of the Loch are filled with Dragons, so to start you do not even have to travel very far!” Horatio nodded, and then turned to Grievous and said.. “Come along, we have training to get underway for you.”

Once back at the practice field they set up and practiced what was the standard tactic of the Dragon Master.. The squire sat up and used the wand to conjure the IMMOBULUS spell – which froze any living matter and allowed the Dragon Master to swing his mighty sword and decapitate the frozen Dragon. Well, in practice it all went well, and even Squire Grievous Smartly began to exhibit a confidence in his duties that was not there before. After a week of practice, the first Saturday morning arrived, and armed and ready they marched down to the Hogwaerts boathouse and launched a dory into the Loch, got aboard, and Horatio took the oars, fitted them in place, and began to row.

Horatio was feeling so good that he began to sing, to row in tune with the song. The song was in his native Cornish Gaelic, a language now lost, so what he sang that day has been lost, but the ones who recorded this history recounted that young Squire Smartly blushed in embarrassment all the way across the Loch, having never before heard a sailor’s chanty. Anyway, upon arriving on the opposite shore they pulled the Dory up on the shore and stowed the oars. Horatio armed himself again, and then they scanned the horizon for dragon sign.

“Aha,” said Grievous, “There’s one” and he led the way. After a half hour of marching they came to a meadow where there was a small dragon in the process of eating a sheep. Horatio drew his sword, and Grievous stood at his side, and step by step they advanced toward the dragon.

The Dragon continued to chew on mutton breakfast, and his eyes took in the advancing pair, and his head turned so that both eyes could focus on this menace. He stopped chewing and the carcass dropped from his claws. At that moment Grievous swung his wand to point at the Dragon and he spoke.. “IMMOBULUS”

A clear blue light from the tip of his wand struck the Dragon on the tip of his nose, and even the drool from his chewing froze. Horatio leapt forward at a dead run, and swung the mighty blade.. The upper part of the blade struck exactly behind the ears, and the dragon’s head flew across the meadow, landed, and rolled for another 20 feet or so, and came to a stop…

The IMMOBULUS spell must have ended when the head was severed because the jaw continued to chew several times before it came to a stop, as well. For a moment both Horatio and Grievous s stood there, in awe of what they had accomplished. Horatio hyperventilated and had to lean on his sword for a moment, while he collected himself, then took out a handkerchief, and carefully wiped down the blade to remove the crimson dragon’s blood from the edge. When it was wiped clean he put the sword back in the scabbard, and then pulled a razor sharp dagger from its sheath and handed it to Grievous..

“Go cut off the ears, lad!”

Grievous, too was shaky from the shock, but bravely walked up to the dragon’s head, and discovered that the dragon’s ears came off easily with the very sharp dagger. Both then turned around and began the march back to the shore, seemingly light on their feet. They launched the Dory and Horatio filled the oars in their locks and began to row back to Hogwaerts. This time, however, Grievous sang with Horatio the sailor’s ditty, without the least embarrassment.

At the boathouse they hauled the Dory ashore and stowed it, and then returned to Hogwaerts. Somehow everyone knew what had happened and their way was lined with students though the halls with a great following. As they entered the great hall, the Headmaster’s elf, Pilates, led the reception, with a Gryffindor plague in hand.. Pilates took the two dragon’s ears from Grievous, and fixed them on the plaque, which was then handed to Headmaster Foxworthy. A rousing cheer resounded through the great hall, but when Headmaster Foxworthy raised his right hand high in the air, the room quieted.

“A short while ago we received word from a Muggle village on the other side of the Loch that a great battle took place and a dragon was slain while poaching and eating a sheep. There is great joy in the Muggle village that something is being done to the menace of dragons. And for that we have Sir Horatio and his Squire Grievous to thank.

Henceforth, Sir Horatio will dine at Headmaster’s Table, and his trophies will be mounted on the front of Headmaster’s Table, as an honor won by Hogwaerts.”

That night, after the dinner, there was a special dessert of Port and Cheese, and although the cheese was all consumed, the house elves had to retrieve another barrel of Port several times, exactly how many no one recounted, and the last of the celebrants went to bed as the sun rose.

Emboldened as they were by their early success, Horatio and Grievous continued that Saturday excursion week after week, and each time returned with another set of ears. But each time they had to march further and further into the old forest, and each time the way into the old forest got darker and darker. The Spring turned into Summer, and the row of Dragon’s ears plaques grew longer and longer. As the Summer came to a close their Saturday trips had gotten so long that their return trips across the Loch began to end late at night.

After the latest excursion, returning well after midnight, there waiting for them was Pilates, the Headmaster’s elf, with a note.. “Please have breakfast with me, Headmaster.”

One of the Gryffindor house elves got him up in time, and though still sleepy, managed to shave him, and slap on some lime scented lotion, and point to all his clothes laid out for him to wear. It did not take long for Horatio to dress and find his way to the Great Hall, where breakfast was underway.

There was already a pot of fresh tea, a plate of scones, and pot of strawberry jam, and his favorite Cornish Clotted Cream in a bowl, and the Headmaster next to him, sipping on his Owl mug of tea.

“Ah, Horatio, Glad you could make it. I took the time to consult with Professor Bert Large, Master of the Dark Arts, and his Map of Dragons. When I consulted with him you had already slain 49 Dragons, and upon return would have 50 dragons to your credit. So we consulted the Dragon Map and it showed that the nearest Dragon was at least two leagues distant which is a long way to march back and forth.

“So next Saturday we are going to set up a support base on the other side of the Loch, and the groundskeeper and two fourth years will set up a camp as a resting place, so you can return during the daylight, when crossing the Loch hack and forth, to be safer.

“And we are concerned because all the several dragon signs on the map are gone, and there is apparently just one Dragon sign to the North End of the Old Forest” Sir Horatio nodded in agreement, and then added.. “Well, so far Grievous and I have managed to deal with the Dragons. The last three were indeed much larger than the others, the last one being 37 feet 8 inches in length.”

“Indeed,” remarked Headmaster Foxworthy, ‘Then perhaps it would be fun to see you in action for once.”

Horatio stopped in mid-dollop of strawberry jam on his scone, and replied..  “What a marvelous idea! We have been keeping all the fun to ourselves.”

With that he added Clotted Cream to the scone and took a big bite. After a moment of chewing to took a big swig of tea from his mug.. “Marvelous High Tea for breakfast, Headmaster!”

Headmaster Foxworthy smiled, and thought to himself.. “Ah to be young again and be able to eat like that!” From early Thursday the House Elves and the Groundskeeper had moved the equipment across the Loch and set up camp. On Saturday morning when they landed the house elves already had a fire going, over which a metal tripod was set with an iron kettle, keeping hot water in place for tea, which was the first order of business. After that refreshing tea break, Sir Horatio, Grievous, and Headmaster Foxworthy set off to the North, in the direction of the last dragon sign. It was at least a good four hours march through the Old Forest, and the pathways had become shaded and dark from the foliage that closed the sky from them.

They noticed that the path became harder, more stones and pebbles and such, and slowly the way began to rise, and Headmaster commented..  “We are getting closer to the Mountains!” And sure enough the Old Forest changed to Yews and other fir trees as well, and the sky began to show through again. And breaking through the trees, they found themselves in a great field.. and at the other end of the field, a great wall of Mountain..

Grievous suddenly pointed and said.. “Look Master, Dragon stones.

And sure enough, the field was littered with clumps of bones, fur, and skin, undigested matter, left by Dragons after eating prey. Sir Horatio nodded in agreement, and then added..

“Never found those before, always a first with these dragons! Well, here we are, and no dragons, so suppose we rest and wait.” With that Sir Horatio sat down and leaned his broad back against a Yew, and sigh with relief. Then spoke..  “Grievous, you take first watch, while Headmaster and I rest, and a dram of the Elvin Poteen if you please!”  At hearing that “Never found those before, always a first with these dragons! Well, here we are, and no dragons, so suppose we rest and wait.”

With that Sir Horatio sat down and leaned his broad back against a Yew, and sigh with relief. Then spoke.. “Grievous, you take first watch, while Headmaster and I rest, and a dram of the Elvin Poteen if you please!”

At hearing that Headmaster laughed and held out his hand for the vial of Elvin Poteen. He uncorked the vial and poured it over his tongue. The magic of Elvin Poteen is that it does not burn, but swiftly numbs the tongue and then diffuses the effect through the body, removing tiredness, aches and pains, and restores missing strength.

“Just the thing,” sighed Headmaster, pulling his cloak around him, and then said, “Just going to rest my eyes for a few minutes!” And then Headmaster and Sir Horatio were fast asleep against the Yew.

Squire Smartly, on the other hand had kept busy on watch, first walking back and forth, doing 20 paces up and 20 paces back, until there was a path in the dirt from his boots. When that got boring he cleared a place and collected stones to build a fire circle, and then collected kindling and wood, and set a bed of kindling in the middle of the fire circle and with his flint and iron (every squire kept a travel kit with flint and iron on hand at all times, just incase there need to be emergency repairs, or roast squirrel) lit the kindling.

Well, the fire was going nicely, and it warmed his hands and face, and then Grievous noticed that the light had changed. He looked around and saw that in the West the sun was low in the sky, and the clouds had the color of the sunset in them. Grievous then looked to the North, and in the sky above the Mountains there was sign.

“Master,” he yelled, and then “Headmaster!”   Grievous pointed to the sky above the mountains, and they saw, black clouds with flashes of fire, and said.. “Dragon Sign!” All three watched as the black clouds wafted over the tips of the mountains, and were in fact not clouds, but smoke from Dragon Fire. Then bursting through the smoke was a Great Dragon. They watched in awe as he flapped his wings and flew higher and higher, and his head moving from left to right and back again, searching for something. Without averting his stare from the Dragon, Headmaster said, “Grievous, add all the wood to the fire!” Grievous did so and soon there was a pall of smoke rising from the fire, and a line rose in the sky ~ and sure enough, the Dragon fixed his head in the direction of the fire signs..

The Dragon suddenly folded his wings against his body and he dropped from the sky.. The air seemed to warm as he dropped, not with a whisper but with a rumble like an earthquake.  Then he extended his claws and talons, and spread his wings once again, and landed, perhaps two hundred feet from where they stood at the edge of the forest. Step by step he came in their direction, sniffing the air for the smell of wood smoke.

Sir Horatio slowly unsheathed his great sword, and Grievous removed his wand from his belt. Headmaster Foxworthy reached into Grievous bag and removed another Vial of Elvin Poteen, uncorked it, and swigged the contents down his throat, and wiped his lips with the cuff of his shirt sleeve, and tossed the empty vial into the blazing fire.

After a moment the empty vial blazed white hot bluish flames, from which blue tendrils of smoke curled into the air and danced until they came to the great Dragon and curled around his form. His nostrils widened and he stopped in his tracks for a moment he looked around, and then breathed in, and exhaled through his nostrils a white vapor that exploded into flames that crossed a great distance between himself, and where the three stood before the burning fire. The heat from his dragon flame was intense, and even the forest seemed to cringe as dragon flame roared in like a wave..

“Who dares Elvin spells?” roared the Dragon.

Sir Horatio nodded to Grievous, who danced his wand in the air and chanted.. “IMMOBULUS”

From the tip of Grievous wand a blue light shot out and went straight to the nose of the Dragon. And as usual, the Dragon froze in its place. Horatio ran as fast as possible the great distance and as he approached raised the sword, and with a mighty stroke swung with all his might against the leg of the Dragon.

“CLANG!”

As his sword resonated in his hand from the ferocity of the stroke against the dragon leg. But where he had struck there was only a red mark upon the scales that covered the dragon’s leg. He heard an enormous sigh and looked up to see the Dragon looking down on him. And then the Dragon spoke: “Damm Boy! That hurt!”

“You gonna Burn for your troubles..”

And with that the Dragon inhaled to fill his lungs and breathe Dragon Fire.. to roast Sir Horatio! Headmaster Foxworthy snatched the wand from Grievous hand, and quickly waved the wand at the Dragon and incanted.. “ORIS CLUDO”

A coil of bright orange-energy leapt from the tip of the wand and began wrapping itself around the Dragon’s snout, holding its mouth shut more powerfully than a dog’s muzzle. It happened with such ferocity that the Dragon could hardly breathe and began to struggle and gasp for breathe. As the last winding around the snout stopped, there was a bright blue burst of energy and out of the burst appeared a blue feather, which drew itself across the nose of the Dragon several times and then, with a groan, the Dragon squeezed its eyes shut and bent its head against its chest. There was a snap like a wet towel against a bare bottom and the Dragon lurched to one side..

Squire Smartly spoke up:   “Bloody Hell, you made him sneeze!” Headmaster Foxworthy laughed, and said, “Watch this and listen carefully!”

They could hear a rumbling sound, like an avalanche, rolling louder and louder, and the Dragon dropped to his knees, and his head fell to the ground, and his eyes rolled up in his head, and there was a roar, as an enormous wave of Dragon Fire erupted from behind the Dragon, and rolled up the side of the Mountain, igniting brush and trees in its path, until it crested at the top of the mountain and disappeared, but with smoke rolling in clouds on the other side.

The Great Dragon was motionless in front of them, but Headmaster Foxworthy pointed the wand directly at the nose of the Dragon and incanted..

“Expecto Patronus!”

This time, from the tip of the wand appeared Dragon Fire, which grew in size and rolled across the ground between them and the Dragon, and when it got to the Dragon as an enormous shape which formed around the Dragon and merged into it..

 

The Dragon sat up, and spoke.. “I am Grand Duke Alexei of the Realm of Dragon. I came to investigate the deaths of all my nieces and nephews, to find out why my relatives have been murdered.” Headmaster Foxworthy waved the wand and incanted.. “Lumen”

And a great light appeared between Grand Duke Alexei and the three, Headmaster Foxworthy replied, “Grand Duke Alexei, Your Eminence, is mistaken, for here in the Muggle world, the stealing of a horse, the rustling of cattle, or the poaching of a sheep, of domesticated animals, is for Muggles and Wizards, a hanging offense, and for Dragons caught for such crimes, decapitation is the penalty.”

“For the future I suggest that you instruct your relatives to feed on feral prey, and agree to remain invisible from now on wherever Muggles and Wizards dwell, save for the native lands where you dwell in peace.”

Headmaster Foxworthy then pointed to Sir Horatio and said.. “Sir Horatio Spence is Dragon Master and was fulfilling his duties as Dragon Master, and caught each of your relatives here in Muggle Territory, poaching and eating sheep.”

Grand Duke Alexei turned his head to eye Horatio, and then spoke, “I no longer have any quarrel with you, Dragon Master, as long as you keep you sword sheathed and out of harm’s way.” And then turned back to Headmaster Foxworthy and spoke..

“Agreed, we shall no longer trouble Muggles and Wizards with our visible presence, and shall hold Muggle livestock inviolable and only eat feral prey.”

Then Grand Duke Alexei dropped his head.. “I must now take my leave, rest, recover my strength, so I can find my way home again. And with that the bluish aura which had enveloped him reappeared and then both faded from their sight. All three were silent for a hit, and then Grievous added some more wood to the fire, and they sat there warming their hands and feet before the fire.

Finally, Horatio looked at Headmaster Foxworthy and asked.. “Does that mean that there will be no more Dragons to kill?”

Headmaster looked a bit surprised but replied.. “Well, Yes.. that was the whole purpose of naming you Dragon Master, to remove the poaching by young Dragons to lure the Grand Duke into our trap..”

“Oh,” replied Horatio, “It was our trap?”

“Oh indeed,” replied Headmaster, “And you played your role most excellently!”

Sir Horatio looked at him with such a blank look that Headmaster was afraid of the next question.. “Yes, Horatio, it means that there will be no more Dragons to kill!”

Horatio looked at Headmaster, and then at Squire Smartly,

“So? What is next?”

Headmaster Foxworthy placed a hand under his chin and thought for a moment, “Well, in case you have not noticed, there has been an entourage of students who watch your every move on the practice field, including a new Mistress of Potions..

So staying on at Hogwaerts and raising a family is an entirely reasonable alternative to slaying Dragons.”

A slow grin grew on Horatio’s face, “Oh” he said, “You mean Girls!”


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