With a nod, Drigon herded the three new dragon students out of the kitchen and down the hallway. When they reached an arched doorway, Drigon shoved Wiglaf, Angus, and Erica into a dark room. It smelled nasty, as if something had been left smoldering on the stove. A chorus of snores and snorts filled the air. By the glow of his crest, Wiglaf was able to make out dozens of mounds on the floor. Each mound was a sleeping dragon.
Poking them with a claw, Drigon herded them to the back of the room, where they found unoccupied piles of rags. The three quickly dove for the piles. Dragon beds, Wiglaf guessed. Drigon fixed them with a dark gray stare.
Wiglaf shut his eyes. His heart was racing. He hardly knew what to think. One minute, he and his friends had been on an errand for their greedy headmaster. The next minute, they’d been turned into dragons and plunked down inside a school for problem dragons. He feared to open his eyes. He didn’t want to see Drigon hulking over him. In a short time, he fell asleep.
“Up and at ’em!” called a voice. “Up, I say! It’s a beautiful day at DSA!” BANG! BANG!
Frypot! Wiglaf smiled sleepily. The whole thing had been a bad dream. He yawned and stretched. He sat up just as a plump blue dragon rolled out of bed and bumped into him.
This was no dream.
BANG! BANG! BANG! Sizzlegizzard was banging on a skillet with a meat cleaver.
Wiglaf stretched his dragon’s body. He felt stiff from sleeping on the rags. He stood up and looked around. None of the other dragons had rolled out of bed. Most were still snoring, with their long pink tongues lolling out of their mouths.
“Don’t make me call Drigon,” Sizzlegizzard said.
Every dragon in the room leaped up. They didn’t bother smoothing their tendrils, straightening their crests or horns, dusting off their scales, or brushing their fangs. They quickly put on their blue uniforms with gold letters spelling out DSA.
Wiglaf saw a folded uniform beside his rag pile. He didn’t want to stick out, so he put it on. Erica and Angus did the same.
“We have to get out of here,” whispered Erica. “And fast!”
“Not that fast,” said Angus. “We’re staying for breakfast.”
“Are you crazy?” hissed Erica.
But before she could say another word, a green-and-white striped dragon with sleepy brown eyes hopped over to them. Her tendrils were tied in two pigtails.
“Peace, guys,” she said. “I’m Sissy. Who are you?”
“I’m, uh, I’m Silvershine,” said Erica, taking her name from her scales.
“Zoomer,” said Angus. “You should see me fly.”
Wiglaf had not given any thought to a dragon name. His crest was his most unusual feature. Maybe he could find a name in that.
“I’m Blinky,” Wiglaf said. He was instantly sorry. Blinky sounded like someone’s parakeet.
“So, what school did you guys get kicked out of?” asked Sissy.
“Oh, it’s so small, you probably never heard of it,” said Erica. “How about you?”
“Knightshredder Prep,” said Sissy. “I got caught not smoking in the girls’ bathroom. Plus, I made friends with the villagers I was supposed to eat.” She shrugged. “So here I am at Dragon Slackers’ Academy.”
So that’s what DSA stands for,
“Bummer,” said Erica. “How do you like it here?”
“It’s awful!” said Sissy. “The teachers here are really mean. They’re always making us burn things up.” She shuddered. “You guys won’t believe how much homework they pile on. Tons!”
“How’s the food?” asked Angus.
“Oh, it’s great,” said Sissy.
Angus’s blue eyes lit up.
“But only if you guys happen to like moat weedghetti with moat slime sauce,” Sissy added. “Which I do not. Come on, I’ll take you to the cafeteria. But I’m warning you guys—don’t get your hopes up.”
he Dragon Slackers’ Academy cafeteria looked just like the one back at DSA. Except that it was ten times bigger and filled with fire-breathing dragons.
“I hope Zelnoc’s spell doesn’t wear off now,” Erica whispered as they lined up.
“We’d be toast,” said Angus, picking up a cafeteria tray.
Wiglaf’s crest began blinking at the thought. He picked up a tray, too.
“Raw eel?” wailed Angus as Sizzlegizzard plopped some onto his plate.
The dragon cook fixed him with an orange glare. “Are you complaining?”
“No, no, no, no, no,” said Angus.
Wiglaf and Erica got their eel and hurried after Sissy and Angus to the Class I table.
“This is Zoomer, Stickley,” Sissy was telling a small, sand-colored dragon with a prickly purple crest. “That’s Silvershine and that’s Blinky.”
Stickley nodded. Then he picked up a raw eel from his plate. He tossed it into the air and breathed out a blast of fire—WHOOSH! The eel cooked in the air. Stickley caught it and gulped it down.
“Wow!” exclaimed Angus. “How did you do that?”
“You guys didn’t have to cook your own food at your old school, I guess,” said Sissy. “Me, neither. We had a chef at Knightshredder. Great food!” She sighed, cooking all the eels on her plate at once.
“I have to try this.” Angus took a breath, tossed an eel into the air, and blew on it with all his might. But the raw eel splatted back onto his plate.
Erica had no better luck than Angus.
Then Wiglaf picked up an eel. He held it in front of his mouth and blew. WHOOSH! He was so surprised when he breathed out fire that he dropped the flaming eel.
“Whoa!” said Angus. “Tell me how to do it!”
“Try curling your tongue.” Wiglaf stuck his tongue out to show them. Then he picked up the eel and popped it into his mouth. He didn’t like eel much, but this one tasted pretty good.
As he ate, something hit Wiglaf on the back of his head. SPLAT!
“Sorry and peace, dude!” called a yellow-and-black dragon from the next table. He had a shiny black crest. “I was aiming for Sissy.” He tried again. This time, he hit his mark.
“Thanks, Taxi!” cried Sissy. “Here, have some of mine!” She hurled some eel at him.
“Food fight! Food fight!” called the other dragons.
“It’s just like DSA,” said Wiglaf, ducking as a wad of eel sailed over the Class I table.
“Not exactly,” said Angus.
Wiglaf saw what Angus meant. Now flaming spitballs were whizzing across the cafeteria. A chair caught on fire.
A cry went up: “Douser! Douser!”
A plump blue-green dragon galumphed over to the burning chair. He drew a breath and—WHOOSH ! Instead of flames, water spurted out of his mouth, quickly putting out the fire.
All the dragons began to clap and cheer: “Nice one, Douser! Way to go, Douser!”
“At my old school, we had fire extinguishers,” said Sissy. “Here, they make the students do everything.”
Just then, Wiglaf caught sight of a large green dragon with many double chins. She stood on a platform at the front of the room. A rolled-up scroll of Hoard magazine stuck out from the pocket of her long red cloak. She gazed out at the students with large violet eyes.
“Greetings, slackers!” she barked.
“Greetings, Madam Dragonova!” the dragon students singsonged.
“Who’s got gold for me today?” asked the DSA headmistress.
No one raised a claw.
“So no one has robbed or plundered to get me gold for my hoard?” she asked.
“No, Madam Dragonova,” replied the dragon students in one voice.
“And I don’t suppose any of you have stolen a dragon slayer’s golden hoard?” she asked.
“No, Madam Dragonova,” came the chorus.
“Listen up, slackers,” Madam Dragonova growled. “You lily-livered lizards have been kicked out of some of the finest dragon schools in the world. Now you’re at Dragon Slackers’ Academy. This is as low as you go. The bottom of the barrel. The pit.”
Some dragon students hung their scaly heads. Wiglaf felt sorry for them.
“Here at DSA, we will make real dragons out of you!” Madam said. “We will teach you how to flame—and I’m not talking flaming spitballs here. I’m talking burning down whole villages!”
Some of the dragon students groaned.
Madam Dragonova ignored them. “We will teach you how to torch knights. How to rampage. How to plunder. How to destroy the countryside. How to root out dragon slayers and DO THEM IN!”
Many of the dragon students put their heads down on the tables. They didn’t look one bit interested in doing any stuff like that.
Madam Dragonova’s plum-colored eyes came to rest on Wiglaf, Angus, and Erica.
“Ah, Sizzlegizzard said we had new students,” she said. “Stand and say what brought you to Dragon Slackers’ Academy.” She aimed a claw at Wiglaf. “You first.”
Wiglaf’s crest blinked as he rose. “I’m, uh, Blinky,” he managed. “I got sent here because...I can’t stand the sight of blood,” he added truthfully. He sat down.
Madam D. frowned. She stroked her chins with a withered claw. “Coach Blazer teaches our Blood, Gore, and Guts Class. I’ll get him to give you a private lesson.”
Wiglaf hoped that Zelnoc would get them out of there before he had to sit through that.
Madam pointed at Angus. The blue dragon stood. “I’m Zoomer,” he said. “And I got kicked out of my old school for eating marshmallows in class.”
“Way to go, dude!” called Taxi. Many of the students clapped for Angus.
“Marshmallows?” Madam looked disgusted. “Real dragons eat Red Hots.”
Erica stood up. “The name’s Silvershine,” she said. “I got kicked out of my old school for being friends with a dragon slayer.”
“You three are the worst dragons ever to set claw in DSA!” cried the headmistress. “You won’t like it, but I’m going to make real dragons out of you, or my name isn’t Ivana Dragonova.”
fter lunch, the three worst dragons ever to set claw in Dragon Slackers’ Academy sneaked away. They hid in an empty room on the second floor of the castle.
“Conlez! Conlez! Conlez!” Wiglaf chanted. Saying the wizard’s name backwards was the way to summon Zelnoc.
But no wizard appeared.
Wiglaf shrugged. “Maybe he’s turned off his summoner. He does that when he takes a bath.”
Wiglaf was just about to give it another try when a big green dragon stuck his head in at the door. “Thought I heard voices in here,” he said. He had blue eyes that matched his blue blazer. He wore a hat with a brim. A silver whistle hung from a chain around his neck. “You’re the new slackers.”
The three nodded.
“I’m Coach Blazer.” He checked his clipboard. “Outside with you now. Or you’ll be late for my Taking Care of Dragon Slayers Class.”
In the yard, Wiglaf saw Sissy, Stickley, Taxi, and Douser waiting with a mob of other young dragons. Nearby was a scarecrow. It looked like a knight with a wooden sword tied to one arm.
“Today, I will show you what to do if a dragon slayer is stalking you,” said Coach. “Stickley! Demonstrate the Whirl and Flame.”
“Aw, Coach!” whined Stickley. “Do I have to?”
“Stop stalling,” said Coach Blazer. “Run over to old Straw Guts and show us.”
“That scarecrow is a practice knight!” Wiglaf whispered to Angus and Erica. “Just like our practice dragon back at DSA.”
“Turn your back on Straw Guts, Stickley,” Coach was saying. “He’s stalking. What do you do?”
“Run!” cried Stickley. He galloped across the castle yard.
“A big fat F for Stickley,” Coach muttered, making a mark on his clipboard. “One of you new slackers try it. Zoomer?”
Angus trotted over and turned his back on the practice dragon slayer.
“Straw Guts is sneaking up on you,” said Coach. “He’s getting close. Now whirl around and give him a blast. Got it?”
Angus nodded. He spun toward the practice dragon slayer, and shot a huge ball of fire from his mouth. Old Straw Guts’s head burst into flame.
“Oh, tail rot!” cried Coach Blazer. He blew his whistle. “Douser, get on it!”
Douser bounced over to old Straw Guts and belched out a spray of water. The practice dragon slayer had lost most of his head, but otherwise wasn’t damaged.
Coach turned to Angus. “It’s a practice dragon slayer, you doofus!” he said. “You’re supposed to use your practice flame! Don’t you know anything?”
“Guess not,” muttered Angus.
Coach Blazer looked suspicious. Next, he called on Wiglaf to do the Sword Whip.
“The sword what?” said Wiglaf.
“Oh, come on. Every dragon knows the sword whip by the time he leaves nursery school, Blinky.” Coach made a note on his clipboard. “Sissy, show him how it’s done.”
“Who, me?” said Sissy. “Well, okay, guys, here I go.”
She stepped up to old Straw Guts, spun around, and with a single, well-placed thrash of her tail, knocked the sword neatly out of the practice dragon slayer’s hand.
Wiglaf was impressed.