After class ended, the three new dragons hoped to sneak off and try to summon Zelnoc again. But the hallways were mobbed, and every classroom was full.
“That was wicked cool, Zoomer,” Taxi told Angus as they headed for Professor Scales’s class, All About Dragon Slayers. “Using your real flame in class!”
When they reached the classroom, Angus said, “Let’s get seats in the back row. Then maybe we won’t get called on.”
“But I like to sit in the front,” said Erica. “I like to get called on.”
DSA you don’t.” Angus guided Erica to the back of the room.
Sissy, Stickley, Taxi, and Douser hurried to get seats near Angus. He was something of a hero now, after setting fire to old Straw Guts.
Most of the dragon students were still milling about when a tall, thin, pea-green dragon, who was more neck than body, walked through the door. He carried a briefcase.
“Seats, slackers,” Professor Scales said. “Pass your homework papers up to me.”
The dragon students shuffled papers in their notebooks. But no one found any homework.
“Slacking off again?” Professor Scales shook his head. Then he dug in his briefcase and pulled out a stack of papers. “I graded yesterday’s test. You all failed. No surprise. Pay attention today and maybe some of you will pass the next test. That would make history, but it could happen. Okay. First question: Why do dragon slayers hunt dragons? Douser?”
“Uhhhh,” said Douser. He scrunched up his face as if thinking very hard.
No claws went up.
Wiglaf glanced at Erica. He knew it was hard for her to keep from raising her claw.
“Dragon slayers slay dragons to take their gold and eat it,” said Professor Scales.
Wiglaf, Angus, and Erica looked at one another, puzzled.
“Next question,” said the professor. “What do dragon slayers wear in pouches around their necks?”
“Pouches around their necks?” whispered Angus. “What’s he talking about?”
“Dragon slayers collect dragon teeth for good luck,” Professor Scales answered himself. “They keep them in a little pouch.”
Wiglaf couldn’t believe his ears, which were now only small holes on the sides of his head.
“Third question,” said Professor Scales. “Say a dragon slayer is coming after you. What’s the best way to frighten him away? Taxi? Wild guess?”
The black-and-yellow dragon shrugged. “Say ‘boo’?”
“Petunias,” said Professor Scales. “One whiff of a petunia will knock a dragon slayer out cold.”
“What?” cried Erica. She jumped to her feet.
Wiglaf and Angus tried to pull her back down, but they were too late.
“A slacker with a question,” said the professor. “My, my. What is it?”
“Dragon slayers don’t eat gold,” Erica said. “They spend it.”
Dragon students gasped. Wiglaf’s crest started flashing. He wished Erica would stop.
“Dragon slayers don’t collect dragon teeth,” she said. “And no dragon slayer has ever fainted from smelling a petunia. Everything you said is wrong!”
“Oh, really?” Professor Scales smiled. Then he shouted, “Clear your desks! Pop quiz!”
“Oh, no!” cried all the dragon students.
“Don’t blame me.” Professor Scales began slapping test papers down on their desks. “Blame the dragon in the back row. She thinks she knows all about dragon slayers.”
Several of the dragon students turned around in their seats and shot Erica dirty looks.
When Professor Scales got to the last row, he bent down close to Erica.
“There’s something fishy about you, Silvershine,” he said. His eyes darted to Angus and Wiglaf. “And your little slacker friends, too. I’m going to find out what it is.”
“I told the truth,” Erica whispered to her friends when class was finally over. “So what if Professor Scales didn’t like it? We aren’t going to be around here much longer. During lunch, when everyone’s in the cafeteria, we’ll summon Zelnoc. He’ll get us out of here.”
Next was Flaming Class. Buckets of water and fire extinguishers were everywhere in the classroom. Wiglaf took a seat between Angus and Erica.
“Velcome to Flaming Class!” said a swamp-green dragon with a burnt-orange horn atop his knobby head. “For you new slackers, I am Earl von Flambe, your instructor.”
That name—von Flambe. Wiglaf had heard it before, but where?
“Flaming is a dragon’s most vicked veapon,” Earl von Flambe went on. “It’s vhat dragons are known for. Vhy else vould folks call us ‘fire-breathers’?”
Wiglaf nudged Erica. “I know that name from somewhere,” he said. “Von Flambe.”
“Sshhh!” said Erica. “I want to hear what he says about flaming.”
“Before ve practice flaming,” said Earl, “I vill get you all vorked up so your flames vill be vild and vonderful!” He grinned, showing a mouth full of mossy green teeth. “Vat vould you do if you met the vorld’s vorst dragon slayer?”
“Run!” called Stickley.
“Beg for mercy,” said Sissy.
“Hand over all my gold,” said Taxi.
“Use your vits, slackers,” Earl said. “Vhat vould you do if you met a really vicked dragon slayer? A dragon slayer who vanted to slay
“Uh...” said Taxi. “Try to talk him out of it?”
“Vat are you saying?” said Earl. “You vould flame him! Bar-b-que him! Charcoal grill him! Ha! That vould vake him up!”
Wiglaf thought Earl seemed way over-excited about this assignment.
“Now, students,” Earl went on, “vat is the name of this dragon slayer? The most vicked dragon slayer, the vorst one in the whole vorld?”
All together, the dragon students shouted out, “Wiglaf of Pinwick!”
iglaf’s crest flashed. He felt his blood turn cold. He had never been so scared.
Angus reached over and took one of Wiglaf’s claws. Erica held the other.
What was Earl von
Wiglaf wondered. How could he, Wiglaf of Pinwick, be the most wicked dragon slayer in the whole world?
And suddenly, it hit him.
“I know where I heard that name,” he whispered. “Seetha! Seetha von Flambe!”
Seetha was a terrible dragon, and her son Gorzil was just as bad. Wiglaf had slain Gorzil—by accident, of course. Then Seetha came after Wiglaf, seeking revenge. He had spent a ghastly afternoon clutched in her claw. He shuddered, remembering how she’d dangled him high above the DSA castle moat. Wiglaf had drawn the dagger he’d hidden in his boot. But the thought of actually stabbing anyone—even Seetha—made him feel so sick that he’d dropped it. The dagger’s tip had hit Seetha’s toe, which caused her to fall into the moat, where she sank to the bottom. So Wiglaf had more or less slain Seetha, too.
“Seetha had lots of children,” said Angus.
“Three-thousand six-hundred eighty-four,” said Erica, who had a head for numbers.
“Earl must be one of them.” Wiglaf swallowed. He stared at the angry dragon ranting on and on at the front of the class. Earl looked like Seetha. He had the same swamp-green scales. The same burnt-orange horn. Same yellow eyes. Same mossy green teeth.
“We’ll summon Zelnoc,” Erica whispered.
“Right after class,” added Angus.
Wiglaf could tell that his friends were trying to appear calm. But they looked almost as frightened as he felt. Right now, however, there was nothing to do but sit and listen to Earl von Flambe.
“If I ever find this Viglaf, also known as Viggie, I vill vack off his head!” Earl was saying. “I vill vomp him! I vill vallop him! I vill put him on a spit and flambe him!”
Please, please don’t let Zelnoc’s
dragon spell wear off now
! Wiglaf chanted over and over while Earl showed his students how to hiss green sparks.
“Ssssssssso cool!” said Angus, producing a shower of sparks.
“Sssssssssssuper!” said Erica, spitting sparks galore.
“Try it, Wiggie,” said Erica.
“I’m too scared,” said Wiglaf.
Suddenly, Earl von Flambe was standing next to Wiglaf’s desk.
“Vhat are you vaiting for?” said Earl. “Vhere are your sparks?”
“Ssssssomewhere,” Wiglaf hissed. But no green sparks appeared.
Earl von Flambe wrinkled his brow. “Vhat do you know,” he mumbled. “A dragon that vill not spit sparks. Very vorrisome.” He walked off, shaking his head.
“Buck up, Wiggie,” said Erica. “We’ll be out of here soon.”
“The sooner the better,” said Wiggie, sending a lone spark into the air.
At last, Earl von Flambe said, “I vill dismiss you now. Farevell!”
Wiglaf was the first dragon out the door.
“Come on,” he said, when Erica and Angus straggled out the door. “We have to summon Zelnoc.”
“Hey, Wiglaf? Oops, I mean, Blinky?” said Angus. “Let’s stick around for one more class.”
“What?” said Wiglaf. “No!”
“Come on, Wiggie,” said Erica. “Please? It’s Flying Class. Once Zelnoc changes us back, we won’t be able to fly, ever again. It’s our last chance.”
Wiglaf sighed. “Oh, all right,” he said. “I guess one more class won’t make any difference.”
Flying Class was held in the castle yard. Wiglaf spotted the teacher. He was slim and elegant, light green with silvery trim—crest, claws, back fins. A pair of goggles sat atop his head.
“Hi, Ace!” said Sissy as she ran toward him. “Did you meet the new guys? That’s Silvershine, Zoomer, and Blinky.”
“Ace Lizzard here,” said the teacher. “Ready to do some fancy flying?”
“Ready!” said Angus.
Ace grinned. “Let me see your stuff, dare-devil.”
Angus spread his wings and took off. He circled once overhead and circled again. He wobbled a bit, dropping several feet. But he managed to catch himself and land.
“How was I?” asked Angus, panting to catch his breath.
“Good,” said Ace. “For pre-kindergarten. You call yourself a dragon?”
Angus’s face fell.
“Sissy,” Ace was saying, “show him your stuff.”
“Aw, no, Ace,” whined Sissy. “Don’t make me show off. These guys are behind in everything. They must have gone to a really bad school. But it’s not their fault.”
“Sissy...” said Ace again.
Sissy sighed. Wiglaf and the others watched as she spread her wings and took to the skies. She did a quadruple somersault loop-the-loop triple lutz with a half-twist jackknife backflip double-axel skydive. Then she did some really hard stuff. She landed lightly on her hind legs.
“Awesome!” breathed Erica.
“Students, do some sprints to warm up for the fifty-yard sky dash,” Ace said. “I want a word with the new students.”
Wiglaf’s crest began blinking in alarm. Did Ace suspect that they weren’t real dragons?
But Ace’s attention had turned to the castle. Madam Dragonova was lumbering down the steps to the yard. Drigon lurched at her side, as did a large orange dragon. This one was carrying lots of lumpy packs. Behind them, dragon students and teachers poured out the castle door.
“Mr. Lizzard!” Madam Dragonova called to the flying teacher. “Classes are cancelled for the rest of the morning. We’ve got a situation!”
Wiglaf’s heart was thumping in time with his flashing crest. Had they been found out?
Madam Dragonova pointed to Wiglaf, Angus, and Erica. “New slackers, up against the castle wall, pronto!” she shouted.
Wiglaf felt dizzy with fear as he, Erica, and Angus backed up against the high stone wall. Was the big orange dragon an executioner? Were they about to be offed by dragon firing squad?
“They know!” Wiglaf whispered.
“We’re doomed!” whimpered Angus.
“Wiggie!” said Erica. “Call Zelnoc!”
iglaf started chanting: “Conlez! Con—”
“Blinker!” shouted Madam Dragonova. “Shut your trap!”
Wiglaf stopped mid-chant.
“The rest of you, line up over there!” Madam Dragonova pointed and waved. “Go on! Shortest in the front. Tall ones next. Teachers, in the back row. You know the drill.”
What was going on? The entire school was now standing with their backs to the wall.
“This is Mr. Sketcher,” Madam Dragonova said, with a nod toward the orange dragon. “He got confused and came a day early for School Picture Day, but we’re just going with it.”
Relief flooded through Wiglaf. It was only a group shot for School Picture Day!
“Mr. Sketcher draws fast,” Madam went on. “But you’ll have to hold still or you won’t be in the picture. Say moat weed!” She sat down in a throne-like chair in the center of the group.
The three brand-new dragons stood still and smiled with the rest of DSA. At last, Mr. Sketcher looked up from his drawing pad and said, “Done!”
“Thank you, Mr. Sketcher,” Madam Dragonova said, rising. “Those of you whose parents bought the package with individual pictures, stay here. The rest of you, go to lunch.”