“Oh, boy!” Angus raced into the castle, with Erica and Wiglaf right behind.
When they reached the cafeteria, they discovered they were the only three who hadn’t stayed for individual pictures.
“That was a close one,” said Angus, sitting down at the Class I table. “I thought they figured out that we’re faking it.”
“I thought so, too, for a minute,” said Erica, reaching for the pepper. “But why would they? We do everything the other dragons do. We totally fit in.”
Wiglaf made himself shovel in a mouthful of slimy weedghetti. All at once, he got a funny feeling that he was being watched. He looked up and nearly choked. Towering over their table were Madam Dragonova, Coach Blazer, Professor Scales, Earl von Flambe, and Ace Lizzard. The huge scaly teachers glared down at them.
Wiglaf’s flashing crest made Angus and Erica look up, too.
“Uh-oh,” said Angus.
“I’ve just heard some interesting reports from your teachers, slackers,” Madam said. “Zoomer, Coach Blazer says you nearly burned up old Straw Guts. Blinky, I hear you don’t know the Sword Whip.”
“Our old school was awful,” Angus said, shaking his head. “We never learned a thing.”
“Vhat school vas that?” asked Earl.
“Uh...Dragon School Academy,” said Angus. “Very small. Not up to speed.”
Wiglaf admired the way Angus was handling himself. But how long could he keep going before he tripped up?
“That one—” Professor Scales pointed a claw at Erica. “—is a troublemaker.”
“Vhat’s his name,” said Earl, pointing at Wiglaf, “vasn’t hissing sparks. There is something very veird about him.”
“And Zoomer there flies like a two-year-old,” added Ace.
Madam Dragonova’s plum-colored eyes bulged angrily. “You’re not real dragons,” she said. “You’re impostors!”
“What?” said Angus. “No, we’re dragons. Look, scales. Horns. Sharp teeth.” He grinned.
“Ve vill see,” said Earl. “Ve vill give you the Real Dragon Test.”
Wiglaf’s crest began flashing at hyper speed.
“Say the last line of this rhyme that every pipling dragon knows,” said Professor Scales.
“Mary Dragon had a lamb,
Had a lamb, had a lamb,
Mary Dragon had a lamb...”
The dragon teachers waited.
Wiglaf shrugged. Erica looked panic-stricken.
Angus took a guess. “Its fleece was white as snow?”
“No!” boomed Professor Scales. “‘For breakfast, lunch, and dinner!’ ”
Wiglaf swallowed. How could they ever pass this test?
“Vell, veil, vell,” said Earl. “Try this one:
Tvinkle, tvinkle, vee small star,
Dragons vonder vhat you are.
Up above the vorld so dark...”
This time, Angus shrugged. So did Erica.
Wiglaf gave it a try: “Like a diamond in the...park?”
“Vhat?” cried Earl. “No! It’s ‘Like a vee small dragon spark!’ ” Earl brought his face down close to Wiglaf’s. “Who are you?” he asked.
“Call Zelnoc, Wiggie!” cried Erica. She clapped her claws over her mouth. “I mean, Blinky.”
“Viggie?” Earl’s yellow eyes grew wide. “Viggie, short for Viglaf?” He grabbed Wiglaf’s front leg and began to squeeze. “Are you Viglaf of Pinvick?”
“It must be magic! They are not dragons—they’re dragon slayers!” shouted Madam Dragonova.
“Yow!” Wiglaf yelped as Earl’s claws dug into his flesh.
“I’ve vaited and vaited for this moment!” cried Earl. “Ever since you slew my vonderful mother, Seetha!”
“I never meant to!” cried Wiglaf.
“You vacked my brother, too!” said Earl.
“Another accident!” cried Wiglaf. “I swear!”
Earl kept squeezing. “This Zelnoc,” he said. “Is he a vizard?”
Wiglaf nodded again.
“So the vizard did a spell and von, two, three, you turned into dragons?” asked Earl.
Wiglaf was getting sick of nodding.
“I knew something was wrong with them!” exclaimed Madam Dragonova.
Earl was beaming. “Vait until my brothers and sisters hear that Viglaf of Pinvick, the vorld’s vorst dragon slayer, is a prisoner at DSA!” he cried. “I’m going to call them—all 3,682 of them! Oh, vhat fun ve’ll have vhen they get here.”
he DSA dungeon was hot. It reeked of rot and mildew. It had one tiny barred window way up high. Wiglaf saw a spider the size of a dinner plate climbing up the wall.
Iron cuffs cut into Wiglaf’s legs. Even worse was the gag tied tightly across his mouth. If he could only get a piece of it between his teeth! Maybe he could gnaw it off.
Erica and Angus were chained to the opposite wall of the cell. Erica kept grunting through her gag. Wiglaf figured she was saying she was sorry for blurting out his name. He was sorry, too. Very sorry! Who knew what awful things Seetha’s 3,683 children would do?
There! He’d gotten the gag to slip. He started gnawing. SNAP! The gag fell to the floor.
Wiglaf limbered up his lips. Then he quickly chanted: “Conlez! Conlez! Conlez!”
A tiny cloud of blue smoke appeared. It grew until it filled the dungeon. Wiglaf could hardly breathe. He saw Zelnoc’s shape inside the smoke. The wizard took off his pointed hat, held it upside-down, and said, “Vacuum!” The smoke quickly poured itself into the hat and vanished.
The wizard’s eyes widened at the sight of the three dragons chained to the dungeon wall.
“Am I summoned by dragons?” he cried.
“It’s me, Wiglaf. You messed up your wing spell, remember?”
“Ah, Wagloof!” said Zelnoc. “It’s all coming back to me now.”
Wiglaf rattled his chains. “Can you get us out of here and turn us back into our old selves?” he said. “And fast! There are 3,683 angry dragons on their way here to get me.”
“That many?” Zelnoc tapped his fingers on his chin, thinking. “I’ve got it. First, I’ll get you out of your chains.” Zelnoc pulled his wand from his sleeve and began to chant:
The wizard waved his wand at each dragon in turn.
“And cross my eyes!”
Zelnoc faced each of them with his eyes aimed straight for the tip of his nose.
“All before me—minimize!”
Wiglaf felt dizzy, as he always did when Zelnoc put a spell on him. Then he felt the chains slipping off. Zelnoc stopped chanting. Wiglaf looked around the dungeon. He’d never noticed how truly huge it was. Where was the wizard? And why were there two enormous shoes in the middle of the floor?
“Wagloop?” a voice boomed from above. Way above. Wiglaf looked up and saw the wizard towering above him like a mountain.
“Wiggie!” a silver scaled dragon scampered over to him. “Zelnoc’s shrunk us!”
The blue dragon was right behind her. “We’re no bigger than lizards!”
“Zelnoc!” cried Wiglaf. “Not again!”
“What?” boomed the wizard. “Are you suggesting that my spell went haywire? No such thing. That’s just what I meant to do. The chain-snapping spell is far more complicated. You’d still be prisoners if I’d gone that route. And that would be bad for you. Because I hear footsteps in the hallway. I’m out of here, Wuglop. Good luck!”
With a bright flash of light, the wizard was gone.
Now, Wiglaf heard the pounding of feet. Many feet. An army of dragons! The sound grew closer and closer.
The tiny dragons stared at one another, frozen with fear. They heard dragons growling.
“There’s a rat hole!” Wiglaf squeaked. “Quick!”
The three dashed into the hole in the wall. In the nick of time, too. Angus had just pulled his tail inside the musty cavern when the dungeon door creaked open.
“Vhat?” cried Earl. “Vhy, they’ve vanished!”
Wiglaf clung to Angus and Erica. All he could see from inside the rat hole were dozens of dragon feet. He heard Drigon grunting.
“I vonder if they summoned that vizard?” said Earl. “Anyvay, they can’t have gone far. Ve vill find them, no matter vhat!”
Wiglaf listened as the sound of pounding dragon feet faded into the distance. Then he let out a long breath. He’d managed to squeak by another encounter with Earl. But he knew there’d be a next time.
“Aaaah!” Angus shrieked and he darted out of the rat hole.
Wiglaf whirled around and saw three big rats standing behind them.
“We can take them!” Erica shouted.
“Aw, hey, no,” said the biggest rat. “We don’t want to fight.”
“Oh, good,” said Wiglaf. “We don’t, either.”
“Got any crumbs?” asked the second-biggest rat.
“Sorry,” said Wiglaf. “Listen, we have to get out of here. So, thanks for the hiding place.”
“No problem,” said the smallest rat. “Good luck!”
“The window!” cried Erica. “We’re small enough to fly through the bars.”
Wiglaf and the other tiny dragons spread their wings and flapped up and out of the dungeon window. They hovered there for a moment, getting their bearings.
“Let’s fly back to our DSA,” said Angus.
“But we’re so small,” said Erica. “It’ll take forever.”
“Look out!” cried Wiglaf as Sissy zoomed by, nearly crashing into the three tiny dragons.
“Whoa!” she called, veering at the last moment to avoid hitting them. She flapped her wings slowly, treading air. “Hey, guys! You’re, like, so small!”
“I know,” said Wiglaf. “Listen, Sissy—”
But Sissy wasn’t listening. She was yelling down to the other dragons in Flying Class. “Hey, guys!” she shouted. “Look! Here’s Zoomer and Silvershine and Blinky!”
“Sissy, no!” cried Wiglaf.
But all the dragons on the ground had heard, including Ace Lizzard.
“Grab them, Sissy!” called Ace. “They’re not really dragons. They’re dragon slayers in disguise!”
“Oh, Mr. Lizzard, you gotta be joking,” said Sissy.
“No joke!” said Ace. “They’ll slay you if they get the chance. We took them prisoner, but they escaped from the dungeon. Come on, class. Let’s go get them!” He spread an enormous pair of wings and took off. The students in the class flew after him.
“Wow!” said Sissy as she took to the air. “I was totally fooled.”
The three tiny dragons zoomed and darted through the air, terrified. Ace and every dragon in his class zoomed after them. Wiglaf lost track of Angus and Erica. His flying muscles hurt. He was getting tired. How much longer could he keep this up?
Wiglaf knew his blinking crest was like a sign that said, “Come and get me!” He had to land. He had to hide. But where?
Suddenly, claws seemed to come out of nowhere. They closed around him. He was caught! There was nothing he could do. He, Wiglaf of Pinwick, was a goner.
The dragon landed. It loosened its grip. Wiglaf started breathing again. He looked up at his captor.
“Sissy!” he squeaked.
“Yeah,” said Sissy. “It’s me. I trusted you guys!”
Wiglaf saw Erica and Angus in her other claw.
“Don’t turn us in, Sissy,” begged Wiglaf. “We
dragon slayers. But we don’t want to kill any dragons...you’re our friends.”
“For sure?” Sissy sounded doubtful.
“For sure!” Wiglaf, Erica, and Angus all cried.
“Well...friends are friends, no matter what. Stay here in the henhouse, guys.”
Sissy put them on a high wooden rafter beneath one of the many holes in the henhouse roof. “I’ll be back to get you.”
“Thanks, Sissy!” called Wiglaf and the others as she darted out the door.
“I’ll summon Zelnoc,” said Wiglaf.
“Fugettaboutit,” said Erica. “I’m going straight to the top. The head wizard, Zizmor. That’s who we need.” And she began chanting his name backwards, “ROMZIZ! ROMZIZ! ROMZIZ!”
tornado of red smoke appeared inside the henhouse. The hens clucked wildly and ran out the door. The three tiny dragons flew down from their perch, eager to greet the Amazing One, the most powerful of all wizards.
From out of the whirling red smoke stepped—a baby! He had on a red wizard’s robe and hat that were way too big for him. He was sucking his thumb.
Wiglaf gasped. “Zizmor?” he said. “Is that you?”
“Gaaaa!” cried the baby, catching sight of the little dragons. He ran after them. He scooped up Wiglaf in his pudgy hand and began to squeeze.