The Great Quest




 
Once upon a lifetime in the little town of Dimwittering the great and good witch Sarafina discovered that all was not going quite to plan. Things were, to use the parlance of the local yokels, going gritbogglingly badly.

“What do you mean ‘he’s yours now’?”

The shy young man with the withered look of a teenager who never even got picked for the tiddlywinks team, thrust the leather strap he was holding towards the glowering Sarafina, “I’m just doing what the elders told me, miss… er, mistress… ouch!”

“I am Sarafina and need no other title. And come to that,” she added, blowing on the fingers that had just created a small lightning bolt and staring at the other end of the strap, “I certainly don’t need that weedy little thing.”

The weedy little thing in question, a marsh dragon who was as reluctant as the great and good witch to become anyone’s pet, snorted his distaste at the way things were going. Had he had the facial wherewithal to smile, he would have grinned broadly when the young man danced around stamping on the now-smouldering grass.

“See?” the young man said, hopping from one tussock to another, “He’s got his burners and everything. He’d make you a great pet.”

The witch snorted, “He’d make my cottage into a cesspit that is prone to catching fire every now and then. I do NOT need a pet dragon!”

“Every old… ouch! I mean every good witch needs ‘er pet dragon. I mean, you got all the mod things and Ethelred here will fit in a treat.”

“They are thoroughbred mogs, not mods, and they do not like competition of any sort and…What did you just call it?”

The young man was alternating between rubbing his scorched fingers and his even more scorched feet. The witch’s question made him pause and smile, “It’s a he, and he’s called Ethelred. Just like– “

“I know full damned well who that prince was, thank you very much. And what he was, come to that.” She gave an atypical shudder, “I hate to think why you lot named him after that heathen creature. Hardly a good sign is it? Give a dragon a bad name and all of that.”

The young man seemed unperturbed which was more a sign of his dim-wittedness than bravado. “Ethelred’s a good lad really, and I reckon he’ll really like being your dragon.” He might have been dim-witted but he dodged the third lightning bolt, even if it did mean landing face down in a dubious puddle.

Sarafina squared her shoulders and stared down at the foolish boy and the even more foolish winged lizard. This was all far crazier than she was used to as the village’s esteemed magical practitioner. Normally the council left her to her own devices mostly out of deference to her powers and also because they’d grown quite attached to having their genitalia growing between their hips. Few of them could ever recall the mayor’s accidental insult he had once directed at Sarafina without shuddering when they saw his new nose. Or rather noses. To stand too close to the mayor during the hay fever season was risking being sprayed with very dubious liquids.

Ethelred stared up at the witch and blinked.

“He’s only got three eyes!”

“We think the other one might grow later.” The young man was wiping his face and trying not to grimace.

Sarafina lifted the animal’s tail, “And that’s not all he’s one short of. I thought you said he’s a male?”

“Isn’t he?”

“Good heavens, you idiot! Are you trying to tell me that no one checked the gender?”

“Well he acts like a young male.”

Sarafina dropped both the animal’s tail and her leash. “If by that you mean he cocks a leg to piss up trees and goes out and gets drunk with his mates every Friday night, then maybe so but I seriously think that only half of those things ever happen.”

He shrugged, “Well it’s true I ain’t never seen him go down the pub… ouch!”

The witch was young by village witch standards, her raven hair lustrous and long, her eyes a brilliant green and her voluptuous figure sufficient to have the young man wincing from more than lightning bolt burns as he realised his trousers were a tad tight – but between her ears she was as old as the hills that surrounded them. All of which didn’t stop her being perplexed. This was most unlike the council.

“I ask again – and you will reply – what on earth possessed them to think that I have any need for a frigwillifus dragon?!”

“He’s only–“

“She!”

“Ouch! Well yes she’s only a little frigwillifus but it’s just right isn’t it? I mean all old… ouch! All wonderful witches need their familiars and mogs don’t count.”

Sarafina sighed. Partly because the annoying little man was right and partly because her current attempt at training a familiar wasn’t actually working out too well. Brian was okay at the job but when push came to shove – or at least to reality – then a snail maybe wasn’t best suited for the role and when all was said and done, Brian was essentially very snail-like and his recent history was full of the sort of dark deeds that would have made Sataner herself shudder. Even the mystical polishing cloth hadn’t been able to disguise that fact. No matter how the gastropod had enjoyed the, er, rub.

“I don’t,” she said softly, “actually need a dragon, let alone a three-eyed female who, to be frank, looks like something the mogs wouldn’t drag in if they hadn’t even been fed for a week.”

“He… ouch! She will grow into the role, I’m sure.” The young man rubbed what was left of his hair, “And please, miss… ouch! Mistress? Ouch! Ma’am?... Ma’am then, please could you stop frying my hair? I’m only the messenger!”

“Very well,” Sarafina sighed, secretly pleased that the request had been made, on the grounds that she loathed the smell of scorched locks, “I’ll take the horrid little creature in, but I warn you to warn the council that I am both very displeased and will ensure that every crop in the hills wilts and dies should this… thing…. pee on my parsnips.”

With a turn of speed that would have impressed the local runner, Ispain Anchor, the young man took to is smouldering heels and was out of sight quicker than a prize bull at the hint of horseradish.

Sarafina watched him go then looked down at Ethelred who was now sitting and licking her tail. “Now listen here, little girl. I didn’t choose to have a dragon here, especially a scrawny little marsh dragon like you. I mean, look at yourself! Three eyes, moulting scales, a kinked tail and your claws are all the wrong shape.” She paused and looked around to ensure she was, mogs aside, alone outside her cottage, “But I guess you’re a little cutie in your own weird way. Now come on in and meet the others,”

Ethelred raised her eyebrow. Human words meant little to her when directed towards her, other than ‘coal’ and ‘go away’ – the latter usually spelled with a few more ‘f’s – but she was aware that this wasn’t an invitation she should have been expecting. Cautiously, she followed the witch into her lair.

To say that It wasn’t what the dragon was expecting is probably overstating such a creature’s abilities when it comes to the animal’s capabilities but had Ethelred been human ‘unexpected’ would still have applied to the reaction. From the outside, the great witch’s secret hideaway was little more than a tiny, run-down cottage in the middle of the forest but inside it was little short of a small palace. Whatever glamour Sarafina used to disguise the true nature of her lair was seriously good shit because even the most nefarious of criminals would never have guessed what lay within the apparently shabby little hovel.

The front doorway, a ramshackle portal covered from the outside by a splintered and rotting lop-sided door, opened into a tall and brilliantly lit hallway with doors running the length of the corridor-shaped room for as far as the dragon could see – a not inconsiderable distance. She saw the witch passing through one such entrance some ten yards down the hallway and she trotted after her, now eager to see what new revelations there might be.

She reached the now-open door and gulped noisily, narrowly missing igniting her own tonsils. Inside the vast room that lay beyond, grand furniture lined every wall surrounding a dance-floor of decidedly 1180’s flavour, a giant glitter ball adding speckled light to the already dazzling chamber. Even the sight of two dubious overstuffed creatures lounging on equally overstuffed leather armchairs did little to dampen Ethelred’s amazement and dragon-ly delight.

The two creatures were clearly trying to at least pretend they were listening to the now-irate witch.

“You’re supposed to be my gritboggling pixies! You could have at least made an effort and come out with me to see what that silly little human wanted!”

The first pixie sat forward with a yawn and the sort of belch seldom heard away from the lava pits of Morebore. She stretched out her hairy arms, hairy palms raised, and grunted something that sounded suspiciously like ‘bleeding sorry, ain’t I?’.

The second pixie mimicked the former’s actions, “We was like tired, innit.”

Sarafina let loose a sigh, which scampered off into the distance – even the far wall of that room could be called ‘distant’ – and then wagged a finger at her two pixies, “It’s hardly surprising you’re tired given you didn’t get back here until five o’clock this morning. And look at what you’re wearing! Hardly inconspicuous like I specifically asked you to be! Those dresses can’t be more than two foot long!”

“They’re all the rage,” pixie two shrugged.

“You’re both six foot tall!” Sarafina yelled, “I can see all seventeen of your flipurcting nipples for Lord Frigimuscle’s sake! I hardly need to guess what you were after last night, do I? Daronna and Charonna you are both disgraceful little sex-hounds!”

Relieved that she now had a name, pixie one – Daronna – stood up, “Well it worked, anyway. We went to the sausage sellers’ conference.”

“Yeah,” Charonna added, a dreamy look suffusing her face, “And we saw loads of sausage!”

She stood up and put her arm around her fellow pixie’s shoulders in what would have been a touching moment were it not for the soggy splash that echoed around the Night Fever inspired chamber. The three women looked down.

“Is that a bratwurst?” Sarafina asked.

Daronna looked down between Charonna’s size nines, “Mortadella, I think.”

Charonna’s dreamy look took on a very self-satisfied gleam, “One of them, anyway.”

The witch tried not to think too, er, hard, “Well… now that you’re both finally back here and clearly… ready to take up your responsibilities again… go and get the mogs, will you? I need to Introduce them to the mobile flame-thrower somewhere I can keep an eye on them all. It’s bad enough having two gritbogglingly sausage-mad pixies in the house without having a mog-dragon war starting under my roof. I’ll be in my inner chamber, so send them there.”

She watched the now-grumbling pixies lumber off before turning her attention to Ethelred who was eyeing the over-sized Italian sausage with a mixture of hunger and fascination. “You, thingy, follow me, okay?”

The marsh dragon gave her best impression of a shrug and nodded, “Okay,” she said before slapping her two front paws over her mouth.

Sarafina started, “Did you just say ‘okay’?”

Ethelred shook her head, “Humans know we can’t talk… oh bugger.”

The witch put her hands on her shapely hips, “Oh I see! You’re one of those types. Well I can’t say I think it’s a good thing that you tried to hide it from me, but at least I won’t have to waste my precious energies on giving you a proper voice. How long have you been speaking? I mean is it a natural thing or have you been shacked up with another witch before?”

Ethelred sighed, “I’ve always been like it,” she confessed, “Mummy said it was just one of those things. You know? A gift with languages.”

“Well I have to say it’s very convenient.”

“You really think so?”

“Definitely,” Sarafina nodded, “This is only a short story, after all, and it saves so much time. Now follow me to my inner sanctum and tell me all about yourself.”

On the surprisingly long journey, Ethelred – already ‘Ethel’ to the witch – couldn’t help but tell all. She found herself harbouring the first traces of hope she had experienced for many months. “And that,” she finally concluded as they entered an overwhelmingly pink room, “is why I went so close to the village and got trapped.”

Sarafina pointed to a pile of pink cushions that lay some ten yards from an Imperial War Fleet Commanders-sized bed, “Sleep over there for now. And there were how many dragonlets?”

“I had fifteen,” Ethelred replied, “It was only my first litter.”

“Oh you poor thing! And you really have no idea where they went?”

The dragon flopped down on her belly, “Not a clue. Like I said, I went out on a hunt with the others from the swamp and when we all got back with the hum… er, cow there was no sign of any of them!”

“Well," Sarafina rubbed her hands together, “As long as you swear not to divulge my secret to anyone else – on pain of being turned into a set of matching luggage – I will confess that I have rather a soft spot for certain animals – and I’m not talking about the midden-pit, either – and I was hoping for a meaningful adventure with purpose. I have the strongest feeling that you have fallen on your feet… paws… by turning up on my doorstep, because I think I can assist you, Ethel.”

“That would be so kind of you,” the dragon said, “I would repay you in any way I could!”

“Even if I said I wanted a new dragon-skin handbag?”

Ethelred didn’t even pause to think, “Oh yes. Anything.”

“Good answer,” Sarafina smiled. “You, my little three-eyed friend, have just earned yourself my help. Oh, and here are the pixies with the mogs! Time for some introductions.”

The dragon watched with open-mouthed amazement as the two pixies, looking even worse for wear than they had earlier, led the parade of mogs into the witch’s inner sanctum. It wasn’t just the appearance of the animals that had slackened the dragon’s jaw – they were typical mogs in that they were a uniform black that sucked in the light from a good foot around them, furry to the point of puff-ball appearance, all around three feet long and two feet tall, and sporting both claws and teeth that would have done a damurial warrior proud – it was the fact that there were so many of them. She gave up counting when she run out of claws, and yet sill they trooped along behind the hungover – in all directions – pixies.

The witch had stood up in the middle of the room, arms spread wide to greet the horde and she now pulled one in with a wag of a finger at the new arrivals, “Now, now, my lovely mogs, un-arch your backs and meet your new friend – please note that word, because I will not tolerate dragon scales in my bed. Ethel, meet some of them – Carona, Sunstar, Claribel, Picahontus, Elfsmore, Hufflelump, Adorable, Collateral, Baritona, Pandemonium, Acacia, Lilliputia, Ginowai, Whispersync, Birdwingus, Smokey the Bandwit, Nevellum, Rubinia, Drek and his performing Lusties, and Fred. Mogs, meet Ethel.”

The dragon gave them all a slightly nervous smile and was rewarded with the sight of just shy of three hundred bared fangs and a broad array of looks all sharing the general theme of ‘snarl’. “Er, hello?”

The mogs registered uniform shock at the human voice emanating from the very dragony dragon on the pile of pink cushions and then spun as one huge furry unit and bolted out of the door.

Sarafina watched the fur settle in a small black cloud and then turned to stare at Ethelred, a slightly bemused look on her fine features. “I guess,” she said at length, “that you have a weapon they weren’t expecting. A weapon of mass distraction. Oh well, at least that should ensure that they don’t pick on you too much. Just mention the words ‘vet’ and either ‘castration’ or ‘spaying’ if you get into a scuffle with them and I’m sure you’ll be just fine.”

“They all look… friendly enough…”

“I sense your natural caution,” the witch nodded, “And to be fair, the mogs can be a tad possessive of their territory here. Even the fairies give them a wide berth and that pair can be seriously nasty when the mood takes them.”

“I thought they were pixies?”

Sarafina laughed, “Oh I’m not talking about Daronna and Charonna – although I grant you they can be rather nasty when they don’t get their way or when you hide their voddiewater – no, no, I was referring to the fairies, Graham and Dale. If you ever want to see two bright orange streaks of fairy getting nasty, just hide their make-up bags.” She walked over to the somewhat bemused dragon and settled onto the floor in a cascade of silk dress. “Now, though, I need you to tell me all about your little family and we’ll start making plans to go and find them.”

“Well,” Ethelred began, “there are fifteen of the little spoutlings...”

The two females talked long into the night before Sarafina finally announced that she was ready for the quest to find Ethelred’s dragonlets – but only once she had her ‘totally unnecessary’ eight hours of beauty sleep after first saying goodnight to all of her furry, scaly and otherwise multiple-legged housemates.

“You can give me about ten hours,” she said, leaving the slightly star-struck dragon to curl up on the mound of pillows which, thanks to her innate colour-blindness, didn’t jar too much with her natural decency. Ethelred curled up and sucked on the tip of her tail until she finally dozed off, excited but content, the background cries of the witch summoning her menagerie a soothing distant susurration, despite the very un-witchy curses about un-retracted talons and unwanted bites. Her sleep was deep and only fractured by the occasional odd dream when purry furry voices found their way halfway into her brain.

The next thing she knew was sunlight flickering across her eyes and she yawned, belched a small fireball and stretched her scaly legs and tail. She was stiff – she assumed from the unfamiliar cushioning she had spent the night on – but today, she knew immediately, was the day she finally had help in trying to locate her spoutlings. With far more athleticism than she normally displayed, she scurried from her heap of cushions and trotted up to the side of the bed where Sarafina was noisily slurping a dark liquid from a slightly chipped mug.

“Can we go yet?”

The witch ignored her for a few moments, draining the liquid before fire crackled in her eyes and she gave the sort of smile that would have had most villagers running for cover. “Ah, my little Ethel, all fired up for the day, I see.”

The dragon patted her nose clear of flame and nodded enthusiastically, “Yes please. Who will be coming?”

Sarafina rose to her feet in a graceful movement only slightly cheapened by the creaks and crackles that echoed around the chamber as her back straightened, “Daronna and Charonna have, somewhat surprisingly agreed to accompany us, but I don’t think we’ll need any more muscle.”

The dragon wrinkled her one brow, her three eyes narrowing, “Why is that a surprise? I thought the pixies were your slaves?”

The witch nodded, “Quite so but to say that seeing them awake at daybreak normally involves several glasses of voddiewater, a large gold sack and a long and patient night beforehand is understating things a tad. The pixies are, to coin a phrase seldom heard in Fairyland, a couple of slappers.”

Ethelred shrugged. She’d sort of worked that out for herself. “And you said we might need muscle.”

“Fairyland,” Sarafina said, “is full of the sort of creatures that will give the Brothers Stern plenty of ideas for scary fairy tales. It never hurts to have a couple of hulking slappers in tow in case my magic isn’t available for some reason.”

“If you say so, S.”

“And please,” the witch sighed, “Don’t call me ‘S’ in front of them. They already think I’m a little soft for putting up with the mogs.”

It took a lot of effort for Ethelred not to register a look of slightly bemused horror, “Okay then S… Sarafina.”

“Better,” the witch said, “Now let’s go rouse the pixies and find a unic-horn or three.”

Without further comment, Sarafina strode out of her chamber, pausing only to don a dark silk robe, her fingers already crackling with eagerness. Behind her, Ethelred scampered along, wondering what on earth a unic-horn was and whether being a slapper was a good thing to have as a life goal.

The second point was soon dismissed when she saw the state Daronna and Charonna were in. The dragon was particularly careful not to breath in their direction since even an immature one knew that alcohol fumes and flame were a rather warm combination. And the unic-horns were an even greater surprise.

“That thing sticking out of their noses…” she said quietly to the witch, “That’s not a horn is it?”

“Of a sort,” the witch shrugged, “Just don’t encourage them to sniff each other’s rears. When someone says the have a chain of unic-horns they’re not showing off their wealth, more their perverted sense of humour, Oh,” she added, “and don’t pet their noses unless you want to wear their affection!”

After much twiddling and fiddling with lengths of rope – needed to secure Ethelred to her mount – and even more fiddling and twiddling of an altogether more alarming nature courtesy of the pixies and their happy rides, the four females guided their unic-horns into the forest behind the Tardis-like cottage.

The tall, ancient trees closed behind them and Ethelred settled down as much as was possible given her restraints and savoured the pine-scented air, the merry tweeting of the birds (not the sort of tweeting that the pixies indulged in), and reckoned that she was going to have a lovely trip with a lovely goal in mind. Five minutes later they were brought to a halt by an imperious wave from the witch.

“That’s about far enough, I think.”

The dragon sat up straighter, “What? How do you mean ‘that’s far enough’?”

Daronna let go of her mount’s mounting device and leaned over, “She means we’re far enough into the trees that none of the locals who might be spying on us can see us anymore.”

“I don’t get it!”

“Charonna does, which doesn’t explain why she’s stroking her unic-horn quite so vigourously, but I mean it’s like an image thing, isn’t that right Sarafina?”

The witch slid gracefully down from her ride and nodded, “For a change the useless pixie is correct. Everyone back in the village expects quests to be long, arduous, dangerous, that sort of thing, but really, why go to all that trouble? I’m all for the quiet life if I can have it.”

“Yes but what about my spoutlings? We’re supposed to be going to find them!”

“Oh don’t stress yourself,” The witch produced a small silk purse from somewhere within the depths of her robe and pulled a small pouch from it. In a moment she was rolling herself a long, thin cigarette, “You’ll see your little ones before nightfall, I assure you. Now who’s going to make lunch?” She flicked her fingers and the cigarette lit with a spark.

“I don’t get it,” Ethelred moaned.

Daronna sniggered, “Looks like Charonna’s gonna. I guess I’d better do the grub.”

The dragon looked across at the pixie. “Is she kissing him? Is that a good luck thing or something?”

The other pixie gave another snigger, “I reckon that unic-horn reckons it is.”

Sarafina sighed, “Ignore those imbeciles, Ethel. And to explain more fully, I’m a witch and top of my exceedingly long list of talents is the ability to summon. I can call anything or anyone to me and I sent out the call after I bade you goodnight. Your spoutlings are on their way here even as we speak.”

“It’s…that easy? I thought we’d be gone for ages! Won’t the villagers think it was all very quick?”

The witch laughed, “Hardly. A little enchantment was sent their way when I magicked the Summons. As far as they’re concerned this is now one of the longest summers on record and we’ve already been gone two months. I think you may have been affected a little yourself because you’re not used to my powers yet, but it won’t affect you badly.”

Daronna held a handful of kindling in front of Ethelred, “Plays havoc with their birthdays but you can’t beat a good image, can you? Now, can you cough or belch or whatever you do to set light to stuff? Our darling witch reckons it’s beneath her to do anything so demeaning as lighting a faggot. Not counting that poofter of a taxman last Benwillikins’ Night”

“Daronna!” Sarafina said, “I’ve told you a hundred times before. Do not use such horrible words to describe someone.”

The pixie sighed, “Sorry, sorry. Not counting that poofter of a gentleman of dubious virtue last Benwillikins’ Night.”

“Better.”

Ethelred shook her head, slightly amazed and slightly bemused, then gave a gentle cough to light the sticks that the pixie still held aloft. “So,” she said eventually, “in effect we’ve sort of already finished the quest?”

Sarafina sat herself on a mound and nodded, “You could put it like that. This isn’t Lord of the Rings territory, after all – nothing nearly so time-consuming.”

Daronna raised her head, “Or nearly so Hobbit-forming!”

Neither dragon or witch so much as looked in her direction let alone laughed. They had good taste in some things, at least.

“Please yerself.”

Ethelred finally undid her tethers and hopped down from her mount, “I guess this is easier. A lot easier!”

“I may be the most powerful witch this region has ever known, but why make life an ordeal? This way, everyone is happy and no one either gets hurt or has to break into a sweat.”

The dragon sat down beside the witch, “When you put it like that I guess it does makes sense. And are you sure my spoutlings will find us?”

“Oh yes. I’m as much of a magnet for them now as the pixies are to cheap voddiewater and even cheaper men.”

Ethelred glanced over towards the pixies where Daronna was bent over the fire offering a fine but slightly terrifying view up a skirt that unfortunately left nothing to the imagination but could be used as an advert for miners’ lamps, and where Charonna’s head was bobbing up and down as she, er, kissed her apparently happy unic-horn’s… nose. “I believe you, totally!”

And so the four females spent a few quiet hours, smoking, try to ingest Daronna’s dubious lunch (digestion was out of the question), dozing in the dappled sunlight and generally being very lazy and very safe.

The sun was still an hour or so from setting when the questing party heard the first snapping and crackling of branches in the distance.

Ethelred was first on her feet, despite having four of them to get under her, and she gave Sarafina a hopeful look, “Is that… them?”

The witch closed her eyes for a few seconds in concentration and then snapped them open, the irises flashing silvery light around the clearing, “Yes, Ethel, it is.”

The little dragon span around in tight circles until she tripped over her tail before scrambling back onto her paws, “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“You can thank me better by not setting light to my robe, but I will overlook your excited flaring under the circumstances.”

Ethelred was indeed flaring excitedly, the sudden small gouts of flame even rousing the two pixies who had, from somewhere within their dresses, located a couple of bottles of voddiewater. Given how small and tight the dresses were – and how fat and tight the pixies were – it seemed better not to imagine exactly where the bottles had been stored. The dragon wasn’t in the slightest bit interested and the witch knew better than to even try to imagine, but right then all nine eyes were turned to face where the sounds were coming ever closer.

Dragons are not natural whimperers but Ethelred was making a series of cooing noises that turned to shrill barks when the undergrowth in front of them snapped aside under the onslaught of sixty sets of little claws.

It would be hard to say who was the more excited, the mother dragon or any of her fifteen little offspring, but it would be much easier to say that if anyone had witnessed Sarafina’s smile she would have had to have cast a spell to ensure that their mouth would have remained sealed for the rest of their days. Reputations were hard won and she wouldn’t want any of the villagers knowing she had a softer side. Not exactly cotton wool soft, but not quite as hard as granite.

Mother and babies cavorted around the clearing with more enthusiasm than grace for half an hour, the witch and pixies keeping their distance less out of respect for the dragons’ privacy than respect for their own eyebrows as little jets of flame peppered the area.

Finally, though, Sarafina clapped her hands, “I think that we should all calm down a little now. And we have a cottage to get back to before the dusk grows too deep.”

Ethelred, her smile threatening to create a two-part marsh dragon, nodded happily, the grass around her far less delighted as it withered under her sporadic flames. “Come on little ones, we have a night to spend in a lovely cottage before we can head back to the forest and be a family out in the wilds once more.”

Sarafina laughed, the unfamiliar sound giving the pixies a bigger surprise than when they’d dragged what they thought to be two strapping young male sailors back to their chambers before discovering that the pair really were a pair. A happily married pair. “Oh nonsense, Ethel, you really should stay with us.”

The dragon, normally a suspicious type by nature – she’d seen far too many humans, fairies and pixies with large buckets of water not to be anything else – raised her eyebrow, “But there’s sixteen of us in all and I won’t let anything happen to my spoutlings now. If you’re getting us back there to eat–“

Another witchy laugh interrupted her, “Oh Ethel, don’t be silly. I just want you to be comfortable and have somewhere nice to stay. Especially in your condition.”

“Well, if you just mean– what? What condition? What do you mean? Is this some spell or something?”

Sarafina shrugged, “Well I did say that some of my time-lapse spell washed over you a little. But no, it was nothing to do with me that you’re pregnant again.”

“Pregnant????”

“Oh yes, can’t you tell? I think you must be about seven weeks gone now, only a couple to go.”

Ethelred paused and took stock of herself, her eyes widening as she felt the flutter of movement deep within her belly, something she’d been attributing to dragon-ly excitement at the thought of her babies returning to her. “How? I mean I haven’t even seen another dragon for weeks!”

“Oh don’t worry,” the witch gracefully mounted her unic-horn, “It wasn’t a dragon. Quite which one of the mogs took advantage of your tiredness the other night I’m not sure. I will have words, though. Come on now, it’ll be dark soon.”

It was already dark inside Ethelred, but then a little light started to glow. What was done was done and the cottage really was rather nice despite all of the cushions… “Well come on you lot,” she said to her crowd of spoutlings, “I have a feeling you’re going to like where we’re going. And I have a feeling you’re going to have some new playmates before much longer as well.” To her surprise the dragon felt happy. She now had a home, an existing family – and a whole new family to look forward to. Not to mention a mog to fry when Sarafina had identified the culprit and had her back turned for a minute.

But Ethelred never did fry Pandemonium when he confessed to the dirty deed. The little dragmoglets were just too cute for words when they arrived a fortnight later – all twenty-seven of them. And she never even noticed that Sarafina’s raven tresses became rainbow-like the night when the little dragmoglets were born.

The new arrivals didn’t exactly get on well with their full dragon siblings or the morass of mogs, but despite the occasional Apocalypse Meow moments, everyone really did live happily ever after in Sarafina’s menagerie…


                                                                         The End


    Once Upon a Lifetime....



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































​One of the things we promise to do is ensure your story will be seen by those who you want to see it. If that's no one but you, just a loved one or even the World, then we'll aim to meet your needs.

Below is one story where the requestor was more than happy for the output to be seen - after she made one or two suggested changes - just so long as she could remain anonymous. So here it is, suitably anonymised, as a sample of what you might expect to see. The original request was for the genre of humour, the role as hero/heroine, the storyline idea 'a mixture of fairies, dragons etc.' and ages, genders and descriptions listed as 'Third person but the rest - I shall leave that all up to you.... surprise me'.

Apparently we did...

Here's one we made earlier...