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CHAPTER 4 Never judge a book by its cover.

By Kelly Sibley Published 5 months ago 12 min read

Sir Dri’ Asabone breathed deeply the sweet smell of rescue as the garage doors were pushed back into place behind him. 

Looking around at his wonderous sanctuary, he was quite impressed, “Oh, how ingenious, straw bales covered with metal and wood on wheels,” before reality hit him with its big stick, “What’s that god’s awful smell?” His nose twitched at the pungent and strange odour trapped inside of Torren’s underground garage/home as it sized up to the knight’s nostril hairs like two nightclub bouncers and began pushing them around.

“Oh dear, I think your horsey may have died; either that or you may have a zombie nest somewhere, close by, like right next to us.” He squinted into the dark cavernous garage’s side stall, where Sally happily stood watching and waiting for her treacle mash. “But even still, your horsey seems to be standing and eating somehow?” The confused knight raised a quaffed eyebrow towards Torren’s reddening face. “Zombie horsey?”

Climbing back on the now squashed bale of hay, Beatrix spoke flippantly as she shoved one of Torren’s hessian sausages back into the gap between the two doors. “Nah, it’s not the nag; it’s Mr. Stinky right next door to you. He’s the one who smells like death put on aftershave.” She hoicked a thumb towards the shrinking Torren, not even bothering to look at him.  “It’s alright once your olfactory system shuts down.”

At the very moment, the young witch pushed her black pointed hat from her smudged forehead so it wouldn’t interfere with her sneaking a peek at the dragon, Sir Richard’s heart was awoken with a trumpeting serenade. It was as if the world disappeared into a black void, and in its place stood a rare beauty upon a golden pillar bathed in golden sunlight, her beautiful piercing blue eyes flashing with golden highlights.  

“God’s that sun’s bright!” Beatrix complained, rubbing her eyes roughly, “I think my retina just caught fire.”

“Oh, fair maiden, do not bother yourself with such a laborious task.” Sir Richard rushed forward to capture her delicate hand in his own. “Surely, there’s a little man here somewhere who could do this ghastly and onerous task?” 

The knight turned with a beaming smile to Torren. Admittedly, Sir Richard’s smile faded somewhat as he began to feel the need to breathe through his mouth. “Oh, there you are! Here, Master Stinky, take this rough sausage and shove it where the sun doth shine!”

Beatrix ripped her hand out of Sir Richard’s and wiped it on her black cloak. No witch would ever dream of having their hand held nor be considered anything less than totally capable.

“I do not need a man to take over from me.” She curtly armed her eyes with a fresh set of darts and wrote Sir Richard’s name all over them. “I’m more than most capable of shoving this sausage where the sun ‘doth and doth not’ shine, so don’t push it, blondie!”

“Oh, my dear sweet lady, I beg your forgiveness.” Sir Richard fell into a low bow, which in itself was very impressive considering the weight of his armour.

“She’s a witch.” Torren watched, waiting for the penny to drop. He contemplated how his life had gone from simple to very complicated in a mere half-hour.

“May I plead for your favour and show my regret by taking you to an afternoon tea in Mrs. Quick’s hole? I hear she makes a lovely tea cake.” He smiled his most dazzling grin, one which he felt captured all of his best sides.

Torren sighed as he shoved a sausage under the closest straw bale trolley. “She’s a witch. They don’t do afternoon tea. And,” Torren stood up, kicking the padding into place with a vicious foot, “there’s a bloody great big yellow dragon out there who wants to BBQ anyone and everyone. So, if ya lucky, the only place you might be going anywhere other than the burns unit at Mother Harpers is straight over to Charren and Coles’ funeral home!”

It was as if Sir Richard had tuned out anything that didn’t fit with his view of the world. An ability that’s probably required for highly driven and successful people and politicians. But when dealing with dragons and witches, …not a recipe for longevity. Torren looked on dumbfounded!

“Or, my lady, if you would prefer to partake in a night of line dancing, I’m sure we could find a place to accommodate us at Mr. Tumbian’s public hole; he always has room for me!”

Beatrix looked wide-eyed in disbelief as Torren bellowed as loudly as he dared into Sir Richard’s ear. “She’s a witch. They don’t do hand holding, afternoon tea, line dancing or men, in actual fact! So, will you please get out the bloody way so I can climb up and see where that bloody dragon is!”

Torren need not have bothered. A massive intake of air through the gaps at the top of the trollies gave the dragon’s whereabouts away. It almost sucked off Beatrix’s hat and certainly made Torren’s hair ruffle. But that wasn’t the worst; the dragon’s breath in was followed by a sulphur-laden breezy blowback, searing into the garage like a sneaky volcanic eruption.

“Oh my goddess,” was Torren’s only statement as he covered his face from the toxic odour.

Beatrix quietly climbed down from the hay bale and hesitantly whispered, “It’s outside, isn’t it!”

Torren nodded ever so slowly in case his head made too much noise.

The witch murmured, “Are we safe in here?”

Torren shook his head from side to side and whispered back through cupped hands to the witch, who now absent-mindedly clutched the sides of her dark cloak in trembling hands.

“The bales will only slow the dragon down for a little bit. I only built the doors to withstand a passing flame.” Torren’s eyes widened as fear took residence in his bowls, “I never thought they’d have to stand up to a direct blast!” 

Beatrix pulled the bundled cloak up to her mouth in anticipation of crying.

Sir Richard poked his head between the two, unaware his breath smelt of garlic and loudly whispered, “Why didn’t you think about that when you were building them then, you silly little man?”

“Because,” Torren’s eyes blazed into Sir Richard’s pretty blue ones. “I didn’t ever think I’d have to let a raving lunatic into my garage, and he’d have a dragon following him.”

“Have you got a back door?” came through in a cloak-muffled way from Beatrix.

Sheepishly, Torren blinked a couple of times and then thoughtfully replied, “I could if you promise to keep it to yourself.”

Beatrix dropped the cloak from her mouth, which was now a hard-firm line, “What,” she questioned harshly, “the hell are you talking about? Who cares if you’ve got a back door? It’s not like it’s a national secret or anything!” 

Sir Richard tittered a sarcastic snort, “Oh, you… Silly, little man.”

Loading his own optical darts, Torren stared in disbelief at the knight, who continued tittering away in support of Beatrix. “Hurry, be away with you and open your back door wide so we may gather in a more defendable location.”

Sir Richard’s big baby blues fluttered and then watered after the application of an unbelievably hard slap from the witch, who then obviously offloaded some pent-up emotion into her tone, “Shut up, you stupid ignoramus!” 

The angry young woman then turned her burning gaze back to Torren. “Spit it out. This hole is deceptively big; in fact, I’d say it’s a cave. I certainly can’t see the back of it, and you haven’t bothered to bring your cart in backwards, so you must have enough room to turn in here. Where,” she paused for emphasis, “is the other way out because I, for one, don’t want to be turned into charcoal briquette!”

Torren was impressed. Few people realised his garage was something other than a hole in the ground. “It’s more like a back passageway than a door!”

“Ho, then, little man, show us your back passage!” Sir Richard didn’t know when to curl up in a corner. He winked at Beatrix, who credulously breathed in and returned her attention to Torren.

“Look, I just want you to promise you’ll keep it to yourself. I got this property in a… fire sale, shall we say, and I just want to have the time to properly investigate its true potential.” Torren twisted his fingers like writhing worms.

“You mean you’re doing something shady here, and you don’t want Mother Heggerty to find out!” The witch’s blue eyes narrowed as she grabbed her hat once more from being sucked off her head. “I promise; just get on with it.”

The snuffling, sulphurous breath from the yellow dragon, who at that very moment stood outside the doors investigating their construction with a questioning and hesitant talon, blew back into the garage.

“Follow me!” Torren quickly grabbed Sally’s feed bag and hoisted it over her ears. “Come on, ol’ lady, you can much and walk at the same time.”

“Why are you bringing your dead horsey with us?” Sir Richard’s voice grated upon Torren’s last nerve.

“She’s not dead; she’s old, and I’m not leaving her behind; she’s mine.”

Sally affectionally nudged Torren to hurry up and do up the last buckle on her feed bag so she could have some chance of licking the last of the treacle gathered at the bottom.

“Come on, Sally, walk on.”

Torren’s request was unusual for this time of night, but Sally didn’t mind. The boy was a good worker and provided the loveliest mash and hay. He also knew exactly where to put her ‘stop the itch’ cream and always ensured Mr Ironsmith made her the nicest and most comfortable shoes. The old horse walked on with a swish of her grey tail. 

“That’s a good girl.” Torren brushed her forelock out of her eyes. You both just have to wait here a minute with Sally.” The reins were handed past Sir Richards’s outwards hand and shocked glare to Beatrix.  “I have to get my dragon.” And before either of his “guests” could complain, Torren slipped into the darkness, unlocked his front door, scurried into his home, and carefully scooped up the sleeping Tony.

The little dragon was cooed to as he was gently slipped into the inner padded pocket of Torren’s warm and soft satchel.

Whilst he had the opportunity, the attentive young man also thoughtfully picked up a few other ‘necessary items from his one and only shelf. “Never know when you need your stuff…” was mumbled quietly as he slipped the items into the front satchel pocket.

 “Was that truly necessary?” Beatrix’s anxiety was getting the better of her as the sound of an investigative talon raked across the door’s metal frontage.

“Yes.” Was the no-nonsense reply as Beatrix and Sir Richard dutifully followed the now hustling Torren as he led them into the dark, cavernous recess of his home. Admittedly, Sir Richard tried again to hold Beatrix’s hand and got another slapping, but thankfully it wasn’t across the face.

The dragon, on the other hand, was not happy.

“What ya doing there, ya great yellow pansy?” Asked the old pensioner who stood watching the Yellow Dragon pace forward and backward in front of the weird kid’s garage.

The delicious scent of her new mate was dissipating, and this annoying wobbly barricade of metal, wood and hay stood in her way. She walked around in a pondering circle outside the clearing, thinking deeply. Hard to get was one thing; walking away from an opportunity was quite another. Male dragons were so annoying!

“Ya looking for some nibbles ah. I hear the young fella in there is still as fresh as a daisy.” The old pensioner sniggered, gasping at the impact of his humour. “Fresh as a daisy,” he chortled loudly, loosening his false teeth. “ ’Cause he smells like a pile of…”

“Will you just shut up and let it do its thing!” Torren's neighbours, who had been horrified to be outed by the dragon cart man and his witch, were indeed at home. And at this very moment, Mr and Mrs Hyden sat quietly in their hovel, biting their nails as the dragon walked about their neighbourhood and holes, I mean homes, pausing and snorting as it did. Mr. Geezer and his stupid questioning weren’t helping to settle their nerves.

Mr Geezer dealt with their recriminations in a most venerable manner.

“That man is so rude; they should put him in a retirement hole and throw away the key.” Mrs. Hyden wasn’t the most tolerant lady. Even most of her friends would have agreed to the statement that Karen Hyden liked things to be just so, and she certainly didn’t take to old wrinkly men flipping the bird to her and her husband.

A decision was made. A breath was taken. The Yellow Dragon was going to find her mate, whether he liked it or not!

Torren would have been quite pleased to see how long his bale doors stood up to a frontal flame from a very determined, fully grown class one dragon. It took the yellow reptile to build up to a white flame before the doors smouldered enough for her to push through their glowing remnants. 

The doors, like Torren, had hidden depths. Everyone knows straw burns, but not everyone knows if you soak a bale in clay, it almost becomes fireproof. 

Torren had paid a pretty price for those eight bales. Adobar the Troll hadn’t asked any questions when he and his wife brought the bales over from their quarry, freshly dipped in the finest of their clays. Nor had he been interested when Torren had wrapped them in an outer casing of loose straw. The couple simply followed Torren’s instructions, lifting the bales onto the trollies and into the wooden and metal framing without interrogation. 

No questions asked. But trolls have big hands, and Mrs Adobar expected to have both Mr Adobar’s hands covered with payment. Torren obliged by ensuring both trolls’ hands were fully covered.

That’s another thing people don’t know. 

Trolls love dragon poo!

Thank you for reading.

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Plot TwistMagical RealismFictionFantasyAdventure

About the Creator

Kelly Sibley

I have a dark sense of humour, which pervades most of what I write. I'm dyslexic, which pervades most of what I write. My horror work is performed by Mark Wilhem / Frightening Tales. Pandora's Box of Infinite Stories is growing on Substack

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock5 months ago

    Still delightfully, splendiforously fantastic, Kelly.

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