Dragon Sweat

The early morning sun shone down on the ancient walls
of Giant’s Pass castle. It fell on patches of green
moss clinging to the weathered stone blocks, which
formed the Outer and Inner Wards. It cast small square
shadows from the eastern battlements onto the rampart
behind them. It sparkled uselessly against the only
window in the castle, the stained glass panes now
covered in dirt and hiding the long disused Royal
Chapel from view. But the glittering day made a brave
showing of the banner of King Argud the Defiler flying
high above the Keep and reflected brightly from the
string of wind polished skulls decorating the flag
post. A few rays of shimmering sunlight even penetrated
the arrow slits of the Prison Tower, to be instantly
snuffed out amidst the pitch-black stench of despair
and corrupting flesh. Many more were wasted in falling
on the steaming surface of the castle moat and its
covering of rotting turds.

King Argud and his Master-At-Arms were no fools. Any
attacking soldier who fell into that reeking grey-blue
slush of slimy semi-liquid with even the smallest of
wounds on his body would soon be dying a most painful
and poisonous death. The smell on a warm day was truly
awful but since nearly everybody in the Royal household
stank like a dead goat anyway it was of no great
consequence. And there was always a price to pay for
magical protection.

The King should have been in his counting house,
counting out his money.

Unfortunately, there was hardly any to count, since
there was nobody in marching distance who had anything
left worth stealing. So instead the monarch had taken a
newly arrived serving wench into the buttery, bent her
over a table and applied double handfuls of butter to
her bared hindquarters. The girl was mystified by his
actions but in a few seconds time she was destined to
find out two things: why he was called Argud the
Defiler, and the real reason why the buttery was called
the buttery.

The Master-At-Arms, on the other hand, was dealing with
more delicate business. A matter of negotiations, which
called for diplomacy and cordiality. Not easy qualities
to summon up in a proud old soldier covered in scars
and past glory: in his time the Master-At-Arms had
killed and raped more victims than a boatload of Ice
Land Warriors. He resented having to be unduly
deferential to any other official of the Royal
Household. But even he had to respect the authority of
Sir Tarquin as Royal Tax Collector and Keeper of the
castle torture chamber.

“A fine day, Sir Tarquin.”

“A fine day, Master.”

Sir Tarquin reluctantly laid aside a series of woodcuts
left behind by a visiting trader of tormenting
equipment. Often and anon did he gaze at them
wistfully, especially the ones showing the young lady
with the long legs stretched out on a rack, the legs
getting longer and longer in each succeeding picture.
What he wouldn’t give to have a bit of glamour like
that in his own appliances instead of the dreary
peasants that were all that ever came his way in this
backward apology of a backwoods kingdom. Not that he’d
ever dare to let such words pass his lips, not if he
didn’t want them sewn together. On matters patriotic
King Argud was so right wing he was almost a Tiberian

“How can I help you, Master?

“I’d like to book a session in the torture chamber, Sir

“Certainly-a personal one, Master? Ha, ha, the old ones
are always the best, hey?”

The Master smiled dutifully with a twitch of his lips
as the Torturer reached for his diary, a movement which
paused halfway as an earsplitting scream came from the
direction of the buttery. Sir Tarquin cocked his head
to one side and listened with professional judgment.

“She’ll be able to carry around the mead tonight, but I
hope it’s not at my table. Her hands won’t stop
shaking for a week.

Now, Master, was it a group booking?”

“No. Just the one, thank’ee, my lord.”

“Fine. Any particular torments in mind? Male or

The Master-At-Arms grinned. To be more exact, he bared
his teeth like a wolf seeing a sheep caught in a briar
patch: “Definitely male, Sir Tarquin. It’s the
castrating vice I want to use. Could I have a couple of
hours, if that’s agreeable to you?”

“A couple of hours? That’s a long time for such a
simple little job. Is this business or pleasure,

“Oh, both, Sir Tarquin-both.”

The old soldier looked as if he’d seen a divine vision
of a thousand virgins, each one more beautiful than the
next, and all driving carts heavily laden with wine

Sir Tarquin felt a touch of unease. As a normal thing,
letting enthusiastic amateurs loose in a torture
chamber was a mistake. Blood everywhere afterwards,
and all the tools bent out of shape with overmuch
heating. But the Master was a professional too, or at
least he’d always behaved up until now as a career
soldier and pain inflictor. And as an officer of the
Royal Household there was no way he could be decently
refused access to the in-castle tormenting facilities.

“The day after tomorrow? From the third emptying of the
water clock until the fifth emptying?”

“Thank you, Sir Tarquin. You co-operation is

The Torturer fastened his weak blue eyes on the
Master’s vicious brown ones.

“You’ll appreciate that you’ll still have to raise an
inter-departmental invoice for the hire of the chamber.
Two florins an hour, four florins in all. You’ll need
to make seven copies of the invoice, all signed by
yourself or your deputy and counter-signed by myself or
my deputy. One copy for your files, one for mine, one
for the routine-of-the day clerk, one to the Royal
Accounts Office, one to me as the head of Value Added
and Value Removed Tax department, one for the Royal
Archives, and one for the Bureau of Births, Deaths,
Marriages and Castrations. And, naturally, it’s your
department’s responsibility to ensure the removal of
all bodies and bodily parts from the chamber at the end
of the hire period. All equipment used is also to be
cleaned and lightly oiled afterwards.”

“You know me, my lord. I always leave the torture
chamber the way I would wish to find it.”

Sir Tarquin suddenly realised that the Master-At-Arms
wasn’t looking at him, but over his head and through an
arrow slit in the wall. He turned in his chair and
glanced out through the narrow gap himself. On the
other side of the moat were the straggly lines of
filthy wooden shacks where those of King Argud’s
subjects unfortunate enough to be still alive eked out
their wretched existences. But one building at least
was well built, the size of a barn, close to the
protection of the castle walls, with a patch of
scorched grass outside it. Playing happily together on
the bare ground was a young boy and a young female. The
female was much younger than the boy, but a great deal
bigger. About forty paces longer, in fact, bright pink
in color-at the moment, anyway-and gently weaving her
snout and her sinuous body like a giant ferret as the
boy tickled her underneath her left wing root.

“By the Gods, Master, I still can’t believe it-not even
after seeing it every day for nigh on five years. A
living, breathing dragon. And when I was a boy we all
thought they’d never existed. Even the witches and
warlocks said the old carvings were only make believe.
Just dreams and mind pictures from nearly forgotten
stories. And then a dirty little sniveling son of a
night soil spreader comes out of the forest with an
great egg he says he found in the roots of a fallen

The Master-At-Arms nodded absent-mindly. Everybody
from far and wide knew the story, and how young Hal
O’The Shitbuckets had not told anybody about the egg
but hidden it inside a pile of warm dung near to his
family’s hut. And how the boy had come out a few weeks
later and found a dragonet frolicking around on top of
the pile of shit. And by the time anybody of importance
had found out about any of this, it was too late. The
dragonet and Hal had instantly developed the same kind
of affection as between a man and his dog, and any
attempts to part them had sent the young dragon into
such a state of fretful decline that the companionship
had to be restored immediately. But otherwise the
hatchling seemed perfectly healthy and had grown at an
astonishing speed. And of all its mysteries, three had
continually dominated King Agrud’s thoughts.

The first was whether there was any truth in the old
legends about dragons breathing fire?

The dragonet had never shown any sign of being able to
do so but there had been a lingering hope in King
Agrud’s breast that the facility might develop as the
creature reached puberty. A hope which had found
triumphant resolution one night when a pack of stray
dogs had gotten into the dragon hut and attacked the
dragon and Hal. The resulting flames had not only burnt
down the dragon’s hut but also a dozen others belonging
to peasants unfortunate enough to be living nearby. As
the suddenly dispossessed poor fled for their lives the
King had capered wildly in delight in the snow in his
night shirt, calling for his pipe to light it from the
burning fragments of the huts, and then for his
fiddlers three to provide the music for his
pyromaniacal dance. At dawn he’d demanded that Hal
demonstrate the dragon’s incendive skills again by
burning down more huts, clapping his hands like a
delighted child as the dragon had coughed out tiny
spitballs which flew for hundreds of paces and then
ignited into raging fireballs whenever they hit

“By Odin, I love the smell of dragon spit in the
morning!” King Argud roared in ecstasy at the sight of
so much destruction inflicted so quickly.

The second mystery was whether the promise of the pup’s
nascent wings would eventually be proven. Could a
dragon fly?

The answer had been yes, a fact finally determined in
the last few weeks of early summer. Although, in truth,
the dragon only flapped her wings barely enough to be
airborne before locking them into outstretched sails
and seemingly riding the currents of the air upward and
upward, then gliding across great distances before
turning and turning like a falling leaf in one place in
the sky. Yet instead of drifting down she would drift
upwards again. Nobody could explain how this could
happen, except through magic. Apart from Hal O’The
Shitbuckets, who thought that the air rose in bubbles
from pieces of hot ground, like the bubbles in water
coming to the boil, and that somehow the dragon could
see or sense where these air bubbles were rising.

Under normal circumstances nobody would have paid any
attention to young Shitbucket’s ideas. The one thing
which did get them a hearing was that Hal was the only
person in the whole kingdom who had ever flown with the
dragon. At least that was what most people thought, but
four people knew differently. Hal, the Master-At-Arms,
and two of the Master-At-Arm’s daughters.
Unfortunately for all of them, the Master had
accidentally overheard Chelinde telling her young
sister how she had twice been aloft with Hal and how
young Shitbuckets had rewarded her with what he called
a frequent flyer point.

It was Chelinde’s candid description of where young Hal
had inserted his point whilst they were together in the
beastling’s riding net which had resulted in Hal’s
recently appointed meeting with the castration vice.
The next item on the Master-At-Arm’s schedule was
arresting the still unwitting boy and explaining in
great detail about exactly what was going to happen to
him. Hal might have spent most of his life emptying
latrines but if he’d thought before he was in the shit,
he was soon going to know better-or worse.

Sir Tarquin shook his head in sorrow as he kept
watching the boy and the dragon at play: “Such a shame.
Worse yet, a tragedy. Is there anything sadder than
the sight of a promising life destined never to know
true fulfillment? The King comes near to weeping every
time he thinks of it. What say you, Master, are you
still of the same opinion?”

The Master-At-Arms expression was one of bewildered
surprise, until he realised what Sir Tarquin was
talking about. It was the third great mystery about the
dragon, the mystery which had King Agrud groaning with
despair at nights for a solution.

“Absolutely the same opinion, my Lord. Our tiny army
had no chance at all of defeating the Imperial Legions.
One dragon on its own might win us a battle but never
the war. We’d need a whole flock of them to be assured
of destroying the Emperor’s forces in the field and
taking the great cities of the plains.”

“A rise, Master. The collective noun for group of
dragons is apparently a rise of dragons. So the Chief
Warlock tells us of the High Council from his reading
of the ancient writings. And no wonder the King weeps
when he looks down from these hills onto an empire he
could easily conquer-if only we could find a male
dragon to mate our female with. Nature can be so
cruel.” Sir Tarquin sighed heavily in quiet despair.

“How many peasants have we worked to death digging up
the forest floor roundabouts that fallen tree seeking
another egg-a male egg, in all love? How many spells
have the Witches and Warlocks cast, seeking a trace of
other dragons in the great wide world? How many spies
have we sent out seeking news of such beastlings? And
not one trace, not one rumor, not even one tavern tale
about such monsters existing. No, what you see
innocently playing there, Master, are two virgins, and
destined I think to stay that way for a long time.”

The Master-At-Arm’s face was pale, only two red spots
on his cheekbones revealing the pure fires of anger
burning within him. “My Lord, I intend to make sure one
of them will certainly never have need of a mate.”

He tapped the cover of the torturer’s diary with heavy
significance and Sir Tarquin’s eyebrows rose in sudden
concern. “Hal? It’s our young dragon handler you’ve a
mind to geld? Nay, I think the King must know of this
first. Why do you want to do such a thing?”

The Master-At-Arms had no intention of telling the
truth on that subject. Nor did he think that he needed

“My Lord, my duty is to the security of the King and
the Kingdom, and that dragon is a menace to both. It
cannot help us defeat our enemies but should Hal ever
decide to turn on his true Lords and Masters that
beastling would be a formidable threat to us. Many of
us would perish and much damage would ensue before he
and that confounded animal were killed. Since we cannot
breed from it, better to destroy the monster and its
handler’s spirit now before they acquire a taste for
more than they are being given.”

Sir Tarquin shook his head: “A sound argument, Master,
but not sufficient to achieve your purpose. Leave our
dragon handler alone for a while yet.”

“Dragon handler? That’s not his substantive rank on the
household rolls. He’s a privy purveyor, he empties the
shit pans into the moat and he was only allowed to work
in the castle at all because he tends the beastling a
few hours each day. The dragon is of no use to us, only
danger, and the sooner we get rid of it and debollock
that young upstart, the better.”

The Royal Torturer waved his hand at the chair the
Master-At-Arms had recently vacated: “Sit you down
again, Master, and breathe no word of what I am about
to tell you. For you have unwittingly touched upon
decisions recently made by the High Council and it were
better for you to know something of them and thus keep
discreetly silent.”

Sir Tarquin leaned forward across his desk and spoke in
lowered terms.

“The King and Council in secret session have decided
that now the dragon has reached true maidenhood there
is one last turn of the cards we can yet play. If we
can’t find a male dragon, perhaps the young female
dragon may. She can fly, and she can seek, and Hal that
was will go with her to return a clutch of fertile
eggs, be it nothing else he can bring back. Let that
dragon go hang, if only he can find dragon hatchlings
enough for us to breed a rise from.”

The Master-At-Arms tried to absorb the implications of
Sir Tarquin’s statement:

“Go? Go where?”

“Out into the wide world, wherever the winds may blow
the pair of them. Over the northern mountains perhaps,
or southwards over the provinces of Lyonesse to that
great city itself and beyond. Or the east, to the
forests of Prydein, or westwards, into the sea mists of
Tintagel. Wherever it be that the great beast may feel
drawn to go. Like calls to like, Master, and if there
be a scaly and horny mate for her anywhere, surely that
dragoness will be drawn to him like a homing pigeon to
its nest.”

“But … but … Hal, that was? What do you mean by
that, my Lord?”

“Why but think, man! If a dragon or dragons there be
anywhere, surely they will be owned, as here, by the
King of those parts. Can we send a shit-carrier’s
offspring to negotiate on behalf of the Kingdom of
Argud with another royal court? No, of course not.
Know you, Master, that in the next issue of the castle
gazette there will be a notice raising young Hal O’The
Shitbuckets to the aristocracy. A lifetime peerage.”
The Royal Torturer’s lips tightened in sardonic
amusement. “However brief that lifetime may be.”

The Master-At-Arms looked as if he’d taken a crossbow
bolt in the stomach: “That ugly little piece of trash
is to be ennobled!”

“Aye. A strange world we live in, hey? But you know
yourself that the boy is the only one in the Kingdom
whom the dragon obeys, so he must go with her. The King
sought our advice on a suitable title for him and I
suggested Duke Skyrider as being apt to his station,
but the Chief Warlock would have none of it. He said it
sounded too foolish to be believed. So we have had to
seek further. The Chamberlain said we should simply use
the boy’s family name, but the Warlocks laughed at

“I never even knew he had a family name.

Why, he wasn’t even born into his family. The stinking
brat was found newly born wrapped in a shawl at the
forest’s edge.”

“True, but he was bought up by the Shitbucket emptying
clan. Apparently they were given a Tiberian family name
by those interfering monks before the King finally
drove them out. One of the holy men must have had a
sense of humor though because the family name is
Merdinus. The Warlocks thought the notion of a Duke
Merdinus a great jest because the word in the Tiberian
language for dung is merdus. So it was proposed the boy
be dubbed Duke Merlinus instead. And in a few days time
our young Duke and his dragon will leave on his quest.
What think you, Master?”

“What do I think? To speak truth, my lord, I think the
whole council must have been sniffing on a platterful
of that white powder the traders bring from the Happy
Isles. I think the young tosspot will sell that dragon
as soon as he is safely out of our kingdom and spend
the gold on fucking serving wenches.”

Sir Tarquin snorted with brief laughter: “So think we
all, Master, so think we all. It was also said that a
duke who spoke not a word of Tiberian, knew nothing of
magic or ceremony and stinks of the privy would have
much trouble playing the part of a nobleman. Someone
must go with him, someone to make sure the quest
succeeds, someone able to educate Hal as they travel
together, someone who will be respected in any royal
court in any land. We have now decided on a suitable
escort and consort for our aspiring Duke Merlinus.”

The Royal Torturer leaned forward, even closer to the
Master-At-Arms and spoke even more confidentially:
“Tell me, Master, have you still any desire to see the
wide world?”

The Master, the victor of a thousand vicious killing
fights, whimpered like a beaten dog:

“Me, my lord! Go up on one of those things? I beg you,
no, no, a thousand times no! I’m a man, not a bird!”

“Ho-ho-ho! Your face, Master, your face!” The Royal
Torturer slapped his thigh in glee. He was a man whom
dearly loved a joke above all things, well accustomed
at taking full advantage of a captive audience.

“Be calm, Master, be calm. Did we need a bulldog for an
honest fight you would be our choice, but the Chief
Warlock has found us something much better for our
needs. A cunning serpent able to fly as well as that
dragon, a serpent of fascinating wickedness and as full
of venom as a nest of lawyer spiders. A serpent well
versed in all kinds of magic and courtly behaviour, a
speaker of many tongues and a convincing liar in all of
them. Best of all, a serpent whom both enchants and
terrifies every man she meets.”

“She … ” The Master-At-Arms stared at Sir Tarquin. “A
witch? You are sending a witch with Shitbucket? Which
witch-I mean what witch?”

“Look at my finger, Master.”

The Torturer traced the outline of three letters on the
desk in front of him. The Master-At-Arms blinked,
blinked again, and then smiled a little. So did Sir
Tarquin. Both of them looked at each other and smiled
even more widely.

“So, Master, have we not found you a better ball-
breaker than anything I could provide in my chamber?”

The Master-At-Arms laughed aloud, clapping his hands
together as though applauding a play or an execution:
“The bitch-witch! The bitch-witch herself!”

Sir Tarquin stood up again, his belly heaving at the
same joke as he watched the innocent victims below, all
unaware of what evil was speeding towards them.

“But what could bring her to this small place, my lord?
What does a lady of her powers care about our dragon?”

“The lady has the King’s sworn promise. Bring back the
eggs which will create an army of warrior dragons for
him and she will be rewarded, even unto half of the
Empire once he has seized it. But if ever that should
come to pass, Master, be assured I’ll make sure that
I’m living in the other half.”

Had Hal been able to overhear this conversation he
would have been frightened witless. One part of it
though would have given him a warm glow of
satisfaction. For, if a member of the High Council
should talk so lightly of his selling the dragon, it
meant that none of the great men of the kingdom knew
about the most profound of her mysteries, one of
infinite more value than flying or flame throwing. A
mystery he had been taking advantage of under any
watching eyes from the castle walls in his pretence of
playfully tickling the dragoness. What he had actually
been doing was soaking a piece of rag near glands
underneath her wings where a colorless liquid sometimes
seeped out-a liquid which drove all those who touched
it into a flaming desire to couple as madly as a March

Hal had only noticed the liquid appearing in the last
few weeks, as the dragoness reached her maidenhood. He
supposed that it was intended for male dragons to lick
and thus encourage them to mount the female. Certainly
he had never suspected such a thing at first. He’d
believed the liquid to be sweat, the first sign that
the dragon was as other creatures.

Before then, in all the years since he’d first seen it,
the dragon had seemed to live on a higher level than
other life forms, including men. It never ate, but
spread its wings out under the sun whenever it could,
as though it drew life from the great fire like a
growing flower. Thus, it never dropped dung either, a
great relief to Hal. All the beastling seemed to need
was a daily drink of water and lots of affection. But
now it seemed able to create affection itself,
uncontrollable affection in all who were touched of its

By great fortune the first trickles were of a weaker
potency than was to come. But such as they were, the
dampness on his fingers had driven Hal into a corner of
the dragon hut with his breeches around his ankles and
continually jerking at his lance, a lance which refused
to droop in tiredness after the first, second, third,
and even fourth eruption. It had felt as if the fires
of hell itself were burning in his loins and would
never be damped down.

The boy had almost killed himself before collapsing
onto the straw and suffered so much soreness that every
movement for days afterwards had been torment. He had
quickly learned from his experience though, and took
great care now never to touch the liquid directly and
to mix it with plenty of water before use. A power
intended for dragons was far too strong for humans
without it being much weakened first. But what wonders
even a trace of dragon sweat produced!

Carefully holding the rag by a still dry corner he led
the beast back into the hut which housed it. Blotches
of yellow appeared on the dragon’s neck from its head
to its front legs like daisies appearing after rain.
Hal quickly answered the unspoken question.

“Be content, Josephine, I see all the colors of your
coat. We shall fly this morning. But first I must

As soon as the dragon was inside Hal pulled the doors
shut and put a bar across them. The thousands of
cracks in the planked roof and walls let in enough
light for the shed’s interior to be as dusky as early
twilight, a million straw motes floating through the
intruding rays and then disappearing from sight in the
dimmer areas. The dragon ambled over to the largest
pile of straw at the far end of the hut and sniffed at
it. Girlish laughter and cries of mock fear came from
the depths of the straw.

“Come away, my lady,” Hal said severely. “There are
terrible creatures hidden in there, and I fear for your

More giggles, and a mass of blonde curly hair popped up
out of the straw: “It’s true, you do speak your dragon
as though it were your heart’s love. Chelinde told me
it was so but I didn’t believe her, so I came to hear

“A good day between you and evil, Caelia,” Hal said,
little bothered by the girl’s banter. “And is it that
long tongued sister of yours who is hiding with you?”

Another head came out of the straw, more tangled fair
hair filled with stalks and two faces both of a kind,
round and rosy cheeked, with bright blue eyes full of
mischief. “Why here I am indeed, mighty dragon master,
and have been since we crept in before the first light

“And what of your father? How would our Master-At-Arms
deal with me if he knew you two were here in
Josephine’s pound?”

“He’ll never know,” Caelia answered lightly, brushing
the problem of her parent aside, and none of the three
with the slightest foreboding of the dangers closing in
on them. “And anyway, I wanted to see the dragon.”

“See it, girl? And haven’t you seen it every day for
years past, just as all hereabouts have done?”

“I haven’t seen it the way Chelinde has.”

Hal himself blushed furiously and unable to stop from
casting a guilty look at Chelinde’s face: “And what way
would you be talking about, Caelia?”

The straw pile parted and Caelia emerged from it, pale
skinned and much freckled, hot eyed, wide mouthed, a
cupid’s bow on the upper lip which was made for
laughing and kissing. Her pleasing shape was akin that
of her elder sister, short in body and leg, but as well
curved as any piece of fruit sinful Adam ever plucked
and as fully endowed in the bust and bottom as Eve
herself must have been. The forest green gown she was
wearing was much worn and overdue to be passed down to
another sister, for the buttons on the bodice were all
but popping off, and as her fingers stroked it,
removing wisps of straw, she knew full well what effect
she was having on Hal.

“Why, I haven’t been for a flight with your dragon as
Chelinde has.”

Hal was speechless, not knowing how much Caelia had
learnt and whether she could be trusted to keep quiet.
Bad enough she knew as much as she did already, after
he’d sworn Chelinde to silence by all the Gods in the


The straw broke apart again like the pool of Venus and
Chelinde rose out of it to stand beside her sister. Two
buttons on her bodice were already undone and Hal
remembered-as he would remember all his mortal days-
what was still concealed below them, and how Chelinde
had squealed with excitement as he’d taken her full
womanhood in his hands. Now she was back again, her
sister with her to boot, and the pair of them looking
like bear cubs that had found the beehive.

“No need for hard words, Hal. Wouldn’t you like to take
the both of us for a flight? Didn’t you say yourself I
could bring another girl next time if I wished?”

True it was indeed he’d said some such thing-or rather,
his balls had said it through his mouth when they
possessed him body and soul.

Had Chelinde not the slightest suspicion of how she’d
been tricked into washing with water tainted with
dragon sweat? But why would she think of such a thing
when only Hal himself knew of the sweat? No, she could
know nothing of the magical power at his command and
must still believe her seduction had been fully
consummated by a desire as uncontrollable as Hal’s own.
But to bring her own sister to another meeting! Had it
truly been Chelinde’s idea or that little minx of a
sister? And another of the Master-At-Arm’s daughters!

Yet when Hal looked at both pairs of bright eyes, both
pairs of red lips, and at the taut female flesh
underneath those gowns he knew the argument was lost
before it was even debated. If Josephine could lift the
three of them into the air he cared not whether Caelia
and Chelinde were the Master-At-Arm’s kin or the
devil’s. He could no more resist them than refrain from

“You … you have the price of your flights with

“Here,” Chelinde said and held out a small white muslin
bag. “I took them from a batch that our mother has just
finished drying.”

Hal moved forward, took the bag from her fingers,
opened it and carefully spilt the treasure inside into
his hand. Three pieces of treasure in truth, three
small squares of ash speckled potash mixed with fats
and essence of herbs. Three pieces of soap! Hal held
one of the squares to his nose and breathed in the
smell from it as if he was standing by the rose gardens
of Paradise.

The great head of the dragon loomed over his shoulder,
Josephine sniffing at Hal’s hand
in her curiosity. Both girls cowered back as if they
feared being bitten “Ah, you need none of this, my
lady. You are not condemned to do my filthy work. But
heed me now.”

Hal carefully pointed to himself, then to Chelinde and
Caelia, held an hand on each side of his head, and
flicked two fingers on each one up and down. Then he
made a hooked question sign with one finger: “Can you
carry the three of us aloft, Josephine?”

Outbreaks of pink blossomed along the dragon’s belly,
running into each other like spilt paint. Like her
namesake, her coat was always of many colors. Hal
cocked his head in some surprise at the boldness of the

“So sure, hey? I hope you may not be coming it the
phoenix. But on your wings be it. Please to step this
way then and oblige.”

Hal pointed to the large drinking trough and the well
pump beside it. He plunged his fingers into the water
inside the trough, then quickly pulled them out again
and shook his hand to show how cold the water was.
Afterwards he tapped his nose and stood back. The
dragon waddled forward, dipped her snout into the
trough and made a coughing noise. Then she apparently
lost interest in the trough and slithered away. The two
girls clung to each other as the water in the middle of
the trough upswelled in a great boiling and moiling,
with jets of steam spurting out of it and waves running
along the length of the trough to splash over the ends.

“Tis nothing to fear, sister,” Chelinde reassured
Caelia. “Only a little dragon spit being used to warm
the cold water for us. For Hal says that the dragon
cannot abide the smell of mortals close to it unless we
are freshly washed.”

Hal had indeed told her that. A lie of course, but a
most convenient one. As soon as the dragon’s spit had
been quenched he picked up a stick, plucked the rag
from his belt, pushed the rag deep into the trough,
then used the stick to swirl the boiling and colder
portions of water into a comfortably warm mixture. Only
he knew what else was also being spread through the
water from the rag.

Two buckets Hal then filled from the trough, put a
ladle in each and carried the buckets to the dragon’s
washing place. The dragon had scratched out the earth
there and carried in the sacks of sand that Hal had
spread, for the boy hated mud almost as much as he
hated dung.

In the middle of the sandpit was a waist high pile of
straw from which Hal drew handfuls of stalks to rub
Josephine down with after her daily bathe. He set the
buckets down behind the straw.

“So, do you girls wash yourselves most carefully. You
may crouch down as necessary, though I will have no
eyes to spare for you as I prepare Josephine for her

Chelinde giggled, and then Caelia too, exchanging
knowing looks, and four rosy cheeks looking even
redder. Hal handed one the precious pieces of soap to
each of them.

“Go to it, girls,” Hal urged. And if the dragon sweat
worked as well as before, even much diluted, the pair
of them would soon enough stop blushing.

From the wall Hal took down a net made of ropes, of the
finest quality the castle rope maker could provide,
furnished on the King’s direct orders. To try to ride
on Josephine’s back was impossible, for along her spine
were a single row of fins, each half the length of a
man’s forearm, and each fin tipped with a needle as
sharp and as strong as the tip of an Iberian rapier.
Any saddle on her would have been ripped to shreds
within minutes, and her rider with it.

As soon as she saw the net the dragon crouched down
eagerly on her belly, eying the door of the dragon
pound like a dog waiting to be released from a kennel.
Hal laughed and first fetched four sheepskins which he
impaled in a row on her fins, each skin pressed well
down so the tops of the fins stood proud above them.
Then he threw the net over the sheepskins, carefully
arranging the ropes to ensure none were twisted and
each fin projected through one of the wide mesh holes
in the net. The load must be properly spread along
Josephine’s body and the sheepskins were to protect the
net from chafing, not the dragon’s hide. Her scales had
never been pierced to his knowledge, not even with a
pack of pi-dogs snapping and biting at her. They had
been like puppies trying to chew through chain mail.

At each corner of the net was a wooden ring, triple
sewn into the ropes, the rings hanging level with each
wing root, front and back.

Hal fetched a second net and laid it flat on the floor,
then spread more sheepskins along the middle of it.
“Come, my lady, come.”

The dragon rose on her legs, scuttled forward over the
second net, then crouched down again. Like the other
net, the belly net had rings sewn into each corner and
Hal had four lengths of rope over his shoulder, the
‘Fria und Odin!’ lashings. They were called that
because if they came undone those would be the last
despairing words he’d have time to shout. As he secured
each set of rings together Hal totally ignored the
laughter coming from across the straw pile. Only when
the nets were safely secure above and below Josephine
did he turn and look towards Chelinde and Caelia. And
as he did so his lungs seemed suddenly emptied of air.

Chelinde was standing behind the straw pile, visible
from the hips up and wearing nothing but her necklace
of painted wooden beads. Her expression was one of
pure mischief as she rubbed a piece of soap over and
around her large tits, showing particular care to the
dark plums on the tip of each wet and wobbling mound.
Behind her was Caelia, not even wearing as much as a
necklace, and grinning at Hal as if he were the castle
fool. He stepped towards the straw, mouth agape, hardly
knowing what he was doing. Caelia laughed in delight
at his obvious stupefaction, then reached around
Chelinde and began massaging the trails of soap on her
sister’s breasts into a lather. The front of Hal’s
breeches jerked upwards as quickly as a disturbed viper
rousing itself. Both of the girls giggled anew at the
visible proof of their effect on him.

“Come on, Hal, time for your wash as well,” Chelinde
called out. “We’ve water enough left for you.”

He stumbled forward, as dazed as a man hit with a club
in a tavern brawl. The more he tried to undo his
jerkin, the bigger the toggles seemed to get and the
smaller the leather loops. But when he was behind the
straw pile the girls crowded close to him, each taking
on the task of loosening his clothing. And neither of
them wearing a stitch.

The smell of the soap on their warm bodies was the
finest aroma ever in his life’s experience, even better
than roasting pork. And when he found four pillows
pressed against him, four pillows of white flesh
sprinkled with freckles, pillows softer than any on the
King’s bed, he nearly fainted.

The sisters had no more interest in teasing Hal’s
weaknesses though, only in exposing his strength. Each
of them held onto a sleeve of his jerkin as they
removed the dirty garment, and then Caelia pulled his
shirt out of his breeches as Chelinde undid the wooden
buttons at the neck.

“Ha, you’re too tall for us, Hal,” she chuckled, her
breath caressing the hair at the base of his throat.
“Kneel down, dragon master.”

He would have jumped into a bonfire if they’d asked if
of him-even into the moat, perhaps. On his knees in the
damp sand, he held up his arms again and his shirt was
lifted high and over his hands. Directly in front of
his face as this happened was Chelinde’s loins and the
blonde patch of hair set above her sweet cleft. Hal
pushed his head forward and his tongue further forward
yet, the tip of it not quite reaching its target as
Chelinde laughed and retreated half a step, keeping her
hands clasped around Hal’s raised wrists.

“La, Caelia, this monster is as fearsome as his dragon.
He wants to eat me!”

Her sister squealed in mock alarm: “Odin save us! What
are we to do?”

“Never fear. I shall sacrifice myself to save you. Hal,
lie down and roll over on your back.”

He did so, stared up with bulging eyes and saw Chelinde
appear over his face, each of her feet almost touching
one of his ears, her smooth legs and exquisitely shaped
thighs wide apart, right up to the furrow of the
delectable man trap between them. She brushed some
strands of loose hair away from her knowing eyes, then
looked along the length of his body to Caelia.

“Sister, while I hold him down, do you remove his
breeches and wash him most thoroughly.”

Caelia giggled: “How can you hold down such a beast?”

“Watch and learn.”

Chelinde lowered herself, putting a knee where a foot
had been before. The entrance to the Promised Land
filled Hal’s gaze, and then nuzzled against his lips.
He snorted in delight and tongued away her hot flesh
like a cat at spilt milk. The fat bulges of Chelinde’s
rump quivered in response, pressing the join between
them down onto his nose, until he was compelled to put
a hand under each buttock to help support her weight.

It was something like death Hal decided, in some far
corner of his mind which still had a measure of calm.
The last rites of pre-burial washing and cleaning being
performed on the body he could no longer see but still
feel. Half suffocated, blood pounding in his ears, and
above him the moans and lamenentations of a grieving
female. Well, moans anyway, and warm water splashing
over him, and a feeling beyond compare of four busy
little hands rubbing soap all over his grimy skin.

They went everywhere they could reach: chest, stomach,
legs, feet, Caelia washing his soles as Chelinde
bounced up and down on his face, scratching at his
flanks with her finger nails. Until all that was left
uncleaned was his jutting cock and tight drawn balls.
Then the ladle was emptied over his parts, soap swiftly
applied by twenty vigorously active fingers and thumbs,
all of them seemingly rubbing his foreskin
simultaneously and Hal was writhing as if he was on hot
coals as Chelinde rode on the tip of his tongue. She
let out a great cry, and another, and another, and then
a fearful scream. Suddenly the girl off his face,
sprawled on the sand, knocked there by a push of the
dragon’s head, and Josephine’s eyes were staring into
Hal’s, seeking assurance that nothing was amiss. A
string of filthy curses came from Chelinde’s mouth in
her anger at being interrupted during her moments of

“Damn your eyes, be quiet, girl. You’ll upset
Josephine. Patience for only a few minutes more, my
lady, and we’ll fly.”

“Damn you and damn your vile dragon,” snapped Chelinde
in a spat of temper. “Get down on your hands and
knees, Hal, and seek my forgiveness.”

Hal knew better than to argue with any girl gripped
with the sort of passion that Chelinde was in right
then. He did as she bade him and was instantly gripped
with passion himself as she knelt behind him, put a
hand between his legs and rubbed his cock as if he were
a stallion being put to a mare.

“Wash his back, Caelia.”

“Wash his back yourself. I want to hold him by the
tupper-’tis my turn.”

Chelinde laughed: “So be it, sister. Here, get down by
his side and take whatever you may seize on.”

Caelia crouched down, put her hand underneath Hal and
caught hold of his shaft. She stayed there, holding
him like a groom holding a waiting horse as Chelinde
poured more water over Hal and rubbed soap over his
back and legs. The effect of the dragon sweat was
passing into his own body now, and every time the
younger sister moved her tightened fist up and down his
cock he scratched out holes in the wet sand and wailed.
Caelia was delighted with the power she had found in
the palm of her strong little hand.

“Ah, Hal, you men may be masters most of the time, but
not always, hey?”

Again, in that faraway corner of his mind, Hal wondered
at being called a man. Surely he was still only a boy
in age, even if he had a man’s lusts? But whatever he
was, this was no time to think about it.

“Let me go, Caelia. ‘Tis time we flew.”

“Rinse him off, Chelinde.”

The older girl emptied the two buckets over Hal’s back.
He shook the water from his hair like a dog emerging
from a stream, then staggered to his feet.

“Bring your clothes.”

He grabbed up his own, ran to the side of the dragon,
pulled out the side of the bottom net and dropped his
filthy rags into it. Then he took Chelinde’s clothes
from her hand and did the same with them, followed by

“Chelinde, show Caelia how to get into the net.”

The naked girl moved against the dragon’s side, in
front of the left wing root. She reached up and seized
handholds in the top net, put her feet into mesh holes
on the bottom net and scrambled upwards with the
nimbleness of a squirrel climbing a tree. As soon as
her feet were at the upper edge of the lower net Hal
bit her lightly on each side of her rump. Chelinde
stopped moving and hung giggling as Hal pulled out all
the slack in the net and guided her feet into the
narrow gap. His hands reached up, underneath her arms
and helped her to slip down between the belly net and
Josephine’s smooth scaled side. Once inside the net she
lay on her back on top of the row of sheepskins, her
face and teats scarcely half an arrow’s length below
the belly of the beast.

“Caelia, do you still want to fly?

The pink and swaying girl almost elbowed him aside in
her eagerness to follow her sister into the net. Only
this time, after Hal had nipped at her buttocks like a
playful dog, he left her in place as he put his hand up
between her legs and rubbed his top finger along the
outer lips of her maidenhood. Caelia’s knuckles went
white as she wriggled around with the feverish energy
of a landed fish.

“Hal! Hal!” she cried out.

A hand came out of one of the net holes. It squeezed
Hal’s rod, then rubbed it.

“What are you doing with my vexing sister, Hal?”

“Why, nothing but returning her a favor and showing
that master-is-as-master-does. Down you come, Caelia.”

In a few seconds the belly net was full of girls. Full
enough for Hal’s modest wants anyway, as overwhelming
as they were. He rushed towards the door, Josephine
following behind on tipclaw, with squeals coming from
beneath her as the slung net bumped on the ground a
time or two. Hal removed the bar from the doors, pushed
one open a head’s width and then looked out and about.

There was no one else in sight. Only the glint of a
polished helmet on top of the Keep where a sentry stood
guard. Hal partially opened the doors, but not much,
being careful to keep his nakedness from view.
Josephine needed little enough room to slip through
anyway, she was as lithe as a stoat. When he returned
to her side flickers of purple along it showed her
eagerness to lift off.

With the skill of practice he hauled himself up,
wriggled his toes and then his feet into the belly net
and let himself down handhold by handhold. But as his
waist slipped past the top of the net a warm palm moved
up the inside of his left leg and then held his cock.
Something damp and warm slithered around his cock’s
helm as if it were testing the taste of it. Probably it
tasted of soap, but whether or not, the flavor must
have been deemed acceptable, for a mouth followed the
tongue. A mouth that spread itself around the helm and
lower yet, sucking at him fiercely. Hal gasped and
clenched at the top net. Somebody was paying him back
in his own coin, and he had little doubt who it was. He
could see a string of muscles behind Josephine’s left
front leg tighten as the dragon trembled with eagerness
to fly. Trying to tell her to wait further was like
ordering a dog to sit still as a coney ran past.

“Let go, you silly bitch!”

Josephine took a step, a leap, a bound, a girl’s voice
squealed, his cock was unmouthed and unhanded, he
slipped into the net, down and sideways, on top of warm
and trembling bodies which hung onto him as if they
were possessed, the net flexed upwards as Josephine
cleared the hut and leapt into the air, his head hit
the dragon’s belly, a curly haired head bounced against
his chest in turn, a soft belly rising up to slam
against his cock and balls, a groan was forced out of
his mouth by pain, the great wings lashed at the air.

Then, as suddenly as the dragon had first lunged
forward, the net steadied and swung as gently as a
hammock slung between two oak trees. A breeze blew in
along the dragon’s belly like water flowing down a
riverbed, the great wings appearing and disappearing on
either side in upward and downward beats. As they
swung down into view with the regularity of sails
turning on a windmill harder gusts of wind
simultaneously slapped into the net from either side,
the wind waves clapping together as though applauding
Josephine’s efforts.

Staring down, Hal could see that the beastling’s boasts
about being able to lift the weight of all three
passengers seemed well founded. Already the ground was
as far underneath him as it would be if he was standing
on the castle ramparts. Both of the girls were
squealing in fear and delight and Hal cursed them as
the dragon passed over the town huts: men, women and
children alike stopping and lifting their faces upwards
like frogs surprised in a well.

“Be quiet, you silly bitches, they can hear you down
there,” he snarled, trying to quite his passengers as
quietly as he could himself but probably still too

Hal knew well enough how easy it was to hear even the
smallest sounds from the ground when flying low above
it, and also, he supposed, that the opposite was true.
The only small mercy was that Josephine was still
beating her wings, so perhaps the voices had been
muffled by their drum roll. At least none of the
staring eyes below could pierce the bottom covering of
sheepskins which he and the girls were lying on.

But worse was to come as Josephine’s wings stiffened
and she began turning in a tight circle as if chasing
her own tail, one wing tip high up, the other held low,
akin to a man stooping sideways with a yoke across his
shoulders to hook on a bucket. As Hal stared along the
underside of the lowered wing the thatched roofs it
pointed at seemed to turn in circles as though they
were on a giant potter’s wheel.

From some of them the smoke of cooking fires was still
rising from holes in the roofs, roofs still so close
below he could not only see the smoke but taste it in
his mouth as well. Then the dragon’s shadow was moving
away from the huts as Josephine kept dancing
widdershins in the air, slowly getting higher, and
moving just as slowly across the ground as she followed
the air currents-back towards the castle.

There was nothing Hal could do about that. A dragon
could not be ridden like a horse, nor yet guided like
one. To even try to tell the beastling how to lift
herself into the sky would be like a blind rider trying
to follow a path by pulling on his mount’s reins.
Josephine alone decided when to circle and when to fly
straight-and only when she was high and flying straight
could he seek to alter her destination by tapping on
her belly on the side he wished her to favor. Down
here amongst the sparrows she had no interest at all in
his desires, she flew entirely according to her own
mind. And whatever it was that was going on in the
dragon’s mind, at least he she wasn’t being distracted
as much as he was, because Chelinde and Caelia had
already become used enough to flying for the dragon
sweat to regain its power over them.

One of the girls still partway underneath him had
wriggled her way down to his loins and was forcing him
to lift himself up by nipping at his sides with her
sharp nails. Her tongue had started licking around his
balls as her sister had begun licking Hal’s feet.

Again that distant part of his mind which was still
unaffected by the dragon’s sweat and by Chelinde and
Caelia’s enticements warned Hal to stay low lest the
girls were seen by the sentry atop the Keep. It was
sensible advice and as capable of holding back his
dragon sweat raised lusts as a toddler was of penning a
mad bull. He rolled over onto his back and Caelia was
dragging herself on top of him in an instant.


Her mouth was against his, her tongue into his throat
like an hedgehog sucking out an egg, the pressure of
her body forcing him deeper into the sheepskins as she
more than filled the gap between him and Josephine.
Odin, keep those lashings secure! Caelia’s tits were so
squashed between his body and hers that he could feel
their softness spilling out onto his arms, yet even so
she writhed against him as if she was a mating snake,
his straining cock rubbing uselessly against the girl’s
cleft. And then a hand took hold of it and did his work
for him-Chelinde was guiding him into her sister’s

Hal took his mouth from Caelia’s, gasped, and felt
himself slide all the way inside her, every tiny muscle
clamped around his cock holding him tightly and rubbing
against his flesh as though it was plunged into a sack
of baby eels. The boy shouted out his delight as Caelia
squealed and jerked herself against him even more
frantically. One of the sheepskins was pulled aside
and Hal saw they were a little higher than the Keep but
hardly more than a short arrow shot from it and the

He was a tall, thin man with his hand shielding his
eyes and the pinhead speck of reason still left in
Hal’s head cursed as it recognized the figure and
stance of Will Spearshaker, a long limbed, long sighted
and long tongued fellow who delighted in spreading
gossip around the town. He was a particular nuisance
because the less facts there were for his stories, the
more imaginative he became in devising them. Thank the
Gods nobody had ever taught him to write or he would
have been dangerous.

But all this trivia went out of Hal’s thoughts as
Caelia’s cunt caressed him even more tightly than
Chelinde’s ever had. Then all his thoughts turned into
fading vapor when Chelinde’s fingernails scratched
underneath his balls and as Caelia screamed
triumphantly, knowing she was no longer a girl. The
sweat from her face was falling on his, her eyes were
wide open, perhaps seeing him, perhaps not, and her
hands were clenched into the netting above his
shoulders as she slapped her belly against his. Then he
knew his seed was spurting and he clutched Caelia’s
shoulders as his loosed himself into her like an
overdrawn long bow. Another scream and her mouth was
by the side of his throat, biting into him as every
muscle in her body went as rigid as Josephine’s wings.
Eventually she gave out one last cry, sprawling on top
of him as if she was a doe exhausted unto death by
hunting dogs.

The net swayed and groaned itself in the lashings as
Josephine’s wings leveled and she flew towards the
mountains. The advantage in height she had gained was
being quickly whittled down as the rising ground came
closer. Hal eyed the mass of approaching treetops with
fear but also with great pleasure. Pleasure, of course,
from what had happened between Caelia and himself, and
how she had been dealt with so satisfactorily, but
perhaps even more purely distilled pleasure from simply
being alive, in breathing the pure, pine scented air
and seeing the world in a way no other mortal could.
Happiness seemed to be springing from the depths of his
soul as naturally as the streams he could see below
were trickling down the hillsides. Then Josephine’s
left wing dipped and she was turning and rising once
more, at the same moment as Chelinde began licking the
bottom of his feet again.

Surely, he thought, surely nothing could spoil an
experience like this?

Unfortunately for Hal, the answer was yes, something
could spoil his flight, his day, and his life and it
was coming towards him from over those blue-misted
mountain peaks which made a perfect backdrop to the
summer’s day scenery of Giant’s Pass.

A Golden Eagle circling amidst the highest of the peaks
was the first to see the interloper. As black as a
raven’s wing, flying as fast as a diving hawk, zig
zagging between barren rock outcrops as if for the
pleasure of the twists and turns, now rapidly growing
in size until it could be seen to be as big as the
eagle itself. The king of birds was also emperor of the
mountains, a fierce eyed defender of its territory from
anything which flew, even if it was something unlike
anything in the eagle’s previous experience. The giant
bird prepared to stoop down in challenge. Prepared,
then hesitated. Unlike a great many other monarchs it
had very sharp eyes and a well-developed sense of
preservation. And there were things about this strange
black creature which suggested that it was much better
left alone.

The Golden Eagle had no words to shape its feelings
exactly. But had it possessed them, ‘evil’ and
‘dangerous’ would have been the ones which would have
been uppermost in describing them. Strongly coupled
with another feeling that things which managed to fly
without wings were an abomination to nature.

So the eagle decided on an alternative course of
action. It looked away from the black thing and decided
not to look back until there was every chance that it
had flown past and disappeared. It even ignored the
distant whine of the passing broomstick. Which in some
ways it was a pity, for it was masterpiece of its kind.

To operate a witch’s broomstick requires many years of
training in both symbolic magic and in a deep
understanding and continuous mental control of
extremely complicated algorithms designed to keep
reality at bay. There is no way in which any outsiders
can learn such algorithms unless they become practicing
witches or politicians.

The broomstick itself must remain in some way
reminiscent of its origins, but can be much modified to
suit the owner’s personality. This one had the pillion
seat sized bundle of twigs but a broom handle much cut
down in length. A special edition H-D (Hag-Driven)
chopper with customized high-rise crossbar handles
carved from a hangman’s gibbet.

This brush was being flown solo, but carried a bed roll
and two massive leather saddlebags with brass studs
marking out the owner’s initials: ‘MlF’. The very same
letters which Sir Tristan had indicated so discreetly
to the Master-At-Arms. It would not be true to say that
the witch’s name was well known to her friends, for she
had none. But her many enemies knew all about Morgana
le Fay. And perhaps the greatest reason for her
multitude of ill-wishers was evident in the words
marked out with more brass studs on the back of her
leather jacket: “COVEN CHEATERS”.

It was Morgana’s dykie gang which had led a revolt
against the established order of witch precedence in
their own coven. A revolt which had attracted many
supporters: promotion is slow in an organization where
senior members live many hundreds of years. But in the
final battle tradition and numbers had won and most of
Morgana’s faction were now settling down to even more
discontented lifestyles as bats and mice. Morgana
alone had fought clear and was realist enough to know
that a lot of melted snow would have to flow down these
mountains before she could begin another campaign in
the witch wars. In the meantime she would amuse herself
by making life as miserable as possible for as many
mortals as possible, especially the male ones.

The body she had handcrafted for the purpose was
ideally suited to its task, designed to attract the
absolute best of that breed to her like hounds smelling
blood. After all, there was no longer any point in
bothering with female lovers if she was going into a
world run by men. But Morgana was far too clever simply
to make herself look beautiful. Beautiful she was
indeed, but that was only a part of the presentation,
for everything about her newly minted body was a
walking challenge to the male ego. And never had she
encountered male egos as inflated as those dressed in
armour, wielding swords and calling themselves knights.

These were men who had never known anything but
submissive damsels dressed in hampering gowns, silly
hats and wimples. Women brought up from birth to
believe themselves as something rather less important
to men than horses or hounds. Women who knew-knew
absolutely-they existed only to serve, whether God as
nuns, or their men as child carriers and domestic
slaves. This was the state of the world, and at the
first sight of Morgana the men who ruled it were
dumbfounded. The largest of them stood lower than the
top of her vivid red hair, none of their shoulders were
as wide as hers, and the sight of her tightly cut
leather jacket and breeches dropped every jaw. Firstly,
that any woman would dare to dress in such style and,
secondly, because she had created for herself a figure
which could lure a saint down from out of a stained
glass window.

Every one of those proud knights was scandalized and
outraged at Morgana’s dress, her presence, her style,
her insolent manner of speech and-above all-because of
her powers. Easy enough to accuse an harmless old woman
of being a witch and pass a pleasant afternoon dunking
her in a cesspit or rolling her through the streets in
a spike lined barrel. But a real witch, a witch who
could knock down a warhorse with one punch, or tie a
man’s entrails into knots without even touching him,
well, that was a curse of a different color. So the
knights muttered in anger and, deprived of the use of
their swords, turned to the only other weapons they
could think of to conquer an overly proud woman who
challenged all their beliefs.

It was a game which Morgana delighted in playing. Any
man who was good looking enough was welcome to share
her bed and if he satisfied her, he was allowed to
walk-or stagger-away from the tournament. There were
few such winners though, and nailed along her
broomstick handle were a growing collection of small
shriveled objects which had once been the most
treasured possessions of fiercely proud knights who
had jousted with her: jousted, but not satisfied, and
had forfeited their manhood as the price of
disappointing Morgana le Fay. Not for nothing had
Morgana carefully studied the standard treatise on
witch-mortal relationships, “The Male Eunuch And How To
Make Him Into One.”

Over the mountains but very far from over the hill,
Morgana dipped the nose of her chopper and gathered
speed in the direction of Giant’s Pass Castle. She knew
a lot about many things. What she didn’t know were how
the fates were chuckling at the rendezvous they’d
appointed for her.

Nor were the fates alone in chuckling. Hal was as near
to heaven as he ever expected to be whilst still
breathing, as far above his normal stinking life as a
privy emptier as the King was above him. The King! Hal
wouldn’t have changed places with the Emperor. The
trees which had seemed so close had shrunk to the size
of porcupine quills, the rushing mountain streams to
silvery snail tracks. The entire length of Giant’s Pass
was his to look at in a single leisurely glance from
over Chelinde’s right shoulder as he thrust his cock
into her with equal leisure.

With one sister already shagged he was now calm and
relaxed enough to spin out the task of giving the other
long, steady strokes that had Chelinde sobbing in
gratitude. Not that Hal wasn’t grateful in his turn to
Caelia for the way she was busily licking his balls as
he fucked her sister. It was exactly the kind of family
support which helped families grow.

Hal changed his position slightly, grunting as he found
a new angle at which to plunge into Chelinde’s
welcoming loins. Now he was looking over her left
shoulder and could see the dragon’s midday shadow
almost directly below, skimming over cultivated fields
as Josephine glided along the line of the valley. A
minute more and she would be directly over the castle.
A vision came into Hal’s mind’s eye, a vision in
glorious detail, a vision of that bastard of a Master-
At-Arms shouting and bullying everybody in sight, and
totally unaware that two of his daughters were being
fucked directly above his head by one of the Shitbucket

So inspired was Hal by the thought that he suddenly
found himself on the short strokes, the net flexing
like a rope bridge underneath a galloping horse and
heaving Chelinde back up against him until his own back
was thumping against Josephine’s scales. Like a village
dance fiddler Caelia instantly changed her own timing
to meet Hal’s new pace, licking him feverishly and her
fingers scratching at his rump.

“Pull out and put down!”

The movement in the net instantly stopped, except for
the momentum left in the net. Three heads flicked over
in gaping disbelief. Hal’s brain simply refused to
accept what he was seeing, a tall man in tight fitting
leather clothes with long black hair streaming back
from underneath a silvery helmet decorated with wings.
Then Hal saw the arched eyebrows, the glittering eyes,
the perfection of nose and mouth and knew he was
looking at a woman-he knew it even before his eyes were
seeing the massive curves of her breasts. A woman on
what was a broom, as strange a broom as could be
imagined but a broom, flying along as though it had
every right to be in the sky with all the creatures
which Odin had given a home there. A witch! A real
witch, a witch beautiful beyond words and so close to
him he could see the very dimple in her chin.

“Put down!”

She appeared angry, her eyes apparently aimed directly
at Hal. One of her hands jerked down towards the
ground, as though indicating that she wanted Josephine
to land. She also seemed to be having trouble flying
one handed, wobbling from side to side, the handle of
the brush gradually lifting higher as though it was
uncomfortable at the dragon’s slower pace. Hal had
another sudden vision, of an accidental collision
between Josephine and the witch. The dragon’s wing
might be damaged, or the net torn. He suddenly realised
he was more terrified of the death drop below than of
anything else, even a flying sorceress.

“Fuck off, you stupid witch!”

It was from there that things went very wrong very
quickly. The witch aimed her hand at Hal with fingers
extended. A flicker of light showed around them like a
glimpse of summer lightning and Hal was writhing in
agony, as if a thousand red hot needles were jabbing
all over his body. And as he screamed he heard the
girls screaming too. And Hal also heard Josephine
bellow in pain.

Witches travel a lot on broomsticks but rarely use them
as fighting platforms. Which is understandable. Just
persuading a broomstick to fly from A to B with U on it
is hard work enough, without trying to make the task
more difficult by encouraging other broom jockeys to
knock you off what is a pretty precarious perch to
begin with. And so it had been eons since most witches
had encountered anything else in the sky which was a
threat to them, the occasional bird strike excepted.

Had she known more about dragons, Morgana would not
have been surprised by the way the dragon tilted its
wings and instantly applied them as airbrakes. She
would have known how maneuverable a dragon’s light wing
loading made it. Most of all she would have known that
the last thing you do with an angry dragon is to get in
front of it while still traveling in the same
direction. Because that offers the dragon a simple nil
deflection aiming solution right up your twigs.

Hal felt Josephine’s cough through the beastling’s
belly muscles. Just the one but it was more than
enough. The spitball exploded directly on the back of
the broomstick in a giant yellow unfolding petal
surrounded by a ring of black smoke which instantly
blew away. Fragments came flying back through the air
towards Josephine, a burning unrolling bedroll, a
saddlebag shedding a myriad of colored lights and
smells as the lotions, potions and spells inside flared
up. Then a coal dark figure with outstretched limbs
whirling head over tail-literally, head over tail. The
giant tomcat slammed into the front of the net and hung
there, claws fully extended, spitting with anger and
green eyes blazing.

The broomstick itself was spiraling down leaving a thin
trail of black smoke behind it. Defeating reality and
gravity with constantly replicated mental algorithms is
never easy, even for the most strong-willed of witches.
It’s especially difficult to concentrate your mental
powers whilst sitting on a bundle of burning twigs.
Which was probably why the witch was dropping much
faster than was safe and apparently heading straight
for the castle walls.

So indeed was Josephine, her wings furled as she came
swooping down after her prey. Her entire body had
turned a vivid shade of red, a color Hal had only seen
her display once before, when the pi-dogs had attacked
her. It meant that Josephine was spitting mad, and a
spitting mad dragon is bad news.

In this case bad news could be described for her
opponent as ending up with a choice between a high-
speed impact with several thousand tons of stonewall or
bailing out into an open sewer. Even a witch has to
make difficult decisions sometimes. But no one who
witnessed the scene had anything but total admiration
for Morgana’s timing: her cat couldn’t have fallen more
neatly. She dropped off the broomstick while she was
still twenty paces or so away from the outer edge of
the moat, calculating exactly how far she would be
flung by her forward speed. The stick hit the wall and
splintered at exactly the same time as there was a
disturbance on the moat’s surface. It couldn’t be
described as a splash, not in that substance: more like
a heavy stone being dropped into a cowpat.

“Oh, Odin!” Hal wailed in despair as a brown covered
head and shoulders emerged from the hideous depths of
the moat. A witch, a powerful witch, a bad powerful
witch, a bad powerful witch who was up to her neck in
shit because of him. Things couldn’t get any worse.

There was movement on the lowered drawbridge. It seemed
like every soldier in the castle was streaming out
along it, all carrying crossbows, the Master-At-Arms
leading them. And beside him was the gangling figure of
Will Spearshaker, an accusing arm pointing skywards at
Josephine. An indication followed by the soldiers
aiming their quarrels at her as the Master-At-Arms
shook his fist in rage. Oh, Gods, now things couldn’t
get worse.

Josephine’s wings began beating the air as she hovered
low over the moat, apparently savoring her moment of
victory over the bitch witch in the ditch. Hal rolled
onto his back and thumped his fists against her belly.

“Fly, my lady, fly. Leave this accursed place and we’ll
never return.”Both of the girls began wailing in
despair at the idea of being taken away from their
home; if they thought they could find any mercy from
their father by staying they had much higher hopes than
Hal had. The cat seemed to be deeply unhappy as well,
going berserk in its efforts to reach in far enough
through the net to rip open the boy’s face.

“Fly, Josephine, fly!”

The witch raised her hand and again there was a flicker
of lightning that was somehow there and not there at
the same time. The supernatural disturbance ran around
the left front net rings and they had gone as if
transformed into smoke rings. Hal actually saw the
lashings fall clear, still tied and untouched, before
the corner of the net fell open. Even as he tried to
accept what had happened the right front rings vanished
as well, the front of the belly net falling down as if
to pitch them all into empty air.

Chelinde and Caelia screamed in fright, twisting around
exactly as Hal was doing and clutching at the sagging
net with hooked fingers. Hal screamed too, not only for
fear but because the cat was still hanging on the
opposite side of the net and now at last it had him
within claw reach. The first slash took a deep bloody
furrow out of the top of his leg, barely missing his
cock. Hal was as terrified as he could be, and more
angry than he’d ever dreamed possible. He drew back his
fist and drove it with every shred of strength in his
body onto the tip of the cat’s nose.

There was a scream which was louder than Chelinde and
Caelia combined and the cat was falling, turning,
spreading its legs, slapping down into the weed
speckled crust of the moat, disappearing from view,
except for a hand’s breath of black tail sticking
straight up into the air. But the screams continued.

It was the witch, her hands clasped to her face and
apparently in agony. Hal had no time to worry about
her. Josephine was landing, letting the net fall slowly
to the ground. Hal hit the grass first, crawled out
from under the net, looked up and saw the Master-At-
Arms staring at his daughter’s bare bodies hanging from
the net before they tumbled into the grass as well.

“Kill the little cunt!”

Only the front rank of the soldiers could aim at Hal
because he was down so low, and they were hampered by
having the Master-At-Arms and Will Spearshaker in front
of them. Josephine coughed and spat, the Master-At-
Arms burst into flames like a wax doll dropped into a
fire and Will Spearshaker was running for the moat with
his breeches burnt off and his chain mail glowing red.
When he jumped into the mire a cloud of evil smelling
steam shot up around his head. The other soldiers gaped
at him, then at the calcinated remains of the Master-
At-Arms and finally-and reluctantly-at the dragon
again. There was an unmistakable air about them of
warriors for the working day definitely deciding that
it was quitting time.

Hal seized his chance: “Drop those crossbows, you
bastards, or I’ll flame mail the lot of you!”

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