The following comes from Then A Penguin Walked In and Other Tall Tales, currently on sale digitally and in paperback.



He had pulled himself up from off the ground and was brushing the dirt and grass from his clothes when he noticed the great white dragon bearing down on him like a blood thirsty freight train, dirt churning under its razor claws.

“We got this,” Vivian said as she and Harold glided up between Dominick and Kraxull.

The two pixies were suddenly surrounded by a bright light, and in a flash, they were transformed into a pair of green dragons, though they were half the size of the great Kraxull. The two were much faster, however, and before the white dragon could reach him, the two greens slammed into it from both sides, driving it into the air and back down again.

The impact of the three dragons as they struck the earth could be felt from under Dominick’s feet. He drew Arakis to the obligatory peal of thunder but found he couldn’t get around the three dragons as they rolled and fought, clinging to each other by teeth and claws.

Being as close as he was to a dragon fight, a situation that had never occurred to him as being even remotely possible, Dominick found that he wasn’t afraid. He should be, he knew that. The fact that he wasn’t soiling his pants felt a bit odd but having Arakis in hand dampened the fear. The comfort brought about by the sword pushed the fear somewhere deep inside. He was sure that sometime later, maybe the next time he found himself on a therapist’s couch, the terror would make its way back to the surface. But for now, it was buried under a feeling of invulnerability.

“What should we do, Sacred One?” Uto asked, sword in hand. 

“There’s nothing we can do for now but enjoy the show,” Dominick said. “But watch my back. I’d hate for someone to come sneaking up behind us and stick an arrow in me or something.”

“Your back is secure, Sacred One,” Uto said. “Fear not at that front.”

“Back,” Dominick said.



The dragon fight continued with much roaring, biting, tearing of claws, screaming, and rending of earth. The soldiers stationed to the rear of Hob’s army couldn’t help but notice the destructive commotion going on behind them and they turned to watch the show.

Kraxull, the Great White Dragon of Skelldom was a fierce beast, but the two pixie dragons gave as good as they got, proving to Dominick once and for all that pixie magic was not to be taken lightly. The combatants, it appeared, were evenly matched. Neither side showing any distinct advantage. That was until Kraxull, with a mighty roar, managed to push both of the green dragons off of him, throwing them back with such force that the two were momentarily dazed. Hob’s army cheered.

Taking advantage, Kraxull was on one of the greens in an instant and pushed it back to the ground. Dominick didn’t know which of the two pixies the dragon had beneath, both looked fairly identical, but suddenly it had the green’s neck in its massive jaws.

The other green shot forward but Kraxull was too fast and with a mighty swipe of its tail, drove the other green into the ground. The small dragon didn’t get up.

Dominick took an involuntary step forward, his heart climbing into his throat.

“Don’t!” Dominick shouted.

But Kraxull ignored him as it bit down on the green dragon’s throat, the transformed pixie struggling beneath it.

Dominick’s veins turned to ice, and he grew numb all over.

“No!” he screamed and pointed Arakis at the sky. 

He wasn’t sure why he’d done it, brandishing the sword over his head, but instinct had taken over.

Lightning fell, striking the blade of the sword once, twice, three times. Each strike accompanied by a clap of thunder. The blade crackled and hissed as Dominick pointed it at Kraxull.

Lighting shot forth from the blade and slammed into the body of the white dragon. Three successive bolts that drove the creature back from atop the struggling green until Kraxull fell, smoking and unmoving.

Everything grew quiet. Even the fighting on the front lines had stopped. Dominick approached the still form of the white dragon, ignoring Lord Hob who stood off to one side, frozen with shock. The dragon continued to smoke where the lighting had struck its thick hide. Dominick nudged at the dragon with his foot. It remained as still as the dead. Dominick stepped closer, looking into the face of the mighty beast.

Kraxull opened its eyes.

Dominick tried to lift the sword, but the creature was too fast. It slashed at Dominick with one huge claw, tearing at his stomach and pants as it swiped the sword from his hand with its tail. Dominick fell back and the dragon was on him, pressing him into the bloodied ground with one massive, clawed hand.

“Lightning, human?” Kraxull said. Its voice was deep and clawed at his skull. “It was a good try, but it was not enough.”

Dominick struggled beneath the thing, flailing about with his hands as he tried to locate Arakis.

“Give me another chance,” said Dominick tightly. “I’ll try not to disappoint.”

“Ah,” Kraxull said. “You must think I’m stupid.”

“Well,” Dominick didn’t finish the thought.

“I’ve not lived as long as I have by giving an enemy another opportunity to attack,” the dragon said. “You kill your enemies first, and you do it fast. No hesitation. That’s how you win.”

“Good advice,” Dominick said. His right hand had found something, but it wasn’t the sword. It was the saltshaker. It must have fallen from his pocket with the slash of the dragon’s claws. “I wish you would have said something earlier. I’d have done things a little differently.”

Dominick had a plan. It was a stupid plan and one he knew would probably fail, but it was all he had. He picked up the saltshaker and held it upside down in the palm of his hand, shaking it so that his hand filled with salt.

“Tell me,” Kraxull said. “How does it feel to die knowing that you have failed in the one task you were destined to complete?”

“I can’t answer that,” Dominick said. “Because I’m not going to die.”

The dragon laughed. 

“You are an overconfident little person, aren’t you,” Kraxull said.

“Not really. But it’s like you said. I was destined to do that one task.”

“And you will die knowing you failed.”

“Nothing can stop destiny, not even a glorified lizard like you.”

Kraxull’s head snaked in so that the two were face to face, the dragon so close that Dominick could feel its hot breath against his skin.

“You will show me respect, human,” the dragon said, pushing Dominick further into the dirt.

Dominick didn’t respond, instead he threw his handful of salt directly into one of Kraxull’s great eyes.

The dragon roared and reared back, falling back onto its haunches as it covered its eye with one hand, looking for all the world like a petulant child.

Dominick rolled, snatched up Arakis, and pulled himself to his feet.

“That hurt, you jerk!” Kraxull called out. “What was that?”

“Salt,” Dominick said.

“Salt? What would you do that?”

“What? You were gonna kill me.”

“Sure, but fair and square, not with trickery. That’s cheating.”

“Cheating?” Dominick laughed. “Am I really having this conversation?”

“You’re a jerk, human,” Kraxull said, still rubbing at its eye. “This really stings. I need to go find a pond or a lake or something.”

With that, the dragon flew off, leaving a stunned Dominick behind.

“You drove Kraxull away,” Hob said, sounding just as confused as Dominick. “The Great White Dragon of Skelldom. I’ve seen that dragon destroy entire towns and you drive it away with a handful of salt.”

“I’ll admit, it was a gamble. But hey, it worked. Now,” Dominick lifted Arakis once again and fed it a four-course meal of lighting. He pointed the blade at the Dread Lord Hob. “Why don’t you hand over your sword?”

“I’m not scared of you, Dominick Hanrahan,” Hob said, though he didn’t sound too convincing.

“That’s because you aren’t smart enough to realize how afraid you really should be,” Dominick said.

In reply, Lord Hob raised his sword above his head, screamed, and ran at Dominick, swinging the white blade.

Dominic lifted Arakis to block the blow, and like earlier, as soon as the two blades met there was an explosion and the two were thrown back from each other. Dominick rose, his body aching in all the wrong places, only to find Lord Hob charging at him again.

The result was the same. The white blade smacked into the black blade, followed by the subsequent explosion.

Yet, once again, Dominick rose to find Lord Hob on the move.

But this time Dominick fired a lightning bolt into the ground at Hob’s feet. The ground beneath the Dread Lord exploded and Lord Hob was on his back for the fourth time.

“Stop it!” Dominick shouted, sending another bolt, and knocking the white-clad man once more onto his back. “One more chance, Hob. Give me your sword, leave this place, abandon your army, never make war with the people of Gund again, or I will fry you where you stand. Or… lay. Lie? Doesn’t matter, you’ll be crispy in matter of seconds.”

The Dread Lord Hob. Scourge of the West, Defiler of the East, Plague of the North, Overlord of the South, and King of the Nighttime World threw his sword aside and rose. He looked from Dominick to the army behind him, then back to Dominick.

And so, with little in the way of dignity or ceremony, Lord Hob tucked tail and ran off into the trees.

Hob’s army, after nearly thirty seconds of confused silence, followed.

To be continued...


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