Sparky dropped another batch of ripe dragon-snap pods on the table. A plume of sad smoke dribbled from his drooping snout.
Alys frowned. ‘What’s the matter, Sparky?’
Her diminutive dragon sighed. ‘We never seem to have time for any fun anymore!’
Alys examined her hands which we’re raw and stained from splitting the sharp seed pods which contained the collectible dragon cards. Even liberal applications of her Hand cream for Hard-Working Witches, hadn’t healed her skin. Their partnership with George the Dragon had really taken off, but it was awfully hard work on top of her cosmetics and potions business.
The Magic Messaging Machine pinged into life. George’s big friendly dragon face filled the screen. ‘How’s it going, partners?’ He clapped his big blue paws together. ‘I have news!’ I’m going to be discharged from the Home for Delusional Dragons! ‘I’m cured, you see,’ said George happily. ‘It’s the business. Given me focus. No more delusions about long lost family!’ A stream of happy steam billowed from his big nostrils.
Once the steam had cleared, he continued. ‘I’m off house-hunting. Preferably a place with a large garden. For expansion, you know,’ said George. He lifted a big blue paw and waved. ‘Toodles!’ and with that, the screen pinged off.
Alys and Sparky exchanged glances, but before they could say anything, a gentle thud on the doormat heralded the arrival of the morning mail. Sparky flew across the room and brought back an elegant envelope bearing the logo of Edelweiss Paradise, the Swiss factory that produced a crucial ingredient for one of Alys’s best-selling face creams.
Sparky opened the envelope with a carefully trained stream of fluffy white steam and a crisp white card slipped out. The card took a deep breath and bellowed: ‘Otto and the team at Edelweiss Paradise humbly request your assistance. We have a big problem and we’re certain you can help.’ The announcement was accompanied by a small shower of tiny white edelweiss buds. The card sobbed slightly and added. ‘As s-soon as you c-can, p-please.’
They both glanced over to the book-case where the Medal of Honour, presented to them by Otto for fixing the Edelweiss Paradise factory’s Eternal Flame, was proudly displayed.
Alys frowned. ‘I wonder what this is all about?’
A plume of puzzled purple smoke rose from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Only one way to find out.’
‘Okay, let’s go.’ She picked up her wand and hurried over to the doormat. Sparky flew after her and perched on her shoulder. ‘Edelweiss Valley, Switzerland,’ she enunciated carefully.
Moments later they were standing in front of the flower-shaped emblem which adorned the frontage of Edelweiss Paradise. The doors opened and Otto appeared, a worried look on his face. His white beard twitched anxiously as he raised his pointed red hat.
Otto sighed gratefully. ‘Glad you could come so quickly.’ He raised his hands in the air. ‘I didn’t know where else to turn.’
Alys looked around. All seemed fine inside the factory where the copper vessels bubbled away contentedly.
‘Come with me, I’ll show you.’ Otto ushered them back outside and gestured to the hillside where the new edelweiss was growing. A swathe of matted dark vegetation was creeping down the valley towards the tiny white blooms. ‘Smother-weed.’ Otto huffed. ‘It started this morning and Horace has gone AWOL.’
‘Horace?’ Alys and Sparky questioned in unison.
‘He’s the flame-thrower dragon who burns off all the smother-weed. It’s the only way to control it.’ Otto shook his head.
Sparky’s yellow eyes widened. ‘It’s a very large area,’ he said worriedly.
‘Oh no, I didn’t mean that a little fellow like you should try to tackle all that,’ said Otto hastily. ‘I just thought that you might know another dragon who might be able to step in.’
Alys and Sparky looked at one another. ‘George!’ they said in unison.
‘It couldn’t have worked better, could it?’ said George, draining his third pint of edelweiss cordial. ‘Gave me a bit of a turn to be summoned like that though.’ He winked at Alys.
Alys grinned back. ‘I wasn’t sure the summoning spell would work on someone so… er, large.’
‘But it was such fun! Mass incineration!’ George laughed. ‘So kind of you to offer me a little plot on your valley, Otto. A place to stay and room for a few rows of dragon-snap trees,’ George continued delightedly. ‘And you’ll never have a problem with smother-weed again,’ he said, beaming at Otto.
‘You’ll be happy to take over our share of the business, Otto?’ said Alys, rubbing her sore hands.
‘Delighted my dear.’
Sparky showered the table with relieved ruby-red sparks.
Otto raised his tankard. ‘Here’s to you, George! Settle down here, plant your trees and we’ll provide the labour. The gnomes of Edelweiss Valley are at your service!’
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