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The Dragon of Doom
Chapter 1
The Cottage on the Hill

I live in a little town called Pigbone.

Its full name is Pigbone-East-of-the-Mountains. I don’t know if there is a Pigbone-West-of-the-Mountains. How could I? No one in our town ever goes anywhere.

“Why should we go somewhere else?” says my mother. “We have everything we need right here.”

I disagreed. What we didn’t have was excitement.

Mother and I live at the edge of town, in a little cottage.

Everyone in Pigbone lives in a cottage.

The only kids in Pigbone are two older boys, one new baby, and me. Sometimes I get pretty lonely.

Behind our cottage is a big hill, with a steep side.

On top of the hill, right at the edge, sits another cottage.

This cottage had been empty for as long as I could remember. I had explored it many times. It was where I went when I wanted to be alone. I almost felt as if it belonged to me—until the afternoon I looked up and saw smoke curling out of its chimney.

I ran to my mother.

“Someone has moved into the empty cottage!” I cried.

“Ignore it, Edward,” she said. She wiped her hands on her apron and turned back to what she was cooking.

Mother is always cooking, or washing, or something. Sometimes I can help. Sometimes she just wants me to get out of the way.

I decided this was a good time to get out of the way.

I also decided that the most out-of-the-way place I could get was up the hill.

I started up the narrow path that led to the cottage. The grass at the sides of the path was as high as my shoulders. Bugs buzzed around me. The sun was warm, and I started to sweat.

When I was about halfway up the hill, I turned to look down at Pigbone. I counted the cottages. Fifteen, just like always. Our cottage was the closest. The one farthest away—the biggest and nicest one—belonged to the Rusty Knight.

I started to climb again.

I was out of breath by the time I got to the top.

I had planned to go right up to the cottage door and ask who was living there.

Then I saw something that slowed me down.

Bursts of green light were coming out of the window!

I decided to do some sneaking. This is something I have practiced a lot, so I am very good at it.

Dropping to my knees, I crawled toward the cottage. I moved very quietly.

As I got closer, I heard voices.

“You know that’s not going to work,” said one voice. It was deep and raspy.

“Don’t be so gloomy!” said the other voice. It was softer, and had a friendly sound.

“I’m not gloomy,” said the first voice. “I’m honest.”

I crept closer. Soon I was just beneath the window.

Vines covered the side of the cottage. Using the vines for support, I lifted my head to peek over the edge of the windowsill.

I couldn’t believe what I saw!



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