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The Mischief Monster
Chapter 1
Strange Visitor

Sometimes when you get what you want, it's not as good as you thought it would be.

Here's what I mean. I was really happy when my friend Moongobble became a full magician. For one thing, it meant Fazwad would stop coming up with Mighty Tasks that Moongobble had to do if he wanted to join the Society of Magicians.

The problem was, life just wasn't as interesting without those Mighty Tasks. Oh, it was more interesting than it had been before Moongobble moved to Pigbone. But I had really liked going off on those adventures-even if they did get kind of scary sometimes.

So I was feeling a little bored the morning Snelly came bursting into our lives.

I was staying with Moongobble for a few days while Mother and Father went to Flitwick City to sell some of Father's carvings. I was outside, working in the garden. Fireball, the little dragon who is my friend, had perched on a nearby tree branch. Whenever I got too hot, Fireball would flutter down to fan my face with his wings.

He had just flapped around my head a few times when he hissed, “What's that?”

“What's what?” I asked.

Then I heard it, too-a tiny voice, sobbing and wailing.

“It's coming from over there,” I whispered.

Fireball settled onto my shoulder, hooking his tiny claws into my shirt. I put down my hoe, then dropped to my knees and began to crawl along the row of cabbages where I had been working.

The crying got louder.

“Waaaah! Waaaah! Oh, I am so miserable! Waaaah”

I pointed to a cabbage. Fireball nodded.

Moving as silently as possible, I lifted one of the big leaves. Beneath it sat a little person. She had her face buried in her hands and she was weeping as if her heart was broken. My own heart almost broke just listening to her!

“What's the matter?” I asked. “Why are you so unhappy?”

“Fooled ya!” cried the little creature. Then she jumped onto my head, mussed up my hair, scampered over my shoulders, and vanished among the cabbages.

I scrambled to my feet. She was nowhere in sight. Then I heard her laugh. It sounded like she was behind a tree. When I went to look, it turned out she had climbed the tree-which put her in a perfect position to pounce onto my shoulder.

“Got ya! Now you have to take me to see Moongobble.”

“I would have taken you to him anyway, if you had just asked,” I said, trying to pull her loose.

This was true. It wasn't as if Moongobble had a lot of customers. And now that he was a full magician, he needed to find some. Otherwise he might have to go back to being a shoemaker.

When I finally managed to pry the creature off my shoulder I held her in front of me. She was about a foot high. She was wearing a dress made of two layers of flower petals. The outer layer was bright red, the inner layer soft pink. Her green cap looked like the base of a flower.

And she had wings!

It took me a minute to see that they were fake.

Even though she was dressed like a fairy, she had the ugliest little face I had ever seen. Her nose was about two sizes too big for her head. So were her pointy ears. And she had a pair of fangs that made me nervous.

“Put me down, ya big doot!” she said, squirming wildly.

“If I do, will you promise not to jump on me again?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I promise.”

The way she said it made me wonder what her promise was worth. But I put her down anyway-mostly because she was squirming so hard I didn't think I could hold her much longer even if I wanted to.

“Come on,” I said. “Moongobble is inside-”

My words were cut off by a loud boom.

Thick green smoke poured through the cottage window.

“Uh-oh,” said Fireball. “What's Moongobble done now?”

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