Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 2 –

– 2 –

St. Bethany is out in the quad. She is watching the nithrid in the sky. She is wearing a red bonnet, because she must wear a red hat, even if it isn’t the right hat. Even if it doesn’t satisfy her at all.

Bethany is quiet. She is wrought.

She is thinking many things; and then she sees Edmund, spots him suddenly, across the quad.

His eyes are like the lightning: they are flickering with white.

She moves. She has her swords out. It is by reflex.

In the moment between the lightning and the thunder she is in front of him, she is turning, she is unfolding, she is cutting at his throat.

He blurs out of the way. He tries to blur out of the way. She catches his foot as he moves instead. She makes him stumble. He is a pale blur of motion that rockets head-first into the dirt.

She catches him. She lands on his back, guides him downwards so his skull won’t fracture. She kicks her boot off. It bounces off a tree branch into her hand. As he writhes bonelessly, turns around, and gapes his maw at her, she shoves the boot into his mouth. His teeth close futilely on boot leather. He makes an irritated sound.

“I’m such a bad saint,” she says, beating Edmund’s head into the ground. One, two —

She can’t manage even one.

All she can do is push a pressure point to try to still him, and dream that more meaningful violence would be allowed.

A stone box has fallen out of his pocket. She glides back a few steps. She picks it up. She shakes it. She listens to it.

“Heh,” she says.

Her attention is momentarily diverted by the lightning. She realizes Edmund is standing up again.

“Jesus,” she swears, condemning herself to adding a shilling to her Jesus jar later and possibly also to suffering eternal torment in the afterlife. But that’s not important right now.

Right now, Edmund’s standing up!

Edmund spits out the boot. (This is one of the weaknesses of boot-based strategies in terms of long-term subdual of Edmund or the wolf.) It lands on the ground. He says, “That wasn’t necessary.”

“Maybe not,” she says. She tosses the box into the air and pulses energy into her fist for a stone-shattering punch.



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