Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 2 –

– 2 –

Sid is swaying. Sid is pale. Sid is wearing an awful hat.

It’s an underground fighting tournament, though, so Max doesn’t let that distract him.

He’s there to fight!

Max swirls his longcoat. He steps back. He intones: SNOWSTORM.

Clouds start gathering over Max’s head.

Sid clenches a hand. He finishes drawing his summoning circle. His arms are all-over scratches and his eyes are bright from lack of sleep.

He rasps: FIREBALL.

“Way to go,” says Max, impressed. He grins. He watches Sid’s hand closely as Sid brings up the fireball. Sid winds it up. He throws it.

Max dodges to the side.

Max’s snow fairy manifests. Snowflakes begin to fall all around Max. Max pushes at the air and the snowstorm flows over and begins dumping snow down on Sid.

Sid growls: FIREBALL.

Max flicks his eyes to the fairy. He cautions: “Don’t let it —”

Sid hurls the fireball at the snow fairy. The snow fairy’s hair singes. Her eyes turn into Xs. She falls back onto her cloud.

“— hit you,” Max sighs.

Then he shrugs. He snaps his fingers. WHOMPING STICK, he summons.

A whomping stick appears in his hand. He whomps Sid. Sid staggers. Sid falls.

Sid rasps: FIREBALL.

It is too much for Sid. Sid is beginning to bleed from the nose.

“Um,” says Max.

Sid throws it. FIREBALL, he whispers. FIREBALL.

“Um,” says Max again.

Sid pulls himself to his feet. His hands are burning.

“I’m going to beat you,” he whispers. “It’s OK. I’m totally fine.”

Sid’s hat drools slime along his forehead. He wobbles. He hurls, both fireballs and the contents of his stomach, at almost but not exactly the same time.

FIREBALL, whispers Sid.

“You’re going to hurt yourself,” says Max. He is appalled, but Sid doesn’t seem to care.


Flames whip up. They rage through the circle. They howl around Max and he repels them with a swirl of his longcoat and a NEGATE.

Sid’s eyes are bleeding. His nose is pouring blood. He sniffles and accidentally chokes on it. He leans over, gasps for breath. He is pale and gaunt.


But Max has wrapped his arms around Sid now. He is holding him up.


Max isn’t fighting him but holding him. He is whispering, fiercely, in Sid’s ear, “Geez, kid, stop.”





Max holds him until Sid is exhausted. Until he can no longer summon. Until he is crying on Max’s shoulder and he has nothing left.

“I have to win,” whispers Sid, and sobbing wracks him.

Max holds him there, but he does not fight.



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