Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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Flashback: “the Office of the Dean”

Flashback: “the Office of the Dean”

There is a great snarling wolf between Rhea and the office of Dean nikink, which is frankly just plain ironic.

“Um,” she says to the wolf.

She holds out her hand for the wolf to sniff. The wolf snaps at her hand. She squeals and draws back.

“Um,” she says again. “I’m here to file my withdrawal paperwork.”

The wolf doesn’t seem to understand her.

“You don’t seem to understand me,” Rhea says wisely. “It’s probably because you’re a wolf and I’m a human.”

This is total slander. People always say things like this about wolves and it really hurts their feelings. Wolves understand what is going on with all the social rejection just fine.

“Are you an administrator?” Rhea asks, hopelessly.

The wolf snaps its leash. It attacks.

If I had to guess where the wolf came from I’d guess that it came from Principal Goethe’s coffee machine. I’d guess that the coffee machine was left on, and the coffee in it boiled down to this thick black gunk, and then came to life and burst into being as a great jittering wolf, a sludge-wolf, an agitated and agitating wolf. It ate various papers from the inbox and grew, becoming bigger and bigger, until at last it was flagged by the Principal for an intervention by the Dean.

Troublemakers usually are.

It was sent to Dean nikink’s office, whereupon it would presumably be nikink’d—

Save, some distant twinge of survival instinct? Perhaps? Guilt? Shame? Maybe simply the instinct there is in a coffee-wolf to stay just a coffee-wolf rather than learning to change? stopped it before the doors, left it to scatter the secretaries and perch on the table but not actually go in for its deaning.

It was a wolf. It was a terrifying wolf. It wasn’t an administrator at all!

And that’s why it’s fighting there. That’s why Dean nikink comes out to check her missing appointments and discovers a swirl of snarling fur and teeth and claws in the main room instead.

I don’t know exactly what she said then. Well, more precisely, I’m not allowed to say. I’m not actually supposed to be hiding behind the curtains in the administrative office all the time spying on people. They keep saying, “That’s bad!”

I think personally that it’s morally neutral. But the point is, a wise girl doesn’t quote.

So I don’t know what the Dean said exactly. But it stopped them. They drew apart. The coffee-wolf cringed in shame, dwindled down, and flew into the Dean’s outstretched coffee-cup. As for Rhea—

She is panting there. She uncurls herself. She stands up. She brushes herself down. She gives that embarrassed smile that a werewolf girl will give after being caught fighting with a big coffee-wolf but after her wounds and torn clothing have healed.

I can’t say what the Dean said then. Probably something like, “You were here for a withdrawal?”

But Rhea just shakes her head.

I don’t know how I can explain this. I don’t even know for sure that I know this. There’s only so much insight that you can get into someone’s head from behind the curtains in the administrative offices of the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth in Brentwood, particularly when you’re trying so very, very desperately not to sneeze.

But if there’s a reason? If there had to be a reason? I think that was when she realized that even a girl who can’t save the world from vast swarms of scissors is still perfectly able to fight giant wolves.

Thank you, nikink and the amazing faculty of the Lethal Magnet School!

We owe this insight and this revelation to you!




  1. Did some pages get moved around?

  2. I hope not!

    If you’re referring to the Strange Encounter on the front page, it’s on the front page because it was the most recent post; there’s no specific place for the Strange Encounters sub-series in the novels.

    Why is it still on the front page?

    … I tried to wait for the original cover artist to finish the cover for the third book before posting the end of Vidar’s Boot here. I posted more and more slowly while I waited. Now all that’s left is one day of posts, basically. I eventually gave up and commissioned a new cover, and the paperback version is proofed and the hardcover copies should reach me for proofing soon. Once that’s done, I’ll post the last part of the book.

    If something got scrambled in the manuscript accessible by reading through, please let me know; that’s an error.

    • Oh, nothing was scrambled. It’s just that I was reading from the beginning to the end, with and the place I was reading moved a few pages backwards.


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