Why has Custard Castle's dragon grown so big? Could the Wizard be to blame? A free online, printable children's story
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DRAGON DILEMMA

by Emma Laybourn

A Custard Castle story

Custard Castle

Bella woke up in a panic.

"Oh, no! I'm late!" she thought. "I need to light all the fires before the King and Queen wake up!" She jumped out of bed.

Bella was the maid at Custard Castle. Every morning, she lit the fires in all the rooms. She used a small dragon to start the fires. It was small enough to carry around with her, under one arm.

The little dragon slept in the cupboard under the stairs. Bella hurried there as fast as she could, and flung open the door.

"Dragon!" she cried. "Wake up!"

But there was no dragon in the cupboard. She put her head inside to make sure. The cupboard was empty.

"Bother!" said Bella. "Where's that dragon gone?"

She hurried off to find Jack the servant boy. He was busy polishing the King's boots.

"Jack? Have you got the dragon?" she asked.

"No," said Jack. "Why?"

"It's run off! We've got to find it!" said Bella. "Where can it be?"

"I expect it's gone looking for something to eat," said Jack. "It's a hungry little dragon. Let's go and check in the kitchen."

They ran to the kitchen. The Cook was in there, making dough.

"We've lost the dragon! Have you seen it?" asked Jack.

"Certainly not," said the Cook. "You'd better find it quickly, though. I need it to light the oven before I can make the royal breakfast."

"Oh, dear," groaned Bella. "It could be anywhere in the castle!"

"I'll help you hunt for it," said Jack.

So together they began to hunt through the three hundred dusty rooms of Custard Castle.

Bella called out, "Dragon! Where are you?" Jack whistled, but the dragon did not appear.

They had searched seventeen rooms when suddenly Jack stopped.

"What's that noise?" he said.

Bella listened. She could hear something flapping and thumping.

"It's coming from upstairs," she said. "But it sounds big - far too big to be our little dragon."

As well as being the servant boy, Jack was also the guard. He sighed, and said, "I'd better go and investigate, and find out what it is. I wish I had my sword and helmet."

"Where are they?" asked Bella.

"They're in my room, on the top floor - and that's in the way," said Jack, pointing at the ceiling. There was another thump and a crash.

"I'll investigate with you," said Bella.

They both crept up the stairs. The noise grew even louder. They tiptoed along the corridor, and put their heads around the corner.

They saw the doors of all the royal bedrooms, tightly closed. But something was thumping and flapping in the corridor. Something big and green and scaly, with wide, wide wings and a long, long tail.

"It can't be!" gasped Bella.

"It is," said Jack. "That's our dragon."

"But it's enormous!" whispered Bella. "Whatever can have happened?"

The dragon began to rampage up and down the corridor, thumping its huge scaly feet and flapping its wings.

It was in a very bad temper. It whisked its tail, and shattered a vase. It had already broken a window and a mirror, and knocked four pictures off the wall.

Just then the King came charging out of his bedroom. He was wearing a nightshirt embroidered with little gold crowns. He looked almost as angry as the dragon.

"What's all this noise? I'm trying to sleep!' he shouted.

Then he saw the dragon - and the dragon saw him. It opened its mouth and huffed red flames.

The King leapt backwards. "Help!" he screamed.

The Queen came dashing out of the bathroom. She was wearing pyjamas patterned with tiny hammers.

"What's all-" she began, and then she saw the dragon.

She leapt backwards too. "Help!" she screamed.

Bella and Jack ran towards her. At the same time, Princess Fifi came rushing out of her bedroom. She was wearing a fluffy dressing-gown covered in ribbons and bows.

"What's- help!" she screamed. "A dragon! Save me!"

The dragon swished its tail furiously. It opened its mouth wide, ready to huff more red flames.

The King runs away from the dragon in the free children's ebook Dragon Dilemma

The Queen and the King and Princess Fifi ran. So did Bella and Jack. They all jumped through the nearest door and slammed it shut.

They were in Princess Fifi's room. The angry dragon was thumping and flapping and crashing just outside.

"That looked like our little dragon!" exclaimed the Queen. "But it's enormous!"

"Someone must have put a spell on it to make it grow," said Fifi. "Like my giant frog prince."

"A spell? Then I know what's happened. It's that stupid Wizard!" snapped the King. "He's always doing things like this."

"What are we going to do?" asked Fifi.

"I don't know," said the Queen. "We need the Wizard, but we can't reach him. It's a dragon dilemma."

But the King stamped over to the window. He put his head out and bellowed at the tallest tower. "Wizard Watchit! Are you awake?"

The Wizard appeared in the highest window of the tower.

"I am now," he shouted back. "What is it?"

"I want a word with you!" the King shouted. "You come here this minute!"

The Wizard disappeared from his window. A minute later, they heard footsteps running in the corridor outside.

Then they heard a frantic banging on the door.

"Help!" said the Wizard's voice. "Let me in! There's a dragon trying to burn me up!"

Jack opened the door and the Wizard shot inside. He was wearing a night-gown decorated with little cauldrons.

"Phew!" he said. "That was a near thing. Where did that dragon come from?"

The King glared at him. "That's our dragon! You must have put a spell on it to make it grow!" he snapped.

"No, I didn't," said the Wizard.

"It was the right size yesterday! I expect you magicked it by accident."

"No, I-" Wizard Watchit stopped. He had just remembered that the night before, he had tried to make up a new spell to turn a pen into a sausage roll. His spell hadn't worked on the pen, but maybe it had worked on the dragon...

"You'd better go out there and magic it right back!" the King roared at him.

Wizard Watchit gulped. He wished it was a giant sausage roll waiting outside the door, instead of an angry dragon. "I'm afraid I don't know how," he said. "But I expect the magic will wear off soon."

"Do you mean we're stuck here until then?" the Queen asked.

"But I'm cold," said Fifi.

"And I'm hungry," said the King.

"And I've got loads of jobs to do," said Jack.

"And so have I," said Bella.

Wizard Watchit looked at Bella. "Why don't you just catch the dragon and light the fires?" he asked her.

"Me?" said Bella. "How?"

"The usual way," said Wizard Watchit. "Tie a string around the dragon's neck and lead it round the castle."

"But it's in a rage!" said Bella.

"It's probably just surprised at being so big," the Wizard said.

Bella thought about this. The little dragon was usually quite tame and sleepy. It only got bad-tempered when it was hungry.

"Perhaps it needs food," she decided. "But we've got no food in here to give it."

"I've got chocolates!" cried Fifi. "I've got loads of peppermint creams. I don't like them, but the dragon might." She gave Bella a box.

"I'll help you catch the dragon," Jack told Bella. "I just need to borrow a belt."

"Well, hurry up!" said the King. "I want my breakfast! You can tell us when it's safe to come out. Hop to it! Off you go!"

Bella and Jack quietly opened the door and tiptoed out.

They weren't quiet enough. The dragon turned round and saw them.

It opened its mouth wide - but before it could huff fire at them, Bella tossed a peppermint cream into its mouth.

Looking surprised, the dragon began to chew. While it was chewing, Jack slipped Fifi's dressing-gown belt around its neck, and tied it. Then he gave the other end to Bella.

The dragon looks rather surprised at being on a lead, in the free Custard Castle children's story

"Let's get to work, dragon," Bella told it. She pulled the dragon along the corridor to the Queen's parlour. The dragon could only just squeeze through the door.

"Well, go on!" said Bella, pointing at the fireplace.

The dragon looked indignant. It huffed red flames at her. Bella skipped out of the way and the flames went into the fireplace. The wood in the fireplace began to crackle and burn.

"Good dragon!" said Bella, and she threw it a peppermint cream. The dragon ate it up eagerly.

Then Bella and Jack led the dragon from room to room to light the fires. The dragon huffed at every fireplace, and then opened its mouth wide for a peppermint cream.

At last Bella said, "Oops! I've only got one peppermint cream left."

"You'd better save that for the kitchen," said Jack.

"Come on, dragon," Bella told it. "Down we go!" She pulled it down the stairs to the kitchen with a thump thump thump. They squeezed it through the door.

"About time too!" said the Cook. "Hurry up and light my oven! Then we can all have breakfast."

"All right," said Jack. He went over to the oven, threw open its door - and there, curled up inside the cold oven, was a small green dragon, fast asleep.

He stared at it. "That's our dragon!"

"So it is," said Bella, peering at it. "What's it doing in here?"

"It must have come in here at night, looking for something to eat."

"But then what...?" Slowly Bella turned to look at the big dragon sitting up behind her. It opened its mouth for a peppermint cream.

"Wait a minute," Bella told it. She hurried to the back door of the kitchen and ran out into the yard.

The dragon bounded over to the back door and squeezed through after her.

"Watch out!" called Jack. "It's looking annoyed. It wants that peppermint cream!"

Out in the yard, the dragon opened its mouth wide again. When Bella did not give it a peppermint cream, it drew a long, deep breath.

It was just about to huff red flames at Bella, when she threw the peppermint cream.

But she did not throw it into the dragon's mouth. Instead she hurled it high into the air.

At once the dragon leapt up after it. Beating its huge wings, it flapped after the peppermint cream and caught it in mid-air.

But then the dragon did not come down again. It kept on flying. It flew higher and higher, while Jack and Bella watched. At last it was just a speck against the clouds.

"I hope it finds its way back home," said Bella. "I wonder how it got into the castle?"

"It must have crashed into it in the dark," said Jack. "Remember that broken window? I bet it came in there, and then didn't know how to get out again. No wonder it was angry!"

They went into the kitchen. The Cook had already used the little dragon to light the oven and the stove. The little dragon was running around looking for food, while the Cook was stirring a pot.

"Porridge?" she said.

"I'd better go and tell the King it's safe to come out now," said Bella.

"Not just yet," said Jack.

"Sit down and have some breakfast first," the Cook suggested. "You've had a busy morning."

So Bella and Jack sat down. The Cook filled four bowls with porridge, cream and honey. She put three bowls on the table, for herself and Jack and Bella.

And she put the fourth bowl on the floor, for the hungry little dragon.

THE END

Copyright © 2014 Emma Laybourn

Download the ebook of DRAGON DILEMMA:
   Click here for Kindle (mobi) or click here for other ereaders (epub).

Read another Custard Castle story:
    The Thing in the Dungeon
    The Dragon under the Stairs
    The Messy Princess
    The Marvellous Moat
    Princess Fifi's Frog
    Spring Clean
    The Surprising Storm
    The New Witch

You can read six more Custard Castle stories in the ebook:
    The Ghost of Custard Castle
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