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Weredragons Dare

A Duncan & Mallory Novelette


Mel. White
& John DeLaughter

D&M Number 2

Copyright © 2018

The Obligatory “Famous People Review the latest Duncan And Mallory Adventures” Section

"If you only read one new Duncan and Mallory story this year, read this one!" - Abraham Lincoln

"A hilarious adventure from my favorite dragon!" - St. George

"Who are you people? Why are you in my living room? I'm calling the police!" - Roxie Harte

Table of Contents

Legal Notes

No dragons (were or otherwise), werehumans, basilisks, sheep, or fish were harmed in the creation of this book.

Duncan & Mallory © Mel. White 2018. The 1984 graphic novel series by Robert Asprin and Mel. White was based on characters created by Mel. White in 1982

Chapter 1

The landscape looked as peaceful and harmless as a tourist’s photograph, a vista of serene blue sky and emerald-colored grass. Fluffy white sheep roamed the hillsides, grazing with the single-minded intensity of a flock of robotic lawnmowers, systematically avoiding the small ponds that dotted the landscape like beauty marks on a model’s skin. A distant river gently chuckled to itself over some joke as it flowed over well-worn boulders and underneath a copse of tall trees.

On the riverbank stood a mail-clad human warrior and a slender blue dragon, both covered in sweat and grime and neither one happy about it. With a sudden scream, the warrior flailed his sword wildly and charged at the dragon, which crouched and arched its back. Just before his sword turned the dragon into shish-kebab, the human skidded to a stop, panting and exhausted.

The dragon shook his head. “Duncan, you need to put a little more wrist in that backswing.”

“Right, Mallory. Backswing on the wrist.”

It had been a very long morning for Duncan.

Mallory shook his head sadly, sending the white fringes around his jaws flapping. "And your war howl needs practice.”

“Not enough vowels in it?” Duncan said sarcastically.

“You’re supposed to be the scariest thing around, not a schoolgirl with her first mouse. The sound should come from deep in your chest before rumbling out. And show more teeth."

Duncan sighed wearily, backed up to the starting line, and tried again. Grimacing like a chicken laying an ostrich egg, he screamed "YEAAAAARRRRGHHHHHH!!"

"Well, that’s better.” At Duncan’s surprised look of relief, Mallory snorted. ”But it’s still not good enough. For this scam to work, you have to be terrifying!”

"Mallory, this will never work."

“Not with an attitude like that, it won’t!”

Duncan shoved his sword into its scabbard and sat down heavily in the grass. “Break time. What’s for lunch?”

“Whatever you didn’t eat at breakfast.”

Duncan groaned and looked around. Growing nearby were some short bushes with olive-green leaves and dotted with red flowers and purple berries.

“At least it’s bumbleberry season. We won’t starve.” He picked a handful of berries and gulped them down. "Do you honestly think this plan will work? I don't think folks around here that easily spooked."

 "It's all in how you approach the thing. When I terrorize towns everyone runs and screams." The dragon examined a sharp talon with a smug smile.

"Yeah, but the folks you've been scaring are small and easily damaged humans. Not tall, scaly, fire-breathing dragons." Duncan muttered around another mouthful of berries.

"People don’t run because I’m a fire-breathing dragon,” Mallory explained. “People run because they’ve been told that dragons are scary.”


“So in Apkurd, we have only one major port on the Great Sliding River. That’s where all the big financial stuff is and the big trading areas are, but it’s crowded and noisy and most dragons don’t get there. A few humans show up there, but it’s mostly for gambling or for financial matters.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So most dragons have never even seen a human. All they have to go on is what they are told. And they have been told that humans are scary - and crazy. It wasn’t that long ago when knights like George hunted us down and kill us for sport.”

“I thought George didn’t exist. That’s what my Dad always told me.”

“George may be a legend but the facts of what happened were real enough. Humans came here. Humans hunted dragons.”

Duncan’s face went still as he remembered the dusty dragon head trophies that hung in the armory in his father’s keep right next to the mounted trophies of stags, wild boars, and things he had always called “Monsters That Your Ancestors Caught”. He had always assumed that dragons were simply animals since his family’s second favorite sport was Hunting Things That Are Likely To Kill You First. Now the ugly spectre of doubt was beginning to rear its head. “It was long ago?”

“Oh, that kind of thing hasn’t happened since the Treaty back in twenty-eight-something, but we still tell children that if they aren’t good then ‘George will get you!’ And some of the best horror stories involve werehumans; dragons that turn into humans when the Sun is bright and the bumbleberry bushes are in bloom. My Nana used to scare the willies out of me with those stories. And everyone has a Nana.”

Duncan shook his head; his Nana hadn’t scared him with stories about dragons, were- or otherwise. She’d told him stories about hungry caterpillars who ate everything. “So if I run around in broad daylight, swinging my sword and screaming like a lunatic, I’ll be so very scary."

Mallory nodded reassuringly. “That’s right. Everybody panics and then the locals hire me to get rid of the werehuman and we make out big time.”

“Just like that?”

“Oh, come on. You over think things. It’s worked on any number of humans with me as the big, bad dragon. What could possibly go wrong?” Mallory casually flicked his talons in rejection of the notion that anything could ever go astray with one of his plans.

Duncan smiled slowly and leaned forward. “Oh, I don’t know. You might give all of our money to a child. Twice. Or you might meet the dragon equivalent of Humphrey, who then decides to get rid of you and hunt me down himself.” 1

“That’ll never happen. Dragons don’t hunt. We’re diplomats and financiers.”

“Diplomats?” Duncan asked skeptically. He could picture Mallory doing many things, but arranging a peace treaty wasn’t among them. Being the reason that a peace treaty was needed, on the other hand...

“Who is going to argue with someone who can burn down the village if negotiations don’t go well?”

Duncan had to admit that Mallory had a point. Of course, he’d never admit that to his partner, but that was beside the point.

“Wait a minute! If you’re all enlightened diplomats and financiers, why do dragons kidnap virgins?”

“Oh, that’s another tale for another time,” Mallory said - perhaps a little too quickly. “Anyway, in order for this to work, you have to be a werehuman because the local dragons won’t run away from someone as normal as me, no matter how crazy I act.”

Duncan began wiping his sword blade with a cloth rag. "Normal? Those dragons would bolt for the hinterlands if they really knew you. And they’d take their money with them. Speaking of which, you never did tell me what happened at our last stop and why we left without the supplies I ordered. The supplies we needed. You know, little things like food?”

“I, um, ran into a limited-time high-risk, high-reward investment opportunity.”

Duncan translated Mallory’s obfuscation with the ease that only a long partnership provides. “So you wagered the whole bundle on something that looked like a sure bet?”2

“No,” Mallory replied with what dignity he could muster. “I’d never do anything that foolish. I divided our funds into three bundles and bet each of them on a different event that offered some very good odds. If any one of them had come in, we would have tripled our money.”

“Let me check something,” Duncan asked sarcastically. “You bet one-third of our money on something that would triple in value if it won, giving us exactly what we started out with. And then you did it again. Twice.”

“It sounds pretty bad when you say it that way,” Mallory admitted. “But if two of them had come in, we’d have made a killing.”

“But none of them came in!”


“So we’re broke, stuck in Apkurd, and reduced to running the ‘dragon and the George’ scam.”

“It’s our best option.”

“That’s a depressing thought.” Duncan paused as a glimmer of a memory emerged from the depths of his mind. “Wait a second. You once told me that you came from somewhere here on Apkurd. Let’s go visit your folks. You can introduce me and we can hang out at your place for a bit. At the very least they’d feed us and they might even come up with a short-term loan.”

“No. Heck no. Not even if I were reduced to working for a living no. I am not going to listen to my father drone on for hours about all the wonderful thing my brother Morty-the-lawyer has been up to. And I’m not in the mood to have my mother try to set me up with every single dragon in the county while hinting I should have as many whelplings as Morty has. I’d rather starve!”

“Well, unless this works, you may get your wish!”

Chapter 2

Two days and many hours of practice later, Mallory declared that he was finally satisfied with Duncan’s werehuman act. It’s true that Duncan’s bellowed war cries still showed a tendency to drift into the soprano range but at least his sword swinging had more control and wasn’t likely to accidentally remove body parts from onlookers -- or himself. After four days of a mostly bumbleberry diet, supplemented with all the fresh air and river water they could stand, their growing hunger added an authentic air of desperation to the performance. It was time to stop rehearsals and move on to actually turning their skills into funds by moving on to financially promising areas.

The next morning, they docked their riverboat in a tree-lined cove and set up a hiding place near a copse of thick bushes that Mallory declared was “just far enough out in the sticks” so that they wouldn’t get mobbed.

Unfortunately for them, these sticks were a little too far out; by noon the only travelers they’d seen were a confused heron flying North for the winter and a large toad wearing a long scarf who was driving a very large and loud motorcar. Duncan had started to drowse when the perfect mark finally came strolling down the road; a short, stout crimson dragon with a pink polka-dot bow tie and horn-rimmed glasses, pulling a small sledge behind him as he pored over a thick book of home cures. Every so often, he’d stop and scratch his scales then turn the page.

Mallory nudged his partner awake and pointed. "Here comes a live one. He’s not paying attention to anything. Perfect mark. He might as well have a ‘Kick Me’ sign plastered on his back.”

“He’s kinda big.”

“Feh. He’s a bookwyrm. They’re harmless. Go terrorize him!"

Duncan drew a deep breath, held his sword high, and lunged from his hiding place, screaming "YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHGGGG! DIEEEEE!!!!"

The dragon blinked myopically and almost dropped his book before stepping back. "Oh, my. Good heavens."


"Goodness! Are you in pain? You sound awful!" Rummaging in his pack, the dragon held out a small lozenge. “Cough drop?”

Things were not going according to plan. Duncan held his sword up in front of the dragon's nose, pointy bit angling right at the flaring nostrils and tried to not think of them as exit points for quite a lot of very hot fire. He took a deep breath and tried again.


"Well, you poor thing. That's just awful,” the mark commiserated. “I think my cousin had the same thing." He opened his book and thumbed through the pages. “Are you able to flame? Lost your fire? Seeing spots on your scales?”


"That’s what I thought. Listen -- there's a herb-monger in Apgnast, the next town south. He’s a little odd but he does know his herbs. Tell him that you need some Scale Powder. Don’t be embarrassed; it happens to everyone." And with a pert nod, the dragon swept aside the sword point, opened his book to the page he’d been reading, and pulled his sledge past a dumbfounded Duncan.

There was a sound in the bushes that might have been Mallory sniggering.

That encounter turned out to be the highlight of their week. Passing dragons looked past Duncan’s sword and into his broad and earnest face before giving him advice on everything from his halitosis to his love life. One dragon tried to sell him dance lessons. Another offered him shares in a tarantula ranch.3 

Before the week was through, he’d been diagnosed with neuritis, neuralgia, a head cold, stress, beriberi, athlete’s foot, tennis elbow, mildewed grout, and high tideritis; he’d been given directions to healers, shamans, professional quacks, pharmacies, exorcists, bathrooms, and bathhouses. And through it all, the sounds of Mallory’s not-so-quiet mirth punctuated each new failure. After the last dragon suggested that he try fresh air, exercise, and a diet, Duncan had had enough.

“‘Fresh air’? ‘Exercise’? That’s all I’ve had for the past week!” he fumed.

“Have a little patience. It will work,” Mallory reassured his partner. “You’re actually getting much better at the screaming. And that face you’re making now -- it’s absolutely perfect. Just lift that right lip a little higher and you’re there.”

Duncan's inner worm finally turned. "No. If you want dragons scared so badly, YOU do it. I'm going back to the boat." He squared his shoulders and turned on his heel and marched back toward the river and the haven of the riverboat they called home. 

Mallory watched his partner’s quick, furious strides and decided to remain behind for a little bit. From their long partnership, he knew that Duncan’s anger never lasted longer than a few minutes. Give him a chance to stomp off the frustration and turn a few logs into kindling and he’d be right as rain. Besides which, the dragon had to admit that Duncan had been doing most of the work on this scheme. Perhaps the right thing to do would be to show his partner how easy it really was.

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