A Shaggy Fire-Breathing Demonic Chicken Story

If the answer to your question is: “a fire-breathing demonic chicken”, then you may want to ask a different question.

The words were emblazoned over the door of Professor Tarry’s study in a complex curling script that almost made the viewer’s eyes water. Roberta often found her questing fingers brushing their outline while scrubbing the ancient oak timbers clean of various unnamed, slightly scorched and thankfully unidentifiable substances every other week.

Quite why the surface of the door got covered in bizarre and frankly disturbing substances and objects on such a regular basis was something of a mystery that she usually ignored. This was largely down to how easily the things tended to scrub away, the dire warnings muttered by the feral cats in the eaves of the building, and the regular payment of a handful of fresh gold coins each time.

Roberta was nothing if not dutifully pragmatic where money was involved in the equation.

On this occasion, the summons had been curtly delivered by Tom, the stable boy:

“Hurry up and get your bucket – looks like the old fool’s exploded a paint-dipped squid this time.” She rather doubted that was what had actually happened – even if some of the stringy coils hanging from the lintel of the door had looked like they were trying to wave to her when she arrived.

She’d asked, almost despite herself, what had happened, but the grizzled wizard merely pointed to the words above his door.

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