Broommates: In Which Dragons Are Dueled

Part 4 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning orΒ read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

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Beatrice centered herself, reaching deep inside to find the still ocean floor within the whirlpool of her surroundings and emotions. The house was shaking; she let this thought pass through her mind as a fish might swim through a bare reef. People were scurrying about and shouting at each other. This, too, was noted and… not ignored, but gently set aside. Down she went, chaos swirling around her, threatening to break her concentration and suck her back into the world. But she would not be deterred. She sank like a stone to the calm place at the center of her being, and then, she began to move.

“Is that tai chi?” Anthony asked, watching Beatrice trace invisible pathways around the foyer.

“Something like that,” Miranda said. “Ha! Here’s the camphor balm.” She handed a small bottle to Kitty, who liberally spread its contents over Parker’s face and now-bare chest. His purplish color faded to a sunburnt red and his breathing grew less ragged.

Anthony, meanwhile, was doggedly holding the wards in place like Atlas shouldering the world. He didn’t have Parker’s finesse, but brute force made up for it in this case. The dragon, having failed to secure entry thus far, was being more methodical about searching for weak points. This meant fewer attacks, but those few were more surgically precise and increasingly difficult to fend off.

Booker stood next to Miranda and generally held the things she shoved in his direction, giving them back when she asked. He followed Beatrice’s movements with admiration; her muscles flexed beneath her smooth skin, a slight smile on her otherwise peaceful, emotionless face. He was the only one watching when she brought her graceful kata to a close, bowed as if at someone only she could see, walked over to the front door and opened it.

“What the–” was all Booker could exclaim before Beatrice stepped outside to dance with the dragon.

Anthony felt the gap in the wards when the door opened but was too busy shoring up the west wing’s shielding to care. Miranda had pushed aside a rug and began chalking a circle on the wood floor, muttering under her breath at the difficulty of it before thrusting the chalk at Booker in disgust and grabbing a bag of salt instead.

“You could use the one in the basement,” Booker said meekly.

Miranda glared at him. “You could have mentioned that before I–ugh, never mind, let’s go!”

She took the stairs at a run, Booker stumbling behind her with his arms full. “There are candles in the walls,” he began, and Miranda cut him off with a quick incantation that lit the candles all at once, tucked into stone nooks that were barely visible except at close range. The ragged rug in the middle of the floor looked like it hadn’t been washed since the house was built, and it gave off a strong but subtle “you don’t want to touch me” vibe. Miranda had to admit that Parker was good at what he did before she dragged the rug aside to reveal a simple but thick silver circle embedded in the floor. It was large enough to comfortably fit three people, and had a small gap along one end, so she could close it behind her with the material of her choosing once she was inside. Or in this case, outside.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” she said.

* * * *

Anthony was still keeping a mental eye on the wards, but his actual eyes were watching Beatrice outside.

“Gods alive,” he murmured as she delivered another kick to the dragon’s knee, which buckled under the force of the blow. The creature reared and tried to stomp her, but by the time its legs hit the ground she was behind it in a low fighting stance. It lashed out with its tail and she did a tight back flip over the appendage, then leaped forward and–Anthony’s jaw dropped–she punched the tail so hard that he saw the dragon quiver.

Unfortunately, he also noticed that smoke was again beginning to trickle from the dragon’s nostrils. He hoped that Beatrice had the sense to guide it away from the house, or they were all going to be toast. Or ash, to be pedantic about it. The trickle of smoke turned to a stream, then a river as the dragon opened its mouth. Beatrice backed away with a speed Anthony didn’t think any person could achieve and drove her fist into the ground, dirt flying up as if a bomb had struck.

That was when the dragon loosed another gout of flame–

–which promptly dispersed as if hitting an invisible barrier. The dragon roared and lashed out, its claws struggling for purchase and failing to find any. Anthony cautiously eased his grip on the house wards and turned his attention to Miranda and Booker as the entered the room looking exhausted.

“You did that?” Anthony asked incredulously.

Miranda collapsed onto the couch and nodded. “The containment field should last long enough for the air to run out, especially if the dragon keeps flaming, and then we can move it when the blasted thing’s unconscious.”

“How did you manage a containment spell so quickly?”

“I borrowed your circle. The one in the basement.”

Anthony suspected he would soon discover the frilly panties sensation that Parker had previously mentioned.

“Maybe I should go talk to her,” Kitty said.

“Who?” asked Miranda.

“The dragon, of course.”

Anthony gaped at her, then looked sideways at Miranda. “Does she… can she really–”

“I think I’ve lost the ability to be surprised by her,” Miranda said. She waved at Kitty while rubbing her forehead. “Go ahead, if you like, just don’t get inside the containment field.”

Beatrice entered as Kitty was leaving. “Sleep,” she murmured, trudging upstairs. The house fell silent as adrenaline gave way to introspection and Beatrice’s colossal snoring.

“Can I put these things down now?” Booker asked finally. Miranda cracked an eye to look at the man, his thin arms trembling with the weight of boxes and jars and bottles and pouches, and couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

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Part 5: The End Is the Beginning

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9 Responses to “Broommates: In Which Dragons Are Dueled”

  1. Beautifully written, & each episode leaves you wanting more! You a descendant of Sheherezade, by any chance? πŸ™‚

  2. Awesome! I can’t wait to go back and read the other episodes!

  3. Marisa Birns says:

    Each episode is so wonderfully engaging that it leaves one wanting to turn the page and continue with the story!

  4. Good stuff! Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  5. Gracie says:

    I, too, am excited and anxious to read the next one. I loved it. A page-turner, indeed.

  6. Valerie says:

    Thanks so much, everyone! The next will be the epilogue to this arc, and then on to bigger and scarier problems than mere dragons. You know, like people leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

  7. You balance the humanity of roommates beautifully with the problems of witches. I love it that Kitty wants to talk to her!

    Have we found our third yet? I’m wrapping up Always a Bridesmaid in the next few weeks. πŸ™‚


  8. Valerie says:

    Thanks! I know someone else definitely wrote about witches but now I can’t remember who. My memory, she is not so good sometimes. πŸ˜›

  9. Xanto says:

    This one was really good!

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