The Warlock, The Dragon, and The Ogre
Fortunately Nadine held up a shield to deflect the blasts of dragon fire. It appeared to be made of the dragon's own scales. "Lucky I had this glue with me," murmured Nadine. She held out the dragon shield and it repelled the dragon's tongues of fire. The light lit up Nadine's face. She was so beautiful it made Corey ache with longing just looking at her face, let alone her boobs. It must have been the pregnancy making her cheeks glow like that. Corey could only wish sadly that it was his baby she was carrying.
Nadine narrowed her eyes. "Aww… the poor dragon's blind. It must be from being stuck down here."
She picked up a pebble and chucked it into a corner of the cavern. The dragon stopped, distracted by the noise and they ran past to the cavern exit and down a long, winding corridor that led to a heavy wooden door. Nadine pushed it open, and holding hands, the two of them walked inside.
In the room was a table at which an old man with a beard sat playing a complicated game of patience (or solitaire is the American word). Who was he and where was the warlock?
Nadine curtseyed. "Good Sir, we are not thieves, we come in peace. We only want what was stolen. The frozen heart. Nothing more. We definitely do not want to fight. We must have the heart back. It could save a man's life."
"Why does he need to know this?" asked Corey. "And where's the warlock?"
"I am the warlock, you dunce," said the old man. "You say you come in peace, young lady? And I suppose the pair of you left a trail of my dead minions in your wake?"
"No!" said Nadine, her smooth brow creasing. "We'd never kill the poor guards. We did have to defend ourselves against the undead, but releasing them from the curse of undeath was a mercy that should have been granted already. I'd also like a word about how you treated the dragon. The poor thing looks ill."
"Sorry to cut you short," said the warlock, "but let's keep to the point. You want the heart? Then are you willing to play for it?" He pointed at the cards on the table.
Uh oh… Corey didn't like the sound of this.
Nadine gazed at the cards.
"What would you put down as a stake?" asked the warlock. "Your hand in marriage to Blarsh the ogre?"
Nadine put a hand to her belly. "The ogre has had his fill of me already," she said, wrinkling her freckled nose. "He made it clear he's got no further interest in me, even though he left me pregnant. Corey will have my hand in marriage. The ogre lately threatened to sexually harass Corey, and I will never allow that. I won't let him anywhere near us."
"The jealous type?" said the warlock. "He must save himself for you? Then will you put your child with the ogre down as a stake? Remember Rumpelstiltskin? An unwanted child shouldn't be as big a deal."
Nadine's freckled cheeks flushed pink and her lovely eyes glinted with her anger. She breathed through her nose, her boobs rising and falling. Corey may have failed to realise who the warlock was, but he could see that Nadine was gravely offended on her unborn child's behalf.
Corey put a hand on her arm and she turned to him, her gaze softening.
"I think the warlock is joking and trying to say that a gambling addiction can lead to bad places." He didn't know if that was right or not, but it fit the moment.
"Oh…" Nadine shook her head. "I'm sure you're right, my love." She smiled at him then turned to the warlock, folding her arms. "Point taken. I trust that you had that good intention for what you just said."
"Tell you what," said the warlock, "I'll fight you for the heart if you don't want to try your hand at the cards."
The warlock pushed the cards to one side. Corey noticed something like a spark as he did so. Hm… were the cards more than they seemed?
Nadine held up her slender hands. "No, no, I said no fighting, I don't want anyone getting hurt." Her bottom lip quivered. All the stress and excitement was getting to her.
The warlock rose to his feet. "You wanted a contest, so we will have to fight. I will win. I have mystic energy and skills honed over decades. You are a freckle faced girl armed only with tacky gadgets." The warlock raised his hands that began to pulse with blue energy. This did not look good. What gadget did Nadine have to fit her for this?
His eyes were fixed on Nadine, so he wasn't paying attention to the table. Corey quickly swept up the cards. The warlock whirled round. "Leave those! Or taste my wrath."
Corey took out the simple cigarette lighter he kept hidden in his pocket in case of emergencies. It was just for lighting fires. Nothing fancy. It wasn't even one of his gadgets. It was too low tech. But it could make short work of the cards. He set them alight and the warlock cried out wildly as they burned and then doubled over coughing.
So… the warlock's power came from his cards. He had supposed Corey was too dumb to realise this.
The warlock staggered, but Nadine stopped him from falling. Her soft brown eyes were wide with worry. "Oh! Hang on, you'll be alright." She rummaged through her pack and brought out a glowing blue tube. "Nuclear energy – should bring your energies to maximum." There was a flash and the warlock was surrounded by a blue aura.
"I live!" he said. "Your artificial energy sustains me. As you spared my life I think a reward is in order."
"Silly. As if I'd just let you die," said Nadine, shaking her head.
He touched the door on the other side of the room which swung open. There was a room beyond lit by dimly burning torches. It was bare except for an iron chest. "My chest only opens for me," said the warlock. For no one else."
He unlocked the chest and drew out a red crystal heart and a small bag. He handed them to Nadine. Here's the heart. And your reward. Now begone."
There was a secret passage from the room where the warlock had had his magic cards and it led Corey and Nadine back to the shore. From there they were able to contact a boat that took them home. The bag contained diamonds of unusually good cut and clarity, so Nadine was now rich. Just as well Corey had got her to promise to marry him. She was not a lady to go back on her word. They were able to retire from the Dark Moon Spies.
It was a glorious wedding. Nadine looked the definition of freckled and fabulous in her blue satin dress. Her family were all so nice, just like Corey thought they would be, especially her mother. Corey was so lucky to get a mother-in-law like that. Then they got to go on a honeymoon to a paradise island with no monsters or danger. Or so they thought…
After they had been swimming in the tepid azure waters, they returned to their chalet and began cuddling and kissing. Nadine's baby bump was showing now. It was distracting Corey thought, feeling it pressed against him.
"I love you," said Nadine, her brown eyes shining.
"I love you too," said Corey.
Suddenly there was a crashing and the chalet wall broke. It was Blarsh the ogre!
"Surprise, surprise!" he bellowed.
Corey's heart sank. This was like a development from a nightmare. How had the horrible ogre got in? Then he saw a hole in the sand like a mineshaft of something. A route onto the island? Not the strangest thing they had ever encountered.
Nadine was staring, her eyes wide and her face going pale, her freckles really showing. This must be weirder and more disconcerting for her than for Corey. Her memories of Blarsh were very detailed, vivid and relevant.
"I said I was coming – for you, pretty boy!" the ogre told Corey, completing ignoring Nadine, even though she was carrying his baby.
"Oh no!" said Nadine. "I'm protecting Corey."
She quickly pushed aside a flagstone with her slender hands and pulled out a taser which extended long like a radio antenna. "Sorry to have to use this," she began as the taser crackled.
"I'm not, give me that," said Corey snatching it from her. He tased the ogre in the balls, causing him to bellow and his eyes to roll. Corey tased him again, causing him to stagger backwards and fall down into the hole in the sand. There was a pause and then the ogre hit the bottom with a resounding thump and did not move again.
"Self-defence," said Corey. "It was justified. And it saved our marriage too."
He put his arms round Nadine who was pale and trembling, her sweet nature easily upset by stuff like this. She hugged him and cried softly onto his shoulder.
Corey was triumphant! Blarsh was dead and Corey's family would remain intact no matter what.