The Ghost of Sir Herbert Dungeonstone (3 page)

BOOK: The Ghost of Sir Herbert Dungeonstone
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“Sir! I am the only student ever to check out
The History of
Dragon
Slayers’ Academy
from the library,” said Erica. “I read it cover to cover. You and Sir Ichabod were noble knights!”
“Nah. Your headmaster has been feeding you a great heap of beans,” said the ghost. “Listen up, me little friends, and I shall tell you the real history of Dragon Slayers’ Academy.”
Chapter 6
 
 
 
 
W
iglaf shifted on the ice-cold bench as he listened to the ghost begin his tale.
“In life, I, Herbert Dungeonstone, was a knave,” said the ghost. “I was a highwayman, purse-snatcher, robber. Me partner-in-crime was Ichabod Popquiz. We dressed as knights so folks trusted us. Pretty clever, eh? We robbed everyone—lords, ladies, friars, pilgrims, farmers. We flipped many a poor peasant upside down and shook his only penny out of his pocket. We robbed little children’s lunch money.”
“You
were
a lowly knave!” cried Erica.
“The lowest.” The ghost smiled. “One summer’s day, some thirty years back, me and Icky decides it’s time to move from our hilltop hideout to our cave hideout on the far side of the Dark Forest. So we puts on our great coats, which are made special-like, with dozens of pockets inside the lining. Me and Icky stuffs every last bit of our gold into those pockets.”
“Wasn’t it awfully heavy?” said Angus.
“Gold is never too heavy for the greedy,” said Sir Herbert. “Off we goes, me and Icky. On our way, we pass Smilin’ Hal’s Eatery and decide to have us a nice lunch. After we eats, we robs old Hal of every last cent in his till. We walks on then and who should come along but Mordred de Marvelous.”
“You knew my uncle Mordred?” asked Angus.
“You’re related?” The ghost rubbed his hands together. “Ah, that could be helpful.” He took another drink of the steaming brew. “Everybody knew Mordie back then,” he went on. “He was a wrestler. Big and strong as an ox. Smelled like an ox, too, as I remember. Me and Icky used to bet on Mordie’s matches. Always won good money.” He smiled, remembering.
“Go on,” said Angus.
“Mordie falls in walking with us,” said the ghost. “He asks our names, and we tell him—adding ‘sir’ for good measure. Hearing we was knights, Mordie brightens. Says how he is starting a school for lads. He has its name all picked out: Dragon Slayers’ Academy.”
“Is this true?” asked Wiglaf.
The ghost reached out a cold hand and grabbed Wiglaf’s wrist. “ ’Tis!” he cried.
“Mordie tells us his plan: His lads shall slay dragons and bring him their golden hoards.” The ghost winked his good eye. “Me and Icky had him totally fooled, so he asks us, how about investing in his school? We say maybe, going along with him. All the while, we is eyeing the little pouch hanging from his belt. It was filled with gold. I could smell it.”
Wiglaf’s eyes grew wide. “Did you rob Mordred?”
“Not exactly,” said the ghost. “On we walks until we comes to a lonely spot in the Dark Forest. No one around. No one to hear screams. Old Icky gives me the nod. And we sets upon Mordie, trying to snatch his pouch. But when it comes to saving his gold, Mordie is too fast for us. And too big. He picks us up by the scruffs of our necks and dangles us in front of him like a pair of kittens.”
“Just what you deserved,” said Angus.
“Right away we sees we have made a bad mistake,” said the ghost. “We begs for mercy. But Mordie’s violet eyes light up, and he says that me and Icky is about to invest in his school. We say, yes, fine. We was in no position to argue. Then Mordie, who knows a thing or two about inside pockets, has us open up our coats and he takes every last golden coin. We wuz robbed!”
Herbert Dungeonstone let out a terrible moan. Wiglaf shuddered.
“Mordie ties us to a nearby tree,” the ghost went on at last. “He says he has a fine way to repay us.”
“I knew he was honest!” said Erica.
“Honest? Hah!” Herbert Dungeonstone snorted. “Mordie says Sir Herbert Dungeonstone and Sir Ichabod Popquiz will ever forth be honored as the true and noble founders of DSA.”
The ghost put the red brew to his lips and drained the mug dry. He pounded his chest and belched up a small red-tinted cloud. Then his lips curved into a snarl.
“Me and Icky was robbed by your headmaster !” the ghost howled. “Robbed! Now me ghost can’t rest, thinking of it. That’s why I’ve come—to get me gold so that I can lie easy in my grave. I’m going to search this old castle from its soggy bottom to its tippy-top tower until I find it.”
“What...what happens if...you don’t find it?” asked Angus, his voice shaking.
“If I don’t find me gold,” said the ghost, “all that will be left of Dragon Slayers’ Academy is a great heap of rubble!”
Chapter 7
 
 
 
 

S
ir ! No!” cried Wiglaf. “Please! Do not wreck Dragon Slayers’ Academy.”
“Then,” said the greedy ghost, “help me get me hands on me gold.”
Now Angus spoke up. “My uncle Mordred once kept piles of gold in his safe.”
“I knew it!” The ghost leaned forward in his spiky chair. “Get the safe open, lad. I’ll take the gold and be gone.”
“Alas,” said Angus. “The gold is spent. School Inspectors came last spring. They said Uncle Mordred had to make improvements, or they would close him down. Fixing this old castle took every bit of his gold.”
“Not
his
gold!” cried the ghost. “It’s
me own
precious gold!”
The ghost floated up off his spiky chair. He grabbed a pair of leg irons and ripped them from the wall. He tore down a torch holder.
“See?” he cried. “I meant what I said.”
“But we do not know where any gold is!” cried Wiglaf. “Honest!”
The ghost grabbed the iron slab that passed for a bed in the Deepest Dungeon, yanked it from its moorings, and flung it to the floor.
The three pupils looked on, horrified, as the ghost picked up the spiky chair and hurled it down, breaking off its legs.
Erica leaned toward Wiglaf and Angus. “Mordred has that bag of gold from the Smotherbottoms, remember?” she whispered.
Herbert Dungeonstone’s ghost shrieked, “I heard that! Did Mordie rob these Smotherbottoms, too?”
“No,” said Angus. “They paid him tuition for their daughter. We can ask Mordred to give you some of that gold.”
“Not some!” said the ghost. “ALL! When you are greedy, some is never enough. Why, all is hardly enough.”
“If Mordred gives you all the gold, will you go away?” asked Wiglaf.
“I give you me word.” The ghost ripped a pair of wrist irons from the wall. “The sooner you get me that gold, the sooner I’ll be gone!”
Then—poof! Herbert Dungeonstone disappeared. So did his ghostly glow.
In the dark, Erica fumbled for her mini-torch. She flicked it on.
“Hey!” she yelped. “My sword!”
Erica’s sword leaped out of its scabbard, flipped, and began slashing at the three.
“Egad!” cried Angus. He hit the floor.
“Stop!” cried Erica. “Give that back!”
The only answer was another slash.
“Angus! Wiglafl” cried Erica. “Run!”
They sloshed through the slimy muck. The sword swooshed behind them. It poked Wiglaf’s backside. Ouch!
The three raced up the narrow stairway and past the Deeper Dungeon.
“Call me name when you’ve got the gold!” cried the invisible ghost. “Until then, I’ll be wrecking the place!”
Then-CRASH! BANG!-a suit of armor in the passageway toppled to the floor.
“He means it!” cried Wiglaf as they sped up another stairway.
“Angus, wake Mordred,” said Erica as they ran.
“Me?” cried Angus. “Why me?”
“He is your uncle,” said Erica.
“Wiglaf, you wake him,” puffed Angus, very much out of breath as they reached the ground floor of DSA.
Wiglaf swallowed. Mordred disliked students who woke him up even more than he disliked students who asked questions.
But he needn’t have worried. As they ran, the headmaster’s door flew open, and out came Mordred. He wore a nightshirt and sleeping cap. His feet were bare. In one hand, he held a torch. Wiglaf was surprised to see that tucked under his other arm was a large, brown teddy bear.
“I should have known you three were making this racket!” Mordred yelled.
BOOM! BANG! The castle floor shook.
“Zounds!” exclaimed Mordred. “Stop it!”
“It’s not us, sir!” said Erica.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
“Stop, I say!” cried Mordred. “You’ll wake up Janice! If she doesn’t like it here, she’ll leave! Then her mum and dad will want their gold back.” His violet eyes spun at the awful thought.
Wiglaf glanced up at the landing at the top of the wide stone staircase. There stood Janice! She had a sleep mask pushed up on top of her messy yellow hair. Her eyes were only half open. In one hand, she held a long lance. She looked grumpy as she slowly chewed her gum.
“Hey, Mordred!” she shouted. “What’s going on down there?”
“Go back to beddie-bye, Janice, my dear!” called Mordred. “We’re just planning a little Founders Day fun!”
Chapter 8
 
 
 
 
I
anice frowned and vanished from the railing.
“Egad!” cried Mordred, hugging his teddy bear tightly. “What if Janice isn’t happy? Wait’ll I catch the scoundrel who woke her up. I’ll toss him into the dungeon for a year!”
“Uncle!” said Angus. “It is no scoundrel. It is Sir Herbert Dungeonstone.”
“Only he is not really a sir,” added Erica.
“But he is really a ghost,” said Wiglaf. “And he has come to get...something he believes belongs to him.”
Mordred narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
“You little varlets!” he roared. “You’ve tapped my cider keg, haven’t you?”
“Never, sir!” said Erica. “This is the truth. In the Deepest Dungeon, we found the ghost of Herbert Dungeonstone. And unless you give him...”
“What?” said Mordred. “Give him what?”
“His, uh, gold,” said Angus softly.
But Mordred never heard a word, for at that moment, a huge hunk of the entryway ceiling crashed to the floor.
“It’s Herbert Dungeonstone’s ghost!” cried Erica.
“See! He’s going to destroy DSA!” Wiglaf shouted, ducking as stones crashed down around them.
The headmaster’s face fell. “The knave!” he cried. “He’s come at last.”
“So it’s true? You did rob them, sir?” asked Erica.
“It’s no more than they tried to do to me!” cried Mordred. “All the gold they ever had came from the pockets of others. All right, maybe I
did
take their gold. But look at all the good I do with it. I turn you small, helpless lads into dragon-slaying heroes!”
“Please, Uncle!” cried Angus. “Give the ghost some of your gold so he’ll go away!”
“Some?” said Mordred. “Ha! He’ll want ALL my gold.”
“That...that is true, sir,” said Wiglaf.
“Of course it is!” snapped Mordred. “When you’re greedy, some is never enough. And, to tell you the truth, ALL comes up a bit short.”
“That is just what Herbert Dungeonstone said,” remarked Wiglaf.
Mordred squeezed his bear and turned to Angus. “This is all your doing, nephew!”
“Me? No, Uncle!” said Angus.
“You brought that ghost here,” said Mordred. “You are trying to get back at me for cutting your allowance in half!”
“But, Uncle,” said Angus, “you don’t give me an allowance.”
“I don’t?” Mordred looked puzzled. “That’s odd. Your mother sends me money every... Never mind!”
“Speaking of Mother, has she sent my latest goodie box?” asked Angus eagerly.
“Goodie box!” roared Mordred. “This is no time to speak of goodies! You must arm yourselves, lads! Go forth and fight! Rid this castle of the ghost at once!”
“We cannot get rid of him, sir,” said Wiglaf. “But you can.”
“How?” cried Mordred. “Quick! Tell me. I will do anything. Anything!”
Wiglaf smiled. “Give him your bag of gold and he will go away.”
Mordred brought his bear up to his face and bit its ear. “Give...my...” His eyes bulged dangerously. “Are you out of your mind?”
“Uncle! Quick! Look behind you!” warned Angus.
Mordred whirled around and saw a suit of armor creeping up on him.
“Zounds!” he cried.
Now the armor’s helmet floated up into the air.
“Double zounds!” cried Mordred.
The shield sprang forward. The sword quickly followed. It zigzagged in front of Mordred’s face.
“Don’t hurt me!” cried the headmaster. “Or my bear!”
The ghost let out a blood-chilling laugh.
The headmaster raced off down the hallway with the helmet, shield, and sword right behind him. He doubled back, and Wiglaf, Erica, and Angus flattened themselves against his office door so as not to be trampled.
BOOK: The Ghost of Sir Herbert Dungeonstone
2.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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