Last week we announced that Dingo the Dragon Slayer by M. R. Mathias is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
Everyone knows that dwarves mostly live underground. In this tale, a dwarf named Dingo, who guards the opening of one of the air vents that feeds them fresh air, is thrust into a high adventure when he has to leave his post to see what Master Zarvin, a fabled great wizard, has to show him.It turns out that a dragon wants to nest in the air shaft and it is up to Dingo to stop it. The only problem is, Master Zarvin is on the dragon’s side.
Will Dingo become a dragon slayer, or will he get eaten? Or will he do something else that surprises even him? To find out, you’ll just have to read it for yourself?
Download Dingo the Dragon Slayer, and let the action and adventure begin.
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
On a cool spring morning in the remote heights of the Dropull Mountains, the distinct sound of granite grating on granite sent a herd of uni-pronged antelope into a fluttering panic. Their tails shot into the upright warning position as they darted away down into a thickly wooded valley. In seconds they’d vanished, leaving nothing but the quivering branches and rustling leaves to prove that they had even been there.
Dingo the dwarf was opening the massive stone doors that covered the central cavern vent shaft. It had to be opened each and every day, as did several other shafts, in order to let good fresh air down into the myriad of caves, tunnels, and caverns that made up the Dropull Dwarven Kingdom. Dingo, along with two dozen other dwarves, earned a living guarding the well hidden and widely spaced openings.
As long as Dingo had been alive, all twenty-eight years, nothing attempted to enter the vent holes. But in the long history of the Dropull Dwarves it had happened many times, and most of them, at the central shaft that Dingo was guarding this day.
Half a century ago, a panicked herd of wild mountain goats seeking protection from some predator or another, charged down the access ledge that circled down into the hole. They’d somehow caused large pieces of loose rock to go tumbling. The dwarf guarding the flue, as-well-as seventy-four digger dwarves, were killed by all the falling debris.
Once, a wandering giant had stumbled into one of the smaller vent holes. The dwarven guard had gotten a little vented himself by drinking too much brandy wine with his lunch. Two days and four dwarven lives were spent freeing the angry and unappreciative giant from the shaft. A few short violent wars ensued between the Dropull Mountain Giants and the Dropull Mountain Dwarves, but several years had passed since then. The giants were all too aware of their little co-inhabitants, now and they all learned to stay well clear of the treacherous main vent shaft. The two races lived peacefully, and through those battles each had earned a deep respect for the other.
Dingo, like the others now on duty, was required to swear an oath of honor. Now a drunken or irresponsible vent shaft guard would be shunned for breaking his sacred word and exiled for dereliction of duty. To swear off liquor for a dwarf is a mighty hard thing to do.
Another time, a young blue dragon, barely a yearling, was found making his lair in a cavern near the mouth of the central vent shaft. Once again, several days of work and more than a few lives were lost before Dingo’s great-grandfather and name sake, finally roped the treacherous wyrm’s neck so that the dwarves could haul him out, thus earning him the nick name “Dingo the Dragon Master.” A nick name that the present Dingo found pinned on him, more often than not. He was proud of his great-grandfather’s accomplishment, but the nickname grated on his bones like the monstrous vent cover he was opening grated on its struts.
Earlier this morning his boss spent a good half of an hour-glass cussing and barking at him for being only moments late for work, “Dingo the Dragon Master” he yelled in front of all the other vent shift guards.
“The real Dingo wasn’t ever late; he was always early and ready to go! My pappy said so! You, Dingo the Mattress Master are scheduled to hold the central cavern vent, the most important one. So get your lazy butt a moving and don’t close it until way past sundown, we need to air out the gathering chambers and the royal living quarters; King Throgan arrived yesterday! Should I tell him that Dingo the Dragon Master’s laziness is the reason the air in his room is stale?”
Dingo knew better than to argue with this boss, not only was it like arguing with a boulder, it was also a sure way to get struck with some horrible extra duty while King Throgan was in this part of his kingdom. No, Dingo kept his mouth shut and came straight to his post. And here he was.
Once the flue cover finished opening, Dingo locked it in place and sought out a rocky shelf that allowed him to see the entire vent-shaft opening, as well as a spectacular view of most of the heavily wooded valley beyond.
In the ten years he’d been doing this duty, he’d had no problems beyond tardiness. Not one single time did anything or anybody approach the flue he was guarding, so he wasn’t too worried about anything, then a man came walking out of the forest and startled him. A man!
It didn’t occur to him that the approaching human might be dangerous, but Dingo was ready, just in case. His crossbow was loaded and aimed at the old balding man’s frail chest and his finger was ready to pull the trigger; only curiosity kept him from it, for he’d never seen a human before.
“Dwarf… Hey dwarf,” the tall, wrinkle-skinned man called up. He put his hands on his hips impatiently, a pose that Dingo’s boss used frequently to show his impatience, but this wasn’t his boss. It was a human. A real human, and as tall as he’d imagined one to be. Dingo could smell its skin and sense something odd about the harmless looking fellow.
“Hey dwarf,” the man called out again. “You’re not invisible or anything like that; at least not to me. Speak fool dwarf!”
“Who are you, and why are you way up here in the mountains?” Dingo asked, making sure to let the man see the crossbow.
“Ah, maybe I am a fool. Who knows?” The man said with an overly trustful smile. “You’re going to have to come with me.”
“I’ve sworn an oath to stand my watch till dusk.” Dingo said flatly, still training the razor-sharp tip of his crossbow’s bolt at this man.
“Oh poo!” The old fellow spat, “What in the world’s going to get off in your vent hole little man?” He threw his arms out wide gesturing at the thousands of miles of mountains around them. “Who’s out here? The night-walkers or the soul-stealer? The Lanch, himself? Quit wasting my time and come with me before you have a real problem on your hands.”
“It doesn’t matter what’s out there, or if it will mess with the shaft,” Dingo growled. “I pledged my sacred oath and I will not break it, especially for some loony, old wanderer.”
“Bastard stubborn dwarf,” the old man yelled. He brushed his long, silvery, wind-blown beard down his chest and looked to be thinking. “Quick little man,” he finally said. “Recite to me the oath you’re so intent on keeping, so I’ll know what you can get away with. On my word of honor, this is no foolish matter, so don’t take all day about it!”
Dingo didn’t know what to do. He knew he shouldn’t trust this old man and honestly he was more than just a little frightened. This was the first human he’d ever spoken to. He was just about to dart away to a little hidden access tunnel to sound the alarm, but the old man waved his arms crazily and spoke some strange words. Dingo found himself rattling off the oath he’d sworn when he became a vent shaft guard ten years ago. It wasn’t hard to remember, the shaft-guard unit recited it every morning.
When he was finished, the old man was nodding and smiling with his arms across his chest, seemingly satisfied.
“Well Dingo,” the old man said. “You can come with me…” his old arm rose up pointing into the air and his voice grew louder. “As a matter of fact, it is your duty to come with me!” The old man’s finger was pointing right at Dingo now and shaking scornfully as his voice turned harder and more serious. “If you do not, you will be breaking the sacred oath you recited to me just moments ago!”
“But… but,” Dingo stammered. He wasn’t sure but he thought he might just have been magicked or something of the like? “I’m only able to leave my post to sound a warning or to protect the kingdom from any possible threats.”
“Ah ha! My Dingo,” the old man nodded. “Come with me.” Then he turned his back and began stalking back to where he had come from. The cool morning wind whipped his old tattered cloak behind him. Dingo had no idea what to do.
“Don’t just sit there Dingo,” the man said over his shoulder without breaking stride. “You must come and investigate the threat to your kingdom that I’m going to show you. If you don’t…” The old man stopped, turned and looked sternly into Dingo’s eyes, “… If you don’t, you’ll be sorry!”
Dingo watched nervously, but curiously as the old man walked slowly back toward the tree line. He scratched his head and tried to reason it out.
On one hand he’d be leaving his post unguarded. But like the old man said, who up here was going to mess with the air shaft anyway. In ten whole years no one had.
On the other hand the old man might be telling it true. Maybe there was a serious danger that needed to be reported, and how could Dingo report it, if he didn’t scout it out. The idea that the old man was luring him away from the shaft also crossed his mind, but Dingo knew that the old man could’ve probably killed him if he’d wanted to. Not in a head to head contest mind you, but an arrow from the tree-line could have killed him dead. For some reason Dingo seemed to believe the old man, so he took a deep breath and made his decision. He scrambled down off of his edge as the old man disappeared into a thick clump of pines and Dingo had no choice but to run his stubby little legs off, just to catch up.
The old man chuckled and slowed his gait and after Dingo gained his side he thankfully paced himself so that Dingo didn’t have to work so hard to keep up.
“What’s the danger to my Kingdom?” Dingo asked between breaths. “What are you taking me to see?”
“Oh, young dwarf,” The old man said enthusiastically. “It’s a sight to behold, a sight that you’ll never forget, and it’ll answer all your questions when you see it… so save them.”
Dingo grunted his dissatisfaction at the answer, but held his tongue. He was out of breath already, and starting to worry. He looked over his shoulder every ten or twelve paces, back at the dark, wide hole he’d just left unguarded. If a beast or a giant were to come along and fall into it, it’d be his honor, and his job that were lost. He could already hear his boss scolding him in front of his peers.
“Dingo the Dragon Master never left his post. Dingo the Dragon Master never listened to some stupid old human that had just appeared out of the forest.”
That thought caught in Dingo’s mind for a moment. How and why was this old man up here? The nearest human town was thousands of leagues away. He was just about to ask that very question when the old man shushed him and pointed to an area ahead and down near the valley’s rocky, pebble strewn, stream basin. Dingo had to push aside some branches and crane his neck to look the direction the old mans’ finger was pointing. When he saw what the old man was pointing at, he nearly yelled out in fright. He felt the blood drain from his face and swallowed so loudly that the old man cuffed his head and shushed him again.
“Is that a— a–” Dingo tried to ask, alternating his attention from the old man to the valley bottom and back. “Is it a–”
“A dragon. Yes it is little man,” the old man said softly and seriously. “And she’s going to be a big problem for you and your people for a while.”