Constance was too panicked to hear the first knock. She called to her son, Tenacious and cursed herself for building a house with so many rooms. She hoped to find him sulking in one of them, but she knew better. Tenacious always wanted to be a hero like his father. He had probably snuck off to try to rescue Sarah Proctor from prison. Stupid boy. His father’s greatest quality was not his occasional act of heroism – it was his ability to listen. He had been so good at it… except for that last day when he had saved Constance’s life against her wishes. She would never forgive him for that.
She answered the second knock. A frightened Salem Prison guard stood behind the door, stammering incomprehensibly.
“What do you want?” she demanded. “I’m busy!”
The words poured out of the guard’s mouth, “Lieutenant Governor Stoughton sent me to tell you that your son has been arrested for witchcraft. He said you may attend his trial tomorrow.”
“I may attend his trial?” she repeated. “You tell him that I may attend his funeral tomorrow.”
“Yes ma’am. I will ma’am,” he said quickly. “Umm… whose funeral? Your son’s or Lieu…”
“Stoughton, you idiot!” she spat. “You see, it’s because I’m going to kill Stoughton. My son is only going to wish he were dead.”
The guard looked at his feet.
“Umm, that’s very inconvenient ma’am because I, uh… I’m supposed to arrest you if you make any threats.”
Constance put two fingers to her lips and whistled. The dragons behind the house roared and thrashed their wings as they were trained to do. She knew this could be heard in Salem proper.
“Well, get on with it then. Arrest me.”
The guard’s wide eyes darted between the general direction of the dragons and Constance’s face. He paled. “It just occurred to me that I have conflicting orders ma’am,” he said. “Stoughton ordered me to wear a clean uniform every time I arrive at the jail, but it seems I need to attend to my pants so I can’t arrest you just now.” He excused himself in a hurry and disappeared down the lane.
Now that Constance knew where her son was, she knew what she needed to do. She would make that reprehensible man, Stoughton, regret ever coming to Salem.
Hailey fought her chains. It was pointless – they were chains. They were made of metal and attached firmly to a brick wall. A witch could have broken them, but she wasn’t a witch. Still, she felt like she had to do something. She was full of a restless energy she had never felt before. But then, she had never been chained up and waiting for execution.
Rhoda was taking a different approach – handing limp and biding her time. For what, Hailey wondered. It wasn’t like an opportune moment was going to present itself because she waited patiently. Though if she was honest, Hailey had to admit that her strategy was just as useless. They just needed to wait. Either Constance would come save them or she wouldn’t.
For now, they were still trapped in the prison. The VW Time Machine hovered where they left it. None of the guards dared go near it. Hailey hoped the two nemicolopteri were still ok in their makeshift cage. They hadn’t been fed all day. They were on their own though. Hailey, Rhoda, Tenacious, and the three Proctors were stuck with Lieutenant Governor Stoughton, who turned out to be even more repugnant than Hailey had always imagined him. He had done nothing but gloat and brag since arriving and had ordered gags stuffed in the mouths of Sarah, Elizabeth, and Tenacious because they kept interrupting him. John Proctor had come close to getting one too.
Stoughton had finally finished congratulating himself and was now surrounded by guards who begged him to let Tenacious free on account of his scary mother.
“There is no reason to fear that woman,” Stoughton assured them. “She has no power over me. Let me explain it to you. King William rules by divine mandate and King William appointed me to my position. Therefore, I was appointed by God Himself to rule this colony. I have no fear of a woman who peddles those filthy dragon eggs – the Devil’s own turds, those are.”
Hailey sniggered, then broke into a full laugh. She couldn’t help it. The Devil’s own turds? How did he just say that with a straight face?
“What are you laughing about, witch?” Stoughton sneered. “You’ve obviously neglected your eggs. I haven’t seen the barest spark from you.”
Hailey stopped laughing. Was he saying that witches get their magic from dragon eggs? Had she been eating magic eggs?
“What do you mean by that?” she asked.
“Don’t play dumb with me,” he said. “I know a thing or two about… what is that sound? I thought we destroyed the witch’s enchanted noise box!”
Hailey heard it too. It sounded like nemicolopterus wings, but much louder. Where was it coming from?
The wall collapsed and a red and black dragon landed on the rubble. It had to go to all fours to fit in the room and of course Constance was on its back.
“Men, shoot this witch!” Stoughton shouted.
A couple of the men looked at each other, silently asking if this was a good idea. One of them took aim and fired. The ball bounced uselessly off the dragon’s hide, but it roared angrily and pounced on the man. Hailey looked away but was unable to block out the screams.
“Calm down, Liebling,” she yelled at the dragon. “It’s not a good idea to spook a dragon. I might not be able to restrain him.”
The guards laid down their guns.
“Now release my son and chain Stoughton in his place,” she ordered.
A few guards grabbed Stoughton and did as Constance said, despite Stoughton’s loud and arrogant protests. They seemed enjoy doing it.
“Unchain them too,” Tenacious said once his gag was out.
“No!” Constance said. “Just you. I will protect my family but will not otherwise interfere with Salem’s notion of justice. That is the line I’ve drawn.”
“Is this because of what happened to Father?” Tenacious asked. “Mother, that was different.”
Constance glared at her son and pointed to the back of the dragon.
“At least take Sarah,” John begged. “Otherwise, your son risked his life for nothing.” Elizabeth nodded her head vigorously beside him.
“I…No. Sorry, John. I can’t” Constance said sadly. “I have to draw a clear line and that’s family. If I overstep that, the Salemites will fear me too much and become desperate. When that happens, there will be violence. I can’t go through that again. I will only take my family.”
“What if she was family?” Tenacious asked.
The word “What?” echoed around the room.
Tenacious pulled the gag from Sarah’s mouth. “I always said we would get married someday,” he said. “This isn’t how I pictured asking though.”
“Yeah, this whole ‘marry me or die’ scenario is kind of untraditional,” Sarah quipped. “I’ll do it though.”
Constance grinned. “Fine. We’ll take Sarah too,” she said. “Stoughton, declare them married!”
Stoughton ignored her, staring at his chains instead. Constance moved her dragon closer. It sniffed his face curiously.
“Fine!” he said. “Tenacious Irons and Sarah Proctor, by the power invested in me by His Majesty, King William II, I declare you man and wife.”
Tenacious hugged his new wife as the guards unchained her. It was an unusual ceremony. Hailey made a mental note that if she ever got married, she wanted a dragon and a group of frightened guards. It just made the moment so special.
“Can we go now?” Constance asked.
“No!” Sarah said. “My parents are family too.”
“Fine,” Constance said and ordered their release.
“Now Rhoda and Hailey,” Tenacious demanded. “They’re friends of family.”
“No,” Constance said. “The line is still drawn at family. Besides, they wouldn’t fit on Liebling’s back. He’s already carrying five.”
Tenacious looked at Hailey, expecting her to help him argue. Oddly, she didn’t feel the need. She was satisfied. Sarah had been saved and Hailey’s wrong had been righted. Besides, Hailey and Rhoda wouldn’t be helpless – Stoughton had let some very important information slip.
“Just go!” Hailey demanded.
Hailey watched as the five crowded onto the unhappy dragon’s back. They clung to each other as it spread its wings and lifted off. Rhoda was right – it was a majestic creature. As it left, the guards picked up their guns and reluctantly released Stoughton.
“Now what?” Rhoda asked.
“Now, I fight,” Hailey answered.
“I’ve got a lot of pent up energy and I’m itching to use it.”
Hailey pointed at the VW Time Machine. She felt an electricity under her fingertips.
“When we built that thing, it was an attempt at wish fulfillment. You wanted to see dragons and I wanted to see witches, but we were willing to settle for pterosaurs and the Salem Witch Trials. Somehow, we blundered into real dragons and witches. Somehow, we made our wishes come true. Well, I’m done blundering into it. Stoughton just told me how to make my last wish come true. I don’t just want to see witches – I want to be a witch.”
Hailey grabbed her chains and released some of the restless energy. If felt a little like pee leaving the bladder. The chains frosted over and snapped as she tugged on them. The guards began shouting. A few fled, but most stood their ground. Hailey smiled as she looked at the men standing against her.
This was going to be fun.