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dedicate her life to veterinary magic. Perhaps this is not remarkable – to treat sphinxes, harpies, mermaids, centaurs, dragons, which become fewer and fewer from year to year in the magic world? And this is in the magic one! In the world of the moronoids they have almost completely ceased to encounter these strange half-magical creatures. Not without reason the moronoids – normal people – have already almost stopped believing in them.

      Moreover, Tanya hoped that the skill to get along with dragons would help her show good results in the favourite game of all magicians – dragonball. The rules of the game are simple: two teams of ten players each, two dragons, and five balls: sneeze, flame-extinguisher, stun, pepper, and immobilize. The mouth of the hostile dragon serves as goal. Not everyone has the power to throw a ball there, especially since the battle is fought in the air. Moreover, the dragon of the opposition does not in the least sit on the spot, obediently opening its mouth. Nothing of the kind! On the contrary, it moves swiftly, shoots out a flame, and with all its might tries to swallow tarrying players. Therefore, it frequently turns out that a good half of the forwards languish in the tight stomach of a dragon and hope that someone would throw into its mouth a pepper ball, which will force the dragon to spit them out.

      For this very reason, Tanya dreamed now to learn everything about dragons and be on good terms with them. Quick tempered, swift, furious, dragons yielded to no one nor put up with any training. They even got accustomed to the players of their own team with enormous difficulty and frequently, confused, swallowed them instead of players of the opposition.

      Tanya sighed and turned the page. How dreary to sit and cram one paragraph after another. Especially since it was not homework but her own whim.


       If your dragon ceased to breathe out fire, it is evidence of its internal weakening. In this situation, a usual tincture of red pepper, mustard, and sulphur should help, in a proportion of 3:4:2 diluted with nitro-glycerine half-and-half with mercury. Give eight buckets to drink three times a day. The mixture is dangerously explosive! Do not shake and carefully adhere to the proportion.

      “Eight buckets!” Tanya repeated, pondering how to pour these buckets into a dragon if it, for example, does not want to open its mouth? Squeeze its nostrils? Or perhaps appear with a ladle and say, “Koochi-koo! Open the little mouthie, my little one! A spoon for mummy, a spoon for daddy! Mind you don’t push the bucket or it will jerk so that not a lace from mummy will remain!” Tanya was annoyed. They always write a lot in these reference books, and later you rack your brain trying to figure things out! “Will have to ask Tararakh tomorrow. Indeed he knows exactly how to dose dragons,” she thought.

      The immortal pithecanthropus Tararakh – instructor of veterinary magic – was her favourite teacher. Perhaps she also went with similar pleasure to Medusa Gorgonova’s studies of evil spirits. But this was not too surprising, since the subjects in many respects intersected. Among the magical and half-magical essences encountered was a great deal of dangerous evil spirits, which, before being treated, still needed to be tamed as well. Precisely this – taming of evil spirits and studying their habits – also occupied Medusa.

      Unexpectedly someone violently pushed open the door, and Coffinia Cryptova, Tanya’s roommate, barged in.

      Coffinia, a girl with a very special sense of humour, was from the black magicians. It was her bed in the shape of a gigantic coffin occupying almost the entire space by the window. And a skeleton by the nickname of Page served as her hanger. Several times a month it came alive and began to wander around the room, clicking its teeth. Once it even devoured Tanya’s boots. In a word, Coffinia Cryptova was quite a character. A worse roommate could not be imagined even in a nightmare. However, Tanya did not complain. Uncle Herman’s daughter Pipa, with whom she grew up before coming to Tibidox, was not a bit better.

      Having looking askance at Tanya, Coffinia, without taking off her shoes, flopped onto the bed. “Hello, stupid orphan! I have excellent news for you. You’ll become bald from this news, and on your nose will appear a new birthmark, even uglier than the one you lost thanks to She-Who-Is-No-More!” she stated.

      Tanya looked at Coffinia, calculating whether to launch a fight spark at her. Okay, let her live. If Coffinia was guilty of anything, it was only that her home had a slippery windowsill, and the bassinet, into which she was placed for the first time, turned out not to have a bottom. “Well, and what’s the news?” she asked.

      Coffinia folded her hand around the telescope and, deliberately stretching out a pause, began to examine Tanya with interest through the hole. “What, you don’t know? You haven’t been informed that tomorrow they’re pushing you out of here? Only imagine: you’re returning to your green uncle-vampire and his fat wife, where you lived on the balcony! How do you do, here I am, give me the bagel hole for dinner and candy wrapper for dessert!”

      “For what reason? Drop the joke, Cryptova!” Tanya said. Simultaneously she was recalling whether she had done anything recently. Of course not, everything was like normal.

      Coffinia snorted. “What jokes are here indeed? They’re pushing all of us out. Pity not you alone. Sending us home until Tibidox is rebuilt anew. All the same not possible to stay here now that Sardanapal has decided to send all the students home. Our dean, Professor Stinktopp, agreed with him, so that we, black magicians, are also off… Toodleoo, on a quiet boat! Cheerio, Tibidox!”

      Coffinia got up and, throwing open the cabinet, began to toss things onto the bed, clearly deciding what to take with her and what to leave behind. “Not to forget the bat miniskirt, the gloves with claws, and the stockings on heels! Must make the eyes of the moronoids immediately pop out of their heads,” she mumbled to herself.

      “It’s the truth! Everything is true!” Tanya suddenly realized. Her eyes darkened. The reference book slipped from her hands and crossly started to fly around the room, breathing out a tongue of flame exactly like a true dragon. Tanya did not even notice this.

      Is it really necessary to forsake this dear, this beloved Tibidox and return to Uncle Herman and Aunt Ninel, who cannot stand her, dress her in cast-offs, and force her to eat vermicelli so slippery that they hang on the fork like dead worms, then stick excellently on the glazed tiles in the kitchen?

      Tears choked Tanya’s throat. She could not remain in the room anymore and ran out into the corridor. In the common room, she saw Bab-Yagun and Vanka Valyalkin, who, moving away to the window, were quietly deliberating something. Hardly glancing at their depressed faces, Tanya surmised that everything already was known to them. So that is why they have not visited her the whole day today!

      “Why? Why didn’t you tell me? Even call yourselves my friends! Really honestly, I had to find out everything from Coffinia!” she shouted and, noticing that both boys at once hung their heads, she rushed down along the stairs.

      “Wait! No one understands why Sardanapal so decided! No one! Here the matter is clearly bad!” shouted Vanka Valyalkin, the slender mop-headed boy in the long yellow soccer shirt, which his father once gave him as a present. Tanya’s best friend, he alone of all the students persistently refused to change into the cape and robe of Tibidox. A boy who for two weeks hid a harpy under his bed and treated its wing. And this despite that the claws of a harpy are impregnated with fatal poison and legends circulate about their bad nature. Now Vanka was about to rush after Tanya, but soon stopped and helplessly sat on a step.

      Tanya herself did not remember how she rushed through the Hall of Two Elements, turned into the wide corridor of the teachers, and turned up by Sardanapal’s new office, where he moved to when the Tower of Ghosts collapsed. She pushed the door and, swallowing her tears, ran in.

* * *

      Tanya found Sardanapal during a moment of extreme busyness. The academician of white magic, laureate of the Award of Magic Suspenders, head of the legendary Tibidox, Sardanapal Chernomorov was chasing his gold sphinx around the table. The hungry books on black magic, which he sometimes used for removing spells, were bobbing up and down excitedly and beating on the bars of a large cage. “Now, did you see this impudent one? Carried off my meat. And it’s for feeding the books!” the academician complained on noticing Tanya. Sardanapal’s luxurious moustaches were angrily waving

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