You can read the UCF Stories from the beginning here.
As Pogmorton crept slowly forward, the Wyrm gave no indication it was aware of his approach, its attention focussed completely on the fairies' frantic fortification of their border. Creeping as close as he dared, Pogmorton did as Botchett had instructed and whispered, 'Psst! Wyrmy.' Immediately he sensed the Wyrm stiffen, its tail stopped swishing from side to side and he was sure it turned its head imperceptibly towards him, but when it made no move in his direction, Pogmorton repeated the call, a little louder this time. Still nothing.
I must be mad, thought Pogmorton as, wiping the sweat from his palms, he inched the barbed pole forward and, Botchett's instructions ringing in his head, worked the tip between the Wyrm's scales and prodded forcefully.
The effect was instantaneous. Rearing and snorting, the Wyrm turned, steam jetting from its nostrils. An eerie, visceral screech escaped from deep within its throat.
On the border to the fairy kingdom the prisoners and their guards froze in terror. Pogmorton caught only the briefest glimpse of a familiar face among the fairies' work gangs before diving out of the way as the Wyrm lunged, it's huge shovel-shaped head slamming into the earth inches from where he'd been crouching, clods of earth flying in all directions.
Scrambling to his feet, Pogmorton took off at a sprint, jinking this way and that. A terrible rumbling sound filling his ears as, giving chase, the Wyrm bulldozed its way through earth and vegetation. Glancing over his shoulder, Pogmorton saw steam being sucked back into the Wyrm's nostrils, a sure sign according to Botchett, that things were about to get hotter.
Just as he threw himself behind an outcrop of rock, the Wyrm began a long rumbling exhalation, and liquid fire splattered against the rock and surrounding vegetation, barely missing Pogmorton's body and singeing the hair on the right side of his head and burning away the tip of his pointed Pixie hat.
The Wyrm smashed its head down onto the rock, dust and stone chipping raining down over Pogmorton. He rolled quickly to his right and, just for an instant, came eye to eye with the beast. Time seemed to slow as Pogmorton took in the baleful glare of a huge reptilian eye, centuries of pain and fury seeming to exude from within the creature's soul. Pogmorton felt a stab of pity at the sight of scars from old injuries around the beast's head, then the Wyrm slowly bared its fangs and Pogmorton's nose was assaulted by the stench of rotting flesh, the remains of a fairy's arm stuck between two of the creature's wickedly sharp teeth.
Great slimy gobs of saliva dribbled slowly from the Wyrm's mouth onto Pogmorton's trousers. He winced as the acidic drool began to burn his leg and saw the Wyrm's eye snap instantly into focus as he moved. Scrabbling desperately backwards, Pogmorton jumped to his feet and dashed away towards Botchett's trap, the Wyrm snapping sideways at his retreating form.
* * *
'Here they come,' yelled Swazzle.
As Pogmorton streaked under Botchett's net, Botchett and Swazzle took up their positions. The Wyrm, now fully focussed on its Pixie prey, followed Pogmorton straight into the mouth of the trap, but it was only Botchett and Swazzle's quick reactions that avoided it barrelling out of the other end before the net could be released. Howling in rage and pain, the Wyrm thrashed as Botchett's net tightened itself, biting cruelly into the beast's hide. Swazzle and Botchett scurried this way and that, pegging the net down until, at last, the Wyrm lay immobile, seething with impotent anger. The net was designed to be tightest around its head, preventing the Wyrm from using its fiery breath.
Once the Wyrm had been contained, Swazzle and Botchett wandered over to where Pogmorton stood, doubled over, sucking in great lungfuls of air while his clothes smouldered.
'Well done, bonny lad!' Botchett beamed, clapping Pogmorton on the back. 'You're a natural. Couldn't have done it better myself, like.' He pulled a flask of dandelion whisky from his pocket, 'Here you go, looks like you could do with a drop.'
Botchett turned to Swazzle, 'Keep an eye on him, like,' he said quietly, 'While I go and sort the travelling box out.'
Swazzle, puzzled, turned to find silent tears streaming down the Pogmorton's face.
'By the gods, what's up? You're all right, I'm all right, so is Botchett, and we caught the bloody Wyrm.'
'They have her,' Pogmorton sniffled, 'The fairies have Rushalka.' He caught sight of Swazzle's shocked expression. 'I thought she was dead. We all did. How was I to know what had really happened?'
Swazzle whistled in disbelief. 'I had no idea...' he began, then paused, the colour draining from his face. 'You hear that?' He cocked his head to one side as the familiar droning grew louder.
'Fairies.' He turned, 'Botchett...'
'I hear 'em, bonny lad.' Botchett had set up what looked like the horn from an old gramophone on top of the travelling box and was frantically turning the handle on the side of the box. The Wyrm was drawn gradually from under the net, shrinking as it went, the tip of its tail had just disappeared into the mouth of the horn when the first fairy appeared on the horizon.