| "In order to produce this artificial lightning and thunder it is necessary to take saltpeter, sulfur, and Luru Vopo Vir Can Utriet " Niklaus read aloud from the manuscript.
He looked sheepishly at Stan and smiled with satisfaction at his enthusiastic nod.
"Here are the saltpeter, sulfur and the dragon" Niklaus said arranging two small, foul smelling satchels and a wood carved bird on the table.
"What is Luru Vo... and where can I find it?" he asked then with a shrug
"Oh, that... that is powdered coal. Take three equal quantities of sulfur, saltpeter and coal and then add only a bit more powdered coal. We need to make just a little, I watched the cannon, and a little powder will make the dragon fly."
Niklaus did as he was bid, impatiently mixing the content of the satchels in a bowl. He brought it to the window, leaving a thin trail of black powder in his wake.
Stan poured half of the powder in the tin container tied to the dragon's body, stuffed a small piece of flax rope inside, and covered it with a lid. He pulled the rope through the hole and motioned for Niklaus to return the bowl to the table. Impatient, Niklaus put the bowl on the floor and rushed with the cinder box. He lighted the end of the rope when Stan pulled at his sleeve.
"We have to hide." and pointed at the trunk across the room.
With a loud boom, the dragon left the armory and swung dangerously close to a servant driving a manure cart. The driver startled, veered and the cart toppled on its side.
Then somehow it found its way near a maid carrying snow white laundry, making her to lose her balance and drop the laundry in a nearby muddy puddle.
From the window, Niklaus and Stan watched in horror how the dragon entered the main hall leaving the guards scrambling in their heavy armors.
When they heard the loud bellow coming from within, they knew it is the time to hide. In their rush, they toppled the small candle stand sitting under the window, and the candle fell flame first into the thin trail of black powder leading to what remained of their experiment.
Judging by the effect the black powder had on their dragon, they rushed behind the trunk on the room’s opposite side.
A loud boom deafened them, and thick smoke filled their nostrils. The noise told them something momentous happened and that staying hidden would be probably a good idea.
Inside the main hall, Ioannis was shaking the wine spilled over his new doublet and cursed his compulsion of having it made of out the most expensive yellow silk. It was ruined.
His ire grew watching Bade's mouth slightly twitching in suppressed laughter, and he let a loud roar.
He picked up the wooden contraption with two fingers and determinedly headed to the exit, Bade in his tow.
He took a couple of steps when the ground shook, sending him colliding with a maid carrying a pail of scraps. He wiped the gooey liquid off his face and picked a couple of scraps from his hair. He turned ready to gut Bade at the slightest twitch.
"Don't even think..." and looked in horror at the red stain on hid friend's pale green doublet. He rushed to help when he felt the distinctive smell of garlic and spices. Freshly cooked ribs laid splattered on the floor and his mouth twitched.
A look from Bade and he lost it. He dropped to the floor, and both laughed, tears coming out of their eyes under their servants’ baffled look.
"My lord, the armory" a frantic call sobered both Ioannis and Bade.
They jumped to their feet and rushed outside to see black smoke coming from the armory's tower.
"Guards, we're under attack, follow me." Ioannis called rushing to the armory sword drawn in his hand.
It was as well he didn't notice the amused look of the keep dwellers at his stained doublet, plastered hair and the scraps still hanging on his shoulders.
Ioannis busted open the armory door and took the stairs to the tower two at a time. He pushed the wooden door to the wall with a thud and choked on the smoke still lingering inside. The room was empty. He huffed and turned to Bade, who pointed to the trunk across the room. His mouth was again twitching, and Ioannis did all he could not to plant his fist in Bade's face.
Turning again he understood the source of his mirth, as he spied a small and well known pair of boots.
He covered the distance in a couple of strides, leaning over the trunk. He straightened lifting by the ears two faces covered in soot.
He picked up the smaller child and gave him a fierce hug.
"Girls don't play with flying birds and noisy powder. How did you make it?" he whispered.
"Girls don't play with swords either." she grinned back patting her sword.
"Luru Vopo Vir Can Utriet, just a bit more powdered coal than saltpeter and sulfur" she continued wriggling her nose.
Ioannis caught himself, knights didn't hug their sons in public, even if they were secret daughters. He dropped her and assumed a fierce look, at odds with the scrap, stains and now soot on the once fashionable garment.
He took again the two children by the ears and declared, pushing them to the door:
"After you clean up yourselves, you have manure to shovel, laundry to clean and a room to swipe."
However, this time his mouth was twitching too, and he avoided looking at Bade as he knew he would not be able to contain his mirth any longer.