“A blue dragon is standing in my neighbor’s front yard! Live, I hope you’re getting this.” the guy next door screams.
Helicopters maneuvering up and down and back and forth hover above Kalera’s house. The Army National Guards have now been joined by the Marines, FBI, and the NSA as they evacuate homes and surround at least a three-mile radius.
Kalera and Xavgon stand in front of her house as the police and military have positioned themselves further down, near the corner of her street.
“You may not want to raise your voice toward me. Call them off!” Kalera commands them loudly.
“I have orders,” the chief of police yells through a megaphone. “And those are to take you and this thing into custody.”
Maintaining the scene proves problematic for them, as people are running through the streets with their cell phones filming. The military warns the media circus to stop, but it is too late. By now, America and the entire world’s eyes are fixed on Rocheblave Street in New Orleans.
Staring into the eyes of her dragon, Kalera realizes she must make a move to get Xavgon out of the city. It would be easy to just fly away, but what about her boyfriend, Zaron? She can’t just abandon him.
Deep in her thoughts, Xavgon speaks.
“Do you trust me?”
“Of course,” she responds.
Xavgon has a plan he is executing while speaking to Kalera.
The ground begins to rumble, but this time it isn’t Xavgon’s doing. The military has ordered a tank to be brought in. It’s clear there will be no peaceful resolution. They are willing to destroy a neighborhood and possibly kill innocent civilians just in order to contain them.
“Do it. Do it now!” Kalera screams out loud.
Xavgon takes a deep breath, holding it for ten seconds.
“You have until the count of five to surrender, or we will be forced to destroy you and your dragon,” the chief of police calls out.
He begins to count as Xavgon opens his ferocious mouth, speaking an incantation.
“Five!” the chief hollers.
Whistling sounds suddenly erupt as dark clouds roll in, blocking out the sun. Then there is stillness. Everyone and everything in the vicinity is locked in place.
The chief’s mouth is wide open, with his left hand in the air and his right hand holding the megaphone to his face. Officers and soldiers cling to their weapons, which are pointed at Kalera and Xavgon, and neighbors holding cell phones are frozen, with looks of confusion and fear on their faces.
“How long do we have?” she asks.
“I cannot say, but we must get out of here soon.”
“Zoran!” Kalera yells as she runs up the stairs onto the porch, reaching for the doorknob.
Turning it, she enters the house to find him staring out the window.
For a couple of seconds, she just gazes at him. Her attraction to this six-feet-tall, medium build man awakens, but only for a moment.
Then she realizes it’s Jessup she is longing for when Zoran turns to her.
“Kalera, what the hell just happened?” he yells.
She is relieved that he’s not frozen like the others, but his tone worries Xavgon.
“Xavgon wishes for you to lower your voice when speaking to me,” Kalera whispers.
“Okay, I won’t shout, but I’m pretty sure it won’t stop the gigantic monster from hearing me. Kalera, dragons are myths.”
“Yet a dragon stands in front of my house,” she replies.
“Where does it come from? How did you bring it here?”
“I don’t know if I brought him here.”
“It, not him,” Zoran interrupts.
“You will refer to him, my son, using respectable pronouns.” she says, in an aggravated tone.
“What? Your son? You sound crazy. I watched you for three years in a coma. Your body remained in the bed of the hospital and your bedroom,” Zoran hollers.
Kalera matches his tone. “Once he was placed in my hands as an egg, I took care of him and protected him. When he hatched, my eyes were the eyes he stared into as he morphed into an adult dragon before me. We bonded, as the Zaylen myth suggested. I became his mother and he my son, so it doesn’t matter. He is real and here at this very moment. The grand proof you need. Now, did you call Musfall?”
She has missed Musfall, her most trusted friend. The last time she saw him was the week after her mother’s funeral. He had business to attend to in South Africa. While in her “coma,” as Zoran calls it, she had no idea if Musfall visited her or not. She decides not to ask Zoran about it.
By now, everyone will have seen Xavgon. He can’t go flying around the country. She has to do something, and Musfall is her only hope because of his ties to voodoo magic. Kalera has witnessed him cast many spells successfully.
“Our government will use it and destroy you.” Zoran whispers.
Kalera ignores him as she walks over to a familiar plush toy.
Zoran watches as she takes the toy into her hands.
“Rome must think I abandoned him.”
He walks over to her.
“I don’t believe he thinks that at all.”
“So you have spent time thinking about what he might think?”
“Not exactly. Listen, your dog missed you, but not as much as I’ve missed you,” Zoran whispers as he gently takes her hands into his. “I don’t care about my doppelganger, Jessup, or this realm you seek. I only care about you. I love you.”
Kalera raises her right hand to his face, and then lowers it quickly with no response.
Before the police and military arrived, she had a little time to tell Zoran about Jessup and how she had fallen in love with a man who looks exactly like him. She felt it was only right to tell him, but he could hardly bear it as he tried to understand the weirdness of it all.
For three years he had no idea if she would ever wake. Doctors and her siblings had given up on her. But he was there.
Three years for him has only been a year and a half for Kalera. Time in Zaylen is calculated by full blue moons. Two weeks on earth is only five moons in Zaylen.
“A man is approaching, Mother,” Xavgon said.
“Musfall is here,” she states.
Kalera opens the door and embraces her friend.
“Xavgon, he’s a friend.”
“My girl, everyone is out there. The FBI, NSA, police, military—you name it. I must say, I like the position they are in,” he says, then laughs.
“I take it you saw what happened,” she replies while embracing him.
“My lovely, it’s on everything—Facebook, Insta, Snapchat. You can’t hide this big guy.”
Though voodoo clashes with her Christian faith, she knows what must be done. But before enquiring about Xavgon, she asks a question that is just as important first.
“Have you heard of the Gros Cave?”
“You haven’t changed a bit. Business as usual. I haven’t heard of it. Why do you ask?”
“My dragon tells me it’s the only way home,” she replies.
He gives her a perplexed look. “Home?”
“The Zaylen Realm.”
“My darling, you are home, but I will help you find this Gros Cave if you wish.”
“Xavgon showed it to me in a vision. Wherever it’s located, the environment is extremely cold.”
“So this cave is a portal of some kind,” he muses. “It will take great magic and skill to find the entrance.”
“That’s why you’re here.”
“And here I thought it was because you missed me.”
Kalera smiles. “Where should we start?”
“The French Quarter. Specifically, the Saint Louis Cathedral.”
“A priest friend of mine is a cave diver,” he says. “He has taken most of his dives based on places he read about in books in an old cellar under the church.”
“At least it’s a start,” she replies. “I will also need your friend’s name and a number to call.”
“You won’t, because I’m coming with you,” Musfall says.
“When you were in the hospital and in your bed back there, I knew something was off. I felt it. I couldn’t help you then, but I’ll be dammed if I won’t help you now. From the looks of it, you need me.”
Walking to the window, Musfall glares at Xavgon.
“What are we going to do about your dragon? He just can’t go flying around the world.”
“I was hoping you could help me with that,” Kalera answers.
“I know. I can turn him into a pendant. You can wear it around your neck like an amulet for safekeeping. When you need him, say cazuel, and then your dragon will take his true form.”
Kalera turns to see Zoran deep in thought.
“Zoran, snap out of it. What do you think?”
“It’s crazy, but if it can be done… Whatever.”
“Let me speak to him,” Kalera says.
Xavgon has already been communing with her the entire time, and he is having none of it. She understands that he doesn’t agree, but law enforcement will tear the city apart to get to them. She explains that Musfall can cast a great spell to, making him smaller.
More importantly, they both know Xavgon’s incantation will wear off soon. They must do something more permanent to throw off those officials.
Kalera and Xavgon stand silent for a moment thinking, and then it is decided. Xavgon will use his Dred power to wipe the officer’s and soldier’s memories and social media technology, leaving no trace of him or her. But it will wear off, eventually, and when it does, they will resume their search and the world will once again know of Xavgon’s existence.
“Do it.” she orders Xavgon. “But don’t wipe Zoran’s or Musfall’s memories.”
Xavgon closes his eyes and begins with a whisper. The first incantation has worn off and the officers and soldiers have no idea why they are standing behind a blockade, with tanks in the street.
“Chief, what the hell are we doing here with the military and the suits?” An officer asks.
The Chief replies, “I don’t know.”
“We sure as hell are going to have a lot of explaining to do. I can hear the mayor now.”
“Officer, do you see that?”
“See what sir?”
“That’s just it. Those lots over there are empty. Where are the houses?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Don’t look now. Here comes the suits.”
Kalera and Xavgon watches as the NSA, FBI, National Guard, and New Orleans Police yell at each other. After twenty minutes or so they begin to shuffle away.
When she walks back inside, she finds Musfall smoking his herbs and stirring liquids into a potion she and Xavgon will have to drink. He pours it into a tea cup offering it to Kalera.
Taking the cup, Kalera stares at it for a moment. Here goes nothing. She gulps the chocolate-tasting liquid down.
Musfall pours more, but this time it’s inside of a large pot as Kalera opens her front window.
“You must drink this,” she tells Xavgon, pointing to the pot.
The house shakes as he approaches and sticks his head inside. Kalera lifts the pot as he opens his mouth, and then she pours. After that, Xavgon begins to morph, and within minutes he has become a gold pendant with a hole at the very top. Amazingly, he can still communicate with her.
Entering her bedroom and opening one of her dresser draws, Kalera removes a long chain belonging to her mother. She pushes it through the hole and places him around her neck while Musfall and Zoran walk in and watch.
“I can hear him,” she says.
“Hmm. I was wondering, and I was correct. The potion allows you to communicate. Remember, cazuel is all you say to bring him back, but there is something else. If you want to limit his size when he returns, you say cazuel minor, and he will be but a child. Say cazuel maleck, and he will be but as a teen. If you say cazuel tod, he will be but as a toddler. And when you want him to become himself, just say cazuel,” Musfall explains.
Musfall and Zoran return to the living room as Kalera packs.
Zoran stares at Musfall, and wonders what joy, if any, he will have with him along on this journey looking for some ice cave. It’s not that he cares what they are looking for. He wants time with the woman he loves. Not only does he have to compete with a dam dragon, but now with her best friend.
He turns and stares at the picture of him and Kalera on the coffee table. He remembers that day. The air was crisp and the sun’s rays blazed the sky as they sat on a blue blanket his mother had knitted.
He can still smell and taste the strawberries they fed one another. Then out of nowhere dark clouds roll in and a storm ruins their picnic.
They laugh while running under the canopy of a large oak tree. Then without a thought he kisses her for the first time. A sweet memory. A sweet place.
Zoran walks over to the fire place, picks up his phone, calls his boss and quits his job. Then he calls his mother, who immediately asks about Kalera. He tells her Kalera is fine since she has no way of knowing about what happened.
Not yet, anyway.
Zoran discloses to his mother that they are going away for a while, and not to worry. His mother gets upset, but he assures her that he will be safe, and that he will keep in touch.
Kalera walks into the living room.
“Musfall, do you need anything from home?”
“No lovely. I haven’t changed. My trunk is always full.”
Musfall exits through the front door.
“Are you ready?” she asks Zoran.
“No,” he says.
Kalera laughs and pokes him on his left shoulder.
Before following Zoran out of the door, she turns staring at her humble beginnings, feeling it may be a long while before she sees her house again.
It takes about thirty minutes to reach Zoran’s apartment. Upon entering, Kalera runs to her dog. They roll all over the floor and she hugs him. Not wanting to leave him behind again, she comes up with the idea of taking Romulus along as a companion dog. It makes sense. After all, she did adopt him after her mother died to help with her depression, and he is certified.
Having Xavgon, Zoran, Musfall, and Rome—Kalera’s nickname for Romulus—gives her hope that they will find Gros Cave. Time is on the move and she is unsure of how much has passed in Zaylen. For all she knows, Ager could have reformed his council, the Guardians of the Keys, or worse, he could be sitting on the glass throne.