“A blue dragon is standing in my neighbor's front yard! Live, I hope you are getting this!” the guy next door screams.
Helicopters maneuvering up and down and back and forth hover above Kalera's home. 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.
Xavgon looks to his mother for approval.
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 walks 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 looks 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 shouts at Zoran, 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 he is a voodoo priest. Kalera has witnessed him cast many spells successfully.
“Our government will use it and destroy you.” Zoran finally answers her.
Kalera grins, thinking to herself. They won't have any luck with that. There is only one way he can die, and it is best you don't know it. How long before Musfall gets here? We don't have much time.
“After meeting with Musfall, I would like to see Romulus.”
“Your dog misses you dearly, but not as much as I missed you,” Zoran whispers as he walks over to her, gently taking 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, caressing it.
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 Zoran, but he could hardly bear it as he tried to understand the weirdness of it all.
For him, it had been three years, but for Kalera, it has only been a year and a half. 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 says.
“Musfall is here,” she states.
Kalera opens the door and embraces her friend.
“Musfall. 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, laughing.
“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.
“You know the world as a traveler. I need to know if you have heard of the Gros Cave?"
“I haven’t. 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 to find the entrance.”
“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 am 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.” 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 go out and 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. It's the right thing to do. More importantly, they both know Xavgon’s incantation will wear off soon. Xavgon can be hidden, but Kalera can’t. They must do something more permanent to throw off those officials out there.
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. Confused, and unable to see Kalera's house, 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. 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.
They take some time to collaborate as Kalera packs. Zoran goes back and forth with Musfall about staying behind, but his love for Kalera will not allow him to do so. He 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 downtown.
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.
It takes about thirty minutes to reach Zoran's house. 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, 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.
Zoran packs only the essentials and a week’s worth of clothes. He hopes to be gone much longer, because maybe that will help him feel better about quitting his job. Kathleen, Zoran’s mother, depends on him, so guilt begins to slide through him even though he has not left the city yet.