A Bright Light in the Darkness

flash of lightThe Fourth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon cast a time dilation spell around young Landon’s room and then began to give the seven-year-old his next lesson in magic.

“Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate.” The dragon was coaching Landon as the boy sat cross-legged on the floor of his bedroom cupping his hands together. Nothing was happening so far, just like nothing happened the last three nights he tried to learn the spell.

Since Landon was so young and untrained in the language of the Masters, those who first tamed the potential of magic on the other worlds, Buddy placed the phrases used to initiate this simple spell in the boy’s mind. Just as Buddy taught him, Landon concentrated on the words of the spell and the vision of what he was supposed to produce.

Then in the darkened room, there was a flicker of light sitting in the palms of Landon’s hands.

“Ah!”

Startled, the child moved his hands apart and the flicker vanished.

“You do good.” Buddy was trying to be encouraging. “Do more next time.”

“Sorry.” Landon chuckled nervously. “I guess I kind of got scared.”

“Do more. Do more.”

Landon cupped his hands together again and resumed concentrating. He’d try not to get frightened when the light came back, that is, if the light came back.

It was easier this time. Now that he’d gotten the light spell to work a little bit, Landon knew what it was supposed to feel like, using the ancient words to summon the magic from between the dimensions into his world, his room.

The light appeared in Landon’s palms again. It wasn’t flicking this time. It was a small but steady light, like a firefly was being held in his hands.

“Make brighter.” The dragon’s eyes grew wide as he whispered to the boy, amazed that Landon was taking command of magic for the first time in his life.

The ball of light was the size of a marble and still growing. Now it was the size of an egg. Now it grew to be the size of…

BAM!

The ball exploded into brilliance momentarily blinding the boy and even the dragon.

Buddy was rubbing his eyes. “Too much. Too fast.”

“Sorry Buddy.”

“It OK, it OK. We try tomorrow, tomorrow.”

The spell Buddy had put around the room made it seem as if time were flowing normally, but outside Landon’s bedroom, only a minute passed for every hour in the room. This way, Landon had extra time to study magic and could still get a full night’s sleep. The spell also dampened any sights and sounds coming from the room, so Landon’s sister, Dad, and Grandpa would be completely unaware of what was going on.

Buddy collapsed the time dilation spell and the passage of time was once again synchronized between the bedroom and the rest of reality.

“Sleep now. Go sleep now.”

“You’re right. Landon yawned and stretched, then stood up. I am kind of tired.”

Buddy pulled the covers on Landon’s bed back for him and the little boy crawled in and covered up. Buddy climbed up on the bed and curled up at Landon’s feet.

“Night, night.” The dragon yawned, laid his head down and closed his eyes.

“Good night, Buddy. See you in the morning.”

Landon was fast asleep just a minute later.

******

If he had a choice, Buddy would never teach Landon magic. On this world there were no child apprentices in the mystic arts and generally children were too immature to wisely use magic spells.

But a month ago, Landon had been kidnapped by Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard of Setioval, and in Buddy’s attempt to rescue him, the boy had been caught in the crossfire of several different kinds of magic, accidentally imbuing mystic energy within the child’s very being.

Once someone possesses magic, they either trained to control that force or the magic controlled them. Simply ignoring the magic inside of Landon would result in that magic either turning the boy evil or physically consuming him from the inside out.

Buddy had no choice but to train the boy to become disciplined in the use of spells. The first magic he was teaching him was the light spell, basically how to produce the illumination you’d expect from a flashlight but with no technology involved.

As Landon discovered, the spell can also be used to create a brilliant flash of light, like a giant flash bulb old-time cameras used to use. Potentially, Landon could use that effect to temporarily blind an opponent, giving him a chance to escape. Buddy had used a similar tactic to distract the Dark Wizard, allowing the dragon to grab the boy and get out of the Castle of Moaning Summit and back to Earth.

Once Landon had mastered this elementary spell, Buddy would teach him one or two others, at least for now. That should give the boy the tools he needs to harness the magic force at work inside him. As the child grew, he could be taught more. How much more would depend on a variety of factors. Buddy would have to wait and see just what kind of person Landon would grow up to be.

******

Thanksgiving vacation. Grandpa and Dad were taking Landon and his sister Dani to visit his Uncle Mikey in Southern California. Grandpa was a little hesitant to leave Buddy all alone for a week, but they could hardly take a dragon the size of a large collie with golden skin and bat-like wings on board a commercial airliner.

But Buddy had become such a part of the family, it was hard to leave him behind. Landon had tears in his eyes as he hugged his best friend goodbye.

“I be okay, Landon. I cook. I clean. I be good dragon. Miss you. See you soon.”

Except for his eyes and the opposable thumbs on his front limbs, Buddy didn’t look remotely human, but he was probably more intelligent than most people. He had the ability to take care of himself independently and would be fine on his own for a week. He had also made the most serious promise not to let anyone see him.

If word of Buddy’s existence were to get out, who knew how the government, the military, and the scientific community would want to exploit him? Buddy was a dragon and he was also part of their family.

The taxi was waiting. It was time to go.

******

Flight. This was the first time both Landon and 17-month-old Dani had been on an airplane. Of course Landon had travelled to several different dimensions over the past three months or so, but the thought of air travel was still exciting.

Grandpa sat in the seat next to Landon and Daddy sat across the aisle in a seat next to Dani. They had to bring a car seat for Dani since she was still too little for a regular seat belt.

Landon got the window seat but it was near the left wing, so his view was partially obscured.

The pilot told them over the speakers that their cruising altitude was 35,000 feet. Landon could see the tops of clouds and farms on the ground looked like a game board with lots of irregular rectangles.

Grandpa was reading a book and not paying attention to what Landon was looking at which was a good thing. The sun was going down and it was getting dark outside as Buddy landed on the wing by Landon’s window.

Landon was shocked. The dragon was smiling and waving. If anyone else saw him, they were all dead meat. Landon looked back at Grandpa but he was still reading. When he looked back out the window, Buddy was gone.

Landon thought maybe he imagined Buddy being there. What he couldn’t see was the dragon sitting on the top of the airplane almost directly over his head.

******

Uncle Mikey met them at the airport. He lived in a house in Seal Beach near the ocean and was an Engineer, which was a job Landon didn’t really understand. He lived by himself and Grandpa and Dad thought it would be fun to spend Thanksgiving with him.

“How are you doing, kid?” Uncle Mikey gave Landon a big hug. Landon remembered how much he missed his Uncle.

“I’m fine, Uncle Mikey. Do you have any new games on your computer we can play?”

Before Uncle Mikey had finished college and gotten a job in California, they used to play a game called Settlers on one of his computers. Landon didn’t understand it all, but his Uncle was patient in explaining things.

“I think I have a few games we could play together.”

While they were waiting for their luggage to get off the plane, Dani was toddling around enjoying the freedom after her long plane ride. She was talking but Landon could understand just a few words. She demanded that Uncle Mikey pick her up, but no one knew for sure if she remembered him from when he lived in Idaho with them.

******

It was a good thing Uncle Mikey rented a van. It would have been hard to get three grown ups and two kids into his small car.

On the drive over to Uncle Mikey’s house from the airport, Landon looked up into the night sky. You couldn’t see too many stars because of all the lights from the city but there was part of the moon in the sky. Landon’s eyes got big as he saw what looked like Buddy’s shadow shoot across the moon above.

Did the dragon really follow them all the way to California? He promised. He promised he’d stay home and be good. Why did he do this?

But it was only for an instant. It could have been a bird or a bat that was overhead and not Buddy. Maybe Landon was imagining things again. He hoped so. He didn’t want to believe Buddy would break his promise.

******

It was the day before Thanksgiving and time to make sure that they had everything they needed for their big meal. So far, everyone did just about everything together, but when Uncle Mikey asked Landon if he wanted to go to the store just the two of them to buy some last-minute items, the boy jumped at the chance.

The sun had gone down and this close to Thanksgiving, the stores were super crowded. Landon had to hold his Uncle’s hand to make sure they didn’t get separated.

Miraculously, they found everything they needed in their shopping trip and Uncle Mikey pushed their cart into the dark parking lot toward his car.

There were so many cars in the lot that his Uncle had to park way far away from the store, which made for quite a walk. Uncle Mikey was just unlocking the driver’s side door of his car when two men dressed in dark clothes came up behind them.

“Wallet and keys.” The man’s voice was gruff and he had something in his pocket that might have been a gun.

“Look.” Uncle Mikey raised his hands. “I’ve got my nephew with me. I don’t want trouble.”

“There won’t be trouble if you give me your wallet and keys.”

“Oh the hell with this.” The other man pulled something out of his pocket and hit Uncle Mikey over the head from behind. Landon’s Uncle fell to the ground and didn’t move.

“You leave my Uncle alone!” Landon was really scared but he was also really mad. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, but then he heard a voice in his head. “Concentrate.”

The words of the light spell popped into Landon’s head as he pushed his arms out with the palms of his hands in the two men’s faces.

FLASH!

Landon remembered to close his eyes before the explosion of light went off. It didn’t just blind the two bad guys, it hurt their eyes really bad. The one who had hit Uncle Mikey dropped the stick or whatever it was he used as a weapon, and both men ran away.

As they disappeared into the darkness, Uncle Mikey moaned and rubbed his head. Landon did his best to help his Uncle sit up.

“Where did they go? Are you okay, Landon?”

“I’m fine. The men ran away after they hit you.” It was the literal truth except Landon left out a few extra details, especially how he’d used magic.

Uncle Mikey was struggling to get to his feet as Landon looked up and on the top of one of the light poles, he saw the shadow of the dragon. He blinked and it was gone.

******

After Uncle Mikey called the police, it took a long time for the officers to talk with the two of them and some of the other people in the parking lot. Nobody saw anything and it looked like the two bad guys got away.

Uncle Mikey said he felt fine and didn’t want to go to the hospital, so the police finally let the two of them go home. Uncle Mikey had called Grandpa on his cell phone to let him and Daddy know what was going on.

When they got back home, Grandpa and Dad hugged Uncle Mikey and Landon. “I’m so glad you didn’t get hurt, Michael.” Grandpa hugged Uncle Mikey again. “It’s a miracle neither of you got hurt.”

“I can’t believe those two guys just ran off. Why didn’t they take your wallet and your car?” Daddy was rubbing his chin trying to imagine what could have happened. Landon knew, but it was a secret he had to keep from everyone, well everyone except Buddy.

******

The next day was Thanksgiving Day. It was the day people are supposed to think about what they are thankful for. Landon was thankful that his Uncle didn’t get hurt and get his car stolen. He was also secretly thankful that Buddy had taught him the light spell he used to scare the bad guys away.

Uncle Mikey had a bump on his head when he got up in the morning, but said he still felt fine. After pancakes, it was time to get the turkey ready for the barbecue. Grandpa used Uncle Mikey’s charcoal barbecue to cook the turkey just they way he did when Daddy and Uncle Mikey were Landon’s age.

It was delicious. Too bad he couldn’t take some leftovers back home to Buddy.

******

Time went by really fast and suddenly Landon and his family were going through the security gates at the airport so they could fly back home.

Landon ran back to his Uncle and gave him a big hug. “I love you Uncle Mikey.”

“I love you too, Landon.” They hugged for a little while longer and then Landon had to go.

“I’ll come to visit you in Idaho soon, Landon.”

Landon looked back as he walked through the line toward the metal detectors and his Uncle was still standing there waving at them.

Landon knew he had to learn more magic. If something or someone tried to hurt his family again, he was going to protect them.

******

Flight. It was during the morning this time when they flew back to Idaho and as much as Landon looked and looked, he couldn’t see Buddy outside the plane.

******

The taxi driver helped Dad and Grandpa get their luggage out of the trunk of his car. Everyone waited until the taxi pulled away and drove back down the road before unlocking the front door of their house.

The dragon leapt at Landon like a jack-in-a-box, knocking him backward onto the lawn. “Landon! Landon! Miss, love. Miss, love.”

The two were rolling around on the grass hugging and laughing. “I missed you too, Buddy.” David, Landon’s Dad, had put Dani down and she was trying to run over and get in on the fun.

“Hey you two, let’s get inside.”

“Okay, Grandpa,” said Landon.

“Okie dokie, Gramps,” replied Buddy.

Once behind closed doors, everyone hugged Buddy and he hugged back. Landon stood back and looked at the dragon. Had he really stayed at home all this time or did he really see him in California?

******

“You lied. You said you’d stay home while we were gone and you lied, Buddy.”

Instead of their evening magic lesson, Landon had confronted Buddy about not staying at home like he promised.

“No lie. No lie. Worry. Hear voices. Danger.”

Landon knew Buddy could sometimes sense when the family was in danger. Maybe he thought he could help protect them like he’s done before.

“It’s a good thing no one saw you.”

“No see Buddy, Buddy good hider.”

Landon remembered the voice he heard in his head in the parking lot. “Did you tell me to concentrate so I could use my spell against those bad guys.”

“Buddy help. Buddy help, but just a little. Landon do spell. Scare mean men. Make them run.”

Buddy didn’t tell Landon that he’d done a little more than that, such as temporarily disabling the security cameras in the parking lot so there was no video of Landon’s spell or the presence of a dragon. He also erased the memories of anyone who might have seen anything such as a mysterious flash of light.

“You’ve got to teach me more magic, Buddy. I got lucky this time, but if they hadn’t run away and were able to see again, they might have really hurt Uncle Mikey.”

“Buddy teach. Landon learn. Landon be patient. Learning take time.”

Buddy knew that learning magic also took maturity and discipline. Landon used all the power he could summon to make the brightest light he knew how to make and it had worked. But if it had been a more dangerous spell, Landon might have hurt or even killed the bad guys.

Buddy also knew that if the light spell had failed or the men hadn’t run, he was there to stop them and, being only human, Buddy could have stopped them easily and without having to hurt them seriously.

“Buddy teach, Landon learn, Landon learn later. Sleep now.”

It had been a long day and an exciting vacation, especially the night Landon used a magic spell to save his Uncle.

“Alright, Buddy. Good night.” Landon crawled into his bed and pulled the covers up over him.

The dragon never got cold and curled up on top of the covers at Landon’s feet. “Night, Landon. Night.”

Landon fell asleep and dreamed of learning magic and becoming a powerful sorcerer.

Buddy’s dreams weren’t so pleasant. He also dreamed of Landon learning magic, but as his power grew, would his goodness grow as well, or would something else take over?

I’m writing these stories for my seven-year-old grandson Landon. This one is the fourth in the series. If you’re interested in the earlier ones, start with the very first tale, The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us, and then click the available links to find the other short stories.

The next story in this series is The March of the Stuffed Animals.

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