The Sixteenth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series
Landon was getting excited. There were only a few more weeks before school was out for the summer and he wouldn’t have to do homework anymore…
…or so he thought.
“I don’t want you to forget everything you’ve learned this school year, so every night, we’ll go over your reading, spelling, and math.”
“Aw, Dad. Don’t I get a break?” Landon was sitting on the sofa with his Dad David after school talking about future plans.
“At least you won’t have tests every Friday, Landon.”
“Well…okay.” The boy was hardly thrilled but he still had to do what Dad said.
“I’ll get to play with Buddy more.” Landon suddenly cheered himself up at the thought of spending all day every day with the dragon who was his best friend and magic teacher.
“Landon practice magic. Study lots. I your teacher.”
“Whatever you say, Buddy.” Studying magic was sometimes harder than spelling and math, but it was also a lot more fun. The hardest part was not doing magic in front of anyone who wasn’t family. Landon wished he could show off for all the kids at school, especially a few of them who teased the second grader.
“Dinner’s ready,” Grandpa called from the kitchen. He already had Landon’s little sister Dani in her high chair. Tonight, Grandpa had made beef stroganoff which was a family favorite, but Dani was going to make a big mess with it.
After dinner and clean up, Landon and Daddy did homework and then Grandpa read him a few more chapters out of one of the Goosebumps books. The child really enjoyed the stories, even though he knew the magic in them was fake.
The days of the week passed slowly for the boy until at last it was Saturday. After a big breakfast of pancakes and syrup, Landon and Buddy headed out for the field behind the house. Usually, no one besides the family went into the field, so the child and the dragon wouldn’t be seen.
“Landon bring toy tanks and cars.”
“You see, you see.” The Ambrosial Dragon chuckled to himself and headed out the back door. Landon ran to his room, grabbed a handful of his toy tanks and trucks, and then dashed after his magic teacher.
He met Buddy on a small dirt mound surrounded by tall grass. “Give ’em.” Buddy held out his right paw which fortunately came equipped with an opposable thumb and Landon deposited the toys in it.
The dragon arranged the four miniature vehicles side by side. Then he started teaching Landon a brand new spell.
It took hours and hours and Landon still couldn’t get the spell to work. Frustrated, the boy stood up finally and walked back and forth through the grass.
“Patience, Landon. Patience. It will come.”
“Landon! Buddy! Lunch!”
Daddy had taken little Dani on a “play date” with some other toddlers and their parents, so only Grandpa was at home.
“Take a break. Let’s eat.”
Buddy could be a very serious teacher, but he loved food.
“Oh, okay.” Landon was sulking. He thought he was getting pretty good at magic, but this new spell was really tough.
Grandpa made Landon’s favorite, Mac and Cheese. To manage Buddy’s enormous appetite, he made a big pot full of it. Landon ate two bowls and the dragon ate the rest, well almost.
“Save some for Dani, Buddy,” Grandpa chided him.
“Yup, yup, Gramps. I’ll try. Still hungry though.”
“Here, have some hot dogs.” Grandpa made half a dozen for Buddy, who hastily gulped them down. “Thanks, Gramps. Hit the spot.”
“If this keeps up, you’ll eat us out of house and home,” Grandpa mused.
Buddy was noticeably bigger than nine months ago when Grandpa found the wounded dragon in the field out back. He used to be the size of a small collie, but he’d grown as big as a St. Bernard. Just how big would Buddy get when he was full grown?
It was mid-afternoon when Landon finally got the hang of the spell, or so he thought. Buddy had been steadily coaching him in the exact pronunciation of the spell in the old tongue and the precise hand and arm gestures that accompanied the words.
Landon came close, very, very close to success, except for just one minor mistake that would make all the difference in the world.
Buddy realized it too late. “Wait Landon, wa….”
The spell was a shrink spell. The boy was supposed to reduce himself down to where he could get inside his little toy cars. That part worked, but he also shrank the dragon as well.
Down, down, down they went, boy and dragon, shrinking almost as small as the main character in one of Landon’s favorite movies, Ant-Man.
“Sorry, Buddy. I guess I didn’t get it quite right.”
The dragon was about to reverse the spell when the two of them noticed something. All of the toy vehicles were the same size they’d always been except they looked like real cars, tanks, and trucks. To be specific, there was one tank, one truck, and two cars, but now they looked as real as Grandpa’s car and Daddy’s truck.
“Hmmm. Useful this could be,” the dragon muttered. “Let’s try ’em out.”
Buddy hopped into the driver’s seat of the nearest car, a race car. He closed the door, grabbed the steering wheel and started making “Varoom, varoom” sounds.
Landon climbed on top of the tank and opened the hatch on the turret. That’s when he heard it, or rather, them.
Ants. Lots and lots of ants, and they were surrounding the now gigantic dirt mound where the four toy vehicles were placed. They looked huge. Then Landon realized they were huge, and not just relative to his tiny size. It was the magic. Somehow, not only had he shrunk himself and Buddy plus turned his toys into tiny real driving machines, but he had affected the surrounding ants.
They were slowly growing.
“Buddy! Look out!”
Before the dragon could react, an ant took the car he was in by its mandibles and shook it. Buddy hit his head against the door frame and was knocked unconscious. Something about the spell must have made him more vulnerable than he normally would have been, even at his small stature.
The ant couldn’t get at the dragon inside the car so it tossed the toy aside. The ants started moving toward Landon.
Quickly, he dropped inside the tank and locked the hatch behind him. He settled into the seat and scanned the controls. “How does this thing work?”
Landon had never been in a tank before, big or small, and he didn’t have any idea how to use the controls.
Then one of the ants was right in front of the tank about to grab it.
“If only I could fire the cannon.”
Suddenly, the cannon let off a shell right in the face of the approaching ant.
“Wow. It’s the magic. All I have to do is say what I want and the tank does it.”
Landon’s celebration was cut short when he saw that the ant was only hurt and not killed, plus that he was totally surrounded.
“Tank, race around and shoot the ants.”
The tank suddenly took off like a bullet, racing around the mound, weaving and dodging the ants while firing its cannon and all of its machine guns at them.
Ants aren’t very smart and act more on instinct than reason, but these ants were different. It was probably Landon’s misfired spell, but the ants reacted to the threat of the tank by momentarily backing away.
But the ants were still growing, and the tank was becoming less of a threat to them with each passing moment. His tank was barely two inches long, but each ant was now approaching four or five inches. If they got too big, they’d be strong enough so that the shells would just bounce off. They could crush the tank.
“Oh Buddy, wake up.”
Landon tried a levitation spell which made a few of the ants float but for some reason the spell seemed weaker than he expected. He compensated by levitating several of the floating ants into their grounded counterparts, throwing them into confusion for a minute.
He tried using the reverse of an animate spell, which he originally employed to bring his stuffed animals to life, but only two of the ants collapsed. He created multiple brilliantly bright globes of light, which also confused them, but there were just so many ants and now they were six inches long.
The tank was magic, so it couldn’t run out of shells and bullets, but the machine guns had become a useless defense, and the explosive shells were only denting the exoskeletons of the ants.
Finally, one ant got through to the tank from behind and grabbed it in its massive jaws. Landon could hear the metal plates buckling under the pressure. He was about to be squished inside his own toy.
One last trick. A teleport spell. It worked, but it put Landon underneath the tank. If the ant let go of it, he’d be dead. The next instant, that’s exactly what the ant did. The boy dropped to the ground and vainly tried to protect himself with his arms.
Seconds passed and he was still alive. He looked up. Ants, the tank, and the rest of the toy vehicles were all floating. What’s more, he was growing and the ants were shrinking. When he reached full size, he turned around to see a normal sized Buddy guiding a bunch of normal sized ants back to the ground along with Landon’s toys.
When he finished his spells, the dragon rubbed a rather large bump on the side of his head. “Ouch”.
“Buddy!” Landon ran over to his friend and gave him a big hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay, that we’re both okay.”
“Practice. You need more practice.”
“You’re right, Buddy. I really do.” Landon was so happy that they were both alive and things were back to normal that he didn’t even mind the dragon’s mild criticism.
Hearing a squeal, they both turned to see Dani running up toward them with Daddy and Grandpa looking onward from the back patio.
“Buddy! Landon!” The almost two-year-old wanted to join in on the fun, blissfully ignorant of the life and death conflict that had been fought only moments ago.
Buddy spent the rest of the afternoon romping around in the field with the two children.
Later, as the family settled down to dinner, deep underground at the center of the anthill, the queen ant sat nursing strange thoughts, very non-antlike thoughts. If her drones noticed she was slightly larger than she’d been this morning or behaving a bit strangely, they gave no sign.
The queen was beginning to suspect there was more to existence than merely gathering food, reproducing, and growing the anthill. She would have to figure out what that meant and then what to do about it. It all involved those really big things, the ones who step on her kind. Now what command should she give the hive?
This is the sixteenth entry in an ongoing series I’m writing for my eight-year-old grandson. Naturally, he’s the star of the show, and often he provides the story ideas for these tales. He wanted something with an actual working toy tank so I decided to accommodate him.
The previous tale was a spin on R.L. Stine’s evil ventriloquist’s dummy Slappy from the Goosebumps books called The Curse of Slappy.
If you want to read this series from the beginning, start with last August’s story The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us and then keep clicking through. Eventually, you’ll get back here.
The next story in this series is The River Between Heaven and Hell (Part One).