The 25th Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series
“What?” Landon was surprised to still be alive. Somehow, when he heard the coin in his head say it was hungry, he thought it was hungry for him and that in some magical way, he was being eaten.
He sat up and looked around. It was darker than night. He was on an island on a plateau near the highest point.
The sky was black. The water all around the island was black. The island itself was made out of black rocks and dirt. Worst of all, he knew where he was. He’d been here before.
“The island on the River Styx, the River of Death.”
He had been brought here by a demon, one of the demons who had been torturing the souls of Yao Jin’s grandfather Xun Qin and the Nameless One for their wonderful and terrible secrets that would let the forces of evil take over the world of the living.
But what was he doing here?
“Persistent as ever, eh Landon?”
He whirled around, startled by the voice. It was Yao Jin. She was wearing an all-black outfit neck to feet. It looked sort of like leather armor, gloves, breastplate, and boots. She held Demonslayer at attack position, as if she meant to strike the eight-year-old.
“Yao Jin, what are you doing? How did I get here? How did you get here and where is Buddy?”
“Right behind you.”
Landon spun around again. It was sort of Buddy. It looked like the perfected form of the Golden Dragon except he wasn’t golden. Well, a few of his scales were still golden, but most of them were a dull gray color, and some of them, especially around his face and eyes, were obsidian black.
“Buddy! What happened? What’s going on?”
“Oh nothing, Landon.” The dragon rolled his eyes. His voice was cruel and Landon knew his best friend was making fun of him. “Just hanging around.”
“Enough games, Dragon. Boy, we found what we came for. We know who murdered my grandfather and his Master. It was me. I did it with this.” She held out her sword.
“But that’s impossible. You wouldn’t kill your own Grandpa anymore than I’d hurt mine, Yao Jin.”
“You are not speaking to the mewing little coward Yao Jin now, child. You are addressing the soul stealing blade Demonslayer. Did you not suspect that my spirit was trapped in here? The Lords of Chaos did it because I was once a powerful dragon and threatened the balance between Chaos and Law. They need that balance in order to exist.
“You, you, you…” Landon didn’t know what to say. He depended on both of them, but especially Buddy, to help him in tough situations against powerful bad guys but now they were the powerful bad guys.
“What about you, Buddy?”
“He is in my thrall, child. The Spirit of Demonslayer commands him as it will soon command you. The Golden Dragon is too powerful to turn fully evil all at once, and even Yao Jin is still resisting. But you boy, you will be no trouble to turn at all.”
Throughout the conversation, Landon could feel Baby, his living stuffed pet giraffe, moving around in his backpack. He thought he knew what Baby was up to, so he made sure he faced both the dragon and the demon-sorceress so they couldn’t see behind him.
The body of Yao Jin held up Demonslayer. “I shall be merciful and quick. Only the good in you will die.”
Desperately, Landon looked at the formerly Golden Dragon. “Buddy. You can’t let her. You’re still good inside. I can sense it.”
“Forget it, Landon. Let yourself give in to the evil. If you do, you’ll have more power than you can possibly imagine.”
Landon could feel his backpack coming open behind him. Suddenly, it was lighter and he knew what had happened.
So far, no one had noticed that Landon had kept his gloved right hand closed. He could still feel the coin in his grasp. It seemed to be vibrating and even wiggling a little. The lamp Landon wore around his neck was burning hotter and brighter by the second.
He could sense images from the coin and surprisingly, even from the black sword.
All of a sudden Yao Jin cried out. It was like something went wrong with her right arm, the one holding the sword. It was swinging wildly, and then the point headed straight for Buddy.
“Are you insane?” The darkening Dragon used one of his wings to swat Yao Jin, sending her flying. She lost her grip on the sword and it tumbled to the ground.
The Chinese woman was stunned and Landon could hear a hideous voice now coming from Demonslayer screaming, “Yao Jin. Pick me up immediately.” That meant the sword couldn’t do anything unless someone was holding it.
Before Buddy could react a disembodied voice screamed, “Ha-Ya!” Baby appeared out of nowhere jumping up in front of the dragon’s face. Then Buddy’s head vanished as Baby fell back down.
“Where am I? What are those beings I see?”
Landon was using the lamp to intensify the power of the invisibility cloak, forcing it to draw the dragon’s head further into the invisible realm, the one where his sister Dani had once become Queen.
Landon only had seconds to act before Buddy shook off the cloak.
“Stay back, Baby.” Landon lunged for the sword. Yao Jin was on her knees and when she saw what the boy intended to do, struggled her feet in an attempt to stop him.
But she was too late.
Landon used his gloved hand, the coin still sticking to the palm. to grab the hilt of Demonslayer. It was really heavy, too heavy for him to lift, especially with one hand (he didn’t dare touch it with his uncovered left hand), but from what he’d learned from the images the Soul Coin gave him, this should do the trick.
“No! Not you again! I thought I was free of you. I thought I’d escaped.”
Buddy threw off the cloak and Baby ran after it. Both Buddy and Yao Jin started running toward Landon to free the sword but then they stopped.
Yao Jin sank to her knees again and grabbed her head with both hands. “Get out. Get out of there, evil one. Release me.”
Buddy was yelling and shrieking. He was turning different colors. His eyes went from black to red, to gold, to blue, and back again. His body was twisting, shifting, growing and then shrinking. The black scales were turning to gray and the gray ones were turning to gold.
The sword was shaking violently which was making Landon’s whole body shake, too. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t have let go of the sword now. The coin and the sword hilt were stuck together like two super-powerful magnets. The sword was glowing except that the light was pure black. Landon was getting sick to his stomach. The evil was making him sick and maybe even killing him.
“Hang on, Landon.” It was Buddy’s voice but the boy didn’t have the strength to turn in his direction.
“We can help you now, child.” That was Yao Jin. What did either of them think they could do to help? He had freed their souls, but his was going to become the ultimate evil. He could feel everything good in him wither like a waterless plant in the desert.
Then he was surrounded by white and golden light being weaved in an intricate pattern around him, like he was on a circle of light that became a dome encompassing him. He could hear both Buddy and Yao Jin saying a spell in the old language, the one the Ancient Masters used to invent magic before the beginning of time on Earth.
He could see and feel the light and the darkness fighting each other. The sword had absorbed many, many evil souls. Every time Yao Jin had used Demonslayer to kill a demon or Shadow Warrior, that evil spirit was included among the thousands inside the Stygian blade. Now all of that evil, along with the Dragon commanding it, was fighting the mystic power of the Golden Dragon and the Sorceress.
All Landon could do was hold onto the hilt of Demonslayer and trust that his friends would save, if not his life, at least his soul. He knew Daddy, Dani, Grandpa, and especially Buddy were going to miss him a lot. He wished he could say good-bye to everyone one last time. He wished he could say he was sorry for running off and leaving them to go on one more adventure. Now he realized as much fun as magical quests were, there was nothing more important to him than his family. He wished he could tell them all just how much he loved them.
Then it was like there was a big, big explosion of white and black light. For a second, Landon couldn’t see. Then he was on his back, his right hand open, he’d let go of the sword. Lots and lots of lights, mostly black but some bright white came out of the blade of the sword. Somehow, Demonslayer was forced to give up all of the souls it had eaten.
The evil demon and Shadow Warrior souls all went toward the shore of the River Styx where Hell was located, but all of the light ones went to the other side, to Heaven. Landon recognized the souls of Xun Qin and the Nameless Master who was once called Chi Peng. They were flying to Heaven. When everyone thought they’d rescued them before, it must have been a trick. The sword must have kept their souls since it used Yao Jin to kill both of their bodies days and days ago.
Landon was glad they were finally free. His vision was starting to clear but he was still too weak to get up. Then one last black soul came out of Demonslayer. It was a dragon, a black dragon, even larger and more evil looking than Xian, the King of the Shadow Dragons.
But instead of being compelled to go to Hell like the other evil spirits, this one flew straight up and then straight back down at Landon.
“You are not safe, boy. You are mine now, body and soul.”
Both Buddy and Yao Jin used their most powerful magic to stop the evil one’s onslaught and save Landon, but its spirit was too strong with evil and there wasn’t time to prepare more powerful spells. The dragon spirit wasn’t stopping.
Landon held out his right hand to shield himself. “Nooooooooo!” he cried.
Then there was nothingness.
Landon was again surprised to find himself waking up alive. This time, Yao Jin and Buddy, the regular Buddy, were standing over him.
“Landon, Landon, wake, wake, wake.” He was so happy to see the boy open his eyes.
“How do you feel?”
“Tired, Yao Jin.” Then he remembered everything. “Did we win? What happened to the Dragon’s Spirit? Where’s Baby and the invisibility cloak?”
“Easy, Landon. Everything’s okay,” the Chinese sorceress reassured him. He could feel something moving under the covers next to him. Baby’s head came out. He snuggled up to Landon. “I love you,” he said in his small, sweet voice.
Landon hugged Baby and held him to his chest. “I love you, Baby.” Then he looked up. “I love you, Buddy. I’m sorry for making a mess of things.”
“No mess, no mess. Landon save. Landon hero.”
“What the Dragon is trying to say is that if you hadn’t found us, our souls would now be lost to the evil one. In stopping Demonslayer, you quite possibly saved the world.”
“Evil Dragon Soul gone. Not in Hell but not anywhere else. Cloak and glove in backpack. All your stuff here.”
Landon reached on his chest and felt the small, magical railroad lantern still in its familiar place around his neck. The only thing he didn’t know about was the Soul Coin. Yeah, that’s what it called itself in Landon’s head. A Soul Coin.
He remembered the images he got from the coin and the sword.
Before the black Emperor Dragon had decided to destroy the balance between Law and Chaos so that he could take over the multi-verse, his spirit had been trapped inside the coin for countless ages.
The coin changed size depending on whether or not it possessed a soul, and it could possess only one at a time, but it also changed its appearance so it would not look out of the ordinary. The last time it did so was in 1902 when it became what looked like a Guangxu Rupee.
The spirit of the Emperor Dragon had resided in the coin since before Earth’s Sun burned hot in space. Eventually, the coin found itself on Earth but that was only after the Dragon’s soul had escaped, thanks to the Soul Coin accidentally falling into the Chaos Universe. No matter how strong a person’s or an object’s magic is, the laws of probability are thrown completely out of kilter in the Chaos Universe, and this allowed the Emperor Dragon to get free.
He stayed among the Lords of Chaos trying to kill them, while the coin reappeared on Earth.
After the Lords of Chaos trapped the Spirit of the Emperor Dragon in the sword, he found that he had the ability to capture and use the power of other spirits, both evil and good. The sword was placed in the safekeeping of Chi Peng in K’un-Lun after Peng became a Master Magician. Eventually, when he became the Nameless One, he gave that duty to his top disciple Xun Qin who, in time, left it up to Yao Jin.
That had been a mistake.
While the Nameless One and Xun Qin kept the sword locked away and hidden and refused to use it. Yao Jin, being young and inexperienced, chose to use the weapon. Every time she went into battle with the sword and absorbed evil souls, some part of her own soul was captured by the Dragon. Eventually, it was able to take control of her temporarily, and on one of those occasions, the Dragon used her to murder two great forces for good in our world.
The bodies of Xun Qin and the Nameless One turned to ashes, but their souls were intercepted by the Prince of Hell and redirected to his demons in the neutral lands on Styx between Heaven and Hell.
The sword convinced Yao Jin that it had been an unknown force that had killed her Grandfather and his Master and that their souls were held captive and being tortured on that island. At least the last part was true.
Only instead of actually rescuing their souls, Demonslayer ate them itself, gaining their power and secrets. It projected an illusion to Yao Jin, Buddy, and Landon that the good souls had been released to Heaven when no such thing happened at all.
Other magic forces continued their adventures together in the past and it was only when they had returned to the present and Yao Jin took Buddy to the Sanctuary in the Kunlun Mountains, that the black sword and the Dragon inside found the opportunity to complete its task of taking over the girl. Buddy was just a fortunate bonus.
That plan all fell apart because of the Soul Coin.
The Nameless Master actually had foreseen his death and that of his heir but he could not clearly see the cause. He could however, see the only thing that could defeat their adversary, a coin that was for sale in a curio shop in a small town in northern Tibet. The Nameless One sent a disciple to purchase the coin which had arrived at the Sanctuary only a day before the Master’s death. The Master had it in his pocket when he died.
To protect itself against detection by the Emperor Dragon, the Coin rendered itself undetectable as Yao Jin teleported in with Demonslayer. Even after the murders, no one could see it, not even the master servant and disciple Jinpa.
However, the power of Landon’s amulet and glove when combined let Jinpa and everyone else see it again once Landon and his backpack had been brought inside the Sanctuary by Buddy.
Now no one could find the Spirit of the Emperor Dragon because it was back where it came from, inside the Soul Coin.
But where was the Soul Coin?
“You’re staying here, Yao Jin?”
Landon had quickly recovered and now he and Buddy were ready to head home to Grandpa’s house. The three of them were standing in the great entrance hall of the Sanctuary. Jinpa was at Yao Jin’s side and there was a crowd of disciples and servants surrounding them. They’d all heard of their adventure and the defeat of the evil in the sword. Yao Jin had put it away in a hidden chamber in the Sanctuary, but after all, it was now just an ordinary blade.
“Yes, Landon. Jinpa was my Grandfather’s chief disciple and he has agreed to become the Master of this house and to guide the teachings in the tradition of my Grandfather and the Nameless One. I will stay and learn from him.
Also, even though Jinpa said the death of my Grandfather and his Master was not my fault because the sword controlled me, I still feel responsible. If I hadn’t foolishly used the sword, they would still be alive. I have a great debt to repay and, if my time with you and Buddy has taught me anything, it is that I have a lot to learn. I expect to learn it here.”
Yao Jin knelt down and gave Landon a big hug which made him feel uncomfortable but also good.
Then she hugged the little dragon, “Thank you for everything,” she whispered in his ear.
“Good times, good times, Yao Jin. Defeat evil. Send evil back to Hell. Maybe we do it again sometime.”
The Ambrosial Dragon was excitedly jumping up and down.
“Maybe we will, Dragon. You’re welcome here anytime, Landon. It is possible we can teach you some things even the Dragon doesn’t know.”
“Well, maybe.” Landon felt a little embarrassed. He didn’t want to tell Yao Jin that he thought he could learn anything he needed from Buddy.
“Time go, time go. Backpack on, Landon.”
The boy put on his backpack. He could feel Baby stirring inside, resting on top of the invisibility cloak and black glove. Everyone stepped back giving the two of them plenty of room. Then Buddy opened a portal back to home.
“Bye-bye. See you later.” Buddy waved at Yao Jin, Jinpa, and the rest. Landon waved, too. Then the duo stepped through the open portal and were gone. The portal collapsed and they were both home again, standing in front of Grandpa’s front door. The sun was just coming up over the Eastern horizon.
Grandpa got up and went into the kitchen to turn on his coffee pot. He saw Landon and Buddy having breakfast at the kitchen table.
“What are you two doing up? I figured since you’d both just gotten back last night, you’d want to sleep in.”
Buddy had bent time just a little bit. They went back a few days so that they returned home only minutes after they’d left. Daddy, Grandpa, and Dani wouldn’t know a thing.
“Uh…Yao Jin said she was leaving early so we got up to say good-bye.”
“Oh darn, I wish I’d known that. I’d like to have said good-bye as well. I hope she finds out who killed her Grandfather and the other gentlemen. I’m surprised you didn’t go along to help, Buddy.”
“Yao Jin okay. Yao Jin strong. No need Buddy’s help. She be fine.” The dragon gulped down six more pancakes loaded with butter and syrup and then walked over to the stove to make another batch.
“Well, I’m sure she is. Save some pancakes for me too, Buddy.”
“Buddy try. Buddy try. Buddy really hungry, though.”
Grandpa, Landon, and Buddy all laughed together, then Landon got up, ran to Grandpa and gave him a hug. “I love you Grandpa. I really missed you.”
Grandpa hugged him back. “I love you too, Landon. I love you so very much. Please stay with us. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Landon felt sad that he almost died. He knew Grandpa would be so, so sad if he couldn’t see him anymore. Landon was going to learn more magic and he wanted to have adventures, but none of that meant anything if he didn’t have a family to love.
Daddy had to go to work, and Grandpa was doing chores in the yard while Buddy was playing with Dani out back. Landon was supposed to be in his room getting his school supplies in order since he was starting Third Grade on Tuesday.
Instead, he reached into his pocket. He pulled out a 1902 Guangxu Rupee, the Soul Coin. It was a little larger and heavier now than when he first saw it, but that’s because there was something inside, something powerful, something terrible, and the face of that thing was now on the coin. It held the Spirit of the Emperor Dragon and now that he was back inside the coin, anyone who held that coin could learn to use the Dragon’s power.
Eight-year-old Landon gripped the coin in his hand. He didn’t need the glove anymore to hold it. Every chance he could, he was going to learn how to use the Dark Dragon’s power. If he could harness it, he could become the most powerful person on Earth, and maybe even beyond the Earth dimension.
My grandson had specifically requested both a magic glove and a coin that contained the spirit of the universe’s most powerful dragon. He also said he wanted to the coin to give the possessor the powers of the soul inside the coin.
I decided to go along with this, but I reserve the right to modify the conditions he’s set forth, just so he doesn’t become ruler of the planet or something like that. Actually, I was able to talk with him about the story briefly, although there was no time for me to read it to him. He says that he’s good and wouldn’t use the power for evil. Also, he said he’d have to master the powers of the coin a little at a time, so there’s hope.
I’ve been writing this series of stories for him for just over a year. To read the adventure from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.