The 26th Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series
Arioch, Lord of Chaos and Duke of Hell was displeased. He had placed the ancient Emperor Dragon’s spirit into the sword Demonslayer for good reasons. The first and most important was to maintain the balance between Chaos and Law. Without Law, Chaos would rule over the multi-verse essentially destroying it. Without Chaos, the multi-verse could not dynamically change which would lead to stagnation. Existence required the two, and yet the Emperor Dragon believed he could do away with both replacing them with himself.
The second reason he placed the Dragon inside the blade was because it was so much fun watching the creature impotently writhe within the steel. Arioch hadn’t counted on Yao Jin, or any other human for that matter, actually wielding it. It always amused Arioch when humans or human-like beings attempted to control such devices.
Stupid, stupid humans.
Demonslayer had many “sister” swords, chief among them being Stormbringer, although there were many such demon-possessed swords including Mournblade, but Demonslayer was the only one to have possessed the spirit of a dragon.
Now those idiotic humans and the pesky Golden Dragon released the Emperor along with the other souls trapped within the sword. Arioch cared not for those who had traveled to either Heaven or Hell, but the Spirit of the Emperor Dragon had gone completely missing. If the old serpent was truly roaming free again, then he represented a great danger to the very nature of all existence.
This bore investigation. For the first time in living memory, Arioch would travel to that mortal world called Earth. The humans had no idea what they had unleashed upon themselves.
Yao Jin was meditating in the Master’s study under the supervision of the Jinpa, the Sanctuary’s new Master. He had a long way to go before he merited the status of “The Nameless One,” but then Yao Jin had a long way to go before she would merit the title of even a first level Master.
High in the Kunlun Mountains in central China, the two meditated over sacred spells and runes, seeking deeper knowledge of the mind and mastery of the will. There were many forces that sought to control sorcerers such as themselves, to use their skills and knowledge as weapons against the world, not protectors of it. They must be ready when such forces again returned.
Both Jinpa and Yao Jin were suddenly startled out of their trances. The room was twisting and bending as if made of liquid and yet somehow holding its integrity so that the walls remained solid and the large northern windows didn’t shatter.
“By all the…” Yao Jin was about to swear by gods she did not know when a chilling voice replied, “Why not swear to the Lord of Chaos? After all, this is your fault.”
The room continued to shift and melt but more slowly. A level plain formed in the middle of the floor allowing the two magicians to stand and face the imposing presence of the Arioch, the Duke of Hell.
He allowed himself to settle into a stable form so as not to drive these two pathetic beings insane. He wanted to intimidate them, but only a little, so he crafted a male form, somewhat taller than Jinpa, armored in the skin of Komodo dragons, a feared beast in this reality, linked together by eldritch metals and precious stones. He glittered like a jewel, but his visage was dark. His helmet was the skull of a giant python. He wore no weapon. He hardly needed any here.
“What is he? What have you done with him that even I cannot see the thing?”
Yao Jin’s right hand crept to her side before she realized she was not armed. She had relied on Demonslayer so long that she’d forgotten it was now robbed of its power and hidden away in a locked vault.
“That’s right, child. The Dragon’s Spirit was trapped within Demonslayer, but you saw to his release. Where is he now? Tell me and I might let you live.”
“I am Jinpa, Master of this house. By what right do you invade it, Lord of Chaos?”
The Tibetan master abruptly collapsed. Yao Jin knelt by his side and saw, to her relief, that he was still breathing.
“Stupid fool talks too much. Stand and face me child.”
Yao Jin tried to maintain eye contact with Arioch rather than look at the continually bending and spinning room, but his gaze caused her just as much nausea. She concentrated on the details of his armor as her only option.
“What do you want?”
The sorceress was no coward but she was standing just two meters from one of the most powerful beings in the universe. He could wipe away her existence with a random thought. He could unleash such chaos that their solar system would fly apart in an instant.
“You humans are incredibly dense. Let me spell it out for you. Inside the sword Demonslayer, there was a trapped spirit of a dragon, the Emperor Dragon. You have somehow released it and for reasons I am unable to fathom, I cannot detect his presence. Where can I find him? Is that clear enough for you?”
The young woman’s legs were trembling and in spite of herself, she stuttered when she tried to answer. “I–I don’t know.”
She remembered how terrifying it was when the Spirit of the Emperor Dragon surged forth from the ebony blade, shot straight up into the obsidian sky, and then fell back down directly toward the helpless Landon. Nothing she or the Golden Dragon did was able to stop him. For one horrible moment, it seemed like the little boy was doomed.
And then the Dragon was gone. The eight-year-old screamed and held up his arm and then the dragon vanished. Even Buddy couldn’t tell where he was. He wasn’t in Hell. He certainly hadn’t gone to Heaven. But he wasn’t anywhere else either.
“No, you really don’t know, but you were only one of three present when that viper disappeared. I discount the human pup, so only the dragon remains. Oh, since you were so careless, I’m taking my property back. I may have need of it should I finally catch up with the Emperor.”
For a second, it was as if the forces of chaos were fully unleashed inside the room. Yao Jin was being hurled about in a hurricane of sound and light and substance.
When she came to, she and Jinpa were being attended by half a dozen servants. The study was just a room again, albeit one containing many important magical books and artifacts. Chaos had left, allowing them to return to their lives. There was only one thing different. Yao Jin discovered that Demonslayer was missing from the hidden vault. The Lord of Chaos had indeed taken back the sword he forged. He intended to trap the Emperor Dragon within it again…if he could.
Landon had gotten through his first week in Third Grade okay. He spent Sunday afternoon over at his friend Anna’s house. Even though the school year had begun, it was still late August in Southwestern Idaho and more than hot enough to go swimming.
Dad was at work and Grandpa had just given the boy’s two-year-old sister Dani a bath and put her down for her nap when Landon got back home.
“Did you have a good time, Landon?”
“Yeah. I sure did, Grandpa. Where’s Buddy?”
“I think he’s in your room. Hey, don’t forget to take a shower and change clothes.”
“I will in a minute, Grandpa.” Landon walked down the hall to his room. He wanted to see what Buddy and the living stuffed animals were up to first. The child opened his bedroom door and saw the dragon sitting in the middle of the floor with all the animals gathered in a half-circle in front of him.
“And then big, black dragon bombdived Landon!”
The stuffed animals shivered with fright and made noises like “Oooo,” Ahhhh,” and “OmyOmyOmy”. Buddy was telling them about their latest adventure on the mysterious island on the River Styx.
“Hi Landon, Landon home. Hi, Hi, Hi.”
Buddy jumped up and gave Landon a big hug. All of the stuffed animals joined in and the boy found himself mobbed and had to sit down.
Finally, they decided to let go.
“I was just gone for a few hours.”
“Buddy still miss. Stuffed animals still miss.”
“I missed you guys too. I’ve got to take a shower. I just came in to grab some clothes. You can finish your telling them your story, Buddy.”
“Buddy tell. Buddy tell.”
Landon grabbed some clean clothes and headed for the bathroom to wash the chlorinated water off of him.
He knew how the story ended. In fact, he knew more about how the story ended than even Buddy did. The Soul Coin was always in his right hand, just invisible, intangible, and totally undetectable by magic. It had to be if Buddy didn’t sense it.
So far, Landon hadn’t had much of a chance to study and meditate over the Coin. He could just barely sense the malevolent spirit of the Emperor Dragon residing inside. If Landon could find a way to harness some of that dragon’s powers, his study of magic would leap forward light years.
While Landon showered, Buddy finished telling his story to the stuffed animals. He planned to return to teaching the boy more magic later that evening after dinner. Dani went to bed before Landon did, so it would be an ideal time.
The small dragon trotted into the hallway wondering what was for dinner when the walls abruptly twisted and turned, as if the hall were the inside of some rectangular piece of clay someone were bending in their hands.
Then the Ambrosial Dragon was in a world of pure Chaos. “I will not toy with you as I do the humans, Dragon. You will remain in this little pocket of my personal slice of mayhem until you tell me what you did with the Emperor Dragon’s spirit.
Buddy exploded into his perfected form but still found it impossible to keep his bearings. He was in an insane universe, and the only stillness was at the center where stood Arioch, Lord of Chaos.
But what did he say? A “pocket of my personal slice of mayhem?” Then it wasn’t the Chaos Universe itself.
Buddy’s magic was based mostly on Order and the power of the Lords of Law. Even then, in the Chaos Dimension, he’d still be helpless, but in spite of what Arioch had said, the Golden Dragon realized his adversary had been careless.
In the old tongue, the Dragon called upon the dimensions of order, law, and harmony. The pocket of chaos began to become organized, not completely, but enough to let Buddy navigate toward the Duke of Hell.
“Have a care, Drag…”
Buddy wove a spell building on the arrangement of order he’d introduced into Arioch’s pocket universe, a prison of stability for a Chaos Lord.
Then there was a loud sound like a clap of thunder amplified a thousand times.
Arioch found himself in a maze in a cube, a three-dimensional puzzle about the size of a small cabinet. The maze went left, right, up, and down, but it was perfectly ordered. He was getting a headache from all of this predictability. The cube was transparent, and Arioch could see a gigantic Golden Dragon holding the object in his two front paws and staring in at him.
Buddy realized that he couldn’t trap a Lord of Chaos very long, but maybe he could do so just long enough.
“What do you want of me, Arioch?”
“Quite simple. The Emperor Dragon that had been trapped in the sword Demonslayer has been released and his spirit is nowhere in evidence in the multi-verse. I’ve already spoken to Yao Jin and I’m convinced she has no idea where it is. That means you must.”
“No doubt you searched my mind when you first took me, O’Lord of Chaos. I have no more idea than you where that vile spawn of evil has made off to.”
“Then if you don’t, who possibly…” Arioch allowed himself to consider what he had before thought impossible, or at least highly improbable. There had been two other witnesses to the event. One was a human child and the other a magically animated stuffed toy. Both were barely sentient in the Chaos Lord’s estimation, but where else did he have to look?
The cube maze began to twist and pulse in Buddy’s paws. He was losing the battle to keep Arioch contained. The Dragon let the object go before he could be trapped by it. There was another loud, explosive sound. Buddy woke up back in his smaller, transitional form. He was floating in the realm between worlds. Instantly, he knew he was vulnerable to the Shadow Dragons who roamed here, as well as Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard, Master of the Castle of Moaning Summit, Lord of the Planet Setioval.
Buddy had arranged it so normally the Wizard was only aware of him and Landon in his dreams, but out here in the space between realms, he was vulnerable.
The Dragon had locked the way back to Earth from the realms, but Arioch obviously made a joke of the laws of probability, so the rules didn’t apply. Now Buddy had to find a way back.
Fortunately, since he created the locks, he could open and close them, and so he did. He was flying high over the Earth. If Arioch truly believed he didn’t know where the Great Dragon was, why did he… “Oh no. Landon.”
It was after dinner and both Grandpa and Landon were surprised to find Buddy missing. “He probably went out for a flight and forgot about the time, Landon.”
Grandpa didn’t actually believe that since the Dragon never missed a meal if he could help it, but he didn’t want the boy to worry, especially so soon after getting everyone back home.
Landon looked out the back window and up into the sky. “Where are you, Buddy?” He clenched his right fist and could feel the Soul Coin stirring. The lantern around his neck began to glow.
Grandpa realized he’s left his laptop open in his study and went to close it. Landon’s Dad had just put little Dani in her pajamas, although she didn’t have to go to sleep for half an hour yet.
The older man sat at his desk and studied what he had up on the screen. For the past six months, he’d been studying an odd expression of Egyptology. His friend, Dr. Issa Salib was the Director of Archeology at an Institute in Cairo, and had entrusted Grandpa with secrets that even the Egyptian government and educational community didn’t know about and would have destroyed if they’d known.
On a trip to Egypt earlier in the year, Grandpa and Landon, along with Issa and his two children, had encountered a living mummy, animated through the magic of Tarmreiboth, the Dark Wizard from another dimension. It had been a terrifying experience, but Grandpa was beginning to come to terms with it through studying Issa’s work.
It was magic related to Apep plus Tarmreiboth’s necromancy that had brought the ancient mummy to murderous life. Ra and Apep in legend, battled at dusk and dawn, the interface between their two worlds. Light and darkness literally going to war in the space between day and night.
Grandpa closed the laptop so Landon couldn’t see what he’d been looking at. He accepted that Buddy had to teach Landon how to harness his magic, but he didn’t have to encourage it anymore than was necessary.
As Arioch approached the ordered environment of Earth, the Spirit of the Emperor Dragon could feel him and twisted within the coin. He could not escape the spells that bound him, but he could express his displeasure at the impending appearance of his arch foe.
A portal opened and Buddy raced out. He was out of breath and the glass of the window barely rippled as he passed through it.
“Landon okay? Landon okay?”
“What’s wrong, Buddy?” The dragon was gripping the boy’s shoulders.
“Yes, what’s wrong? Grandpa had just walked out of the study, closed laptop in one hand. He was going to take it into his bedroom so he could read more later.
Buddy looked around, almost in a panic. How could he explain what was about to happen?
The living room began to twist and bend and tendrils of chaos randomly appeared out of the walls. One touched Grandpa’s laptop and then all three of them were caught in a tornado of sensation.
Grandpa, Buddy, and Landon woke up at dusk but they were nowhere near home.
A magnificent human figure with the head of a bird of prey and carrying a staff descended out of the setting sun. He landed to their right and regarded the trio.
Then they heard a loud, hissing voice to their left and turned to see an enormous snake looking, if such a thing is possible for a serpent, absolutely terrified.
“What in the name of the Lords of Chaos happened to me?”
“Arioch?” Buddy was surprised to hear the voice of the Duke of Hell coming from the huge reptile.
“No. My enemy is Apep the Chaotic while I am Ra the Light.”
“We’re in ancient Egypt, we must be.” Although Grandpa hadn’t let go of his laptop, it was no longer in his hand. “What happened?”
“That’s what I’d very much like to know,” cried the snake.
“You will not have the time to find the answer, Apep. You have caused much suffering. It is time for you to die.”
Ra raised his staff revealing a blade at one end and held it menacingly.
Buddy, Grandpa, and Landon were in the middle of what was about to become one of the greatest battles in mythology, only now it was real.
This tale immediately follows Return to the Mysterious Island, and I’m leveraging some of the older stories in this series. I’d forgotten that at the end of Curse of the Rising Mummy, Grandpa had been secretly given Egyptian magical mysteries by his friend Issa. I just re-discovered this and decided to have a little fun. Even the Lord of Chaos can’t control probability (in fact, quite the opposite at times), so what happens when Arioch and the concept of Apep come in close proximity, especially when influenced by other mystic forces? That’s what we’re going to find out.
I’ve been writing this series of stories for my grandson for just over a year. As I write this, he hasn’t even had the chance to have me read him the previous tale. I’m looking forward to showing him both adventures next week.
To read the series 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.
The next chapter is called Bastet’s Fearful Symmetry.