She was lost in the fog wondering how she had gotten there. The last thing Ana remembered was playing during recess at school. No, that wasn’t right. School had ended and she walked home. Was it foggy when school let out? No, it only gets foggy in the morning and only on some mornings.
“It’s not fog. It can’t be. I should be able to see houses. I’m not on the sidewalk. The ground is made out of fog. But if that were true, I’d fall through it, yet it feels solid.”
Ana woke up safe and warm in bed. Why did she call out to Landon? She liked her friend and she recently found out some very special and secret things about him.
First of all, he could do magic, real magic, like casting spells and traveling to other dimensions. He also had an amazing friend and teacher, a dragon named Buddy who has been living with his family for almost a year-and-a-half and they’ve had all kinds of adventures together. On top of all that, all of his stuffed animal toys were really alive, thanks to another mystic spell.
She had accidentally been caught up in a couple of his adventures. They had been scary but after they were over, they also felt fun. Ana knew that if her Mom and Dad found out, they probably would never let her see Landon again, that is if they even believed the stories. That’s why she had to keep it all a secret.
During the last trip to the stuffed animal universe, she found out that impossibly, she could read a magic spell book. She wasn’t supposed to be able to since the very special language used is not only really hard to read, but can only be perceived by someone already imbued with magic energy.
Landon had been exposed to occult energy and had to be taught to control it by the dragon since, once it’s inside your body, it can never be taken out again. When she was in the stuffed dimension, like Landon, she had been turned into a stuffed toy version of herself. Ana was back to normal now, but did that mean the magic that transformed her was gone again?
Ana got ready for school but she couldn’t get her foggy dream out of her head. Normally she didn’t remember her dreams but this one seemed so strange…so real.
“Oh, hi Ana.”
They both got to school at about the same time and had a few free minutes before they had to line up to go into their classroom.
“How are Buddy and the stuffed animals this morning?” She lowered her voice to ask since this was part of the secret she was supposed to keep.
“They’re fine. The stuffed animals sleep late so most of them were still in bed when I left for school. Buddy gets up super early so he can get some flying exercise before it’s light enough for anyone to see him.”
“That must be awesome to watch.”
“Yeah, Ana. He does a lot of really awesome stuff.”
Ana thought about telling Landon about the dream and that she called his name when she woke up, but he probably would think it was silly.
“I have something to show you when it’s first recess, Ana.”
“What is it?”
Before he could answer, the bell rang telling them it was time to line up. “I’ll tell you later,” he whispered. Then they both walked toward their classroom door with the other kids their age.
When they were released for recess, Landon made sure the small spell book was inside his jacket pocket and then he met Ana outside. They ran to the far end of the school yard so no one could overhear them or see what they were looking at. If anyone asked, he’d say he was showing her a new book he got through the school’s book club.
“It’s a spell I found, well sort of a spell.”
“I thought you said it was a spell book, Landon.”
“It’s really a magic story book that also helps develop a certain kind of spellcasting.” Landon opened it up to the middle and showed Ana. He wanted to test her to see if she could read it.
She looked at the story’s title and read it out loud. “The Cloud City by…I can’t pronounce the author’s name but I can read the title and sentences.”
“Then it’s true. You’ve still got magic in you. I’m going to have to tell Buddy.”
“Do you think he’ll have to train me in magic too, Landon?”
“I don’t know but maybe. It’ll be a lot harder for you since we can’t let your family know and Buddy doesn’t live in your house with you.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” She chuckled a bit and then started reading the story. Then she gasped.
“What’s wrong, Ana?”
“What do you mean?”
“I had a dream about walking in the fog this morning, but it was like everything, even the ground, was made of fog. Now I know it wasn’t fog. I was walking inside a cloud. I think it was a cloud city like in this story.”
“Wow, Ana. That’s totally amazing. The type of magic used with this book has to do with making book stories turn real.”
“You mean we could go into the cloud city?”
“There’s only one way to find out, Ana.”
“Landon, not now. Everyone would see.”
“I wasn’t going to do it now, Ana. I have to study some more before I actually recite the spell.”
“Can I be with you when you cast the spell?”
“You want to go into the cloud city?”
“Sure. I mean the last two times I had a magic adventure with you were by accident. This time I want to do it on purpose.”
“I have to tell Buddy about all this to see what he says.”
“What if he says ‘no’?”
“I don’t know, Ana. I’m not trying to mess things up for you, but he is my teacher so I can’t keep secrets from him.”
“Any secrets?” She flashed a mischievous smile.
“Well, not too many.” The eight-year-old boy felt his face get hot and knew he was blushing.
“Testing. Must do testing.”
Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon, who had now grown to the size of a small St. Bernard dog, was responding to the revelations his friend and student Landon had told him about Ana.
“How are you going to do that?”
“Play here on Sunday. Do testing then. Figure out what to do next.”
“We had planned to play here next Sunday anyway, so that’ll work out. How will you test her, Buddy?” Landon didn’t remember Buddy testing him in any particular way.
“You’ll see, you’ll see. We’ll have fun.”
“Well, okay.” Landon was concerned that what the dragon thought was fun might not seem that way to Ana.
Sunday morning at ten, Ana’s Mom arrived with the little girl at Grandpa’s house. Grandpa and Ana’s Mom talked in the living room for a while the two children went into the boy’s bedroom, leaving the door open a bit. Until Ana’s Mom left, Buddy had to hide in the closet and the living stuffed animals had to pretend to be ordinary stuffed animals.
Grandpa held into Dani because she didn’t yet know what to keep secret in front of other people and might go into her brother’s room and expect the stuffed animals and the dragon to entertain her.
Finally Ana’s Mom left. She’d be back at around four which should be plenty of time. The kids pretended to be playing Beyblades until Grandpa got busy helping the little toddler play with her paint set. Grandpa didn’t know about Ana’s magic adventures with Landon and Buddy and for the moment, they all decided to keep it that way.
Ana spent some time talking to the stuffed animals. She thought they were really cute and wanted to ask Landon if he could make some of her stuffed toys come alive. Then she realized Mom and Dad would freak out if that happened.
Buddy quietly exited the closet and handed both of them one of Landon’s spell books opened to a particular page. It was the one that taught how to make things from a book become real.
“Let me hear you read it, Ana,” Buddy whispered. In response, Ana quietly recited the beginning of the Tale of the Floating Cloud City.
It was getting harder for Ana to see the pages and for a moment, she thought there was something wrong with her eyes. Then she looked around and saw the room was full of fog, just like in the dream she had.
“Buddy, what’s going on?” Landon turned to his friend who was standing behind the two seated children.
“Keep reading, Ana.”
She wanted to follow the dragon’s instructions but the page in front of her seemed so faint, as if the book was turning into fog, too.
“I…I…” She looked up again. She couldn’t see Landon’s room anymore and she couldn’t see the stuffed animals or Buddy, only Landon.
“Landon, what happened?”
“I think this is part of the test I told you about. You know, the one where Buddy would test the magic inside of you.”
“You mean I did this?”
“Maybe. Or maybe Buddy did it. He didn’t tell me how he was going to test you.
They both stood up. “Now what, Landon?”
“We might as well explore since we’re here.”
“But it’s just fog. Nothing’s solid.”
“We’re standing on something, Ana. C’mon, let’s go for a walk.” He led his friend forward as they slipped through the mist. After a few moments, they could see shapes ahead.
“It’s…it’s a city, Landon. A city in the clouds.”
“I think it’s a city made out of clouds. A floating cloud city, just like in the book.”
“But I didn’t get to finish the story. Does anyone live here?”
“I can answer that question.” They both turned around toward the voice that spoke right behind them. At the edge of the misty city which looked huge, there stood a gigantic winged smoke dragon with fire and ice for eyes.
“This is my city. What are you two intruders doing here?” The dragon opened it’s mouth and smoke came out. Then the back of his throat started to glow and Landon knew that meant in a second, he would start breathing fire. The dragon pointed his open snout right at both of them. There was nowhere to run.
Landon felt in his pocket for the beyblades he had put in there. Quickly, he pulled them out and threw them in the dragon’s mouth while reciting a growing spell. As they flew in, they grew so big they filled the creature’s mouth keeping the flame from coming out. He bellowed and roared in smoke and sparks.
“Come on, Ana!” Landon grabbed her hand and they ran inside the city, randomly turning left and right, trying to find a place to hide. They could hear the smoke dragon flying through the streets. It sounded like the blowing wind.
“What about that door, Landon.” Ana was pointing at an open doorway to a large, low building. They made a mad dash for it and closed the door behind them once they were inside. They both pressed an ear to the door and listened, but the sound of the blowing wind became fainter and finally was silenced, so the dragon must have gone searching for them elsewhere.
Then Ana looked into the room. “What are all of those things?”
Landon turned to see what she was pointing at.
“Portals. It’s a big room full of lots and lots of portals.” The room was about half the size of a football field and every few feet, there was an open portal leading to another world. He thought Buddy had sealed all of the portals to Earth, but then again, they weren’t on Earth anymore. There were so many dangerous wizards and creatures in other dimensions and in the space between dimensions, and Landon thought their chances might be better with the smoke dragon.
“Maybe one of these leads home, Landon.”
“Yeah, but which one? There must be thousands and thousands of them.”
The spell book hadn’t come with them this time and Landon didn’t know how to get them back home. Buddy was right with them when they vanished, and the boy hoped and prayed that he’d show up any second to rescue them.
They wandered around the room looking for someplace familiar. It would be the biggest stroke of luck if they found one that led back to Earth and particularly Landon’s room, but it was worth a shot.
He saw one that led to Castle of Moaning Summit where his mortal enemy Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard ruled and guided Ana away from it. “That’s a really bad place,” he warned.
They kept looking. Most of the worlds were totally unfamiliar to him but they looked really interesting. The two children managed to circle around toward the building’s wall and found themselves near another door, this one being closed.
Landon thought he heard something and was looking at the door while Ana was examining one of the portals. “I wonder where this one…”
She never got to finish her sentence. The door sprung open abruptly and the smoke dragon’s snout plunged through it. “Now I’ve got you!”
The dragon knocked into Landon who was pushed backward into Ana.
“Landon!” The boy roughly collided with the girl and they both fell through a portal and into the unknown.
This story immediately follows Getting the Stuffing Out where Landon and Ana managed to rescue the living stuffed animals and return them to the real world. Now the two children are headed into another mysterious dimension. Is this a test or a spell gone horribly wrong. Stay turned for the next part of the adventures of Landon and Ana.
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for almost a year-and-a-half now. 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.