Demons and Dragons, Oh My!
This Dragon of Mine
There weren't always dragons in the valley. There weren't dragons in general. The ones that existed were digital or animatronic. This monstrosity before me was anything but gears and a synthetic covering. This was the size of a downtown metro bus made of pure green breathing flesh.
Despite the crispness of the morning air, I was grateful for the exhale of warmth. Even if I couldn’t fathom the heat source. I tried to get my bearings, in hopes I could get away. I was trapped by the river rapids behind me and my implausible imagination.
Memories of last night, images of red eyes and fanged teeth, sent me into near panic. As if my panic disturbed his peaceful slumber, a pair of yellow eyes with black almond-shaped pupils slowly opened to gaze at me. Unable to look anywhere else, my feet cautiously started to back away.
I'd take my chances in the river.
The beast shifts his thorny long green tail, drawing me closer to him. This dragon had surrounded me with only enough room to sit on the ground.
"Shit! Shit!" I repeated, panic growing.
"Never fear, for I am here," my favorite voice called.
"Ray?" I cried in relief. I jumped to see Ray but I couldn't see past the dragon.
"Well, I'm not actually All Might." Ray chuckled. Only Ray would make a "My Hero Academia" reference.
"Quit goofing off!” I knew that irritating voice.
"Why’d you bring him?" My anxiety started rising, knowing Oliver was on the other side. My least favorite kid I grew up with.
"Question it later Pinky, now come out." Oliver snapped. My strong rooted irritation for Oliver had me gritting my teeth. Oliver doesn’t get to have any opinions of me. Especially when it comes to my hair.
The dragon whips his head to growl at them.
"Calm down, You're upsetting your dragon!” Oliver yelled. I was finally able to see them. A shiny curved blade in Raymond’s hand was almost as unbelievable as this dragon.
"Ray, is that a katana?" The reflective light of the blade momentarily distracted my hate for Oliver.
"Bish, Please! This is called a tachi. I've been collecting pieces of my Japanese culture for a while. Thankfully, the blade is still sharp," Ray swings the handle of it through the air the same way he’d handle a lightsaber.
"How do you know you’re Japanese?" We've been living together for the last year yet I've never noticed these items. Granted, I never pried into his space.
"Chit-chat later," Oliver snapped in annoyance. On principle alone, I ignored him.
"Did you take a DNA Test?” Focusing on Ray, I almost missed the dragon sitting up on his haunches. The movement startles me backward, tripping over his tail.
"So oblivious... No wonder you were easy to pick on,” Oliver muttered in an irritated breath yet I heard him clearly. It was one of those moments where everything happened at once. My irritation flared into anger. The dragon lunged for Oliver. Ray stumbled under the dragon's long neck, rushing to me. Ray knocked me to the ground to shield me as the dragon's tail narrowly glided over us.
"Call him off," Oliver cautiously backs from the menacing dragon. His arms extended out. As if that alone would’ve kept the dragon from advancing. Oliver was going to be eaten. As much as I hate him, it's something I can’t see happen again.
The memory of last night keeps replaying... red eyes... fanged teeth... the look on their faces when the dragon tore into their flesh… will stay with me forever.
"Oliver run!” I screamed. He remained rooted in place.
"He's your dragon! Call him off," Oliver’s voice was soft yet full of panic. His hands were outstretched like Chris Pratt did to those velociraptors. Why did he keep saying my dragon? Dragons shouldn’t even exist, let alone me owning one.
"This isn't real,” I refused to look. If I can't see it, it's not real.
"Sera, look at me," Oliver demanded.
"I just wanna go home." I burrowed into Ray's safe embrace. Home, where I should have been. It’s where I was headed before nightmares became more than just a figment of imagination. The dragon's wings unfurled and pushed his body toward the sky. The force of the wings sent a whirlwind of dirt through the air.
"Take it back," Oliver finally moved, running to us. The dragon was directly on top of us. The dragon’s claws snake around Ray’s chest.
"Ray,” I screamed, reaching for him. I did my best to hold him tight. Bit by bit our grasp slipped until our hands were the only thing keeping us together. It wasn’t enough, his hands were ripped from mine by sheer force.
Don't hurt him.
The front talons grabbed a hold of me. Higher and higher into the air we went. My legs, my pink hair, dangled below me. I didn't dare turn around. I tried to get a hold of the dragon but I couldn’t get my arms around his claws. If he were to let go there would be no way to hang on.
"As cool as this is, can you get it to land? I just lost my shoe,” Ray called out. Thankfully Ray was still there.
"Like he’d listen to me,” I yelled back. What was with the assumption that a dragon would follow my commands?
"Have you tried?" Ray sounded like it was an obvious choice.
"Nice dragon, please put us on the ground,” I asked unsure. "Gently,” I added quickly. I don't want him to put us on the ground by releasing us from the sky. At that moment, I swear I could feel the dragon's amusement.
A sense of weightlessness settled over me as we descended. I couldn't see it but I knew the ground was getting closer. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when my back made contact with the cold hard surface. I didn't get a chance to breathe in relief. I was pulled from the ground into the arms of the best brother a girl could wish for. We may not be family by blood but who needs that when choice is as strong of a bond.
"Top of the morning to ya,” his tone drawn out, brows wiggling with amusement. I chuckled at his playfulness. I may not have much but at least I have him. I look him over from head to toe. No cuts, no bruises. Just a bright smile. Even his flat ascot cap remained in place.
"You lost a shoe but kept your hat? And why are you wearing Crocs?" I couldn’t help giggling at his choice of footwear. Other than his missing shoe, everything seemed to be in order.
"My hands are closer to my head than my feet. Especially when getting a lift from a dragon." Ray covers his head with his hands and moves his body like a tilt-a-whirl.
"Also, I wanted sensible shoes for this morning’s crazy adventure," he explained as if that were logical.
"You have a closet full of workout shoes!” Only this man would think Crocs were a sensible choice.
"Those are work shoes! Not workout shoes," he flicked a piece of my bubblegum pink hair. His expression stated I should know the difference. He works the front desk at a gym with aspirations to be a trainer.
"Let’s get out of the open." Ray grabbed my hand, leading us to a stairwell. It was then I looked at our surroundings. We weren't on the ground but on the top level of a parking ramp. The momentary forgotten dragon was sitting on his hind legs, his head quirked, looking at us with great interest.
"Is there a way you can get him to hide," Ray questioned, nodding his head to the big green dragon.
"Listen, I don't know what the crazy is going on here but he’s not my dragon," I told him with emphasis on “my”.
"How do you know the dragon is a he?" Ray’s nose twitched trying not to laugh at my dumbstruck look.
"Your hatred for Oliver almost got him eaten. The dragon literally tried to carry you home. And when you asked him to put us gently on the ground, it did just that. Crazy doesn't seem so crazy anymore," Ray wrapped his arms around my neck for another hug.
I shifted to get a better look at the dragon. My dragon. I didn’t know how but he looked bigger than he did at the park. He seemed to have doubled in size. His serpentine stance hid his length well. If he were to unfurl, he’d be the length of two buses. Spikes run down his spine. The scales on his body varied in size and shades of green.
Breathing deeply, I approached him. My movements were slow to not startle him. The closer I got the more I knew he wouldn't hurt me. My hand reached out to touch the base of his neck. His skin felt like the texture of worn leather.
"Thanks for all of your help. You saved my life,” I didn’t know where he came from or why. I was grateful for his help. He lowered his head and pressed his forehead to mine.
"What's your name?" Once I asked, I knew. He was nameless. I was the one who was meant to name him. It would seal our bond. Go ahead, call me a nerd. I went with the only name for a dragon I can think of.
"Mushu," I chuckled. A warm glow of love flowed from my chest to my hands, to Mushu. He had waited a long time for me. Many emotions flowed through me. He was upset that it took me being in danger for us to meet. He had been lonely, waiting for me to call him. There was a sense of pride for finally claiming his human. He was eager to serve me. Mostly, he was just happy to be here.
"So Mushu,” his irritation for having waited so long dissipated into an unbridled joy at finally being acknowledged by a name. I could have done better but I panicked. And I love Mulan.
"Dragons aren't really a thing here and it might scare people. Is it possible for you to be less noticeable?" I asked him. Mushu let out a few snorts before he leaped into the air, flying in a circular motion. His speed increases, creating a cloud around him. The ground shook and rumbled from the force.
"Is he throwing a tantrum because you're an ungrateful Poo-man!” Ray joked. I’d have almost agreed if I didn’t get the overwhelming sense of gratification. Ray pulled me back, again attempting to shield me. It took a minute for the dust to settle once the ground stopped quaking. Mushu took up a much smaller space, no bigger than a cat.
"Ah, he’s travel size for your convenience." Ray's bubble of laughter filled me with a small sense of relief. My heart pounded in my chest. This new and uncontrollable worry has created a burning sensation in the pit of my stomach.
“Watch it! Or you’ll bring dishonor on your cow,” I joked. If I wasn’t so overwhelmed my laugh wouldn’t sound so forced.
“How are you doing?” Ray finally asked me those dreaded words.
"I'm legit happy that I'm not hallucinating but... a dragon Ray... a freaking dragon, " My head shook with disbelief.
“And you?” I couldn’t understand how he seemed so calm.
"Not sure. I just got home from work when it started. Oliver showed up and helped me fight off the vicious creatures,” Ray grabbed my hand again leading me to the lower level. Mushu followed close behind.
There was a foreboding feeling that settled in, knowing that the fangs and red eyes were real. They weren’t normal human beings trying to hurt me but frightful creatures.
"What were they?” I asked, swallowing down the bile of fear that was threatening to rise.
"Oliver said they were a vampire demon mix. I tried to find you last night. Oliver said it would be safer to wait till morning. Oliver found you using GPS. He said you were either safe or already dead. Either way, your body wasn’t going anywhere," there was a sadness in his round brown eyes. We were each other's only family. I met Ray when he moved into our group home when I was 10 and he was 12.
"Oliver's an asshat." I'm glad we left him.
"Agreed," Ray nodded.
Our phones started buzzing at the same time. It was from the Emergency Alert System.
Ray read, “All citizens are to remain in their homes. Do not leave home after nightfall."
"Nightmare creatures must really exist," uttering words I still couldn’t believe.
"Before we left this morning I packed you a bugout bag," he shook off his backpack, reached in, and pulled out my old purple school bag.
"I'm glad your bag of tricks is finally getting used," I joked as he held mine out. He always joked his bag was the one to use when it came time to flee to Canada. He bought it for a camping trip he was planning to make with an ex-boyfriend.
“There's a change of clothes, food, water, and butt wipes," his smile widened with pride. I think he secretly loved packing a bugout bag.
"Oh, that's most important." I teased him.
"Nothing's worse than butt crumbs." He chuckled but deep down I know he was serious. I grabbed it to change in the stairwell. Thankfully, it wasn’t the fancy parking ramp with cameras. I'd be nervous changing alone but my new bodyguard followed along.
Ray had shoved in several closing items including my black leggings. I don't own real pants. I did once. Never will again. He also packed hygiene necessities, deodorant, and dry shampoo. He packed my anxiety meds that I made sure to take.
I used a few of the wipes to clean myself. I spent the night outside, passed out next to a dragon that devoured my assailants. I knew without a doubt that I smelt a bit fresh. It dawned on me that Ray packed all my necessities knowing we wouldn't be returning. I wonder just what happened to our home.
I also wondered why Oliver showed up. I haven't seen him in a year. He was the one that knew the dragon belonged to me. That the dragon would listen to me. I started to get a sinking feeling. I returned to Ray, needing to ask a question yet not wanting to know the answer. "Hey, AITA for leaving Oliver behind.” Granted I didn't quite understand what was going on. I still didn’t even know. I knew the answer. I just wanted to be wrong. I didn’t want to feel bad about leaving him to fend for himself.
"Kind of... I know you don't trust him. He wasn't the nicest to you growing up but if he hadn't shown up last night. I wouldn’t be standing here. Oliver called them demonic vampires. They couldn't enter the apartment but they destroyed the front door, sending in flames and poisonous gasses. We escaped through the fire hatch and hid in Mrs. Smith's apartment. We went back this morning to find them asleep outside our door." Ray dug out a granola bar and handed it to me.
"Demonic Vampires," My eyebrows raised in confusion. Possessed evil sucking evil?
"They're vampires who have blood allegiance to a Higher Ranking Demon. It grants them more power but they lose a bit of cognitive thinking." Ray shrugged his shoulders, obviously repeating information Oliver told him.
"So brainless bloodsucking minions juiced up on demonoids,” Ray chuckled at my play on demon steroids.
"What do we do now," I'm sure the city being attacked by demonic vampires was just the tip of it all. Not to mention my newfound ability and friend.
Just thinking of his name, Mushu wandered to me and started rubbing himself on the side of my leg. Happiness radiated from his little green body. Without a second thought, I bent down and picked him up. He squirmed out of my hands to crawl up my arm and curl around the back of my neck and shoulders. His claws dug into the straps of my backpack, holding himself in place. Finally content, his head rolls to the side and closes his eyes. If he could purr, I’m sure he would.
"Yes, because that's completely normal.” Ray shook his head in laughter.
“I know you don't like it but... we should find Oliver.” Ray made a gritty smile, definitely hesitant about my reaction. He's right. I hated it. However, I knew Oliver held the answers to a million questions.
We made our way down to trek across the city. It was like something out of an apocalypse movie. Crashed cars, broken windows, and smoke billowed in the sky in multiple places. I kept my eyes strictly on Ray's back. I knew if they wandered too much, I’d see more things to haunt me in dreams to come. The smell of dead blood lingered in the air. I didn't need to look around to know what was there. We didn’t have far to go as Ray knew exactly where to go.
"How do you know where we're going? Are you ever gonna tell me how you found that sword? Better yet, tell me how you found out you were Japanese?" The more we walked, the more I realized Ray had been keeping things from me. We stopped on the street in front of some townhomes. I could see shadows moving through the windows. We were being watched.
A noise rustled in the tree next to us when a dark shape fell out of it. I was never one to startle easily but the noise that flew out of my mouth would argue otherwise. Mushu rushed to the danger.
"For the love of the Gods, call off your damn dragon," when my heart stopped racing and my mind cleared, I couldn't help but laugh. Mushu was dive bombing Oliver’s head.
“And you were in a tree because?” Rays asked curiously.
“I didn’t want to be in the open!” Oliver ducked from a persistent Mushu.
"Mushu, come back please." My hand extended to him. He eagerly flew back to settle at the back of my neck. Mushu hissed at Oliver just before he settled in.
"You named him Mushu?" Oliver’s blue eyes rolled so far back that I wouldn’t be surprised if they got stuck. "You are a Dragon Caller. You have to take this more seriously." Oliver groans.
"I'ma what?" I asked in my best Harry Potter voice.
"Yer a wizard Harry," Ray responded with his best Hagrid. However, we didn’t get to enjoy our laughter for very long.
"Dammit! Be serious! He won't be the last dragon you call. You have to name them properly. An unnamed dragon is an unbound dragon. An unbound dragon is dangerous." Oliver explained.
"How do you know so much?" I asked incredulously. My questions weren’t so much what he knows but why he knows.
"There's a lot I know that you don't. I kept it that way to keep you safe but the time of safety is over. You’re gonna need to trust me. So, stop setting your dragon on me!” He was practically shouting. Yeah, he's pissed we left him. It's not like I did it on purpose. A frustrated laugh bubbles in my chest. Trust him. He wants me to trust him. The only person I trusted was Ray.
"I don't trust you. Just because I can magically summon a dragon doesn't mean I can magically forget all the crap you put me through growing up." He can’t demand something he hasn’t earned.
"I had my reasons. Know they were for your benefit." Oliver was trying to justify his actions of being a bully and it pissed me off.
"So the two times I had to shave my head because you and the other kids got massive amounts of gum in my hair is because it was for my own good,” my voice seemed calm but I was anything but calm. The only good that came from that is my love for pink hair. Our house mother got me a pink wig to wear after my head got shaved the first time.
Anger spread through me like wildfire. My fingers tightened into my palm. Before I knew what I had done, I had punched Oliver. I punched him right in the middle of his jaw. I'm not violent by nature but I needed to hit him. It might be an overreaction, but I didn’t care. Oliver didn't say anything about my hit. He just let it happen. Like he knows he deserves it.
"Sera, you trust me right? You don’t need to trust him because I trust Oliver." Ray stood beside me, gently grabbing my fist. Ray never liked Oliver when we were growing up. He always defended me against Oliver. His eagerness at accepting Oliver’s trust had me wondering when that all changed.
"How long?" I asked.
"What?" Ray seemed confused.
"How long have you trusted him," I asked slowly, repeating each word. He’s silent. He didn’t want to tell me.
"Do you like him? Are the two of you together," I needed Ray to be honest. I knew feelings can change. I should have noticed something was different.
"That's not it... I had a hard time making ends meet when we first moved. I never told you. I didn't want you worrying and I considered it my job to take care of you. Oliver knew and well..." Ray ran his hand through his black hair.
"He gave you money,” I answered. It wasn't hard to figure out.
"Why would you... " my voice trailed off when an overwhelming scent of rain hit me. I swear I felt my heart stop. It was the smell of rain before rainfall. It was intoxicating.
“That’s because his family is blood bound to serve and care for you. Considering how much you hate him, I say he failed miserably,” a smoky voice had my insides doing summersaults. The voice belonged to the most gorgeous man I've ever seen. His hair was dark and slicked back. His beard had straight trimmed lines, running along his chin. The facial hair around his mouth neatly framed his jaw. He wore a crisp black long sleeved shirt and black jeans despite the rising heat of the day. Oliver stepped in front of me, a white crackling energy rippled from his hands.
"Put your party tricks away," the man's voice was passive. No emotions were shown on his face.
"What the hell …" Ray blurted out.
"That's the Demon Prince. The one who unleashed his legions of followers last night," Oliver's power caused the nearby lampposts to fizzle.
“Oh so who the hell, got it,” I’d have laughed at Ray’s joke if I wasn’t so overwhelmingly frustrated. There were more questions than answers with no time to process anything.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Especially You!” I pointed my finger at the new arrival. I didn’t care how handsome he is or that he makes my heart stop.
“You can't just intrude on people's conversations! Where the hell did you even come from?” My words spewed out faster than I could process what was going on. His lips curved into a small smirk.
"I'd explain but I don't want to intrude." Amusement teased in his eyes. At that moment I wished I had the power to smite. Mushu released a deep menacing growl. The Prince cautiously steps back but not out of fear. He was no longer devoid of emotion. He enjoyed taunting me. It just pissed me off.
"I knew if I followed him," he pointed to Oliver, "I'd find you. I’d have waited for you but…well… I’m not waiting anymore. Now you two better say what you need to before her pet eats us all... well you two,” he's a little too smug in thinking I wouldn't let Mushu eat him. Mushu taking a bite out of him is still on the table.
"I found my family," Ray blurted out. This wasn’t the truth bomb I was expecting.
"That's great!" I was happy for him but the look on his face puzzled me. Why did he look so sad?
"Three years ago," his voice was quiet but I heard him clear as day. It felt as if all the air had been sucked from me. He's known since he was 18. Yet, he kept it from me. I'd have been happy and supportive. As I know he'd be for me. "You needed me more. I couldn't leave you." He tried to justify his years of silence. Ray tries to move closer but I step away.
"I never asked you to do that,” My mind was reeling. He was all I had but this entire time, he had more. I would've never asked him to choose. I never asked him to take care of me nor did I expect him to.
"I didn't want you to feel bad for not being able to know yours,” his hand splayed across his chest with an innocent look. As if he was doing some great sacrifice by sparing my feelings.
"Don't put that on me. You know I wouldn't have done that." My arms wrap around my chest to hold myself together. The world I knew was falling apart. Yesterday morning I was just a girl working in a coffee shop. I had Ray. We were our own little family. Now I can call dragons. The once imaginary creatures were no longer imaginary. And the one person I've always trusted has been hiding things from me. I can’t control any of this. The only thing I can control is my feet.
"Sera, come back," I could hear Ray chasing after me but I didn't stop running. I couldn't be near them anymore. The Demon Prince appeared a few feet in front of me, cutting off my escape.
"It’s not safe to be on your own, even with your dragon. Granted, I'm indirectly the cause." He chuckled and shrugged his shoulders like he was proud of the chaos he’s caused.
"Who are you," I asked through staggered breaths. I’m really not a runner.
"I’m the one with the answers you seek," his emotions were back in check, and his face was stoic. He held out his hand waiting for mine.
"Stay away from her," Oliver yelled. I could feel the buildup of energy behind me. The prince pulled me around him to take the full force of the hit and remained unscathed. He released me but I suddenly wished he hadn’t. I didn’t even know him but I found myself wanting to stay in his arms.
"Watch where you're aiming, kid!” A raging fire burned in his eyes but his voice remained calm. Ray and Oliver had caught up to us. Not like I made it far to begin with.
"Seraphine, I promise I will not harm you. I just wanted to see you and for a chance to talk,” there was a connection between us that made me believe he did not mean any harm. I just couldn’t place what that connection was.
Seraphine! He called me Seraphine. There was such familiarity in the way he said it.
"Listen here, creepy and mysterious, her name is Sera Williams. Don’t act as if you know her," Ray tried to pull me away but the Demon Prince held out his arm to stop Ray.
“That’s her human name. The one authorities gave when they found her. Her birth and family name is Seraphine Drakeward,” his eyes peered into mine. No pupils, no irises, completely inhuman and black as coal. There was a sense of urgency in the way they bore into mine.
There was no denying that he knew me. Knew my family. Even if they're not alive, he’s the key to finding out where I'm from. I never wanted to know. I never felt like I needed to know. I had Ray and that was enough for me. Even if it wasn’t enough for Ray.
It might be rash but I didn't care. Ray and Oliver cried in protest when I reached out for the prince's hand. The world faded away, the ground beneath me gone. The only thing I could feel was my hand in his. I leaned into him, his warmth sending tingles up my arm.
It dawned on me that I didn't even know his name.
What did I just do?
About the author
There’s a world inside my head. A world begging for existence. A world willing to break free from abstract thought and exist in the constructs of the written word.
That world is going to have to be patient.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented