Alex winked out of my dream and left me alone with the building fury. But alone won out and I fell into darkness and the world around me reflected that with a rumble of thunder in the distance. I was a reflection of the landscape, darkening and threatening rain…
A throat cleared above me sitting on a limb, before it came down and I scrambled away from it, or tried to scramble up the tree whence it came but all I managed to do was stand up in a hurry while I stared down at a figment of my imagination. A red cartoon dragon with yellow spines and talons stared up at me with a smirk.
“Don’t you recognize me?” The voice said in what was clearly Eddie Murphy’s rendition of Mushu from Mulan. My favorite dragon, my best friend, my everything until Alex. And then Alex was Mushu – my best friend, my everything. I even had a tattoo at the back of my neck that was my Mushu. I reached up to where it used to be and frowned.
“Of course I do. But you’re a cartoon character.”
The tiny red dragon put his hands on his hips and glared at me, “And that’s supposed to mean?”
“You aren’t real.” I said simply.
“This is a dream.” The little dragon laughed. “You didn’t take kindly to the last visage – this is someone you trust.”
I laughed. “When I was five!”
The small cartoon looked thoughtful, I literally saw gears turning in a cartoon bubble. What the fuck! He looked up at me, “Is there something better? Someone you trust, I can’t help you if you don’t trust me.”
“Help me?” I asked.
“This place is meant to teach you. You are severely lacking in knowledge. The demon and nightmare kept me away at first, and when you boy is around now he keeps me out.” The tiny dragon frowned.
“I don’t mind the dragon, but can you not be like a cartoon, I can’t take you seriously.”
“I don’t understand.” The figment of my imagination said.
“Be a real dragon. Lizard like, real, scales, not drawn.”
“As opposed to something unreal you’d rather have the impossible?”
I shrugged, “Dragons are real. They take human and dragon form. You can keep the same form, and name and size, and talk, but I just want to giggle and be five.”
The specter shimmered into a fog and when he coalesced he was a bright red and gold Chinese dragon come to life. I reached out and ran my fingers over the side of his head and to his shoulders scratching him softly. “That’s better.”
“That feels good.”
I nodded and grabbed the small dragon and pulled him into my lap and I scratched his belly and the dragon’s tongue lolled from his mouth in enjoyment.
“I could take form in the real world. Teach you, it will be more difficult.”
“Like a ghost? Possess someone. No I can’t do that.”
The dragon laughed. “No, I am energy, I can make myself real. We choose not to interfere. But you have been missing for 20 years.”
“You couldn’t find me?”
The dragon shook his head, “No. You were hidden from the world. You and your boy did a job no one else could have done.”
I sighed, “So it’s really Alex’s fault?”
The dragon shook his head, “He made you forget yes, but you made it worse, but there would not have been a need at all if there were not external chaotic forces at play. But I can help you in the real world.”
“You’ll be what a talking dragon? Someone will notice that.”
The dragon thought again and I was grateful I didn’t see the cartoon bubble, though it had been amusing. The tiny dragon snapped his front golden claws, “I could release the drowned girl and take her place.”
I laughed, almost hysterically. I nodded. “Yes. Release her. Free her from her curse and her bonds and let her go back.”
The little dragon smiled at me. “It will be done. But first lesson, the magic you possess does not want to be bound and tied, it will resent you – hate you even if you keep it inside you. Ascendant’s have only ever been vampire for this reason – their magic is what keeps them alive so can’t be shut down so easily. You have to learn to be free.”
“But control is all I’ve ever known.”
He nodded, “The elements will need to be relearned – the proper way.”
The little dragon looked up at me and his eyes were wide with hopefulness. “If you promise to continue these affections, I will help the child with the sight.”
“I would appreciate you helping Hunter, but not because you owe me anything. The affection is true, I love Ophelia.”
The little dragon quirked his head, “I don’t like the name of the feline.”
“What do you want me to call you?”
“The name of this red dragon is fine.”
“You want me to call the cat Mushu.” I giggled. I couldn’t help it. “No, that sounds like you would be a Chinese main course then. Human inside joke.” It really wasn’t inside, but to a magical energy being it was easier than saying people thought the Chinese used cat as a main dish. “Fee, is what I call Ophelia for short. Does that sound better?”
The look the dragon gave me said he still didn’t like it. “How about Eddie?”
I laughed. “No reason, you need to know.”
“It will suffice.” The dragon said. “Wake now, your boy will be back soon, eat and be free. It is important.”
I nodded even though I knew I was going to go into a panic attack as soon as I let it all go with no intention of reeling it in. The little dragon winked out of my dream and left me alone again. I was happy. Fee was finding peace – finally. At least something good came from it the whole thing.