Sacred Mountain Dust

sunset_lake_mountain_scenery_landscape_nature_water_natural-1350240.jpg!dWho has the ears to hear
your sagebrush story
of death and rebirth
growing in your gut
as the world rolls on?

Who has the time for
a mountain moon coyote
howling in your bones
as the world floats on by?

Who can feel the warmth
of a juniper bark fire still blazing
beneath your breastbone
as the world turns?

Who has the eyes to see
the wild paw prints still
tracking across your heart
as the world races into the future?

Have all the sharp voices yet
drowned out that clarion call
clear as the morning star
pulling up the sun?

Have all the rough rags
of the routine already
washed you clean of your
sacred mountain dust?

Or does a little speck remain?

Does a bright song abide
within the heartbeat
of your delicious desert dawn?

If so, let it be the seed note
of your magnificent symphony
sprouting through the
concrete of the world
as it pours itself along your path

The HeartSeer at the Edge of Always (Rainbow Home #6)

GCI-13-mermaid-silouette-weGasp! I awoke with a gulp of air the size of my lungs. Above me an endless blue sky. Below me, hardness.

Solid ground!

I was either safe on land, or else on the bottom of the afterlife.

I looked around – a tiny rock island that sloped gently up towards a ridge. I rolled over onto the green, orange, brown, and yellow lichen-covered surface, exhausted, water-logged, and with a deep throb in my left foot.

Suddenly I remembered being hooked and grabbed my heel–blood oozed from a quarter-sized wound. The water slapped the bottom of the rock with monotonous rhythm. But above that I heard humming.

Getting my bearings, I hobbled my way up the slope and peered over the other side.

And then I saw her. A woman lingered at the base of the rock in the shallow water, soaking in the sun.

Jet black hair hung down to her waist, and glistened in the noon-day sun. Her bottom half, partly submerged, reflected iridescent turquiose, blues, greens, and purples, from tiny overlapping fish scales. She was twisting in the water, seeming to rather enjoy it.

She was dark-skinned and bare from the waist up and held a large spiral shell up to her mouth, the source of the sound that had pulled me to the Edge of the West and had lured me out to sea.

I sat entranced for who knows how long, charmed by her beauty and movement and melody.

Something about her told me I did not need to worry about being lured to my death. I saw, or rather felt, a shining, beyond the brightness of the sun on her skin and scales. I worked up the courage to say something.

“Hi. I don’t mean to startle you.” What do you say to such a creature?

“Hallo two-legged,” she answered, smiling. “You didn’t startle me, I saw you swimming for the past 4 hours.”

Her voice rang like pure water, flowed like liquid sunshine.

“I have been seeking you for many moons. I was beginning to think the HeartSeer was a figment of my imagination. ”

“No, the HeartSeer is not your imagination. But I am not HeartSeer. My name is Miramar, she Who Mirrors the Sea, Ambassador of Oshun and Translator of the Many Songs.”

My heart simultaneously lept and sunk. I finally arrived at the Edge of the West, I finally venture out into the ocean, nearly drowned, met a stunning creature of unparalled beauty and liquid voice–but she’s not the who I’m looking for!

“You almost drowned out there,” she said, stating the obvious. Even though she had put the shell down, it felt like I could still hear its murmur.

“I almost feel like I did drown,” I said, “All this is just too strange to believe. Did you save me?”

“We have a saying in the Great Sea, only he who has hooked himself can unhook himself,” she said.

“I didn’t hook myself. Those sea plants grabbed me and a fisherman’s net…”

“As you say.”

“But, you did. You saved me. You brought me to this rock?”

“I merely guided a floating Two-Legged on the edge of the death to shore. The end of your own struggling saved you.”

“Thank you, thank you!” I came closer. “I am in your debt. I’ve come who knows how far from the Redwood Forest of the East to the Edge of the West to find someone called the HeartSeer. I’m looking for my Rainbow Home. Can you tell me anything about it, or about the Obsidian Key on the Golden Ring at the bottom of the Great Sea?”

“Why you be searching for all these items? We have a saying in the Great Sea, ‘Stop chasing, starting creating.’ I think perhaps you could save yourself a long and difficult trip,” she said with a splash with her tail.”I know only of the Great Sea, which is my home. And have not heard of what you seek. What is a Rainbow Home? Do you live in the sky, with the winged-ones? Is not the whole world your home?” She gestured to the ocean, as if that made any sense.”

She continued, “What is a key?”

“That’s a lot to answer. A key is for the lock that was put on the Rainbow Home,” I answered.

“What is a lock?”

“It’s a…a…thing that…without which, you can’t open a door.”

“What’s a door?”

“It is an…an entrance, umm…a threshold….that can be open or closed,” I could see that this could take a while. “I would be more than happy to explain all of it to you, I just want to know if you can tell me where to find the HeartSeer. from which I am to discover a clue to the whole thing. Some villagers seem to think the HeartSeer is a mermaid. You are a mermaid, aren’t you? You must be the HeartSeer!”

“Why have you misplaced this Rainbow Home? And if it is so important, why put something on it that requires another thing in which to enter or open?”

An interrogation-I didn’t know how to answer. “I lost it long ago. But it is where I want to live now. It is my true abode. My village is suffering from a curse, and I want to make medicine to lift the curse.”

“Aghh! A curse?!! I have heard of such things. The Landed-Ones tell such tales. We have not curses in the Great Sea.”

“Yes, we are afflicted with many things, often of our own devising.”

“I am ignorant of such things, but it sounds serious,” she said.

“And I too am ignorant of the ways of the Great Sea. I live among trees and soil and mountains and…”

“Trees! Such mysterious Earth-Footed Ones. Mountains!” She chimed, splashing as she did a hip roll-up on the rocks. “I have longed to visit mountains of the Waterless Abode, having only seen them from afar. They are like giant waterless islands. They are the end of the known world, the Edge of the East.”

I laughed. And couldn’t help be enamored with her way of seeing as well as her beauty.

“I’m sorry for finding that funny. It is not waterless. We have lakes and rivers and waterfalls and rain and ponds….And the mountains are not the edge of the world. There are whole lands over the hills. In fact, I come from a place that is entirely flat many leagues beyond the mountains, full of fields and wide open skies. Not unlike your sky here,” I said, then added, “But I guess islands are like underwater mountains.”

“What are fields?”

“I guess you would say, fields is earth where we grow our food.”

“But how do you live without the Great Sea?”

“I…umm…don’t know…But I could show you. I will take you to the mountains! I can tell you all about them. And fields. And trees,” I was excited at the prospect. For the moment, I forgot all about the pain in my foot and the hunger in my belly. “I am in your service. I will…”

“Alas, I cannot leave the Great Sea,” she interjected. “But maybe you can bring them here?” Her eyes widened with hope. I could almost fall for her in that moment.

“I see your heart’s desire. I will find a way.”

—–

“Aha!” Miramar lighted up, as if coming into some great idea. “I know where be the HeartSeer. Not very far. Come.”

“You know the HeartSeer? Why didn’t you say so!” I said exasperated only momentarily, being overcome with anticipation.

“Come closer.”

Then I remembered: The gifts!! My heart sunk. I forgot the gifts I was to bring as an offering to the HeartSeer. I felt as much embarassment as regret.

“I forgot the gifts,” I admitted to her. “The 7th Born, I mean the Bunny..er, I mean somebody I met in the forest, said I would need to bring gifts: a gift unmade, a gift unbought, a gift unplayed, a gift uncaught. But I don’t know what all that means. I didn’t know what to bring. And what I had with me I lost swimming out there….”

She was only smiling. “I must go now. Be here tomorrow at dawn and I will accept your gifts to offer to the HeartSeer.”

“But I told you, I don’t have any gifts. I can’t…”

But just like that, Miramar disappeared beneathe the water.

And there I was, alone on a rock miles out at sea, under a setting sun, without my gear. Without food. Without my Sea Staff. Without gifts. Without a clue.
________

Only from extreme exhaustion from the day’s events was able to sleep through the night, though it was cold and windy. Dawn on the sea is quite a different experience than dawn anywere else. It comes earlier and comes on slowly, like a creeping consciousness, a progression of slightly larger breaths.

When the orb of the sun was fully above the horizon, Miramar appeared from below.

“Good morning! It’s so refreshing to be able to say good morning to someone, as most of the Great Sea community does not go by night and day in the way of you landed folks.”

“Good morning.”

“Do you have the gifts? I am eager to show you the one you seek.”

“If you are eager, I am doubly so! But I have been here all night, I have no gifts. How could I possibly get gifts? You just disappeared without…”

“hmmppph…” With that she splashed me with a whip of her fish tail. “You must reach deeper into those pockets of yours, Two-Legged. Meet me at dawn tomorrow.” And disappeared once again.

I was stunned. What am I doing here? How can I possibly please this Ambassador of the Great Sea. Could I trust her?

I spent the day alternating between exploring the perimeter of the little island, sleeping, tending to my foot wound, trying to hunt little crabs and fish, and fighting the urge to swim back to shore. I could see the lighthouse at the village. Warmth, people, food, all of which seemed as strong as the siren song that pulled me out here to begin with.

Once again dawn arrived. My gut hurt from eating only uncooked molluscs and dried seaweed in the last three days. I felt delirious and was worried that I began to not be worried.

Soon Miramar surfaced, eyes wide and full of light in expectation. I could see a brightness shining in her. But I could also see a darkness shining in her. The shape of her wound, behind her ribcage, a shadow shining like a rainbow ray, tender sacred wound. And I could see that it was beautiful and it was painful. It was the source of her shell magic, her song, her melody, her smile, her light.

It didn’t make sense, but that is what I saw.

I loved her–in a way I have never loved a person.

But in that moment, I knew that I could never take her to the mountains. Nor could I bring the trees to her. I knew what I had to do.

I stripped naked, stretched out both my arms with fists faceup, and opened them.

“I bring you my gifts: in this hand is Trust, a gift unplayed and unbought, and this hand an Open Heart, a gift unmade and uncaught.”

Miramar merely smiled and motioned me to come closer, then swam over below the sharp drop-off. Wearily, I inched up the rocks until I was at the very edge, and pulled my body up and looked over. Several feet below she re-appeared.

“They are but one gift called Acceptance. And hey are beyond beautiful. Now, watch where I’m going.”

Her gaze pierced mine, a gaze nearly too much to handle.

“Look closely, for When I disappear, the HeartSeer will appear.”

And with a splash she melted under the water.

When the the ripples settled, the surface became clear as a mirror. Looking over the edge, an image began to form.

A man reflected back at me.

I was looking at an image of myself.

 

Inside the Sea Cave (Rainbow Home #4)

IMG_4993When we first arrived at the Edge of the West, the Fire Dragon had soared out over the Great Sea. Seemingly endless cliffs

stretched in one direction, countless beaches in the other, punctuated only by outlets of various rivers and solitary trees that appeared like sentinels keeping watch over the land.

The entire time, I was still in the grip of the Fire Dragon’s talons (contrary to what you might expect, there was no “riding the dragon”. In fact, I think it would be exceedingly difficult, given the nature of its “skin” or plates, which are very slick.)

Below us in the bay was a series of small islands, or rather, big rocks of various shapes and sizes, jutting out of the water. Each carried a different hue, some were white with red striations, some green and white, others dark brown, and some completely covered in black mollusks. But what struck me about this archipelago, was that it seemed to form a pattern: the
shape of a giant spiral, like a golden ratio. Something about it fascinated me.

Later, when I was on shore, it was impossible to see this pattern. I only knew of it from that higher perspective.

The other early discovery was a sea cave, cut into the crevice between two cliff faces. Apparently the Fire Dragon is a natural at finding caves, its go-to resting place, so that is where we first landed. With a wide opening, the cave narrowed quickly. How far into the land it went I didn’t know. The tide was rapidly approaching, making a full exploration of the sea cave impossible that first day.

But I noticed images and runes of various sorts carved into the walls. Above the mouth of the cave, in enchanted yellow letters, it read: Follow Your Intuition.

My intuition said, “Get the hell out of there before the tide comes in and drowns you.”

Meanwhile, the Fire Dragon has been making a home of it by night. During the day, the Dragon as little boy mostly just swims. Meanwhile, I have made my home just above the sea cave on a little flat embankment along the cliffs.
_____

It’s week four at the Edge of the West: still no sign of the HeartSeer. Only tall tales and misguided attempts on the part of the villagers to be helpful. Depending on who you ask, the HeartSeer was either: a pirate on the bay, a handsome prince, a flying sorceress on the edge of the forest, or a mermaid at the point of the spiral.

I have begun to think that HeartSeer is perhaps like the Rohrsach test, people fill it in with whatever they see.

While I have not found the HeartSeer, I have seen three hearts scattered across this landscape.

First there was a heart drawn in the sand on the beach, declaring intent of matrimony. Then, a heart etched by a human hand into the sandstone cliff, declaring affection for genitalia. Then, most marvelous of all, a heart impression in the sandstone rocks, formed by the power of the tide. It seems that even the sea and the shore write love letters to each other.

The three hearts convinced me to finally conduct a Ritual of Mourning and Releasing.

Yes, I’ve taken to conducting rituals. Primarily grounding rituals or ceremonies to move or transform energy. Since I witnessed with the Fire Dragon turning into the boy and back again, I have found it increasingly easier to feel and channel energy.

I was determined to the ritual in nature, and from the first day here I knew exactly where: the Sea Cave.

You see, several things have recently fallen away from me, some dropped like autumn leaves, some swallowed like a building in an earthquake.

In fact, not too long before my journey to the North River and the Redwood Forest of the East, I had been served up a delicious platter of organic and locally-sourced change, marinated in a savory sauce of raw energy and dead beliefs, with generous sides of spicy sauteed shadows and trickster love, all washed down with a complex brandy distilled into sweet ambrosia.

One loss was a lover. She was a Firenado, streaking across a strawberry lovescape with no horizons and I was a mere Oak
Tree, sending roots deep into the earth – different ways of being in the world. Something was bound to go awry. We were mixing genres from the first note.

But by the time we discovered that, we had already seen rainbows with each other. That’s not something you can just pretend you don’t see, believe me. And so we had quite the series of adventures together, melodically meandering on rivers and roads, creating redwood fairy lullabies under hot full moon skies, and building secret things under a mama creek sunrise.

Of course, there’s all the woulda, coulda, shouldas. But how do you stop the growing corn? We had already pressed play on a

trickster soundtrack: I was a walker, she was a dancer. She was a singer, I was a writer. My feet and words were in motion, while her heart and body were in motion.

In time, my walking slowed down while her fire burned dimmer. We were both musicians, but I couldn’t find the bass line, and she couldn’t sing all her notes, and they were well out of my range. Not sure we could ever settle on a key. The sound of our sacred wounds interlocked too well.

When the bards of the future sing the tale of this romance of two star-crossed genres, they will do doubt sing that she had caught me first. In fact, pinned me down on a beach up on the Peninsula of Love I don’t think I could ever return the favor and pin her back. Not for lack of trying–a sunset, storm, or subtle mood are much easier to catch. I’m a pretty good boulder-hopper, but she jumped from one rock to the other like a breakdancer on an archipelago of desire.

Sometimes you just lose the melody, by accident or by design, like the part of the song where all the instruments solo.

Even the best musicians lose the rhythm from time to time. With good luck, a great song can resolve the discord and rediscover a major chord. But we weren’t able. Sometimes the music’s over or it’s a different song than you thought or hoped for all along. Perhaps we’re all still learning to write a song right. Freedom and form form the song.

Ultimately, I don’t know what happened to Firenado–probably spun off into the horizon, fire a’blazing, as is her way in the world.

And now here I am conducting a ritual in a sea cave at the Edge of the West. I took a sacred purple fabric in with me and a match and sat in the solid darkness of the cave. Nothing to do but feel into grieving, commemorating love, forgiving, apologizing, thanking, and letting go. With a handful of wishes for those who are hooked and everybody in need of healing.

No magic wands. Only a few sacred words and the barest of elemental magic–I lit the purple fabric on fire.

“Goodbye, sweet love,” I said, as it flared in the night.

A beautiful red-orange glow danced on the walls of the cave.

With that I let the fire fall into the rising tide.

A heart appeared among the flames, just before extinguishing. I took it as a sign: tomorrow I would enter the Great Sea.

At the Edge of the West (Rainbow Home #3)

IMG_4973I’ve arrived at the Edge of the West. The Great Sea is gorgeous beyond words. It beckons.

And I must say, travel by Fire Dragon is much more dignified than Greyhound, even if it is in the grips of razor sharp talons. (What I learned en route from the dragon about its wound and the transformation and other things is its own tale, forthcoming)

I’ve asked around among the villagers here for the HeartSeer, who supposedly has a clue on how to recover The Obsidian Key on the Golden Ring at the bottom of the sea that will unlock the door to the Rainbow Home.

Most don’t know anything about it. Some think I am saying Arts Ear and direct me to the craft shop. A handful of people give me definite answers, though all conflicting.

The HeartSeer is, alternatively: A wise (or dangerous) magician who lives up on the hill at the edge of town, living off grasshoppers and peering into the hearts of the unsuspecting, either to steal or heal their souls or to tell their fate.

Or she’s a sorceress who lives in the forest, juggling fire and flying through the air.

Or he’s a drunken homeless man who whistles incessantly.

Or she’s a mermaid that lives among dolphins, alternatively tempting men to untimely deaths with her siren song or helping ships navigate uncharted territories.

Or a pirate. Or a prince.

Having given up on the wisdom of the locals, I was tempted to just head out on the sea now, unaided by some fantastical creature. Perhaps the HeartSeer is yet another flight of fancy, or some other misinterpretation of what the 7th Born had told me.

Besides, there’s the matter of the required gifts. 7th-Born said I would need 4 gifts: 1 unmade, 1 unsung, 1 unplayed, 1 unstrung.

Having no idea what the hell that means, I decided to check in with two merchants along the boardwalk. Neither had anything like that, nor had heard anything like it. The second one told me to get lost.

I said, “Working on it.”

But he didn’t get it.

I could, more easily, rent a boat, some supplies and scuba equipment. I am a certified scuba diver. Yet the furthest I’ve dove is maybe 100 feet. And that was in clear (and warm) Caribbean waters.

But the Bunnies had said it was no doubt sunken to the very depth of the sea, drifting into the trench that stories of the western lands say split the Great Sea in two at unfathomable depths.

What was I thinking!? I’ll drown within minutes.

No, I’m going to walk the shore and hang with the seagulls and sea lions. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch a glimpse of dolphins. If I’m really lucky, I’ll see a whale surface beside them.

If I’m really, REALLY lucky, I’ll figure out how to find the HeartSeer. If such a thing exists. At this point, I’m skeptical.

Though what 7th-Born had told HAS come to pass, in a manner of speaking.

For now, I’ll be listening to the sea.

Ebb and flow.

The waves keep coming.

In the Cave Behind the Waterfall (Rainbow Home #3)

creekIn the last few days, I’ve had quite a few adventures up in the forest above the village. Here’s an abridged version to give you taste of what has happened.

I have caught several glimpses of the Fire Dragon. A tail here. Smoke there. Tip of a wing there. All usually through thick brush or the canopy of trees. Never did I see his full form, but at least I knew it wasn’t just my imagination.

I realized, though, that I had misinterpreted the 7th-born Rabbit’s message. I thought that it meant the Fire Dragon only appears when it is silent. In fact, it appears frequently in the presence of noise, even when people are around. But to ENCOUNTER the Fire Dragon in its true form, I would need to find its cave, which he said was behind a waterfall. And if I did found it, I would have to be absolutely quiet.

I’ve walked the entire length of Redwood Creek, from the beginning on the west slope of the ridge down and southward until it empties into Upper San Leandro Reservoir. Along the way I met an owl, a heron, a snake, a little lizard with a dragonfly in its mouth, beautiful horsetail ferns, the leg bone of some animal, and the largest madrone tree I’ve ever seen. So sexy.

You know what they say, if you’re not turned on by a madrone, you can’t be turned on by anything.

But nowhere did I see a cave of any kind. Saw a few hollows along the banks of the creek, but no cave, let alone one big enough for some dragon the size of an elephant. Am I in the right place? Maybe 7th-Born meant some other place? Afterall, a dragon can cover territories much larger than this park, as large as it is.

This morning I sauntered once again along Redwood Creek. Lo and behold I encountered 14 more rabbits and 6 little yellow golden birds. I’ve never seen yellow birds here before, so I took it as a sign. Maybe I should go to the Great Sea, as 7th-Born Bunny recommended. Whether I would find the HeartSeer or not, or find some clue to how to enter the depths of the water and recover the Obsidian Key on the Golden Ring, I had no idea.

With that I resolved to at least try. But in order to do that I felt I had to find the Dragon and to keep looking for its cave.

I have been learning from the redwoods that it is in silence that i can hear the true things.

I sat down next to a grandmother circle of redwoods and closed my eyes. For what seemed like hours, I settled into the ancient dialect of the forest. When I finally opened my eyes, I saw a yellow bird hovering directly in front of me. A seventh?! That can’t be a coincidence.

Out of curiosity I stood up and began to follow it.

From branch to branch it flitted forward, deeper into the forest. Clearly aware I was following it, it waited each time so I could catch up.

I heard it before I saw it: water. Hopping up on a large moss-covered boulder, I saw a water fall, 15 or so feet, tumbling down from a tributary of Redwood Creek, into a wide and deep pool formed by sandstone on all sides.

Aha! So it IS here!

The yellow bird fluttered up beside the falls and perched on a bay laurel branch that extended just to the edge of the water.

With my adrenaline pumping, I leaped from one boulder to the other up the sides, grabbing fists of rock and gnarled root and branches, until I was almost to the top. Seeing a slight ledge led behind the falls, I took off my daypack, took out my headlamp and knife, and proceded to inch along. The force of the water was fierce, and I grabbed on tight to whatever I could feel, as I couldn’t see, having to keep my eyes closed from the water pressure.

Soon I was completely soaked, but instead of a solid cliff, my hands felt emptiness, so with a trust in leaping, I threw myself into the cavity and found myself in the dimly-lit entrance to a cave.

“Well, I’m here. Nothing to do but keep going,” I thought to myself, making sure I was as quiet as possible.

I had only a knife for protection. But what could a knife possibly do to the mail-plated skin (I’m assuming) of a dragon? Neverless, I resolved to keep my knife.

I entered the cave. Taking a few steps, and turning a corner, what remained of the daylight world beyond the waterfall began to disapear. I pressed the button on my headlamp.

Nothing. Now, of all times, the batteries are dead!

It’s too dark. And I hear what sounds like low roar, echoing from deep within the mountain. Only a fool what go into a cave without a light!

I lost my nerve and rushed out towards the water. In the process, I hit my hand on a jutting rock, knocking my knife out of my hands, hearing it drop with a thud on the cave floor.

So much for silence.

What am I doing?! I have no idea what kind of creature this is. I’m only looking for this damn dragon because I was told by a woman I didn’t even know that I needed to ride it to the edge of Always to find my Rainbow Home. Under the full moon of all things.

But the full moon is past now, come and gone without incident. Or, according to 7th-Born Rabbit, I have to visit HeartSeer by the Great Sea to recover the Obsidian Key. Either way, I have no mode of transportation.

How am I to fly to the Great Sea, let alone to the edge of Always? I could walk instead, like I do. I don’t mind Walking. But How far is it?

Could I hitchhike? Steal a horse? LYFT it? As an absolute last resort, I could take Greyhound.

None of those sounded very appealing. Some, rather far-fetched.

No, it must be this way or no way. I’ve done the easy thing before. No, it’s time for the neccessary thing. 7th-Born had said it will either melt me or I will melt it.

I steel myself, take a deep breath, and head back in to the cave.

Without weapon. Without light. Unadorned and vulnerable and scared out of my mind. The time has come.

As I turn the first corner into darkness, I hear that awful sound again. sounds less like a roar than a combination of a snore and groan. Perhaps it is sleeping. Could I be so lucky?

It’s pitch black. I turn another corner, with only my hands on the cold, clammy cave walls to guide me. For all I know, I could be walking into a bottomless abyss, a nest of brown recluses, or get irretrievably lost. No one would ever find me! My pack would be found someday by intrepid explores. Perhaps.

But what are those risks in comparison with facing a Fire Dragon! I can’t believe I just said that. Perhaps this is all a wild goose chase. Or wild dragon chase, as it were.

Then, suddenly two glowing red-orange embers the size of volleyballs appear before me.

Eyes!

I’m flooded simultaneously with as much awe as fear, as much fascination as pure dread.

It’s here! I’m here! I froze.

The eyes cast an eerie flicker across the walls of the cave, causing shadows to dance.

I see that the narrow cave tunnel had opened up into a stone chamber the size of a cabin.

And then I realize, what I hear is not a roar or a snore, but a cry. A dragon cry. It is wounded.

From the red-orange ember-eye light reflecting off the walls, I see the source of the pain: A dagger pierced it, just below where the wing attaches to its torso.

Suddenly, whatever fear I had disappears.

Now what? I’m here. I made it. I’m not torn to pieces. I’m not melted. Yet.

I could do nothing but just be there with it in its pain.

I slowly reached my hand out and lay it near the wound.

I whisper in its ear.

“I’m sorry you’re hurting.”

As powerful as it was, as big as it was, it was apparent that it could not reach the area where the dagger went in with its talons nor its mouth.

I knew that I had to pull the dagger out.

I grabbed the black ornate handle with both hands.

“This is going to hurt. I’m here to help.”

A pulled back as hard as I could and with a grunt and one full action, yanked the dagger out.

The dragon jumped and hissed in burnt steel agony. Fire and smoke filled the chamber,

The heat seemed to sear my flesh. I cowered in the corner, but couldn’t escape it and began to choke on the smoke filling my lungs.

Then, I had the idea: The pool at the base of the cave.

Before I could think about it too much, I yelled, “Follow me!!” And began running out.

I headed back towards the entrance, this time with the aid of the glow of dragon eyes lighting the way close behind me.

It was following me. I saw my knife on the floor from earlier. I quickly bent down to pick it up and kept running. Taking a big gulp of hot air, I ran and jumped straight through the back of the falls. In a split second, I plunged directly in the pool below, knife in one hand, dagger in the other.

When I came up for air and was relieved to find that I still had skin. The cool water felt invigorating. And the cool air was a welcome relief in my lungs. I looked back up, and saw just a long dragon head sticking out through the waterfall. Almost comical if it wasn’t so freaking bizarre.

I encouraged it: “Jump!”

“Dragons don’t go in water!” It spoke, in a language I didn’t know but somehow understood.

“Well, grown ass human beings don’t hunt fire dragons!” I screamed back.

“Jump in!”

Evidently convincing, the remainder of his giant body emerged through the falls, and not without grace for such an unwieldly large body, landed in the pool with an explosion of water.

It sent me reeling, and forced me back below the water for longer than even my jump had. When I came up, rather than seeing a dragon in the pool beside me, I saw a little boy. Brown hair with bright brown eyes.

“Thank you for coming,” he said with a smile, seemingly unaware of what just happened.

You can imagine the trouble I had finding words in response.

“And for pulling the dagger out,” he said.

Still stunned at what had happened in the previous hour, I said nothing. My face no doubt revealed my shock.

“And for not trying to kill me with that knife of yours.”

“No problem?” I managed.

With that, the boy, who I estimated to be about 12 or 13 years old, began diving and splashing and playing.

“Hey!” I yelled. I had too many questions, which I rattled off, one falling on top of the other. “Who are you? What happened to the dragon? Who stabbed you? How long have you had that sticking in you? What is going on?!”

He just laughed and began splashing me.

“A story for the sky, perhaps?”

“What?” My eyes must have widened even more than they already had.

In an instant the boy transformed back into a dragon, flapped his enormous translucent wings, picked me up in its talons, and took to flight.

To the Great Sea it is then.