After making a few adjustments to him, Deven decides to take Claex to the Dragon Lands which will definitely be a straight forward trip with no unexpected detours.
To the Dragon Lands! Maybe!
Chapter 1: Fox Fire
Calex crouched close to the ground on all fours, trying to hide his orange fur within the grass. The werekitten’s ears were folded back and the tip of his tail twitched as he studied his prey. His muscles tensed, he wiggled his hind legs and-
Suddenly found himself lifted up off the ground and held firmly against someone’s chest.
“H-hey! You’re going to let it get away!” Calex protested, more concerned about his target than the fact he had just been lifted into the air. As he squirmed to get loose, he suddenly felt a strange warmth coming from the person holding him, and a green shining light emitting from him. It was enough for Calex to identify the individual without turning around. “Deven?”
“Morning Calex!” Deven grinned, as a three-year-old dragon he was still a toddler, and even he was taller than the six year old Calex. Most people were considering the werekitten was two feet tall max on a good day. The green and brown dragon held the kitten close to his chest as his scales lit up and the kitten started to get even smaller.
“Come on Deven knock it off!” Calex continued to squirm. “You’re letting it get away!”
“Letting what?” Deven paused, and while still firmly holding Calex looked over to the prey the kitten had been stalking. It was a single ball of yarn sitting in the front yard. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
“You can’t prove that!” Calex objected in a squeakier voice as he got younger, clearly more concerned about the yarn than his dwindling age.
“Look balls of yarn don’t just-“ Deven started, only for the wind to pick up and the yarn to roll out of the yard and down the street. “Huh.”
“See!” Calex threw up his paws but stopped squirming and just crossed his arms grumpily as Deven continued to regress him. After about a minute of this, the kitten was reduced to a two-year-old toddler, one year beneath Deven and the dragon released him.
“I stand corrected.” Deven shrugged. “But it doesn’t matter! Things are afoot!”
“Are they now?” Calex looked down at his younger body, then over at Deven who he wasn’t used to seeing past age two without getting turned back into an egg. ‘”Usually when you grab me like that you don’t let go till I’m a newborn.”
“Thought about it, but you wouldn’t be a good sidekick if you couldn’t talk.” Deven grinned smugly. “But, it’d be weird if you were sidekicking and older.”
“I can’t fault that logic.” Calex nodded. “But what exactly are we doing?”
“Calex…” Deven patted the kitten on the head. “I’ve decided you’re finally ready! It’s time I take you to the Dragon Lands.”
“The dragon lands?” Calex gave him a deadpan stare. “So your mom’s place?”
“Yes and no!” Deven chuckled. “You’ve only seen our home on this world. But you see, dragons have the ability to see the rifts between worlds and fly through them. The Dragon Lands is one of those worlds, and it’s connected to every world through a series of portals.”
“This sounds entirely made up and ridiculous.” Calex paused for a moment as he considered. “Which likely makes it true.”
“Right now let’s get you ready for sidekicking duty!” Deven grabbed a jar of dust that he had brought with him, which had been sitting in the grass as he regressed Calex. He opened the jar up and dumped it down on top of the kitten.
“Achoo!” Calex sneezed as the dust poured over him…. And then suddenly there wasn’t a kitten. Instead, there was something that could have easily been mistaken for human were it not for three things. The fact that he had pointed ears, a pair of translucent wings, and most noticeably was only two inches tall.
“There we’re ready to go. Hop on.” Deven got down on all fours.
“It’s not that I mind…” Calex reached up and grabbed his exceptionally long orange hair that came with any human-like form he had. He plucked one of his own hairs out and proceeded to use it as a tie to hold the others in place as ponytail. “But why am I a fairy?”
“Because you’re sidekicking to a dragon.” Deven explained.
“Fair enough.” Calex shrugged, flapped his wings and lifted into the air before landing on Deven’s back.
“Alright, off we go, next stop… The Dragon Lands!” Deven flapped his own wings and took off into the sky. He soared higher and higher till the buildings looked like toy models beneath them. Then he spread his wings and let the air currents catch him as he glided through the clouds, watching for the right moment.
There was what could be called a tear in reality. It was something that no normal species could see but dragons had special senses that allowed them to locate them. While they described it as seeing gaps between reality it’d be more accurate to describe it as a sixth sense. It wasn’t quite seeing it physically, but being able to visualize it and its location when you came within range. Either way, Deven had found what he was looking for. He glided through another cloud, flapped his wings, dove, and then disappeared from reality.
And reappeared in another.
“Welcome to the Dragon Lands!” Deven shouted as they arrived in a new world. “I’ll show you all the sights and oh huh that’s new…” As Deven glided through the air he saw a thick forest beneath him, and at the center of the forest a pagoda that was at least six stories tall. It really stuck out from the forest, in large part due to the fact that it was currently on fire.
“So is this a common occurrence?” Calex asked. “With all the fire breathing and stuff…”
“Of course not!” Deven snapped, “Our structures are fireproof to prevent accidents like this. This… Isn’t dragon made.”
“But we are in the Land of Dragons, right?” Calex asked.
“Well…” Deven looked around,, trying to see if there were any familiar landmarks. Nothing at all. “Sort of.”
“How can you be sort of in a world?” Calex asked as he flapped his own wings, taking off from Deven’s back to fly next to him.
“Well…. I mentioned the Dragon Lands are connected to a lot of worlds through portals and such, this is one such world. So, you know, just a stop along the way. Just got to find the next tear and continue on.”
“You’re lost aren’t you?” Calex tried not to giggle.
“I’m not lost! The route to the Land of Dragons is very complex and goes through a lot of different worlds! And while I could get us there quickly I feel like we should probably do something about the burning building.”
“Yeah… That… That probably needs to be put out.” Calex mused as he tried to think of a way to do it.
The two of them glided down to the forest, landing right outside the pagoda. There was a wooden bridge running from a cliffside the forest ended on up to the pagoda. Thankfully, the bridge itself was not on fire. It also was not unoccupied. A small tanuki, meaning slightly bigger than Deven, jumped up and down as it saw the two arrive.
“A dragon!” She shouted. “You’ve got to help us! Those foxes have set this entire place on fire.”
“Ok, but why?” Calex asked.
“We had an argument about the best way to prepare plums to be eaten! We wanted them picked, while they thought they’d taste better roasted.”
“Honestly, I’m not really sure plums would taste very good in either state.” Deven looked over to the pagoda. “So how did that escalate to this?”
“Well, intending to prove their point, they called forth magic fire to cook the plums, but it went out of control and now the entire place is on fire! Not only that… But the foxes are still grilling our plum supply as we speak. You have to get those fires out!”
“Okay, I’m on it!” Deven stood up on two legs and pounded his fist into his hand. “Um… Do you have any idea how I might put out the fire?”
“Oh you just have to activate the fire alarm on each floor. That’ll automatically trigger the sprinklers and fix everything in no time.” The tanuki explained.
“Wait if that’s all you need to do, why haven’t you already taken care of it?” Calex demanded.
“Well the buttons to activate the fire alarms are all in high places on each floor. None of us tanuki can actually reach them. It’s simply not possible.” The tanuki shook his head.
“Why would you create a fire security system that you can’t use!?” Calex threw his hands up in the air.
“Look we were just being cautious.” The tanuki tapped a foot impatiently. “Think about the chaos it would cause if someone activated them on accident, or as a prank. Better safe than sorry.”
“Okay we get the picture.” Deven spoke up just to stop the tanuki from talking before Calex lost it completely. “Find the alarm button on each of the six floors, press it, problem solved. Let’s go Calex.”
“Says the fireproof dragon as we rush into the burning building.” Calex rolled his eyes. “You’re lucky my natural resilience carries over no matter what form I’m in.”
With that, the two of them charged across the bridge and into the pagoda. The first floor was a very simple layout. There was a staircase leading to the second floor, but it was currently blocked by debris. As for this floor itself, there appeared to be four raised platforms, each one taller than the last. The first platform was about three times Deven’s height when standing on two legs. The two glanced around the room before finally spying a big red button up near the ceiling.
“What do you think they even use this room for?” Calex landed on Deven’s head.
“No idea, but looks like if we jump up the platforms I can glide over and hit the button.” Deven leaped onto the first platform, grabbing the side of it with his claws and climbing up as he suggested it.
“Why not just fly up?” Calex looked up at the button. “Seems easier.”
“Well, there are less air currents indoors…. And also, the place is on fire making things a little crazy.” Deven explained. “It’s not safe to try anything more than gliding.”
“I’d think the fire would just make an updraft that’d get you up faster.” Calex argued.
“But I’d have no control in the air! I’d likely slam into the ceiling and just be ping ponged around the room!” Deven leaped for the second platform, again barely making it and having to use his claws to scramble to the top.
“I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.” Calex muttered. “Especially if you can still glide.”
“Stop complaining we’re almost done.” Deven made it up to the third platform, and finally to the fourth. He spread his wings out, dropped onto all fours to run and leaped from the platform and began to glide towards the button. He ran right into it.
As soon as the button was pressed, a waterfall was released from the ceiling, creating a huge wave that not only quenched all of the fire from the floor, but also dislodged the debris blocking the way up to the second floor.
“Well that was lucky.” Calex rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“Come on, just five floors to go!” Deven ran for the stairway heading up to the second floor.
This floor was a little more complicated. It was divided into two levels, with a couple of platforms on making it easy to climb up to the second level. Once on that level there were floating platforms made of gemstones that moved back and forth away from each other. They went around a corner and all the way to the wall where the next button was.
“Ohhh shiny.” Deven stared at the gem platforms.
“Keep it together Deven. We’re here to put out the fires. Remember?” Calex asked.
“But… Shiny…” Deven whined.
“Look floating shiny gems don’t just run away. You can do it later.” Calex crossed his arms.
“Are you still mad about the yarn?” Deven craned his neck to look at the fairy on his back. “Cause I feel like you’re still mad about the yarn.”
“Just get to the button.” Calex rolled his eyes.
“Right!” Deven jumped to the first gem platform and found it to be surprisingly slick. His claws couldn’t dig into it to give him any traction. Even a little too much momentum and he’d slide right off the edge and back down to the lower level having to start over. “Okay this is going to be tricky. But I think if I use my wings to hover at the end of a jump I can stop myself from flying off.”
“This feels… Strangely familiar.” Calex mused. As he did, Deven made his way across the gem platforms. It was a lot slower than the first room. Once he finally got to the button and pressed it, again a waterfall was unleashed from the ceiling flooding the room and putting out all the fire. Planks of burnt up wood were blown away which revealed the stairs to the next level. The gems were also washed away in the floor.
“My shinies…” Deven whimpered.
“I stand corrected.” Calex replied smugly.
The two made their way up to the third floor. This one again was divided into two levels but was simpler. There were just four raised platforms, and it would be easy to glide from any of them to the button. Or would be if the button were on the wall. Instead, there was just a peg sticking out where the button should have been.
“Why do I get the feeling that pushing on the peg won’t work without the button?” Calex asked aloud.
This room was also not unoccupied. There was a red fox holding a jar of plums under one arm and the button under the other. He was hopping between the four platforms cackling as he occasionally swung his tail launching a fireball into a wall.
“Grill them all!” The fox laughed hysterically. “Show them the one true cooking method.”
“HEY!” Deven leaped up onto one of the platforms. “Give the button back!” Then he paused. “How did you even reach it without wings?”
“Foxes jump good.” The fox explained as he jumped to another platform. “And you can’t have the button!” He swung his tail throwing a fireball straight at Deven.
“Watch it!” Deven shouted as he barely jumped aside. It was true he was fireproof, but the impact would still hurt.
“You can’t stop our culinary masterpiece! Soon all the plums will be properly grilled!” The fox yelled.
“I’m going to boop him.” Calex responded. “So very, very hard.”
“On this we are in agreement.” Deven leaped for the platform the fox was on, who quickly leaped to another before throwing a fireball. The chase continued as the two went in a circle for awhile.
“We got him.” Calex suddenly spoke up.
“Where? I don’t see.” Deven sounded confused.
“Right there, diagonally.” The fairy grinned cheekily.
“Oh…” Deven realized he was being teased. “OH!” And that he had also been given the answer. After landing on the next platform instead of continuing to chase the fox around in circles he leaped from his platform to the one diagonally opposite of it, arriving on it just the same time as the fox, and with enough momentum to ram into him horns first.
“My plums!” The fox cried as he dropped both the jar of plums and the button. The jar shattered, scattering plums across the floor as the fox desperately tried to scoop them up.
“Think I’ve had enough of this.” Calex flew off of Deven’s back, dove down and grabbed the button before flying it up to the peg and hooking it on. “Funny how I have no problems flying inside a burning building.”
“You’re a fairy.” Deven explained. “Fairy physics are weird.” Then he jumped from his platform into the button, unleashing the third waterfall, which once more revealed a staircase leading to the next level and washed away the fox.
The fourth level was completely flat except for a small platform directly beneath where the button was supposed to be. Once more there was just a peg and the button was missing. This time, there were three foxes in the room, each holding a jar of plums under one arm, and one holding the button.
“Look you can save yourselves a lot of trouble and pain if you just hand that button over right now.” Deven took a few steps forward anticipating trouble.
“You want to end our barbeque?” One of the foxes shrieked. “Scatter! Don’t let him get the button!” With that all three foxes began to run erratically through the room in random paths and would occasionally toss the button to another fox.
“Well you can’t ram all three at once.” Calex mused. “Even if they drop their jar of plums I doubt they’ll stay out long enough to prevent the others from throwing the button back. Going to have to just get the button itself.”
“So an interception play.” Deven grinned. “Got it!” He charged one of the foxes on all fours, and just as the fox through the button swerved in the direction of the next fox. That fox through the button, and once more Deven spun around to face that fox, who threw it back to the original fox. Then Deven spun around, passing the first fox and aiming between him and the second. The fox realized too late he wasn’t being charged and had already tossed the button. Deven leaped into the air and caught it in his mouth.
“Ugh… Dragon saliva.” Calex muttered as he took the button from Deven and flew it up to the peg.
“Like you’re one to talk cat.” Deven huffed as he leaped up and pressed the button. The foxes were washed away, and the stairs to the fifth floor were open. They were almost done.
The fifth floor had five platforms against the wall. The middle platform was the tallest, while the other two platforms made for points where Deven could easily jump up to it. However, on top of the tallest platform directly next to the button was another fox. This one carried a metal jar of plums, big enough to block anyone else from trying to jump on the platforms.
“Here we go…” Deven leaped up to one of the second platforms and shot a fireball at the fox. The fox blocked it with the metal jar and was completely unharmed. Deven tried leaping from the platform, but the jump was too far to make without gliding, which meant he didn’t have enough momentum to charge the jar with his horns. He bounced harmlessly off of it and down onto the ground.
“You know I’ve been wondering…” Calex looked at the platforms. “The layout of this building is weird. Like seriously. What do they do here?”
“No idea but we have to get that fox.” Deven started up the platforms on the opposite side, but saw the fox turn around. As long as he saw Deven coming he was going to be ready to block him. “I need a distraction.”
“Oh hey, that’s of my specialties.” Calex grinned. “Just stay close to the walls so he can’t see you until it’s too late.” The fairy boy flew up to the fox, who immediately turned his shield to face him. “Oh don’t worry, I’m not here to bust through. Just to be a distraction.”
“What?” The fox looked confused. “If you’re a distraction, why would you tell me that?”
“To distract you obviously.” Calex spoke in a tone that implied it should be obvious.
“But you can’t just tell someone you’re distracting them. It doesn’t work that way!” The fox exclaimed. “Then they just know not to pay attention to you! The idea is absolutely ridiculous and doomed to failure.”
It was at this point that Deven landed on the same platform as the fox and shot a fireball straight into his back.
“GAAAAAAAAAAHH!” The fox leaped down from the platform and ran in circles in the room his tail on fire. “But that’s still not how distractions work.”
“And yet here we are.” Calex grinned. Deven pushed the button. The fox was washed away by the waterfall as the stairs to the final level were revealed.
The final floor had no roof, revealing a starry sky above them. The button here was easy to reach, being on a pedestal in the center of the room. Meanwhile there were columns surrounding the pedestal. But more importantly… There was a very big fox with ninetails standing in front of the pedestal. It was easily as large as a lion. He stood on two legs and wore a belt with three jars of plums attached to it.
“Did the tanuki send you to ruin our cookoff?” The nine tailed fox demanded. “Well, you’re in for a hard lesson if you think I’m letting you anywhere near this button. I, Tsuki, leader of the fox clan will put an end to your shenanigans.”
“Oh good he gave his name.” Calex breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s always awkward when you beat up a villain and then don’t even know who they are until after.”
“Hmmmm, a dragon and a fairy. No doubt fire proof…” Tsuki muttered. “But you’ll find the winds my flames produce strong enough to slam you right into the wall.” As he spoke, he swung all nine tails creating a massive wave of fire heading straight for Deven and Calex.
“Behind the columns now!” Calex shouted.
“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Deven dove behind a column, keeping him safe from the wind. But the heat… Even he could feel it. This fox’s fire was on even footing with most adult dragons.
“You know he has to swing his tail to attack.” Calex pointed out. “Meaning for a brief moment he won’t be able to watch directly ahead of him. He’ll have to look to the side.”
“So make sure I go to the other side.” Deven grinned. “Understood!” He walked out from behind the column. “Your aim is as bad as your tastes! Were you trying to hit me the wall?”
“I’ll teach you some respect!” Tsuki shouted as he swung his tails around and his head swerved to Deven’s right. So, Deven charged counter-clockwise around the circle until he was directly behind Tsuki. “Did I get him?” Tsuki squinted at the spot Deven had been in.
“Nope!” Deven shouted and charged the nine tailed fox head on. He slammed into him, and one of the jars of plums shattered.
“You’ll pay for that!” Tsuki shouted and slammed his foot on the ground creating a shockwave that knocked Deven back against the wall. “Think you can trick me… Well I can play tricks too.” The fox suddenly took two steps away from itself, splitting into two different foxes.
“Now let’s see you try to sneak up on me!” The two foxes stood back to back, and begin to spin in a circle as they rapidly thrashed their tail sending out waves of fire.
“This is bad.” Deven took cover behind the column. The first wave once more was just as hot a flame as an elder dragon could make. The second flame though was barely more than a breeze.
“You felt that too, right?” Calex asked. “The second one’s not real, it’s an illusion.”
“Meaning not only can we go straight though its fire… But It can’t actually see us!” Deven grinned, and waited in his hiding spot until the intense heat struck out close to him. He counted to three in his head, then came out from behind his hiding spot and charged forward. One of the foxes was now right in front of him and shot forth a wave of fire.
And it passed right through Deven! The fox hadn’t been lying when he said it was a trick. Deven charged straight through the illusionary fox and into the real one, breaking his second jar of plums.
“Enough!” Tsuki shouted, slamming his foot down again, and once more sending Deven flying back against the wall. “Fine… You want to play rough, let’s play rough.” Both images split apart until there were four, then those split into eight, and one more split off making nine foxes total.
They began to spin around rapidly, but rather than throw out fire constantly did so every few seconds, allowing the real one to observe his surroundings to see if Deven was approaching.
“Well that’s not fair.” Deven muttered. “They’re moving around so fast I can’t even tell which one the fire came from.”
“Watch them carefully.” Calex suggested. “There has to something to tell the real apart from the fakes.”
“I’m trying.” Deven peaked around the corner. “But they’re throwing a lot of fire around right now.”
Calex flew to the other side of the column and both watched the illusionary foxes spin and send out waves of fire. After each wave, exactly one of the foxes would briefly look left and right.
“You saw it too, right?” Calex asked.
“Yeah, he’s looking for you me.” Deven nodded.
“And since we established the illusions can’t see, that’s gotta be the real one. But if you charge right after an attack he’ll spot you. Keep an eye on the real one, and take him out in the middle of his attack!”
“You make it sound so easy.” Deven tried to follow the real one. They were moving exceptionally fast and often moved straight through each other. Then, they stopped to attack, and he had an idea which was real. He leaped out from behind the column and charged on all fours.
The wave of fire that hit him went through him harmlessly. That meant the one targeting him now was an illusion! Now he just had to hit the right one! Deven closed his eyes as he braced for impact, hoping that there would indeed be an impact and he wouldn’t go right through the body.
He felt something, and there was the sound of a jar shattering.
“My plums!” The fox screamed, all the illusions vanished leaving only one Tsuki. He looked at the spilt plums on the floor in horrror, backed up and tripped right over the column holding the fire alarm button. The alarm was triggered and a waterfall was released directly into the center of the room atop Tsuki. The nine tailed fox was launched through a wall, leaving a fox shaped hole and a place for the water to drain as he disappeared into the distance.
And, with the waterfall atop the tower now going at full strength, all of the fires were soon out.
“Hey… That fox dropped something before he got washed away.” Calex flew over to near one of the broken jars. At first he had mistaken it for just another plum. However, it glinted and had a smooth hard surface when he touched it.
“Shiny?” Deven ran over and collected it.
“I guess…” Calex shrugged. “No idea what it is… But at least I think we’ve put an end to the problems here.”
“Right… So with that over, back to the Dragon Lands! Hop on!” Deven bent downwards.
“Uh huh, so we’re really going there this time?” Calex asked.
“Of course!” Deven responded. “I know what I’m doing.” He flew up into the air out of the pagoda and into the sky. It wasn’t long before he could feel a tear. “You’ll see we’ll be there in no time.” And with that Deven and Calex vanished form this world on their way to another.