The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Chapter Twenty Three
Zuangeng meets Ziolanzik
Days later, Xianjeng and Zuangeng arrived at the dragon lord’s island. They landed on the shore above the cave entrance. They rested in silence for a while. Eventually, Xianjeng said, “Zuangeng, we are going to meet the grandest sea dragon of all. He is the ruler of the sea dragons. I expect you to be courteous and respectful in his presence. When you greet him, bow. Do not speak unless he bids you to. When you leave, bow again.”
“Why,” Zuangeng had to ask.
Xianjeng said, “Because, you represent humans to him. He is a lord. He is due the respect entitled to his rank in life. You do pay your king the respect he deserves.”
Zuangeng said, “No! I have never met nor seen him except in pictures. I have never been on my home island long enough to.”
“Well, do it for me, okay, Zuangeng,” Xianjeng asked.
Xianjeng said, “It is good that you know transformation. Other wise, we would need to find another entrance. The only entrance to his palace is deep underwater. It would do to turn into a dragon for this trip.”
“Okay,” Zuangeng said.
He turned himself into Ciyonaung. He said, “I am ready to meet your king.”
They walked to the cliff’s edge. They leaped off the cliff. They fell head first. They plunged into the water. Fountains of water rose into the air where they hit.
They flew deep under water. Everything developed a bluish or greenish tinge, Ciyonaung noticed.
They came to the entrance. Ciyonaung let Xianjeng go first and lead the way. They reached the tunnel’s end. Ciyonaung found himself in the air of a seemingly lightless cave. His eyes glowed, lighting part of the chamber and the lower part of Xianjeng. He noticed that the floor was covered in bioluminescent algae. His eyes adjusted to the dim light from the algae.
“Welcome, dragons! State your business,” a voice came from their right.
“Eh!” Ciyonaung said, startled by the voice whose source he could not see.
“What was that,” Ciyonaung asked. He turned his head to the right.
“That was a cave elf,” Xianjeng said.
The voice said, “That is correct. I am a greeter of visitors. Now, please, dim your eyes.”
Ciyonaung dimmed the lights from his eyes. He spotted the white creature. He said, “We are here to see the lord as requested. Surely, he is expecting us.”
“You must be the one he was expecting to bring a human,” the cave elf said to Xianjeng.
The elf continued, “I can’t tell you dragons apart. Anyway, you bring another dragon instead. It’s a rather, unusually, small one at that.”
Xianjeng said, “This is not a typical dragon, elf! Now, lead us to his chamber!”
“Okay, follow me,” the elf despondently said.
They followed the elf to the tunnel to the next chamber. The elf said, “Wait here.”
They waited. The elf walked down the tunnel. Xianjeng said softly, “Turn yourself back. He is expecting you as a human.”
“Okay,” Ciyonaung said. He transformed himself to Zuangeng. His eyes readjusted to the dim light. He looked around to see the vista before him. He felt the moisture of the air. He became moist from the condensation. He could dimly see Xianjeng. Mostly, he saw the dragon’s eyes and lighted, gleaming, muzzle.
“Remember what I said, courtesy and respect,” Xianjeng softly said.
“Yes, sir,” Zuangeng said.
The elf came to the curtain. He rang the bell. Another elf’s head appeared. The new elf said, “What is it?”
The cave elf said, “Got two dragons here to see Lord Ziolanzik. One is rather small for one, even for a baby.”
The other elf said, “Wait here. I shall inform the lord.”
He disappeared. He found Ziolanik in another chamber. Ziolanzik looked down at the elf. The elf said, “My lord, I have been informed that there are two dragons. They sek an audience with you.”
Ziolanzik said, “I shall have audience with them. I will see what they want.”
“Yes, sir,” the elf said. The elf bowed and straightened. He walked back to the curtains. Ziolanzik walked to his usual spot.
The elf poked his head through the curtains. He said, “The lord shall see them, now.”
The cave elf walked back to the dragons. He found only one dragon and a human child. He said, startled, “Eh! So you did bring the expected human. Enter.”
The elf walked off. Xianjeng and Zuangeng turned to face the tunnel. Xianjeng’s eyes glowed brighter. They lit up the tunnel entrance. He said to Zuangeng, “You go first.”
“Thank you,” Zuangeng said. He entered the tunnel followed by Xianjeng. They came to the curtains. Zuangeng stopped. Xianjeng stuck his head through them. He stopped to let Zuangeng through. Zuangeng was blinded by the intense light. He held his hands up in front of his face. He closed his eyes and turned his head right. He tried opening his eyes several times until his eyes adjusted to the light. He put his hands down and kept his eyes open. He walked into the new chamber. Xianjeng entered it.
Zuangeng faced the new dragon. He observed Xianjeng bow to the dragon. He imitated Xianjeng. He looked back at the dragon. Ziolanzik looked him over. He finally said, “So, you did bring the human child I have heard about.”
Xianjeng said, “Yes, sire. This is he.”
Ziolanzik had a strange feeling about Zuangeng. He felt as if he knew the child. This was the first time he had seen the boy. He said to the boy, “Young man, what name do you go by?”
Xianjeng nudged Zuangeng to answer. Zuangeng said, “Zuangeng. It is the only name I know.”
Ziolanzik said, “Zuangeng, how do you know this dragon?”
Again, after prompting, Zuangeng said, “I know him by the name of Xianjeng.”
“Xianjeng, then. I will call him by that name. His true name is powerful. It must not be known to others that cannot be trusted. I heard that Xianjeng brought another smaller dragon with him. Where is this dragon? I do not see it,” Ziolanzik said.
“You are looking at it. I was that dragon,” Zuangeng said.
Ziolanzik looked at Xianjeng. He said, “Is this true, Xianjeng?”
“Yes, my lord,” Xianjeng said.
Ziolanzik said, “So, Zuangeng already knows magic. He is much too young to know magic. How much do you know, Zuangeng?”
“Only the transformation spells, sire,” Zuangeng said.
“Let that be all the magic you know until you come of age,” Ziolanzik said, looking at Zuangeng as if expecting a reply.
“Yes, sire,” Zuangeng said.
Suddenly, Ziolanzik exclaimed, “This must be the young Warlock… Warlock…”
Then he raised his head high. He looked up. He raised his folded wings up and slightly spread. He loudly and sternly said, “No, No! I must not speak his name!”
He softly said, “He is much too young to know his name!”
He looked back at a startled Zuangeng. He folded his wings. He said, “Few must know it. Only those that can be most trusted should know it.”
Ziolanzik continued, “In due time, when you are of age, when you know what is at stake, you will know your true name, Zuangeng. You must not gove it out to anyone. It is a powerful name. Those you trust most will know it. You, like your mother, can call me, ‘Alexia’. Yes, Zuangeng, I knew your mother before your birth.”
Years ago, Ziolanzik lived on Cinga. He was not a lord then. He lived in a cave by the ocean. The cave was at the base of a grey cliff. The only access was a strip of sand. It was only wide enough for a single fat human to walk on.
One day, Mikela came to the cave. She was pregnant with Zuangeng. She came to visit the dragon. She arrived at the cave’s mouth. She peered in. Ziolanzik laid near the mouth. He was yellow, not yet gold. He held his head up. He gazed out over the ocean.
He spied Mikela peering in. He said “Greetings, Mikela. Please , come in and sit a spell.”
Mikela entered the cave. She sat on a large, flat rock. It was near the cave’s mouth and Ziolanzik’s left front paw. She said, “Greetings, Alexia.”
They talked for a while. Ziolanzik eventually said, “I see you are with child. Thought of a name for the child, yet?”
Mikela confessed, “Yes, I am with a child. I have several names depending on the sex of the child.”
“Would you be willing to tell me the names,” Ziolanzik asked.
Mikela answered, “There are only two people I trust to know the names. I have known them for many years. You happen to be one of them. The only other person I trust is a sea captain. You must not tell anybody. You must not tell the child until it reaches the proper age.”
“They will be safe with me,” Ziolanzik answered her.
“I will tell you, then. For I know I can trust you, Alexia,” Mikela said. She stood up. She looked around. She checked the outside. No one else was around. She walked to Ziolanzik. He lowered his head so she could reach his ear. She stood beside his head. He cocked his head to the left. Her mouth was close to his ear. She used a voice so soft that nobody, except Ziolanzik, could hear her. She told him the chosen names.
Ziolanzik turned to Xianjeng. He said, “Xianjeng, you must return Zuangeng to his people and home. I hear you are looking for a ship called the ‘Serikua’.”
Xianjeng said, “Yes, sire. It is Zuangeng’s home. He claims it is the only home he had ever known.”
“Is this true,” Ziolanzik asked of Zuangeng.
Zuangeng said, “It was. I got swept off during a storm. Xianjeng rescued me. He left me on an island of strangers and an unknown language. I got to know a family. They took me in. They treated me like one of them. When I left, I was told, it was my home if I returned. So, now, I have two homes if the ‘Serikua’ hasn’t sunk.”
“I have received news that the ‘Serikua’ still floats. I was told that it made port, where I do not know,” Ziolanzik said. Zuangeng grew a smile of hope.
“Xianjeng, you must return Zuangeng to the ship. I charge you with his care and protection until he comes of age,” Ziolanzik continued.
“Yes, sire,” Xianjeng said.
“You are dismissed. Return him home,” Ziolanzik said.
Xianjeng and Zuangeng bowed to Ziolanzik. They exited the chamber. Zuangeng transformed into Ciyonaung again. They exited the tunnel into the dimly lit chamber. They were greted by the same elf. The elf said, “I see you two dragons are leaving. What happened to the child that was with you?”
Xianjeng said, “That is none of your concern. Just take us to the exit.”
Te elf continued, “I was wondering about the small dragon. I see it has returned.”
Xianjeng repeated, “That, also, is none of your concern. Just take us to the exit.”
The elf felt chastised. It said, “Very well, then. Follow me.”
The elf led them to the exit tunnel. They exited the cave.
They flew up to the surface. They headed toward the shore to the right of the cliffs. They walked up on a sandy shore. Water ran off their bodies. The cliffs were within sight.
Ciyonaung turned into Zuangeng. He was still wet. Xianjeng said, “We need to find the Serikua. Any ideas as to where to look, Zuangeng?”
“The last time I know, we were heading to was where you left me. I don’t know ir they are still there,” Zuangeng said.
“We’ll go there and find out,” Xianjeng said.
He looked at the sun. It was close to the western horizon. He said, “It’s getting latoe. We’ll spend the night here. We’ll start early tomorrow.”
They spent the night on the shore. Zuangeng slept with his head on Xianjeng’s left front paw. He dreamed of the Serikua. He dreamed of the good times he had on the ship. He dreamed of the crew. He dreamed of the games they used to play.
He dreamed of a song about the Serikua. It ran through his mind many times. He sang it aloud in his sleep. Xianjeng slept as well. He woke up whenever Zuangeng sang. He listened.
Later, Zuangeng woke up with the song running through his head. He looked up into the night sky. Not a cloud was in the sky. He saw thousands of stars. There was a quarter moon. He fell back to sleep, as well as Xianjeng.