The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Chapter Thirty Six
The fleet of five ships approached the harbor of Kulathra. Captain Esiada stood by the bow. He watched the city approach. He spied two ships approaching them. They were under full sail. He brought the spyglass to his right eye. One ship flew a Cinga flag. This was no Cinga ship. He knew a Cinga ship when he saw it. The other ship flew the Jalapea flag. He watched the men on the ships. They loaded some cannons. They pushed them to the gun ports. He knew what was afoot. He ordered some sails furled to slow the ship.
Captain Sanjeng stood on the bow of the Kantendua. He watched the city approach as well. He spied the two ships approaching. He looked through his spyglass. He saw the same thing. He knew the two ships were not for the countries they pretended to be. He turned around. He ordered more sails and the bow cannons readied.
The Katendua and the other gunship pulled ahead of the fleet. They headed for the oncoming ships. They came close. Captain Sanjeng ordered a warning shot across the bows. Both ships fired their bow cannons. The shots hit the water close to the bows of the oncoming ships. The shots came so close, they almost threatened to hit the ships. Geysers of water flew into the air. The oncoming ships veered off from their intended course. They continued on their new course. Apparently, they had no stomach for a fight. The fleet pulled into harbor with no further incident.
Xianjeng searched for nearly six days before he located the dragon. The dragon was in the mountains. He laid just outside a cave. He was a magnificent dragon. He was mostly brown with red streaks on the head. His red horns curved back. Xianjeng had no horns. All sea dragons sported no horns. Only the fire dragons did. Xianjeng said, “Greetings, Shinella.”
Shinella said, “Greetings, Kilethang. What brings you here?”
Xianjeng said, “Trouble! There’s a six year old boy about to hang tomorrow for a murder he did not commit. I need your help to save him.”
Shinella said nonchalantly, “That is none of my concern. It should not be any of your concern, either.”
Xianjeng said, “It is my concern. I have been taking care of him for many a day. I am trying to get him back to his people.”
Shinella said, “Human affairs do not concern me in the least, Kilethang. Who is this boy you are so concerned about anyway?”
Xianjeng said, “He is a Cingala boy.”
Shinella said, his interest now piqued, “Cingala?! Is he blond? Was he in the alley where the murder took place?”
Xianjeng said excitedly, “I don’t know where he was. Yes, he is blond. Have you seen him?”
Shinella admitted, “I do believe so. I was flying over the alley when the crime was committed.”
Xianjeng excitedly said, “You saw what happened? You know who actually commited it?”
Shinella said, “Well, yes, I did see what happened. The boy is innocent. But, I am not concerned about his fate.”
Xianjeng said, “I am concerned about the boy’s fate! You must help me! I’m sworn to protect the boy. I was ordered to make sure he returned to his people. I can’t do it without your help!”
Shinella said, “Who ordered you to protect him? Why were you so ordered?”
Xianjeng said, “My Lord Ziolanzik ordered me to. The boy is a warlock. He may be destined to greatness, I don’t know.”
Shinellasaid, “Ziolanzik? He is the lord of the dragons, now?”
Xianjeng said, “He is the lord of the sea dragons, my lord and ruler.”
Shinella said, “I am in debt to your lord. He helped me in my time of great need. This will pay some of that debt. I must help you then. I will follow you.”
The two dragons took off. They flew to the city. They arrived the next day.
On the day Zuangeng was due to die, after his last meal, Shequyle and Shulngeniu came to his cell. They let him out. Shequyle spoke Jalapean, “Normally, we shackle those who are about to hang. However, we have nothing that will fit you. We trust you to do the right thing. Frankly, we have never hung anybody your size and age before.”
Shulngeniu said, “Sorry, I have been unable to prevent this.”
Zuangeng said, “I appreciate all both of you have done for me. Yes, sir, I will come quietly even though this is wrong. I will bravely die knowing I am innocent.”
They marched out of the station. They walked to the square. They arrived at the square. A crowd had assembled to witness the hanging. They had never seen a six year old hung before. The gallows stood in front of the crowd. The hangman stood next to the lever.
Zuangeng, Shulngeniu and Shequyle marched up the ladder together. Zuangeng stood before the noose. He looked out over the crowd. Shokura stood in the middle, a vantage point to witness the boy’s death. He had a smug smile on his face. He seemed well pleased with Zuangeng’s hanging. Judge Morlan stood in the first row.
They went through the usual ritual. Afterward. Shequyle said, “Zuangeng, before we hang you, do you have anything you wish to say?”
Zuangeng looked at him, the hangman and then faced the crowd one last time. Then, he succinctly said, “Yes, I do! You are about to commit a murder yourselves! You are about to kill an innocent person! I have yet to live life to the fullest! Now, I do not have that chance! The person who should be here stands among you! He is a dangerous man! What you are about to do is not justice, it is murder!”
Zuangeng pointed at Shokura. He continued, “You should be hanging Shokura, not me! May my blood be on all your hands!”
They tied his hands behind his back. They put a black hood over his head. They put the noose around his neck.
Captain Esiada had finished conducting his business when he heard about the hanging. He had to deal with some people who tried to cheat him. He knew merchandise. He knew the value of his cargo and any commodities he needed. He was in the business for too long not to. Nobody could outsmart him in such dealings. He got what he needed at the price he expected.
He decided to go watch the hanging. He arrived in time to see them put the noose on a small hooded figure on the gallows. The figure appeared to be the same height as his beloved Zuangeng. He stayed to witness what ensued next.
Two large shadows crossed over the scene. Everybody, including the hangman, looked up. The hooded figure was the only one not to look up. He could not see what was happening.
Two dragons flew over and circled around. The people recognized that one dragon was a sea dragon. The other one was the fire dragon they knew lived on the island. The fire dragon made a dive toward the gallows. The hangman grabbed the lever.
Shinella shot a stream of fire at the noose. The fire hit it about half way up the rope. The fire rapidly consumed the fibers. The fire had burned enough of the rope that when the hangman pulled the lever and the hooded figure fell through the trap door and the rope became taught, the last few strands of rope snapped under the weight of the figure.
Zuangeng fell on his back and hands when he hit the ground. His hands became painful. Shinella flew over the gallows. He circled back around. He, once again, made a dive toward the gallows. Everybody on the gallows ran off as fast as they could. Shinella shot another stream engulfing the gallows in fire.
Zuangeng found himself on the ground. He was still alive. He was still blind from the hood. He felt the noose hanging from around his neck. His hands were still tied. They were hurting from the fall. He said the spell. He turned into Ciyonaung. He felt the rope around his wrists grow taught, snap and fall off. He felt the hood, clothes and even his shoes become too tight and tear apart. He was finally able to see. The clothes fell off his changing body. He felt heat above him. He looked around and up. He found himself under a burning, creaking gallows. He ran form under the gallows, leaving the remains of his clothes and shoes behind, before it collapsed.
Xianjeng landed on one side of the burning gallows. He saw Ciyonaung emerge from under it. The people saw a small dragon emerge from under the burning gallows. Ciyonaung found Xianjeng. He walked over to him. Xianjeng removed the remains of the noose and hood. Ciyonaung turned to look at the crowd. The people had a startled look on their faces.
Shinella flew over the burning gallows. He circled around. He saw a small dragon appear from under it. He gleefully watched the gallows collapse into a pile of burning rubble. He watched the small dragon crawl toward Xianjeng. He hoped that was the boy he tried to rescue.
Ciyonaung watched as a fire dragon landed in front of the crowd. That dragon angrily spoke Jalapean, “That’s what happens when you try to hang an innocent person, a child at that!”
The dragon walked up to Shokura. He came close, too close for Shokura’s comfort. The dragon lowered his head to Shokura’s level. Shokura felt the dragon’s hot breath in his face. He smelled the smokey aroma of it. The dragon continued, “Here is your true murderer! He is the one you should be hanging!”
Everybody looked at the dragon and then at Shokura. Shokura looked a little nervous and was fidgeting.
Shokura looked at the dragon. He stared into its eyes. He said, “Do you have any fuckin’ proof to back up your damn allegations?”
Shinella said, ” Yes. I am that proof! I saw you murder that man! Everybody knows that a dragon never lies!”
Shokura said, “However, it is also known that they’ll bend that damn truth to suit their fuckin’ purposes!”
Shinella said, “I’m not! I’m trying to protect an innocent little boy child from people like you!”
Shequyle had gotten close to the two antagonists. Shinella saw him. He recognized Shequyle to be a member of the police. He said, “This is the one you want! Arrest him!”
Shequyle got his handcuffs out. He said, “I have always suspected Shokura in the murder. Until now, I had no way of determining who was guilty. It was up to the district attorney. Now, Shokura, you are under arrest for the murder!”
Shokura bolted. He did not get far before someone tripped him. He fell on his stomach on the ground. Shequyle, with his gun drawn, was on top of him. Shequyle had his gun pointing at Shokura’s head. He had his left knee on the man’s back. Shequyle said, “Put your hands behind your back!”
Shokura did. Shequyle handcuffed him. He stood up. He pulled Shokura to his feet.
Once things had settled down, Captain Esiada turned around. He left the scene for the Serikua. He just missed finding Zuangeng. He ran into Captain Sanjeng. He told him, “As soon as all my crew return, I will be setting sail for home.”
Shortly, after Captain Esiada had left, Shequyle looked around. The crowd was dispersing. There were three dragons, now. One was rather small compared to the other two. It seemed small even for a baby, he thought. There was no Zuangeng. It was as though the boy disappeared in the fire. He said, hopefully, “Where’s Zuangeng? Do any of you dragons know him? Do you know what happened to him?”
The small dragon started to walk around the sea dragon. The sea dragon laid on his belly, head still up. The small dragon disappeared behind the sea dragon. a naked Zuangeng emerged from behind it. He said, “I’m here.”
Shequyle said, “Oh, there you are! I’ll need you to testify at his trial.”
He turned to Shinella. He said, “Rozyrvon, you, too, may need to testify. We’ll find a way for you to.”
Shulngeniu walked up to Zuangeng. She said to Shequyle, “Zuangeng can stay with me if he wants.”
Zuangeng said, “I will stay with her. But, after the trial, I need to leave. I want to go home. I’m eager to be home!”
“Where is home,” Shequyle and Shulngeniu asked in unison.
Zuangeng said, “My home is somewhere on the ocean. It is a sailing ship known as the Serikua.”
Shokura glared at Zuangeng. Shequyle had his left arm through Shokura’s right arm. Shokura said, “Zuangeng! If you fuckin’ testify against me, You’re a damn dead boy!”
Shequyle said, “Don’t worry, Zuangeng. He will be in custody till he’s dead.”
Zuangeng said, “I’ll testify.”
Shinella said, I’ll help Xianjeng protect you in any case.”
Shulngeniu said, “I, too, shall protect you. When it comes to guns, I’m a sharpshooter. I don’t miss.”
Shequyle took Shokura to the police station. He locked him in a cell. Shulngeniu and Zuangeng rode to her house. Xianjeng and Shinella flew to a field outside of the city.