Glaring up at the steeples reminds me of her. My mother would come here to clear her mind when she was clean. She lit candles to our ancestors and prayed. What she asked of God, I will never know, but she believed and many of her beliefs are hoarded within me.
I stroll to the front in deep thought as I begin to grieve. Staring at St. Peter and St. Paul holding the book and a key gives me faith as I embroider my soul. Scratching a match to a crimson candle, I take to my knees.
“In the name of my mother, Xavier, and all who were lost in the great battle, rest in peace. In me they shall never cease. Their loyalty will forever be inscribed into the vastness of the eternities. For you, all flew away like butterflies to full green leaves. God, engulf me with the tenacity needed to protect the realm. Grant me the power of Harriet Tubman who had no fear as she freed the slaves of old. Lead us down the path of righteousness to Gros in which we seek. Amen.” I prayed.
“This way.” Musfall whispers.
Zoran and I follow him down a long corridor into a small room.
“Father Jeffery.” Musfall says.
“Musfall, my friend. It has been so long.”
“Yes it has. These are my friends, Kalera and Zoran.” He announces.
“Pleasure. Well, I know why you are here so no need holding you up. Finding things in the oldest cathedral in North America is not easy, but here is the key to the old town cellar below.” Father Jeffery spoke.
“I hope this will not get you into any trouble.” Musfall says.
“Maybe, but I owe you so much and I am happy to help. I hope you find what you seek.” Father Jeffery replies.
“Thank you.” I whisper while taking the key.
The three of us move to an old wooden door as dust ushers us into the ancient cellar. The room was grand and musty. Ruffled books lined aged desks and decrepit shelves, and the tattered wooden floor.
Moving to the center, I rub my hand across Xavgon for clarity. We must find something, anything that will lead us closer.
“Where should we begin?” I ask.
“I think we should work separately. We will cover more ground this way. Kalera you take the floor. Zoran, top shelves to bottom. I will take all of the back wall and desks.” Musfall delegates.
“How long are we prepared to be here?” Asked Zoran.
“As long as it takes.” I respond.
Seconds turn into minutes and minutes into hours. The sounds of turning pages ripples the room as Zoran coughs frequently from particles beginning to fill the air.
Zoran grabs his chest as he covers his mouth. A wheezing rattling sound follows. It was as if his airways were blocked, so I rush over to him. Immediately upon entering his space, I begin to cough nonstop. It was impossible for me to catch my breath. Musfall rushes over only to surcome to the same fate.
The thought of us dying from oxygen deprivation crosses my mind as I begin to spit up blood. A loud voice that I could not make out begins to occupy my deepest thoughts.
“Xavgon.” I thought.
“Release me!” He cries.
The truth is I do not want to release him. I could not be sure if the magic from the potion would need to be remade. But I had to face it, we were in trouble and there was no else. After all, the strength I had while in Zaylen did not follow me to New Orleans.
I was beginning to black out so with what little strength I have left I …
The wooden floor begins to jar and rumble. It was as if God himself was to make an appearance. It opens and everything shifts towards a massive hole. We were going to be swallowed even deeper underground.
Musfall and Zoran were both unconscious. I try to grab anything I could as books and wood begin to fall all around me as the floor caves inward towards the crater.
I cannot breathe as I begin to slide. My friends had been swallowed and I am next so I close my eyes.
Here in my thoughts is Xavgon. I can see him as clearly as I could see my mother. Cazuel. Cazuel. He continues to yell, but …
Cough. Cough. Hum. Hum. I groan as my head throbs. I can see nothing but blackness. I try to move, but I am trapped. I immediately think of Xavgon and feel for him. He is there, but I cannot hear him. Just as I think of him, I can.
“Mother. Are you okay?” He ask.
“I am in pain, but alive I think.” I answer.
Just then I begin to hear familiar voices.
“Kalera. Kalera.” I hear.
“Are you okay?” They ask.
I realize who is speaking and I try to smile. Zoran and Musfall were okay as well.
I can hear the two of them tossing planks about trying to free me.
“Xavgon, it is okay. I will be free in a bit.” I assure.
Just then, light.
Zoran helps me from the floor. He gently removes debris from my hair. And before I can utter a sound, his lips are meeting mine. A jolt went through me for I had not felt this warmth since Jessup. I am confused but it’s a liberating feeling so I return the favor.
Musfall clears his throat.
“I have already found a path. This way.” He states.
Zoran takes my hand and we both follow.
“Can you see it?” Musfall ask.
“The light.” We both respond simultaneously.
“Yes.” He laughs.
“As far as I know we are under New Orleans. Catch up!” He yells.
Zoran and I hasten our pace as we move through solid ground and suddenly ankle deep murky water. The closer we get, the brighter the light becomes.
Soon we are on dry land again then the source of the light reveals itself as we enter a chamber of some kind.
In the center is a vast crystal in the shape of a sphere casting light beyond. As far as our eyes can see are books. The walls are lined with them. And there is no ceiling, only an endless mountain of books.
As we look around in awe, I think to myself about releasing Xavgon. He is worried about me and no one will see him. But I had to be sure Musfall had a failsafe for the spell.
“Can I release my dragon here? No one will see him. He needs to see me physically and I, him.”
“That is your choice my lovely. Remember, you can say the words and he will be what you wish.” He responds.
“Of course, but you never said how I would return him to this form.” I say.
“Dang it! You are right. I completely forgot. Forgive me. Five times. You may release it in any form five times. After the fifth time, I will need to perform the spell. Lucky for you, I have my bag of tricks. But that’s assuming we can find a way out of here though I don’t want to leave. This is amazing. This could be thousands of years of knowledge. The church may have no idea it even exists. Think about it. This is deeper underground than any worker would dig!” He yells.
As I stand there listening to his excitement, I cannot help but to think about how we got here. We nearly died, but I decided not to bring it up though Zoran may be thinking exactly what I am.
I must admit, I am more curious about the sphere. It is just suspended in midair, almost extraterrestrial.
“Bring it back Kalera!” I thought.
My mind had wandered, but I need my dragon. So without hesitation I remove him from around my neck, unhook it and slide it from the chain, placing the chain in my pocket. I stare at him for 15 seconds before calling out, Cazuel.
The golden pendant falls to the floor then a smoke cloud appears as he begins to shake. Zoran and I back up as the cloud grows tall and wide. The smoke begins to clear, and there lies an egg.
“Musfall! What’s happening. Why is he an egg?” I demand.
“Don’t worry lovely. Just wa..”
Before he finishes his sentence the egg begins to fill with liquid. It turns blue and then the heart begins to beat as the egg grows then cracks. Out pops a baby Xavgon that begins to shake and morph. We can hear his bones fracture as he begins to tower and before long, my mighty beast stands before us.
His mouth opens than “ROAR!” He releases a mighty sound of freedom then immediately lowers his head to gaze into my eyes.
“Thank you.” He says.
I raise my hand to touch his scaly face. To some he is grotesque, but to me he is pure beauty.
While raising his head, he spots the sphere and his eyes widen. It is as if he is caught in a trance. He begins to flap his mighty wings and without warning whoosh he is airborne.
I look up and it begins to rain books. The books even made contact with the sphere but they went straight through which is odd because it appears to be solid.
I move in closer, extending my arm in its direction. But before I made contact with it, Xavgon as swift as lightning strikes. He moves me away with his gigantic claw.
“Don’t touch it. Don’t any of you touch it for it is not of this world.” He cries.
Moving my eyes closer to the center of it, I am locked in. My eyes roll into the back of my head as I move into the spear. Xavgon tries to stop me, but a jolt of light zaps him.
Inside, I can see them screaming for me, but I cannot hear as it appears. A glass door is before me. “Open it.” A voice calls. “If you are the chosen, no harm will befall you. For only the chosen may enter my domain.” I tried speaking but my mouth was glued shut as I long to enter. Moving closer to the door and extending my hand, I take the knob. Turning it, I move inside.
Before me, a golden book suspended in midair. “Call to it.” The voice commands. “I do not know how.” I reply. “But you do.” It replies. “Call to it.” I close my eyes and see the words. “El Ot.” I speak. The book lowers into my hands.
“Open it!” The voice demands. “Who are you?” I question. But there is silence so I look at the cover.
“The Book of Icu.” I read.
I cannot be sure what will happen, but I am here for a reason, so I carefully open it. Rubbing my hands across the engravings of an ancient language, power begins to flow through me. Magic of some kind. I raise my head to the heavens and amazingly I am able to read it as the blind reads braille, but then a bright light exits the text and plucks me inside.
I open my eyes and I am standing in an ancient city that existed 10,000 years ago in the Americas. I can see the Natives supporting themselves and serving their gods. One called Pollock found himself upon a tree. This was no tree he nor his people had ever seen. The tree had a black trunk with snow-white leaves.
Pollock was confused by the site of his finding. Getting closer to the odd thing, he could hear a sound. The closer he got the louder it became. Under a few leaves, he found the source.
He could not believe his eyes. It was a baby. The baby looked very different than he and his people. Dark skin, lavender eyes, and white hair held him in astonishment. Not wanting to leave the innocent to the elements of the earth, he decides to take the child back to the king and queen of his tribe.
He presents the child to them as a gift. The king and queen accepts this strange male creature from Pollock as he had missed his last offering. They were astonished at the baby boy whom seemed to understand them.
A bright light appears in the sky hovering over the boy and then engulfing him. The same light that brought me here.
I can hear his cries but do nothing but watch. I stand here until the sun sets and at dusk, the light finally clears.
Standing before them was no longer a babe but a young man. He looks upon the three standing before him and smiles a sinister smile. Pollock approaches, but the young name stretches forth his right arm, freezing him in place. Speaking an incantation, a blaze begins. The power erupts the mountain. Great lava engulfs all life. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth as the people meet their fate.
I had to stop him so I approach and he sees me. He pulls me into him and waves his hand over my eyes. He places his mouth over mine and blows. I begin to burn but could feel no pain. He blows a great wind that ceases the flames. Tears fall from my eyes as I look to my hands and arms to find no burns. My skin was perfect.
He raises my chin and comes in closer and whispers to me. Just then the light reappears and engulfs us both. I open my eyes and I am standing in front of the spear.
“Kalera are you okay?” Ask Zoran
Xavgon lowers his wing and then lifts me to his back. I look down at my friends. Then to Xavgon.
“It is here.” I say.
Xavgon’s eyes lock into mine and sees what I saw. He feels what I felt. He takes off.
Higher and higher we soar, but there seems to be no end until something shiny catches his attention.
There it was, the Book of Icu. I reach for it, and we descend for the ground. I slide down Xavgon’s wing and walk to Musfall showing him the book.
“This is beautiful. How did you… Never mind.” He spoke.
He opens the book and on the first page lies an image of the white tree.
“The Tree of the Fallen.” He says.
“We have a massive clue here. We must go to Peru!”
“Peru?” I ask.
“Yes.” He answers.
“This book is made of pure gold. Who knows the secrets?” He laughs.
He turns to rest of the pages, but they are blank.
“Peru.” Zoran responds.
“What happened to you Kalera?” Zoran asks.
The truth is, I am not exactly sure what happened to me. But I did not want to talk about my experience inside of the spear. That experience led me to Icu and now it is leading us to Peru.
“Don’t worry Zoran, I am okay.” I assured him.
“Peru. My friends, we must go to Peru. The next clue will be there. I am sure of it. Now, all we have to do is get out of here.” I speak.
“There is an ending to this place mother. I can see it. There is a way out, but I will have fly all of you out of here.” Xavgon says.
“You mean, we will have to fly on a dragon?” Musfall asks.
“He won’t drop you, I promise.” I laugh.
Xavgon lowers his wing.
“You two climb first. I am experienced.” I command.
Zoran smiles and begins his climb. Musfall climbs right after him. It seemed to take forever as Zoran and Musfall both slip a few times, but finally they reach the top.
Xavgon flies us to a door hidden by books. We step off unto a platform.
“What about Xavgon?” I ask Musfall.
“Remember, Cazuel Tod.” Said Musfall.
“Yes, then I can carry you out of here. Then Cazuel. For back around my neck you must go.” I say.
Within ten seconds, Xavgon was baby dragon depending on me to safely secure him on our journey out. It would take twenty-four more hours before finding our way back inside of the cathedral.
Father Jeffery had called the fire department and they were on a search for us when we came through the wooden door.
“My friend. Thank God you are all okay.” He spoke.
I thought to myself as I rubbed Xavgon, “We are okay. More than okay.”