Chapter 6: Three Ancients

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I took off my shirt, twisted it into a rope, and doubled it around my wrists like handcuffs. Then Lu escorted me up the road, growling and showing her teeth for the benefit of passing dragons. It was all an act, but the hairs on my neck stood up whenever she cut loose. It sounded like the biggest Rottweiler in the world stalking behind you with plans to amputate one of your limbs.

We picked our way back to the lake beside the temple, and circled the lake through the bamboo forest back toward the altar-place where I'd arrived.

Unfortunately another dragon was walking the other way. This one was the t-rex kind, walking on two legs with forepaws held under its chest. But it had all kinds of frills on its head, under its chin and along its back, so if it was a dinosaur in disguise, I had no idea what kind it was. I recognized the big teeth, though.

It was green, and had five toes on its back feet.

Fresh horror washed through me. I almost stopped walking, but Lu nudged me in the back to keep me moving.

The dragon strode toward us and turned its head to study me. It spoke to Lu in a growly rumble. She trilled in return. It stepped up beside us--it towered over me--and sniffed me in heavy, hot whuffs. It had dog breath.

I need some anti-vampire-smelling deodorant. The beast snarled and snapped his teeth at me, and all I could do was stand there and cringe. Lu wove herself between him and me and barked at him. I assume she was telling him I was her future kill.

He was green and had five toes. This was the dragon I had to bite. I eyed his nearest ankle. The scales became small and fine on the backside of his calf. One nip and I could run for the portal.

I edged one foot forward, then the other. The t-rex dragon was busy chatting to Lu and his square head was turned away from me.

I unraveled my wrists from my shirt, darted under his body, grabbed his hard, muscled leg and sank my teeth into the soft scales. My mouth filled with hot, chemical blood. I swallowed it as fast as I could.

He roared and his leg lashed backward, sending me flying. I had time to think, Wow, I'm completely off the ground.

Then I hit the gravel, rolled three or four times and crashed sideways into the stone altar. Ouch.

Both dragons roared and charged at me. The green dragon, on two legs, was significantly faster than Lu. I guess he was madder.

I scrambled to my feet and looked around for the portal. No shimmers in the air. Nothing but the clearing in the green bamboo and the stone altar.

In desperation, I scrambled up on the altar and jumped off the other side, planning to run straight into the bamboo--

--and crashed into the wall of Jia-Li's house.

I reeled backward and sat hard on the gravel, looking over my shoulder. No sign of the portal over the rock. But if I'd come through, the dragons could probably chase me through. They knew how their own portal worked. I got up, ran to the back door and rushed inside, slamming it behind me.

Jia-Li stuck her head out of one of the back bedrooms. "You're back soon."

"I bit him," I panted. "I mean, I think it was him. Big green dude with five toes. He was after me."

Jia-Li's flawless face widened into a smile. "Excellent. We shall take a short drive."

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Jia-Li drove one of those tiny European hybrid cars. It was like cramming ourselves into a golf cart and tootling down the highway.

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