The dream was always the same...I'd be walking along a narrow, dark tunnel. It was lit softly by lichen, moss on the walls, and by the light at the end. The only sounds were my footsteps, and the slow but constant dripping of water as it collected in some unknown, unseen pool, as it had for thousands of years.

At the end of the tunnel, it opened out into a large cavern, so large the ceiling was out of sight, lost among shadows thrown by the torches that framed...the mirror.

The mirror was huge, twice my height, three times my width, gilded with gold in an intricate framework that dizzied the eye that tried to follow the patterns worked meticulously all around the edges. It was suspended upon the wall of the cavern, rough stone steps led up to it, rough steps hewed out of the rock with very little care...they had been almost gouged as if with claws.

'Hello?' I called, there was no answer, there never was, slowly the echo died away as it reverberated again and again from the endless passageways in this labyrinth. I stepped slowly up to the mirror, unsure of my purpose here, but determined to find it. My reflection stared back at me, seemingly confused as to why I had again brought him here. I put out my hand to touch the glassy surface, but dared not at the last moment, it was too smooth, too pure and perfect a reflection, seemingly clearer than the air around me, much clearer than if I had been looking through a mere glass window, more alike to a crystal, flawless.

In the dancing light of the torches, my reflection suddenly ceased to be a simple image but seemed to take on a life of his own, a small smile forming on his lips as he reached out his own hand to me, beckoning silently. I looked down and gasped to see that, without my volition, I had stretched out a hand.

Who was the reflection now, my double's eyes seemed to say, who now was in control?

And yet I was not afraid, I had been here many many times in the last few months, the dream becoming longer and longer each time, it was merely a dream. I smiled back, 'What is it you would have me do, reflection?' I asked 'Just watch, and you will learn why you are here.' spoke the soft voice of my image, startling me. He turned, no longer pretending to be an image, no longer being the image controlling me but being a seperate entity. He danced down the stone steps and spun around with the ease of one in total control of their body. There, he closed his eyes and slowly stuck out his arms horizontally, then he drew them up into the air above his head. He seemed to take a hold of something, a shadow, and pull it around himself, as he did so he change.

His body elongated slowly, as if the mirror were distorted, and his colouring started to change. From pink, it became green, red, black, brown and blue in spots that spread all across his body. With a tearing sound, his clothes ripped from his back that was exposed to be covered in scale, green scale, like jade. Small nubs grew from his shoulder blades, and with a crack his frame altered to take them into account. From the base of his spine, another nub formed that suddenly exploded and uncurled into a long tail, that as it grew took his legs with it, stretching his already-long body to enormous lengths. He was now floating, his wings beating slowly though I could tell they were not needed. His face pushed forwards, his nose shrinking and turning up until his nostrils faced more or less upwards on the end of a muzzle. His hair spun and curled like a swimmer's underwater, and became long white horns and spikes that spread down his back for some distance.

The dragon landed, and stretched towards the mirror, 'do you know yet why you are here?' 'What...what are you?' 'Besides being a dragon, you mean?' laughed the dragon, 'Why, I am you!' and with that, the dragon stretched a claw through the mirror, took hold of my hand and dragged me through.

The mirror felt first cold, like icy water from a stream, then the surface ruptured as I passed through it, and the surface glowed a brilliant white as the rest of my body followed my arm. I seemed to be moving incredibly fast, though my body was not large, the force of gravity twisted and pulled at me, I felt my stomach lurch like at the top of a roller-coaster, and then I fell down into the light at the speed of thought...

...I sat up suddenly with sweat pouring from my brow. I threw my bedclothes off and jumped out of bed, the springs underneath pinging and plinking at the sudden weight loss. I stretched heavily, my bones cracking and popping like I was eighty. Then I stopped was not such a good idea to make so much *noise* at three o'clock in the morning.

I quickly and silently finished stretching. I felt a lot better now, the odd dream was fading as the light was waxing, the sun getting close to rising. I scratched my sides and yawned, blinking. Then I stopped, and swore. It hurt! I lifted my t-shirt and looked where I had scratched, the skin was coming off...I poked it gently, pulling at the flap of skin. Fascinating, in the really disgusting way that only scabs and such can be...I pulled and more skin came away, though there was no blood. Fluid, sticky, covered my new outer dermal layer...whatever it was, it was not skin. Cleaning away the detritus with my fingers, I saw what looked like...scale. Green scale.

'My dream is real?' I said, my voice rough from the night's collection of saliver at the back of my throat. I quickly made a decision, and walked silently to...the door in my bedroom wall. The paint on it was peeling, the heavy key had been sitting in the heavier lock for many years. It had only been opened three times before, and always to put within something I never thought I would see again.

I grasped the iron key with both hands, and strained to turn it. It squeaked, squealed, and suddenly shifted. The lock clicked open, and the door opened smoothly. Inside was dark, the air musty. Dust shifted on the floor, spilling out into my bedroom. There was no light in here, I reached for the flashlight I thought I would never use. With a click, I turned it on. Swearing, I hit it against my palm several times. The small closet lit up.

Around me were many obscure items, given to me by my parents, the majority when I was born. I searched quickly through a small chest of drawers, and found what I wanted, a large golden coin. It was a magic coin. You said a small spell, flipped it, and then you asked it a "true or false" type of question. If it landed on it's edge, it was true. Why not heads or tails? you may ask, well this was because no-one had been able to agree on what should be the "true" side, and which the "false".

I recited the spell, took a firm hold of the coin and said "am I really a dragon?", and flipped the coin high into the air.

The coin was the first magical present I had had from my parents. It was a toy to them, and to me at the time. I had asked it many things, and always had a true answer.

With a clink, it landed. I shone the torch down, to see the coin spinning. On edge.

'It's true, my son.' said my mother's voice. I hadn't even heard her come in the room.

'What's true?' I asked her

'You are becoming a dragon.'

'I don't believe this! Why?' I asked

'Your father...your father is a dragon. I am a witch.'

I laughed, hollowly, 'and why am I supposed to believe that?'

'You already do. Or why are you in here, playing with that?' she asked, sharply. I said nothing, she was right of course.

'Do you wish more proof?'

'I don't need much more than this!' I said, lifting my t-shirt and showing the scales

'Well how about this?' my mother was in her late forties, her hair was greying and thinning. But suddenly, something began to change. I thought at first that it was a trick of the light, but it was no such thing. She began to stand a little taller, straighter, her hair grew longer and became curlier, a darker, stronger shade of brown. Within a few minutes, she looked to be no more than twenty-five.

'Mum?' I gasped

'Yes, when the Power was opened to me, I stopped aging. However, for as long as I lived here with you, I realised I had to pretend.'

'But...if I am a dragon, why didn't I know it?'

'You did, silly, you just hid it. I wondered if it would ever begin to show itself, but then tonight I felt the Power become open to you, too.'


'I was once a normal human, but I found this spell book,' she pointed to the gold-inlaid book given to me as the third and final present. 'I used it's spells, learning slowly to become a witch. With each spell, my Power grew, my link to another world strengthened. In the end, I tried one of the biggest spells available to me. I crossed the dimensional barrier, and arrived in another universe. There I was greeted as a traveller, and a high witch. My power was great, even though self-taught. For many years, I learnt more and more under tuterage of that world's highest mages. But I desired more and more power, and in the end sought out one of the dragon race. They have the highest command of magic known to me. I found one willing to teach me more, but he also taught me the Rules of his kind. They understand magic like no others, the push and pull of it, it is as natural as breathing to them. I learnt balance, and control, the value of not using magic. As I learnt, I grew to first respect, and then love him. He grew to appreciate my power and my human viewpoint. In short, he too loved me.

One stormy night, holed up in his cave against the wind and rain, I huddled against him for warmth after I had got caught in the storm, as an eagle. He berated me quietly for being so foolish, and reminded not to get caught up in the emotions and mind-set of the animal or form that you become. I said I did not, I merely forgot about the weather. I told him even becoming a dragon would not affect me.'

My mother stopped, and smiled, 'he raised one eyebrow, said, "oh, really?" and changed me into one. As a dragon, the world different. As was your father.

Dragons have a wonderful drink for when it gets cold, the only fire that dragons take for themselves, they say. We drank rather too much of it as I explored my new form. It is somewhat like alcohol, with much the same effect.

Suffice to say, as the world became more blurred, his form drew my eye more and more. I found myself snuggling closer and closer, wrapping around his body, as he began to wrap around me. Before we realised what we were doing, we were...' my mother stopped, and blushed, 'I really shouldn't be telling you this...anyway, later we discovered I was pregnant. As I shifted forms, so did you. Nine months later, you were born. Life for a dragon is life. We had no wish to abort you since you showed all signs of being totally healthy. However, the Council forbade you to live on their world freely, you were born human so had to live on the human world, in the human universe. I went with you, though by their law I had made my own way to their universe, so could stay. We realised, your father and I, that if you survived here long enough, you could then make your own way back to your father's world. Now the time has come, and you may attempt to cross the barrier much as I did.'

' said that spell was the greatest that this book could give you! How can I cast it now?'

'You are half dragon, you have a connection I could never hope to have to the Power. Already you are strong, maybe as strong as I was when I crossed for the first time.'

'But...what happens if I fail?'

'I do not know.'

'Can I live here, as a dragon?'

'Again, I do not know. I think you will change, slowly, according to this world's rules if you stay. That will take time, and be very painful. You may die.'

'Then I will attempt to cross the barrier, mother. I want to go home.'

The preparations were simple, a circle was inscribed on the floor using common salt, it would have been chalk but chalk was bad for the carpet. Inside the circle, a square was formed of more salt. At each corner, a totem representing the four elements was placed facing outwards. I stood outside the circle looking in, holding in my hands the old leather-bound book. I was reading from it aloud, an old language consisting of long chains of simple, reverberating notes, similar to American Indians, I noted. Slowly, the circle of salt began to glow, sparks flashed like electricity, sparks that lifted from the floor to explode against the ceiling. Soon there was a column of greenish light wavering like some sort of curtain. It seemed almost solid. I could see shapes writhing inside, they began to take my eye, and my chanting faltered slightly,

'don't stop the chant!' shouted my mother, 'or you will fail. If you fail in this, you will die, and They will be released.'

I didn't even bat an eyelid, I merely renewed my chanting. New words began to flow into my mind as I surfed along the rising tide of power coursing through me, I felt connected to some greater force, as if released from the normal world and invited partially into another. I could feel my feet lift off the ground, my hair was free and floating. I noticed out of the corners of my eyes that my body was glowing green, similar to the column of strengthening power before me. The shapes screamed silently and faded as my new spell took hold. I released the book, to see it float beside me as I lifted both hands and uttered the final word,

'Open!' the word shook the world around me, the ceiling cracked, the salt bubbled and the green column of light exploded into scenery. Through it I could see...another world; green fields, blue sky, clear waters, clouds, I could feel the air flowing across the divide. Slowly the Power left me, and I returned to the ground.

'You did it!' said my mother proudly, 'now we must cross. Step quickly and determinedly across, or you may not make it. There are forces here barely under control, and they will not last long.'

We stepped together across the divide, the feeling as I crossed the barrier was electric, it coursed through my body, it felt as though my extremities were being twisted against each other, tied together in knots, I screamed at the pain, but gritted my teeth and stepped, despite the pressure against me, and passed through. With a flash, the column of light, now showing my old home, disappeared as the one controlling it let it go. The rift healed with a clap of thunder, as though it had never been.


I opened my eyes, the light hurt but I held them open despite the tears, and soon my vision adjusted. I was lying on my back, apparently on grass. Up above me, I saw blue sky with a few wispy clouds. The sun was bright, seemingly brighter than I was used to. It was also hot. The murmur of sound that I was hearing cleared into many voices, I shook my head and they cleared more. I found I was able to understand them,

'He made the test! He came here of his own volition!'

'How can we believe that? You are his mother! You were the first to cross in many a year, of course you would wish your son to enjoy his status here if he could attain it!' the voice behind this was loud, but I could also tell it was a long way away. And a long way up.

'He has attained at least the right to be here to learn!'

'Then you deny his dragon heritage?'

'I did not say that!'

'He even looks human! How can you say he is a dragon? How can we believe that a mere human boy cast the spell to cross the worlds as almost his first?'

'Because he is a dragon! And he proved that by this spell!'

'Then we should test the boy!' said another voice, greater than any others, 'if he can take his true form, with no spell book, no prompting, and no interference, he will be welcome here.'

'Agreed! Now boy, get up and prove to us what you really are!' I felt something lift me in the air, but I was too disorientated still to do anything about it. The spell holding me up was cut, and I dropped to the floor, jarring me awake. Laughter floated down to me, and I gritted my teeth angrily and got to my feet.

'Ah! The human finds his feet, beware boy, for you are small and crunchy, and I would find you tasty with ketchup!' the owner of this voice roared with laughter. I looked up angrily at a great black dragon seated upon a stone pillar, above him was a red dragon, the largest and most important. On his other side was a blue dragon.

'Well boy, are you fit to be among us?'

'What?' I asked

'You must take your true form!'


'A true dragon would know!'

'And he does!' my mother said, she was standing on a fouth pillar some way away. I looked up at the red dragon, he nodded his head. Somehow...he had given to me a little parcel of knowledge. In a flash, it was as though I had always known it. My body was made up of tiny tiny pieces...these pieces could be changed...moved...little push here, little prod there...

My body began to glow with light, green again, I felt my form begin to flow, the consistency of hot arms grew longer, as did my legs. My hands and feet became claws, green scaled and fierce. With a ripping sound my trousers forced apart and a long scaly tail emerged from the base of my spine.

'How could this be so? It is a mere illusion! I will banish it!'

'No!' stated the red dragon, 'I said no interference!' but it was too late, the black dragon had cast his spell. I suddenly felt my transformation, which had been painless, slow and then stop. It suddenly started to hurt, and I found it hard to breathe, tears formed in my eyes as I fought against the pressure block placed by the black dragon. I realised the only way to survive was to nullify the dragon's spell, and the best way to do that was to distract him. Without even thinking, while in the grip of the Power that I had opened to me, I cast a spell to temporarily deflect the black dragon's spell. It co-alesced around me in a shell, flickering purple and orange lightning. The bolts flew around my body, earthing in a perfect circle. Slowly, cracks appeared in the ground. With a heave and a groan, a small island of rock and mud lifted into the air and floated towards the black dragon, who I noted was...sweating. I was not doing so well myself, bent double by the effort of trying to continue my own transformation, deflecting the attack and getting myself nearer to my foe. I stretched out one hand, palm down, and chanted words that flowed through my brain in white-hot letters. Lightning flashed, my little island bobbed and floated nearer under my perfect control. I could see, in my reflection in the bubble of energy surrounding me, that my eyes were crimson, and the pupils were slitted. I lifted my other hand, palm vertical and pointed it towards the black dragon. My eyes blazed ruby red as I chanted another spell, a dark and throaty spell that hurt to say it. Green bolts of light flew from my hand and enveloped the black dragon, then came a sudden wind that caused my floating island to bob violently, but it caused my opponent to be thrown off of his pedastal with a solid wall of wind and debris. With a thump, he was thrown against the mountain behind the pedestals, and knocked unconscious. Suddenly all oppostion to my spells ceased, and with an explosion of light and sound, the bubble around me burst into a shower of sparks, streaking through the island beneath me, tearing it into shreds. Within seconds, my transformation into a dragon resumed, my tail thickened and lengthened, wings ripped out of my back, my clothes were on fire from the magic and the last cinders dispersed as I flapped them, freed from the mound of earth that had borne me here, now just a cloud of dust beneath me. I held my hands to my head, hands which turned green as scales grew swiftly along them, and I screamed as my face pushed out into a muzzle, a long snout filled with teeth, my hair twisted and writed like snakes as it became horns and more scales. I stretched out my limbs, and with a mental twist dispersed the last of the magic surrounding me before dropping easily into unconsciousness.

The green dragon suddenly went limp in the air, and then slowly began to fall. With a heavy thump, he landed sprawled on the ground, bruised and battered but still breathing.

'He has passed the test, mate of my son, he shall be allowed to stay.'

'What about him?' asked Cindy Travers, pointing to the prone form of the black dragon

'He has had his punishment, but he shall receieve more. For now, we bid you fare well. We will return soon.'

Slowly, the mountain, and the pedastals with the dragons upon them faded like mist. The black dragon, lying unconscious on the floor, faded too away.