Dragon Island
    She doesn’t have to ask me twice! I charge after her. She disappears into the doorway. I start to take up the chase again, then pause.
    I turn and dare a glance through the hole in the arena’s ceiling. The dust cloud hanging there thins and I see a wrinkled, scaly muzzle full of giant, yellow fangs spanning the entire length of the crevice.   The muzzle’s jagged teeth point in every direction and drip waterfalls of saliva. It’s a mouth made for chewing T-Rex heads like popcorn shrimp or swallowing blue whales whole.
    It’s the mouth of a monster king.
    Kumagor roars and I stumble through the doorway with the world quaking around me.

Chapter 18
    Kintaro was also phenomenally strong, able to smash boulders, uproot trees, and break spears over his knee by the bundle. His animal friends served him as messengers and mounts. The more fearsome among them even fought alongside him. Some legends say that this close relationship existed because Kintaro was able to speak their language. Many modern recounts of the Kintaro legend interpret this latter ability as the existence of a psychic link between Kintaro and his beasts...
    Excerpt from We Are Legend: The Truth Behind Heroes and Demigods of the World , by Carl Davidson (1975)
    I curse under my breath as Kitsune and I run, thumbing my nose at the day I crash-landed on Kaiju Island to find a world full of ancient dragons, evil monsters, magic swords, and insane despots.
    We barely make it out of the Ningai Ura’s underground chamber without the daikaiju Kumagor bringing the entire place down around us. We sprint as fast as we can, heedless of any direction other than away. The going is extremely difficult with the entire Xenomian structure shuddering around us.
    Kumagor’s fury is as indifferent as an erupting volcano or an on-shore hurricane. We move, having to dodge falling samurai droids, clouds of steam billowing from burst pipes, and the sparking electricity of severed wires.
    At last, the quivering dark metal walls give way to an enormous cavern of sturdy rock. Kitsune and I stop to take a moment and catch our breath.
    When I gaze up at her in the sparse light spilling into the cave from the Xenomian chamber’s terminus, I’m surprised to see that she is crying.
    I place my hand on her shoulder. Like me, her entire body is covered in a layer of dust. So when I give her a pat, small, swirling clouds form at her shoulder.
    “Hey, don’t be sad.
    “We made it!
    “I’m the one who cries all the time, not you!”
    Kitsune shakes my hand off and wipes away her tears.
    “You,” she says, her sobs drying up, “you summoned Kumagor!”
    “What?” I say, panting myself. “No, I didn’t. I was as surprised as you or Ningai Ura!”
    “But you did! I heard you! You cried, ‘Bear,’ and Kumagor came!
    “Even without Kusanagi in your hand, he came!”
    “Bear is my dog,” I confess. “I was...I was just frightened.
    “I called him like I always have when I’ve needed protection.”
    “Kuma is the word for bear in the language of the Toho!”
    “So, you called Kumagor—the great bear-dragon—simply by speaking his name! Not even the shobijin can summon a daikaiju with such ease!”
    Kitsune looks at me in awe. It’s as though she is seeing me all over again for the first time.
    “You are Kintaro’s heir.”
    Kitsune falls to her knees and prostrates herself.
    I gasp in shock.
    She remains still and reverent.
    Something inside me likes the sight of her like that, there, on her knees with her face pressed to the ground—something much bigger than I care to admit.
    Something wishing to feed and grow even larger.
    I shake myself, removing its presence for the moment. I place my hand on Kitsune’s shoulder.
    “Kitsune. Please. Get up.”
    At that moment, the cave walls surrounding the chamber exit explode in a spray of rock and debris.
    I crouch and shield my face as an immense cloud of dust fills the

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