Once upon a most unusual time, in a most unusual place, there was a most unusual fairy family. The most unusual time is now. The most unusual place is the Glass Mountains of West Texas. And the most unusual fairy family is the de Veras clan.
The de Veras clan is not the only fairy family in West Texas, but it is the most unusual for one very special reason: Chuy, the chupacabra. Now that we have all of that straight, shall we move on to our story?
The King of the Glass Mountains fairy clan, Miguel de Veras, and his wife and queen, the beautiful Graciela, have two fantastic fairy children: Prince Javier, or Javi, El Travieso and Princess Marisol, or Mari, La Valiente. Do you remember Javi’s and Mari’s adventure…when Javi rode a fluffy bottom to the nearly village of Marathon to watch the humans?
There his path collided with that of a fearsome looking, but lovable, lonely, and mostly misunderstood chupacabra.
Chuy had no family, so he soon became a regular visitor to the cozy cave in the Glass Mountains.
One sunny day, King Miguel called upon all the fairies of the clan to convene on top of Iron Mountain, an ancient gathering place for extraordinary events. Iron Mountain is not the tallest of the Glass Mountains. That is a mountain the humans call Leonard Mountain, and the West Texas fairies call Montaña del Cielo—Sky Mountain—where the de Veras clan resides. Iron Mountain is, however, the most interesting of the Glass Mountains. Pero espere un minuto. I’m getting ahead of the story. First I need to tell you how Chuy, the chupacabra, became an honorary fairy and adopted son of the de Veras clan.
When Javi and Mari first heard of their father’s gathering…which usually meant he had dichos to share…they looked at each other, rolled their eyes, covered their mouths with their tiny hands and laughed silently. In fact, Javi laughed so hard that he began to tumble downward through the air from where he had been hovering. Mari, ever the brave and protective big sister, shouted, “¡Cuidado, Javi!” and flew as quickly as she could to catch him.
The leaves of the Spanish Dagger plant below were long and sharp, and Javi was falling fast. Mari grabbed Javi’s shirt with all her strength and as quickly as danger arose, it was averted. Whew!
Javi gave Mari a hug, smiled and straightened his shirt, and with a sheepish shrug said, “Quickly, mi hermana! We will be late!” And off they flew to Iron Mountain.
King Miguel wasted no time in making the BIG announcement. “Mi familia y mis amigos, today I proclaim that the de Veras clan has a new member. Without further ado, I will introduce him now. ¡Adelante, por favor, mi hijo! And from behind a very large boulder stepped Chuy.
A hush fell over the crowd. Then came the sound of one fairy, Mari, clapping. Javi joyfully joined the applause. More and more fairies began to clap and cheer until the air was full of love and happiness. And a LOT of noise…mucho ruido. Chuy smiled and blushed. A single tear formed in the corner of his right eye and trickled down his purple polka-dotted face.
The cacophony of the crowd crescendoed until…well, this is where the slightly scary part of the story begins…
There is a very special reason that the de Veras fairy clan lives cozily en una cueva in Montaña del Cielo, and it’s not what you think. The fairies have an exceedingly important job; to keep safe all the inhabitants of the Glass Mountains, and especially the humans in the village of Marathon below. For Iron Mountain is not merely a mountain. Iron Mountain is a dragon…a very large, and currently snoozing, dragon.
The Iron Mountain Dragon wakes every few hundred years. Mostly he just opens one of his eyes and sniffles and snorts. The small earthquakes…the tremors and quivers and vibrations that sometimes occur…those are the first signs of the dragon stirring. If you were in the village of Marathon, and looked north toward Iron Mountain, you could see his eyelid and eyebrow. Some would say it is simply a line of trees, but the fairies, and now you, know the real story… la historia verdadera.
Pero the fairies aren’t alone in keeping watch over the Iron Mountain Dragon. They have some very important helpers—the gnomes…los gnomos.
Los gnomos are turquoise troll-like creatures who live and work in two large bat caves halfway down the eastern slope of Iron Mountain. They disguise the openings of the caves with Red Berry Juniper trees and Spanish Dagger plants so that no humans will accidentally stumble upon them. Their leader’s name is Peri Gnomo. Peri is a bit of a curmudgeon.
The gnomes work diligently, and fearlessly, from dawn until dusk. They spend their days excavating beautiful green Iron Mountain jade with picks made from the long curved spines of the Fishhook cactus. And, in fact, los gnomos are about the size of a Fishhook cactus. Los gnomos make little hardhats from Buffalo gourds… calabazillas. Several times each day, the fairies bring los gnomos the delicious sweet drink…bebida dulce…that they make from the Sotol flowers. Then, with Sotol nectar, the gnomes entice fireflies to sit on their hardhats and light up the dark caves.
The gnomes work diligently because they trade the jade to various residents of the Glass Mountains…las hadas, los fantasmas, los gigantes, y otras criaturas…for food and other treats.
The gnomes work fearlessly because they do not know what the fairies, and now you, know; that the caves where they live and labor are actually the nostrils of the Iron Mountain Dragon.
And la verdad es, the fairies do not have the heart to tell los gnomos, and the others they trade with, what Iron Mountain jade really is; petrified boo…uh, petrified boog…er, petrified…moc…. What I mean to say is that their job is actually picking boo…uh, picking boog…er, picking….Oh dear. Let’s just go on with the rest of the story.
The fairies know something else los gnomos do not know…the dragon must never sneeze. If he does, fire and steam…and mucho green jade…will shoot into the air. Green slime will flow down the mountain toward the village of Marathon. Humans would call it a volcanic eruption. I call it a big mess! It is the job of the de Veras clan to keep los gnomos working, and the dragon sleeping. Now you can see just how important their job is. ¿Verdad?
¡Pero adivina lo que pasó! The clapping and cheering caused the Iron Mountain Dragon to stir from his deep slumber. Oh no! Fortunately, King Miguel knows what must be done. The dragon must not be allowed to awaken.
King Miguel tells Mari and Javi to decirles a los gnomos y los murciélagos and all the other residents of the caves to leave rápidamente. King Miguel must return to Sky Mountain. He asks Queen Graciela and the other clan members to fly with him. They have some big cooking to do… un cocimiento grande. They must brew a magic potion, and LOTS of it, to stop the dragon from waking.
Chuy hitches a ride from a friendly, but reluctant, fluffy bottom.
Back in his throne room, King Miguel searches for the book of potions. Centenares de años have passed since the clan last had need of it. After searching under every piece of furniture and inside every cabinet, King Miguel sat on his throne to think, fairies fluttering anxiously all around him. Suddenly he remembered! He leapt up, removed the pillow, and lifted the hinged wooden seat of his throne. There in a hollow space was the recipe book. He looked at the table of contents and under the chapter heading of “Let Sleeping Dragons Lie” was the recipe he sought.
The King began to read aloud…
Iron Mountain Dragon Sleepy Time Potion
l Pinch of Red Skullcap
l Dollop of Goosefoot Moonpod
l Smidgin of Skeletonleaf Goldeneye
l Pfiff of Milkvetch
l Palmful of Monkeyflower
l Bushel of Bladderpod
l Peck of Hairy Crinklemat
l Tip of Long-nosed Leopard Lizard tail (ask politely)
l Toenail clipping of Ornate Box Turtle (ask politely)
l 3 flakes of Western Pipistrelle bat dandruff (ask politely)
Combine all ingredients in una olla grande. Add dos galones of Sotol nectar drink. Stir with homemade rain stick. Sing this song tres veces while stirring:
“Once upon a dragon sneezy Came some fairies fast and breezy. They gave the dragon a magic potion To save the world from a mocos ocean.”
The Iron Mountain Dragon was rumbling and grumbling. Paintings tumbled from the walls of the throne room.
The Queen brought her largest cauldron as fairies gathered ingredients from near and far. “¡Date prisa!” urged King Miguel. They were running out of time. And they were still missing one muy importante part of the potion.
As she flew back to Iron Mountain, Queen Graciela realized that not only did she need to obtain the final item for the potion; she also realized that Javi and Mari might need help convincing los gnomos and los murciélagos to leave the Iron Mountain caves. After all, those caves were their Home Sweet Home. Queen Graciela was right. Peri Gnomo was standing inside one of the caves with his arms crossed and his nose in the air. “Hrrump!” he was saying. “Pshaw!” he added. Javi and Mari looked worriedly at their mother.
The Queen flew to the leader of the bats, a beautiful female Western Pipistrelle named Pippi. “Hola, Pippi. ¿Cómo estás, mi estimada amiga?”
“Pues,” replied Pippi, looking about her as the cave seemed to shimmy and shake, “there appears to be un problema serio, no?”
“Me temo que sí…I am afraid so,” replied Queen Graciela. “We must all leave soon.”
“Pero it is still daytime. You know that we bats do not like daytime very much,” said Pippi. “Sin embargo, if a great and wise queen such as you says it is necesario, then so it shall be. I will wake my flock and we shall leave.”
“You are welcome to stay in our cave until this problem is solved. Nuestra casa es su casa.” Pippi smiled at the Queen’s generous offer.
“Um…algo más…may I have three flakes of dandruff, por favor?” asked Queen Graciela oh-so-politely.
Suddenly the dragon shuddered mightily and the floor of the cave moved. The precious green jade of los gnomos tumbled toward the entrance of the cave without any help from their cactus picks. Pippi said to Peri Gnomo, “¡Ahora, mis amigos…debemos irnos! Let us help you!”
Pippi and her flock, two bats grasping the shirt of each gnome, lifted Peri and the other gnomes and began flying them to safety on Sky Mountain. Mari and Javi gratefully accepted a ride from a nearby red tail hawk. Queen Graciela, after one last look to be sure that no one was left behind, flew ahead as quickly as she could manage. In the pocket of su hermoso vestido lila was the final ingredient for the dragon potion.
Back on Sky Mountain, the King was worried.
The cauldron of dragon potion was heavy…very heavy…heavier than even the entire clan could lift; but for the magic to work, only members of the de Veras clan could deliver the potion.
Miguel was deep in thought when Graciela arrived and added the three precious flakes of bat dandruff. Suddenly, he smiled broadly as his eyes fell upon the newest, and largest, member of the de Veras clan: Chuy. He could carry the huge pot. There was just one small problem. Chuy had never flown. Did not think he could. Had never tried.
The King said to himself, “Chuy, my son…today is the day, and now is the moment.”
Then the King spoke aloud, “Chuy, we need your help. You must fly. You must carry the potion.”
Chuy stood without moving, turned his head hesitantly and glanced left and right at the white wings on his back just below his shoulders. He looked toward King Miguel and slowly shook his head, for although Chuy is large, he is still a child.
King Miguel is as wise as he is kind. “Do not worry, my son. You will not be alone. I have a plan. Come here, all of you. Bring the ropes we have woven from the Soaptree leaves. Do not delay!”
The King spoke and the fairies flew. They tied the ropes to Chuy and hovered all around him as he lifted the heavy pot. Then the King said, “Javi, Mari…fly as quickly as you can and gather the flowers of the Fairy Duster plants. You must help Chuy. You must tickle the dragon’s nose and make him open his mouth. Chuy…you must pour the magic recipe into the dragon’s mouth.”
The King counted, “Uno, dos, tres,” and the fairies fluttered their wings as one, holding the soaptree ropes and lifting Chuy into the air. Chuy nervously clutched the precious pot of potion. He could feel himself being lifted higher.
Chuy’s eyes were squeezed shut, and he grasped the potion pot so tightly that his knuckles turned from green to white. He was sure that chupacabras were not meant to fly. But just as the ropes dropped from Chuy, he heard King Miguel call, “¡No tengas miedo, mi hijo! You are not alone. Move your wings. Fly, Chuy! Fly!” And he did.
Down Sky Mountain Chuy and the fairies flew as fast as they could manage without spilling the potion. Along the way, they passed Pippi and her flock carrying Peri and los otros gnomos in the opposite direction.
Below them, las criaturas del desierto gazed upward and chirped and hissed and barked encouragement as they hurried away from the waking dragon. And en la aldea pequeña de Marathon, the snorting and shuddering of the dragon was mistaken for the shaking and rattling of an oncoming train.
Meanwhile, Mari and Javi, their arms full of Fairy Duster flowers, arrived at the snout of the dragon precisely at the moment Chuy and the fairies flew over his head. Mari and Javi could see that the dragon was about to erupt con un estornudo enorme and began tickling his nostrils with the Fairy Dusters. The entire mountain was shaking. Just as the dragon began to open his mouth, Chuy upended the pot of potion. Gulp.
A moment passed, and no one spoke. Not a creature was stirring. Not even a pocket mouse.
Mari looked at Javi. Javi looked at Chuy. Chuy looked over his shoulder, and began to smile with relief, and pride…at his family…the de Veras clan. And at the end of a very long day, the Iron Mountain Dragon once again snoozed peacefully, as did the humans in the little village of Marathon below.
Word of the near awakening of the Iron Mountain Dragon spread in the usual way throughout West Texas and to the neighboring fairy clans... the de Honor clan of the Chinati Mountains, the de Paz clan of the Chisos Mountains, and the de Valentia clan of the Del Norte Mountains. The ringnecks told the fluffy bottoms…the fluffy bottoms told the búhos…the búhos told the jack rabbits…the jack rabbits told everyone…and the prairie dogs just barked and dove into their holes. Soon all the clans and criaturas were gathered near Marfa, far from the sleeping dragon, for una gran fiesta más. Much was made of Chuy’s role in saving the day, to which King Miguel replied with one of his favorite dichos, “De tal palo, tal astilla…Like father like son,” followed by “En la unión está la fuerza...In unity there is strength.” Lastly, with a smile and a wink he said, “¡Deja que duerman los dragones dormidos… Let sleeping dragons lie!”