"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were."
---John F. Kennedy
Once upon a time, the world was full of unicorns. Every cobbler's shop had its very own shoemaker elf. And pixies and nixies and other fairy folk were as common as porridge. Sailors, returning from sea, spoke of mermaids they'd seen with their own eyes. And milkmaids, after a hard day's work, griped about imps in the butter churn.
But somewhere between the mythic past and the modern-day present, all the fairy tale creatures seem to have vanished without a trace.
Perhaps the griffins and dragons and legendary beasts of yore were hunted to extinction by the heroes and knights and dragon-slayers of yore. Perhaps all the elves and gnomes and goblins - their habitats threatened by the encroachment of man - were forced to pull up stakes and withdraw to remote villages high in the mountains or deep in the forest or hidden in subterranean caverns.
Or maybe they simply tucked their pointy ears up under a knit cap and moved to America.
Jacob Long is an ordinary 13-year old boy. He is obsessed with video games and extreme sports. And, now that he's got a skateboard, he's sure that he's going to be the next Tony Hawk.
Jake is a second generation Chinese-American, and current generation native New Yorker. Jake is also a Dragon.
Jake doesn't know he's a dragon, of course. He certainly doesn't look like one. He isn't dragon-sized. (In fact, he's one of the smaller kids in his class.) He isn't especially scaly. His wings areÉ well, he doesn't have wings. Or a tail. Or talons. Or claws. And he certainly doesn't breathe fire or anything like that. At least, not yetÉ
Dragons were once the most powerful of the magical creatures of legend - (Still are, probably) - and, as such, they were long ago designated Protectors of the magical realm and all its denizens - a responsibility which sometimes requires them to intercede in conflicts with humankind.
In fact, the negative stereotype of dragons as ferocious damsel-snatchers stems entirely from a single unfortunate incident in medieval France. But the fire-breathing monsters of European lore are really only the tip of the dragon-berg.
In China, dragons are considered benevolent spirits who control the wind and the rain. In Japan, they are shape-shifters who sometimes appear to lost travelers in the form of old men or helpful young women with good direction sense. In fact, Dragons appear to have been many things to many creatures over the centuries.
Unlike the leprechaun, which is peculiar to Ireland (or the oni of Japan, or the manaia of New Zealand, etc.) Tales of dragons can be found in every major culture throughout history. With one notable exceptionÉ ours.
Luong Lao Shi is the last of a long line of Chinese dragons who trace their lineage back to the Imperial courts of the Ming Dynasty. Now he lives in California.
Lao Shi is a proud dragon and it wasn't easy giving up his ancestral home for a new life in a strange new land. A very strange new land. But 40 years ago, the powers-that-be decided that Lao Shi should move to America to watch over the magical beings who were trying to make their homes in the new world. (Because America did not have a Dragon of its own.) Lao Shi was not one to shirk his responsibilities, but this is not an assignment he was looking forward to.
When he first came to the United States, Lao Shi settled in San Francisco's Chinatown, thinking it would make him feel at home. He was wrong about that.
It hasn't been easy here. Even forty years later, the problems of surf trolls and openly-gay leprechauns are still as foreign to him as the day he arrived in this country. And now that Lao has grown old and world-weary, he realizes it's probably time to retire and let a new dragon to take his place. But this time, it's going to be an American dragon Ð Lao Shi's grandson Jake.
So on the eve of Jake's 13th birthday, Luong Lao Shi has come to New York to pay his grandson a surprise visit, and to inform him that he is a dragon, to prepare him for his destiny and to begin his training in the Way of the Dragon.
"ÉHold on, back up, I'm a what?"
It won't be easy. Like any true discipline, the "Path of the Dragon" is a journey of 1000 steps, requiring years of patience and practice to master.
Students of karate canÕt expect to break bricks with their faces on the first day of class. And a fledgling dragon won't be juggling fireballs on his first time out.
There is much to be learned and it will require a lot of hard work and discipline. And if there is one thing you can say about Jake Long, "hard-working and disciplined" is not part of that thing. It looks like Grandfather may have his work cut out for him.
Each episode centers around some sort of challenge or quest Grandfather would like Jake to complete in order to learn a valuable lesson.
This may involve mastering one of his Dragon Powers, but more often than not the tasks will also touch upon some aspect of his Dragon responsibilities, such as "settling an argument between two hobgoblins".
Some of Jake's more dangerous missions, in fact, will be as simple as "Let's go meet a troll" because it will be important for Jake to familiarize himself with the various magical creatures he may encounter later in life under less ideal circumstances.
Many of Jake's magical exercises will involve concentration and willpower. (The "I think I can" school of magic.) This is because Magic in the world of the show is basically pure Optimism.
"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it."
---William Arthur Ward
If anything, that's the theme of the show. Jake already has it in him to be a Dragon. But in order to realize his potential, he must learn to believe in himself, and in others.
"The man who has no imagination has no wings."
So if a "magic" feather helps you to fly, knock yourself out, but really anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.
"Believing is Seeing, and not the other way around."
The reason most ordinary humans have no magical ability is that their world is full of skepticism and cynicism, which make it harder to tap into their true potential. Magic is all about positive thinking.
"I became an optimist when I discovered that I wasn't going
to win any more games by being anything else."
The least magical people will inevitably be the ones who are overly cautious and pessimistic - like Jake's Father, who is timid and afraid of failure, or Jake's Mother who won't do anything without taking proper precautions first.
On the other hand, the most magical characters are going to be those such as Jake and his Grandfather who are self-confident and willing to take risks, or his little sister Brittany who is still young enough to believe just about anything, or his new friend Brook the river elf who just moved to town and hasn't been told she's supposed to be cynical and pessimistic yet (but they'll cover that in 7th grade social studies.)
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
--- Albert Einstein
This is not a fantastical world of fanciful creatures. It is our world today if those fantastical creatures are already living here right under our noses (like the elusive coelacanth) and we just haven't noticed them yet.
In the same way that The X-Files revealed a secret government within our own government, and The Matrix showed us a secret reality behind the reality we know, Last Dragon will introduce us to a world of mythical creatures living and working right here among us. It is a world of magic, right at your fingertips, which you could see for yourself, if you just let yourself believe.
We will discover this world through the eyes of Jake Long who (like Harry Potter) is suddenly thrust into an important role in this secret realm which he previously knew nothing about.
"It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy...let's go exploring!"
---Calvin & Hobbes, 12/31/95
Jake's misadventures will take him across the country and occasionally around the globe, but mostly they will take him all over New York City - where Jake and his family live.
Who wants ta know? (But seriously, folksÉ) Not only is New York the greatest city in the world, it is also a melting pot within a melting pot. There's no better place for a blue-haired sea-elf to blend in than the West Village during Wigstock, and no better place for an unemployed tunnel dwarf to find work than the city's labyrinthine subway system. New York City has something for everyone.
Every few blocks it's like a brand new world: Little Italy, Little Egypt, Chinatown, Harlem, Times Square, and all of it is within easy reach of a kid with a skateboard and a couple subway tokens.
And then there's the parts of town people don't talk about: Ogretown; the Triborough Troll Bridge; the Forgotten City between SoHo and NoHo; Jersey; Kobold's Keep in Central Park; the secret Dwarven Village located just past the last subway stop; and the palatial sewers of Goblin-opolis. A magical world, indeed.
Born in the year of the dragon (1988), the son of Chinese-American and Jewish parents (one of each), Jake Long is a kid on the verge of cool.
Having just officially become a teenager, the recipient of a brand new pro-quality skateboard, and the beneficiary of a 2-inch growth spurt over the summer (making him no longer the shortest kid in school), Jake is counting on 7th grade being his breakout year.
So this is not a good time to be seen hanging out with his grandpa. And having lots of weird supernatural things happen to him. (Except maybe turning into a giant flame-throwing lizard. That might be cool.)
Jake is rambunctious and adventurous - a typical 13-year old adrenaline junkie. He doesn't totally mind learning all this dragon stuff from his Grandfather, but only if it's cool kick-ass stuff he can use on the school bully. (Like breathing fire. Can they start with that?) Burdened with an MTV-caliber attention span, Jake just doesn't have the patience to learn all these boring lessons about Karmic whiplash and being One with the pavement or whatever. (And besides, with his arcade-honed reflexes, he was able to snatch the pebble from Grandfather's hand on the very first day, so shouldn't they be done now?)
So needless to say Jake learns most of his lessons the hard way - from experience. Usually the bitter kind.
But he does learn. He's not a bad kid. He really does have what it takes to be a great Dragon some day - boundless energy, groundless optimism and an inflated sense of self-worth (Dragons have to have confidence.) It's just that, at present, all his energies are focused on self-gratification. But with a little nudging from Grandfather - and a little help from his friends - someday he may be able to see the good in others as well, and then watch out.
"A wise man knows his limits; a great man knows his potential."
Like many dragons, Jake was born in human shape so he will have to learn how to transform into a dragon. In fact, he'll have to learn to use all of his Dragon Powers, so for now he's just an ordinary kid with a lot of potential, and some powerful enemies.
Born in the year of the dragon (1928), in Hunan Province, Grandfather is part Mr. Miyagi, part Yoda, only crankier.
Though he came to this country many years ago, Grandfather has made very little effort to assimilate himself into the new culture. (Unlike the rest of his family.) And he still likes to talk about how things were so much better when he was a young boy in the old country.
Grandfather appears as a very old man, even more withered than his years, (but still scrappy) who walks with a cane, because age and many battles have taken their toll on his body.
His patience, too, is wearing thin. Once a Zen master who always practiced what he professed, now he is prone to losing his temper. Especially with people who can't control their fidgeting during meditation. That really steams his rice.
Jake sometimes calls him "G'father" - partly out of affection, but partly because it irritates him even more.
While his human form is feeble, Grandfather is still incredibly powerful in his dragon form. However, the transformation itself has become extremely painful and it requires enormous concentration to maintain. So he only becomes the Dragon for short periods before reverting back to his human self, and afterwards he is always severely winded. So it is becoming increasingly important for him to train a new dragon as soon as possible.
Grandfather is always accompanied by his faithful pet shar-pei, named "Dog".
Jake's father Chen (but he goes by "Charlie") is not a dragon. (Sometimes it skips a generation.) Not everyone who has dragon blood in them has the potential to be a dragon. And in Charlie's case, the stars were simply not aligned.
You see, Charlie was born in the year of the rabbit. (To put it politely.) (To put it less politely, he's kind of a wimp.) Charlie just never had it in him to be a dragon. He lacks courage, confidence, chutzpah - all the good C-words - and is unassertive in the extreme.
In fact, the only time he ever really put his foot down about anything was the time when he was 18 and he demanded that his father let him go to college out-of-state. (He wanted to study graphic design in New York). And it's a good thing he did, because that's where he met Sarah.
Jake's mother was a nice Jewish girl from Boston, Massachusetts. She met Charlie while she was pre-law at NYU. Now she's a realtor.
Like any mother, Sarah tends to be overprotective. Most of the time she seems more concerned about her children's safety and well-being than she is about the opinions of their friends or their popularity at school. (In other words, her priorities are completely screwed up. But she means well.)
Sarah does not know that Jake is a dragon. But Charlie has been meaning to tell her. He'll get on it right away, though. Honest. He'll do it this evening. Why don't you believe him?
Don't get me wrong, Charlie and Sarah are excellent parents. They're just not the kind of parents you brag about to the other kids at school. And sometimes Jake wishes they were.
Brittany (age 5) loves her big brother very much and she always wants to tag along with him wherever he goes. She also always wants to hold his hand the whole time, which is a big problem for Jake.
Brittany is frequently frightened of things that aren't scary at all, yet completely unafraid of things that would make a pit bull piddle.
She has one of those high-pitched screams that doesn't sound real, and she uses it mostly to get attention. She can also cry on cue, and thinks Jake is funny when he's angry.
Brittany may have some of the traditional child-like ability to see into the magical world, but it's hard to tell because seeing a dragon in her living room probably wouldn't faze her anyway.
Jake's best friend Jamal is African-American. He is also one sixteenth Cherokee, so sometimes he bonds with Jake over the fact that they're both "half-breeds".
Jamal is a slightly chubby kid who could have been a bully but took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up being one of the good guys. Jamal never really had his heart in it anyway - picking on the smaller kids. He's more of a stick-up-for-the-underdog and take-a-beating-for-it kind of guy. He also has a bad habit of befriending the new kid in school.
"A truly good man is not aware of his goodness, and therefore he is good."
Jamal doesn't see himself as particularly heroic or anything like that. He's just as much of a troublemaker as the next kid. He's hyperactive and impulsive. But the weird thing about Jamal is that his impulses are often good ones. If he sees someone getting bullied, he's going to go over and try to stop it, even if everyone's bigger than him. That's just how he was raised.
Jamal's penchant for getting involved when you're supposed to "not get involved" means that his buddy Jake is often drawn into situations he would have otherwise avoided or pretended weren't happening.
Jamal and Jake both love to skateboard, but Jamal's not as good at it as Jake. On the other hand, Jamal doesn't crash and burn as spectacularly as Jake does. Usually when everyone is watching.
Brook is the new girl at school. Sickly and thin, with a pale complexion and an ever-present asthma inhaler, she appears to be at death's door most of the time.
In reality, Brook is a perfectly healthy river nymph - a kind of sea elf. Brook and her parents recently moved to Manhattan because the East River had become so polluted that it's actually easier to breathe air these days, believe it or not.
But most of the kids at school just think she's weird. Jake thinks she's weird, too, but for some reason Jamal decided that they should befriend her, so now Brook hangs out with them all the time, and is a constant embarrassment with her perpetual wheezing and her weird comments about the water quality in the 5 boroughs.
Like many elven folk, Brook has a very acute magical sense. (i.e. She has the innate ability to spot magical beings on sight.) She knew Jake was a dragon the minute she laid eyes on him, and she is terribly excited that someone like Jake would want to be her friend. Which he doesn't. But try explaining that to Brook.
Because Brook knows who Jake is (or who he's supposed to be), she is constantly getting him in over his head by urging him to "Do something!" any time she sees trouble. To which, he always responds, "Why me??" And then Jamal goes over to see what's up, and then it's too late and Jake has to figure out a way to save the day whether he likes it or not.
Brook generally looks sickly and pale with limp hair, but if you put her in water, she's a stone cold hottie (and an excellent swimmer).
Maybe 4 or 5 years down the line, Brook could become a romantic interest, but this is not a set up. Right now, Jake really can't stand her at all and wishes she would go away or at least shut up. And Brook really is impressed with Jake strictly because he's the Dragon and not because he's cute or funny or has ever been nice to her even once. And his skateboarding sucks.
Jamal, who brought the two of them together, can't believe his own comic genius in creating such a dynamic onscreen couple, so he wouldn't dream of separating them now. They're just too funny, and he gets a kick out of their squabbling.
Grandfather's faithful companion is a Chinese shar-pei (the wrinkly dogs), but this is only a disguise. In reality, "Dog" is a magical Fu Dog (the mythical Chinese lion-dogs whose statues are seen outside pagodas and tea gardens.)
When Dog assumes his "true" form he swells up to the size of a small bear (causing his baggy skin to unwrinkle), but this rarely happens except when he is coming to the defense of one of his charges.
Fu Dogs are powerful magical guardians, often assigned to protect important people. (Buddha is often seen with a fu dog sidekick.) They never interfere or get involved in their master's affairs, but they will defend them to the death. Since Dog's master is a powerful magical being himself, there really isn't much for him to do, except hang out and pretend he's a shar-pei and eat snacks and be adorable and try to get his belly rubbed. Which is fine with him.
Dog speaks fluent English and Chinese, (both with a California accent,) but he usually only converses with Grandfather, and then only when no one else is around to see them. Dog and Grandfather have an "old-married-couple" type of relationship, constantly bickering.
Dog is thoroughly Americanized and he loves New York. He loves the hot dogs. He loves the hydrants. He loves the Mets (They're underdogs.) He hates Cats, but it's closed! Dog frequently tries to trick Jake into taking him for his walks because when Grandfather isn't around he likes to do touristy things (that are not very dog-like) like visit the Statue of Liberty or take in a Broadway show (or a Mets game! Woof!)
Jake thinks "Dog" is a stupid name for a dog. Grandfather points out that when they were in China, naming him the American word for "dog" seemed clever and exotic. Doesn't Brittany have a kitten named "Se–or Gato"?
When Jake and Grandfather need unusual supplies, they go to Mr. Bungle, who runs a pawnshop in Chinatown. Whether itÕs a candle, or a doorknob, or a herd of small goats, Mr. Bungle has it. Or he can get it. Even in the middle of Manhattan.
Mr. Bungle is a bugbear (a type of hobgoblin), but most of his customers just think he's a hairy, ugly, smelly, irritable old man.
Bungle seems like a very disagreeable person until you get to know him. (And even then, sometimes.) He always demands outrageous prices for his wares. ("$1000!! For a boot??") But Grandfather can usually haggle him down to his standard asking price: One hug. Each. Which always makes Jake wish they had paid the $1000.
Mr. Bungle rarely leaves his dusty pawn shop, but when he does he has to shave all over - a "disguise" which does little good because you can see his whiskers growing back right before your eyes.
"Evil prevails, when we stop believing
that there are other options."
One of the major tenets of the show is "You can't judge an troll by its cover," so we probably won't have the usual sinister, scowly-faced villains, because even the scowliest people can be nice if you get to know them. Take Mr. Bungle, for example. No, maybe that's a bad example.
Also dragons are so powerful (like Superman) that there wouldn't be much point in a show about finding the bad guys and beating them up (although that is often Jake's first impulse). In fact, Jake will frequently discover that overpowering a foe may be the least effective way of dealing with a problem.
Because of this, the show's villains will be complex but severely misguided characters, so that (while kicking their ass is still an option) there will always be some slight chance of redemption. And one of the things Jake will learn is how to at least give them that chance (before kicking their ass.)
"When there are no more dragons left to slay,
how will you make a living, knight?"
He is the last of an ancient tribe of big game hunters who specialize in stalking magical creatures. The trouble with the Huntsman is that he's just in it for the thrill of the kill, and thinks of all magical beings as "monsters". He would have the same disrespect for the civil rights of his prey whether it was a sabre-toothed manticore or the little gnome who runs the bookshop on the corner.
The Huntsman makes a living selling hides and body parts to collectors and alchemists. A dragon, of course, is the ultimate quarry. The Huntsman has been stalking G'father for some time, but he has not struck yet because it is important to catch him in dragon form. (His human hide would be worthless, and besides the Huntsman could be charged with murder, and besides where's the sport in bagging a feeble old man?)
Human Wizards and Alchemists require parts from magical critters for many of their more potent charms. Very few Wizards would actually kill a magical being outright. But unscrupulous ones have been known to kidnap leprechauns and force them to "donate" blood under unsanitary conditions, or imprison trolls for long periods of time so their toenails will grow out.
Nigel Pfizel is a brilliant, Nobel prize-winning, medical researcher who currently works for the world's largest pharmaceutical company. Unfortunately for the magical world, Dr. Pfizel recently stumbled upon an obscure reference to the medicinal value of imp livers and he has become obsessed with finding and testing the curative properties of other magical beings.
On the surface, Nigel Pfizel poses roughly the same threat as an alchemist or a wizard [see above], except that Dr. Pfizel is a man with a mission. He thinks this vast untapped area of medicine may provide a cure for cancer or something, so he will stop at nothing because he believes he's helping people.
"I'm not a killer. I'm trying to save lives."
---William R. Carey, inventor of the auto air bag
Also, wizards and alchemists tend to have at least some basis in established arcane lore, whereas Dr. Pfizel really has no idea what he's doing, so he'll pop just about anyone into a blender to see what comes out.
The Slyznethelcoatl or "Gnome-Eater" is a shadowy, slithery, semi-invisible creature which feeds exclusively on magical beings.
Like the lion of Africa, or the shark (of the Ocean), the Gnome-Eater actually plays an important role in the eco-system of its native Amazon region. But from time to time, one of them gets loose in a populated area and has to be dealt with.
Special Agent Sargent (actually a Colonel) works for a super-secret government agency responsible for covering up any unusual phenomena which might cause a public panic. You may have seen them in your cornfield eradicating evidence of a U.F.O. landing.
"National security, ma'am, get out of the car."
Spec.Ag. Sargent and his men will descend in full force (in their black helicopters) on the scene of any reports of alleged unusualness. Unexplained beings which fall into their hands are subject to immediate capture and quarantine, followed by "testing". Dissection is rare, but that is also an option.
"Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for you are crunchy and good with catsup."
Snyx is what happens when a good dragon goes bad. It all started with an unfortunate incident in medieval France. Snyx had been sent to capture a Doppelganger who was setting fire to farmhouses all over the countryside. He managed to corner the culprit in a town square in Lucerne, but the crafty shapechanger transformed into a beautiful damsel and began screaming for help. The townspeople surrounded Snyx and despite the fact that the Doppelganger's hysterical claims to be a "princess or something" from a "really big kingdom" made no sense at all, the townspeople believed her and chased Snyx away.
The Doppelganger continued setting fires, for which Snyx received all the blame. And for years after that, the village elders hired an endless string of knights to hunt Snyx down. One of them, "Saint" George even claims to have killed Snyx. (Not true. Though he did stab him up pretty good.)
After generations of being hunted all across Europe and repeatedly attacked for no good reason, Snyx has finally had it with humankind. Although he is not as murderous as the reputation that precedes him, Snyx is definitely a desperate individual who is responsible for most of the verified reports of dragon attacks over the past 300 years.
The only reason Snyx doesn't just hole up in a cave somewhere and say "to heck with everybody" is that he has several chronic medical conditions related to his various injuries over the years so he is constantly breaking into hospitals whenever there are reports of a new breakthrough in the treatment of arthritis.
"The love of money is the root of all evil"
---1 Timothy 6:10
Goblin entrepreneur J.P. Mibbling the Third, Jr. is chairman and CEO of CorpCo.Com, Inc. - a little known, but highly prosperous, multi-national conglomerate. J.P. is thought to be one of the world's richest men, and he's definitely the world's richest goblin. J.P. is motivated exclusively by the love of money. (Literally. He loves it. He has a money suit. He's crazy about the stuff.)
The key to his meteoric rise to success is simple. He uses his inside knowledge of the magical world to exploit his fellow creatures for fun and profit. J.P. owns a chain of very successful sweatshops, for example, which have operated outside the law for years because he employs only dwarven workers who are grateful for the long hours.
He is unscrupulous in the extreme and he will stop at nothing to achieve his ultimate goal of owning all the money in the world.
"I guess a little pure evil couldn't hurt"
"An Ancient Evil" is a force (?) or a creature (?) or an entity (?) so ancient (and evil) that no one even knows its name.
It was unearthed recently - by oilmen drilling for crude in the Arctic - after having been frozen in a glacier for thousands of years. (This was about the same time the frozen Neanderthal was discovered in the same area.)
Resembling a frozen oil slick, it was taken back to the lab for study. Unfortunately, when thawed, it came to life, took over the lab, turned the scientists against each other, and destroyed the entire facility, before escaping out into the world. No one knows where it is now, what it wants, or where it's going. But if you encounter someone who seems to be acting out of pure malevolence, there's a chance that "An Ancient Evil" is behind it somehow.
Jake and his Grandfather are not the only Dragons in the world. (Just the only ones in America.) There is at least one Dragon assigned to every continent. Plus a few additional Dragons in areas that need them most. (Japan has its very own dragon. So does England.)
The 5 highest-ranking Dragons form the Dragon Council (or Dragon's Paw) which makes decisions that effect dragons worldwide.
The Dragon Council is not an enemy, per se, but like any bureaucracy, their decisions sometimes make life difficult for the people under them. (It was the Dragon Council that sent Lao Luong to America in the first place to fill the dragon void there.)
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"
---The Wrath of Khan
The Dragon Council holds occasional conventions where Jake may meet others of his kind. (NOTE: Dragons are only born in the year of the Dragon - every 12 years - so some of the world's dragons are exactly Jake's age.)
The current Council of Five is as follows:
á Dragon of Asia [China] - Quan Zi Luong (no relation)
á Dragon of Africa [Kenya] - Baba Moshi
á Dragon of South America [Brazil] - Tletlcoatl
á Dragon of Europe [Austria] - Hermann Drache
á Dragon of Atlantis [Lycenae] - Dracirrigo
Other notable dragons:
á Fred Nerk - the Dragon of Australia - an affable bloke; plays rugby; likes to travel; not especially concerned about dragoning ("The bloody place pretty much takes care of itself.")
á Hiriku - the Dragon of Japan - 13 years old; very competitive; obsessed with video games (and "Magic the Gathering", for some reason).
á Dai Draegn-Gwilliam - the Welsh Dragon - a very old dragon; in charge of all of England at the moment; hot tempered; doesn't get along with Leprechauns.
"Think he's compensating for something?"
---said of many cars
No childhood would be complete without an intolerable brute picking on all the other kids at school because he's compensating for his own shortcomings. And Jake's school has Timmy.
Timmy has everything going against him. He's got a dumb name. He doesn't do well in school. His parents are rich and emotionally distant. And he's the shortest kid in his class. (He used to be 2nd shortest, but Jake grew 2 inches over the summer. Not a smart move on Jake's part.)
His diminutive stature doesn't prevent Timmy from terrorizing his classmates. His parents let him take classes in Judo, Jujitsu and Krav Maga and he's not afraid to use them. Plus he is usually accompanied by several big thugs for emphasis. (Maybe Jamal used to be one of Timmy's thugs.)
Not only is Timmy a big bully (despite his size), he's also part of the "popular" crowd (because his parents keep him supplied with all the latest sneakers and newly-released video games) officially making him any kid's worst nightmare.
NOTE: Most martial arts are principally designed for self-defense, so when Timmy tries to use them to beat people up, he has to resort to ridiculous antics to get his opponents to "come at him" first. So ironically the best way to defeat Timmy is to simply walk away.
á "Jake's First Flying Lesson" - Jake is all ready to "believe he can fly", when Grandfather informs him that the trick to flying is not believing in yourself, but believing in someone else - the person who tells you you can fly. Grandfather then tells Jake a fib to demonstrate how hard it is to believe in other people sometimes. But this demonstration only confuses Jake, and now he doesn't know who to trust, so he can't fly at all now. Later, when Grandfather finally convinces Jake to give it another try, THE HUNTSMAN shows up and pounces on G'father as he flies to a nearby rooftop. Jake panics as he is forced to stand helplessly by and watch the Huntsman slay his Grandfather. But just before the villain delivers the coup de grace, Grandfather tells Jake he can fly. And this time he believes him.
á "When You Wish Upon a Sprite" - After a petty argument with his friends, Jake goes up on the roof to sulk. Seeing a shooting star, he idly wishes that he didn't have any friends, and unfortunately a SPRITE overhears him and decides to arrange for his wish to come true.
á "Fighting Irish" - Once a year, LEPRECHAUNS all over America don their greens and head to Notre Dame for the big homecoming game. Grandfather and Jake head to Indiana because this massive influx of magical energies almost always attracts trouble, and this year they have to stop an invisible GNOME-EATER from spoiling the festivities.
á "The 500th Step" - Jake has grown impatient with taking "baby steps" on the Path of the Dragon. Against Grandfather's advice he chooses the 500th step for today's lesson. Unfortunately #500 is "WRESTLE A GIANT". Jake doesn't even know how to find a giant. (That would have been step 47.) Somehow Jake figures out a way to complete the task, but in the process he learns not to bite off more than he can chew. (Which, ironically, is the whole point of "wrestle a giant".)
á "Baby Teeth" - The last of Jake's baby teeth falls out, and gets thrown out the window, becoming a MYSTICAL WARRIOR who goes on a rampage through lower Manhattan.
á "Baby Teeth II" - Brittany loses one of her baby teeth, and Jake gets in a fight with the TOOTH FAIRY when it decides it would rather have his teeth instead.
á "Blood Brothers" - Jamal convinces Jake that they should become blood brothers, but when Jamal licks the blood off his thumb after the ritual, he gains the ability to hear the LANGUAGE OF BIRDS. Jamal thinks he's going crazy. Brook and Jake decide they have to keep him away from birds. They go to the aquarium. Brook starts talking to the fishes. She'd forgotten how much she misses them. When she tries to climb into one of the tanks, Jamal realizes that he's not so crazy after all.
á "The Unicorn in Central Park" - On a trip to Coney Island, Jake and G'father encounter a freak show run by a disreputable GOBLIN who has imprisoned a REAL UNICORN and put it on display. The Unicorn is miserable and lonely and manages to escape and gallops through the streets of Brooklyn causing havok. Jake, using Brook and Brittany as bait - Unicorns like "maidens" - lures the Unicorn to Central Park where they get it a job as a carriage horse (with a top hat) so it can spend time with other horses and have its nose petted from time to time.
á "Trouble in Christmas Town" - SANTA'S "ELVES" are on strike. They're not really elves, though, they're gnomes, and they're sick and tired of the elves getting all the credit. Jake is asked to mediate in the negotiations.
á "Giants / Knicks" - Just when Jake thought Grandfather was all lessons and no fun, G'father shows up with Knicks tickets! But it turns out he just wants Jake to meet one of the players who happens to be a GIANT. And it's a good thing they went because the Giant has been taking herbal tea to treat his claustrophobia (New York is so small.) However, he's been off his meds since signing an endorsement deal with Starbucks. He goes berserk and goes on a rampage, and Jake and Grandfather have to stop him before somebody gets hurt.
á "Good Dragon / Bad Dragon" - In his next encounter with the Huntsman, Jake's life is saved by the evil dragon, SNYX. But Jake prevents Snyx from devouring the Huntsman in cold blood. Snyx shows Jake why he hates people. Jake asks him to give humanity another chance, but Snyx isn't quite ready for that yet.
á "(Fu) Dog Show" - Grandfather's birthday is coming up, and Dog wants to buy him a nice present. Unfortunately he's going to need "money" for that, so he convinces Jake to enter him in a dog show, figuring a FU DOG can kick any real dog's butt. The poo really hits the fan, though, when one of the other competitors turns out to be a supernatural impostor, as well, and they get into a magical battle royal at Madison Square Garden.
á "A Troll Tolls In Brooklyn" - A Brooklyn TROLL, jealous of the Triborough Bridge Trolls who have been gouging motorists for years now for the privilege of driving over their bridge, decides its time to set up a toll booth on the Brooklyn Bridge. This innovation hopelessly snarls traffic and invites unwanted attention to the Troll community.
á "Gargoyle Tears" - Pedestrians are being endangered by GARGOYLE tears (granite pellets) falling from one of the city's rooftops. Jake, Brook and Jamal go up to investigate and find a very depressed Gargoyle who longs to fly again. Jake and the others manage to convince him not to jump (and undoubtedly splatter himself and a few pedestrians), but now they have to convince him that there's something else worth living for (besides flying). The kids take the Gargoyle on a whirlwind tour of New York. At the end of the day they're still not sure if they found him something as good as flying. But a few weeks later, they run into the same Gargoyle, gleefully operating a tour bus. It was all better than flying.
á "Scared Straight" - A BOGEY has moved in down the block, putting the entire neighborhood on edge as he creeps around alleyways and jumps out of people's closets. Jake discovers that the Bogey isn't all bad. But he's an incorrigible prankster who just doesn't seem to "get" that people don't like being frightened. So Jake and Jamal concoct an elaborate plan to scare the bejeezus out of the Bogeyman himself.
á "Kobold's Keep" - A group of KOBOLD tourists discover Belvedere Castle in Central Park and decide to live there. Problems arise when the Kobold's new home is continually "invaded" by new tourists.
á "Ogre's Field Trip" - an OGRE who drives a city bus in Jake's neighborhood, makes the mistake of taking a one-time gig driving a school bus on a field trip for Jake's school. The kids are so cruel to the big fat driver, that he has a break down and after dropping them off, steals the bus and runs away. Jake follows him and has to convince him to return the bus before the class returns from the field trip and discovers them both missing.
á "The Office Elf" - Jake goes to visit his dad at work and meets an OFFICE ELF who is severely depressed (for an elf). He enjoys playing with the xerox machine, of course, but other than that, the sterile office atmosphere just isn't a good environment for an elf, but he doesn't know where else to go, and Jake has to help him find a more carefree office-like habitat somewhere in the city.
á "Pixed-Off" - Jake manages to get on the bad side of Timmy the bully and a belligerent PIXIE on the same day. They both keep trying to pick a fight with him every time they see him, but the real trouble begins when the Pixie "figures out" that Timmy is a friend of Jake's and puts him on his "pix list" as well. This puts Jake in the awkward position of having to protect Timmy from harm.
á "Brownie Valet" - Passing through the neighborhood, an unemployed BROWNIE, notices Jake's unkempt bedroom and offers to clean it for him. That arrangement works out so well, giving Jake extra time to go to a ballgame with Dog, that he contracts for the Brownie to do other chores for him. Soon he has the Brownie doing his homework and performing some of his Dragon Challenges for him. Eventually Jake realizes that he's not learning anything while the Brownie does his work for him and fights the Brownie to prevent him from cleaning. But that doesn't stop him. Eventually Jake has to resort to telling the Brownie that he found a spot of dirt he missed, which offends the Brownie so badly that he storms out and never comes back.
á "Bungle's Big Date" - Mr. Bungle, the BUGBEAR is very nervous about his first big date in years. Jake and the kids end up helping him prepare and primp for the date, and even arrange a rehearsal dinner to practice. When the big day finally arrives, Bungle is completely unrecognizable, clean-shaven and suave (sort of) with well-polished shoes and a spiffy tuxedo. His date arrives, a wild-haired Bugbearette and is so horrified at what's happened to him that she dumps him on the spot.
á "Crop Circles" - The PIXIES are at it again. Their annual Li'l-Lilith-Fair concert draws pixies from all over the world, but it inevitably attracts a lot of unwanted attention as well. Held in a remote wheat field, the concert this year draws the attention of Special Agent Sargent, who is sent to investigate the mysterious crop circles which appear the morning after the moshing pixies trample all the wheat in a perfect circle.
á "Dragon Con IX" - Jake and his Grandfather attend a convention hosted by the Council of Dragons where Jake meets HIRIKU, the Dragon of Japan. Hiriku is very competitive and continually challenges Jake to prove who is the "better" Dragon.
á "oHo" - Against G'father's advice, Jake decides to visit the Forgotten City of oHo - a sideways village located between SoHo and NoHo - where he becomes embroiled in a dispute between a Goblin and a Hobgoblin (because parking is very limited). But the real fun begins when he tries to return home and finds that he is still sideways.
á "Area 51" - One of the federal governments worst-kept secrets is the facility at Area 51 where evidence of alien life on Earth is taken for study. It is even rumored that they have a few live alien specimens imprisoned there. What they actually have is a couple of elves and a really confused manticore. And when federal agents add Brook and her parents to their collection, Jake and Jamal have to find their way to Nevada to rescue them.
 See VILLAINS: SNYX THE DRAGON
 Or the German kobold; the Native American thunderbird; the dybbuk of Jewish folklore; the French lutin; or the Arabian djinn (genie).
 See VILLAINS: THE DRAGON COUNCIL
 See Appendix: THE JOURNEY OF 1000 STEPS: DRAGON POWERS
 Grandfather won't say, "Let's go meet a troll." The actual task will be something like: "Fetch a single hair from the comb of a troll", but we'll know that the real objective is to see how Jake deals with a troll upon meeting one for the first time.
 The coelacanth was a prehistoric sea creature, believed to be extinct for hundreds of millions of years until a fisherman caught one off the coast of Madagascar in 1938.
 See Appendix: A ZOOGRAPHY OF MAGICAL CREATURES
 A Birdhouse Pterodactyl 8"x32" with Destructo truck and 54mm Element Speedcores.
 If a dragon's mother is in human form during childbirth, or if the mother is human, as in Jake's case, the dragon pup will be born a human and remain in that shape until adolescence. NOTE: It is not uncommon for dragon parents to do this intentionally, because it makes it easier for the offspring to be accepted in human society (rather than hunted by it) and humans have very good school systems these days.
 See Appendix: DRAGON POWERS
 See DRAGON POWERS: EYES ON THE MAGICAL WORLD
 See DRAGON POWERS: EYES ON THE MAGICAL WORLD
 "When visiting a troll village, one should always take along a small goat. Trolls are afraid of goats, and will be too busy keeping an eye on the goat to think about harming you."
 aka: Dragonstalkers, Stalkers, Bloodsmen, Bloodhunters, Gamesmen, Poachers. The natural inclination, of course, would be to call them "Dragon Slayers" but we may want to avoid confusion with Buffy.
 This should be in the public domain by now.
 Krav Maga is the official self-defense system of the Israeli military and special forces.
 Such as, throwing himself on the ground in front of someone so they'll accidentally step on him.
 See Appendix: THE JOURNEY OF 1000 STEPS.