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       Poison, p.10

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  “Relax, Sammy. She’s fine.”

  “Nobody has ever spoken to my father like that before. Well they treat him like shit, but you? I thought the Night Villain was going to appear.”

  “It was needed,” I said simply and they just stared at me with concern again.

  “You do know that if he doesn’t get the beatings, Elena…”

  “No, Becky. I can’t stand those stupid beatings. He is claimed, he can’t turn dark anymore.”

  “Elena you don’t know that,” Sammy said.

  I got what it was they were saying and it hit me hard, right in the gut.

  “I don’t know if I will be able to handle that again,” I spoke softly.

  “Then let the Ancients help find a way to block it, until he dents, Elena. Blake is a jerk, we all know that, but he is stubborn too. If he doesn’t dent soon, he will need a beating again.”

  “I’ll think about it, okay. Maybe he will feel sorry about it in the next couple of days and he will stop doing fucked up shit.”

  “I doubt that is how it works, but okay. It’s your dragon and who are we to argue with a princess?”

  “Stop that.” I threw a pillow at her and she laughed.

  They both came to sit on my bed.

  “I have to admit, you scared the living shit out of me.”

  I blew out a gush of air. “This is so messed up. You guys ever experienced anything like this in Paegeia before?”

  They shook their heads.

  “He hasn’t even dented yet. I know that saying is seriously annoying you big time, but when he is ready, we are going to see big things from the two of you.”

  I huffed. “He’ll never be ready, Sammy. I never wanted to claim him, but my father made me.”

  “You really saw him?”

  I nodded.

  “You never told us about it, so spill. What was it like? Cheng said you were really dark.”

  “I was. I almost killed him, Becky, in order to make him promise not to tell anyone the truth.”

  “WHAT!”

  “I wasn’t myself. He kept saying it was Blake’s emotions that I felt. When Blake blew that fire on me, I thought I was dead. Then I opened my eyes and watched how my body repaired itself. I was still in his flame but it wasn’t alive anymore. When I stood straight and walked away from it, it was as if I was chucked into a picture. I saw everyone’s expression, the camera’s flashes, you guys. I thought I was dead and then something caught my eyes. It disappeared and I caught it again. He wore a dark cloak and I thought that it was the reaper.”

  Both laughed.

  “It’s not funny. I really thought that I was dead. I was frozen in one place and he came nearer until he was right in front of me. When he took off his hood, I still didn’t realize what was happening. I bowed down as it was drilled into us in history. A part of me, I think was shocked to finally see him, you know. He’s nothing like his pictures and the museum has their figures so wrong.”

  “Do you really share the same color eyes?”

  I nodded again and smiled.

  “He walked up to me and touched my shoulder. Told me that I shouldn’t bow down to anyone, and he had a silly name for me. Sweet pea.”

  They sighed as tears formed in my eyes.

  “The look on my face must have told him that I had no idea who he was, so he asked. When I told him that he was King Albert and not my father….” I closed my eyes and shook my head. “I never saw a man break down like that.”

  “Elena, if there was something your mom and dad wanted it was you. For centuries they waited and waited.”

  “Yeah, I know.”

  “So what went wrong?”

  “Tanya was supposed to stay with me, raise me, tell me from a young age who I was but Herbert, or Jako, whoever he was, her husband found us. He took the responsibility to keep me safe and moved a lot. She was Chromatic, couldn’t change and she left. He told me the truth once but Tanya said I couldn’t handle it and she had to erase my memories. She erased a lot and I knew my father told me about Paegeia through stories, but I couldn’t remember them anymore.”

  “Did you tell King Albert the truth, that you knew who you were or did evil Elena screw that up too?”

  “No, the funny thing was at that moment, I didn’t feel evil anymore. I was myself and yes, I did tell him that he was my father but he is so smart, saw right through that one too and asked when I discovered it. So I told him and I had to tell him that my mother’s dragon betrayed her, broke her promise. Now I know why she haunted my dreams.”

  “To think she was trying to tell you for such a long time to find Tanya.”

  “I didn’t know at that time that it was Tanya.”

  “You never knew what she looked like?”

  “I did, had a photo Herbert didn’t know about, but there were no pictures of Tanya this side, so I couldn’t put two and two together like Lucian.”

  “Lucian knew?”

  “Yes, for how long, that I don’t know. She said he guessed it on the first try because of the promise she had with my mom. She couldn’t tell anybody except me.”

  “He died knowing that you were never his.” Sammy had tears in her eyes.

  “I was his, Sammy,” I said. It was silent for a short while. “I dreamt about him too, the way I dreamt about my mom. He guided me through so many things but for some reason he couldn’t just say it. Whenever he wanted to tell me, nothing came out.”

  “Wait, what? You dreamed about Lucian?” Becky asked.

  “Yes, I know it sounds messed up.”

  “Is that how you knew it wasn’t the right date?”

  “Yip, I just couldn’t tell you that Lucian told me. I was scared.”

  “Elena.”

  “No, Becky. You guys would’ve thought I was busy losing it and I knew it was real, so I kept it from you guys so I could try to discover what his date meant and it worked.”

  “Still, you kept something from us, and that’s what’s worrying me. How much more are you still keeping?”

  Tears filled my eyes again.

  “Elena.”

  “I can’t, I promised, but there is one more. I just can’t tell anybody.”

  They both just stared at me and a tear rolled over my cheek. I wiped it away. “It’s a good one too and it sucks that I can’t share it with you guys.”

  Sammy hugged me and Becky stroked my back. “Please don’t make me break a promise.” I looked at Becky as I knew she would push and push until I told her that my father was still alive, trapped in Etan. She would tell someone and that would be just the wrong thing to do. I was sure that Blake already knew that part.

  “Okay, but will you tell us if you feel the time is right?”

  “What do you mean?”

  “I don’t know what it is you are hiding, but something tells me the time isn’t right, otherwise you would.”

  I nodded. I would never tell, but if that was going to ease her mind then so be it.

  “I can wait.” She smiled again and I giggled.

  “It might be a long wait.”

  “Then I’ll ask George for his essence. He’s been dying to give it to me ever since he dented. I thought it was rare.”

  Sammy laughed. “It is with normal bonds but not with dents.”

  “You thought about giving Dean your essence?”

  “And be stuck with him forever?”

  We both laughed.

  “Shame on you Sammy. I thought you guys were a match made in heaven.”

  “I still do too, but I don’t know him that well yet. He might turn into my worst nightmare when the honeymoon phase is over.”

  Becky bumped her softly.

  “He even thought that the first foretelling Irene made was about us. He said the leaves inside gave him an inkling.”

  “An inkling?” I laughed.

  “Yes, idiot. But I know it’s not about us. It’s a different Leaf.” She smiled and looked at me.

  “Urgh! I wish people woul
d stop saying that. Lucian said that too, you guys are wrong. Your brother will never feel that way about me. That I can promise you.”

  “Sure, just like George hated my guts and now he is my constant shadow.”

  “You love George, it’s different.”

  “You’ll love my brother too,” Sammy chirped

  I scrunched up my face. “I’m scared about that. He really hurt me once, and I don’t want him to do that again, Sammy.”

  “It’s going to be different.”

  “I don’t think that will alleviate my fears, Samantha.” I got up. “Besides, I’m no match against Tabitha and I’m fine with that. I don’t need Blake, I just need the mutt who is inside of him.” They wanted to protest about the Tabitha comment but they laughed instead. It wasn’t real, I could tell when it was fake.

  They felt my pain and that is why I loved them so much.

  The constant worrying about him that night when I was lying in my bed, elevated. He’d gotten a beating again and when I closed my eyes, I would see blood on the walls. Why wouldn’t he just come back?

  Did he just hear that?

  I hated the fact that he was so connected to me and that he knew what I still felt toward him.

  That deep down inside I still had feelings for him but at the same time how disgusted I was about those same feelings.

  I fell asleep and thanked Heaven no blood on the walls appeared in my dreams this time.

  HROUGH THE COURSE of the next week, I managed to not think about things the way I used to anymore.

  I had to protect myself from him somehow and not thinking about certain things was the best I could do, but to share classes with dragons and riders was beginning to make me realize just how alone I was in all of this.

  Sure my friends were around me, but I couldn’t share in most of their conversations because it was about frawsome lectures that helped them with enhancing their bonds, or partnerships. The times that they practiced in the air was the hardest. I missed the clouds, the wind against my face and beneath my wings. I missed the sky.

  I decided to skip the last afternoon’s lecture, which was another flying lesson: Aviant class, and found myself sitting on the edge of Dragonia Academy, by the same boulders where Cheng used to tell me about Paegeia’s history.

  I didn’t turn my back against the view anymore and stared at acres and acres of beauty and open land. The mountains were on the horizon and the light dangling on some of the tops were beautiful.

  I heard footsteps coming closer and when I looked up, I saw Cheng.

  “What are you doing here?” I smiled, and was out of my element to find him here once again.

  “Master Longwei asked me to come, besides, University is boring.”

  I giggled. “I’m sure you could teach them something instead.”

  He sat down next to me and just looked at me for a short while. “How are you doing, Elena?”

  I sighed. “Fine, I guess.”

  “The professors complain that you aren’t paying attention in class.”

  “You wouldn’t either, if you were in my position, Cheng.”

  He smiled and stared out in front of us, admiring the view. “To think the last time we were here, none of us had any idea who you were.”

  “I doubt that, you must have had a theory.”

  He laughed. “You know me so well.”

  “Then why didn’t you say anything?”

  “And what, let everyone tell me how raving mad and far-fetched my theories were? Besides, all the professors had that same theory, Elena, we just didn’t know how it was possible for you to get past the wall.”

  “They did?”

  “Master Longwei told me that Professor Pheizer was the worst. She had a lot of theories but they all said it was far-fetched.”

  “She did?”

  “Yes, she had a gift when it came to ascending and bonds, that type of thing.”

  “No wonder she stared at me so many times when Cara made her appearance.”

  “She threw all of us off, Elena.”

  Silence filled in again.

  “I miss her so much Cheng.” I felt like crying again but a princess doesn’t cry in public. “I miss the sky, the wind on my face, beneath my wings and classes like the one I’m skipping right now, well, it’s like they rub in the things I longed for the most. Without Blake, I’ll never be up in the sky again.”

  He squinted at me.

  “You don’t need Blake.” He got up and started to pull his shirt off.

  “What are you doing?”

  “Giving you what you long for the most. The sky.”

  “Are you serious?” I looked away as he started pulling off his pants, until I heard the plop and tear sound of the transformation being made.

  When I looked back a beautiful bronze dragon with a tail that fanned out into the shape of a crown stood in Cheng’s place.

  “Your wish is my command princess, now let’s go.”

  I giggled, and didn’t think twice. He opened his wing and I climbed on until I reached his back.

  I grabbed ahold of his horns on his back and held on tight. I spoke an incantation for extra eyelids to protect my eyes from the wind.

  “I’m ready.”

  The lift off was exhilarating, it wasn’t like the time I was a dragon myself, but it was just as fun, knowing in a couple of minutes I was going to glide on a bed of clouds.

  A shriek of excitement left my lips as the ground came near and then I saw Cheng opening his wings and the wind pushed us up with a jolt. I closed my eyes as the wind brushed against my face and wanted to stretch out my hands, but the fear of falling was still inside of me. I didn’t have my wings anymore, and although I did trust Cheng, there was still that small part of my fear keeping me from completely letting go.

  “Open your eyes, Elena,” Cheng said and I giggled.

  “How did you know they were closed?” I yelled back.

  “I know you.”

  I opened them and it was breathtaking. Below us were clouds as far as I could see on both sides. They were purple and pink, with a tinge of orange lingering inside of them with the sun at our backs.

  A feeling of pure belonging filled my gut. I remembered what Cara had told me once, when we found that place that was in my dream. How Paegeia was always inside of me. I didn’t realize what she’d meant back then, but being on Cheng’s back, flying through the sky, I could feel what she meant now.

  This is where I belonged, in the sky, it was my birthright and one I’d only come to realize now. My destiny was always to be a rider. To spend my time on the back of a dragon.

  I could feel Cheng descending and we landed on the top of a mountain that I’d admired from afar.

  It always amazed me how beautiful the tops of mountains were, and we found a spot from which we could see the entirety of Paegeia.

  It was so beautiful.

  I slid off his back and he didn’t transform back to his human form. He lay next to me in his dragon form.

  We just admired the beauty of this world from above.

  “You see that part in the distance?” he asked me in a deep voice.

  I looked to where his big head was staring and I found a dark shadowy place in the distance.

  “Is that…”

  “It’s Etan, well, the Creepers.”

  The shadow reached for miles and miles. It had to be huge and again the footage of what I’d seen once on Lucille’s television didn’t capture it at all.

  “One day, Elena. You’re going to be able to destroy it, to reach all those people behind and free them.

  “How Cheng?”

  “I don’t know but it’s your destiny, it’s in the Book of Shadows.” I looked at him.

  “When it feels as if the darkness will descend, a united team will rise and defend. The power to see their destiny through, lies within the hearts of an unlikely two. Their strength, power and love as one, liberty brought by The Courageous and the Prodigal Son.”

/>   “And how do you know that even belongs to me and Blake?”

  “It was one of the foretellings Irene saw after Blake’s egg hatched. You are his rider, Elena.”

  “I saw what the Creepers can do, it’s scary and sorry if I’m not all giddy, wanting to fly off into the sunset to go and try it out.”

  “The two of you will succeed where everyone else failed, Elena.”

  “How, Cheng? Those things, they tear through everything that comes too close to them.”

  “I’m not a Moon-Bolt, Elena, and I doubt if I was one that I would be able to see how you were going to do that. Something about your bloodline is just too strong for them to see your future.”

  “Fox did, I’m sure he knew who I was.”

  “He was like nine hundred years old, Elena. The oldest Moon-Bolt and the most psycho one at that.”

  “Still, he saw my future, I know he did.”

  “And that was why he wanted to destroy you so badly. I can’t imagine him ever wanting peace.”

  “You knew him too?”

  “No, but my father used to tell me stories about him. Scary stories. Your father, well the one that raised you, must have been one hell of a dragon to have been able to kill him.” He looked at me. “Guess the love of a daughter really gives you strength beyond comprehension.”

  “I killed his daughter, Cheng.”

  “Elena, you were his daughter.”

  I didn’t answer, I would never know how he truly felt, even though he used to tell me that he loved me more than life itself. Now that I knew the truth, it was hard to believe those words.

  “Tanya asked me to do her a favor.”

  I gasped. “When?” Hoping that maybe King Helmut had gotten it wrong and that she was still out there, alive. She had the ability of persuasion and making people see what they wanted to see.

  “While you were asleep after my wondeful day with the Kumutsi.”

  “So, she’s really dead.”

  “She is, Elena. I was one of the people that had to identify her body.”

  “That bastard.”

  “The Kumutsi isn’t an easy man. What he says is Law, Elena, even when it comes to his own family.”

  “Do you know why he killed her?”

  “She promised him that nobody would ever come again after Lucian’s departure, she swore on her life.”

 
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