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Thunderlight, p.10
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       Thunderlight, p.10

           Adrienne Woods

  “Your mother can’t heal him?” I asked.

  Sammy gave a sarcastic chuckle.

  I got up to hug her. I guess that is as good an answer as I’m going to get.

  “I'm so scared, Elena,” she whimpered into my shoulder.

  “It's going to work out fine. Your brother will pull through this. He’s the Rubicon for crying out loud.”

  “I don't know. By the look on moms face…” She started to cry again. “It was just a stupid warehouse.”

  “Shhh, don't cry.” I folded my arms around her and rocked her gently.

  “He could've killed him.” She sobbed and her entire body started to shiver.

  “Sammy, c’mon,” I said and it worked, she gave a giggle through the mess of snot and tears.

  The thought crossed my mind that I should be running away from here as fast as I could, but I had promised myself no more running. “It's going to be okay.”

  We spent the entire morning in Sammy’s room just lying on her bed. Sammy had taken what had happened to her brother hard. She cried regularly, and kept murmuring over and over the words “it was just a stupid warehouse.” I felt for her on so many levels. It was a stupid warehouse and there were no casualties. Why Blake did the things he did when he got drunk, no one knew.

  As we were talking, there came a soft knock on the door and her Mom entered. She gave me a soft smile and went over to Sammy and stroked her back.

  She lifted up her head and turned her body so she could look at her Mom. “How is he?”

  “Still in a lot of pain, but he’ll get there.”

  “Why don’t you heal him?” I had to know.

  “Elena, dragons can’t heal other dragons. It’s only humans. Besides, Blake doesn’t need healing. He has his own healing ability, which worries me because the longer Blake feels the pain the longer he can hold on.” She took a deep breath. “Again, I’m so—”

  “Stop apologizing. It’s how things work in Paegeia. I have to get use to them somehow.”

  “Still, it’s not good to witness something like that.” She gave me another soft smile. “Why don’t you girls go out and spend the last day of your summer outside. Tomorrow it’s back to school and then all fun is over.”

  “Yeah, sure.” Sammy got up and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

  I watched from my perch on the bed at my Cammy Lucian had phoned twice this morning as he heard via the grapevine what had happened last night. He was worried about me and how I’d taken it, but I told him I was fine. I had to be with Sammy as she needed me more. Dean had also phoned and they’d been sending messages to one another the entire morning.

  I messaged Lucian as Sammy walked into the bathroom to freshen up and put on some new clothes.

  Two seconds later my phone received a message from him.

  “Name the place and I’ll meet you two there. How is she doing?”

  “Fine, a bit shaken up, but she’s a tough girl…. I mean dragon.” I text back.

  “I’m glad she has you. Just let me know. LU.”

  I still didn’t know if the LU was a shorter version of his name or his way of saying “Love You” so I went with the latter.

  When Sammy came out we went back to the park. It was the closest place to escape and we were used to meeting the boys there.

  I was glad when Dean showed up right next to Lucian. The tears started to roll over her cheeks again when she saw him, and it was beautiful the way he wrapped his Gorilla-sized arms around her. He even murmured a couple of words of Latin into her ear.

  Lucian gave me a hug too and I felt his lips touching my head softly.

  When Sammy’s sobbing subdued she told Dean and Lucian what had happened. “It was a stupid warehouse, Lucian. He didn’t deserve to get beaten like that. He can’t even get up from bed.”

  “Do you think he will be able to go back to Dragonia?” Dean still had one arm around Sammy’s waist as we sat around a small table by the coffee shop.

  “In due time, but it won’t be tomorrow. My Mom says that his healing abilities still haven’t kicked in. She’s really worried about that.”

  “Sammy, I know it’s hard for you to witness that, but whoever is going to claim him has to do that, otherwise he will be lost. He needed that.”

  “My Dad needs one more.”

  He brushed his hands through his hair. “I know.”

  “I’m ready to change the subject,” Sammy said. “Speak about anything else, please.”

  “So, Elena. You are a Fire-Wielder.”

  We all burst out laughing at Dean’s attempt to change the subject. We were all so over that one.

  “I tried,” he shrugged.

  “Pathetic.” Sammy teased him and he pulled his face at her. He was good at making her laugh and I was glad that she’d found someone too.

  At six the guys took us to a small pizzeria and we slid into a corner booth hoping that nobody would notice Lucian.

  He ended up paying for three extra pizzas and gave them to Sammy to take home. When we got back to the house, Isabel was so grateful to not have to make supper for everyone. I was happy too, she looked emotionally drained. After supper she took a plate with pizza to Blake and left the room.

  I ended up rinsing our plates and drying them off while Sammy just stared at the fridge. I hoped she would snap out of this depression soon.

  Sir Robert had left before dawn and hadn’t returned yet. To be honest I was grateful for that. I didn’t want to see him.

  Isabel came back without the plate in her hand and took the chair opposite Sammy. “So, you guys finished packing and everything?”

  “Not yet. When do you think Blake will be able to come back to Dragonia, Mom.”

  “I don’t know honey. The state that he’s in….” she shook her head and forced a smile onto her lips. “It’s up to him. Soon, I hope.”

  “Yeah,” Sammy sulked again as we said goodnight to her Mom and went back to her room.

  We went to bed around nine but I couldn’t sleep as we could both hear Blake’s moaning from his room. At least he was showing signs of life. Around eleven Sammy got up, took her blanket and pillow and left the room. I just watched as she disappeared and I could hear a soft knock on her brother’s door. She didn’t return and a picture of Sammy crawling into bed with her brother, just being with him, emerged inside my mind. It didn’t matter how big of a jerk he was, she still loved him a lot.

  I tossed and turned for another hour but every time I closed my eyes I could still see the walls sprayed with Blake’s blood and the cracks where Sir Robert had thrown him against the wall.

  There was one thing I didn’t understand though; he was the Rubicon. The strongest dragon that ever lived, how had Sir Robert managed to get Blake in the condition he was in?

  Hollow footsteps walked up the stairs and went into Blake’s room.

  I was so glad that I wasn’t the mother of a Chromatic dragon. I wouldn’t know what to do if my husband beat my children like that.

  To think, Blake could’ve died.

  His recent begging to Lucian in the museum two nights ago jumped into my head. His voice had sounded so sad when he spoke those horrible words. I couldn’t even think about them. The question lingered on my mind, would Lucian slay Blake if the time came? They used to be best friends and what consequences would Lucian face if that task fell to him. He could never live with himself if they ask him to do that, knowing that he couldn’t keep his promise of claiming Blake, and that he must kill him, would kill me.

  HE NEXT DAY Isabel called us a cab to take us to the Wall. She gave Sammy a long tight hug as we hauled our luggage down the stairs.

  “Call me with updates, please,” she begged her Mom.

  Isabel nodded slowly.

  I was next and her arms felt so motherly, just like Constance’s. They really were alike in so many ways.

  “Don’t be a stranger, Elena. You are always welcome in this house, remember that.”

  I nodded.
“Thank you and I’m going to hold you to that offer.”

  She gave me a soft laugh. “You really are one hell of an amazing girl, Elena. I can see why Lucian put up such a huge fight with his parents.”

  “I’m just glad it worked.”

  “The cab is here, you guys should get going.”

  “Will Blake be okay?” I asked as Sammy made her way to the car.

  “He’s showing some signs of recovery. His healing ability is starting to kick in slowly and he’ll be up in no time.”

  “Have you spoken to Sir Robert yet?” I didn’t know why I asked that. I was still so upset with him.

  She shook her head. “He does that when things get too hectic around here.”

  “Will you be okay?”

  “I can take care of myself, honey.”

  “Okay. Thanks again for having me. It was … interesting.”

  She giggled. “Thank you for staying here. Apart from Tabitha you are the only other being that ever comes here.”

  “Don’t forget about Becky and George,” I said.

  “Urgh! How could I?” she joked.

  We both giggled and she walked me to the cab. I climbed in and waved at her as the cab drove off.

  My mind was so heavy with the thoughts of two nights ago that the elevator seemed like a walk in the park.

  Sammy was quiet too and we didn’t speak one word to each other as we made our gut-wrenching decent back to Elm.

  We reached Elm in no time and took another cab to Dragonia Academy. My spirit lifted as I saw the carriages in the woods. There were only a few cars parked in the lot and the driver put our luggage in the carriage’s back compartment. I was so proud; I didn’t even buckle in anymore.

  Dragging our luggage through the big gate, we found Constance speaking to Julia on the wooden deck of the Infirmary. She had her arms open to her niece and she gave Sammy a warm hug.

  “He almost killed him,” I heard her whisper.

  “He’s the Rubicon, Sammy. Your brother won’t go down without a fight. You of all people should know that.”

  She nodded carefully.

  “Welcome back, Elena,” Constance said as she turned to look at me.

  I gave her a raised eyebrow. “Why didn’t you tell me you were Sammy and Blake’s aunt?”

  She laughed. “Isabel told me all about the look on your face when you first saw her.”

  “She did?”

  Constance nodded. “Sorry you had to see a beating. They are horrible to witness.”

  “I’m a Paegeian now, I need to get used to that sooner or later.”

  “Still, you got thrown into the deep end this summer.”

  I laughed. “It’s the only way I learn.”

  “Join me for tea around twelve; we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

  I nodded and we said goodbye.

  As we made our way back to the lobby I noticed three hulking men who looked like they belonged on the football field and not in a school.

  They were huge and wore long black jackets with devices tucked discreetly inside their ears.

  “Precaution,” Sammy mumbled when she noticed my stare.

  “This is going to be fun,” I whispered back. I greeted one as we passed but he ignored me and kept looking around as if a hippogriff would walk into the lobby at any moment.

  I shook my head; it really was so stupid if you think about it. We were in an Academy filled with dragons and magic, how much safer could we be?

  Picking our way around other returning students, we finally reached our floor and a homey feeling washed over my body as I entered the room. Everything was exactly how we’d left it with our linen folded and packed on our beds.

  I started to put my clothes away and was grateful for Sammy when she helped me with my bed. When we were done we both just fell down on mine and laid there for a while.

  “Sammy, you really should snap out of this.”

  “I will, promise,” she spoke softly and gave me smirk.

  Becky came in around three. She had a chat with Sammy too, if you could call it a chat. Becky wasn’t the kind of person who loved the feeling-sorry-for-yourself type of attitude. She basically brought her to tears again and told her to buff up. “Blake is the Rubicon, Sammy. He’s going to be fine. Besides, your brother is going to go through worse when Lucian finally finds a way to claim him.”

  Becky did end it with a hug and Sammy looked better after she came out of the bathroom.

  At four Master Longwei's voice filled the entire school over the loud speaker. It was a quick welcome back message and he instructed us to all assemble in the Auditorium. I found Lucian waiting as we walked up to the hulking doors and my arms wrapped around his neck as I gave him a soft kiss.

  He led me to the seats on the upper balcony as my eyes caught Arianna’s. The look she gave me would’ve killed me if it was made of real daggers. I guess she really hadn’t bargained on her marriage to Lucian backfiring.

  Becky and George took the seats next to me, and Sammy and Dean were positioned next to George.

  A door close to the podium opened as Master Longwei and all the professors and staff entered. They took their seats on the podium as Master Longwei got ready to welcome us back. A quick introduction of the lecturers was made for the benefit of all the new students that had just enrolled.

  The last woman he introduced looked extremely young, and I couldn’t recall if I’d ever seen her before.

  “I want to welcome Professor Georgiou. She’ll be taking over Professor Longchester’s Enchantment classes until the end of this term.” I noted she didn’t appear to be much older than twenty-five as the auditorium burst into applause. Some fifth-year male students clapped harder than others, but she got her applause alright. She smiled and nodded in our direction.

  Hmm, friendly too.

  While everyone applauded my eyes caught a guy on the lower level. He had dark brown eyes and short, dark cropped hair that looked as if he hadn’t pulled a brush through it in a week. My heart bounced a bit faster as he deliberately stared at me. Master Longwei still spoke about the King of Lions mission and how the Council was taking extra measures for our protection.

  I found Lucian looking past me . He’s eyes narrowed as he saw the guy staring at me.

  I pretend not to see it, but could see through the corner of my eye that Lucian was still staring at the stranger. Lucian nodded in the stranger’s direction before looking back at me.

  I looked at the guy’s direction again but now he looked to the front.

  “For my next announcement, I really need everybody’s support and understanding. I want you to remember King Albert, why he opened Dragonia Academy and the love he had for all dragons, no matter the shape, size, or breed.”

  Lucian’s body stiffened.

  I looked at him worried. “What is it?”

  His jaw muscles clenched. “I’m going to kill my father.”

  “The decision was made by the Ancients and as much as some of you won’t like this very much, we have to respect their final say, and remember what King Albert and his league fought for so many years ago; the right for all dragons to be free.” Master Longwei put an emphasis on the all.

  “Do you know what he’s talking about?”

  Lucian nodded but didn’t look impressed. In fact he looked downright pissed off.

  “A Wyvern is going to attend Dragonia this year."

  The entire auditorium gasped and started twittering.

  “What?” Sammy sounded horrified and looked at Lucian with huge round eyes.

  “This isn’t good.” George gave his customary snarky remark. Ever since Becky claimed him, he had a lot of those. Lucian just kept silent. I was the only idiot that didn’t know what they were talking about.

  “Silence please,” Master Longwei roared. The entire auditorium became super quiet. “It's something that is very close to my heart, and that was close to King Albert’s. He believed that everyone deserves a chance.”

  Lucian mumbled something that I didn’t catch clearly.

  “See it as a learning experience. We’ve never had a chance like this before to study a Wyvern and Paul is more than willing to do whatever it takes for us to trust him."

  “Trust him? He’s a Wyvern." Sammy snapped with a cuss word or two in her sentence. I’d never heard her cuss like that before.

  “Paul Sutton?” Master Longwei asked.

  Everyone eyes searched the auditorium, mine included. The guy that had been staring at me a couple of minutes ago stood up, waved once with his hand and sat back down.

  Lucian’s body froze and the lines on his face became hard. I’d never seen him so upset before.

  “Not bad looking,” one of the girls in the row in front of us said softly to her friend.

  “He is a Wyvern, they all look like that,” Sammy grunted at her. The girls twittered again while Sammy stared at them. “Idiots.”

  “He is going to enroll in some classes and we are going to take it from there,” Master Longwei said. “How are you holding up?” He looked in Paul’s direction.

  Paul stood up again. “Nobody's dead yet,” he said with a soft smile that showed his dimples.

  Some of the auditorium laughed, except those that felt like Sammy and Lucian.

  “He’s right about not yet,” Sammy grunted. I couldn't tear my eyes off Paul and when he sat back down, he looked at me, nodded, and smiled softly. I looked away, without returning the nod.

  Did Lucian just growl?

  Becky’s eyes rose as she pumped me softly; she must have heard it too.

  “I hope you have settled in and find Dragonia accommodating. Dinner will be served from six to eight,” Master Longwei carried on. “First, I just need to see all the members of the King of Lions mission in my office.” He left, turned around and walked off the podium and the lecturers followed him.

  All of us inflated in unison with deep sighs. “When are they going to stop with the King of Lions mission thing?” I asked Lucian.

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