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       Frostbite, p.17

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “I can’t tell you. You need to find the truth for yourself.”

  Suddenly, the wind knocked the door open and I woke up. I was cold and Lucian was gone. I cried again. Why does he want me to do this?

  “Otherwise the truth will never be known.”

  MANUEL DROPPED ME off at the Academy late on the 26th of December, with school due to start again on the 27th.

  I had to admit, spending Christmas with Lucian’s family changed me, I didn’t feel so dark anymore, I felt more like the old Elena, but a bit stronger.

  Becky and Sammy weren’t in the room when I crawled in around eight. I couldn’t wait to fall asleep. At nine I heard them come in. They whispered to each other for about ten minutes then went to bed too.

  I struggled to fall asleep and when I did, I dreamt about everything except Lucian. I wanted to feel him again, to kiss him and to hold him, just one more time.

  The next day I felt like a zombie as I went from one class room to another. Blake got sedated over Christmas. His dark totally consumed him they had no choice. Still I could still feel his presence the minute Emanuel dropped me off.

  The funny part was I didn’t feel so angry anymore. I felt almost like myself again, although I was still missing Lucian.

  My dream and his words lingered with me the entire day. It’d felt so real.

  After class I went back to my room and started to read from Lucian’s journal again.

  I was still at the pages of him at thirteen. He wasn’t a constant writer though and I smiled as I wondered if this might have been his mom forcing him to put some of his thoughts into words. A couple of months passed before his next entry. It was still mostly about his friendship with Blake. One thing I noticed was the Blake Lucian spoke about was the same Blake I’d met, the one that easily laughed and made jokes, but when he started to turn even Lucian struggled to accept it.

  The next couple of entries were about his first year at Dragonia Academy. He talked about Dean and the friendship he’d started with him. He also mentioned a couple of girls which I didn’t like so much.

  Then another couple of months passed and the next entry had me fuming. It was about him and Arianna.

  I ground hard on my teeth as I realized I wasn’t his first, and hated that cow so much that she’d gotten to be the one. He wrote pages and pages about them and I wanted to tear them out and burn them, but I couldn’t. They were his words, even though I hated them. Then there was an entry when he broke it off.

  She’d slept with Blake. So he’d known about them.

  She was such a bitch. She’d broken his heart. Through the next couple of entries I wanted to kick him for considering taking her back, but he remembered how she’d betrayed him and hurt him.

  I’d betrayed him too, and the worst part was that he’d known that before he died.

  The next entry was about the night Matt brought me to Dragonia Academy. Blake told me about that. Lucian wrote about how they heard Constance and Matt speaking Latin to Master Longwei. I remembered that day too, but I didn’t know we’d had a small crowd outside. He hadn’t paid much attention to it, but he did say how it made Blake feel. It didn’t make any sense as the last word he used was hope. He’d seen hope in Blake’s eyes.

  It followed with the day he’d met me. The words brought tears to my eyes. It was love at first sight for him as he’d written ‘where have you been all my life?’, and ‘how am I going to do this to Blake?’

  I frowned. What does Blake have to do with all of this? I could hear Lucian laughing at me in the back of my mind, not unkindly, it was the special laugh he would give when people were being stupid and just didn’t get it. What did you find out?

  “It’s for me to know and for you to find out,” he replied in my mind and I shook my head softly.

  Another short entry confirmed he’d spoken to Blake about his feelings and described how Blake had laughed in his face. He was appalled at Lucian for even considering that he would have a problem with Lucian going for me. I shook my head. He was such an idiot.

  The next line he wrote, “I kissed her, and it was as if I’d never kissed anybody else before that time. It felt so perfect, was so real, and I was scared to wake up.”

  I never knew that was how he felt about me. Why didn’t he tell me about this?

  There were a couple of questions after that entry. One was about my voices, he was worried and the word “poet”, with the entry, “could it be?”

  I froze when I saw that.

  He’d lied to me, Lucian knew something, but who he thought it was, he’d never written down.

  Well it didn’t matter anymore as I’d turned out to be a dragon. Then I thought again about “could it be?”

  Maybe he’d discovered what I really was and didn’t know how to say it.

  Holy crap, what if that was Lucian’s voice I’d heard, but then again how did I hear him that night in his father’s lobby, saving the guard from the same fate that’d killed him?

  I closed the journal and held it tight against my chest. “You’ve got to find the truth for yourself.” Even after Blake betrayed him, he still wants me to help him, to find the truth.

  I put the journal away. I’d read more later. I found myself walking down the stairs and entering the library.

  They were all there. Becky with George and Sammy with Dean. Three pairs of noses tucked behind three books and one behind the computer typing away. I went to their table and Becky was the first one to look up.

  “I’m sorry. You were right, both of you.” I looked at Sammy. “I’ll help if you still want my help.”

  Becky jumped up and grabbed me around my neck. Sammy remained in her seat. I just looked at her, pleading with my eyes and hoping that she would give me another chance.

  “We need Elena’s help, Sammy.”

  She bit her lower lip with a huge frown in-between her eyebrows. Hurt was written all over her face, my words that day had hurt her and I didn’t regret saying them until now. She nodded. “What about my brother?”

  “I don’t know. Lucian wouldn’t want me to kill him.” I sighed. “I’m still working out the kinks.”

  She finally got up and hugged me too. “I’m glad you’re back.”

  “Yeah, I don’t know about that one, but I’ll try.”

  “That’s all I want.”

  George and Dean just laughed, they both had such forgiving personalities and both were suckers for their girls. Becky started telling me what they had found. They’d found a guy named Resumus that was the only one, besides Lucian, who’d made it out of the Acker Woods. She and George were planning to go and see him on the next free weekend. “We are going to make a small road trip of it,” she finished.

  “So you guys think this Figgelhorn will help us with a map or a layout of the forest?”

  “For the right amount of money.” Becky smiled.

  “You’re going to buy him off?” I sounded a bit disappointed.

  “How else are we going to get a map, Elena?”

  I thought about that. The minute you type anything that contains the words Acker Woods the computers shut off. Becky and George even tried it on their own Cammys, the screens just stayed blank. Still, I didn’t like this much.

  “We have a problem,” Dean said and we all looked at him. “Mr.Figgelhorn passed away a week ago.”

  Becky jumped up and leaned over his shoulder to read the information. “You’ve got to be shitting me!”

  “Now what?” Sammy asked.

  “We’ll hit the books again,” I suggested. “We will find something.”

  HE NEXT COUPLE days we all searched again. I tried to find something that was connected to Tanya Le Frey, but there was nothing. Not even the scrolls carried any information about her.

  Dean had a student to tutor since he was crazy smart in science and the boy he helped needed it badly. Becky tried to take his post but the information she found led to nothing.

  Sammy fell back into her chair with tears in h
er eyes. “We are never going to find anything.”

  Becky went over to her and gave her a side hug. “We’ll find something, I promise you that.”

  We all looked up as Dean entered with Cheng a couple of minutes later. “I thought we could use some help. I hope you didn’t mind, Elena.”

  I smiled. “Not at all.” The last time I’d seen him we’d had a huge fight about Paul. If only I had listened.

  “So it’s true, you’re going on another mission?” Cheng threw himself onto the open chair next to me.

  “I have to put this dragon of mine to good use.”

  He laughed. “What did you find out?”

  We started to tell him about everything but each time we’d hit a dead end. I agreed with Sammy, it was a hopeless case and I didn’t see a good end for Blake.

  “Lucian got a date,” I said when they forgot to mention that.

  “Dean told me.”

  “There is nothing else out there, Cheng.”

  “You haven’t checked everything, Elena.”

  “She doesn’t exist on any of these scrolls. I’ve looked.”

  The others just stared at us as we discussed Tanya Le Frey. Cheng and I started to laugh as their faces remained clueless.

  “I think it’s time we told them about her,” Cheng suggested.

  “About who?” Becky asked.

  “The queen had a dragon, her name was Tanya Le Frey,” I said.

  All of them gasped and Cheng told them the story he told me the first time I’d met him.

  “So the queen was a dent?” George asked looking confused.

  “Lucian thought that they could’ve been the first.”

  “You told Lucian about this?” Becky looked at me.

  I nodded. “He told me about the date and how he had no idea where to start, and that Sir Robert knows nothing, so it slipped out.”

  “I can’t believe the council and everyone else kept something like that from us,” Dean said.

  “The Ancients think that she betrayed the queen, Dean.”

  “She would never,” George said.

  “We believe so too,” I replied and looked at Cheng. “Lucian must have found her. She left a year before they died, and she came back two years later. No one knows where she is. That’s why he went to the Acker Woods,” I explained.

  “So she lives there?”

  “I don’t know. The last time he spoke about it to me, he only said that he thought she was there. He wasn’t sure.”

  “That’s why he had to do those crazy things you spoke about?”

  I nodded.

  All of us thought about this for a while.

  “Then we need to find her.” Becky broke the silence.

  “Easier said than done.”

  “No it’s not.”

  She went back to the computer and started typing on the keys. The Wall web page and archives jumped on the screen. “She’s not there. They don’t have a date when she left, only a date when she came back.”

  She stopped and looked back at me. “It doesn’t make sense.”

  “Yes, it does.” Cheng said. “She had a pass from the queen.”

  We all stared at him. “Are you sure about this?”

  He nodded.

  “You know what that means Cheng?” Sammy said.

  “It means that Lucian might be right about something being able to claim Blake.”

  “So the answer lies with Tanya,” I said. “How are we going to find her?”

  Cheng looked at me. “Now that’s the hard part.

  OR THE NEXT few weeks we worked hard inside the library. The boys even came to our dorms to carry on the last couple of days before our board meeting.

  Cheng had drawn up a plan. It was a really good one but we had to mention Tanya’s name in order to get the board members’ attention. We racked our brains about how we could do that without telling them that we knew who she was and then it hit me.

  My dream about the queen. He’d said it was just like a foretelling from the Viden. If you dream of someone really important that guides you on a path, it could lead to greatness, your destiny.

  So we all helped with making up this story about how Becky had started to dream about Tanya Le Frey as if it was her and George that would go and find her. I volunteered but since I had declared my hatred for Blake, and was still not sure about how I felt about killing him, Sammy didn’t trust me entirely.

  Cheng worked on all the ins and outs. He thought about every possible question they could have, the only thing we couldn’t answer was what she looked like, so he even took care of that by saying she came to Becky wearing a big cloak that covered every inch of her body from head to toe.

  “It should work,” I said when we were finally done with everything.

  “It must, this is our only chance,” Cheng said.

  “No pressure there,” George joked and we all laughed.

  “Just leave all the talking to me,” Becky said.

  We said goodnight to the boys and they all left.

  I picked up Lucian’s journal again and read a couple of entries. I found the foretelling that the Viden had given him about the date. It sounded Shakespearian and I had no idea how he could make head or tail of it.

  I couldn’t stop thinking that in eight months Blake would turn evil. I felt as if I hadn’t slept in a year but when my head hit the pillow I couldn’t shut off the whirlwind of thoughts inside my mind.

  I froze as I felt someone climbing onto my bed. When I opened my eyes Lucian was back. His journal skidded off my bed and landed with a thud on the floor. Both my arms were around his neck and we shared a long kiss.

  “I could get used to that.” He spoke softly against my cheek.

  “Where were you? It’s been months.”

  He frowned. “I visited you last night.” I shook my head and he huffed. “Guess time is different on the other side.”

  “It’s not fair,” I sulked.

  His eyes found his journal lying on the floor. “You read that?”

  “It’s all I have of you. Why didn’t you tell me about you and Arianna?”

  “It was ancient history.”

  “About me?”

  “I didn’t want you to have all the authority in our relationship. If you knew how I felt…” he sighed.

  “I would’ve loved you more, even though I doubt it was possible.”

  We lay down on the bed and it felt good to be in his arms again.

  “So did you change your mind yet about helping out?”

  “Yeah, I know the answer lies with Tanya but I’m scared for Becky and George’s sake.”

  He jumped straight up. “I told you that you needed to discover the truth.”

  “Sammy doesn’t trust me. Becky and George have got it.”

  “Elena…”

  “Please just let them go. They’ll find out the truth.”

  “No they won’t. I ….” The words didn’t seem to want to come.

  “Oh for crying out loud, what is this?”

  “I can’t tell you. You need to find the truth. Not them.”

  “I told you I can’t. Sammy doesn’t trust me. We already spent a lot of time on this plan to present to the board members. Starting over now will mean another month, if not longer; what if they reject us, then it’s another don’t know how many months and Blake will turn despite our efforts.”

  “I got the date wrong.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “He could turn anytime, Elena.”

  “What?”

  “The answer to the date lies in my foretelling. That’s all I can say. Ask for help.”

  I woke up. I didn’t want to and I looked for Lucian but he was gone. Reality kicked in and these dreams, as wonderful as they were, were going to make me sick. My eyes found the journal on the floor. He said the answer lies in the date. It didn’t make any sense.

  I looked at his foretelling again. I paged through a couple of pages further and I couldn’t fi
nd anything else that was linked to this stupid riddle. There wasn’t an answer. Ask for help.

  HE BOYS WERE already searching like mad when we entered the library. I gave Cheng the journal.

  “I don’t think the date was about Blake turning. I’ve got a funny feeling it’s about something else,” I lied but I couldn’t tell Cheng that I was dreaming about my dead boyfriend who was helping me.

  “Elena,” Sammy asked. “What is that?”

  “It’s Lucian’s diary.”

  “Why didn’t you tell me you had that?” she said using a harsh tone.

  “Because it’s all I have of him. I didn’t think there was anything that could help us, until last night. His riddle doesn’t make sense.” I sat down across from Cheng who was paging through the journal. “You have to help me to find the answer, Cheng.”

  He nodded and I took him to the page where the riddle was written in Lucian’s handwriting. He read it a couple of times to himself and then looked up at nothing. He was thinking really hard, I could tell. He looked at the riddle again and then at Sammy. “Elena is right. It’s not the date Blake will turn, Sammy. Look.” He showed her the journal. “You see how many question marks there are next to the foretelling. He even underlined the date a couple of times.”

  Sammy stared at the foretelling. “He kept questioning the date.”

  Cheng took the journal back from Sammy and read the foretelling out loud. We all listened to it.

  “Everything is written in the past tense.” Dean said.

  “What!” We all looked at him.

  “The date is not the future, it’s in the past.” He turned his chair around and started typing away again.

  Plenty of 23rd of Augusts filled the screen, and it scrolled as each new one appeared.

  “It’s going to take forever to go through them,” Becky said.

  “So what does this mean? Blake is already evil?” Sammy asked.

  “I don’t know sweetheart.” Dean gave her a hug. “But one thing is for sure, it’s definitely linked to him.”

  “How do you know that?” Sammy asked.

  “The Viden, she spoke using the past tense. Her riddles are never past tense. It’s a date alright,

 
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