Firebolt, p.19Adrienne Woods
He looked at his watch and a frown pulled at his face. “I really don't want to go home. I hate not being able to see you every day.”
“It's only tomorrow, Lucian. Besides, next weekend you're staying here with me.”
“It's not the same.”
“You want some cheese with that whine?” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Ha, ha,” he said in a sarcastic tone, and kissed me one last time before we went back to the main building.
I said goodbye as he ran up the stairs to get his suitcase. I had to agree that it was hard for me to stay here while he went home.
When I got back to my room, Becky and Sammy at first didn’t approve of Lucian’s decision to let me go with Cheng. But by that evening, they came around and got the reason I needed to go. Learning about Paegeia was the only way I was going to pass this year.
I crawled into bed contemplating whetherI should ditch Cheng, but he really looked excited when I told him that I would love to go to Elm with him. I didn’t want to disappoint him after everything he was doing to help me pass History.
“Don't fall for Cheng, please,” Becky pleaded, and I giggled, thinking of how Lucian had also said something along those lines.
“He's so not my type, Becky.”
“Goodnight, y'all,” Sammy said, mimicking a Southern accent and gave a huge yawn, effectively ending the conversation.
Becky ran to switch off the light and tripped over something, probably her saddle that was too big to be chucked into her cupboard like all the other things she owned. She cussed like crazy, and her dark silhouette hopped on one spot. Sammy and I tried very hard to suppress our laughter, but failed miserable.
We settled down a couple of minutes later, and I started to drift away. I dreamt that night about the mysterious woman again. She kept pointing at the forest, and I wished I could ask her what the hell she wanted from me.
* * *
The next morning Cheng and I stood in front of a large brick building that had two huge stone dragons framing a gilded door. There was a warning written in big bold red letters demanding that everyone who entered must remain silent right at the entrance.
It looked like any other museum I had ever visited. Thick red carpet lined the path through the building, and a strong antique smell lingered inside. Parents pointed out objects to their children, whose eyes grew wide with wonder.
“Come, this is the starting point,” Cheng whispered, and took the path closest to the entrance. The brass plate read VIKINGS in big golden letters. It reminded me a lot of the Madame Tussaud Dad took me to once.
Vikings carrying huge weapons and hats with long horns on top of their heads were trapped behind glass, frozen in time. Most of them were big ogres with long beards and messed up hair. Pantene would have done wonders in those days. A small description on another brass plate explained the era and the people who lived during the time. The things they did mostly consisted of gathering food and making weapons to slay dragons.
"The Viking era is quite boring. The only thing they did was drink, eat, sleep, slay dragons, and have plenty of sex."
I giggled and blushed simultaneously.
“C'mon Elena, does the word sex bother you.” He bumped into my left shoulder.
For the love of blueberries why does everyone keep bringing it up? I shook my head, looking like an idiot with this huge grin still plastered on my face.
The next exhibit displayed a badass dragon, and I couldn't figure out if we had covered it in Anatomy or not.
He was dark, a mixture between a red and a purple-black. Red eyes were sitting deep in his sockets and the dragon had huge nostrils that I imagined it emitted fire. Thick catfish whiskers covered his whole head like fur, which really made him look pure evil. His tail resembled a big tree stump that had been whittled down into a spear end. Webbed feet and huge claws told me he was a swimmer, and wings that looked as if they had been shredded protruded from his back. Pointy, vicious talons were displayed on the edges of each wing. I couldn't make up my mind if he was beautiful, ugly, or just plain deadly.
“His name was Quito,” Cheng whispered. “He was the Rubicon before Blake.”
“That’s the Rubicon?”
“One hell of an ugly bugger, isn't he? Only a mother can love that mutt,”he joked.“The total opposite of his human form.”
Right next to the dragon, a tiny figure reached up to his knee. The sign read that it was an average human male. Goose pimples made my skin crawl as I realized it was the human-dragon ratio.
“Does Blake look like that too?” I asked, thinking Lucian must be crazy to try to claim him.
“Not quite there yet, but he is the biggest of all the dragons at Dragonia. They grow bigger as they reach their milestones.”
Milestones? It must be similar to birthdays.
“Where would I fit on him?”
“Oh, about up to here.” He crouched down and showed at least half the human figure’s size.
“I'm so glad I'm not Lucian.”
“Me too, but size isn't everything,” he explained thoughtfully.
“Do you have a Dragonian?”
“Yes, his name is Andreas,but he’s only ten years old.”
“Ten years old?” I looked confused. That seemed too young to have a dragon.
He nodded and a huge smile lit up his eyes.
“How did you know he was your Dragonian?”
“A dragon knows.”
We moved on. Knights with jousting sticks and wearing heavy armor came next. They even have had York and some of the Eastern Europe countries displayed with model dragons soaring through the air breathing fire down on unsuspecting villages.
Cheng sighed. “The Sun-Blast and Moon-Bolt made it really difficult for dragons to be considered tamable in the old world.”
“You mean the world before the wall?”
“How long has the wall been up now?”
“Oh, for the last nine hundred years,” he explained.
“Did you ever visit the other side?”
“I really want to, but they say it's hard for a Metallic dragon to return. We like humans and feel more appreciated on the other side. It's the reasons my mom's scared to give her consent,” he explained.
“So your guardian has to give permission?”
“That sucks,” I said, and he chuckled.
“Yes, you humans have things so much easier.”
“You humans? That’s not nice,” I said, teasing him.
“Elena, you know what I mean.”
“I'm just joking with you, Cheng, and yes, I do know what you mean.” I felt sorry for him, not having a chance to follow his heart without his mom's consent.
“After you.” He showed me the way, and we moved to the next exhibition. It was some sort of obstacle course that reminded me of First Knight, a movie featuring Richard Gere and Sean Connery. Richard's character had to complete an obstacle course just to get a kiss from the lovely Guinevere. The obstacle was scaled down, and I gawked at the detail of the hammers sliding past one another and huge boulders crashing down. Logs with swinging balls attached to them rotated at very high speeds. Even the surface where the contestant walked to get through the obstacle was moving.
“It was entertainment in the old days,” Cheng said.
I imagined me, super tiny, trying to get through in one piece. I got smashed by the two rocks colliding on top of each other.
The next exhibition was a cave. “The Sacred Cavern.” The detail they used to display the replicas was amazing.
“What is it?”
“A cavern only the brave or the desperate will enter.”
“To do what?”
“To retrieve the most prized possession in all of Paegeia; a millpond so magical that it can show you anything you wish to know. Whether it's past, present, or future, it will reveal all to whoever gazes into i
I looked at him with a curious expression on my face.
“It's not that easy though. The price is high. If you can't face whatever the cave is hiding, then it claims your life.”
“Has anyone ever made it out alive?” I asked. I couldn't take my eyes off the detail. The million steps made me think of a Chinese temple. The steps led to huge doors molded into a cave, surrounded by a forest.
“Yes, but only a small number. The funny thing about it is that all of them were women.”
I could feel another one of his theories coming, but had too many questions on my mind.
“Besides the millpond, no one knows. The five women that did make it out never revealed what they saw or did. No one knows why. It's very mysterious.”
“Wow.” I was fascinated by his story, but we had to keep moving.
As we moved farther into the exhibition we came to a room that explained the sports that the knights used to compete at. Some were jousting on horses and the others were battling one on one. The last one looked like some sort of a team battle.
“It is said that all the soldiers were forced to compete to keep them fit for war. In those times, the war was between your kind and mine,” Cheng narrated.
“Humans can be so horrible,” I said, moping. “Was it any different after the wall?”
“No. The only time things changed was when King Albert's father, King Louie, took over. He fell in love with a dragon, but never knew that she was one. They killed her in the end, but it also revealed one of our secrets, that we could take a human form. King Louie knew from then on that Metallic dragons posed no threat. When he became king, he studied the Metallic dragons and learned a lot from us. He discovered another secret; that we could be ridden. My mom said that these were exciting times, but he still killed a lot of the Chromatic dragons. It was only when King Albert claimed his dragon that things really changed for all of the dragons. He taught the others that the Chromatic ones weren't different from the Metallic ones. I know they look a little scarier and are a bit fiercer, but deep down inside, dragon is dragon.”
“You guys really loved this King, huh?”
“More than you’ll ever know. I wish you could have been here when they ruled. He believed that Chromatic dragons could be rehabilitated by getting the right nurturing. I guess it's why he started Dragonia.”
We went through a couple more individual exhibits. The first one was a blond guy with the most beautiful green eyes with a shade of blue. The era was right after the Vikings. They were a bit more civilized, but still needed Pantene.
“King William,” he announced. “He was the first bloodline of the royals. The sword he carries is none other than the King of Lion’s sword.” He smiled. “His queen was the fourth daughter of one of your French rulers.” I looked at the woman standing next to him with dark hair. She almost resembled the woman in my dreams, but not entirely. The women before me had larger eyes, higher cheekbones, and thinner lips.
We kept walking and went past a room featuring all-important figures that had been part of King William's Council. Surnames like McKenzie, Abbott, Johnson, and Smith had been there since the beginning. I wondered if some of them were Becky and Lucian's ancestors.
We exited King William’s era and moved to a section that had to do with famous foretellings. The first figure was none other than the beautiful woman living in Rapunzel’stower. They weren't very lifelike and a couple of features were way off. Like the wax doll's eyes in the exhibition were incredibly warm and friendly. Hers weren’t.
“Is she really three hundred years old?”
“Yes, still young for a dragon,” he said.
“Was she always into foretellings?”
“Those days it was more like fortune-telling or cup-gazing.”
“What, no crystal ball?”
He laughed. “I think hers is only used for decoration.” He went back to telling me the story about how humans used to seek out Moon-Bolts to tell them their futures, but that sometimes they didn't like what they heard so Moon-Bolts were killed for no reason.
There was a book on a wooden pedestal right next to her that a couple of young girls were flipping through. I smiled. “Is there really stuff written in that book?” I asked, still skeptical.
"Elena, that book is the real deal."
When the girls left their spot in front of the book, I took their place. Flipping through the pages, I read one foretelling after the other.
“Why are some of the sentences red and others are blue?”
“The ones in red have already been fulfilled. The blue ones have expired without being fulfilled, and the black ones, well,they still haven’t come to light.”
My eye caught a red one as I flipped toward the end. It belonged to a dragon and said that his Dragonian would be struck by lightning.
I showed Cheng and he smiled. “You think it's George's?”
“It's got to be. Becky was hit by lightning, and they forced her to claim George. The only thing is she feels his isn't important enough and they could've let it slide,” I said.
“Nothing written in this book is unimportant. Who knows, maybe a second part of that foretelling will come soon. It sounds as if a part is missing.”
I smiled and kept paging through.
I found a foretelling about Blake. It was about his Dragonian. Although the text didn’t use the exact words‘spawn of King Albert and Queen Catherine’, it sure implied it. I frowned. ‘Why is this one still black?”
“That’s the mystery. No one knows. It's the only thing that gives us hope,” he said sadly.
I read further. Many were black and my mouth became dry.
“This one's new," Cheng said, and started reading the lines out loud. "A day will come and a day will go, a choice you have to make, otherwise the truth will never be known.” He frowned and looked at it through squinted eyes.
“What does it mean?” I tried my best not to let my voice break.
“I have no idea, but if it's in this book, it's important.”
I took a deep breath and tried to shake it off. Maybe it had nothing to do with me, and the Viden was seeing the foretelling about her next meeting. I had already been on my way out when she said those words.
I closed the book and we moved on to the next exhibit.
It was about Master Longwei. The museum had both his forms on display; the human form as I knew him, and his dragon form. His scales were gold, and he had whiskers sprouting from his nose. If dragons smiled, Master Longwei definitely did the day they made this model. He looked beautiful and majestic, just like Dad had that night. It must be a Metallic thing.
The Renaissance era was boring.
King Alexander, King Louie’s father, ruled Paegeia with the same cruelty toward dragons.
As I walked past another display case,the two axes I’d practiced with a couple of days ago caught my eye.
How is this possible? I found myself in front of the display box as I read what the inscription on the brass plate said. The axes belonged to Queen Catherine and she fought with them in three separate wars. She entered her first war at the age of eighteen, and the crusade was led by King Louie. My eyes scrolled through the boring stuff. The second war she fought in was at the age of twenty-three, and the third war she had fought at King Albert's side for the rights of the Chromatic dragons. The information on the brass plate said that it was the most important battle in the history of Paegeia. The war meant that all the dragons, Chromatic and Metallic, were to be seen as equals.
My favorite exhibition was the one that displayed all the dragons and their signs. The last sign belonged to the Rubicon. It looked complicated and in a league of its own. I tried to memorize the design and decided if I could draw it, I might be able to make a buck or two by printing them on t-shirts.
“His sign is all the dragon signs combined,” Cheng explained.
“Sorry?” I said as he shook me out of my get-rich scheme.
“Blake's sign. It's all the ten species signs combined. Come look here, they break it down for you.” I followed him around the corner. “Here is the Fire-tail. The Copper-horn goes in this way. There's the Fin-tail, and the Swallow annex.” He showed me where everything fit, like a puzzle. Blake carried all of them inside of him, even the Night Villain. I grabbed a leaflet that broke it down beautifully.
“He's really an unbelievable dragon,” I said out loud.
“Just a pity there's a time limit to his claim.”
“Why is that?”
“His dark side. It's too powerful and you need to remember, Blake is only a carrier. Those powers don’t belong to him. Without his Dragonian, it will become too heavy for him to bear.” I frowned. If that was the case, Cheng was right about Lucian not being able to claim Blake. My heart ached. I couldn't believe how emotional I became every time Cheng explained things about Blake I didn't know.
We moved on and found all the different species of the dragons displayed in smaller size models behind glass. Dragon eggs came first and they varied in size. Some looked like egg-shaped rocks that needed to be baked to hot temperatures, like the Sun-Blast and Fire-Tail. Some had little spotted dents that reminded me of a huge egg-shaped golf ball. Then there were eggs with different colors. One was a soft green. Another had a mixture of the rainbow melting into each other. They were all amazing.
Leaving the egg room, a model of a full Snow dragon confronted me. They were the purest white I had ever seen. The tail reminded me of a crocodile's with strong hind legs, and its torso was covered with small, white, triangle-shaped scales. The front legs were not as big as the back legs,and the claws reminded me of an eagle’s. Two wings sprouted from the back, and the neck arched a little with bog scales covering it completely. The face looked like a dinosaur's, with long teeth and a sharp pointy nose.
The Green-Vapor and Sun-Blast I’d met the night Dad died, and I quickly walked by their models.
The Night Villainwas the last dragon. He looked very skeletal and his feet were webbed like the Rubicon’s had been. His face and wings were skinny and the flesh looked like it was pulled tightly over the skeleton-like features. His overall appearance made me shiver right down to my core. It almost looked like he was busy decomposing.
Firebolt by Adrienne Woods / Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes