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Thunderlight, p.2
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       Thunderlight, p.2

           Adrienne Woods
 
As we continued to look for the jerseys and get ready Isabel came up to give us a five minute warning. Blake had vanished around five, simply saying that he would meet us there. Sir Robert had given him his ticket before he disappeared so he would be able to find us.

  Ever since that night at camp when he got wasted and he put me under some sort of hypnotizing spell which almost made us kiss, which was seriously ridiculous as he despised me, he’d been acting like his old self; arrogant and a total dick. Something about Blake being wasted and for some reason always wanting me, made me wonder about a lot of things he was hiding and maybe that those things only came out when he was drunk.

  I shook my head and the thoughts of Blake washed away as I grabbed my bag and followed Sammy to Sir Robert’s old Sedan.

  The drive wasn’t that long and I gasped when Sir Robert pulled into the parking area in front of a giant mountain. There were at least a million cars already parked in neat rows and the noise coming from inside the mountain told me that it must be the location where the Warbel games took place.

  Crowds of people wearing different colored jerseys, caps and scarves huddled around. Some even carried flags and I saw a yellow flag with a huge hornet on top of what looked like a raider.

  Raiders were flying objects that made me think of an enhanced skateboard.

  Everywhere in Paegeia’s parks, and ports, people flew on them. You needed a special license for one and I tried so hard to suppress my laughter when Becky told me that her next try would be her fiftieth or so to get hers.

  Becky wasn’t one of the safest drivers out there. I still wondered every time I was her passenger if the inspector that gave hers hadn’t been smoking weed or something.

  We climbed out of the car and a feeling of excitement rose inside my chest as I followed the Leafs into the opening at the bottom of the mountain. It was dark as the only light came from tiny globes mounted in the wall. It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the soft glow of the lights as we piled into another tunnel.

  People pushed and shoved us as we tried to make our way to our seats. The pace we moved was reasonable for such a big crowd, but it was still too dark and too cramped up for my liking. We finally stopped when the people in front of us didn’t move. I hated every second we had to wait for whatever held up the crowd to pass. I was feeling jumpy and took huge breaths as the heaviness on my chest came back, mixed with a shot of adrenaline.

  “Are you okay?” Sammy asked softly and I realized that I was squeezing her hand really tightly in my own.

  “Sorry, just crowded. What’s happening at the front?”

  “It’s normal, we are close to the check-in point.”

  I flinched as a huge horn blew right behind me. It echoed off the wall and sounded like an archangel announcing doomsday.

  The crowd barely moved now, and I felt like punching the guy when he blew on it a second and third time. The other people thought it was funny, and I wished that I felt the same spirit inside of me, but this dark passageway seriously was starting to creep me out.

  After a few minutes, I could finally see the outline of what looked like five cubicles and people moving into rows. We took the one closest to us and waited until it was time to present our tickets. Ours had blue dots on them and I still had no idea what I was going to find myself at tonight.

  It took a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust as we entered toward a lighter room. Six black elevators, three on a side opposite one another, made my heart jump a bit faster.

  In Paegeia, an elevator wasn’t just an elevator. It was how the people of Paegeia traveled around the world, if you were a dragon, and inside Paegeia, if you were human. I hadn’t experienced it myself and had only seen them once inside their funny looking tubes when we went to fetch George at the Wall when he’d come back from the other side.

  “Are these the same elevators they have at the Wall?” I spoke softly.

  Sammy laughed at the small shake in my voice. “No, Elena. They are normal elevators.”

  People surged forward again as they maximized the elevator’s weight limit and I saw Sir Robert pushing the blue button. He wore a black t-shirt with a pair of jeans and a baseball cap. Wrapped around his neck was a green and black stripped scarf.

  Sir Robert Leaf was Sammy and Blake’s father and, The Greatest King That Ever Lived, King Albert’s dragon. He looked nothing like the figure inside the museum of Etan, and he was nothing like I’d imagined. He was kind, always friendly and no matter how much Blake pissed him off, he would give me a soft look and a friendly smile. It was hard to imagine that he was Chromatic, a Night Villain, and one of the vilest dragons that roamed this world. The people of Paegeia didn’t address him as Sir Robert anymore. Some of them even thought that he’d had something to do with betraying the King, but I knew better. He missed his Rider every single day; he missed his Dragonian.

  His wife, Isabel, stood next to him with her arm wrapped in his. She wore a parka with a green and black striped beanie. A huge smile, along with pure excitement, was written all over her face. She was the spitting image of her sister. She had a twin sister who I was very familiar with. The first time I saw her I’d thought for a second that Constance, the doctor at the Infirmary was Sammy and Blake’s mom.

  Sammy had doubled over with laughter when she saw the expression on my face when I first met Isabel. She was a Swallow Annex just like Constance and I was sure if you put them together, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart just by looking at them. She was also just as kind as her twin and made me feel at home the first moment I stepped inside their house.

  The elevator screamed as we ascended into the peak of the mountain. It felt like forever and a million things that could go wrong filled my head. The door finally opened and we all had to get out so that a couple at the back could exit.

  When the door opened for about the fifth time, we spilled out.

  We took a sharp left and walked into a stadium that was located at the very top of the mountain.

  My knees turned to rubber as we neared. I really hated my fear of heights, and it usually kicked in at places like this.

  The crevice at the top of the mountain was wide open and a million stars shone in the sky. Bright lights blinded me for a second and when my vision came back millions of seats were stacked in rows, mounted against the wall. It resembled a normal football stadium, except there were no poles and as far as I could tell no floor either.

  VIP boxes were located at the very top of the mountain and I couldn’t recall ever seeing so many people in my entire life.

  Two huge bells elevated in the air were stationed in opposite directions and flags of all colors were flapping around the crowd. Blue, red, black, yellow, light blue and green holographic flags hung in the air and huge big screens were located on all sides just below the VIP boxes. Somehow Sir Robert spotted Becky and George in the crowd and pointed in their direction. Lucille saw us and waved excitedly in the air.

  Blake was still nowhere to be found and I guessed he’d probably snuck inside one of the boxes with someone. After all, he was a famous dragon.

  When we finally reached them, Lucille gave me a warm hug while Isabel and Sir Robert greeted her with two kisses on each side of her face.

  The vibe coming from the people in the crowd was overpowering. Some had dyed their hair the same color as the team they were rooting for, while some simply had scarves and jerseys on. It was so consuming that I didn’t know where to look.

  My eyes caught the instrument that had made the horrible racket from half an hour ago. Every other person in the crowd had one, and I finally saw the humor in them as I watched George blowing on one too. It made a hollow, low sound and I had to cover my ears as George’s breath lasted for at least two minutes.

  The people around us gave him applause when he finally ran out of breath and Sir Robert slapped him on the back. Becky and George both had a green beetle painted on their left cheeks.

  “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls…. Oh an
d dragons,” a loud voice said over the sound system and the crowd went crazy. “Welcome to the two-hundred-and-fifth annual opening of the Warbel games.”

  Fireworks went off and glittered in enormous star-bursts in the sky. I gaped at the display as it lingered for a few minutes before the sparks descended to the ground. People yelled and cheered with their flags flapping in the air as horns blew.

  The voice continued to speak about sponsors and the people who’d made all of this possible. It was followed by a small show I’d only seen on the TV. It was a display of Chinese dragon puppets twirling in the air. Fire erupted from the puppets and the crowd cheered again. After the show, the voice came back.

  “Now is the time everyone has been waiting for. I’m honored to present this year’s teams. The Sapphires.”

  A team of humans flying on their raiders and dragons flew out of a huge door that opened on the opposite side of the arena.

  The players all wore white and light blue uniforms, with flying goggles over their eyes and vests for protection. The man that led them did a somersault in the air and landed on his board once again; everyone just soaked up his performance and screamed for more.

  “That is Luke. It’s a shame he plays for the Sapphire team, he is so frawesome,” Sammy yelled again and I laughed at her made up word, putting freaking and awesome together. It was something she and Becky were really good at. A close up of Luke appeared on the big screen. He grinned with his goggles now resting on top of his head, and waved at the crowd. I knew his face from the poster on Sammy’s bedroom wall.

  “Which team are we supporting?”

  “Duh,” she pointed to Becky and George’s green shirts. The name “Green Masquerades” stretched across the front and back with the outline of a dragon’s head.

  “Go Masquerades,” I said weakly.

  Sammy laughed at my pathetic attempt of a cheer.

  The voice over the speaker introduced all the players on the team. There were four humans gliding on their raiders. Four dragons, a Copper-Horn, a Fire-Tail, a Moon-Bolt and a Night Villain, flew out from an opening in the cave wall and hovered in the air below their human team members.

  The next team, the “Yellow Hornets,” flew in from above our heads and the crowd painted and dressed in yellow blew on their horns. Around me yellow flags flapped in the wind created by the beating of the dragons’ wings.

  They came to a halt opposite the “Sapphires” and the voice introduced all of the players. One dragon blew a fire bolt into the crowd as a cheer rose, but an invisible wall blocked it before it could do any damage. The crowd rooted as the Sun-Blast dug in and dove into the air.

  Another team, this time wearing blue and black uniforms was introduced as “The Blue Raiders”. I noticed as each team received their introduction that the dragons all had abilities and almost every team had a fire-breather and a Swallow Annex.

  Two more teams, the “Red Crusaders” and “Black Leapers” were introduced to roaring cheers from the crowd. Last was the “Green Masquerades” and I was excited that it was finally our turn to cheer.

  Four humans dived out on their boards to a roar of applause. The one in front made a loop on the raider and was followed by a couple more.

  “That’s Blaze, she’s so amazing on that raider of hers!” Sammy yelled into my ear.

  “That’s a girl?” I yelled back.

  Sammy’s dimples dented deep into her cheeks. “It’s not just men participating. She’s been the captain of her team for the past four years,” she yelled. “She’s tried every year to get Blake on the team but the Council doesn’t want to budge, he can’t even participate in his human form.”

  “Why not?”

  “Multiple abilities, who knows.”

  That is so unfair. He’s not allowed to do anything. No fun. No wonder he messed up things.

  The booming voice introduced the four humans. Blaze Trulip was the captain just as Sammy had said. She wasn’t afraid of anything, and she played the duty of soldier, which meant that she could be everywhere, score, defend, attack and help keep the other team from scoring. The guy next to her was Wilson DJ, who was introduced as the keeper. Richard, the diver, was one of the scorers with Baba Johnson. He bowed on his board which made the crowd cheer the loudest. The four dragons were Kyle, the Snow Dragon, Peter, the Sun-Blast, Dez, the Copper-Horn and Fick, the Green Vapor. They were the four attackers.

  Once the team introductions were made the five referees were introduced. They wore black pants with boots and white and black striped shirts. They each had flying goggles and a baseball cap on their heads.

  Sir Robert and George growled at the same time when Peter McIntosh was introduced as one of the referees this year. “He’s a cheat,” George yelled.

  Clearly half the crowd didn’t like this Peter McIntosh dude, but he handled it well. The crowd booed when he bowed as deep as he could.

  “The Yellow Hornets are going to win this year for sure,” Sammy said. “He used to be their coach.”

  I shook my head. I’d never been into sports, exactly for that one reason. Dad hated it when they cheated at football. This would have been a game we could enjoy together. I could just imagine how he would’ve explained this one to me. I smiled as I imagined him babbling excitedly about scorers and attackers, the words coming from his mouth fast while he crouched on the couch, like he did whenever he got excited when his favorite football team was about to score.

  He must have missed this, I thought painfully. Knowing my father, this was definitely his sport. He used to yell at what patsies the quarterbacks and football players were whenever he used to watch the Sunday games. I still didn’t know what a patsy was, but the way he used it, it had to be something lame.

  I cheered along with Sammy and everyone else when the teams left the arena. The Yellow Hornets and Sapphires stayed behind for tonight’s game.

  The players each took their places in the field, if you could call it that. The two keepers stood in front of the two bells and we were in the perfect spot as each bell faced us on opposite sides. The rest of the players stood in a row in front of the keepers. They looked so small seeing them there, but the big screens captured each of their faces in turn.

  One of the referees, not the McIntosh dude, was chosen as the main ref for this game. The other four stood on the sidelines. When the whistle blew the four dragons dove down with the scorer and the two soldiers. Their main target was a huge axe that dangled in the air a few yards below them.

  Fire, frost, and acid balls flew through the air in rapid succession. All of them bounced off the invisible shield that protected the crowd and everyone cheered again as one of the humans on the yellow team got to the axe first. His goal was to hit the huge bell on the opposite side. He ducked and dove on his board, and missed a couple of fire bolts, as a frost ball smashed into snowflakes right behind him.

  The crowd hailed and it turned into what I knew as a wave. It was so fun to participate as it came our way.

  When the man with the axe realized he was trapped, he threw it through the air to one of his teammates.

  Seeing an opportunity, one scorer from the Sapphire team went for it, and grabbed the axe before the other yellow scorer caught it. The Sapphire crowd jumped up in their seats and yelled with fists pumping in the air.

  By the sound of Sammy’s rooting, I knew we were cheering for the “Sapphires” tonight.

  The scorer, which I assumed was Luke, twirled around on his board, ducking and diving through a couple of bolts and with a loud ‘gong’, he hit the bell with the axe. An animation of a dragon jumping up and down with a huge ‘3’ flickering behind him, appeared on all the big screens.

  Everyone I’d come with tonight whistled and yelled wildly.

  Luke’s human team members congratulated him with high fives, slaps and everything you could think of to say well done.

  I laughed as one of them bumped him with their head.

  After the celebration was over, the players went
back to their positions and the whistle blew once again.

  The Yellow Hornets scored next and then the Sapphires were on fire, scoring three times in a row. Each time that animated dragon would come back, announcing the total points of the team who’d just scored. I now understood why Sammy was so crazy about Luke; he was really fast and always had a smile on his face.

  As the game progressed, the crowd drew in a collective breath as a fire bolt headed for one of the human players. It was too late to block it and the fire bolt struck the player. One of his teammates caught him as his board came smashing against the shield protecting us from the action. His teammate dropped him off at a Swallow Annex standing off to the side, who I assumed was there for medical reasons.

  “This is why this game is really dangerous. You’ve got to pay attention,” Sammy said without taking her eyes of the commotion.

  The crowd cheered when the player got up, but he was way too disoriented to carry on and they had to make do without him.

  The game started again when the Yellow Hornets scored another point.

  Dragons flew in all kinds of directions, using their abilities on one another, while the scorers tried to gain extra points.

  Suddenly, the crowd went completely silent as all the dragons in the arena froze in mid-air. As if on strings, they all turned their heads in unison in our direction and came charging at us with a venomous look in their fiery eyes.

  FELT FEAR tear through me like a dagger and my body froze. The blood in my veins stopped flowing and I felt the same sensation as being plunged into an icy lake. The eyes of the dragons in front of me changed into silvery, misty orbs. Like puppets in some sort of choreographed dance, they assembled in the air and flew in line with our row, breathing their fire, acid, and frost balls all in one breath.

  “What the hell is going on?” George yelled. He was the first to speak. We all flinched back when the balls hit the invisible wall. Each time a ball connected with the invisible shield there was an explosion of small sparks as the barrier fought to hold back each blast. But the magic that had sustained the barrier was no match for the force of the dragons combined power and the last acid ball got through, landing at Sammy’s feet. With wide eyes, Sir Robert stumped it out quickly with the heel of his boot. Turning my gaze back from the smouldering, melting pile, I looked in horror as they came back for a second attack.

 
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