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Darkbeam part i, p.2
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       Darkbeam Part I, p.2

           Adrienne Woods
 

  It carried on like that for a long time. Like a stupid game. Lucian struggled to regain his balance and bounced hard against the floor.

  The beast thought it was comical.

  Enough! I put a stop to it.

  The beast went for Lucian. Lucian rolled around; my paws just missed squashing him by inches.

  I didn’t want to look, but I had no choice.

  I was scared. Yet at the same time, I loved everything about it. I was getting angry as he slipped through my paws.

  The battle raged.

  Lucian refused to give up. Every tiny breadth of space he found, every second of reprieve, he used to gain the upper hand.

  At one stage, I thought he had me. It was so intense. The way the crowd cheered. Their chants coursed through the ground and drilled into my scales.

  And then he used his rope.

  I didn’t even see him coming.

  The bastard had just been on the ground, rolling to dodge my lethal paws, and then he was gone, just like that.

  I heard his scream from behind as he leaped onto my back.

  I was too late to attack him with an ability. He landed on my spine hard. The rope looped around one of my horns. One that I couldn’t reach.

  He’d done his homework. He swung from the rope.

  I tried to squash him in the process of climbing off my back, but he was thumping and throwing my body in all directions. I only did exactly what he’d hoped.

  I got myself tangled in the ropes, half-strangled.

  He was bringing me down. “Yield, Blake, for the both of us! Just yield!”

  This was it. He was going to win. Whether he was the foretold royal or not. Lucian always believed it didn’t matter what people said, that as long as you believed it with your heart and you confessed it with your mind, you could make anything happen. And this was it. The proof behind his faith.

  But the beast in me refused to yield.

  I wasn’t anyone’s lamb. I am the Rubicon! I cannot be tamed!

  The strength that had waned a few minutes ago came back, amplified exponentially. My body shredded through the rope that had trapped me.

  Lucian yelled out of frustration and ducked, diving again to escape my wrath.

  I wasn’t thinking clearly anymore.

  I didn’t remember our friendship and how close we’d been.

  I spat my acid at him. The spots where my acid orbs landed disintegrated. Rocks melted and shattered, giving him less and less hiding spaces. But the weasel still escaped me. My wrath became darker.

  ENOUGH!

  He rolled out from hiding, ready to jump again, but this time the beast was ready. Before I could control it, a flash of lightning left my mouth.

  He wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place.

  The lightning struck him.

  He flew back and convulsed violently on the floor. He shook as volts of electricity ran through him.

  Then it stopped.

  Lucian’s body lay lifeless on the cold, unforgiving floor of the Colosseum. I wanted to attack him again. He would always come back if I didn’t finish him off and I couldn’t have that.

  A Sun-Blast dragon flew in, followed by a Fin-Tail and a Copper-Horn. All of them were so fast.

  I wanted to scorch their asses.

  I growled and screeched. They ducked and dove, avoiding my lightning and acid.

  One of them connected hard with me. I staggered a few feet, but kept my balance. They pummeled me. They came again and again.

  I growled.

  “Blake, calm down,” Professor Mia said as a Fin-Tail crashed into me this time.

  “Remember who you are,” she commanded.

  The Fin-Tail rammed the other side of my body.

  It took four of them to make me remember who I truly was and the guy I’d almost killed.

  I pulled back.

  “He’s calming down,” she said. “Give him some room.”

  The beast inside me still growled.

  STOP IT! JUST STOP! the human part of me yelled as I disconnected from the hatred, the darkness, and the irrepressible drive to kill. The beast’s constant thirst for blood.

  I morphed back into my human form and lay on the ground. Someone scurried up from the sidelines and covered me with a robe, then disappeared before I had a chance to attack.

  I took huge breaths to calm my soul, my mind, and my heart, even though I couldn’t feel it beating. My entire being was on edge.

  “Blake?” Mia asked. I looked up at her. She was in her human form too, draped hastily in a robe from somewhere, crouching next to me. I pushed myself up, resting with my elbows on my knees, just taking deep breaths, steadying myself.

  “I thought we’d lost you for a second.”

  I shook my head. “It’s getting stronger. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on, Mia.” And then it hit me. “Lucian!”

  I jumped up from the floor and bolted to the one of the gates. The one that led to Lucian’s changing room. The gate was locked but I could see Constance working on his limp body.

  “Lucian!”

  “Blake, calm down.” One of the other professors said through the gate.

  “Lucian!” Tears streamed down my cheeks. What have I done?

  “Lucian!”

  Mia got hold of me. “Let them do their job.”

  “Get off me,” I said through gritted teeth. Hot, shameful tears rolled down my cheeks. “I did that to him, Mia. Me.”

  “Calm down. Lucian knows the risks, Blake. He knows.”

  “No, don’t.” I needed to get out of there. There was no escape. I looked at the sky.

  “Lower the shield!” Mia yelled and pulled my chin down to look at her.

  Our eyes met.

  The shimmer started to soften and then the shield vanished.

  “Just go.” Mia’s eyebrows knitted together, her eyes soft. I hated that look. Pity.

  Thank you. I wanted to say it so badly, but the words just didn’t form in my mouth.

  I shifted back into the beast and flapped my huge wings. I flew like I’d never flown before. Away from the atrocity I’d committed this day.

  I flew straight to View Top Mountain. It was the closest to Dragonia Academy and also one of Paegeia’s highest peaks.

  I couldn’t control my anger and frustration anymore and just let it all out. My abilities shook the ground as wrath poured out of me.

  I screamed.

  Why me? Why him? Why couldn’t this just be a fucked-up dream?

  When was I going to wake up?

  At length, I wore myself out. I felt empty. I started to calm down.

  The nearby trees were scorched. This isn’t me!

  Minutes crept past. I sat on a boulder and watched Paegeia spread beneath me from a safe distance.

  The stars were already starting to light up the night.

  I focused and played a counting game with the shimmer of the shield that protected Paegeia from the rest of the world.

  I wished I could just fly through that wall and disappear, but it wasn’t going to be that easy. They would send hordes after me, and I’d been warned on numerous occasions that they would take me down if I lost control.

  I didn’t want to push my luck with the beast. I didn’t want to kill more innocent people. A shudder racked my body at the thought.

  So I stayed. Wishing I didn’t care anymore.

  Since the day I’d taken my first breath, a predestined evil hung over me. Without my true rider, I would turn dark.

  Even if Lucian found a way to claim me, I would keep growing stronger. There would come a time when I would destroy him—or he would have to kill me.

  It was just who I was. Who we all were.

  All the Rubicons before me had turned evil, dark. The last one was felled by a brave Viking called William. They’d made him king of Paegeia the day he slew Quitto.

  They said that we used to be part of the outside world. Paegeia wasn’t always hidden. But humans got gree
dy when it came to dragon blood and magic. Therefore, the best sorcerers of that time wielded the Wall.

  The Wall only dragons could pass through.

  I had a theory about why it was only dragons, but what was the use of sharing it with everyone? They would just give me more responsibilities if they knew I had any brains. I already had too much to deal with as is. I wasn’t a scientist, and I wasn’t a philosopher. Maybe it was the Crown-Tail in me.

  It was so obvious; I didn’t know why no one had thought of it before.

  The Wall fed off essence.

  A dragon’s heart beat way softer than humans’ hearts. The Wall didn’t detect dragon heartbeats, but it did pick up on humans’.

  Even if one tried to transform oneself into a dragon through some kind of crazy impossible magic, it could never change the heart. One would still be human inside.

  It was why humans got incinerated when they tried to leave. It was why dragons could come and go as they pleased. Well, that was just my theory.

  I gazed down at my world.

  I doubted I would ever want to leave, even if they granted me permission to do so. But I’d always wanted to know more about the other side.

  The only place I’d seen beyond the confines of Paegeia was China. It had been a long time ago. I still hadn’t received my human form yet. The people of China nurtured a great love for Paegeia. Even in the present, our existence was evident in their art and architecture.

  The truce between China and us was strong. We still engaged in commerce with them—well, dragons disguised as humans did. They wanted to show their respects to the new Rubicon who would save both worlds if it came to that.

  It had been a real ego booster.

  Others knew about us too. Dragons lived among humans; they registered with a council on the other side. Plus, the leaders of each nation were informed of our existence. Elected leaders and monarchies alike all kept Paegeia a secret.

  They assisted us when we needed it, and we reciprocated with secret missions.

  I knew this because I was the Rubicon.

  The rest of the other side had no idea that our world existed. It was sad, but it was the only way to keep Paegeia safe.

  The humans who discovered our world by mistake, well, most of them couldn’t deal with our reality. They lost their minds. Went insane. Many of them got locked up at institutions in Paegeia, drugged and incoherent. That was how they would remain until they died.

  The few who fought the madness—not many—could never go back because of the Wall.

  I was one of the lucky ones, born a dragon and because of what I was, I would die here too. Though I knew that my life would be over soon.

  Rubicons didn’t live long.

  It was a constant battle I had with myself. I wanted to be good. I wanted to win this fight. But good didn’t always win in the end.

  I needed my rider. Not just someone who could claim me. I needed my true rider.

  It was the only way I could win.

  My true rider doesn’t exist. The foretold bloodline had died 15 years ago. The bloodline my rider would’ve been born from.

  Paegeia had three kingdoms. Etan, Tith, and Areeth. The king of Etan, King Albert, had been the greatest ruler of all time and the true king. The King of Tith and Areeth were granted kingships by King Albert’s father. He did so to strengthen Paegeia.

  My father was the true king’s dragon, so I’d known the guy quite well. But he’d been betrayed by his best friend, Goran, an evil Dragonian who became one of the most powerful sorcerers the world had ever seen.

  The night he took the king and queen of Etan’s lives, giant creepers that had the ability to attack and shred intruders sprouted from the ground.

  Many said the king’s dying breath had conjured them. His love for his people had been that magical. He protected us from evil still.

  Irene, the Viden, gave the foretelling when my egg hatched that King Albert and Queen Catherine’s bloodline would produce an heir who was destined to be my rider, my true rider.

  That heir was never born.

  So it didn’t matter who claimed me.

  I would turn evil.

  I would die young.

  Perhaps that was why I hated the Colosseum so much. What hope it gave didn’t apply to me. To me it was a waste of time.

  Still, I fought.

  Why did I fight? Because of the foretelling. Foretellings were like a fortune. Some were pure bullshit, but now and then you really got those who truly saw the future.

  Irene was our era’s Viden. Many private Videns were employed by the rich, but she was Paegeia’s. She’d lived in one of the Dragon Cities, but a few years ago, she’d moved to Dragonia Academy because of me.

  I saw her almost daily now.

  When Irene had a vision, something really magical happened .Her eyes became silver and she spoke in a thousand tongues. They always came out in riddles, but what she saw was quite different, albeit confusing.

  It was the gift of all Moon-Bolts. The older they got, the clearer their visions become.

  Irene’s visions and foretellings were connected to the Book of Shadows. If they were important to Paegeia’s survival, her visions magically appeared in black ink on the pages of the Book of Shadows for all to see.

  Most of mine were in there.

  When a foretelling was fulfilled, the words turned red. But if the time came and the foretelling was not fulfilled, the ink turned blue. The black foretellings still needed to be fulfilled.

  All of mine were still black.

  That was the main reason why I fought against the darkness. Even though my rider didn’t exit, there was still hope.

  How big or small, I didn’t know.

  But lately it has gotten harder. I was losing hope. My eyes were finally opening to the bleak reality of my situation.

  Dragons didn’t always have riders. It wasn’t natural for them to share our gifts.

  The Metallics had no problem with that, but we Chromatics… we were different. We used to despise humans until King Albert changed our minds.

  I hadn’t hatched when they took place, but my father recounted breathless stories about the wars that had raged across the land. I’d grown up with so many possibilities, but they were all starting to fade.

  The Colosseum was one of them. It wasn’t a place of hope to me. Inside that ring, riders broke us. It was where they tamed and took the wild out of us. A life sentence to serve and protect someone else.

  I sighed.

  I was meant to do so many great things. Yet all I was good at was destroying.

  My destiny was that I was supposed to free Etan with the help of King Albert’s spawn. A destiny I’d never fulfill.

  That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was that if I didn’t get claimed before my darkness got too strong, I would go fully dark. Then I would destroy everything I loved, everything I needed.

  The only rider with a fighting chance to tame me was the one haunting my dreams. He was stronger than the beast, more evil than the beast. Part of me couldn’t wait for our union to come to pass. He was the sorcerer who had betrayed the king.

  Goran.

  It was obvious, when I considered what had just happened today, with Lucian. My best friend. I’d almost killed him. If he wasn’t dead already.

  I stared at nothing. Sightless. Hopeless.

  He shouldn’t have been in that ring today; he shouldn’t have tried to keep his promise. Blood promises had been broken before. It wasn’t like I’d even accepted his pledge when he made it.

  Nothing would hurt him, nothing. Yet I had.

  Just then, I felt words I hadn’t felt in a long time.

  I am power and I am might.

  I am flame and fury.

  I have no need for man nor beast.

  I am judge and jury.

  Stars twinkled in the night sky. I lay on my back, watching them. How I wanted to be able to fly up to one. Just fly until I couldn’t anymore.


  The night was my only friend. The night and the darkness.

  Friend of the night, I’ve now become.

  Anticipating him made me succumb…

  Words started to pour out.

  Sparring Lucian was never easy. And this went way beyond sparring. It had been life or death. Did I kill him?

  It wasn’t meant to be. Still, he wouldn’t give up.

  I gave in to my words and kept reciting the poem until it was in my head.

  Tired of fighting the beast inside.

  Mirrored reflection I cannot hide…

  I should’ve never fucked the Snow Dragon. It was stupid. After that, she thought we had this bond, a thing between us. She pretended as if I belonged to her.

  I belonged to no one.

  I needed to call Phil. Phil was full of schemes, more like a Crown-Tail instead of the Night Villain he was.

  He was scaly, though, and not just his skin. Phil’s kind would stab anyone in the back to save his own tail.

  But I needed to calm the beast. And his schemes always managed to do that.

  Only after midnight did I return to the Academy. I landed gently in the courtyard by the infirmary.

  It was quiet.

  Is he okay?

  I tuned in, trying to listen for a heartbeat, but all I heard in the infirmary was a dragon’s heart beating soft and calm. No human heart.

  Tears welled up in my eyes. I stalked in the opposite direction toward the castle, back to the dorms.

  I’d almost reached the staircase, almost out of danger when...

  “Blake,” Master Longwei said in his strong Chinese accent. He was the headmaster of Dragonia and one of the best Fin-Tail dragons I’d ever known. He was slightly weird though. Always wearing knee-length shorts with flip-flops and ugly, colorful shirts with big loud flowers on them.

  I sighed and stopped.

  “Lucian is okay,” he assured me. “King Helmut picked him up a few hours ago.”

  Relief flooded me, though I didn’t reveal it to him. I nodded, as my back faced him. I sniffed, pulling myself together.

  “Is that all?” I said, as if thank you for putting my soul at ease for the night was forbidden to say out loud.

  “That’s all. You can go,” he said.

  I walked up the stairs to my room. I didn’t get far, though. A great, bottomless sadness and vast loneliness rose up and overwhelmed me.

 
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