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       Firebolt, p.20

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  Rounding another corner, the Metallic dragons were simply magnificent. They all carried a posture with puffed up chests and raised heads, and shimmery gold, silver, bronze, copper, and brass scales.

  The section that explained what their skin could be used for brought a shiver up my spine. Most of the Metallic dragons were harvested for armor, whereas the Chromatic ones were slaughtered for their blood, guts, toes, and scales. It was the main ingredients for almost all the important potions. Dragon teeth were used for making weapons, but ever since metal was discovered, the only purpose they held was as trophies.

  We were greeted with a more civilized era in the next room. It began with large paintings of hulking castles. The one in Etan was the most enchanted; it looked as if fireflies made homes on the edges of the walls and rooftops. I stared at it for at least ten minutes, completely entranced.

  “It's beautiful, isn't it?” he said.

  “Does it still exist?”

  “I don't know. I was only five when the creepers consumed Etan. If I did see it with my own eyes, well, I don't remember it anymore.”

  “Such a pity,” I spoke solemnly.

  He told me that Etan was his hometown, and his dad was trapped there because his Dragonian chose to side with Goran. His father couldn't break their bond, but had made sure that his wife and son got out before it was too late. A longing grew in his eyes as he told me his story. It made me feel sad for him.

  We moved on to another Night Villain. This one had a human figure right next to it. He had dark hair with honey-colored eyes and was very handsome.

  “Sir Robert,” Cheng whispered.

  I read the dragon’s name on the brass plate. Right next to it was indicated that he was King Albert's dragon.

  “This was the Night Villain King Albert claimed?”

  “Yes.” He smiled.

  “Where is the Queen’s?”

  “She had a Green-Vapor that believed she was a Crown-Tail.”

  I giggled.

  “She wasn't into all this lime-light stuff, so she didn't give her consent when they asked if they could make a model of her.”

  “You said “wasn't”. Is she dead?”

  “No. Her name is Tanya Le Frey. She carries a lot of the Queen’s secrets with her,and as you can imagine, a lot of people looked for her after the queen’s death. Sir Robert went through the same scrutiny. The royal Council tortured him, thinking that he had something to do with the betrayal. They tried to look for her too, but she was already on the other side of the wall for almost a year. When she finally came back, she went into hiding, and even today, nobody knows where she is.”

  “You think she's still alive?”

  “I don't know. She's definitely not on the other side.”

  “How do you know that, Cheng?”

  “Because of what she is. To hide as a human is too difficult for Chromatic dragons. They don't share the same passion as our Metallic ones. I have to give it to her,she did manage to live two years on the other side. I would love to know what her business involved. A lot of people thought that she’d betrayed the queen from the other side of the realm, but even if she is a Chromatic dragon and a Green-Vapor, Tanya would have never betrayed Queen Catherine. They shared a sisterhood.”

  He spoke until we reached a temple. Cheng lit one of the thousand candles that were outside the two doors. He gestured that I should do the same.

  I followed his lead.

  “It's to pay respect. Some people come here to pray. Although they know the dead are in the spirit world, they still believe that God is always present where there are people that live by His Son's example. Remove your shoes, Elena.”

  I toed them off and waited for Cheng to enter first. I followed him and felt everything around me stop. I couldn't stop staring at the two figures sitting on their thrones.

  A soft gasp left my mouth.

  Cheng looked at me and smiled as he kneeled down to them, like they were still alive. I did the same and was glad that he misunderstood my gasp. My heart beat inside my throat, which made it hard to swallow. It was the same feeling I experienced when I read that foretelling. When I looked up, she was still there, sitting next to him; the lady from my dreams.

  A golden rope became the barrier between them and us. They both sat on their thrones, tall and proud as if they waited for something. She sat upright, very gracefully, and his pride shone in his erect posture. They didn't smile, and they looked unnatural.

  “My mother said the crafters got almost everything right, except their faces─ the eyes in particular. His was friendly, hers full of compassion,” he said quietly. We bowed down once more before exiting.

  My head pounded with questions as the tour went on, and Cheng led me through the last part of the museum.

  I froze as I found the statue of Blake. It looked nothing like him really, except for his blue peacock eyes. A couple of teenagers that didn't attend Dragonia took pictures standing next to him, like he was some sort of an idol. I understood now why Blake didn't like the city very much.

  More wax figures of kings and queens came up greeted us in the next room. Cheng told me that the first couple was Lucian's grandparents and the second couple Arianna's. He explained that Paegeia had been too big for King Louie to rule alone. With all the changes he wanted to make, he needed help and solved this by giving Tith and Areeth to his two most loyal Knights.

  I giggled softly as I saw a statue of Lucian standing behind the throne of his parents.“The Royal family of Tith”was printed in big golden letters on a brass plate. Lucian’s mom had light brown hair with a tint of red, and his father looked a lot like him, except for the moustache.

  “He never liked doing this. I have to give it to him, Elena, he's as knightly as they come. When he ascends, he'll make one heck of a Dragonian.” A warm fuzzy feeling warmed my chest as Cheng’s words of praise washed over me. “I have a feeling that someday you'll be here too.”

  “Now why would they put me in here? My brass plate would probably read something like‘The Dragonian with the dragon father’,” I joked, laughing to myself.

  “Or it could read,‘The girl that stole the Prince of Tith's heart’.”

  I giggled. For the love of blueberries, it was nice to hear that.

  Next up was Arianna’s figure, smiling from ear to ear. I assumed she couldn't wait to have a model made of her and had welcomed this opportunity with open arms. Even her family looked happy. She looked so friendly, which was the last thing Arianna, was. She's capable of evil things.

  The last exhibit was a replica of the King of Lion sword. “The blade of Aegis” was written on the brass plate in front of the glass box that protected the sword. I remembered seeing it in my Mysteries book on my very first day. Many of the kings and queens posed with it and Cheng mentioned that King William had killed the first Rubicon with it. After that he carried it everywhere he went and so did King Alexander, Louie, and Albert. The sword was always close to them.

  “Why isn't there a model of Goran?”

  “He doesn't belong in the museum, Elena. He gave up that right when he slaughtered King Albert and Queen Catherine.”

  “Why do you think he did it?”

  “Envy, who knows? He had no reason to be jealous, but he was anyway. I think it was his power that turned him evil. Before Sarafina, his dragon, died she gave him a part of her essence. I think if a dragon gives you too much of their essence, the human body changes. Goran wanted more and everything after Sarafina died. People say that she gave him a lot of her essence. A couple months later he became consumed with greed, power, basically all the deadly sins there are and he just didn’t care anymore.”

  “I like your theories, Cheng,” I complimented him. He chuckled and his face turned red.

  We spent the entire morning inside the museum and when we left the sun was sitting high. I took a lot of leaflets stuffed with information to read later on. I really enjoyed the tour.

  He took me to the beach front wher
e he bought two hot dogs and two sodas from a cart for us to eat.

  I felt terrible because I didn't have any money but he just shrugged it off with a short wave of his hand.

  We ended up strolling through the market as we ate. T-shirts, necklaces, handmade clocks and other artifacts were being sold by a variety of colorful people. We stopped at one compartment where they had potions in little bottles for sale. The words “Truth serum” and “Healing tonic” grabbed my attention. I looked at the old lady with her long, thin red hair hanging over her shoulders. She looked like a Gypsy. Huge silver hoops dangled from her earlobes. She just kept staring at me so I gave her a small smile, which she returned with a crooked one. Cheng nudged me forward.

  “What were you thinking of when we entered King Albert's chamber?” he asked.

  “Nothing much,” I lied. “I guess because it’s the first time I finally got to see them. I didn't know what to expect. I’ve learned and heard so many great things about them that it was hard to imagine what they would look like, until now. You know there aren't many books in the library with their pictures.”

  “Yes, they weren't the type to parade in front of cameras. There are a lot of newspapers with articles about them in the library's archives though. You should page through them if you want to get a clearer picture of what they really looked like.”

  I made a mental note to look through them once I had more time. “Why did you ask what I was thinking when I saw them?”

  “Nothing major, it was just the way you gasped. As if you knew them,” he said cryptically.

  I smiled. “That's silly, Cheng.”

  “Yes, it's silly, but you know how much I love my theories.”

  Did Cheng see through my gasp?

  Does he know that I'm dreaming about the queen? Why am I dreaming about her? Of all the women in Paegeia why her? Well I'm not going to tell anyone about that. They'll think that I believe in my mark and that I think I'm special or something because she showed up in my dreams. Whatever the reason, it's bound to start students asking questions thatcould invariably end up causing a lot more problems than what it’s worth. I had my fair share of dealing with problems too.

  "What are you thinking about, Elena?” he said shaking me from my thoughts.

  “I was just thinking about home, the other side of the wall.”It wasn’t a lie. I was sort of thinking about it.

  “Do you miss it?”

  “Except for my dad, no. It's weird how comfortable I feel on this side. I mean I never knew what friendship was before now. Here I have so many people looking out for me. It's nice, but sometimes I miss being alone. Do you know what I mean?”

  He smiled knowingly. “If you want to call it a day, Elena, I won't mind.”

  “I didn't mean it like that, Cheng. I like spending time with you, and I'll put in a good word for you with Master Longwei in making you the new history professor.”

  He roared with laughter. It was so contagious that I joined in.

  “Thanks for the compliment,” he said when he finally stopped laughing.

  He started asking me questions about New York and the Empire State building and my mind wandered back to my old life. That much I could tell him,because we’d lived everywhere in America. The Golden Bridge was on his list of things to see too.

  “Thank you, Cheng. Besides Lucian, you're one of the coolest guys that Master Longwei could’ve asked to tutor me.”

  “You're welcome, Elena. I’m happy just as long as you learn something.”

  On our trip back to the Academy, all the things I had learned started to swirl in my head. The queen was at the forefront. As if dreaming about her wasn't enough.

  The nagging bit of information was the foretelling. How could mine have appeared magically in the book? What was it I had to decide on? How would I know what the Viden mean by “if I don't the truth will never be known?” Could it have been about somebody else that she happened to receive while I was there?

  “What is it, Elena?” He asked as we reached the stairs of the dorms, noticing my deep thought.

  “Nothing,” I said quickly.

  “I can see there's a question burning inside of you.”

  “There is but it's not important.”

  He waited patiently for me to speak, crossing his arms so I would know he wasn’t going to let it drop. I took a deep breath, knowing that Cheng might be the only person who would ever tell me the truth.

  “Does the Viden sometimes make a foretelling that isn't meant for you?”

  “What do you mean?”

  I cringed and almost stopped, but decided what the heck. “When I met her for the first time, I didn't like her very much, I still don't. She's vain and only has nice things to say to her prodigies, like they're the only ones that matter. It's all a load of bull anyway. When I got up to leave she said something. Could it have been meant for someone else?”

  “Did the wind blow and her eyes light up?”

  “You can say that,”I said, trying my best not to give away that it was the one he’d read out loud at the museum.

  “Yes, Elena. It was meant for you and only you,” he said knowingly.

  “Thanks, Cheng. That’s all I wanted to know.” I smiled and we said our goodbyes. I was tired when I reached the room, drained by today's trip and I fell on top of my bed. I was glad that Becky and Sammy were still somewhere in Elm.I didn’t have the energy to recap my trip with Cheng.

  I was so frustrated that I didn't have the answers. I wasn't desperate enough to crawl back to that awful hag and begher to tell me what she’d meant.

  I fell asleep only to be awoken by an over-excited Becky, who jumped on top of me.

  “Wake up, sleepy head.”

  I growled into my pillow, but it didn't stop her bouncing.

  “I hope your learning about the past is over now.”

  “Yes, and thank you, my lady, for giving me the time off to roam free,” I joked, my face slowly emerging from my pillow.

  Sammy sat on the couch, sucking on liquorice, smiling at us.

  “I've learned so much today about everything.”

  “That happens if you mix business with pleasure,” Becky said.

  “How was your day with George? I assume he was with you since he can't do anything without his Becky,” I teased, trying to do an old British butler accent.

  Sammy laughed.

  “Ha, ha, funny, did a clown swim in your cereal this morning?” she said, glaring in my direction.

  “Admit it, Becky, you dig George. You always had this little crush on him ever since we started attending Dragonia.” Sammy teased her too.

  “Fine, so I like him. It was bound to happen since I'm forced to spend every single day with him.” She crossed her arms in defense.

  “There's nothing wrong with liking George, Becky. He has really changed,and hey, I even forgave him for the stupid prank.”

  “I forgot about that. I fell for a loser,” Becky cried, and she fell backwards on my bed.

  “He's not a loser. I got a feeling you're going to do great things together.” I remembered Cheng's words when we found George's foretelling.

  She rested on her one elbow. “You really think that?”

  I nodded encouragingly.

  “Thanks, Elena, you're so cool. Next time, you're coming with us.”

  We talked all night long about everything they did in Elm. When the main clock struck twelve, we called it a night and went to sleep. I couldn't wait for tomorrow. Lucian had sent Sammy a message telling what time I should meet him.

  As much as I wanted to put my questions aside and fall asleep, I couldn’t. The Viden’s words haunted me so much that it made my head hurt. Not to mention the Queen. Why did she decide to appear in my dreams? I closed my eyes, and before I knew it, I was standing at the top of the hill again.

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  The next morning I found Lucian waiting by a black Hummer. I ran straight into his arms and gave him the longest kiss ever.
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  “I hope you're done mixing business with pleasure,” he said with his face buried in the nape of my neck. He opened the passenger door for me. “So, did you enjoy the museum?”

  “Yes, especially the exhibit on you and your family,” I teased.

  His face turned red. “I hate that stupid thing. It took hours just for them to get the measurements right, and they still did a crappy job.”

  I laughed excitedly. “So where are we going?”

  “I told you it's a surprise, although not the one I had planned, but it will have to do.” He started the Hummer and music blared from the radio.

  "I want to play you something," he said, and took out a disc and slid it into the player. The song had an upbeat rhythm, and I started bouncing in my seat. The lyrics were deep, and I got lost in them as I listened to the vocalist singing of a girl he hadn't found yet. He sounded lost.

  Lucian smiled, and looked at me every five seconds through the corner of his eyes.

  “What?” I asked, scared I had something in my hair or worse, my teeth.

  “You know who that is?”

  “Who? The guy singing?”

  He nodded.

  I listened again. “No, should I?”

  A huge grin appeared on his face.

  “C'mon, Elena, guess.”

  I giggled. “Is it you?”

  He roared with a contagious laughter. “Hell no. I can't keep a tune.”

  “Then who? I knew I'd never heard this voice before.

  “It's Blake.”

  My mouth dropped. “Get out! Really?”

  “He has what it takes to make it big, but the Council doesn't want to grant him permission to go for it, because he's the Rubicon. It doesn't stop him from doing a couple of gigs though.”

  “Wow. Do you think he wrote this song for Tabitha?”

  Lucian gave a chuckle I'd never heard before.

  “What?”

  “Elena, Blake only keeps Tabitha for one thing?”

 
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