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Thunderlight, p.20
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       Thunderlight, p.20

           Adrienne Woods

  “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

  “You look ready. Just fucking claim him this time,” she cussed and we laughed.

  “That is the plan.”

  A guitar-filled intro started to blare from the speakers and I know the song well. It was Thunderstruck from AC/DC and the song Blake once admitted to Lucian that scared the living crap out of him. The music echoed through the walls as the crowd started to sing along. Lucian closed his eyes, and bounced in one spot. Professor Mia and I just stared at him. It was like the music was starting to give him some strength or magical powers. He opened his eyes, took a huge breath, and looked at me.

  “Go get your dragon,” I said and gave him a quick, hard kiss on the mouth.

  “Don’t go too far,” he said out of breath as we broke away. He turned and winked as the gates pulled up. The crowd cheered when they saw Lucian parading with his arms in the air as if he had already won. Loud ripping noises came from the coliseum and I knew Blake had transformed. More cheers came as I plunged myself onto the bench and started to pray. This was one claim I didn’t want to see.

  I hadn’t forgotten what Blake had told me that night in the mountains. He was giving it his all not to kill Lucian. What if he slipped up today, and killed him.

  “You don’t want to watch?” Mia sat with me on the bench.

  I shook my head keeping my eyes closed.

  “That makes two of us,” she admitted and I turned my head to the left to look at her.

  “But you give a mean pep talk.”

  She smiled. “Claiming a dragon that doesn’t want to be claimed is one thing, Elena. Claiming a dragon that doesn’t belong to you is another.”

  The buzzing sound of the wall popped and I knew we were safe from the Rubicon’s fire.

  Worry came back with a vengeance and nausea so strong filled my stomach. I wrapped my arms around my stomach.

  “Don’t worry. Lucian always finds a way to not get himself killed.” She tapped my leg. She really doesn’t know when to shut up.

  For the next thirty minutes both of us listened to the crowd cheering and gasping outside. Every time they gasped I felt I was going to die a thousand deaths, and I waited what felt like an eternity for them to cheer again.

  By the fifth gasp the cheer didn’t come and both Professor Mia and I jumped up to see what was going on.

  My hand grabbed my mouth as I saw Lucian lying face down on the floor. Five dragons tried to distract Blake as he still wanted to go for Lucian. Constance and Julia worked fast and I saw Julia use spells to block the Rubicon’s abilities from them.

  The door to the Coliseum flew open and King Helmut and Queen Margerite came rushing inside. I jumped out of the way as the gate lifted and watched as Constance and Julia brought Lucian’s limp body inside.

  My hand was tucking my hair as I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. He couldn’t be dead.

  King Helmut shouted questions at Constance.

  Mia tried to keep both of his parents away as Constance worked her magic.

  Please, please, please, just save him!

  When he took a deep breath my energy dropped to zero and I found myself on the floor.

  His parents rushed to his side.

  “Did I get him?” He croaked which sounded like music to my ears.

  He was alive.

  OR THE NEXT couple of days I had to listen to all of Lucian’s moves. He’d almost had him was what everybody kept saying.

  Blake released an ability at the last minute that nobody knew he had; Telekinesis.

  It didn’t belong to any dragons; only their human form can develop it the same way as a Dragonian, through a spell. Yet the Rubicon conjured it, so he had to own it. How many more abilities did he hide?

  I visited Lucian every day in the Infirmary. The first two days he just slept and his Mom never left his side.

  At first I was scared to enter but when she gave me her friendly smile and gestured for me to come closer, I couldn’t reject her offer.

  Lucian woke up for a couple of seconds, just to smile at me, or touch my arm and then he would fall into another deep sleep.

  “Sleep is good for healing his body, Elena,” his Mom said.

  “He could’ve died.”

  “Lucian knows the risks.”

  “How can you be okay with this?” I wasn’t thinking again.

  “I’m not,” she said sternly. “But how do you tell your son he can’t do it if he truly believes he can.”

  “Sorry,” I apologized. “I was out of line, Your Majesty.”

  She gave a tired laugh. “You don’t need to call me that, Elena. You’re going to become a Princess one day, so call me by my name.”

  I giggled. Mine sound just as tired as hers. “You sure about that?”

  “If it is up to Lucian, yes.”

  I smiled.

  She started to ask me about my father again. She said Lucian didn’t have much information about him so I told her as much as I could.

  “Your mother died, or so he told me?” she asked.

  I kept quiet for a while. I couldn’t lie to her. “He was misinformed. She didn’t die; she left after she found out what my father was.” It was the only explanation that made sense.

  She gave me a sad, soft look. “I’m so sorry to hear that, Elena.”

  “I should’ve corrected him that day but I was so scared he wouldn’t feel the same way about me anymore.”

  “Nothing you do will ever change his mind, Elena. Once it’s made, it can’t be changed. Unless you prove him wrong” She looked at his sleeping figure and smiled. “He was always like that ever since he could crawl.”

  I laughed. It was silent for a minute. “Can I ask you something?”

  She nodded.

  “Why did you change your mind about me?”

  “Easy. We saw Lucian’s strength through you. You are just like him you know. Brave, strong and you know exactly what you want. It was something we couldn’t ignore. Finding someone to love is hard, but when it comes as naturally as the way it comes with the two of you…we knew we couldn’t break that up.”

  I gave her a lopsided smile and kissed the top of Lucian’s knuckles softly.

  “I’m sorry that you lost your father. I can’t imagine what it must be like to discover a world like ours and to cope with this alone.”

  “I wasn’t alone. I had my friends and him.” I cocked my head toward Lucian’s body.

  “We used to know a Copper-Horn a long time ago. He was brave and one of King Albert’s best friends.” She giggled. “He used to unravel all the consequences made by each possible decision. It resulted in King Albert not making a choice without him.”

  I laughed with her. “Yeah, my father used to be a master at that too.” I sighed. “Once, I really wanted to go to this party and he sat down with me and gave me so many scenarios of how it could go wrong. It made me so confused that I didn’t even remember wanting to go to the party in the first place.”

  She laughed. “I guess all Copper-Horns are like that.”

  “What was his name, the dragon that King Albert looked up to as his decision maker?”

  “Jako. When he left, we all missed him so much.”

  “Why did he leave?”

  “His wife…she ran away with their daughter and he followed three days later. We never saw them again.”

  “Why did she leave?”

  “No one knows, and it doesn’t matter. It’s just sad that we never heard anything of him again. I have to admit, I never liked his wife that much but he adored her in some creepy way. They had the most beautiful little dragon though.” She didn’t speak further and slipped into her chair.

  That was my first encountering with Queen Margerite and after that I became quite fond of our times together.

  Lucian woke up around the third day. I wanted to slap him silly for scaring me like that but decided he’d learned his lesson. I just hoped he wasn’t going to attempt a fourth one soon.

nbsp; I found Lucian wearing a pair of jeans and shirt. He looked brand new, as if nothing major had happened five days ago. Queen Margerite spoke to Constance as I found my arms around his waist.

  “I’m going home for two days.” He sulked and I grunted a bit.

  “So I’m going to have to spend two whole days without you?”

  “It sucks doesn’t it, but the old lady really got a scare and she wants my presence at the palace for a couple of days.”

  “Then I think you should go.”

  His eyes rose a bit as if he remembered something. “Wait here.” He walked to his Mom and interrupted her and Constance’s conversation.

  She nodded her head and he ran back to me. “Go pack your bags. You’re coming with.”

  COULD BARELY CONTAIN my excitement as I slid onto the cool leather seat of the limo that was set to take us to Elm. I had never ridden in a limo before and I knew a dopy smile was plastered to my face the entire ride. I ran my hand over the seat admiring the soft tingles the leather sent up my arm as I looked across the cushion I shared with Lucian over to his Mom “Are you excited?” he asked as he took in my smile.

  “It’s my first time in a castle, what do you think?”

  He chuckled and wrapped his arm around me. “You forget that Dragonia used to be a castle too.”

  “It’s not the same.” I glanced over at the Queen who was still looking at a device that was sitting in her lap. She had a slight grin on her face as she typed away.

  Once we arrived in Elm, porters took our luggage and we walked to a private elevator. The chairs were huge and luxurious and there was no waiting in line. I grabbed Lucian’s hand as the doors closed the drop came almost instantly.

  Lucian was just like Becky, he loved every moment of it and I couldn’t help but join him.

  I held my breath and this time I barely felt any pain as the chair moved forward at an accelerated speed.

  When we finally stopped, the doors opened into a huge room. My eyes grew wide as I took in the opulence before me and I hastily reached up to fix my hair in an attempt to make myself presentable. A butler and a couple of maids stood just inside the room waiting for our arrival. They all smiled and applauded when they saw Lucian and I assumed his attempts to claim Blake were really important to them. I had to admit, he was one hell of a guy, not to mention how brave he was for even thinking of claiming Blake.

  He took a deep bow and they laughed.

  “Maybe next time, Your Highness,” a butler with white hair said. “I heard you almost had him.”

  Lucian just stared at him. “My Mom isn’t around yet, Jeeves, you know the rules.”

  Everyone laughed again. I couldn’t believe how much he hated to be addressed as royalty.

  “If it wasn’t for that ability of his, I sure would have. Well, he will reveal them all to me in a matter of time, and then no more surprises,” Lucian joked casually as if he hadn’t almost died. I secretly hoped that was a joke.

  I followed him and the butler into a spacious lobby big enough to accommodate a crowd of at least two hundred people. The wooden floor was a light brown and the walls a pure white. Portraits as big as the walls greeted me and I couldn’t help but notice a slight resemblance to Lucian in many of the faces.

  A round table with a vase brimming with flowers gave the room a more welcoming ambience.

  King Helmut entered the lobby just then and I took a deep breath. I had only seen him once inside the museum and only for a short period as Lucian’s body was dragged in after the claim.

  “Welcome to our home, Elena.” His warm smile made me feel welcome as his hands reached out for mine. They were warm, but rough, and he shook them gently.

  “Thank you for having me,” I said and returned his smile.

  “Your Majesty, there is a call for you.” The butler returned.

  “Thanks, Jeeves.” He looked at the butler. “Where is your mother?”

  “She’s on her way.”

  “Denise, Mary, please show Elena to her room and Lucian, I need to have a word with you.”

  I turned to look at him and smiled as his entire body inflated. He raised his eyebrows at me with a smile and I could tell that he wasn’t impressed at all. Denise gestured for me to follow her. Everyone here was so friendly and Lucille’s words from a night a few months back jumped into my head. King Helmut was a great ruler.

  “This is the King and Queen’s personal wing, miss,” Denise said, her voice filled with reverence.

  “Oh, please. Call me, Elena,” I said and a small giggle escaped my lips.

  “The Queen wanted you to feel safe, so we didn’t think you would’ve enjoyed it much if you were stuck alone in the guest wing.” I followed her up a wide marble staircase and turned down a long hall that reminded me of the museum. Thick, lush blue carpets lined the entire floor area and more portraits, this time of women and landscapes, looked down at me. She led me in front of two double doors and opened both of them together.

  A gasp left my mouth as a room, triple the size of the one I had at Lucille’s, welcomed me. The bed had a golden satin cover and it was so large, five humans could easily lie next to one another. A dozen of matching pillows were stacked high on the bed. It all was simply breath taking. The carpet was a cream color and the décor was comprised of earthy abstracts. A magnificent, golden chandelier hung delicately from the ceiling completing the royal styling.

  A girl with the red curls sticking from underneath her cap, that I had seen as we passed in the hallway, opened the balcony doors while Denise went into another room linked to mine. She walked out almost immediately and gestured toward the space. “That is the bathroom. We just put a couple of fresh towels in this morning for you. We’ll have a light lunch with tea in the garden around three. As my mother always said, you need to eat six times a day to keep a chubby figure away.”

  I giggled as she curtseyed. They both giggled as I poorly returned their gesture.

  The maids skittered toward the exit and Denise closed the door.

  Once I was alone, I turned around and started to laugh.

  For the love of blueberries, what am I going to do alone in this room?

  I went to the bathroom and took in an enormous shell tub that stood against the wall in front of a frosted window with blue and white curtains. It had about three basins and a shower made of glass that looked like a mini sauna.

  Towels were folded beautifully over the rail and more were rolled up and stacked on a beautiful murmur shelf against the wall. My hand touched one that hung over the rail gently. I grabbed it and lifted it up to my face and closed my eyes. The texture was as warm and soft as lamb’s wool.

  “Elena,” Lucian’s voice came floating in from my room.

  “In here,” I shouted back as I put the towel lightly back over the railing. “Is this for real?”

  He laughed. “What do you mean?”

  “Lucian, this place is huge. How do you get use to the dorms at Dragonia?”

  “Believe me it’s not very hard. This place really gets too big for me at times.”

  “I can imagine why.”

  He held out his hand for me and I took it. We left my room as I followed him back through the hall and down the staircase.

  He led me in the opposite direction of the entrance and down through another passage. This palace reminded me of the first time I had followed Master Longwei through Dragonia. The memory pulled at my lips and I smiled.

  When he reached two huge, wooden doors he opened one side and we entered a library. Now I know how Belle in Beauty in the Beast felt. Books were stacked up the walls and three huge ladders on wheels rested against them. A beautiful, heavenly scene of cherubs floating on clouds were painted on the ceiling. A piano stood at the back in front of a huge window with green drapes. Everything was so overwhelming I felt my breath escape me.


  My head shot right to the voice and I found Lucian’s father with a teacup in his hands sitting on a chair a
t a small lounge stacked in the right corner. “Please sit.” He gestured toward one of the chairs in front of him and Lucian took the chair right next to me.

  After he inquired if the room was to my liking, he started asking me questions about my Dad.

  The words began spilling out: “Dad used to ask me a different riddle every day. I would try to answer but I never came close to the correct answer. I sucked at them back then, now I was a master at answering the chef’s riddles. He was an amazing guy now that I think about it. He’d tried his best so many times to apologize for all the moves and we had a good relationship.” The memory of the playful back biting at night made me miss him so much more. “Then the fleeing came, every three months. I could have set my alarm to the exact day. Because of that I didn’t have any friends, the few I had, felt so uncomfortable with my Dad interrogating them, that they would leave me too.”

  He frowned as he listened to every word that came out of my mouth.

  When I was done with my story he just stared into the dead fireplace on his left.

  “You knew her father, Dad?”

  “No, I don’t, sorry, Elena. I wish that I had. It might have given you some piece of mind.” He smiled.

  “It’s okay. I’ve made peace with all the unanswered questions in my life. There is no logic in wondering about it. I mean those dragons could’ve wanted my father for so many reasons. The only thing that does bother me is why he never told me what he truly was.”

  “Maybe he was scared that you wouldn’t accept the fact that he was a dragon. What would you have done if you couldn’t make peace with it? Would you live with a father you feared? Dragons tend to ponder on the little things us humans don’t think about, especially Copper-Horns.” He plugged his eyebrows and smiled. “I used to know one a long time ago. He was serving on the Dragon League, and was one of King Albert’s advisers. He could give you so many outcomes of just one simple decision.” He told me the same story that his wife had while Lucian was in the Infirmary. “After a while, King Albert struggled to make a decision without consulting him first. Jako, he was one of the noblest creatures I’ve ever met. He used to have these crazy difficult riddles too, that none of us could guess.”

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