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Thunderlight, p.21
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       Thunderlight, p.21

           Adrienne Woods
 

  I laughed. “I used to hate my father’s riddles, now it’s one of my favorite things. I wish that he could be here to see that.”

  “He does, Elena. Not in the way you want him too, but he does,” King Helmut said solemnly.

  “So there is a Dragon League too?”

  Lucian’s posture stiffened and my eyes grew a bit in alarm. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”

  “Not at all. There used to be. It was led by Sir Robert. After the king’s death, the Dragon League slowly faded into nothing.”

  “They used to be similar to the Musketeers of France,” Lucian explained. “Protect the King.” He did a small fist pump at these words.

  Goose bumps rushed over my skin just thinking about the Musketeers. I’d always loved stories about them and the Man in The Iron Mask was my favorite movie of all time.

  We soon got lost in the story King Helmut shared with us about Sir Robert just after he had started with the Dragon League. A new admiration for Sir Robert developed inside my core as he told us what a brave dragon he was and how much he loved King Albert. King Helmut also mentioned that they shared their own kind of dent, even though King Albert was never really immune to his acid. From his stories I could tell they respected and shared a deep brotherly love for one another.

  The library was left in silence after the last memory King Helmut shared.

  It was so sad that Sir Robert had to give up the League. It made it a bit clearer to me the toll King Albert’s death had taken on him. He was lost without his rider.

  “Did you find anything else about that night, Dad?” Lucian said after a couple of minutes referring to the recent attack on the Academy.

  “I told you everything I know, Lucian. I think now that Blake is back, they won’t try to attack Dragonia again.”

  He took another sip of his coffee. “So, Lucian told me that you are the Wyvern’s rider.”

  “That is what he said,” I replied softly.

  “Dad, he saved my life a couple of times.”

  “I know Lucian.” He took a deep breath. “I just don’t trust them. Doesn’t matter how noble they seem, there is always that doubt if it is pretend or not.”

  “He killed his own kind.”

  “I know,” King Helmut said again as he looked at Lucian, worry wrinkles appeared around his eyes. “Just be careful, Elena.”

  I nodded respectfully.

  “He told Elena some pretty amazing stuff, Dad. He’s even teaching her how to speak Wyvic.”

  “Wyvic. That I must say is a first. They are usually so guarded when it comes to what they are capable of doing.”

  “He said we have the names of their races wrong.”

  King Helmut laughed. “That doesn’t surprise me. The old fart who wrote that book had no idea what he was talking about.”

  “They have abilities too. Some that would raise the hair on your arm.” Lucian looked at me. “Go on. Tell him about their abilities.”

  “They are very similar but extremely dangerous. The Brown–Horn’s scales can shoot out and be used as flying weapons. Its horns can do the same. Paul told me that each one of his horns contains a poison, one that ages you really fast and then you die. The Spear-Tail has the ability to see through animal’s eyes, the Spike-Tail can suck up souls. They said that each soul represents a life. The more it has, the longer it lives.”

  King Helmut’s eyes were huge.

  “What is it Dad?”

  “Wyland was a Spike-Tail.”

  “Dad,” Lucian touched him on the arm.

  He touched Lucians hand and tapped it twice. “It’s fine son. I killed him, remember.” He nodded for me to carry on.

  “The Hummer-Head can multiply himself. Paul thinks that there was a couple there that night. He doesn’t think that there were that many Wyverns.”

  “What does this Paul do?”

  “He’s a telepath. He can put things in someone’s head and…” I realized that it was probably wise not to go into too much detail about the Wyverns. “It’s all very complicated and I’m still struggling to capture what he really can do.”

  “Still, he has a really dangerous ability.”

  “Dad, he promised Elena that he would never do that to anyone.”

  “And yet Wyland was one of the greatest men I’d ever met, Lucian.”

  Lucian jumped up. “So what do you want me to do? Hate them forever? Dad, he’s going to be part of my life if he’s Elena’s dragon.”

  “If... you don’t truly believe it?”

  “Stop putting words in my mouth. He’s not Wyland. I’ve got no choice but to trust him.”

  “Okay son. Relax. I’m just trying to make you remember how devious Wyverns are. If anything happened to the two of you…”

  “Nothing will, Father. He saved my life.”

  “And I’m grateful for that, Lucian.” King Helmut looked tired and worried all at the same time. “It’s good that you learned so much about Wyvern’s, Elena. Apart from how to kill them, we don’t really have much to go on.”

  “I’m planning to find out everything I can about them.”

  He smiled. “King Albert had that same longing for knowledge. I tried to fulfill his dying wish and I almost killed an entire colony instead.”

  “It was different. He killed your daughter,” I said and the King gave me one of Lucian’s lopsided smiles. “I do know that there are a couple of Wyverns like Paul who don’t like what the Wyverns do. He told me about the Wyvern and King Albert.”

  “He was one of the good ones. So maybe Paul does want to change. Still be careful, please.”

  “I will.”

  He looked at Lucian again and the tone of his voice changed. “So are you ready for your trip?”

  My head shot to Lucian. “What trip?”

  Lucian closed his eyes and his body dropped as he chuckled softly.

  “You haven’t told Elena, yet?”

  “I was in the Infirmary for five days, Dad. No, I didn’t because I was so sure that I would claim him this time.”

  “Then I’m sorry for putting you with Cat, son.”

  I laughed even though I had no idea what he meant. The King and Lucian joined in after a while.

  “I’ll tell you later, promise.”

  FTER OUR CHAT with his Dad, Lucian showed me around the palace grounds. He took me outside and down a staircase surrounded by a small man-made forest on the left. On the right, the view of the city below and farmland opened up before me and took my breath away. Mountains rose tall and proud in the distance and when we finally reached the bottom of the steps Lucian took me through their vineyard. It wasn’t picking season, so there were no workers around. As we walked he would grabbed me every ten minutes or so for a kiss. He even chased me through the orchard until I ran into what looked like a hedge maze. By the fourth turn I was horribly lost in it, but Lucian found me after a couple of minutes and led me out. How he knew which way to go was beyond my knowledge. “You should only stay clear of them during the full moon. They tend to change their course.” He was instantly back to the Lucian I knew.

  “Are you serious?”

  He chuckled. “Yes, Elena. It’s magic.”

  “Then we really should get out of here and soon too.”

  “It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon. Nothing will happen now.”

  “Still, it’s creeping me out.”

  He led me out and we went back to the castle. The staff was busy setting a table in the garden underneath tall shades.

  They smiled at us as we walked closer and his Mom and Dad came out after we’d taken our seats. A dog’s bark made me look up and I saw an English bulldog at the top of the stairs.

  Lucian whistled and called to the dog. When he saw Lucian he ran down the stairs with surprising speed. Drool ran down his cheeks and was splattered on his hind legs as Lucian ruffled his head. “Hallo, Cat. Missed me?”

  “You named your dog Cat?” I asked making everyone laugh.

&n
bsp; “Catastrophe,” the Queen answered. “He was a menace when he was a pup, still is. To your bed, Cat,” she said in a stern tone. The dog looked at her as his tongue hung out and snorted before he waggled to a fluffy pillow and made himself comfortable on it.

  “Mom?” Lucian protested softly.

  “I’m not going to watch him beg while we eat, Lucian. Besides, the vet said he needs to lose a couple of pounds.”

  “There is nothing wrong with his weight.”

  “The vet and I beg to differ. He’s not getting nearly enough exercise as he used to.”

  I had to suppress my laughter at the quarrel Mom and son had. I never knew mine and I would’ve given anything to have what Lucian had.

  After lunch, Cat followed us everywhere and we became really good friends. Lucian showed me all his pets and I was amazed. They had two monkeys and their cage was so big I didn’t know if you could call it a cage. They were cute as hell though. One kept tugging on my hair as he sat on my shoulder. Five parrots were locked in another cage and one seemed to want to be more colorful than the others. Lucian kissed one on his beak while the parrot nibbled him softly back on his lower lip. You could tell that he was really good with animals.

  Around five we ended up in the game room. It was just like all of the other rooms: big. A billiard table stood right in the middle and on the walls hung a couple of dart boards. A big plasma screen with a saddle on a mechanical post was stacked in a corner. To my left I saw a black net covering a closed off area.

  “Come, I want to show you something,” he said and led me to the area I had been staring at moments before. “It’s where I practice when I try to claim Blake.”

  “What is it?”

  “A virtual game, it’s really fun.” He pushed the net away and a huge green room with stations made of wood stood everywhere. He took me to a podium where five helmets with cables coming out of them awaited. He grabbed one and reached it out to me. “Just put on this helmet, choose your ability, and give it a shot.”

  I put on the helmet and at first nothing happened. I was surrounded by darkness; then a loud voice welcomed me into the virtual world and I found myself in a different room. One I didn’t trust or like very much, but as soon as Lucian appeared out of nowhere I felt safe.

  “How did…”

  “I locked myself in,” He smiled. “Choose the game you want to play, Sweetheart.”

  “Is it going to be as realistic as this room?” I asked as names of games started to float inside an empty room that resembled a ballroom floor with book shelves against the wall.

  “More or less.”

  “Can I watch instead?”

  He laughed. “Fine, just remember, it’s a game.”

  He was right beside me now and he chose the one I really wish he wouldn’t. It was a claim and I could only imagine who the dragon would be.

  Everything changed so fast and we found ourselves inside the Coliseum. Blake was showing off how macho he was the same way George had that first time I saw him in the ring with Becky. It was nothing like the real Blake.

  “He’s going to change, Elena. Just stay behind me, because he is going to try and fight both of us,” Lucian said.

  My heart started to beat faster as I kept staring at Blake’s human body. It wasn’t because he was sizzling hot, but because of what I know he would turn into in the next couple of seconds.

  I hid behind Lucian and had to keep reminding myself over in my head that it was just a game.

  Blake changed in an instant. It looks so freaking real. He’s face hovered right in front of me and Lucian and I could even feel his warm breath blowing on my skin.

  It’s just a game.

  Lucian chose fire as his ability and it looked so cool when his hand lit up.

  “Choose an ability, Elena. Just in case.”

  I just stared at him.

  “C’mon. Do it.”

  “Ice,” I said out loud and I could feel how cold my hand got at the word. When I looked down at it, snow formed into a soft ball on top of my hand. This really looked awesome. I saw how Lucian threw the first ball of fire and it hit the Rubicon straight in the face. He told me to hide behind a rock as he charged at the Rubicon full speed.

  I couldn’t help but admire him; Lucian was really fast with his fire balls. My heart rose faster as he slipped and slid through Blake’s dragon legs and hit him again with a fire bolt on his back.

  It went on for what seemed like an hour and I could see how Blake was starting to lose his strength. If Lucian could only become a Fire-Wielder, then he might have a chance to claim Blake.

  In a flash, Lucian was hit by Blake’s tail and he didn’t get back up. I froze, just like my make believe ability, and saw Blake charging me.

  It’s just a game, Elena. Lucian wake up.

  My hands were freezing and just as Blake wanted to blow me with his fire, my hands covered my face and I fell backward as my ability released.

  I waited for the Rubicon to kill me or something but when nothing happened I open my eyes. The Rubicon was frozen in place, the fire that came out of his mouth mixed with the ice from my hands made him powerless.

  Lucian’s voice came into my earphones and yelled that I should kick at him. I did it a couple of times and he fell over like a pin. I doubted if I really kicked Blake’s dragon figure, it would have the same outcome. I would probably lose a leg or something.

  When Blake fell on the floor, ice spattered everywhere. A huge congratulations sign in golden fire spread over the podium complete with ringing bells. The crowd cheered and I could feel someone tugging at my helmet. I instantly found myself back in the room. Some of the staff were watching the game on the big screen and cheered with Lucian.

  “You claimed the Rubicon!”

  “I claimed the Rubicon! This game is awesome. Does it really feel like that if you have gained your ability?”

  “My Dad said it comes close to the real thing, but it’s not there yet. The real claiming is a bit harder.”

  “Wow, guess Blake would love to hear that I beat his ass in a game.”

  Lucian and the rest of the staff laughed. “Just as long as I don’t have to slay him at the end.”

  FTER OUR GAME, we went to the lake that was in Lucian’s backyard; if you could call it a backyard. Ducks and swans paddled across the lake, nibbling on pieces of bread Lucian and I threw at them. Big trees with its branches hanging in the water made the idyllic scene even more tranquil. It reminded me of my sanctuary, but there wasn’t a bench or waterfall.

  As I watched the ducks, I thought about what King Helmut had said about Paul. He had no reason to trust him, but Paul wasn’t Wyland and he had saved so many lives that night.

  “What did your father mean about how to kill a Wyvern?” I asked Lucian as we sat on the grass in front of the lake.

  “You can only slay them with an iron blade. They don’t die if you use any other kind of metal.”

  A cold shiver ran up my spine and needed to change the subject

  . “So do you want to tell me about this trip you’re going to take?”

  Lucian lay on his back chewing on the tip of a long piece of grass. He sat back up and rested his head on his arms. He just stared at me for a couple of minutes, took a deep breath and smiled. “I got a foretelling from Irene.”

  “What? When?”

  “It happened right after the mission. You were still in the Infirmary.”

  “What did she say?”

  “It’s gibberish, sounded like something that came out of a Shakespeare play, but I got one thing.”

  “What?”

  “A date.”

  “What sort of date?”

  “It’s connected to Blake. I’ve been speaking to him about it. We both think that it’s the day he will change.”

  “When is the date?”

  “23rd of August.”

  “So he has less than a year.”

  “I know.”

  “And you’re sure it’s whe
n he will change?”

  “I don’t know, Elena. It’s the only thing that makes sense. For some reason she struggles seeing his future the way she used to. We don’t know what else it could mean.”

  “What do you mean she struggles?”

  “She hardly sees him anymore. Since that night with the feather, Irene hasn’t been the same.”

  “I can just imagine.”

  “I know what I must do; I just don’t know where to start.”

  “What do you mean, you know?”

  “Irene’s foretelling isn’t that hard to decipher. You just need to know what it is she is saying over all. Blake can get claimed. I know that for sure, the question is with what.”

  “Like an object?”

  He nodded.

  “The only one that can help me is Sir Robert. He was the only one who knew them all, but he’s not much help. He knows nothing.”

  “Don’t forget about Tanya Le Frey.”

  He looked at me and squinted. “Who?”

  “Tanya Le Frey, the Queen’s dragon.”

  “The Queen didn’t have a dragon, Elena.”

  “Yes, she did. Cheng told me about her in one of our history sessions.”

  He looked at the ripples the wind made on the water and his face was deadly serious.

  “You don’t know who Tanya is, do you?”

  “No, I’ve never heard of her, but I know someone who does.” He jumped up, grabbed my hand and head back to the castle.

  I followed him, running to keep up with his huge strides. At that speed we made the castle in no time.

  “Dad,” Lucian yelled and his voice echoed through the castle. He yelled his father’s name a couple of times sounding frantic.

  “Lucian, calm down.” I pulled him back.

  “You don’t understand, Elena. Dad!!”

  The King and Queen both came running down the main stairs just as we were about to climb them. “What is it? Are both of you okay?” The Queen had huge round eyes.

  “Who the hell is Tanya Le Frey?” He stared at both of them and they turned to look at each other with guilt filling their eyes. I knew immediately Cheng hadn’t been wrong.

  “I need something to eat,” King Helmut said.

 
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