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       Firebolt, p.23

           Adrienne Woods
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  I huffed.

  She leaned on the table to speak to him softly.

  I turned around and left to go back to the room. I didn't care if she told Lucian about my plan, just as long as it wasn't Master Longwei. I got ready to run up the stairs when someone yanked me back and pushed me to the side of the stairs.

  “Is this true?” he growled, and looked straight into my eyes.

  I looked around me for other students but found none. “Lucian, please, I'm not going to stand here and wait while the sword gets destroyed.”

  “Elena, the Sacred Cavern? People don't come back,” he said through gritted teeth. He sounded the same Becky had a couple of minutes ago.

  “The Queen did, Lucian. There's no other way.”

  “No,” he ordered me.

  “No?” I said, surprised. A couple of kisses and he thinks he owns me.

  “I said no. It's too dangerous, and not to mention how stupid it is.”

  His words pissed me off even more, and he would learn how much, right now. I was sure about my foretelling. “You aren't the boss of me, Lucian McKenzie. I’ll decide how dangerous it is. Besides, none of you knows what danger really means or what will happen if the sword isdestroyed. You think your worst enemy is Goran and what he’ll do to you once he frees himself of Etan. Try imagining what will happen once that wall disappears. Your precious dragons won't stand a chance against the other side. The people living on that side don’t listen to anyone, and they have the weapons to destroy and incinerate countries like this one. So don't you dare tell me no.”

  I made sure that every word counted before I pushed him away. Becky and Lucian fell silent, and I hoped that I'd left them with something to think about.

  When I enteredthe room again, Sammy was gone. I didn’t see her with them, but at the moment,it didn’t matter if she was with them or not.

  An hour later, the door opened and Lucian, Becky, and Sammy entered.

  I pretended to read, trying to prepare myself for my trip. To be honest, the words might have swirled around on the page, because I had no clue what I’d read this past hour. I still needed a map to the Sacred Cavern, but I secretly hoped that one of the girls would help me.

  I knew that it scared the living crap out of them, and maybe I should be frightened too, but there wasn't time for that. The humans would destroy every single dragon if the wall was destroyed.

  Lucian knelt down in front of me and placed his hand on my knee.

  I glared at him for a second and slowly put the book off to the side.

  “Elena, please don't do this,” he pleaded.

  “Lucian, I meant what I said. I can't live my life in fear anymore. If the sword is the only weapon that can protect us from all evil,then we have to get it back. Why am I the only one considering this?”I yelled at all three of them.“Paegeia is your birthplace for crying out loud!”

  Becky and Sammy lowered their eyes and stared at the floor. Lucian just closed his eyes for a couple of seconds before taking a deep breath.

  “Elena, what you’re thinking of doing is suicidal.”

  “Do you have a better plan, Lucian?”

  He shook his head.

  “Then the Cavern is our only hope,” I said with finality.

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  “Okay, fine, on one condition, I'm coming with you,” Lucian said, crossing his arms over his chest,daring me to argue. My heart flipped. I’d been hoping for that,and now that he’d said it, I was instantly relieved that someone was going to come with me on this crazy quest.

  “Lucian, are you insane too? You're supposed to talk her out of this!” Becky shouted, clearly agitated once again.

  “She’s made up her mind. There's no way to talk her out of this.” His one hand stroked his head methodically.

  “You're both nuts!” Becky picked up her jacket and headed for the door.

  “What’re you so afraid of? You of all people should be backing me up, Becky.”I could feel my nostrils flare. I was furious that she wouldn’t even consider my plan.

  She spun around angrily. “What's that supposed to mean?”

  “You really think that you're just going to waltz into the Royal Council and tell them,‘Hey, I want to be a member’, and they'll give it to you? You have to earn it. This mission will help you live up to that dream. So if you're really serious about that dream of yours, youhave to pursue it while you can. If Goran finds a way out of there─”

  “I heard you the first time, Elena! He'll destroy us all!” She sounded beyond pissed off. Clearly I had struck a nerve. “Fine, I'm in, but you're all insane.”

  We flinched as Becky slammed the door behind her.

  “I'm in too,” Sammy said resolutely.

  “Okay.” I sighed, not wanting to fight anymore. Fighting was really exhausting.

  “So what's the plan? We have to get more than one dragon onboard if we want to pursue this mission.” Lucian took a deep breath.

  “What? Why?” I asked, confused.

  “It's a long trip. The Sacred Cavern is northeast from Tith. It'll take us at least half a day travelling on top of one.”

  My shoulders slouched in disappointment.I didn't think it was that far, and dragons were my last choice when it came to transportation. I couldn’t even consider what I would be like on top of one. The image of landscapes flashing by underneath me made my knees tremble.

  “George has no choice. He'll follow Becky,” Sammy said in a soft tone. She looked scared and swallowed hard. It was followed by a couple of deep breaths, and she started to look uncertain.

  I didn’t care if they doubted my plan. Deep down, I knew it was the right thing to do.

  “You told Blake about this?”Lucian’s arms were folded. He still looked pissed.

  “No, he'll tell Master Longwei,” I said, not wanting to involve him for my own sanity.

  “Elena, he's the Rubicon, he might offer his assistance.”Lucian’s jaw muscles clenched.

  “We have enough people already, Lucian. We can fly with Sammy.” I gave her a look, and she nodded back quickly.

  “And what if we get into a battle?” he asked.

  “Then we fight. You're not a Moon-Bolt, don't try to foresee things,” I said, growing frustrated that he kept insisting on bringing Blake along.

  “So, take it one step at a time.”

  I nodded.

  He stroked his face and roughly ran his fingers through his hair. “Fine, when do you want to leave?”

  “Nightfall at shift change. There's a delay of five minutes,” I said confidently.

  “Where do we meet?” He started with something that reminded me of an interrogation in a Law and Order courtroom.

  I didn’t know. I never thought about it, until now.

  “There is a tower right behind the cafeteria. Becky and I used to go there in the beginning until someone told us it was off limit. It's the perfect place, surrounded by trees. No one will see us from there. It will be an easy escape, Lucian.” Sammy came to my rescue but she didn’t sound happy about it either.

  I wanted to give her a huge hug, but instead I left out a huge sigh and hoped that her explanation would be enough to stop the pissed off vibe emanating from him.

  He walked towards the window in our room and turned around with a huge frown dented between his eyebrows. “How long have you been planning this?”

  “Since the sixth day,” I said.

  He huffed and looked at the carpet for a few seconds. “Tonight is Bill's shift.”Lucian drew back the curtains and peeked outside.“George and I will meet you there at half-past eight. Don't be late, or we can forget about making a clean break. Elena, there's only one condition: you do exactly as I say.”

  He didn't give me a chance to argue.

  “See you tonight,” he grunted, and left.

  * * *

  We ate our supper in complete silence. Lucian was absent and Becky hadn't said one word to me since I said those awful things that helped me change her min
d. George didn't approve of the idea either, and I could feel his eyes drilling holes into my soul.

  We went back to our dorms around seven and prepared for our trip. Sammy grabbed all the sodas in the fridge and fruit from tonight's buffet line. She chucked everything into her backpack along with two sets of clothes. We all did the same, just in case. We shouldn't be gone that long and hopefully we would make it back before anyone knew we had left. If not, Sammy and George could catch fish. Dragons were known to be excellent fishermen.

  We dressed in dark sweat suits, grabbed our backpacks, and left our dorms around eight fifteen. We arrived at the tower early, and when we heard George and Lucian coming up the stairs, my heart beat like a jackhammer.

  There's no time for fear, I repeated over and over in my head, trying to calm my nerves. Silently I hoped that this was what the Viden meant. The three of us froze when Blake, Tabitha, Brian, and Arianna arrived with Lucian and George. Blake carried a huge bag around his left shoulder. The ratio of the bag and his human figure was way out, it didn't look natural.

  “Lucian?” I wanted to scold him.

  “I had no choice, Elena.”

  “So, are we going to do this or what?” Blake asked in a pissed off tone, without looking at me.

  “Three more minutes, Blake, then we can be off. You guys should get ready,” Lucian said.

  I closed my eyes, furious about our new companions. For the love of blueberries,I’d bargained on five people going on this mission, not nine.

  The four dragons took off their clothes in preparation for their change. Tabitha and Sammy were in their underwear while the boys stripped down into their boxers. They handed their clothes to Arianna, who was chewing gum like a cow, climbed out the tower window, and disappeared. I had to admit, Arianna even knew how to look sexy on a mission. Her hair that used to hang loose in curls framing her face was tied up into a bun. She seemed nervous though. Lucian put a pair of flying goggles over my head and adjusted the straps so it would fit.

  I took another deep breath, trying to calm my anger. “Arianna?” I pulled Lucian back so we could have a private conversation.

  “She heard Blake and I talking and wanted a piece of the action.”

  “It's not a game, Lucian.”

  “I had no choice.”

  “Who's going to transport her?” I asked. “The others are Chromatic and Sammy can't take all of us.” I jumped as I heard pieces of rock falling.

  “Dammit, you guys should be careful,” Lucian whispered as loud as he could without risking being heard.

  I tried to imagine what I would find outside, but for some reason, my mind was filled with so many other crazy things that no picture appeared. In an attempt to end the conversation, he started to repack some of the backpacks to lighten the load.

  “She can ride with me and George,” Becky said to Lucian.

  She still refused to speak to me as she slid her goggles over her eyes and gestured at Arianna to follow her outside.

  “Are you ready?” Lucian peeked down at his watch.

  I picked up one of the backpacks and walked to the window. Lucian jumped onto the ledge, and put on his pair of flying goggles. He reached for my hand, clasping it in a firm grip.

  I squeezed in front of him and balanced precariously on the thin ledge.

  I gasped, staring at the five dragons hanging on the tower's wall by their claws. They were huge even with their wings still folded in place. Lucian gave the sign to go, and I flinched as three of them took flight. George followed with Becky and Arianna on his back until everyone was airborne except Sammy, who still clung onto the wall.

  My hands cramped as I struggled to hold on. Pieces of rock crumbled from under my feet as I took sideways steps. For the love of blueberries please don't fall. I silently prayed.

  Lucian jumped on her back and held out his hand for mine. When I grabbed it, he swung me onto Sammy's back as she took flight.

  I grabbed his waist and held on for dear life. I didn't dare open my eyes and waited for the siren to announce our escape. Nothing happened. Almost there. Just a few more seconds and then we're free.

  Sammy climbed higher and higher as her wings drummed loudly in my ears with each flap. I felt queasy and didn't like the speed we flew. It was crazy fast, like being on a bad rollercoaster that never seems to end. My legs, tucked tightly around her torso to keep my balance, moved as her body expanded. I wanted to see her so badly in her dragon form, but I couldn't gather the courage to open my eyes. I just kept them closed and prayed that I would be able to face whatever lay ahead.

  I still didn't appreciate all the dragons, and the fact that Ariannahad come along with us. Why did Lucian tell Blake about this? He made me so mad sometimes, and I didn’t want to be angry at him. The fact that he’d brought Brian was the cherry on top of this whole crappy sundae.

  As we flew, curiosity dwelled in my mind. How had Lucian convinced Blake to come on this trip? A small part of me was glad the Rubicon was with us, but not enough to forgive Lucian yet. If we did get caught, which was likely to happen, the punishment wouldn’t be as severe because of Blake. They would see it as him living up to his expectations, and nobody would suspect it was in fact me behind this crazy adventure.

  I felt my legs cramp as I clutched onto Sammy with all my strength. How far is this stupid place?

  “Are you okay?” Lucian asked, concern filling his voice.

  “Just a cramp,” I said, my eyes still closed tightly.


  “Left thigh.”

  I felt as his hand touched my leg and started to rub the cramp away. My eyes flew open, because he was supposed to hold on to Sammy for the both of us.

  I gasped as my brain tried to take in my surroundings.

  We glided on a bed of clouds. The stars were bright with the moon shining full in all its glory. Beautiful.

  I looked to my left and saw Becky on top of George. Arianna held on to her, but not the way I clung to Lucian. They made it look so easy. The other dragons were far out in front. I got a glimpse of Blake, or I assumed it was him, because the dragon was gargantuan with his wings stretched out. I turned my focus onto his massive dragon body and knew when he descended, we’d be almost there.

  “You chose a perfect night for this, Elena. If there weren’t so many clouds in the sky tonight, we wouldn’t have made it,” Lucian said.

  I nodded, not really processing his words.

  He chuckled. “You're afraid of flying?”


  “That's so ironic.”

  I didn't say anything. He was right about the ironic part. I felt his hand on mine and my eyelids felt heavy, but my fear of heights forced my body to stay awake. I held on tighter when Blake started to blur. I kept staring at him until the first ray of sun made its appearance on the horizon.

  I noticed instantly when Blake finally started to descend, which meant only one thing; our destination was not much farther. Sammy followed his lead, and I grabbed Lucian tighter. When we exited the roof of clouds, I saw plenty of open land and mountains. My head spun and I closed my eyes again. The cold air helped with the hot flashes, and after a couple of minutes, I opened my eyes again. In the distance, I saw a large castle.

  “My dad is so going to kill me,” Lucian said as we turnedtowards the mountains and away from the castle. It was the first part of Paegeia I’d seen, and I couldn't believe that none of them wanted to fight for it.

  An hour later, Blake landed near the woods on top of a mountain. All the dragons followed him. Sammy landed last and almost fell over.

  “That's it, girl, you did great.” Lucian tapped her. The other dragons disappeared into the woods. Becky struggled to take the saddle off George's back as Lucian ran over to help. He kindly lifted her up so she could reach the buckle.

  Why on earth she had brought the saddle with her? No one knows.

  Sammy didn't go into the woods, but asked for a towel. As she stood in the clearing, I was finally able
to examine her in her dragon form. She was beautiful with sweeping wings that lifted from her shoulders and continued down her tail, ending in an elegant flourish. Compared to the other dragons, her lips were lush and full, as defined facial bones highlighted her fiery eyes. Her amber scales glistened in the setting sun, and I could catch all of the colors of a brightly burning ember radiating around her body. She was simply the most magnificent creature I had even seen.

  When she changed, she barely had the strength to cover herself before she fell.

  Blake appeared out of nowhere and caught her right before her head slammed into the ground. She must have been really tired.

  “Dad's going to kill me for letting you come with us,” he scolded.

  “Dad's not here, so shut up.” She giggled, sounding out of it, too tired for anything else.

  The corner of Blake's mouth curved up, and he shook his head. He led her to a tree close by, and she sat down, exhausted.

  All the dragons quickly retrieved their clothes from the backpack Arianna carried.

  “We need to rest.” Blake spoke for all the dragons.

  Lucian nodded. “We all have to rest, Blake.”

  It wasn't long before all the tents Blake carried in his large pack were transformed into a makeshift camp. The boys were really handy, and Brian made a fire in no time. I guess it was easy when he had the ability to breathe on top of a couple of sticks and they would burst into flames. Arianna and Tabitha went to look for more wood while George went hunting. Becky sat with Sammy. I really wanted to speak to Becky, but she made a point not to even look at me, so I left it for now.

  “Elena, you need your rest,” Lucian called from inside the tent we shared.

  I crawled in, trying to hide the fact that I was concerned about Becky being so upset with me.

  For crying out loud, I have too many things on my mind already. Doesn't she care about that? She's so selfish, a spoiled brat. I felt bad the minute I thought it and struggled to fall asleep.

  We will go to the Sacred Cavern tonight, mythoughts prophesized. So many things popped in my head as I considered what the cave hid in its inky black depths. Why hadn’t the five women ever revealed what had been inside? I dozed off with images of bats and dragons hiding inside the cave, and I having to kill each and every one of them.

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