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Darkbeam part i, p.25
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       Darkbeam Part I, p.25

           Adrienne Woods
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  “Relax.” I stroked her silky hair. She was in my arms as we shared a cigarette. “I’m getting quite good at hypnotizing people.”

  She hit me on the chest. “I’m serious.”

  “Me too. I would do anything to keep us a secret until the right time. Once I’m free from Dragonia, I can do whatever I want and see whomever I want.”

  “That’s unless someone claims you. Then you need to stay longer.”

  “No one will claim me.” I tried to sound depressed.

  But she was right. If danger came and the authorities found me in her tower, they would fire Irene.

  The next day Master Longwei called me in again. Every time he did that, I was scared someone had seen me leaving Irene’s tower. Then again, worse, what if the Council had found the sword destroyed?

  I knocked on his office door.


  I let myself in.

  “Sit down, Blake,” he said and I took the chair in front of the desk. “I’m sorry to ask this of you, but you have another drug test.”

  I closed my eyes.

  “Your aunt believes this crisis we’re in might trigger some... needs.”

  “She thinks or you do?” I snapped.

  “Blake,” he sounded stern. “This is our arrangement. You said anytime we want, we just have to let you know. Remember?”

  “Fine. I just don’t know what you’ll do if you find drugs in my system. You gonna lock me up while we are in danger?”

  “We’ve handled far worse threats before your time, Blake,” Master Longwei said without batting an eye. “I’m sure this can be sorted without you too.” Cocky bastard.

  “Whatever,” I grumbled.

  “Your aunt is waiting for you. She is going to call me in twenty minutes if you don’t show.”

  “I’m going,” I whined. I’m trying for crying out loud. I wanted to scream that part, but it was no use.

  He was right; I’d agreed to this. The last time popped into my head. Shit, I was going to test positive. I was so screwed.

  I did as I was told and went straight to the infirmary. There, I found my aunt speaking to Julia.

  She caught my gaze. “Don’t give me that look.”

  I held out my arm. “Just do it and let me be in fucking peace.”


  “You think for one second I give a shit about my language?”

  She gave me a withering look. She took my finger and pricked me harder than usual. She could be so evil sometimes.

  “I will dispose of it as usual after I’m done. You have my word.”

  “If only you believed mine,” I snapped. I jumped off the bed and walked out the infirmary.

  “He’s really pissed off,” I heard Julia say.

  “I don’t care in the slightest. He’s being a baby. Being clean is what he needs. And I will demand random tests until I’m certain he is.”

  “I’m just saying,” Julia said.

  I tuned them out. So I’d broken my aunt’s trust. Who gave a shit?

  No drugs showed. My healing ability saved my ass, it must be that.

  Soon it was time—my turn on the watch schedule.

  I was all knots.

  I even packed a flask of coffee. What was I doing? I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker and I didn’t need surplus energy either. I filled my flask with vodka. Why was I doing this? Trying to make her feel comfortable? I shouldn’t care. She was a useless spawn.

  At nine Master Longwei turned up at the wall.

  I’d just relieved the previous pair after a brief recon flight.

  The beast was dissatisfied. It made me feel a little like my old self again, but not entirely. The human part of me wasn’t very human anymore.

  “Find anything?” Master Longwei wanted to know.

  “No, no change. Did the Council?”

  Master Longwei shook his head.

  It had been three days already. The window was closing. What if they didn’t find the sword? It was written all over my face and it was on Master Longwei’s too.

  “Okay, stay safe.”

  “I will,” I assured him.

  “And please ensure Elena’s safety as well.”

  I sighed. It was like he knew who she was, like he was just waiting for confirmation.


  “Fine, whatever.”

  The spawn was somewhere nearby. I took a deep breath. My skin crawled. A cold finger rushed up my spine. On cue, my skin pulled tight and my stomach wrenched.

  Why did she have such a strong physical effect on me? Was it to push me to tell the truth? It will never happen! I silently yelled. Never.

  “And if he transforms, don’t freak out,” Lucian advised her. Always with her.

  She didn’t respond.

  Maybe I should transform. Maybe it would scare her shitless. After all, I was the biggest, ugliest dragon at the Academy. Maybe I should finish what George couldn’t.

  Don’t. She would wonder why. Girls did that and I most definitely didn’t want her to even think there was even the most remote possibility that I liked her.

  Master Longwei cleared his throat. “Say goodnight, Your Highness.”

  They both giggled. Fucking giggled. I huffed. His daddy was going to love this new girl. It was going to fuck up all their arrangements. Lucian would never marry Arianna now. I knew him. He thought he loved this one.

  Even if she didn’t belong to him.

  The nausea intensified. I took a deep breath. She was close. I stared at the horizon, trying to focus on whether anything was out of the ordinary.

  Whoever had stolen the sword wouldn’t move it. Not now, not while the trail was still fresh. No, they would wait. At least, that was what I would’ve done.

  “Hey.” Her voice was hardly audible. Pathetic. Nothing about her had confidence. How the fuck was she going to claim me? I wanted to laugh but didn’t.

  She sat down finally and silence filled the space around us. It was silent for a long time. My gaze was alert.

  Then I thought about her again. The redhead was supposed to be a blonde. The blonde sitting right next to me. No, I wasn’t going to believe that.

  “There’s coffee in the flask when you feel tired.”

  “No thanks. I’m fine.”

  Polite. I huffed softly. “It’s the perfect night to watch.” Words just streamed out of my mouth. “I hope you don’t mind my choosing this time.” Shut the fuck up.

  She didn’t answer or look my way. She just sat, knees tucked up with her arms clutching them tight. Her head rested lazily on them.

  I took a deep breath.

  Just shut up.

  I felt her eyes on me.

  Don’t look.

  “I guess I understand why you chose it.”

  I looked.

  “Your senses are most alert at night, right?”

  Most alert? “Something like that,” I mumbled. I couldn’t believe that the corners of my lips were tugging upwards.

  Most alert.

  Silence settled again. She wasn’t much of a talker. Thank heavens for that.

  My mind wandered. Who had her father been? I’d searched for a Herbert Watkins but couldn’t find anything this side. Had he known King Albert?

  I shouldn’t be this intrigued by her. Just leave it.

  “Will they wake?”

  I stole another peek at her. She was staring at the stones behind her.

  “Who, the stone dragons?” I wanted to laugh. So Cheng had told her. “They are not like Grimdoe, and they have no reason to be. To be honest, I think it’s just an old wives’ tale told to get naughty children to go to sleep.”

  “With the sword missing...” Her voice grew slightly more self-assured. “They’ve got all the reason in the world to be awake.”

  I shrugged. That was hardly a disagreement, little spawn. I was disappointed again. She had no worth. No fight in her. Zero backbone.

  I glanced back at the infirmary and took out my pac
ket of cigarettes.

  “You smoke!” she practically yelled.

  “Shh, Elena,” I snapped. I tuned in to see whether Constance had heard. She would insist I stop smoking next. It was the only thing I had left.

  When no one stirred, I blew gently on the tip of my cigarette. A friendly red cherry appeared and I took a drag.

  She gasped. I pretend not to hear.

  I blew out the smoke. It trailed back in her direction. Seriously? Everything was pointing to what Elena was, even the smoke of my cigarette. Pathetic.

  She coughed. I felt her eyes on me again as I stared at the horizon.

  It was silent once more.

  Nothing fucking happened. I lit one cigarette after the other. Around three, Elena fell asleep. I stared at her sleeping figure for a long time. At one point she muttered something that sounded like blueberries.

  How was she going to claim me? She wouldn’t. She wasn’t. She would never be worthy of me.

  It was the biggest joke of all time.

  Why didn’t she know her own identity? Did her father know, the man who raised her? How had she crossed the Wall? It was questions like these I needed answered. They were driving me insane.

  I saw Master Longwei’s figure and tossed my cigarette butt off the cliff. I shoved the pack, or what was left of it, back in my bag with the flask still filled with coffee.

  Two students—a fifth-year dragon with his Dragonian—relieved us.

  Elena woke up and rubbed her nose.

  “I guess there was no emergency,” Master Longwei said, smiling.

  I glared at her. Some partner she was. Without a word she turned around and left.

  “Blake?” Master Longwei asked.

  “I’m going.” I pulled off my shirt and pants. I opened my arms and dove off the cliff. Wings and scales ran down my body and in a few seconds, the dragon had taken the human’s place.

  “Is it just me, or is he getting bigger by the day?” someone mumbled.

  “Let’s just hope Lucian succeeds soon,” Master Longwei said. But I could tell he wasn’t sure about that anymore.

  Was it because of my size?

  Or because of the girl?

  I stayed in my room with Tabitha over the next few days until it was our turn to go on watch again. Nearly two weeks and they hadn’t found the sword again.

  The second time we stood watch, Elena hardly spoke to me at all. She showed up toting the queen’s axes. I wanted to ask her where the fuck she had gotten them.

  What was this? Really, it was as if destiny was trying to push us together.

  I could see fear in her though. She was twitchy and breathed heavily. I really wanted to know how strong that fear was. Was she shit scared or scared shitless? On a scale of one to ten, shitless would be an eleven.

  It was probably the latter. She wasn’t worthy.

  By three she was asleep again. I left right before she woke up for my flight. When I came back, the next team had already taken up their post.

  “Let me guess: nothing,” the dragon said.


  I went back to my room. I was tired. Why was she on my mind so much lately?

  I’d done so well, and now… I needed Fire-Cain. I needed Irene.

  Tabitha tried her best the following week to make me forget. She even snuck in weed and we smoked. My aunt was testing for Fire-Cain, not weed. We drank, but for some reason, I didn’t get wasted.

  I was always on edge, alert, watching the news. The sword was long gone.

  The third time the spawn and I guarded Dragonia came faster than I expected. The sword had been gone for almost two weeks.

  She didn’t greet me tonight. She didn’t speak. She was reading up on something. She didn’t look scared anymore. She saw this as some kind of book club? What was going through her fucking mind? I wanted to grab that book and take a peek.

  Her eyes almost caught mine as she looked up.

  Ask me something. Anything.


  She put the book in front of her shirt. She was mental. When I looked at her again at four o’clock, she was conked out. She was driving me nuts.

  I left minutes before the shift changed. I found Tabitha in my room again.

  Later that day, Master Longwei summoned me again. He looked worried. Irene was with him.

  My heart galloped. Although I couldn’t hear it, I could feel it in every fiber of my being. Had someone seen me earlier leaving her tower? Shit. This was it. I doubted I could hypnotize Master Longwei.

  “Sit, Blake,” Master Longwei said.

  I pulled out my chair and perched on it, ready to sprint away if need be. Don’t speak. Deny if you have to.

  “Irene saw something,” he said gravely.

  I froze. “What?” I asked. “When?”

  “She saw the sword being destroyed.”

  It’s not about us. Dizzying relief plowed into me. “Where?”

  “That’s the one thing I didn’t see. It was messed up. I can’t explain it.” Irene’s voice broke.

  I felt so sorry for her and wished I could just hold her in my arms.

  “That’s not the only thing she saw.”

  Oh, fuck.

  “She saw you destroying it.”

  “You saw what?”

  “That’s not to say that you are going to destroy the sword, Blake.” She sighed. This was the spawn. She could never see the royal family. The spawn was the same. King Albert’s blood flowed through her veins.

  “It’s just that you are going to be a part of its destruction.”

  “I am not,” I said loudly.

  “We aren’t saying it directly, Blake,” Master Longwei interrupted. “Now you might have seen something and decided not to act.”

  “You think I wouldn’t act on something I thought was out of place? I’m not that dark yet, Master Longwei.”

  “We aren’t saying you are,” Irene said. “We need you to be honest with us. If you see something that is out of place, anything at all, please tell us.”

  “Yeah, jeez.” I formed a fist and released it and reformed it. “I would never destroy that sword.” They didn’t say anything. I got up. “Anything else? You seeing me destroying Paegeia too?”

  Hurt filled Irene’s big blue eyes. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

  “Blake, a bit of respect.” Master Longwei’s tone was flinty.

  “With all due respect sir, both of you just accused me of destroying the sword.”

  “Not you. Your actions. There is a huge difference.”

  Silence spooled between us as I stared at him, my jaw clenched.

  “You are free to leave.”

  I nodded and left.

  The rest of the day I flew around. Why had Irene seen that? I would never. Would I?

  I hadn’t seen anything that was out of place either.

  I went back to the Academy, my stomach grumbling. I dished up and sat inside the cafeteria. Tabitha spoke, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about what Irene had seen.

  “I need a word.” Lucian’s voice broke through my thoughts.

  I frowned as he sat on the pillow opposite mine.

  He look ashen, as if he’d seen a ghost.

  “What do you want?”

  He wielded a shield. I could hear the small popping sound. “It’s Elena. She’s fucking crazy but I have to go with her.”

  I frowned. “Huh?”

  “She thinks she can find the sword.”

  I chuckled.

  “It’s not funny, Blake. You don’t know her. She has a very strong mind and once it’s made up she doesn’t turn back. She wants to seek the sword’s location in the Sacred Cavern.”

  My eyebrows rose. Was this a dream? “You serious? The spawn wants to find the sword?”

  “Stop calling her that. She is much braver than you think.”

  I didn’t like that. But this, this I had to see for myself. “All right. When does she want to leave?”

t. Bill is guarding with Dave at the front gate. We are going to leave from the tower at the east side.”

  The tower I’d fixed earlier this year. “You forgot one thing, shift change isn’t at ten tonight. It’s at eight-thirty.”

  He shook his head. “No, I didn’t forget. We are meeting the girls around that time at the tower.”


  “Yes. George, Becky, and Sammy.”

  I pursed my lips. “My sister is going?”

  “She won’t back out, Blake. Don’t ask her.”

  “She could get herself killed.”

  “She won’t. We need her, unless you are going to transport Elena and me.”

  My eye actually twitched.

  “Yeah, I didn’t think so. Meet me in the room around eight.”

  He got up. Beside me, Tabitha watched both of us with huge eyes.

  “What is up?” Brian asked.

  “Nothing, eat your food.”

  “Brian’s not stupid, Blake. What is the Prince of Tith planning?”

  “Not the prince. Someone who should’ve been locked up a long time ago.”

  “Elena?” Tabitha asked.

  “Drop it.”

  “Oh no. What is going on?”

  I wielded my shield.

  He checked out my shield, impressed.

  “They are leaving tonight for the Sacred Cavern. Lucian and Elena think they can find the sword.”

  “Are they fucking insane?”

  “No, apparently they have a bit of backbone,” I snapped at Tabitha. “You don’t have to come.”

  “Hell no. I’ll be there.” She tossed her hair, haughty. “I’ll just get some things ready.” Without even a pack on the cheek, she was gone.

  “Righteous. Brian likes this idea.”

  “It’s stupid, dude. She’s going to get herself killed.” I didn’t like the idea as much as I thought I would. She wasn’t worthy.

  “I’m in.” Arianna plunged onto Lucian’s empty pillow.

  “In on what?”

  She cocked her head and gave me an I’m-not-dumb look. “Your pathetic excuse for a shield is weak, Blake. Impressive that you can wield one, but not impressive enough.”

  “You heard?”

  “Yes, and you are going to need me. I’m the best at enchantments.”

  I glanced around. The sound of everyone else’s voices faded.

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