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       Frostbite, p.26

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “Use it, Elena. Own it!” my father’s voice roared inside my head.

  Before I hit the wall, I backtracked. My feet touched the invisible wall and I flipped myself around and landed on my feet like a cat in perfect harmony.

  The crowd was going crazy. It was funny how I could hear them now, and not before.

  “It’s because you’ve ascended. You will hear a hell of a lot better than you ever used to.”

  He hit me with another blast, lightning this time. It hit my body again, but where I should have been flat on the floor, it only danced across my skin. I smiled as I looked at the spark running down my arm as it accumulated inside my palm. It formed a huge electric orb.

  “Hit him with it, make it count!” my dad said.

  I did as he ordered and threw the ball straight into Blake’s leg. Every hit that found a part of his scales or limbs made a piece of my anger go away. He roared again as he stumbled and the earth shook.

  “Now’s your chance, Elena. Give him everything you’ve got.”

  Fire, lightning and ice orbs left my hands faster than I could think. Then Blake disappeared all of a sudden, the crowd turned into a swamp and I found myself in slick, thick mud that started to pull me in.

  “It’s not real, Elena. It’s him…”

  “You can see this?”

  “My privilege, remember.”

  “Okay.”

  “All you do—”

  “I know what to do Dad. I sort of became a dragon.”

  “I heard.”

  “What do you mean, you heard?”

  “It’s a long story.”

  “I’m never going to see you again.”

  “Elena, now is not the time, you have to claim him. Now think of a place you feel comfortable and claim him!” he yelled.

  “I know what to do!” I shouted back at my dad and started to focus back on the Coliseum. I knew how to do it, Blake had shown me. The only problem was my imagination just needed to be stronger than his.

  I saw a rock with very sharp horns in front of me, and all of a sudden, the color of the rock turned back to a purple-red. It was him, trying to attack at close range.

  I grabbed the horn on his head and lifted myself onto his back.

  At once the Coliseum came back but only for a second. The swamp returned and then the Coliseum again.

  “It’s no use Blake, this place will not get you anywhere.”

  “That’s it, Elena. Show him whose abilities he is carrying.”

  “You’ve got nothing I don’t know about. It sucks you don’t have any secrets from me, doesn’t it?” I whispered inside his huge, frilly ear.

  He roared again and I was thrown off his back. I fell flat on my back and had to roll around in order to dodge the huge paws that tried to crush me. The earth shook every time he stomped those huge legs of his.

  My father was yelling but I was concentrating too hard on not being squashed like a bug.

  “Grab onto one of his legs and let him think he’s thrown you unconscious.” my father’s voice finally got through to me.

  I did what he said, although it wasn’t easy and I slipped which actually counted in my favor, but he did manage to dislocate my shoulder.

  He threw me to the side and I used my telekinesis to make the landing a little bit softer.

  “Now lay still,” my father said. “It’s working. I’ll tell you when to strike. It was the same way I claimed his father. Just stay down.”

  I did what my dad said and tried to will back my energy. It wasn’t easy and my head ached but I could feel my core being filled and my tired muscles and lungs felt as if I hadn’t even shed one drop of sweat. I just wished I could do something about my shoulder, and then, like magic it disappeared. My healing ability kicked in.

  “He’ll go with the pink flame, I can see it inside his throat. Use your ice and freeze the son of a bitch. It will buy you some time to tie him down,” my father spoke inside my head. Like the game, I thought. “Now!”

  I pushed myself up and it was exactly as my father predicted, his throat was filled with the Pink Kiss. I released an orb of ice and chucked it inside his mouth. A familiar feeling of déjà vu jolted through my core. Lucian’s voice was yelling in the back of my mind to attack him with everything I had.

  Blake’s entire face was a solid brick of ice and it started to run down his front legs and toward the middle of his torso. His one wing was iced in the process as well.

  I had nothing to tie him down with, so I imagined the one place where I’d seen this done before. It was back on the mountain where Goran had used that Dragonian to try and kill all of us. Huge trees and roots grabbed him the way they’d grabbed Sammy that day and Blake was forced slowly to the ground.

  The ice on his head and legs melted fast and he let out a growl that blew my hair back. The force of his breath was making it hard for me to breathe. He broke free and I found the two of us back in the Coliseum. I didn’t have him.

  “Again, imagination doesn’t work, Elena, but you had a really good idea. Now do it for real. Use your strength, grab the roots buried deep down in the ground.”

  “I’ll wreck this place,” I yelled in my head.

  “Just do it.”

  I did what my father said and spread my hands downward as if I’d called for roots a million times before.

  The earth shook and four different roots jumped from deep within the ground. I brought my hands over my head and saw the roots tightening over Blake’s body.

  Blake growled again and started to release another deep breath. I tilted my head as far as I could away from the blast.

  I ordered the roots to tighten on him more.

  “Easy Elena, you don’t want to kill him,” my father warned.

  “Yield!” I yelled.

  “Never.”

  He tried to squirm free, I could feel it in my hands. It was as if the roots were attached to my body. More roots sprouted out and grabbed him tighter.

  “Yield!”

  He roared again like a wild beast whose spirit couldn’t be tamed. I saw myself inside the red irises of his eyes.

  For the love of blueberries, Blake, just yield. He shrieked and growled all at the same time and I saw how his eyes started to turn another color. The red started to fade and a purple light filled his eyes.

  “Yield,” I whispered as the roots pinned him down more, and then his peacock blue eyes took the place of the red, evil irises.

  “That’s my girl, now remember your promise. I love you.” My dad’s voice faded.

  “No, wait!” I yelled as the roots retreated back into the ground. I tried to follow my father’s voice.

  Blake roared for one last time and I froze on the spot.

  My core started to boil and cool down at the same time. It grew with such a power that I knew my body couldn’t contain it. It went up my arms and into my head. I fell onto my knees as I grabbed my skull and let out a scream. Then I felt my body exploding into a million pieces.

  HEN I OPENED my eyes I was in a dark place. I couldn’t even make out the outline of where I was.

  My heart rate started to rise as I remembered the last thing I’d gone through. Am I finally dead?

  “Hello, sweetheart.”

  Lucian’s voice filled the darkness. I was dead.

  I crawled to his voice and collided hard with him. We both laughed. I didn’t care anymore. This was where I wanted to be and if it meant that I no longer lived then I was fine with that.

  “What is this place?” I asked.

  “Don’t know, I think it’s time to find out.”

  “I’m not dead?”

  Lucian chuckled. “I don’t think so, sweetheart. The other side is very bright and peaceful. I think we are in some sort of closet.”

  “Closets aren’t this dark, Lucian.”

  He chuckled. “You haven’t played in one inside Paegeia yet.” The sole of his boots found a hollow surface, and kicked, hard. I had to squint as bright light fil
led the confined space.

  A maid shrieked and linen fell onto the floor. She ran in the opposite direction as Lucian and I crawled out of what did look like a closet.

  “Told you,” he joked.

  “Whatever.” I looked around. “Where the hell are we?” We stood in a huge hallway. It was well-lit with a deep brown, lush carpet running from one side to the other.

  “I don’t know, but something tells me we should find out.” He grabbed my hand and led me to the opposite side that turned into another hall. We looked around for a second before Lucian pulled me to the left into another hall. When we exited, we found ourselves facing a huge staircase running downward.

  “Are we in a castle?”

  “It’s not just any castle, Elena. I know this place.”

  Lucian held me tight and we both watched his father passing without noticing either of us.

  “I don’t think they can see us.” We followed his father but kept our distance. He stopped by some guards and a man wearing the thickest black coat I’d ever seen. His back was toward me and Lucian. The two of them spoke for only a second and then the man in the coat turned around, and flashed his perfect smile. It was my father, the king.

  “Dad!” He looked different. I ran after him and could hear Lucian’s breath right beside me. “Dad!” We followed him down the stairs, but he was fast.

  “He can’t hear you, Elena.” Lucian’s hand grabbed me around my arm and pulled me back.

  I stopped as I watched him walking out of two huge doors. I looked around and found myself in a lobby. It was beautiful and there were three other staircases as well as the one we’d just run down. They all led to different levels of the castle. I sucked in a breath when my eyes landed on a large portrait of Queen Catherine, my mother, hanging on one wall.

  “Lucian, is this what I think it is?”

  He smiled. “Welcome home, princess.”

  “Don’t call me that.” I smacked him playfully with the back of my hand.

  He chuckled again. “Come, I’ve got a feeling that we should follow your father.” He grabbed my hand and led me through the same doors my dad had just exited.

  For some reason we moved faster than normal humans and we soon found my father speaking to another man. He handed him reins that were attached to a big, cream-colored horse. My father hoisted himself onto the horse’s back. The guy that gave him the reins looked past me, and another strong emotion jolted through my body. It was my dad, the one who’d raised me: Herbert, Jako, whatever his name was. He looked so different, younger, happier.

  “Elena, you okay?”

  “It’s my dad.”

  “Jako was the man who raised you?”

  I nodded and gave him a soft smile. My steps made for him, but Lucian’s grasp found my arm again.

  “He can’t see you, sweetheart. We have to go.” He looked past me and I found my real father leaving on the horse. He was in a hurry and we had to run to keep up with him. He kept looking over his shoulder which made me want to duck.

  Lucian chuckled every time and pulled me back by the arm to carry on.

  He can’t see you, Elena. Nobody can see you, I reminded myself over and over. This felt so weird. If I wasn’t dead then what the hell was I doing here? And how could I run like the wind?

  King Albert went into a forest after he surveyed the grounds one more time. We followed him and watched as he stopped and climbed off his horse. He tied it up by a tree and took a small path to his left. We followed him further until he stopped in front of a huge boulder. He spoke an incantation and the boulder rolled out of the way. He looked around one last time to make sure that nobody followed him.

  I froze as his gaze fell on me, but he looked back and disappeared through the hole in the rocks. We slipped through before the boulder rolled back into place and saw how King Albert lit a manmade torch and carried on, descending down a steep passage.

  “Why are we here?” I asked Lucian softly as we followed the glowing light.

  “I don’t know yet, but everything happens for a reason, Elena. I don’t even think that this is our time. I think it’s somewhere in the past.”

  “The past? Don’t be absurd.”

  “This is Paegeia, Elena.” He raised his eyes and passed me.

  I exhaled softly and followed him further down the passage which finally led into another forest. We found a small wooden cabin in the middle. Horrible screams came from inside and King Albert ran to the door. We started to pick up our pace.

  Lucian and I entered the cabin with my father and we both gasped when we found Queen Catherine lying on the bed. She was pregnant and looked like she was in horrible pain.

  Tanya Le Frey was right beside her.

  “Is there anything I can do?” my father said and crouched down at the side of the bed.

  I walked to the front of the bed to see the queen’s face. She looked tired as strands of wet hair clung to her face and sweat ran down her forehead, but she was still as gorgeous as she’d been in all the pictures.

  “Go get me a blanket and some more hot water. Not too hot, Albert,” Tanya ordered. “And what took you so long?”

  “You know it’s not easy for me to sneak out. I actually had to tell Robert to go home. He knows something is wrong, Tanya.”

  “We spoke about this, the fewer people who know, the better.”

  “He’s my dragon,” my father growled softly as he prepared a huge bowl filled with water.

  “I can’t do this anymore,” Queen Catherine grunted.

  “Lucian what is this?”

  “It’s the day you were born. Someone wanted you to see this. Could it be?”

  “Be what?”

  “Your mother kept asking me to tell you how much she loved you. She said giving you up was the hardest thing in the entire world. Our time was always so short and I never did get a chance to give you her message. I think she’s getting what she wanted.”

  I looked back at the tired queen lying on the bed.

  “One more push, Katie, you can do it.”

  “I can’t,” she cried.

  At once, my father was at her side. He grabbed her hand and she scowled at him.

  “You can do this, love. You fought in two wars, c’mon, doing this is supposed to be easy.”

  “Don’t make me hate you more. You try and push a melon out of your ass then we can talk.”

  All of us had to suppress our laughter.

  “It’s time, you can do it. One big push, Katie. That should do it.”

  The queen yelled again and I buried my face inside Lucian’s chest. When I heard a cry I looked again. The baby was so tiny. Oh shit, was that really me?

  Tears rolled over the queen’s face as Tanya just stared at me. “We’ve got a problem.” She looked at them, sharing a good laugh and an embrace. Both their happiness dissipated the minute Tanya said those words.

  “What’s wrong with him?” The queen asked.

  Him?

  Tanya didn’t answer.

  “What is wrong with my baby?”

  “It’s not a him. It’s a her.”

  The king and queen looked at one another. The queen started to shake her head. “I can’t do this Albert.”

  “Katie, we have no choice.”

  “Just give her here.” The queen held out her arms and Tanya wrapped a blanket over the tiny baby. She placed the bundle inside the queen’s arms. She looked at her with eyes so soft. The look on her face spoke a million words. It was as if she’d won a prize, something she’d really wanted and that all the pain this baby had caused her was long forgotten. She placed the baby next to her on the bed and opened the blanket. Her tiny leg carried a big brown mark.

  I looked at my own leg carrying a similar dark splat and looked back at mom and baby on the bed. I went closer to see the look on her face again as she inspected the tiny little girl. My father was right next to them, kissing the baby’s head softly.

  The queen looked up at the king. “This wa
sn’t part of the deal, Albert. I can’t do this.”

  “We can’t back down now,” Tanya said.

  “Give me a minute with her,” my dad asked.

  “Albert.”

  “A minute, Tanya,” he said sternly and she just gave him the look.

  “Fine, but you are only making this harder.” Tanya walked out of the room.

  My father touched the queen’s face gently. “I know how long you’ve waited, Katie. But we can’t keep her. When the trouble is over, we can tell everyone and she can come to the castle. Right now, they will kill her if she comes home with us.”

  “I can’t do this!” the queen yelled. “A boy was a totally different thing. I never thought that it would be a little girl, Albert.”

  “The pond showed you.”

  “It showed me both. First the boy then the girl. I never thought in a million years that it would only be one of them.” She wiped away her tears.

  My father got up and paced around with his hand pinching his nose. He finally stopped and looked at the Queen. “So what do you want to do? You want to take her home and endanger her, because I promise you Katie, I don’t know who is going to betray us, or when. I don’t have that answer yet.”

  “I know.”

  “Then what do you want me to do? As God is my witness Catherine, I want to keep her just as much as you do, but we can’t.” Tears welled up in his eyes as he kneeled before my mother’s bed, begging her to stick with the plan. “When the trouble is over, I promise she will come home.”

  “What if the trouble is never over? What if she grows up without knowing who she is?”

  “She will know who we are. She will know that you loved her. Tanya promised, and when it’s all over, she’ll be sent for.”

  “A baby this small needs her mother. She won’t survive without me.” Tears rolled down my mother’s cheeks.

  “Then what do you want me to do, Catherine? Because I don’t know.”

  “I need time with her. A month.”

  My father closed his eyes. “Okay, a month.”

  “I stayed a month with them?” I asked Lucian who had tears in his eyes too.

 
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