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Thunderlight, p.27
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       Thunderlight, p.27

           Adrienne Woods
 

  I smiled and closed my eyes as Constance’s touch warmed the last bit of pain away from my stomach.

  “The knife stabs were ten times worse. This is nothing. Just a small ache.”

  “Tell me about the mission. I want to know everything?” He pushed the chair next to my cot closer and made himself comfortable.

  “I can’t tell you what’s inside the Cavern.”

  He chuckled.

  “Don’t feel offended, Paul, she’s just like the other five that made it out, secretive as hell,” Julia said as she breezed past us to the other side of the room and started to close all the curtains.

  We sat there for a while and I told him everything I could, except what was in that cave. He was a bit like Cheng with his guessing but I kept my face straight and I didn’t show him anything. He was really far off, guessing it had snake pits and huge spiders and other insects. He shivered as I finished with how Goran had stabbed me over and over again.

  “So Blake’s heart almost exploded?” he asked Constance.

  “Another hundred meters and that would’ve been the end of him.”

  “Why do you think he saved you?”

  I laughed. “You have no idea how many times I’ve asked that one myself. Becky and Sammy think he’s got a secret crush on me and that his true feelings come out whenever he consumes too much alcohol.”

  He squinted and a smile played around the corners of his mouth. “You don’t think that?”

  “Hell no.” I sighed. “I don’t know what the deal is with Blake. Whenever I seem to be in trouble, he’s always there.” I looked back at him. “He was the first one to help me when that wall vanished at the Warbel games. The part that doesn’t make sense is that Blake isn’t the type of dragon that usually does that.”

  “You believe he’s something he’s not, Elena. The way I see it, he’s just trying to live up to everyone’s expectations of being the evil dude.”

  I looked at him a bit skeptical. “You really believe that?”

  “After Dragonia was attacked I moved in with Lucian and Blake. That dragon would kill himself if he didn’t think he could hold on anymore.”

  I huffed. I’d never thought about it that way.

  “Maybe I’m wrong. But I’ve lived with him for the past month and he doesn’t seem like the person everybody makes him out to be. Apart from you, he’s the only person that treats me like one of you guys and not like a Wyvern.”

  “Then that’s a thousand points to him,” I said softly and he smiled.

  As we talked, the fluid Constance started to pump into me was beginning to make me feel drowsy.

  “I should go, you need your rest.”

  “No, I’m fine. I’m not very fond of hospitals or infirmaries.”

  “They’re not that bad, Elena. They are here to make you feel better. At least I’ll be able to sleep tonight knowing that you are safe underneath Constance’s supervision.”

  Constance gave him a motherly, sweet smile.

  I left out a sleepy giggle and closed my eyes.

  I froze as I felt his warm lips on top of my head. “Sleep tight, Princess.”

  I couldn’t open my eyes, even if I wanted to and I started to drift away into darkness.

  FOUND THE QUEEN again but this time she looked different. Torment was written all over her face and she just kept staring at me with tired eyes. Eyes that made me confused all over again. I wished that she would speak to me, tell me what she wanted. Then something different began happening. The forest behind her started to rumble with a terrible growl. Something huge moved through the trees and the earth shook violently. An awful pain erupted in my stomach and I fell down onto the quivering earth.

  I looked up at the Queen who leered over me. Her mouth was turned upside down, and she looked sad. A tear rolled over her cheek as hot liquid bile spilled out of my mouth. The pain grew stronger and hot water followed the bile, pouring over my lips.

  I wiped at the water with my hand and as my fingers moved in front of my eyes, a dark liquid had stained my pale skin. It wasn’t water, it was blood.

  The effects of the dream pulled me back to reality and I realized I was awake. Somehow I had made it back in the Infirmary and was staring at my bloody hands. A sensation of burning lava set my entire body on fire. I arched my back and could feel Constance trying to subdue the pain. When the coughing started more blood spat out of my mouth. I could feel it on my face, taste the copper on my tongue.

  Constance’s hands were on my stomach now, but her zing didn’t do much. The pain grew worse and I tried to scream but only a gurgle sound left my lips “Julia, go get Master Longwei, now!”

  I could hear footsteps running out of the Infirmary as Constance ripped my shirt open pressed both hands hard on my stomach.

  Soft Latin words escaped through her lips. It seemed to make the burning worse and I didn’t know if it was from this horrible ache or from her hands. The pain was unbearable and felt as if I was going to die. My heart thumped so fast inside my chest that I couldn’t hear what Constance was saying.

  Master Longwei came in and I could hear him yelling something about herbs. Pots and pans clang against each other and a kettle boiled. The pain didn’t get any better and I just wished that I could pass out. The stabs from Goran had been nothing compare to this.

  When Master Longwei came back, he spoke to Constance in Latin and I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying.

  Blood kept spilling out of my mouth and into the bucket that Constance somehow managed to get in front of me.

  Please, I don’t want to die.

  Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought about death. I’d barely lived and I hadn’t even fulfilled my destiny yet. I wanted Lucian so badly and I hoped that I would get a chance to see him again.

  As I was thinking back on all my regrets, a horrible stench and steam burned my nostrils. When I opened my eyes, I found a mug of a thick, soup-like liquid in front of me. “Drink,” Master Longwei ordered.

  There is no way I’m going to drink that stuff.

  “Drink, Elena,” he ordered again.

  I kept looking at the thick green muck that still bubbled inside the tin cup and shook my head.

  In an instant, Constance grabbed my chin and lifted my head up to look at her. “If you don’t drink this, you will die. Now drink or so help me Elena, I will force it down your throat.”

  I’d never seen her so desperate before and I closed my eyes.

  Gathering what little strength I had I started to swallow the boiling hot mixture that made me want to vomit. Constance lifted the mug slightly pushing more into my body when I tried to stop.

  The heat scorched my tongue and I swore I could feel it bubble and coil within me.

  She really hadn’t been joking about forcing it down my throat. I noticed that the mixture had a different effect while sliding down my stomach and soon the lava burning sensation cooled down.

  Regardless of its effects, the stuff was disgusting.

  I struggled to swallow the last bit so she pressed on my nose gently with her forefinger and thumb. When I couldn’t breathe, I had no other option but to swallow the last bit of muck.

  With the last drop gone, my head started to spin and I fell backwards onto the bed. Darkness surrounded me and their concerned cries and orders fell silent as I welcomed oblivion.

  When I woke up later that night my sheets were a pristine white.

  I looked around and found Constance, Master Longwei and Julia in three chairs circled around my bed. My tongue still felt raw. I couldn’t speak and just stared at Constance who slept with her head lying on a ball of rolled up blankets.

  Have I Ascended?

  “It’s okay, Sweetheart.” Constance woke up and moved next to my side.

  “What…” I couldn’t speak and it felt as if hot coals were still inside my mouth.

  “Shhh, we don’t know. That tonic that Master Longwei made is an ancient recipe for Gutterbell.”

&nb
sp; I looked at her funny. What the hell is Gutterbell?

  “It’s an old illness that turns your insides to mush. When you got that stomach ache, I was so worried. Gutterbell died out a long time ago. We don’t even keep medicine for it anymore.” She blew out a huge breath of air. “Luckily Master Longwei still had the herbs that we used in making the remedies.”

  “Elena, are you okay?” Master Longwei woke up too and leaned over me.

  I just nodded weakly.

  “The pain gone?”

  I nodded again.

  He looked at Constance. “There is enough for one more batch if she starts coughing up blood again.”

  “We have it under control, Master, thanks for coming.”

  “No need. Sleep tight, Elena. Rest.” He gave Constance a small nod and left.

  Julia awoke as the door behind Master Longwei closed. She wiped her mouth as if invisible drool lingered around the edges of her lips. She looked at Constance through sleepy eyes, then at me.

  Her eyes flew open, jumping up with a clean bucket in her arms and put it in front of me.

  Constance started to laugh at Julia’s response. She tried to suppress it, but she couldn’t. A teardrop rolled over her cheek but she was still laughing.

  If my mouth wasn’t burning I would’ve laughed with her.

  At the look on my face, Julia broke down in laughter too. I guess both of them needed it after the little fiasco we had to deal with tonight.

  They fell back into their chairs and Constance gave a huge audible sigh.

  “Don’t ever scare me like that again.” Julia punched me playfully on my arm. “If you weren’t in so much pain that would’ve been harder.”

  I closed my eyes and nodded, trying to thank her.

  “So what was that part of her Ascending? What kind of ability is this, Constance?” Julia asked.

  “I don’t know if it’s a Gutterbell outbreak again, but we need to get more of those herbs.”

  “Can you even still get them?”

  “We might at the Black Markets.”

  My inside crawled as she said those two words. The Black Market was the one thing in this world that I wished would burn to the ground. They still killed innocent dragons for potions and remedies. Potions that were against Paegeia’s laws, but some people just didn’t care.

  “I’ll go tomorrow. I still know someone that will sell it to me.”

  My head jerked up in Constance’s direction.

  “Don’t look at me like that. It’s the only way to get what we need. I’m not going to lose you to some stupid illness like Gutterbell,” she snapped back as she pushed herself off the chair and walked away.

  “She’s just worried. You really scared all of us tonight, Elena.” Julia looked at me with soft eyes and a huge frown plastered between her eyebrows.

  I’d scared myself too.

  “You should rest. You’ll feel better when you have a good sleep.” She switched off the night light that was close to my bed and wrapped a thin blanket around my shoulders. “I’ll be back, soon. Just rest.”

  I closed my eyes and sleep came faster than I anticipated.

  When I opened my eyes again the sun streamed onto the front door. The cot in the corner where they’d moved me was dark, but the light coming through felt like some sort of energy source. I welcomed it as I stared in the direction of the light. I’d never felt so tired in my entire life and my eyelids felt heavy. I kept staring at the light until my eyes couldn’t stay open anymore.

  The blood vomit had stopped and the ache, thank Heaven, had stopped too. Constance and Master Longwei were clueless as to what it could be, since Gutterbell didn’t usually vanish overnight. Still, Constance wanted me to spend another night in the Infirmary.

  Becky, George, Sammy and Paul came to visit me and they were all worried, especially Paul.

  He spoke to Constance and, although I couldn’t hear everything they talked about, I could hear his concern about whether I’d Ascended or not.

  Both Constance and he had no idea what ability could cause my stomach to ache so much that it would make me vomit blood. If it was the fire, my entire body would feel as if it was up in flames, not just my stomach. I shuddered again at the thought of being a Fire-Wielder. If the disintegrating part still had to come, I didn’t know how the hell I was going to handle it.

  The next day when Constance felt secure enough that my condition was stabilized she called Becky and Sammy to come and fetch me.

  She gave them the signs of what to look out for if Gutterbell, or whatever this was, returned. I could thank my lucky stars that Master Longwei knew how to make that blobby potion, otherwise….

  She made them promise to call her immediately if there was even a slight change. She expressed that it didn’t matter how big; they must call her at once.

  They both nodded like two bobble heads and when Constance felt they understood we were free to go.

  “Did Lucian phone?” I asked both of them.

  They stared at one another and shook their heads.

  I sighed.

  “I’m sure he’s fine, Elena. This is Lucian we are talking about.” Sammy’s arm twirled around my waist.

  “Yeah, I just miss him, that’s all.”

  I went to the buffet with Becky and Sammy for lunch once I had settled back into our room. I wasn’t very hungry. My tongue still burned, even with all the ice cubes filled with Constance’s miracle potions that Julia had given me to suck on for the past couple of days.

  “Elena,” Chef greeted me warmly when I made it to the line.

  I nodded and smiled.

  “Still sore?” I showed him my tongue which still had blisters and he cringed.

  “It was ten times worse,” Becky answered on my behalf.

  “Here, I’ve got something for you. It might help with that tongue of yours as well.” He pushed a huge plate of mixed berries and small cubes of frozen fruit into my hands. “Eat, please.”

  I nodded again. For the love of blueberries, yup, they were on there too. We went back to our table and I popped a frozen blueberry into my mouth. I loved the cold on my tongue and it smelled as if the burn still moved through my nose. The girls started to tell me everything I’d missed over the past couple of days.

  Arianna had left school as she had started to show signs of Ascending. For some reason she was a late bloomer too and King Caleb only trusted his royal doctors. Constance was the best, not just in my eyes but in the Council’s too. They said that King Caleb was just being an idiot and I wondered what her ability would be.

  I smiled at Becky and George quarrelling about something stupid that happened in class. For dents they sure like to fight a lot, but Lucille said that it was who Becky was.

  George didn’t seem to mind either and he didn’t always give her what she wanted. I really liked him and I couldn’t believe that he was that same dragon that had scared the living crap out of me on my first day.

  “Elena?” Sammy clapped her hands excitedly.

  I looked at her.

  “You ate all your fruit.”

  I smiled as I stared at the last piece of strawberry in my plate and shoved it into my mouth. It sure was an amazing feeling to not taste rotten food anymore. I said goodbye to Sammy, Dean, Becky and George around seven as Lucian usually phoned between seven and eight, if there was reception.

  The minute I entered my room I picked up my Cammy and switched it on. Nothing.

  I spoke Lucian’s name into the speaker and waited. Nothing happened, not even a ringing tone.

  I went over to the window and sat on the sill. The stars in the sky above shone brightly tonight with a full moon. There were no clouds and I closed my eyes seeing Lucian’s face before me.

  I love you so much.” A whisper left my mouth.

  “I love you too.”

  Y EYES FLEW opened as I heard his voice and couldn’t believe what was in front of me. Lucian was standing right there. I flung my arms around him and hugged him ti
ght. He felt weird though, he was cold.

  I let him go and looked at him. Only then do I notice that the color in his face and everywhere else was wrong. He was white and grey.

  He just smiled.

  “What is wrong with you?”

  “Nothing is wrong with me. Cool trick, huh.”

  “Trick, what are you talking about?”

  “What you think only the Hammer-Heads can leave their bodies?”

  My eyes grew as he said it. “You’re not here?”

  He shook his head.

  “How?”

  “Something I’ve been practicing for a while now. They said your emotions must be pretty strong though. Mine led me straight here.”

  I grabbed him around his neck again and he chuckled.

  “I wish I could feel this.”

  “You don’t?” I said into his shoulder.

  “Nope, but my memory of it makes this so much more special.”

  I let him go.

  “So, what did you find out?” His hair was a bit longer than the last time I saw him and he turned his eyes away from mine. He let go and started to walk away from me. I remembered what his Mom had said about no one who entered the Acker Woods ever made it out alive. “Where are you now?”

  “There is a village in the middle of the woods. I guess they are the ones to blame for all the rumors of no one ever making it out.”

  “A village?” I asked and Lucian nodded.

  “Did they capture you?”

  “Not entirely. But they are the reason I can’t come back. They know Tanya, I can see it in their eyes but for some reason they don’t want me to speak to her.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “They want me to prove myself to them before they will tell me where she is.”

  “So they do know where she is?”

  He nodded. “I think she’s with them, but hiding in her human body.”

  “What do they want you to do?”

  “Nothing for you to worry about, sweetheart. I promised that I would return and this is me fulfilling that promise.” He smiled softly and his head turned to the window as if something was standing there.

 
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