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       Firebolt, p.28

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  He looked at me with a glare, turned sideways, and cussed softly.

  Why does he hate me so much?

  “Fine!” He leaped towards me with huge steps. I retreated a bit, scared that he was going to cup my face too.

  “Just relax!” He grabbed my arm and pulled me closer to him. He was inches away from me. I could feel heat radiating off his body.

  He uncovered my shoulder and unbuckled the belt strap that had started to cut into my neck.

  What is he doing?

  “Don't look at me,” he grunted.

  I looked at Lucian, who was now glaring at Blake. My heart bounced as Blake touched my shoulder. I tried not to make a sound, but it was painful as a warm heat burned my skin.

  What the hell? I wanted to see. As I analyzed the burning sensation, it reminded of the time Constance healed my elbows after Art of War, but it was nowhere near this excruciating pain.

  “I said don't look!” he yelled again.

  My head snapped back to Lucian again and the warmth grew hotter. I bit hard on my lower lip as images of a burned patch on my shoulder popped inside my head.

  A tear rolled down my cheek. Lucian dabbed it away with his thumb, and mouthed, It's okay.

  It felt as if my shoulder was on fire, and I screamed out of pain as the heat reached a boiling point.

  “Blake, that’s enough!” Lucian yelled, and pushed him away from me. I looked at Blake, who kneeled on the ground.

  “What the hell did you just do?” I yelled at him.

  “I'm sorry. I’m still learning how to control it,” he said with a sting in his tone.

  “How do you feel?” Lucian asked.

  “I'm fine,” I said.

  “Do you think you'll be able to get the sword now?” Blake asked again.

  I rolled my shoulder around. The pain was gone. I nodded and took a deep breath. It shouldn't be that difficult. Then why did it feel as if I was going to fail miserably?

  “Why didn’t you heal her arm earlier?” Lucian lashed out.

  Blake turned around with his index finger inchesfrom Lucian’s face.“Don’t start with me.”

  George and Brian stepped in between of them and spoke softly to Lucian and Blake.

  “Lucian, just drop it,” Ariannasaid.“Her arm is healed. So please, can we just get back to the mission. I really want to go home,and we need a solid plan.”

  Lucian’s jaw was set; he was angry and just glared at Blake.“But you stay away from me,” he said to Blake, who just laughed.

  “Blake?” Arianna said, and gestured for him to carry on.

  “Fine, once Elena gets the sword, Sammy, you morph and get Elena the hell away from here. The rest of us will take care of the Dragonian.”

  “Okay,” Sammy said in a faint whisper.

  “Please, just try not to blow your cover,” Blake begged his sister.

  “I said I will try.”

  “It might work,” Lucian said after a long silence.

  “Off course it will,” Blake said in a self-assured tone. The conversation changed over to who would be teaming up with who after Sammy and I had fled with the sword.

  “What if his Sun-Blast comes after us, Blake?” I asked in a trance.

  He kept quiet.

  “Don't worry about that, Elena.” Brian winked at me. “Brian’s got it covered.”

  “Brian, he might be fully grown,” Blake said cautiously.

  “Brian doesn't care. He's going to struggle to get past Brian.”

  Blake started to chuckle and the two high-fived each other.

  “Idiot,” Becky said in a singsong tone and rolled her eyes.

  “That's good, Elena,” Lucian whispered.

  “What?”

  “You're starting to think like a Dragonian in battle.” He smiled reassuringly.

  The corners of my smile pulled a little upwards, but I still felt unsure about me being the one that got the sword.

  “Don't worry, Elena, I'm really fast. I'll get us to safety, even if it's the last thing I do.” Sammy misunderstood the unsure expression on my face.

  “I know.” I decided to try to hide my fear. I knew they were just as scared as I was. I would give anything for one of the Council members or even Master Longwei to find us about now. Becky said that Fin-Tail dragons were champions against all evil, and I knew Master Longwei would fight with us. This really wasn't a task for teenage wannabe Dragonians.

  We waited in patience for the Dragonian and his dragon to land, as Blake guarded the entrance again.

  I stared at him the entire time, thinking that he didn't seemed to be scared of anything.

  He was brave. I was glad that Lucian told him about the mission. I did feel safer with all of them here. What would I have done if it was only me?

  “You know that he can see just as far in his human form,” Lucian spoke into my ear. “His night vision is crazy good. When we were children, we used to play hide and seek at night. It was his favorite game, and he loved it when he was it. It didn't take him too long to spot us in our hiding places.” There was a satisfying grin on Lucian's face as he told me memories of their friendship. I knew that he really missed the way it used to be between them.

  I looked back at Blake where he stood as he watched and waited for the Dragonian.

  Suddenly I noticed him sprinting down the path. That was the sign, and he dove for his hiding place behind a bush. There was no turning back now.

  Becky was with Sammy trying to keep her calm, and I prayed that she would stay strong. I couldn't bear to think about what would happen if she transformed.

  I put my hand in front of my mouth, trying to silence my breath, as the Dragonian and his dragon landed.

  The Dragonian I saw in the millpond jumped off his Sun-Blast and landed perfectly in a crouched position. When he stood straight up, I could see that he was still in a trance. Goran was his puppet master and led the Dragonian straight to the volcano.

  He waved in an unnatural position over his shoulder for his dragon to leave. I could hear how his wings flapped hard as it disappeared into the distance. That was what I was afraid of.

  Sammy moved, and it sounded so loud in the cool silence. It made him stop and looked around.

  He started to run fast as he made his way closer to the volcano. When he was right in the middle of the trap, we acted, confidently jumping out of our hiding places. His back was to me as he looked at the others who were distracting him from the front. I didn't waste any time and went for the sword. I knew where the Dragonian had hid it and could see it in my mind's eye. I saw how I was going to push away his jacket with my one hand and grab the sword with my other, before I rolled into Sammy's path, which would be waiting for me. I reached out my arm, and the strangest thing happened.

  He turned around a second too soon, saw me, and I froze.

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  I couldn't move. I realized after a couple of seconds that it wasn't coming from me. The Dragonian had made it impossible for me to come any closer. The hoody of my blazer had fallen over my head from the instant stop, and I heard a horrible screech sound. At first, I thought it was Sammy transforming out of fear, but the sound didn't come from her direction. His Sun-Blast swept low over our heads, and I could see the Dragonian toss the sword up to him.

  Brian was the closest to the path that led to the volcano, and he morphed immediately. Everything happened so fast. When I looked again, Brian wasn't in his spot anymore. Arianna recited a spell, but the Dragonian shouted something that sounded like a counter spell, and she fell motionless.

  Lucian grunted next to me. I couldn't see him, and when I tried to turn my head in his direction, my head felt as if it was going to explode.

  Becky and George both stood in awkward frozen positions. They must have received the same spell that had me immobilized.

  Blake charged towards the Dragonian. As his arm went for the Dragonian’s neck, he got blasted back ten paces.

  I didn't know if he was okay.
It was so unreal. I couldn’t believe all of this was happening.

  Sammy couldn’t hold back any longer and transformed out of sheer fear. Vines and tree roots sprouted out of the ground, forming hands that grabbed her. They pulled her so tight that I thought she was going to burst in half. She squirmed and tried to wiggle herself out of them, but the more she tried, the thicker the roots became. I could hear a soft hum from the Dragonian, as he recited the words to his spells in rapid succession.

  Sammy finally gave up and crashed to the ground. I looked around and noticed Tabitha had disappeared. She’d finally fled like the coward she was. Blake came dashing past me again. Soft hums came from him too, but he stuck to the plan and didn't morph.

  The Dragonian shouted a spell with his one arm stretched out in Blake's direction. Blake fell down hard, inches from me and Lucian. Our eyes met for one second and he looked away in defeat. A chill run up my spine and my stomach turned.

  For the love of blueberries, we are going to die.

  The Dragonian started to laugh and crouched down next to Blake menacingly. “You really think you could stop me, boy?”

  Blake grunted.

  I hoped that the Dragonian wasn't hurting him. It was hard for me to understand how strong magic was, and to be honest, it scared the living crap out of me.

  “I’ll kill you one day,”Blake said through clenched teeth.“If it's the last thing I do!”

  The Dragonian laughed. He stopped and looked at Blake's arm as he lifted Blake's sleeve with his thumb and forefinger.

  “My, my, my, how exciting,” the Dragonian said in a flat tone, but the laughter was real. It made my skin crawl. “The Rubicon tried to save the day. It doesn't suit you, Blake Leaf.”

  Blake growled again, and I could just imagine how defeated he must feel right now. There was nothing else he could have done.

  “You're so full of anger,” the Dragonian whispered to him. “I revel in the knowledge that deep down inside I know that you like it too.” Even though he spoke softly to Blake I still was able to hear the last part. “You won't kill me, boy. You want to know why? Because when you turn, you’ll be mine.” He laughed again as if this was his favorite game. “Just think what we'll be able to do together. No one will ever get in our way.”

  “I'll kill myself before that happens,” Blake roared like a lion being captured. Somewhere deep inside, I knew that Blake was fighting against that, while the Rubicon rejoiced.

  “Wanna bet,” the Dragonian mocked him, and stood up from his crouching position. “However, you'll hate me now because I'm going to kill all your friends one by one,”Goran spoke through the Dragonian.“We can't have brave young teenagers running riot when I finally break free from that disgusting hellhole you love so much. Which one should I kill first?”

  Blake cussed.

  “Blake!” Lucian scolded through gritted teeth too.

  “Eeney, Meaney, Miney, Mo.” He counted us down one by one.

  My heart thumped louder as he stopped in front of me.

  Lucian roared like an insane person.

  “Leave her alone, you freak!” Lucian didn't appear to care anymore what he said. The Dragonian ignored Lucian and walked straight over to me. He never took his eyes from me once. I swallowed hard and imagined how a gazelle felt right before the predator's kill. The only difference was that I had lost my ability to run.

  My heart beat faster as he slithered near. Lucian was swearing worse than Blake, but the Dragonian didn't pay him any attention. He stopped in front of me and took a deep sniff. He reminded me of the rainbow dragon.

  “Not a dragon,” he said, and he slid my hoody off. His face froze. He just stared at me. He didn't make one peep, but our eyes were locked. I could see Goran's evil coiling from behind this man's soft grey eyes. I didn't know how long we stood there staring at each other. It was terrifying that he had so much mockery for Blake, but for me, he had none.

  I was probably not worthy enough. Lucian was still ranting like a crazy beast.

  The Dragonian's face unfroze, and darkness transformed his eyes from grey to black. I didn't think in a million years that he would do it. But when I felt the blade pushing into my stomach, I knew that I wasn't going to live long enough to apologize for bringing everyone into this mess.

  His blade thrust more than once in my stomach, each time a different entrance, twisting through my flesh viciously. He held me tight while the laughter coming from his lips told me that he enjoyed every single thrust.

  “No!”Lucian’s voice cried out the loudest, it didn't even sound like him. My whole body felt as if it was on fire. The last stab he kept the blade in and whispered something into my ear. It wasn’t clear, and I only hear part of the words, like “woman” and “condolences.”

  I was concentrating too much on the mountain that was home to a blazing volcano. I could feel my sight slowly starting to disappear, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the mountain. In the sky soared my last bit of hope. Not for me, but for my friends. I saw a Sun-Blast diving with the speed of light.

  He came so close that I could see the yellow of his eyes and the vertical pupil inside a pair of dark red irises. He picked me and the Dragonian up with his talons, and with one jolt, I was free.

  Lucian caught me, but the pain was so intense that it almost made me feel numb.

  “Fight, Elena,” he yelled as tears streamed down his face. It sounded as if he was speaking into a tin can. Becky pulled off her blazer and gave it to Lucian. His lips were moving, but this time there was no sound.

  I could feel a thud, vibrating through the ground and saw Becky and Lucian jump. Becky disappeared. Lucian lifted me up and carried me to safety. I drifted away into the deep darkness with the smell of his cologne lingering in my nose.

  * * *

  When I opened my eyes, I saw the same familiar fan spinning above me.

  I'm still alive?

  I felt as if I was going to lose my mind and wanted to get up, but my fragile body wouldn’t let me.

  Constance was right by my bedside.

  Is this for real? Am I alive? How can it be? Where are my friends? What happened?

  My eyes must have told her that I was freaking out.

  “Relax, Elena,” Constance's voice begged, while she fidgeted with the drip. I felt drowsy and everything faded out again.

  * * *

  When I opened my eyes the second time, I found Master Longwei right next to me, sleeping.

  I’m alive.

  I could tell it was dark by the dimmed lights and the silence around me. My throat was dry, and my restlessness must have woken him.

  “Easy, Elena.”

  “Water.” It came out as a hoarse whisper. He poured me a glass, and I took a couple of sips.

  “How do you feel?”

  “Like I got stabbed with a knife.”

  He huffed and looked really pissed off. He had all the reason in the world to be. I bet if I wasn't laying here, he would have morphed into his dragon form and fried my ass on the spot.

  “Did you get that while picking a fight with the Sacred Cavern's keeper?” he asked, pointing to my wrist.

  I frowned. Why is he asking me that? Doesn't he know?

  An alarm went off in my head, which shook my entire body. All I could think about was what could have possibly happened to my friends.

  I can't be the only survivor. I'll never be able to live with the burden.

  “What happened?” I tried to get up.

  “Relax, the others are fine.”

  “Swear!” I demanded.

  “By my dragon’s oath, I promise you, they are fine. Now calm down.”

  I nodded and lay back into the soft pillows. “Why don't you know what happened then?”

  “They took a vow of silence.” His tone indicated that he was frustrated, and the way he was grasping the bridge of his nose with his index finger and thumb confirmed it. He sounded tired too.

  “What?” I couldn't believe my ears. “Why
?”

  “They don't want to talk until you're awake.”

  “How did I get here?”

  He swallowed hard and closed his eyes.

  “We’d just found out that the nine of you were missing. A couple of us were going to search for you when Cheng spotted Blake coming in really fast. He missed the entrance and crashed through one of the walls. Constance was scared that his heart was going to explode. There was so much blood. She wanted to treat him, and that's when we found you, clutched between his front paws.”

  I struggled to swallow. Blake saved my life.

  “I never thought in a million years that Constance would be able to save you, Elena. You had lost a serious amount of blood, but here you are.”

  “Is Blake─?” I couldn't say the word.

  “He's alright. He was down for two days, but now you would think that nothing serious ever happened.”

  I couldn't believe that he’d actually carried me, flying so fast that his heart could have exploded.

  “The other Council members have been breathing down my neck asking me for answers, which I don't have. King Helmut tried to force it out of Lucian, not to mention the way Sir Robert threatened Blake and Samantha. The only thing they did deliver was a new King of Lion weapon. The Queen’s axes you had.” He frowned. “Cheng's theory turned out to be more than just an over active imagination.You can be glad that it carried some of King Albert’s blood, Elena; otherwise none of you would have been here. Now please, enlighten me on all the details. I think I've waited long enough.” He didn't sound pissed off, but there was something in his tone that told me he was done waiting and playing stupid teenage games.

  I shivered just thinking about having to relive what had happened.

  “It's my fault.”

  “What is?” he asked with a softer tone.

  “This mission. It was crazy, but for some reason I was more terrified of what would happen if the wall was destroyed.”

  He took a huge breath.

  “Cheng told me about the Sacred Cavern and the prize at the end when you finished.”

  His head jolted up. “You went inside the Cavern?” Disbelief mixed with shock was all over his face.

 
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