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Darkbeam part i, p.28
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       Darkbeam Part I, p.28

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  “You have no idea why your dad died? Or why that dragon was after you? The pond would’ve even shown you where your mom is.” I looked away the minute I said it. I wasn’t supposed to know, but Irene told me that her mother had left.

  Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

  I could feel her eyes on me. “How do you know about her?” He voice was softer than usual.

  “Just forget it.”

  To my surprise, she did leave it. Tears glistened in her eyes.

  Dammit, Blake. Are you ever going to give her a break?

  “It doesn’t matter. The past isn’t going to save us. I went into that cave to find out about the sword and I did.” even as she spoke, I had a thought: if she’d asked to see her mother, it would’ve shown her Queen Catherine.

  She would’ve known the truth.

  Whoa, that could’ve backfired badly.

  I realized I needed to answer her. “It’s brave of you to have given up that opportunity.”

  She rolled her eyes, pissed off. She looked away and I could swear there was a little shake of her head. “You guys were brave for coming with me.”

  “We’re dragons, Elena. What kind of Rubicon would I be if I chickened out?” A smile toyed with my lips.

  “Still, it was very brave.”

  I sighed. I want to tell her so badly. “You have much to learn.”

  “So everyone tells me. Thanks for asking that dragon to give me the gift to understand Latin. I would never have been able to go through it without that.”

  “Tell me about it,” I mumbled.

  She gave me a sarcastic smile, though it disappeared fast. “So, you guys really don’t understand English when you’re in your other form?”

  I squinted slightly. Other form? “No, dragon is what I am. My true colors show when he comes out. I don’t have to hide the way I feel.” I took out my packet of cigarettes from my back pocket and lit one.

  She started to cough the minute my smoke blew in her direction again.

  So many signs and she didn’t seem to see one of them.

  “So you are aware every time you end up hurting someone during a claiming?”

  I nodded. Shit, I was open with her. Was it part of the Dent? Would I tell the truth if she asked me that question? It scared me.

  “You don’t care?”

  “It’s not who I am,” I spoke the truth again and released a long breath. “I don’t know how to explain it to you. A part of this form doesn’t want to be a dragon and it clashes when I’m one. It’s hard to explain.”

  “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” she said.

  She learned really fast. “Exactly. The only thing that we’ve agreed on lately is this mission.” So it seemed.

  “Is it why you and Lucian are no longer friends?”

  He’d told her. Of course he’d told her.

  I looked back at Lucian’s tent. “I knew he would tell you about us.”

  “You didn’t answer my question.”

  I pursed my lips as her eyes lingered on mine. She wasn’t going to back off. “Yes, Elena. The older I get, the more I want to be a dragon. The more I’m a dragon, the less I will stay human. Which means I’ll end up losing this.” I gestured to my good looks. “Believe me, I did Lucian a big favor.”

  “How can you say that, Blake? It’s selfish to make that kind of a decision on someone else’s behalf.”

  She was infuriating me. “It’s not that easy,” I shot back. “I know Cheng gave you the breakdown of what I’ll turn into if I’m not claimed by a certain date. That part of me grows stronger every single day. My human form can’t fight this. It’s just too much. You have no idea how much it hurts when I’m forcing myself to do the opposite of what it wants.” Stop it, stop it, stop it. Don’t say anther fucking word. Idiot.

  “Will it change if Lucian claims you?”

  I started to laugh. If only she knew how close the one person who could claim me was. “He will never claim me.”

  “He could, Blake.”

  “You live in a dream world. I’ll become evil, and it’s something I struggle to make peace with, but sooner or later, I’ll have no choice.” She needed to stop asking these questions. I didn’t want to tell her the most important part.

  “You don’t have to,” she said. “You have to fight it, Blake. Don’t give up.”

  “You think I’m not trying?” Anger made my hand shake when I went to ash my cigarette. “I’m seeing the Viden on a daily basis just for one ounce of hope. Just so you know, I haven’t found it yet, and to be honest, every time I leave that fucking tower, I become happier. That’s not a normal reaction,” I lied. I lied and I wasn’t withering in pain. I could lie to her.

  Good.

  “She did predict your true Dragonian being born.”

  What? Think, Blake. Don’t say the words. Just don’t. Lie. “My Dragonian didn’t get a chance to take a single breath. Goran made sure of it the night he killed the king and queen.”

  “You don’t know that,” she said as if she knew; she believed it. She didn’t know. Couldn’t. Right? “What if he’s been born and no one knows about it? Like maybe not with Queen Catherine.”

  He, she’d said he. She didn’t know a thing. You need to answer her, Blake. My mind tried to remember what she’d said.

  “Are you implying that the king committed adultery? The king loved the queen; he would never do that.”

  “How do you know that?”

  “Because his dragon would have known.” She needed to stop asking these questions.

  “Oh? And you know Sir Robert?” She sounded sarcastic. She didn’t know. How?

  “Yes, he’s my father.”

  Her eyes widened. She didn’t know. “Your father’s the Night-Villain King Albert claimed?”

  Yes, your father claimed mine. “My dad knew everything about them. He would’ve told me if there was even a shred of hope. There is none, Elena. I’ve got no Dragonian.”

  I sounded the way I should sound. Dejected. No hope, no future. A great lie to throw her off. A stupid lie.

  “Just try to give Lucian a chance to claim you, Blake.”

  My jaw muscles tightened again. “I can’t. I’m already giving everything in me not to kill him.” I’d had enough of this. I took one last drag of my cigarette, got up, and flicked it away.

  I didn’t even say goodnight, just went to my tent and lay behind Tabitha. She was so cold, always cold.

  But I thought about Elena. I didn’t call her a spawn anymore. She wasn’t a spawn, she just couldn’t know that. I heard her scurrying around the campsite for a few more minutes and then she went back to Lucian.

  We shouldn’t have had that conversation tonight. I felt disgusted for the way I’d lied and for the way she’d made me feel. I closed my eyes and prayed that by tomorrow, wanting her would be gone from my mind.

  I was right. By the next morning, I felt disgusted with my weakness from the night before.

  She made me sick.

  I didn’t need a Dragonian. I wasn’t a stupid lamb like George. He gave Becky everything she wanted.

  I left the tent early. I found Lucian by the fire. We exchanged some words. Before I could stop myself, I asked, “Why did you tell her?”

  “What, that you were my best friend?”

  “I’m not weak.”

  He frowned at the red embers. “I didn’t say you were.”

  “I can’t do this. I’m not built this way.”

  “You’ll get the chance to shine tonight, Blake.”

  I looked at his tent.

  “If she’s making your nervous, go take a flight and calm down. You are not going to take this one too. I won’t let you.”

  I chuckled. “You seriously think that I want your spawn? C’mon, Lucian.”

  “Take a flight Blake. Cool down.”

  I was glad that he’d misinterpreted me. Still, he wasn’t completely off-base. He knew that I wanted her, even if I didn’t.

  She didn’t belong to him
. He was going to feel pretty stupid when he realized the truth. If he hadn’t already. Lucian wasn’t stupid. He didn’t forget.

  I flew. I had to calm down. By the time I got back, I felt better. I was glad I hadn’t told her, and I felt stupid for writing those words. Unfortunately, the dumbest ones made excellent songs.

  Around midmorning, I saw Brian flying in my direction. He landed and morphed back. “Mountain of Ekwardor. We have to go soon if we want to make it on time.”

  “That’s where he is?” So she’d told them without me there.

  Brian nodded.

  Without delay, I flew behind Brian. We both landed with a thud. He morphed back first and I followed. Elena looked resolutely in the other direction.

  A wicked smile lit my face. She wasn’t comfortable with the nakedness. I climbed into my pants and pulled my shirt over my head.

  I couldn’t believe that I’d been so weak last night.

  Tabitha handed me a plate of squirrel roasted on the open fire. We dug in. As we ate, my eyes met Elena’s for a few short seconds. She wasn’t as intimidating as she had been last night. She looked away first.

  After breakfast I spoke with Lucian as he started breaking down his tent. “So where do we go?”

  “Ekwardor. He’s going to destroy the sword tonight in the volcano,” Lucian answered.

  “He? Who is it?”

  “Don’t know. Elena has never seen him before.” Lucian sounded irritated.

  “Let me guess: we wing this one too.”

  “Yeah, and if you’ve got a problem with that, you’re free to leave.”

  “Lucian?” Elena said.

  They just stared at one another..

  “I hope you’re right about this, Elena.” My voice was harsh. I zipped up my backpack and started to shed my clothes again.

  Brian was right; the mountain of Ekwardor was a push. We needed to leave now.

  It wasn’t as far as it had been coming to the Sacred Cavern, but it was about half the distance, which was still quite a ways. We landed on Ekwardor around three in the afternoon.

  There was a volcano just up ahead. I hoped the place looked familiar to Elena from her vision in the Millpond.

  Sammy landed with Elena and Lucian on her back. Elena started looking around everywhere.

  We got dressed as they started to speak about the plan. I needed a plan. I was not going to wing it this time.

  Irene’s foretelling wasn’t going to come true. We needed the King of Lion sword.

  “Elena, what side of the volcano is he coming from and when?”

  “The vision showed nightfall. We’re in exactly the right spot.”

  “Are you sure?” Arianna asked. She was just as annoyed with the two of them as I was.

  “Positive. If I’m not mistaken, the volcano is just ahead, about two miles.” She pointed. Brian sprinted down the path. Sun-Blasts loved volcanoes.

  “Okay, we have to corner the Dragonian here.” I drew a rough map on the ground. “We can’t let him get past the P.O.N.R.” Short for Point of No Return.

  Elena whispered something to Lucian and he answered fast.

  “Where’s the sword, Elena?” I asked.

  “He was carrying it close to him. It was covered with fabric and bound with string.”

  I touched my chin. She knew exactly where it was. It was her task. “So we have to find a way to snatch it from him. I doubt that he’ll be compelled—”

  “You’re wrong,” she interrupted.

  No, please. I sighed. This might just become a suicide mission if Goran was involved. I stared at the ground. I couldn’t let him know what I looked like. “Are you sure?” I coughed and my voice almost broke. None of them knew what that meant.

  “The guy marched into the volcano and melted away . I would say he’s compelled.”

  Melting away? Becky mouthed. Elena nodded.

  “What is it, Blake?” Lucian saw straight through me.

  “It’s not good.” I paced, thinking hard. “If Goran controls him, he’ll see everything, including us.” The danger in my tone was real. I couldn’t hide it anymore. I tried to come up with a Plan B, but I couldn’t. It was insane just thinking about it. We couldn’t show our true forms.

  “Is that bad?” Elena asked.

  “It’s very bad, you crazy lunatic!” Tabitha yelled. “You’ve led us to our deaths.”

  “Tabitha, back off!” Becky said with a growl. Sammy cussed, calling her a fucking coward.

  “Tabitha’s got a point, but we’ve made a choice,” I said to stop the quarreling. “We can’t transform, Lucian. We have to fight in our human forms. Elena, to get back to your question, yes, the mission just turned suicidal. If Goran does compel the Dragonian, we are going to fight him indirectly. None of us is ready or trained for that.”

  They all fell silent as it clicked.

  “Blake, I will change!” Sammy sounded terrified.

  “Sammy, if Goran controls the Dragonian, he’ll see through his eyes. If he knows we’re dragons, he’ll use magic. We will all die. We have to stay hidden. Let him think we’re humans.”

  “I can’t control it yet!” she shouted frantically. She was still so young.

  “You can’t change, Samantha!”

  Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I really suck in Transformation class. I always turn when it gets too scary.”

  “Try,” I pleaded. I couldn’t lose her. I couldn’t face my mom if anything happened to Sammy.

  She nodded and Becky’s arm curled around her shoulder.

  “I can’t fight Goran, Blake,” Arianna started too. Fuck me. I didn’t care if I had to compel this one. She was going to fucking stay. I walked over to her and cupped her face in my hands. “Don’t think of it like that. You’re the best with enchantments and spells. We need you, Arianna.” My tone was soft and by Tabitha’s growl I knew she didn’t like it. But we needed Arianna.

  “He’s right, Arianna,” Lucian seconded. “Don’t do anything stupid. If Goran knows that you can do counter and reversal spells already, he’ll take you out first.”

  Arianna started to panic. Thanks, Lucian.

  “You have to stay calm,” I ordered her with her face still cupped in my hands.

  “We’ll have to hide, wait for him until he’s surrounded. We can trap him, and if we need to fight, so be it,” I said to the group as a whole. If only I believed it myself.

  “Blake, who will get the sword?” George asked.

  “Elena has already proven herself ready for something like this. Lucian said you have crazy fast reflexes?”

  She stared at me with huge unblinking eyes.

  I stamped my foot in frustration. “Ugh! For crying out loud, what is it?”

  “I can’t do this, Blake.”

  “Elena? You’re the only one who knows where the sword—”

  “It’s not that! My arm is killing me. I won’t succeed with only one arm.”

  I glared at her. Fuck, now I have to heal her arm. Lucian is not going to love this. He was going to ponder this like a little bitch.

  “Fine!” I walked toward her fast.

  She retreated.

  “Just relax!” I grabbed her arm and pulled her closer. I didn’t know what to feel with her being this close to me. It didn’t feel right. I unbuckled the belt that was holding her shoulder in place. Don’t Ascend!

  I found her eyes on me, judging me.

  “Don’t look at me.”

  She turned her head to look at Lucian. I could feel his eyes on me, boring into my soul, and knew he was cussing me out silently.

  I closed my eyes and concentrated on my healing ability. Heat radiated from my hands. I could hear her silent scream. Her eyes were on me; I opened mine. “I said don’t look!” I yelled.

  Her head snapped back to Lucian. The warmth grew hotter. It didn’t stop.

  She finally screamed in pain.

  “Blake, that’s enough!” Lucian yelled. He pushed me away. I lost the energy—like,
it bottomed out immediately. I found myself kneeling on the ground.

  “What the hell did you just do?” Elena screamed.

  “I’m sorry. I’m still learning how to control it,” My tone was strained. I tried to control my energy, or what was left of it. I could feel it climbing again. It was going to be fine. I could sleep later and build up my energy again. She didn’t Ascend. Thank you.

  “How do you feel?” Lucian asked.

  “I’m fine.”

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

  She rolled her shoulder around and then nodded. A weird expression was on her face. Doubt? Annoyance? I couldn’t tell.

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

  I turned around and my index finger was in his face. “Don’t start with me.”

  George and Brian stepped between us. We’d been here too many times already. “C’mon, guys, not today. We need to align to beat this.” They whispered.

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

  Lucian’s jaw was set. He was furious. He glared at me. “You stay away from me.”

  I started to laugh.

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

  “Fine,” I said and refocused on my crude drawings in the dirt. “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 until then,” I begged again.

  “I said I will try.”

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

  “Of course it will,” I said.

  The conversation changed over to who would team up with whom after Sammy and Elena were gone.

  Brian would obviously try to distract the Sun-Blast, while Becky and George tried to kill it.

  Lucian, Arianna, and I would deal with the Dragonian.

  The faster he died, the faster Goran would lose the connection. We could save the sword and go back to live our lives in peace... at least, until I went dark.

  “What if his Sun-Blast comes after us, Blake?” Elena asked.

 
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