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       Firebolt, p.29

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  “Yeah,” I said.

  “Elena, you’re telling me that you are the sixth person that made it out alive?”

  I nodded again and didn't understand why it was so hard for him to believe this. He always said the darker your mark, the more you will accomplish.

  “I have the scar,” I said in an unsure tone. I mean, he was an ancient, and he should know what the scar looked like.

  “I didn't think that you would have made it out alive. Do you know what could have happened if you didn't?” He raised his voice again.

  My lower lip quivered.

  He sighed deeply.

  I swallowed my tears and carried on. “I had to know where the sword was. The council didn't make any progress, and at first, I was going to do it alone, but then Becky told Lucian and Lucian told Blake. It got out of hand, and where I was planning on a one-man mission, it became nine.”

  “Which only eight returned back alive.”

  “What!” My heart skipped a few beats before it started to drum inside my ear.

  “Brian . . .” He couldn't finish his sentence and just shook his head.

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Brian’s death would be on my conscience for as long as I lived. It was my fault that he was gone, and no amount of tears would bring him back.

  This mission was a pretty dumb mistake. I should never have gone after that stupid sword in the first place.

  No matter how brave Master Longwei thought I was at the end, I felt like a failure. I didn't save Brian, and it should've been me instead of him.

  I told Constance that I didn't want to receive any visitors yet, and she respected my wishes.

  Around eight, she dropped off a tray of food for me. I hadn't eaten anything in the past three days.

  "Elena, you need to eat something, please?" She begged, and sat on the edge of my bed.

  "That whole mission was for nothing," I said as new tears formed in my eyes. I'm so angry.

  "It wasn't for nothing, Sweetheart. Brian didn't die for nothing. He died a hero, protecting his friends from pure evil. It's the code of the Metallic dragons and one King Albert believed with all his heart that the Chromatic carries too. This mission proved that, Elena."

  The truth portion of my foretelling jumped into my head. At first, I thought it was about the King of Lion sword and Cheng's theory, but it could be this. That dragon was dragon, no matter the breed.

  "It's still my fault he's dead."

  "No, Elena, it's Goran's fault. You guys weren't prepared to fight a sorcerer like him. To be honest, it's a wonder that most of you came back alive. What you did for Paegeia last week, it shows the kind of courage that doesn't exist anymore; it's what makes a true Dragonian. But for your friends to follow you all the way on this mission that seemed crazy, that's what makes Kings and Queens."

  Pins and needles ran over my body as she said those words.

  "You need to get out of this bed and carry on with your life. Your friends need to see you, and you need them now more than ever, don't push them away. Brian wouldn't have wanted this for you." She gave me a soft kiss on my head and left.

  I ate the beef stew that Chef had made and drank the glass of milk. I felt so tired and decided to worry about facing life again tomorrow.

  I found Lucian on a chair right next to me the following morning. He rested his head on my bed, and his eyes were closed.

  A new tear rolled down my cheek. Why does he have to be so beautiful? I don't deserve him. After what I have done, I don't deserve any of them.

  "Hey," he whispered, and brought me back to reality. He came closer and closed his eyes while mumbling a couple of words that sounded like a soft prayer. "How do you feel?"

  "Better now that you are here," I croaked.

  He took a deep breath and leaned closer. "Don't ever scare me like that again. I thought when he thrust that blade inside of you again and again..." His face looked as if he was torn but at the same time relieved. Everything was so messed up and felt wrong.

  "What happened, Lucian? How did Brian die?"

  "It happened so fast. One minute we were statues and the next I could move. We only realized that it was Brian that had scooped you up when the other Sun-Blast came back for his rider. After Brian released you and the Dragonian, the two of them got into a fight. Brian was no match against a full-grown Sun-Blast. They collapsed near one of the sites. Set an entire forest on fire, or so George told us.” His eyes sparkled with fresh tears as he closed them, trying to stem the flow. A strained look appeared on his face, making it look as if Lucian was in some sort of inner turmoil.

  "Hey, it's okay. I'm fine now."

  He shook his head. "When the Dragonian got up from the fall, I knew we weren't going to make it. Only when Blake picked up one of your axes and threw it at the Dragonian, did we realize what you had. The sword's ability causes its victims to explode. Queen Catherine's axes make them turn into dust. They took them away, Sweetheart, I'm so sorry."

  Of course they took away my axes.

  "Did Blake really save my life?"

  He nodded.

  "I owe him my life."

  "You don't owe him anything, Elena. Blake's back to the egoistic son-of-a-bitch he always is."

  I smiled and closed my eyes. It was silent for a while.

  "Thanks for fighting to live," Lucian whispered in my ear.

  "Why didn't you tell Master Longwei what happened?"

  "It's not our story to tell."

  "But your father─”

  He put his index finger on my mouth. "Shhh, he'll get over it." He gave me one of Blake's lopsided smiles, and it vanished just as fast. Something wasn't right.

  "What happened?"

  "Nothing unexpected." His smile returned.

  "Tell me."

  "You've been through enough, Elena. I'm not going to burden you with a stupid story."

  I huffed as I quickly put two and two together. "It's your dad, isn't it?"

  His gaze fell to the floor.

  "Is he forcing you to break up with me?" My voice broke.

  Lucian's head jolted up. "No, Elena, I don't care what my father wants. You're my choice."

  "Lucian, your father is the king of Tith."

  "He could be the Pope for all I care. We're not living in the sixteenth century anymore. I'll choose whom to love."

  "You really think that it will be that easy. If your father disowned you, you will have nothing."

  "I don't care!" he said, sounding like a spoiled brat.

  "You have no idea what it is to have nothing. So don't tell me that you'll be okay with it. When you do discover ten years from now that you don't love me, you'll blame me for everything," I yelled, and grabbed my stomach where the Dragonian had stabbed me. It wasn't healed properly, and I should give it more time.

  Lucian was at my side and helped me to lie back on my pillow.

  "Just take it easy. That will never happen. How can you even think that?" He sat on my bed and looked at me with gentle eyes. "I’ve never felt the way I do with anyone. Don't worry about my father. He'll never disown me. He'll come around once he gets to know you better."

  I wasn't so sure about that. I knew that the king would only see a troublemaker that didn't think before she acted. He would see me as a person that would get his son killed, because Lucian would always follow me.

  I didn't tell him that. "You really love me," I whispered.

  "With all my heart."

  * * *

  Recovery was hard, but I got there. Becky, Sammy, and Lucian visited me every second they could get. Becky was a tough girl, but Sammy... She cried so much when she saw that I was okay that Constance had to give her something to calm her down. The way they acted, you would think that Becky was the Dragon and Sammy the human. Still, they were the best friends a girl could ask for.

  I was another four days in the infirmary, and all I could think of was my foretelling. It felt good knowing that I had fulfilled it. It was the choice I had to ma
ke. One, dangerous enough, that found its way scrawled into the Book of Shadows.

  I realized that the truth prophesized was actually multiple things. One; that a dragon offspring could become a Dragonian. Two; to learn that any sword or weapon could be turned into the King of Lion; you just needed blood from the true royals who didn't exist anymore. Last, that King Albert's theory about the Chromatic dragons was true. I couldn't wait to see the ink of my foretelling turn red. Only then, could I breathe again and carry on with my life without interference.

  * * *

  Life at Dragonia went back to normal. It spread instantly that I was the sixth person that made it out of the cavern. The status was cool for a while, but the moment the Viden wanted to see me again, I hated everything about it.

  Classes went back to normal, but not for me. Most of them still sounded like Greek. My tutoring lessons also carried on, and Latin became my worst nightmare once again.

  They hadn’t been kidding when they said that Blake had gone back to his old arrogant self. He was mean whenever I pronounced the words wrong. The one thing I did love was that we didn't talk about the mission at all. It was in the past and like me, I think Blake wanted to keep it in the past too. But I felt that I needed to do one more thing before I buried it completely.

  "Thank you," I said during one of our lessons. He ignored my statement and carried on explaining the rules of grammar.

  "Thank you, Blake," I said again. He just looked at me with no humor on his face, stared at me for a while, and then carried on.

  I sighed, frustrated. I gave it another ten minutes and said thank you again.

  "Stop it, Elena. There's nothing to thank me for, okay. I would've done it for anybody in that group." He sounded mean.

  "What happened to 'you got all my respect when you get out of there’?"

  He huffed. "To be honest, I didn't think you would get out of there. So, I lied. Sue me."

  "I thought dragons lived by their oaths," I snapped back.

  "Those rules don't apply to me," he said.

  I got so angry that I kicked his shin, got up, and left.

  "Elena!" He was down rubbing and complaining. I didn’t care if it hurt, he was an asshole, and it was our last tutoring lesson anyway. My choice.

  The following week, Cheng struggled to teach me history as he was sidetracked and begged me to tell him what was inside the cavern. At a stage he even tried to guess, which was really tempting, but I didn't break my promise.

  Lucian's class was another story.

  He wasn't the slave-driving demon anymore,and I dubbed his session as "Making out time.”

  All I know was that I would never leave him, so I hoped that he meant every single word when he said he loved me.

  The tabloids were full of Blake, Arianna, Lucian, and Brian. With headings like; “Long Live the Chromatic” and “Axes Turning Evil to Dust.” They didn't want to stop.

  The rest of the tutoring ended when Master Longwei called the eight of us to his office. He told us we were too emotional to study for the exams and that the board was going to let us pass.

  It was Tabitha's idea, and I couldn't believe that Brian's death was the miracle I needed to pass first year. It wasn't right.

  * * *

  The last day of school came fast. I was going to spend half the summer with Becky and the other half with Sammy. Yeah, I didn't look forward to that other half.

  Now that I knew Sammy’s father was theNight Villain, I got actually a little scared but found some relief that her mother was a Sparrow-Annex like Constance. I spent the night before with Lucian up in the tower we’d started our mission from.

  "If my father finally comes to his senses, will you come and visit me at the palace?"

  "Off course I will." I turned around to look at him. "I don't know how I'm going to spend this whole vacation without you."

  He laughed. "Becky and Sammy live in Tith too, Elena. You will see me every day, I promise," he said.

  His lips were warm on the tip of my nose. I lifted up my chin and we found each other’s lips in no time. It was a long, feverish kiss that left us both out of breath.

  We stayed there until the sun came up. The morning flew by fast, and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Lucian. It was so hard. His dad waited for him outside with Emmanuel and the royal carriage, so we had to say our “See you later” in the reception area.

  He thrust a wrapped up package with a beautiful bow in my hands. It was clear that a girl had helped him with this.

  "What is this?" I yelled, as he reached the main door.

  "Becky will explain, I'll speak to you tonight," he shouted back. "I love you, Elena Watkins."

  The other students in the reception made fun of his last line, but he waved it away. He didn't even wait for an“I love you” back.

  As I went back to my room to pack my bag, I opened the wrapping and couldn't believe my eyes as I looked down at the Cam-phone nestled in my hand.

  "You got your first Cammy," Sammy shrieked. "This is so awesome."

  "May I?" Becky held out her hand, and I gave it to her with a new feeling of excitement deep inside my core.

  "It is the new Raindrop 5. It must have cost a fortune."

  "Please, Lucian doesn't know what that word means." Sammy rolled her eyes and took it from Becky. She slid it open and yanked hers from her backside pocket. She spoke her name into the device and repeated it a couple of times before lining up the two phones next to each other. When she had a satisfied grin on her face, she put hers away.

  "Sammy Leaf," she spoke for the last time into the speaker of my Cammy, and her phone started to ring. It had a techno beat to it, and she jumped up and down on the same spot, very pleased with herself. "Whenever you want to call me, just say my name. I'm the second in your contact box."

  I can guess who the first is.

  "I promise I'll phone you at least once a day, Sammy Leaf."

  "You guys?" she cried animatedly. "I'm going to miss sharing a room with you."

  "I’m going to miss that too, Sammy," Becky said. "Don't forget, twelve o'clock my house tomorrow afternoon, and don't be late."

  "What, no George?" Sammy joked.

  "He's gone for three weeks in Acapulco, and I don't know what I'm going to do with myself."

  "George is going to the other side?"

  "Yeah, he's so excited about it. It was a big surprise. His mom and dad wanted him to keep it a secret. I wish I could go with him."

  "Stupid wall," I said, sulking. There were so many places I wanted to visit myself. We helped Sammy with her luggage and loaded it on one of the carriages that Tabitha and Blake already occupied.

  "These three weeks are really going to suck," she whispered.

  We giggled, and I gave her a big hug before she climbed into the carriage and left.

  Becky's mom picked us up at three. She waited near the forest, with a silver Audi. Becky ran to her and jumped into her arms. Her mom was really beautiful. She had big dark eyes and brown hair, just like Becky. The only problem was she seemed too young to be a mother. I also noticed that they shared the same eye for fashion, and she wore a nice top with jeans and knee-high boots.

  She kissed Becky's face fiercely, and I giggled when Becky complained, wiping her face with her hand.

  "I have missed you so much," her mother said in a sweet voice.

  "Missed you more."

  "You’ve got to tell me everything about this mission, Becky." Her eyes were full of excitement.

  "Oh crap, Elena." Becky suddenly realized that I was there too. "Mom, this is Elena. Elena, the perfect mom."

  "She's such a drama queen, but she's right about the perfect mom," she said.

  I reached out my hand for her to shake.

  "Oh please, come here." She pulled me in a long warm hug. A beautiful smile appeared on her face as she let go. She looked over at Becky. "Get in the car. Our plane leaves in an hour."

  She started the car, and the stereo boomed
the same stupid song about a miracle. I thought that I would never listen to it ever again, remembering what had happened the last time I’d heard it. Becky and her mom sang out loud with the lead vocalist, as she turned down the road. Their relationship reminded me so much of the one I’d had with Dad; when we didn’t have to flee for our lives and things actually felt normal. They were best friends.

  I glared out the back window, and sighed as trees passed by. I thought about Brian and about Dad. Both died while protecting me. Buildings started to rush by. Somehow, I got my miracle, even if it wasn’t the way I truly wanted it. To my surprise, I started to smile.

  Acknowledgements

  First and the most important thanks is to our Father in heaven, for blessing me every day, without Your guidance, I wouldn’t have done or finished with this if You were not involved in this every day. You are my purpose of life and I will love You till the end of time.

  Then I would like to thank my extraordinary beta readers, Cloey, Lasse Moller, Ken and Esmerelda Lourens, for your valuable input, patience and willingness to delve into another world head first.

  To the lovely people of my writing group: Claire my GG, Lucy, Amanda, Kelly and Rodney. Your input and compliments pushed me through the tough and difficult times I wanted to give up.

  For the endless support of my family; I would be lost without your loving support and your ability to keep me pursuing this project when I didn’t want to carry on.

  To Vinique; for devouring an endless pile of query letters without a word of complaint. Love you to bits and thank you for being such a significant person in my life.

  To Graeme, with your unique personality, and for the back flip of this novel. You are a jewel and a genius when it comes to words.

  A special thanks to my wonderful editor, Hillery, you are a true Paegeian and your love for beautiful words has given Firebolt the wings it needed to soar.

  To Grace and Rebecca, my proof readers, for polishing my work to perfection.

  To my cover artist Mary Park. Your grace and elegance with lines, shadows and colors has made my novel cover truly spectacular. You were able to reach into my imagination, capture, and re-imagine a world I thought only I would ever see. Because of your passion and skill I truly hope my book will be judged by its cover.

 
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