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Thunderlight, p.29
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       Thunderlight, p.29

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “I’m sorry that you’ve got to struggle to get people to trust you, Paul.”

  He gave me a lopsided smile. “They’ll come to their senses soon.” He accepted the fact that it was going to take time and a lot of work from his side. “Can I ask you a favor?”

  “Sure.”

  “Can you keep those eggs a secret for now? There isn’t real danger upon us yet, so it’s not the right time for me to find them. When they’re born, we’ll figure out what to do with them.”

  “Okay,” I said and instantly disliked all the secrecy, but still, Paul didn’t have a reason to harm any of us, even though some thought he did. Besides he needed me to trust him. Otherwise this dragon-rider relationship wouldn’t work.

  We parted ways by the stairs.

  At dinner time a knot of danger, excitement and adrenaline twisted my gut into one big mess. It even made me feel a bit sick but I couldn’t wait for midnight to come. I’d packed my bag earlier that night when Becky and Sammy weren’t in the room and had hidden it underneath my bed.

  “So where did Paul take you this afternoon?” Becky asked.

  “Nowhere, he just wanted to get to know me better.” I looked at my plate in front of me and hated it when I couldn’t tell them the truth.

  When she bumped me softly and gave her laugh, I knew it’d worked. Ten minutes to twelve I made sure that everyone was asleep, grabbed the bag from underneath my bed and tip-toed out of the room.

  I ran down the stairs two steps at a time and made it to the main entrance at a ghastly speed. I almost smashed into Paul who waited for me right behind the wall.

  He carried a bag that looked like it could easily hold a tent and a sleeping bag tucked underneath his arm. I hoped there was another inside that bag of his. There was no way I was going to share one with him. I didn’t care how cute he was.

  As we exited the building, the grounds of Dragonia look extra creepy at night.

  My hand grabbed for Paul’s and he chuckled. “You scared?”

  “No!” I said too fast and he laughed softly again. “Okay fine, just a little. But you can’t blame me, everything looks so creepy.”

  “It doesn’t when you have my sight.”

  “You can see at night?”

  He chuckled. “You will too, after you’ve Ascended and claimed me.”

  “Really?”

  “It’s one of the perks of being a Dragonian. You can use your dragon’s sight, hearing, that sort of thing.”

  “Awesome.”

  He chuckled softly and I wished it wasn’t so dark so that I could see the expression on his face. He helped me to get up and down the steep hills. I almost slid on every rock and slammed into Paul a couple of times. The electricity, not the kind George and Becky shared but the unseen kind, sparked every time he caught me.

  It scared me that Lucian might end up being right. Paul would find a way to come between us and spending time with him every day made it harder to not let him in.

  It wasn’t so difficult to see us as a couple anymore. He made me laugh and made me feel needed.

  When we finally reached the cave, the descent was easier than it had been that afternoon. I guessed it had something to do with the transition from light to darkness not being as harsh in the inky night.

  Paul lit up one of the torches again and made a small fire deep in the cave. He placed smaller rocks in the form of a circle too keep it contained. After that he disappeared for a short while to gather some wood for the night.

  In less than an hour’s time we had a crackling fire going. Two, thank Heaven for that, sleeping bags were rolled out and a radio played music softly.

  I huffed with a small smile over my face as I kept staring at the eggs which he placed closer to us.

  “What?” He looked up from his sleeping bag and placed his hand over the fire.

  I had been thinking about the hippogriff and what had happened to us a month ago at that Warbel game. “Maybe danger is near.”

  He looked at me with an expression on his face I hadn’t seen before. “What are you talking about?”

  “It’s nothing.”

  “Please, Elena. Tell me. I need to know if danger is near. I really found these eggs fast and a Wyvern as young as I shouldn’t have.”

  “There was an incident at the Warbel opening. All of us who went to search for the King of Lions sword were attack by the team members, well not all of them, just the dragons.”

  “I heard about that. It was in all the newspapers. That attack was on you guys?”

  I nodded. “Well, what the papers didn’t print was that Blake saw a hippogriff and then it disappeared into thin air.”

  “A hippo─”

  “Elena!” Sammy suddenly appeared out of nowhere with Becky and George right behind her. Paul and I both jumped up.

  I looked at him with huge eyes. “I swear, I didn’t tell them.”

  “You didn’t have to. That explanation earlier, I saw straight through that lie,” Becky snapped back.

  George cleared his throat.

  “Oh, shut up,” she snapped at him too.

  “How did you find us?” My tone was harsh.

  “Why didn’t you tell us? What are you hiding? Lucian won’t like this sneaking around one bit, Elena,” Sammy said harshly and she looked furious that I’d snuck out.

  “It’s not like that Sammy.”

  “Hmmm,” Paul said and all of us looked at him. “How did you find us?”

  “George, he’s one of the best trackers at Paegeia. So what is going on here?” Becky asked in her “not so impressed with you” tone.

  I looked at Paul. “There is no other way, Paul. We’ve got to tell them.”

  “Elena.”

  “They’ll keep the secret.”

  “What secret?” Sammy fumed again. She should be grateful for Paul helping her finding her red flame, not treating him like this, and I absolutely hated the fact that she thought I was sneaking around with Paul. Didn’t she see the two sleeping bags?

  “Take it easy, Sammy. We’re not doing anything illegal,” Paul said. “I think.”

  Both of us started to laugh and Becky, Sammy and George just stared at us.

  Paul leaned closer to me. “You’re sure about letting them in on this?”

  “Yes, they’re my friends. They won’t tell.”

  “What’s going on, Elena?” Becky wanted to know for the umpteenth time as she looked at the fire.

  I stared at Paul and he nodded. “Paul found Elemental eggs.”

  All three of them froze.

  “What?” Becky asked me with huge eyes and then looked at George who started to smile.

  “You found all four?” He asked Paul.

  “All four, they’re right here,” he said and bent down to pick two of them up. He gave one to Sammy, who hesitated taking it, but she did and kept staring at it. Becky and George inspected the other one.

  He picked up the egg that was in the fire. “It’s time for this sucker to be born but I can’t get the fire the right temperature,” Paul said as he put his hand over the flames again.

  “It’s because you need a red flame, you idiot,” Sammy spoke and we all had to suppress our laughter. She looked at him with a thin pout, which turned into a smile and she shook her head softly.

  We all laughed.

  “Give him here,” she kept her hand out for the egg while holding out to Paul the other one that was in her hands.

  “So our secret is safe?” He asked as their exchange lingered.

  We looked at the three of them and they nodded.

  Paul handed the egg to Sammy and took the one from her.

  “You sure it’s tonight?” She asked.

  “Yes, don’t ask me how. It’s just something I know.”

  “Isn’t that egg supposed to burn your hands?” I asked.

  Paul and Sammy stared at me. “We can handle hot, Elena,” Paul said and George started to laugh.

  Becky gave him a backhand slap
against his chest. “Not everything is about sex, George.”

  We all laughed.

  “You need a lot more wood than those twigs,” Sammy said after she inspected the fire.

  “Let’s go Paul,” George said and the two guys disappeared.

  Becky and Sammy made themselves comfortable on my sleeping bag. Both just stared up at me.

  “What?”

  “You still should have told us where you were going tonight, Elena. What if something happened? You don’t know how old this cave is. If it closed off and trapped you guys inside, you could’ve starved.”

  “She could always eat the Wyvern,” Sammy joked and we laughed.

  “Don’t forget who helped you to find your flame.”

  She sighed. “Yeah, yeah. He’s still a Wyvern though.”

  “A good Wyvern, Sammy.”

  She sighed. “I know. It’s just hard.”

  I kept staring at her thinking what she must be going through. I was asking a lot of her. She knew Desi and the way Lucian spoke about what kind of a person his sister had been I knew it was a great loss to both of them. Asking her to trust a Wyvern was wrong of me.

  She breathed softly on the egg. It looked amazing as a soft flame came from her mouth. I’d only seen this once from Blake when he was lighting up a cigarette and Brian, when he’d set the hand-made torches on fire the night of our quest to the Sacred Cavern. My heart twitched again as I thought about Brian.

  “I miss his stupid speaking in third person,” I spoke softly out loud.

  “Elena,” Becky pulled me closer to her. She knew exactly who I spoke about. “I do too, even though it irritated the crap out of me.”

  Laughter broke out the cave and it bounced off the walls.

  “I never gave him that one date.”

  “It would’ve been a date from hell, Elena. He only wanted one thing,” Sammy reminded me.

  “I wouldn’t have given it to him.”

  “You think he would’ve been a gentleman?” Sammy asked. “He would’ve put you under one of those slut spells. You would’ve been all over him. Why did you think I told you to ignore my brother that night?”

  I’d forgotten about that night, the night Blake begged me to come outside so he could speak to me. He was drunk and it was the first time he’d done that to me.

  Becky’s eyes got big. “What?”

  “He was drunk; you know what he gets like when he’s drunk.” I waved it away.

  “He seriously… wait, why didn’t you tell me about this?” Becky looked at both of us.

  “I felt bad for him, besides he was right at your house, Becky. What were you doing that you didn’t hear him?” Sammy teased her.

  “Oh, shut up. When was this?” She asked me.

  I laughed. “Right before we left for that camping trip.” I could still feel that dizziness his peacock blues had on me that night.

  Becky and Sammy laughed.

  “That could have turned into the talk of the century, you know,” Becky said.

  “Thank heavens it didn’t. Lucian would’ve slayed his ass.” I left my two cent comment.

  We laughed again.

  It was silent for about a minute and we all just stared at the egg Sammy held in her hands.

  “I think the eggs are connected to the hippogriff Blake saw that night.”

  “That’s why you were busy telling him when we interrupted, wasn’t it?” Becky asked.

  I nodded. “He said that their scent or tracking smells, whatever they use to find them, gets stronger when their needed.”

  “That case went cold, Elena,” Sammy spoke after she puffed another gentle fire-breath over the egg.

  “I know, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t resurface.”

  “True,” Becky said.

  “It could be.” Sammy sighed. “I hate to admit this, but I’m with Paul. We should keep them a secret until the right time.” Sammy had a worried look on her face.

  We nodded.

  The boys came back soon with huge, thick branches in their arms.

  “Now that I can make a fire with,” Sammy joked.

  The evening turned out to be a great one as Sammy was able to make a really hot fire. We all had to throw off our jackets, and Becky pulled up her sleeves as the inside of the cave started to feel like a sauna.

  They told Paul about the night of the Warbel games as Sammy laid the egg softly inside the fire.

  She even told him how she and her Dad tried to keep us safe by throwing balls of acid and fire at the eight dragons from the two teams who’d attacked us.

  A cold finger ran up my spine as I remembered that evening.

  “A hippogriff.” Paul rested his head on his hand as he lay on his side right in front of the fire. “Aren’t they extinct, died out or something?”

  “That’s what we thought too.”

  “It must be the reason why I found them so fast.”

  “So how long do you think before this little guy is going to hatch?” George asked.

  “They say it takes about an entire night. Wyverns learn all about the Elemental eggs from our Elders. It used to be one of my favorite subjects.” He smiled but it disappeared as a thought must have jumped into his head. I tried to see what it was, but Paul was really good at shielding himself and it didn’t work. Our eyes met and he wrinkled his nose slightly. I smiled at him and stared at the fire again.

  “We need to take turns feeding it. People are already suspicious of me. I’m an easy target for them to get discovered.”

  “We’ll draw up a schedule, take turns,” Becky said practically.

  “What does it eat?”

  “First few days, the shell. We need to make a paste with some of the herbs that grow wild and grind it all up with bits of the shell. Once you add water you feed them with a syringe. They don’t need much, about five ml every two hours.”

  “Every two hours. That’s going to be difficult.” Sammy had that worried look on her face again.

  “I can take care of it during class,” Paul said, looking at Sammy, “most of the professors don’t want me in there so I have some free time. You guys can help take care of the rest.”

  “And at night?” I said.

  “I’ll stay with him. I love this place,” Paul looked at the roof of the cave. “It reminds me a bit of home. We should rest, tomorrow is going to be one hell of a long day.”

  WOKE UP TO a crackling sound. It took me a couple of minutes to realize it didn’t sound like a fire that was busy dying and I put two and two together. It was the egg. I jumped up and saw a big black burned egg inside the ashes.

  The egg cracked again and it felt as if my insides wanted to jump out with excitement.

  This is so frawesome!

  My hand searched for Becky, as I didn’t want to miss one second of this, and found her arm. I shook it.

  “What? Where…” she sat up and leaned closer to the ash pit. “Is that?”

  “Yes, it’s busy hatching.” Excitement laced my soft tone.

  A loud crack made Paul and Sammy lift up their heads and then they too couldn’t take their eyes off it. Becky cried out softly when she saw the top of the egg breaking into a diamond shape.

  Two long, catfish whiskers and a part of a small nose slowly rose from the egg.

  We all gasped and went “aww” at the same time.

  Sammy had tears in her eyes.

  “Blow softly on it, Sammy. It might be cold.” Paul leaned closer to the egg.

  She breathed gently again and the baby Elemental pushed the rest of its egg into a couple of pieces. It collapsed and it was legs and a tail everywhere.

  It tried to stand up, but kept falling over as its tiny legs weren’t strong enough yet. It had a long snake-like body and his color was the most beautiful red I’d ever seen. Sammy blew softly on it again with her breath and we laughed as it followed her fire.

  Its legs still wobbled slightly as it tried to gain its balance and kept tripping over the long whi
skers that came from its snout.

  It was simply gorgeous and I wished that we could have taken it with us to our dorms, but for it to stay a secret and safe the cave would have to do.

  Paul scratched it softly behind its ear and started speaking in a completely different language to it. It had a funny clucking sound, but the little Elemental responded and curled up on Paul’s jacket that he had put right next to the fire pit.

  “I should really make him that paste, this little guy is going to get pretty hungry soon.”

  “You sure it’s a guy?” Sammy asked.

  “Yes, the males have two beards underneath their chin, where the females only have one.” Paul smiled and left.

  I got up too. “Do you need any help?”

  “No, I’m much faster finding them on my own. Stay here,” he whispered and left.

  Sammy stroked the Elemental softly. She was really such a gentle person and I could see by all three of their expressions that this was indeed something that happened only once in a lifetime.

  “He is so amazing, Elena,” Sammy cooed.

  “I know. To think in a couple of weeks we are going to have three more of these little suckers.”

  They all laughed softly.

  “So, I was thinking, during school and at night Paul should stay with them.” Becky spoke in that leader-voice of hers. It was something she did from time to time, especially around George. “If he needs to eat every two hours then we’ll have to take turns. George and I will take two and eight o’clock, right after Warbel practice. You and Sammy can take four and Paul will have to take Sammy’s place at six o’clock on the days we have Warbel practice. He is the best to take the ten o’clock shift too then he can just stay for the night and feed him as he needed it.”

  “What about breaks? Paul will get caught if it’s during breakfast and lunch time.

  “Then one of us needs to come alone. We’ll take turns, and we have to find different paths so that we won’t get caught,” George answered.

  “Sounds like a plan,” I said.

  We waited about an hour for Paul to return. He took a wooden bowl from his backpack and we all helped break the herbs into small pieces. He ground everything in the bowl with a rock and broke in the shell. It was a lot of powder, something that would keep the little guy sustained for a long time.

 
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