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Darkbeam part i, p.29
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       Darkbeam Part I, p.29

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  I hadn’t thought about that.

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

  “Brian, he might be fully grown,” I said.

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

  I laughed and had to slap that hand. He was so ready for this. I really hoped he was.

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

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

  “What?”

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

  I did not like that.

  We carried on with the plan of taking the Dragonian out. We had to kill him; there was no other way to break the connection.

  “Don’t worry, Elena. I’m really fast. I’ll get us to safety, even if it’s the last thing I do,” Sammy said to Elena.

  What about this plan didn’t work for her? She looked so unsure. I couldn’t be the one to get the sword. I didn’t know where it was. Elena was the perfect one. She could do it. I knew she could.

  We waited patiently for the Dragonian and his dragon to land.

  I guarded the entrance and tuned out completely when Lucian start telling Elena more things about me. It was as if he was preparing her silently for what she had to do.

  Fuck, what if that was the reason he’d trained her?

  I saw the outline of the dragon finally and sprinted down the path to my hiding place, a bush opposite Lucian’s.

  Please let this work. I was fighting on the good side. Maybe for the only time too. I needed this victory.

  We waited with bated breath as the dragon and his compelled Dragonian landed.

  They walked slowly. Way too slowly. They already knew we were here. They could smell us.

  The Dragonian’s arm was already broken. Yet he waved for his dragon to go. I hadn’t bargained on that. Neither had Brian. He was going to follow Sammy.

  A new plan formed in my head.

  I’d have to go with. I needed to kill the dragon and make sure my sister and Elena were safe. My stomach coiled up in knots.

  Then Sammy moved. Fuck!

  He heard a branch snap. He stopped and looked around. Then he started to run.

  We leaped into action. Elena was going for it just as Arianna was intoning a spell.

  I saw Elena get the sword, but then he turned around. He spoke softly, calmly. Elena froze. Petrified. Her hood fell over her face. Something was wrong.

  Everything happened so fast.

  The Sun-Blast swooped back overhead and the Dragonian tossed him the sword.

  I was already moving fast to get him into a headlock.

  Brian leaped into the air after the Sun-Blast.

  Arianna shouted the spell and the Dragonian said the counter-spell.

  George, Becky, and Lucian were struck with what whatever paralyzing effect Elena had been. They were all frozen on the spot.

  As I grabbed him, I was blasted ten paces away.

  All in a matter of seconds.

  We were going to die. We were no match for Goran.

  Sammy turned. Thick roots and branches clawed her in. They pulled her down and I thought that my nightmare was going to come true.

  I couldn’t see Elena’s face. She was the nearest to me.

  Sammy, relax, I wanted to tell her, but the pain that racked my body was unreal. I wanted to scream but didn’t. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. Not today, not ever.

  The Dragonian started to laugh, praising his masterpiece of a trap. The sound was otherworldly. Goran’s voice through his vocal chords. How he’d trapped us all in a mere minute, maybe less.

  He crouched down next to me. He laughed. “You really think you could stop me, boy?” His eyes flickered. He knew it was me.

  I grunted. The pain of his touch was unbearable.

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

  Goran laughed. Then he stopped just for a second and lifted up my sleeve, revealing the mark of the Rubicon.

  “My, my, my. How exciting,” he said in a flat tone. His laugh pierced me again. It made my skin crawl. “The Rubicon trying to save the day. It doesn’t suit you, Blake Leaf.”

  I growled. This couldn’t be happening. I wouldn’t give up. Not now.

  “You’re so full of anger,” Goran whispered. “I revel in the knowledge that deep down inside, you like it too.”

  I hated the fact that his words were real. I did secretly want to become his dragon. The darkness in me resonated with his. We were the same.

  “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 imagine what we’ll be able to do together. No one will ever get in our way.”

  “I’ll kill myself before that happens!” I roared.

  “Wanna bet?” Goran mocked me. The Dragonian whose body he was compelling stood up from his crouch. “However, you’ll hate me now because I’m going to kill all your friends, one by one.”

  No, please, don’t do this. Please. It’s your fucking nephew.

  “We can’t have brave little teenagers running riot when I finally break free from that disgusting hellhole you love so much. Which one should I kill first?”

  “You fuck!” I spat through the pain. Be a man and kill me.

  “Blake!” Lucian scolded through gritted teeth.

  “Eenie, meenie, miney, mo.” He pointed at each paralyzed person in turn. He landed on Elena. No, no, no, no. Please, kill me, I begged. I had wanted her dead and now, it was going to come true if help didn’t come soon.

  Lucian roared. He’d lost it. I knew the feeling. “Leave her alone, you freak!”

  Goran ignored Lucian. He walked straight to Elena.

  Please, help, I begged a greater power. Any form, any form of a distraction. Please.

  Lucian started cussing. Begging his uncle to kill him. But Goran wanted to kill Elena. He didn’t know who she was, but he would the minute he saw her eyes.

  There was no mistaking them.

  He’d smelled her, the same way Brian had that first time. “Not a dragon,” Goran said. He lifted her hood with the tip of his dagger.

  His face froze when he saw her.

  Elena, look at me, I begged. She was trapped in his hands. I tried to get up. I strained against invisible bonds with every bit of strength I had. His eyes were dead. The connection was not very strong, but I couldn’t move. I was pinned to the spot.

  Lucian, stop cussing and try to break free. I didn’t say it out loud. He needed to take control. I was sure he could see the eyes. They were gray.

  Why couldn’t I free myself? I felt it right within my reach. I grunted. Break! Just break something and get out of this.

  Lucian still spat a stream of curses.

  I looked at Goran again—or the Dragonian who was his puppet. I only saw Goran pulling the strings. The eyes turned from grey to black again.

  Then the arm with the knife thrust the dagger into Elena, over and over again.

  Time stopped.

  He looked straight at me. He was killing my only fucking chance and he knew it. I could hear the knife going in and coming out. In again, and out.

  He started to laugh.

  Lucian was beyond himself, screaming and cussing. It didn’t even sound like him anymore. It was the sound of his soul shattering.

  I watched her blood splatter onto the ground.

  Over her axes.

  I just need that axe, that’s all I needed.

  Then Goran stopped and whispered, “You tell your mother I send her my love and a gift. Condolences to whatever your name is.”

  Then I heard it. A dragon.

  The dragon was swooping in. A scale was slightly out of place. Brian. His claws came out and he picked both Elena and the Dragonian up.

  A distraction. The
paralyzing spell broke.

  Elena immediately toppled toward the earth.

  Lucian caught her.

  I shook free and shot my pink fire at the Dragonian. Brian dropped him just too soon and he landed with a thud.

  Elena’s axes were right next to me. Her blood was on them. I hoped this theory that I had was true. That the blood of Albert’s bloodline on the weapon would transform it into a King of Lion weapon. One that could destroy evil.

  I threw an axe with as much force as I could muster.

  He intoned a spell, and I froze. But the axe had already hit him.

  “Fight, Elena!” Lucian cried.

  Arianna’s spell connected with something that she couldn’t control and caused an explosion.

  The earth vibrated. The Dragonian fell to the floor with the axe lodged in his torso.

  Work, please, I begged silently.

  Arianna gasped. I saw it too. The axe was making the Dragonian turn to ash. Slowly.

  “Blake!” Arianna couldn’t take her eyes off it. “What does this mean?”

  “Nothing,” I lied. “They are Queen Catherine’s axes, found in the pantheon. They carry a bit of the king’s blood. It’s what saved us.”

  “How did you know it was going to do that?”

  “I didn’t!” I yelled. Half-true. I grabbed Elena’s other, blood-free axe and pulled the other one from his disintegrating flesh. The Dragonian was still alive. “I’ll never be yours,” I growled at him. His eyes finally went dead.

  “Elena, stay with me!” Lucian roared and cried.

  No, she couldn’t be dead.

  “Lucian, we need to get her to a hospital, now!” Becky cried.

  No, she wasn’t going to die. Not today. She’ll die when I chose. I grabbed her while the two of them were still quarreling and jumped off the mountain.

  Tith was the closest. I just had to make it to the hospital there. I sped up, faster and faster, pumping my wings like I had never flown before.

  Elena was clutched in my palms.

  My scales burned from the wind that screamed against them.

  My sight zoomed in... too much, because I saw Dragonia Academy.

  My scales still burned.

  Elena was dying in my paw.

  I pushed harder.

  Without her I was nothing. I was evil, I didn’t have a fucking chance. I wasn’t going to become his. Not his.

  I pushed faster.

  Then a wall was right in front of me. I couldn’t stop. I tucked Elena close to my heart and crashed through the wall. I skidded to a halt.

  I prayed she was okay.

  I had no idea where I was. Then I heard Constance’s voice. No fucking way.

  “It’s Blake, Master Longwei!” my aunt yelled.

  I opened my eyes.

  “Can you hear me?” She spoke Latin.

  “Help,” I said.

  I couldn’t open my paw. She was dying. She couldn’t be dead.

  “Help her.”

  My aunt looked at me weird.

  My eyes closed and my paw finally opened.

  My skin felt tight when I opened my eyes.

  I was in the infirmary. My mom and dad were next to my bed. Sammy was also here.

  “Ugh,” I grunted.

  “Blake,” my father said first.

  Then came my mother’s voice in that strong British accent of hers, which was at the moment filled with alarm. “What were you thinking?” It was weird that neither me or Sammy spoke like her. We could easily imitate one, but we didn’t speak with it. I shook my head to rid it of the stupid tangent. Why was I thinking this?

  “It was the King of Lion sword,” I croaked.

  “You could’ve died.”

  “I didn’t.”

  “You saved a girl’s life.” My mother smiled.

  Fuck. I shouldn’t have done this. Why did I? “I would’ve done it for anyone, Mom.”

  “It doesn’t matter.” She kissed the top of my head. “You will always be my hero. You make me so proud.”

  “Was it him?” my father asked.

  “Yes, it was him. He’s waiting.”

  His face was grim. “He won’t get you. I promise.”

  I hoped he could keep that one. A dragon’s promise was a binding oath. I was the only dragon who could break a promise. I was different. Stronger.

  “So is it gone?”

  I rubbed my temples. “The King of Lion sword?”

  He nodded and so did I. I didn’t want to tell them, but remembered Arianna and there wasn’t time to compel her.

  “There is another weapon we can use. The queen’s axes.”

  “What?”

  “They were here, Dad, at the Academy. They’re not lost. They put fake ones in the museum.”

  “Are you sure?”

  “They had her initials. I don’t know where the gloves are, but it’s an Alex Rhodes. I didn’t think it was like the King of Lion sword, but when I struck the Dragonian, he turned into dust. Just like when the sword killed evil.”

  “They exploded?”

  I lied by nodding. It was my word against Arianna’s.

  Where are they now, Blake?” my father wanted to know.

  “Ask Constance. They were in my paw when I crashed.”

  My father left. Mom stayed, stroking my forehead. “Constance told me your heart almost exploded. The tips of your scales burned, Blake.”

  “Scales heal, Mom. Please don’t make a huge deal out of it. I had to save her life. She stole the prince’s heart. It was the least I could do.”

  I looked around. Elena wasn’t in the same room as me. Must be in the one closest to Constance’s room.

  She nodded. “My hero,” she smiled and I closed my eyes.

  It took about two days until I was all healed. My dragon form was a different story. My scales were going to take time.

  Victory was what they’d printed in all the papers. And bravery. Everyone in Paegeia clamored to hear the tale of how nine courageous Dragonians and dragons had found the sword.

  But only eight returned.

  Brian.

  I flipped out when Constance told me. I punched a wall. Tears even threatened to consume me. I screamed and raged and bellowed and broke things.

  Master Longwei wanted to know every detail of the events that had transpired. I refused. “Not my story to tell.”

  The other seven said the same. We were a united front of silence.

  My father was livid. I thought he was going to skin me alive. But when Sammy stood by me and also refused to talk, he stormed out.

  King Helmut was just as upset. “Is it true?” I hear Lucian’s dad ask him.

  “About what?” Lucian asked.

  “The girl, son.”

  “Dad, it isn’t the fourteenth century anymore. I can choose who I love. She’s my choice.” He pointed in the direction of the infirmary.

  “Her? The dragon spawn they brought in?” King Helmut spluttered.

  Lucian grunted. “Stop calling her that. She has every right to be here just like me and Blake and Becky, like everyone else. She saved the day, Dad, and I know you don’t see it, but I promise you that I will never marry Arianna.”

  “Lucian, you will lose everything.”

  “Then so be it. I won’t give her up.” He stomped away.

  In shock, King Helmut wandered off in the opposite direction. He had no idea I was near.

  Lucian really loved her.

  I closed my eyes.

  This was what Irene saw. She said it was true love.

  This was fucked up.

  I was going to break his heart again. I should just let them be. I was nobody’s lamb anyway.

  My darkness returned slowly as the victory and adrenaline from finding the missing sword wore off. I was back to my old self.

  “Why did you save her?” Lucian asked one day on his way to the infirmary.

  “Seriously? I thought you were happy.”

  He chuckled. “You think I
’m stupid?”

  “Not this shit again,” I said, pretending one more time.

  “What is she to you, Blake? Please, I need to know.”

  “She’s nothing, Lucian. Nothing, fucking nothing. I saved her for you!” I yelled.

  He nodded. He came over and hugged me. “I owe you.” He sniffed once and took his leave.

  I blew out hot air. I hoped he’d leave it now.

  Brian’s funeral came next. It was devastating. He was the only dragon who have hatched in his family. The only spawn. His parents were bereft.

  The ceremony was held in the cathedral in Elm and from there we went to a sacred hill. The seven of us were there, Elena was still out.

  I hated funerals. They were so sad to watch. But this one was a thousand times worse. He’d saved us all.

  I gave a speech too.

  “Blake hates funerals,” I spoke softly and everyone chuckled fondly at my third-person homage. “King Albert was the first to believe that dragon is dragon, no matter Metallic or Chromatic. With the right influence, Chromatic is just as noble and as righteous as the Metallic. Brian, you proved that. By dying to save all of us. If it weren’t for you, for your distraction, today there would be nine caskets, not just one.”

  A few strangled sobs followed this.

  I continued, “You were right that night when you said we were going to make history. You did it. You proved that Chromatics can be just as noble as Metallics, and you were only twenty years old. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough, but I promise you, your star will guide me to become better, braver. I will fight. I will fight until I cannot fight anymore. Blake is going to miss Brian a hell of lot more than Brain thought. Goodbye my friend.”

  As grief squeezed a vise around my heart, all the fire and lightning breathers stood in a semicircle around the burning altar that carried Brian’s casket.

  The priest said a few words about how we all returned to the air and became guiding stars in the end.

  All of the things that I didn’t believe in.

  Then we all lit the altar with our abilities. It started to burn. Sobs overwhelmed the cracking of the fire. Brian’s mother wailed. His father looked hopeless and empty, holding her in his arms.

  Guilt and grief warred within me. I was sorry to have abandoned the fight. But I had to save Elena. He’d died so a princess could live. And who knew? Maybe one day a reckoning would come.

 
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