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       Frostbite, p.30

           Adrienne Woods

  The entire court heard my plea and the Ancients all looked at me with frowns and eyes filled with questions.

  Sir Robert started to laugh again.

  “Shush,” I whispered at him.

  “You have to change your minds. She is who she says she is.”

  “Robert without proof, we can’t. Our decision is final.”

  “Your minds are clouded,” King Helmut said. “A couple of months ago you swore that a Wyvern could change and look where it’s gotten me. I have no heir. He killed my son.”

  The hammer went down hard again.

  “Elena is no child of Albert and Catherine Malone, unless she has a way to prove it, this matter is closed.” One of the Ancients looked King Helmut straight in the eyes and gave me the same verdict as before.

  “As for the Rubicon, the only way your daughter can claim him is in the Coliseum, he must yield. If it was any other dragon there wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s not.”

  “No! This is breaking the law.”

  “Our decision is final.”

  King Caleb growled at them, turned on his heel and walked with huge strides out of the hall.

  “They aren’t all fools after all,” I whispered softly to myself.

  I bowed my head to them and grabbed Sir Robert by the arm; it was trembling softly. I guessed he’d just realized that his anger had gotten the better of him again and that he’d almost gotten sentenced to death.

  We exited the building and the ones who were protesting rejoiced. How could people be so cruel?

  I ignored it and walked with my head held up high. When we reached the carriage a young boy, a bit younger than me, stopped us. “A word, my lady.”

  I looked at Sir Robert and we followed the boy after Sir Robert told the one dragon to wait for us.

  It was funny how I never understood Latin and now I was speaking it fluently.

  We ran to keep up with this boy through a long passage and into another dark alley.

  I gasped as the Ancient that was missing from the verdict waited for me. The one who made me feel so uncomfortable

  Sir Robert grunted.

  “Sir Robert, I need a minute with Elena,” he said softly.

  We were both taken aback by the man addressing him as Sir Robert. He nodded and went to stand guard at the entrance.

  “I’m sorry for the dark alley, my child, but if the others knew I was here…”

  “Your dragon can read your mind?”

  “My dragon died a long time ago.”

  “Sorry to hear that,” I spoke softly.

  “My vote doesn’t count much, but I could see them both inside of you before I even knew why you were there.”

  “Thank you.”

  “You don’t understand child. Catherine Squire was my great, great granddaughter. Did they tell you how we came to be the Ancients?”

  I shook my head.

  “The world wasn’t always against dragons you know. A handful rebelled thousands of years ago. We always knew the truth about dragons, we received the essence first from ours a long time ago, I had to leave my wife and children in a way no man should. They thought I was dead. We went far away and lived with our dragons for a long time, it was peaceful and we never said anything, not even when King Alexander changed the ways. You see, most of our dragons were Chromatic. Only when your father, King Albert, fought against his for the rights of all dragons, did we come forward. It was in that time I learned of my great, great, granddaughter. She wasn’t royalty or from noble blood but she was just like you.”

  “So what you are trying to say is that we are related?”

  He nodded, “But keep it a secret. I could lose my head on this one.”

  My eyes rose.

  “I’m just joking.”

  I slapped him softly. “Don’t make jokes like that.” We both laughed. “So what do I call you?”

  “Call me what you mother did, Pappi.”

  “Pappi,” I smiled. “Will I ever see you again?”

  “In secret.”

  I nodded my head.

  He grabbed both my shoulders with his shaky hands. “You should go, and I promise you will hear soon from me.” He kissed me softly on my head.

  “Thank you, Pappi,” I said and left the old man in the dark. “Let’s go,” I spoke to Sir Robert.

  “What was that about?”

  I giggled. “You didn’t hear that?”

  “He had some blocking spell and I could only see his lips moving.”

  “He just told me that he was voting for me. He saw both my parents in me before he even knew who I was,” I lied, well not really, he had said that.

  Walking back, we found the carriage in no time.

  Constance and Master Longwei were waiting for us when we got back.

  “Where have you been?” Constance asked.

  “Nowhere,” I said.

  “I’m so sorry, Elena,” Master Longwei said.

  “Well at least they didn’t throw me off the bridge.”

  All three of them laughed, well Sir Robert smiled, but it was as close to a laugh as he would come tonight.

  “I will see them again when I find the proof.”

  Constance pulled me closer to her with her arm around my shoulder. “That’s my girl.”

  I laughed and the carriage took off again. I had a great, great, grandfather who happened to be one of the Ancients.

  If that didn’t count for something, I didn’t know what did.

  OR THE PAST couple of months I’d gone back to my old schedule. The one I’d had before I turned into a dragon.

  Everyone at Dragonia knew the verdict of my outcome. It was plastered all over the papers. I was a fraud. At least that was what most of the headlines said. I wondered if my father knew about this.

  Tabitha finally left me alone and there were no more threats or glares whenever I saw her.

  Arianna was a different story. She told everyone how she was deprived of her dragon. Tabitha didn’t like that one bit and I absolutely loved the fight they had right in the middle of the courtyard.

  It was funny how Arianna could wield her fire without a dragon, and I couldn’t even muster a puff.

  I still had so many questions, new ones that I didn’t know how to get answered without Blake. I forced it from my mind. He wasn’t my dragon anymore. Would he still turn dark? That was the one question that lingered on my mind.

  Summer break came faster than we’d all hoped for. My exams were a walk in the park now that I could speak and understand Latin fluently. The words looked foreign but they changed to English the minute I wanted to read them and it would come out as Latin even though I still heard English.

  If Blake wasn’t my dragon, then why could I speak Latin? I smiled. He was still my dragon, it didn’t matter if the Ancients stripped me of him. We were part of a dent and nothing would ever break that.

  I decided to stay the first three weeks of break with Sammy and the last few weeks with Becky. One day my Pappi sent a message via a crow. It scared the living crap out of me the first time I found Muffled inside our room at Sammy’s house. He was trained and danced on his one claw with another one in the air. It was only then that I saw the band across his leg. A small note scrolled up into a tiny holster was hooked on the band. I took it out, and to my surprise he waited.

  The note said that Pappi would visit me the last week before school started again. He wanted to show me something.

  “I think the crow wants something, Elena. He is still waiting.”

  I turned the note around, and saw in my Pappi’s handwriting. “Give the crow a note and a cracker.”

  I laughed. “He’s waiting for a reply and a reward. Can I have one of your crackers?”

  “Sure,” Sammy said and I scribbled a note. A crow, really, owls aren’t trained. I laughed at myself while I rolled up the note into a tiny scroll and put it back into the holster.

  The crow grabbed the cracker with his beak and flew off.

Sammy cleaned her hand on her shirt. “Humph, that’s something I didn’t think I’d ever see in real life. Who sent you post by crow?”

  “Post by crow,” I laughed

  “It’s something they did in the old days. They usually spoke the message because they are really easy to train to speak.”

  “Crows can speak?”

  “How didn’t you know that?”

  “Probably because I didn’t grow up with post by crow.”

  They both laughed. “Neither did we,” Becky said, “but we learned about it in primary school.

  I wondered on numerous occasions if mom had any other relatives I didn’t know about, who were still alive.

  I could have an entire family for all I knew.

  Sammy and I took a carriage to Elm around three. She still treated me the same, just a tad more special as she truly believed I was King Albert and Queen Catherine’s daughter. She tried to tell me so many stories but most of them were what she’d read in history books. I’d read all of those myself.

  During our first couple of days of break, Dean was there every day. He spoiled us rotten and George and Becky would always come with. I still missed Lucian and a small part of me even missed Blake’s mutt.

  When was he going to come back?

  Later that week, we spent the entire day at a theme park. There was nothing magical about it, just ordinary fun.

  After our day of fun, Dean dropped us back off at Sammy’s around five.

  We all entered Sammy’s house and found a man with brown hair and glasses having tea with Sir Robert and Isabel. She gloated as we walked in and the smile on her face made me curious.

  “Someone win the lottery?” Sammy asked.

  Isabel got up and came over to me. “Something like that. We might finally have proof that you are the princess, Elena.”

  “What!” I looked at her and back at the man who sat on the couch. He stood up and walked right over to me. He took a deep bow. “My name is Borgen Haulster. I’m a banker and a dragon living on the other side. I’m so sorry that I haven’t come sooner.”

  “It’s fine, what does this have to do with me?” I looked at Sir Robert who just stared into space with a cup of tea in his hands.

  “Sit, please. We have much to discuss.”

  “Mind if we stay?” Becky asked Isabel.

  “Make yourself at home.”

  I took a seat next to Borgen as Becky and Sammy took a seat next to her father. Dean and George made themselves comfortable on the floor.

  “Before my father died he spoke to me in private. He told me about a sacred vault. One that belonged to the king and queen. He never said why the king had a vault in Elm, he only told me that when the day came, I would know when to tell. Also, that I should forget about it, until that day came. I tried to keep tabs on what was going on inside Paegeia and I apologize for the four-month delay. I only learned about you a couple of days ago, and I knew immediately that this was the day my father spoke about. The vault is located below a theme park in Elm. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the squeaky old vampire tree?”

  “What!” Becky said excited. “That tree almost chomped my finger up.”

  “What?” I asked.

  The others started to laugh. “Becky is being a Drama Queen, Elena.” Sammy rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t chomp you, it pricks your finger for blood.”

  “It’s not a vampire tree, it’s the vault’s lock,” Borgen said. “The vault operates on DNA. It’s your chance to prove you are the princess, Elena.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “A drop of your blood can open the vault,” Becky said with huge eyes.

  I jumped up and paced up and down.

  “I thought this was what you wanted?” Becky asked and Isabel came to me.

  “What is it, sweetheart?”

  “What if it doesn’t open?” I said.

  “Then you aren’t who you say you are,” Borgen said.

  “Don’t you ever insinuate anything like that,” Sir Robert said.

  “I’m just answering Elena’s question.”

  “I am who I say I am.” I rubbed the inside of my palm hard. “I’m just scared, it’s been almost eighteen years.”

  “It will open, princess,” Borgen assured me.

  “Don’t call me that, please.”

  “Did you tell anybody else about this?” Sir Robert asked.

  “No one, yet.”

  “Elena,” Isabel looked at me. “There could be something in there that only your parents want you to see. Something tells me your mother knew exactly what your future was going to be like. She knew this day would come, and you would need the chance to prove to everyone that you are their daughter. Not just for them, but for Blake as well. He needs to dent still, Elena. He can’t do that if you are not his Dragonian.” She gave me her motherly smile. “That vault will open.”

  I nodded and she gave me a hug.

  “Make a fuss, and I mean a huge one, so that everyone that ever doubted her will be there,” Isabel spoke with a slightly harsh tone.

  “Consider it done,” Borgen said and stood up. “Will you excuse me? I have a lot of people to see.”

  VER THE NEXT few days the buzz around the secret vault of King Albert and Queen Catherine was plastered in every newspaper and every magazine with my face right next to it. King Caleb even spoke a couple of times over the TV, putting everyone at ease that the vault would not open.

  “What if it does open, your highness?” one of the reporters asked.

  He just lifted up his chin higher and smiled. His left eye twitched a bit. “I promise you, it won’t.”

  Sir Robert switched off the TV and stomped out of the room.

  “Hey, what’s wrong? This is good news.”

  “I know it is, I’m just scared.”

  “About the vault not opening?” Sammy raised her eyes.

  I shook my head. “About what will happen if it does. I’m not princess material Sammy. I wouldn’t know what to do with the title. I’ll be in the newspapers and magazines all the time, people will print bad things about me, and I don’t know if I can run a country.”

  “Then you can thank your lucky stars that my brother is amazing when it comes to the press.”

  She made me giggle.

  “Besides, you’re going way too fast, you need to slow down. Each day at a time. They won’t shove Paegeia inside your hands and say ‘there you go’.”

  I giggled. She sure had a funny way of saying things.

  “You are not alone, Elena. We are here, and when Blake comes back...”

  “If he comes back.”

  “He will come back. Then everything will be different.”

  I huffed. “He despises me Sammy.”

  “He’s just scared, Elena. He wasn’t always like that you know.”

  “So I keep hearing.”

  She huffed and I found her staring into space.

  “What is it?”

  “You know there is a foretelling about a love so strong that nobody will ever break it.”

  Lucian told me about this and I saw it that day when I was at the museum with Cheng.

  “My mom thinks it’s yours.”

  “He will never love me, Sammy.”

  “Don’t say that. You don’t know the Blake I do. He’s quite the charmer when he wants something, Elena.”

  I giggled again.

  “What if he never wants me?”

  “I never met a dent or heard of one that doesn’t. Besides stop thinking about tomorrow and live today.”

  “You sound like Lucian now.”

  “Well, he was bound to rub off on somebody.”

  I giggled again. “I love you so much, Samantha Leaf.”

  “And I you, princess.” She shook her head in a mocking way.

  “Now I know why Lucian hated that so much.”

  She giggled and we went to her room.

  I still slept on the mattress on the floor. I giggled, what type of
a princess was I going to be. One that sleeps on the ground and falls over her own feet, one that has absolutely no idea what a princess should be like. I wondered what was in the vault. It couldn’t be much. I sighed. It didn’t matter, just as long as I could get my dragon back and become who I should’ve been a long time ago.

  “You’ll see, tomorrow is going to be a walk in the park.” Sammy spoke in her sleep and I shook my head with a slight grin on my face. If only I had her confidence.

  DIDN’T DREAM LIKE usual that night. I understood a couple of my dreams but why I’d dreamt about me turning into the dragon that killed Brian was still a mystery. Isabel thought it had to do with the fact that I felt responsible for his death. She sure had good theories and I thought maybe I should go with that. I still dreamt about Cara though, dreaming about being a dragon. I missed her so much. I missed the sky, the wind soaring through my wings and against my scales.

  The next day we took an elevator to Elm. The protesters were there once again. This time their posters read “Proved you wrong once, we’ll do it again”. I didn’t answer any of the questions the reporters yelled at me.

  At Elm it was ten times worse, but closer to the theme park I had more support from people who did believe that I was who I said I was. An old lady put a necklace made of flowers around my neck. “You look just like your father, but you have your mother’s grace,” she said in a sweet tone and smiled a crooked smile.

  “Thank you,” I replied and was led away by Sir Robert. We met Borgen who spoke to the media in front of the themepark.

  My heart was thumping as I dreaded the moment we would have to open the vault. That vault hadn’t been opened for eighteen odd years, what if it never opened again? Would I be able to live like a normal person, to never feel the wind in my face or to glide through the air again?

  Lucille held my hand tightly in hers. “It’s going to be okay,” she whispered as we were led into a private area to wait for Borgen to finish with the press.

  Queen Margerite and King Helmut were waiting for us inside with Constance and Master Longwei.

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