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Thunderlight, p.32
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       Thunderlight, p.32

           Adrienne Woods

  “Maybe it’s not about Lucian being in trouble, maybe it’s the other way around.”

  “What do you mean, the other way around?”

  “It could be about us being in trouble. Maybe Lucian found something important and he wanted to give you a heads up,” Paul said practically. “You said it yourself, Elena, danger is near. Why else would I have found the Elementals so quickly?”

  I knew Paul could be right. Maybe Lucian had tried to warn us of danger coming our way. He didn’t look as if he was in pain. He looked frustrated because I couldn’t hear him. “You think the hippogriff might come back?”

  “It might.”

  “We should tell Master Longwei about the Elementals, Paul. About everything.”

  “Just give me a day or two. The Dusty and Tornado’s egg mixture are almost finished, and then we can take the Elementals to him.”

  I nodded my head.

  Paul tried his best to calm me down as I grew more concerned that danger might be coming our way and not Lucian’s. Still, I worried that he was wrong and that Lucian was facing death.

  He even told the others what he thought and Paul decided to let Dean in on our secret for Sammy’s safety. He wasn’t going to leave my side with the thought of a hippogriff lingering in the woods.

  The first time Dean saw the Elementals was more or less like the first time we saw them. He was over the moon and stared at all four of them for hours.

  At night I was still worried about Lucian and the fact that he hadn’t appeared yet made it worse.

  I lay on my bed with so many things swirled into my thoughts at the same time. Where was Lucian? What did he do? He was all alone on this quest to find the answer that could help Blake. Why was he doing this? Blake would turn, no matter what any of us were going to do about it. Eventually, Paul found his way in there too. What was our relationship going to be like? A part of me was crazy about Paul, but I loved Lucian. My heart ached if he wasn’t with me and I’d never felt so alone, even though I was surrounded by friends. I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do about all of this. Lucian never liked Paul and all of a sudden, before he left, he sort of told me that claiming a Wyvern might be cool.

  He just wanted one thing from me, to wait for him to return before claiming him.

  The date of Lucian’s foretelling jumped into my head. The 23rd of August. I was so glad that it wasn’t the 15th of July; then they would’ve all looked at me. It was my birthday.

  I finally fell asleep and when I found the top of the hill again, the dragon stood beside the Queen. Both of them were ordering me with their pointy fingers to go into the forest.

  I forced myself to wake up. Over the past few weeks I had really gotten good at it. Since I didn’t know what any of them wanted from me, I’d given up on finding the answers too.

  Becky’s bed was still empty. She and George had spent last night with the Elementals. I had to say, Paul was really smart and didn’t want to leave the Elementals alone for one minute, so our shifts had changed. We didn’t leave them after their feeding; we simply waited for the next group to get there. For the past three nights all of us took turns guarding the Elementals because we were worried they might be the reason why the hippogriff decided to come back.

  Lucky for us it was Saturday so we wouldn’t be missed too much.

  Paul and I had the two and four o’clock shift to feed and play with the Elementals. Becky and George were scheduled to come at six and stay with them until ten when Sammy and Dean would guard them over night. Tomorrow we would take them to Master Longwei.

  Around half past one, I met Paul in the cafeteria and we had lunch while we stole a couple of fruits and yogurts for both Kirby and Herby. The other two would be finished with their shell mixture tonight and they would have an early feeding tomorrow morning with real fruit before we showed them to Master Longwei.

  My stomach turned just thinking about the consequences of us hiding them from him.

  I took a huge breath as I zipped up the bag full of my food stash and found Blake dishing up. An urge to tell him about the cave jumped into my mind. I looked back and saw that Paul was still gone. “Look, I know you are not my babysitter, but Lucian asked me to tell you where I’m going if I leave with Paul.”

  He just gave me a blank stare. It made my stomach turn as his peacock blue eyes searched my soul like they had that night we almost kissed over the summer, if it hadn’t been for Sammy walking in on us. Again, he was drunk.

  I had to look away in order to carry on. “We are going to the cave that is past the lake,” I said and I left.

  I plunged down onto the pillow by our table and glanced back to Blake who placed his tray of food on the table hard. He dug immediately in. When I saw Paul, I got up and met him at the door.

  It was chilly outside and I hid behind Paul’s arm.

  “I could get used to this,” he said as he placed his arm around my shoulder and rubbed it hard.

  “Ha ha, if it wasn’t for the wind, I wouldn’t be hiding behind you.”

  “Thank you wind,” he said a bit too loud. I smiled thinking he was like my own little furnace as we walked through the frigid air. His body was always warm and I couldn’t help myself but to take his warmth and transfer it over onto my cold bones.

  We took extra precautions today and made sure that nobody saw us slipping to the cave. It took about twenty minutes longer than what it normally would with the strong wind blowing from the front.

  “You are really quiet today.” I looked at Paul.

  “I’m just on alert, Elena. If anything happens to you. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” He skipped over the first two rocks and held his hand out for mine.

  I looked at the sky it was grey and I silently hoped it wouldn’t rain today.

  He helped me up the slippery rocks to the entrance of the cave.

  “After you,” he smiled and I squeezed in through the opening. I was used to the dark of the cave and could see some of the outline of the first chamber. Paul lit the torch and led the way to the second passage that led to the cave with the pond. A light shown ahead and I could hear George and Becky’s voices speaking to one another softly.

  They jumped a bit as we entered the cave.

  “Right on time,” George said. “Is it raining yet?”

  “No, but if you hurry, you might miss it.”

  “Let’s go, I so don’t want to be wet,” Becky said as she held out her hand to George.

  “Enjoy,” George looked back at us as I dropped the pack on the floor.

  Paul waved and had a grin plastered on his face. We fed Dusty and Tornado first. When Paul took off his shirt to go into the pond, I looked away. I didn’t want to deal with more distractions and I thought about Lucian again.

  “Please, God, just let him be safe.”

  I could hear Paul getting into the pond and I listened to Kirby’s clicking sounds as he took her out.

  I started to make both of their meals with yogurt and watched as they lapped it up in a couple of minutes.

  “I don’t have any chocolate,” I said to Herby as he rubbed up against my knee.

  “You want to put Kirby back into the water? I don’t think she’s finished with her swim yet,” Paul said and I laughed as I took Kirby from his hands.

  The rocks were slippery as I crouched and climbed down them with Kirby lodged in my arms. Her talons dug into my shoulder as she held on.

  I held her just above the water and she glided into the pond.

  I smiled as I watched her paddle slowly to the other side.

  I gradually got up when I suddenly felt a rock falling onto my head. I looked up as my hand went to the spot where the rock had hit me and I put it in front of my face. Blood soaked my hands. I turned to where Paul sat with the Elementals and found him right next to me. He swung his hand fast and another blow hit me. My eyes rolled into the back of my head and everything around me turned to darkness.

  COLD DROP OF liquid fell onto my
cheek. The pain on my head was unbearable as I tried to open my eyes. I felt the flat hard surface against my back. A blurry image of the ceiling of the cave was right above me. I turned my head slowly and saw that I was laying on a big rock. I closed my eyes again as the images of what I saw were all blurred and mixed up.

  Paul? I tried to say his name and ask for help but then the image of him standing right next to me, and swinging his hand before I felt that final blow, flashed into my head.

  My eyes flew open as adrenaline rushed through my veins. I tried to get up but found shackles around my wrists and ankles.

  “What are you doing? It barely came out, but I knew he’d heard me, wherever he was.

  I pulled hard at the chains running from the shackles, but they were mounted into the cave’s floor. I looked around me and couldn’t see Paul, so I yelled out his name.

  “Pipe down, I’m not deaf, Elena.” He came from the Elemental’s pin that we had made them a couple of days ago. He looked different. Darkness reflected in his eyes and an evil glare and sadistic smile were plastered on his face. He had a dagger in the hand that touched the top of his head.

  He didn’t seem so sure about what he was doing, but then again that grin on his face made me think twice. He started to pace up and down in front of me.

  “What the hell is going on?” I said through clenched teeth. The Elemental dragons were clicking like mad. I didn’t like it.

  “Shut up! Before I skin you all alive,” he yelled in their direction.

  “Paul! You wouldn’t.”

  He chuckled, one I’d never heard before and an icy finger traced up my spine. Goose bumps flowed over my skin.

  “Let me….what….uhm… I don’t understand,” I said as none of the things inside my head made any sense. He was my dragon, he wasn’t evil and I had no idea what had gotten into him.

  He came closer to me and pulled the tip of the dagger against my cheek hard. I struggled to swallow as I kept staring at the dagger piercing hard against my skin, and my heart thumped like a bird trying to get out of a cage.

  Just breathe.

  “You were so easy to fool,” he said. “I have to admit, there was a time when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get close to you, because of Lucian. But once you told me how to make him trust me, it was just too easy. Thank you so much for that.” He smelled my hair and it was as if it put him on a trip.

  Save Lucian’s life. I remembered saying that to him. That had been a joke!

  I just stared at him as he got up and drew the dagger away from my face.

  It was silent for a minute and everything that had happened over the past two and a half months came back to me. “You were behind the attack on Dragonia?”

  He laughed, one that answered my question.

  “No, you killed some of them, I saw you.”

  “All wars have casualties, Elena,” he yelled like a mad-man. This wasn’t Paul. It just couldn’t be that sweet guy who had wanted me so badly. He made me upset as I thought about how many of people had died that night.

  “That wasn’t a war. That was sadistic, it was murder. Some of them were only teenagers!”

  His gaze shot back to me. “Don’t lecture me about murder.” His tone was hard. “When my brother died, it killed my father. My mother withered into nothing and my colony didn’t want to avenge him, take action. So I found a new family, one that wasn’t scared to do what it would take to get revenge,” he grunted.

  His brother? “My Pappy was the chief of the tribe….Paul’s voice from a couple months earlier played silently in my mind. “His father was the chief of a colony, he was too sick so he sent his oldest son…” Lucian’s explanation of when his sister had gotten killed came next.

  Paul started to laugh as he stared at me.

  “Wyland was your brother?”

  “Ta-da,” he yelled surprised and his arms flung open as he did a side step. “You finally get it. I thought that I had said too much that day when you wanted to know more about me, but it seemed you weren’t that clever after all.”

  “So you aren’t my dragon?” I said, betrayed was not a strong enough word to describe how I felt being shackled up like some beast.

  He smiled. “Nope, Wyverns don’t have riders, Elena. You should have listened to your friends.”

  I heard Cheng’s warning and remembered the horse ride.

  “How did you manage to get on that horse?”

  He started to sharpen his dagger on a piece of rock. “It was easy,” he tapped his head with his finger, the hand that carried the rock.

  “I am a telepath. Once you can hear people’s thoughts and put a couple of thoughts into them, it’s not hard to manipulate an animal to do what it doesn’t want to.”

  My skin crawled and I remembered how Ginger’s muscles had flinched that day.

  “I thought that horse ride would get rid of you, but I didn’t bargain on the stupid animal ridding back to the Academy. Once your little dragon friend suspected it was me, I knew she was going to be trouble. She’s got a strong admiration for the Elementals and as it was part of my mission to get them, I thought I would gain her trust that way.”

  “She didn’t even know about them. They followed us, remember?”

  He laughed again. “I can put thoughts into someone’s head, Elena. It’s not that hard to grasp. One thought was all it took for that Moon-Botl to see what you were up to.”

  “She’s got a name,” I grunted as an angry tear rolled down my cheek. I was so stupid. I should’ve listened to King Helmut, to Cheng, and screw that stupid foretelling.

  “Oh please, do share,” he said and I realized he’d just heard my thoughts.

  “It’s got absolute nothing to do with you,” I mumbled and he grabbed my head as I forced a song’s lyrics to play over and over in my mind. He stroked my forehead as if it was a crystal ball.

  “So many things you are hiding. Why?” he laughed. “Not that it matters. You are going to die soon; all of you are going to die soon.” He spoke softly. “If you knew what is coming your way, you would’ve thrown yourself off a cliff and done us a favor.” He stood up straight without taking his eyes of me and lifted up one hand. A bright smile flashed over his face as I looked at the golden chain hanging from his fingers. “You should thank Becky for this.”

  “You broke into our room? You couldn’t, you were with Professor Dickson.”

  He laughed but his lips were still shut. “Again, I’m a telepath. I only had to make him think I was with him. Easy peezy.”

  “Her father gave it to her before he died, please.” I didn’t know why I begged. He was a psycho and wouldn’t return it to Becky.

  “Ah-huh.” He shook his head. “You know how rare this is. When I saw it hanging from her neck, I knew immediately what it was. It makes my job a little bit easier.”

  “It doesn’t belong to you.”

  “Princess, I’m capable of murder. You think I care about a little thing like taking something that isn’t mine?” He took a seat on one of the boulders again and picked up the rock to carry on with sharpening his dagger.

  I closed my eyes, said a small prayer and opened them again.

  “Why me?”

  “Easy, you’re Lucian’s girl.”

  When he said Lucian’s name I knew immediately what he wanted to do. “You are doing this to get back at Lucian! Why? He didn’t kill your brother!”

  “No, his father did. And from what I heard via the creepers,” He laughed as the sound of steel sharpening against rock was starting to drive me nuts, but it quickly disappeared into a sad smirk. “He took his time and made Wyland suffer. Now it’s my turn to make him suffer.”

  “You are doing this to destroy King Helmut. Your brother killed his daughter.”

  He leaped over to me again. “No he didn’t. He was there to sign a stupid peace treaty, that was it Elena. He never bargained on falling for the Princess. But he did, and how was he paid for it? They killed him.”

cause he killed her!” I yelled again.

  “He didn’t,” Paul yelled back. “She was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

  “You really should get your facts straight, Paul. Wyland never wanted to have peace. He wanted to assassinate the king and his entire family. It didn’t go according to plan as Lucian walked in on your brother after he killed his sister. Your brother got what he deserved.”

  He pinned the dagger harder this time against my throat. “Take that back!” He’s mouth pulled down with strain. “They lied to you. It was a trap.”

  “I have no reason to doubt them. You told me yourself, you are evil. Evil isn’t capable of telling the truth,” I spit in his face and he closed his eyes. His jaw muscle clenched as he wiped my spit off with the back of his sleeve.

  When he opened his eyes he slapped me hard across the face. I could feel my chin becoming instantly inflamed and my skull felt as if it wanted to split in two.

  “It doesn’t matter what happened. I’ll still have my revenge for my brother’s life. Killing Lucian is the only thing that will kill the King.”

  “Lucian is not going to come back soon.”

  He laughed again. “Oh, Elena, Elena, Elena. Lucian knows you are in trouble. That was what he wanted to tell you, and you didn’t listen.”

  Lucian knows.

  “How do you know?”

  “It could be only that. He must have found something after all on that stupid quest of his; too bad that it was all for nothing.”

  “It’s not going to be for nothing,” I roared and yanked at the chains hard.

  He laughed again. “They won’t break, and no one will claim Blake, Princess.”

  “I’m not your Princess.”

  He chuckled again as he pinched his nose.

  “You made me sick too, didn’t you?” I asked.

  “Now that wasn’t me. I thought it would kill you; I loved every moment of seeing you in pain. It was really hard for me to hide it.”

  I remembered how the corners of his eyes had twitched when he asked me if I was in pain. How could I have been so stupid? The signs were always there.

  “I love your thoughts. It sucks now that you know the truth, doesn’t it.”

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