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       Firebolt, p.5

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “Lucian, Elena, Elena, Lucian, the prince of every girl’s heart and of Tith.” Becky gave him one of her million-dollar smiles.

  Lucian shook his head, faintly smiling back. “Nice to meet you, Elena.” He held out his hand for a shake.

  “You're a prince for real?” The words slipped out while I shook his hand.

  He replied with a quick nod and a huge smile that lit up his blue eyes. Then he took the seat next to Becky.

  “Lucian is the other frat boy.” Becky carried on teasing him, bumping him with her shoulder.

  “I'm not the other frat boy, okay. Blake is way above me."

  “My brother is a dick, Lucian, which makes him lose a thousand points and you gain a thousand just by having that cute smile.” Sammy flirted too.

  He lowered his eyes, embarrassed, and complained in a playful manner, which made the three of us laugh.

  I have to admit it made him hot. But after seeing Blake, it was going to be impossible to find anyone else sharing that kind of beauty.

  “So did you tell her yet?” he said.

  Sammy gave him the eye. “I'm trying too, but every time I get rudely interrupted.”

  They turned to me. “For heaven's sake just tell me.”

  “She can be feisty, I love,” Sammy said in a singsong tone and took my hand in hers again.

  “Elena darling,” she said. “As I was busy introducing myself─ and don't interrupt me again─ my name is Sammy Leaf, and I'm a Fire-tail.”

  It took a while for me to understand what she was trying to tell me. “Please tell me you're not a dragon.”

  They kept quiet, waiting for my next reaction.

  “Oh shit.” I heard Becky's voice as I turned into a pillar.

  Sammy still held a death grip on my hand.

  “Elena, don’t do this please. I need to go to Elm.”

  “Wait, Elm is on the line?” Sammy shrieked.

  “Maybe this was too soon.” Lucian's voice sounded far off.

  “Yes, but if she freaks out we don't go with them,” Becky answered Sammy.

  “Elena,” Sammy yelled. "You promised!" She slapped me across my face. Hard.

  “Sammy!” Becky and Lucian cried together, but the slap worked. She brought me back.

  I lifted my hand, motioning that I needed a minute to regain myself. Resting my head on my arms I took deep breaths and absorbed this new information. I should've seen that one coming. Dad was a dragon hiding amongst humans. The students nearby snickered.

  “Just breathe okay, I promise I won't eat you.” Sammy spoke with a soft, voice while gently stroking my back.

  “Sammy!” Becky and Lucian said together again.

  “What! She might think that.”

  I finally untangled my tongue. “So, basically you're everyday form is human.”

  “Except for class when I need to morph into a big ugly dragon,” she said with a raised lip.

  Becky and Lucian released their breaths.

  “You’re not ugly,” Lucian said in an admiring tone.

  "Maybe not to you, but to Elena I might be."

  “So no dragons are soaring through the sky?” I looked at Becky.

  “No, Elena. The dragons are all around you.”

  I looked at the other tables. Everybody had gone back to chatting and enjoying their meals, my little outburst from earlier already forgotten.

  I sighed. “I don't care what you are as long as you promise me you'll stay in this form.”

  She smiled and her dimples dented deep, just underneath her cheeks.

  “She's back,” Becky sang.

  “Welcome to Dragonia,” Lucian said as he picked up his tray and joined another table crowded with boys.

  “You're a dragon, for real?” I asked, and she nodded.

  “Can I come with tomorrow?” She begged both of us.

  “Well,you broke it to her, so I guess you're in,” Becky said.

  Sammy clapped her hands.

  “You're a dragon too?” I asked Becky.

  “No, Elena, I got the mark.”

  I had completely forgotten about the mark thing. “Who else are dragons?”

  “Easy. You can tell by the hair orthe color of their eyes. We have a mark too,” Sammy explained, and pulled down the back of her shirt to show me a mark on her shoulder. The sign curled up into flames. The ink was red, exquisite, and similar to a tribal sign. “Every species has a different one.”

  Constance's eyes popped into my head.“Wait, you said eyes.”

  “Yes, they're extraordinarily freaky.”

  “So Constance is a dragon.” It was weird thinking it, not to mention saying it out loud.

  “Julia too,” Becky chirped.

  “The nurse!”

  “Unless you know any other Julia,” she said.

  I’d spent a week with two dragons in disguise. They must have thought I was an idiot with the way I had behaved. I looked at the girl with the snow blonde hair. Becky and Sammy followed my gaze as I stared at Tabitha smiling and flirting with Blake.

  “Tabitha's a Snow dragon. They're white and the smallest of the dragons.” Sammy started to give me the breakdown. “The one next to her is a Moon-Bolt, his name is George. Do you see how blue his eyes are?”

  “Wait, he’s a blue dragon?” I remembered the dragon that had attacked us the night Dad died was sort of blue.

  "Yes, you get what I'm saying?"

  I looked at all the boys at Blake's table. One of them had red hair, the kind you dye for a carnival. Another one had bright green stripes mixed with his dark hair. Basically, everyone at that table had vibrant color in their hair or extra-ordinary eyes.

  “So this school is basically for dragons?” I asked as the name“Dragonia” popped into my head.

  “More or less,” Sammy said.

  “Then why are humans here with you guys?” I remembered what Constance told me, but what the hell did being special have to do with dragons?

  “We belong with them, Elena. Everyone who bears the mark is likely to become a Dragonian.” Becky told me the same thing Constance had. “And one day when I ascend, I'll make one of these bitches my own.”

  “You need to work harder on your fighting skills.”

  “Wait, what do you mean making one of these bitches your own? You're not talking about a dragon, are you?”

  “That's what Dragonians do, Elena, we ride them.”

  My stomach swirled now that I finally understood what Constance had meant. Images of humans on top of dragons popped into my head. I pushed them away when skies and clouds appeared. I hadn’t thought for one second that being a Dragonian meant riding a dragon.

  “Oh shit, Master Longwei didn't mention it?” Becky asked.

  I shook my head.

  “Urgh! He better make this trip to Elm so worth it.”

  “Elena, just breathe, okay, it's not an obligation,” Sammy said.

  I took another breath.

  “Unless you're part of a dent,” Becky replied, which brought back the worry.

  “Becky─”

  “What? She could be. Master Longwei said her mark is really dark, Sammy.”

  “What does that mean?” I asked.

  “The darker the mark, the more you'll do,” Sammy answered.

  I shook my head again. It wasn't what I wanted to hear.

  “Relax, deep breaths.” Sammy tried to calm me again. “You mean being part of a dent?”

  “Yes.”

  “If you're part of one you don't have a choice. You need to claim the dragon you belong with.”

  “They'll force you to,” Becky said.

  Are they nuts?

  “Why?” I sounded hysterical.

  “Because a dent is more than just a Rider and a dragon. They are soul mates,” Sammy explained.

  “I don't understand.”

  “If they're the same sex, they're called a Brother or a Sister Hood, which is the most common

  one. If opposite gender, they become
partners for life. The bond is unexplainable, but strong,and the kind that lasts forever. Dents are extremely rare.”

  “You mean as husband and wife.” My mind locked on the phrase “partners for life”

  “Lovers,” Becky said in a singing voice.

  Somehow, I managed to blush scarlet in the face of all this craziness.

  They both gasped.

  “Elena, are you still a virgin?”

  “I'm only sixteen, what do you think?”

  They looked around nervously.

  Becky leaned in to whisper. “Just watch out for Brian. He's a Sun-Blast.”

  I look at her; she might as well have spoken French, because I had no idea what a Sun-Blast or who Brian was.

  “There, the guy with the red hair. If he knows you're still intact, he'll do whatever he needs to deflower you.” Becky pointed awkwardly at a younger version of George Clooney. Why were they all so damn gorgeous?

  “Why would he do that?”

  “Sun-Blasts are obsessed with virgins. Humans used to sacrifice maidens to them just so they wouldn’t eat the villagers.”

  “What!”

  “It doesn't happen anymore. Besides, Master Longwei will cut off his balls if he even thinks about it,” Sammy assured me.

  “But he might try to charm your panties off, if you know what I mean.” The picture Becky put into my mind turned my face scarlet once again.

  What was it with this girl? She acted as if she was the bearer of bad news and enjoyed it. I got the picture though.

  “So basically what you're saying is my life is in danger unless I get laid?”

  They looked at me, before bursting into laughter once again at my expense.

  “Lucky for you, Brian is the only Sun-Blast here,” Becky finally reassured me.

  “So I take the Sun-Blast is red.” I remembered the red dragon, and shuddered as the same eerie feeling crept up my spine.

  They both nodded their heads.

  “They're fire breathers, like moi.”Sammy pointed at herself and puffed out her chest.“But we're nothing alike. Sun-Blasts can live in volcanoes, and my dad said they're able to handle the sun's heat. They also make their Dragonians rich, making them roll in it, if you get what I'm saying. I think it's the only reason the Dragonians go for a Sun-Blast before claiming a Fire-Tail. Sun-Blasts have built-in radars that constantly track and search for things of value.” Sammy babbled. “The only problem is, they're extremely vile and have bad tempers. A bitch to claim one too.”

  “What do you mean by claim one?”

  “Claiming is a term we use for the event where a Dragonian tries to break in a dragon. If the Dragonian can't beat the dragon he or she faces, the Dragoniancan try again at a later stage. It's better to wait until you’ve ascended.”

  “Ascended?”

  “The humans with the mark will gain an extra ability around their seventeenth birthday. Some are later while others could ascend much earlier than expected.”

  "But not likely." Sammy interrupted.

  I guess she saw the terrified look on my face again.

  Becky gave her the eye and carried on as if Sammy had never spoken a word. "Whether you can handle a fire's heat or toxic gas, no one knows. Only then will you know which dragon you can claim."

  'A freak you mean.' I sighed. "Is your brother a dragon too?"

  "Oh no, girl, erase him from your mind," Becky said.

  Before I could protest Sammy spoke. "Yes, my brother's a dragon too, but he's the only one of his kind. He's called a Rubicon. Only one lives at a time otherwise they'd annihilate this world. He's both Metallic and Chromatic which as you might guess causes a lot of problems. The last Rubicon died a thousand years ago and Blake was born nine hundred and eighty-one years later."

  “Wait a metal and chrome what?” I asked clearly confused again. It would take me forever to get this all straight.

  Thankfully, Becky came to my rescue with one of her dragon crash courses. She explained that the Chromatics were the basic evil dragon, bent on destruction and that sort of thing, but this dark side could be overcome once they were a part of a dent. There were five classes in total; I would have to remember to have her write those down so I could steer clear. The Metallic dragons, like Sammy, were not overcome by their darker desires, and stayed pure. They were generally friendly, helpful, and kind towards humans making them much more welcome.

  "But how can he be a Rubicon and you a Fire-Tail?" I think that was what she called herself.

  "Um, it's hard to explain."

  Disappointment rushed over me, these were the things I needed to know, but it was too much to understand in one hour.

  "What can he do?" I asked.

  "Everything, from healing broken bones to spitting acid. We'll learn about his Anatomy in the second year."

  "So his rider─"

  "Blake doesn't have one," Becky interrupted.

  "Why not?"

  "Because his true Dragonian doesn't exist. Another long story and one we'll tell you about later," Becky said.

  "Elena, you're going to be fine." Sammy saw right through me. "The only things you need to know are that magic and dragons exist."

  “And that Sammy talks way too much,” Becky chirped.

  “Oh shut your trap,” Sammy snapped back playfully.

  “You must see her pucker when she's a dragon.”

  “This pucker can light your ass on fire, missy.”

  I laughed at their playful bickering. It reminded me of Dad, the times when he was normal. A horrible emptiness filled my heart once more.

  “Hey,” Becky said. “We’ll help you.”

  I smiled. Tears lurked behind my eyelids.

  Becky glanced at her watch and slowly got up from the table.

  Sammy followed and took my tray, along with her empty one.

  I got up. My legs felt as if I had pushed tree stumps. I hated that I hadn’t eaten any of my food and it was going to land up in the bin.

  Sammy dropped our trays at the drop-off zone, and the bell rang. “See you later,” she said, and disappeared around the corner.

  Becky started to laugh as she saw me walking like a stick figure. She pulled me by my arm.

  “Is Sammy really a dragon?” I asked.

  “Yeah. Fire-Tails are babblers, but they're also the kind of dragon you can ask to incinerate a body when in need.”

  As we turned the corner to make our way to our next class I walked straight into something hard. It was him.

  I froze.

  Chapter Six

  How did the dragon find me? Matt said they were all dead. I should've run but my feet were rooted to the ground. My heart pounded painfully as the warmth of the dragon's fishy breath blew over my skin. Goose pimples rippled across my flesh. Pulling on my frozen legs with my last ounce of strength they finally gave way. My feet were now able to move. I lurched forward in retreat, stumbled, and landed flat on my ass.

  As much as I wanted to look away, I couldn't. My eyes were locked in terror on the scaly blue beast standing before me. I tried to scream, but nothing came out. My voice was gone. The dragon roared while stomping it’s feet. The ground rumbled shaking me violently in the quake.

  A tear rolled down my cheek. My gaze locked with its beady eyes. They were dark like rippling pools of onyx. As I stared deeper and deeper into their murky depths, I could feel myself drowning.

  “Dammit, George, this isn't funny!” Becky screamed right next to me, bringing me sharply back to reality. Everything began to move again slowly, as if in that moment time had stood still. Someone whistled loudly in the distance, and the blue dragon looming in front of me turned around and lumbered away in the opposite direction. Laughter echoed off the walls and I couldn't tell if it had just started or was just dying out. Regardless, I could feel my face blush a harsh crimson in my embarrassment.

  I coughed again as the strong antiseptic smell so commonly found in hospitals burned my nose. Humid air clung to my face, making my flushed
skin feel hot and sticky. Beads of sweat rolled lazily down my spine making me shiver.

  “I'm so sorry, Elena,” Becky said, sounding terrified as she crouched beside me.

  “What happened?” Lucian finally reached us and helped Becky get me back onto my feet, shaky as they were.

  “Elena, are you okay?” Becky asked, concern filling her voice.

  “What happened?” Lucian demanded this time and shook Becky.

  “It was George!”

  He grunted with agitation. “Which way, Becky?” he asked, determination punctuating every syllable.

  She pointed in the direction George had run. I watched Lucian disappear through the mass of people gawking in the hall, until I could no longer see the broad lines of his back.

  “Elena, please snap out of it,” she begged, while a couple of students stood there staring and chattering to each other as if I had lost my marbles. “There's nothing to see, go to your classes!” she yelled, trying to disperse the crowd.

  “Why did George do that?” I managed to say, my voice breaking.

  She grabbed my neck and pulled me into a tight hug, stemming the tears threatening to expose my fear to the entire hall.

  “It’s a stupid prank, Elena. I told you those guys are jerks!” She led me back to the cafeteria, slowing her stride to match my hesitant steps.

  “Where are you taking me?”

  “To Master Longwei.”

  “No, please, Becky. I will be fine,” I begged.

  “Elena, are you sure?” she asked with reservation in her voice.

  “Yes, take me to the room, please.” My eyes pleaded her to listen.

  The second we crossed the threshold, I felt the vomit rising in my throat and made a run for the bathroom. I barely made it to the toilet before I hurled. My body was wracked with painful dry heaves as it tried to expel the adrenaline that had been pumping through my veins. This was stupid. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. Rising not very gracefully from the porcelain bowl, I got up, walked over to basin, and turned on the tap full blast. The girl looking back at me in the mirror looked terrified. Strands of blonde hair shielded her face from the harsh glare of the lights. Hints of fear still remained in her light green eyes, and she trembled slightly. I closed my eyes and the horrified expression on the face in the mirror disappeared, replacing it with the image of the blue dragon.

 
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