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       Poison, p.5

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  Sammy found me a couple of minutes later, wanting to give me another shot but I couldn’t drink another one, so she drank it for me and pretended that it was me who’d finished it. I laughed at her as she cheered, and the others inside cheered too. I gave her a smile and was super glad that she’d left me sitting there for a little while longer. When she came out again, she had a bottle of water in her hands.

  “You’ll be fine.” She smiled.

  “How can any of them like this? I hate this feeling. My head is spinning, my body feels weak…” I started to laugh. “And for some reason everything is funny.”

  She laughed with me. “It’s frawsome, isn’t it.”

  I laughed again and watched her go back inside.

  The water felt nice, it kept my throat moist and I watched the stars again. They felt so close by, I felt as if I could reach them, but when I tried, I touched nothing.

  I giggled to myself and shook my head slightly, hoping that it would push everything back into place.

  “May I?” Emanuel’s voice came from right next to me. I looked at him without lifting my head from the sofa and nodded.

  He chuckled as he sat down right next to me.

  “The party is too crowded for you?”

  I laughed. “No, the alcohol is.”

  “You’re eighteen, Elena, and I promise you, nobody will bother you here.”

  I gave him the look. “The cockroaches are everywhere, but tonight I don’t care,” I said confidently.

  “That’s the spirit,” he said and leaned back to watch the stars too.

  It was quiet for a while.

  “Can I ask you a question?” I broke the silence.

  “Sure,” he said.

  “How old are you?”

  He chuckled again.

  “Extremely old,” he replied.

  “C’mon, I didn’t faint when Master Longwei told me his age.”

  “I’m almost four hundred years old.”

  “Jeez, you are old,” I joked and we both laughed. “So how did you meet King Helmut?”

  “You really want to know that?” He looked at me and I turned my head and looked at him too. “You should be in there.” He pointed at the room where all my friends danced, laughed and drank. “Enjoying your party not asking about dragons and their riders.”

  “I’m curious, besides you said that where you come from you do whatever the birthday girl wants . . . to . . .do.” I giggled. “Okay those were not entirely your words but you get what I’m implying here.”

  He laughed and nodded. “Okay, it was around the time your father claimed Sir Robert. Your grandfather wasn’t very fond of the Chromatics and still saw us as a huge threat. To be honest, we were,” he said in a soft voice. “I guess we just couldn’t see a truce the way the Metallics did.” He huffed and I could see he was thinking about a memory. “Your grandfather captured me. I was a bit of a loner and had no idea how to shift into my human form yet. It wasn’t normal for Chromatics then. He kept me in his dungeon and of course didn’t know about your father’s affection toward all dragons or the fact that he’d already tamed a Night Villain for that matter. So when rumors started spreading that the king had a Sun-Burst in his dungeon, your father and friends had to see it for themselves.”

  He sat up and leaned with his arms on his knees, supporting his weight. Then he looked over his shoulder back at me, smiled and looked back to the deck. “I don’t remember much, but I do remember how angry I was. It was the first time in my life that my blue flame couldn’t melt the bars of my cell, the first time I couldn’t free myself, I felt so trapped.”

  “I know the feeling, just not the way it happened to you,” I said.

  “We should’ve known Elena, there is no excuse for that.”

  “It’s over now.” I smiled at him. I sat up straight but my head felt too heavy so I leaned back again.

  He laughed softly at me when I playfully punched him on the shoulder. “You should never laugh at a princess when she’s wasted.”

  “Are you wasted?”

  “Almost,” I laughed again. “So what happened?”

  He leaned back into the sofa and looked up at the stars again. “I remember being there for quite a long time, but Helmut told me afterward that it was only two days.” He smiled. “Time for us is different than for humans. I struggled to trust them, it wasn’t normal for dragons to trust humans. Nothing they did could make me trust them, until one day when I saw the blue flame inside Helmut’s hand.”

  “Your flame?”

  “Well, I’m not his dent, but I trusted that.”

  “So he ascended before he met you?”

  Emanuel nodded. “They still didn’t know about the mark thing. I couldn’t imagine what Helmut must have gone through when he started to gain his flame, but then again he came from a long line of really great magic wielders and thought it was that. There was no other explanation at that time.” He smiled again. “Still your father and all their friends kept Helmut’s fire a secret.”

  “I wish I knew them the way you did.”

  “Elena if I was a Crown Tail, I would show them to you, but I’m not.”

  I huffed knowing that I’d been right about Cheng that day I’d been so angry, so evil. He could show people things just by a mere touch, but how it all worked, I had no idea.

  “When King Helmut started speaking to me in Latin, not well I might add, but well enough for me to understand, I discovered my human form and that was how they freed me.”

  “You walked out of my grandfather’s dungeon as a man?”

  He nodded. “Even passed him and he had no idea.”

  “And that is how you became his dragon?”

  Emanuel roared with laughter. “It’s not that easy, Elena. I thought you’d learned that by now.”

  “Then tell me.”

  “It was the first time I met him, but he let me go. The second time was during war. We heard of this small militia that was fighting for us to be free, to stop the slaughter and to see us as dragons too, the way they did with the Metallics. Our paths crossed again and somehow through ten Sun-Bursts, Helmut knew exactly who I was. He came up to me, talked to me in Latin, this time fluently, and begged us all to fight with them, in our human forms. So my brother and I went, and a couple of others, there weren’t many as we didn’t trust humans. We saw Paegeia as the world of the dragons, and felt that no humans should’ve been here.”

  “That’s when you became his dragon?”

  “No, I only became his dragon when he was busy dying. It was during the great and final battle. The war lasted for about five years. We were many but not as many as King Louis and his army. A spear struck Helmut and went through his body. That was when they realized that they were fighting against their children and the war stopped. With his last dying breath, something just hit me. It was a feeling I’d never had before, and I knew this world would’ve been empty without this man, so I gave him my essence.”

  “Wow, just like that. Did you know it would work?”

  “It’s something we always knew but it was seen as an abomination. It was against dragon law. I lost everything the minute I did it, my brother, my colony, and I became from that moment on, Helmut’s dragon.”

  “Unbelievable,” I said and it became quiet again. “Have you ever wondered if you had a dent out there?”

  “It never crossed my mind, but I do know all dragons have dents.”

  “What?”

  He smiled again. “It’s not as rare as you think, Elena. The problem with that is that our true rider could’ve died before we were even hatched. We don’t grow old as humans do, it take’s thousands of years before a dragon dies, so I took it that mine must have died before I was ready for any of this.”

  “You never felt cheated that you were robbed of something like that?”

  “No, Helmut is really good to me, and when the dark gets too much, he cries harder than I do.”

  “How often does he have to do that?”


  Emanuel chuckled. “In the beginning, it was regular, but the older we get, the less I need it. It’s been five years now, and to be honest, I haven’t felt a pinch of evil in me yet. I usually tell him when I need it, but he knows when I do.”

  “Wow, I’m glad George is Becky’s dent. I don’t think she would ever be able to do that to him.”

  “Not everyone has the stomach for it.”

  I fiddled with my hands, dreading a question I really wanted to know. “Did my father …”

  “He claimed a Night Villain, Elena, and did it without being born with the mark. Your father was a remarkable man, but Night Villains are not the most well-tempered dragons. They are more evil than Sun-Bursts. Yes, your father beat him, but afterwards we wouldn’t see either of them for days. He didn’t love it that much.”

  I didn’t want to tell him about that night I heard Sir Robert beating Blake. It was horrible and I still had nightmares from time to time.

  “On a lighter note, I never can imagine my life without Helmut or Maggy.”

  I smiled. “Speaking of her, when did you give her the essence?”

  He laughed. “You know about that too?”

  “I figured that much. There is no sign of a dragon in her life or that there ever was, so the only way she could get the essence was from you. She speaks of you highly too, tells everyone you are going to incinerate them if they don’t do what she says.”

  He laughed. “That is Maggy.” The laughter stopped and he smiled as he stared to the deck again, then he looked up at me. “It was hundreds of years before Dezi and Lucian. She was hit by the Avira plague, one that I doubt humans on the other side know, or maybe you do but you have another name for it. Constance would heal her every time, but it would come back. The last time she refused, she said she couldn’t take the pain of Constance’s healing and that she was tired. I couldn’t bear to see Helmut without her, so one night when he fell asleep next to her bed, I went to her. Her breathing was so shallow and she was soaked in sweat. I took Helmut to his room. He was so tired, and scared that he would have to live without his queen.

  A nurse attended her at that time and I asked the nurse to give me a minute with her. She woke up as I was unbuttoning my shirt.” He laughed again. “You should’ve seen the look on her face.”

  I laughed too. “She thought something else.”

  He nodded. “I told her that my essence would help her, heal her and protect her from the virus. At first she didn’t want it, but when I told her about Helmut needing her, needing an heir from her, and that there was no other for him…I could see it in her eyes that she knew I was speaking the truth. She nodded weakly and I gave her my essence.”

  I frowned. “What does it entail? I mean how do you give them your essence?”

  “I’m scared if I tell you, you will jump off this boat and take your chances with the livaworm again.”

  I laughed at him. “Not likely. Things about Paegeia don’t seem to have that effect on me.”

  “Fine, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He opened his shirt and I now knew what Queen Margerite had felt. “Elena!”

  “What, I’m sorry. I …” We both started to laugh. “I can tell you now exactly what she felt.”

  “Well it’s not like that,” he said and grinned.

  “Okay.” I sat up straight and pulled myself together. “Then how is it?”

  He shook his head, with a grin still plastered on his face and carried on with unbuttoning his shirt.

  Then he pulled the left side open and I saw a thin line over a bulky chest. I finally got what he was trying to tell me.

  “You have to give them a piece of your heart.”

  “You are smart.”

  “How?” I shook my head trying to imagine it.

  “It’s not easy, as Swallow Annexes can’t heal dragons. Sure they can try but for some reason it’s not as effective on dragons as it is on humans. It takes ages, and we’ve discovered that the normal needle and thread works faster than the Swallow Annexe’s touch. King Helmut used to have his own Swallow Annex but that story is not the proper one for tonight’s festivities.” His face fell on the last part and I knew who he was referring to. I’d learned about who King Helmut’s Swallow Annex was. Her name was Sarafina, Lucian had told me about her, and she’d become Goran’s dragon.

  He looked at me again and gave me a soft smile. “You ready for the next part?”

  I laughed again and nodded. “We have to plant it into the human, next to their heart. The piece of our heart than attaches itself, changing the entire body, giving it new life, and slowing everything down, they grow as old as we do. But they can die, just like us. Beheaded or a bad injury. Swallow Annexes can’t heal them after a dragon has given their rider the essence, it’s as if they are part dragon. So they should stay clear of the things that can kill them.”

  “Wait, what?”

  Emanuel laughed again. “They can only heal humans, Elena. Not dragons or humans with dragon parts in them.”

  “I never knew that,” I said while looking at the scar near his heart. He was so brave, so selfless to do that for her, she wasn’t even his rider. If I knew nothing about Emanuel, that would be enough to know what kind of a dragon he was. I could feel and see myself getting closer to him and struggled to breathe as our lips lingered inches from one another. His hand touched the side of my face softly and he let out a deep breath through his nose and pushed me back gently.

  “I can’t do this,” he said and swallowed hard.

  “Sorry, I shouldn’t…” I tried so hard not to break my voice or sound hurt but I failed.

  “It’s not that, Elena,” he huffed with a soft smile and then he breathed.

  “Then what, is it your age? ‘Cause you don’t look three hundred years old.”

  “Don’t please, you are really making it so hard for me.”

  My eyebrows knitted hard. I didn’t understand.

  “Age means nothing in Paegeia. It’s not that, and it’s not that you are the princess either. I would do anything to find someone like you, but I can’t.”

  “King Helmut?”

  He chuckled again and groaned softly. “No, it’s not Helmut either. He would be happy if I did find someone.”

  “Then what, because I don’t understand any of this?”

  “Elena, you have no idea how hard this is.” He swallowed hard again but regained his thoughts and opened his mouth one more time. “I liked you ever since I saw you hiding beneath Lucian’s jacket that first time I had to get you out of the Gallery.”

  “That was you?”

  “Lucian always asked me for help when he felt threatened or in danger, and I never thought twice about giving it to him too, if that was what he wanted,” he said. “I’m being selfless right now, and you have no idea how hard that is. I can’t because you will break my heart when Blake finally dents.”

  My entire face fell as he said that word. Anger boiled inside my throat and tears threatened to spill. “Blake?” I said his name through clenched teeth.

  “Elena.”

  “He doesn’t want anything to do with me Emanuel. I’m sick and tired of waiting for Blake to dent. He’s never going to,” I said with too much passion and wanted to get up but Emanuel touched my arm softly and pushed me back down.

  I closed my eyes as emotions of rejection and anger mixed up inside my core, again all because of this stupid arrogant jerk of a guy. I really wanted to cry, but not in front of Emanuel.

  He touched my chin softly with his finger again and forced me to look at him. “I wish it was different.” He looked straight inside my eyes. “But I’ve known Blake his entire life, Elena. You are wrong about him not wanting you. He will and if I don’t stop this right now, I will stand in his way and that is the last dragon I want to fight. I would, for you, at any moment, but I promise you, you wouldn’t want me to.”

  I closed my eyes again and started to chuckle. “This is so unfair.” I buried my eyes in my
palms.

  “I know it is, but at least you have someone in your future. For me, there is only one girl like you every thousand years or so.”

  He pulled me into his chest and gave me a hug.

  “He will come to his senses, Elena. If he doesn’t, I promise I will make him see what he doesn’t see.”

  I giggled but it sounded more like defeat. “Yeah, there is only one problem with that. He won’t. He’s way too stubborn for it.”

  He grimaced and winced. “I’m going now.” He stood up. “Before I do something I will regret one day, and I like you too much to hate you, Elena,” he whispered.

  The door opened up and Becky came waltzing out. She stared at Emanuel’s open shirt and arched her eyebrow.

  “It’s not what you think,” I said and Emanuel just shook his head as he walked with huge strides past her.

  “Ah-huh,” she said following Emanuel with her eyes until he disappeared around the corner.

  She waggled over to me. As drunk as a skunk, my father used to say. I still didn’t know where that saying came from. She fell onto the couch with me. “Please tell me you are going for that?”

  I shook my head. “I can’t go for that because of what I went for in the ring.”

  One side of her lip lifted slightly and she huffed. “Blake? Seriously? That’s why he doesn’t want to?”

  I blew out a deep breath. “The story of my life. I have a dragon that doesn’t want me and because of who he is, no one will ever want me.”

  “It is so unfair.”

  “Tell me about it.”

  “He sure is one hell of a hot guy. I thought I was going to die this afternoon.”

  “Becky!” I scolded her as I saw George watching us through the window, obviously hearing everything she said.

  He threw his head back and roared with laughter. “He’s not jealous?”

  “That sucks too.” She closed her eyes and leaned with her head on the edge of the couch. “Something about feeling my emotions. It’s something you and I have in common.”

  I frowned and watched her with eyes still closed. “What do you mean something we have in common?”

  The muscles on her face relaxed and her eyelids stopped pouncing.

  “Becky!” I shook her again. “Wake up. What do you mean?”

 
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