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       Firebolt, p.7

           Adrienne Woods
 

  Why does he have to be so damn gorgeous? I pulled on the collar of my T-shirt in a rhythmic beat, hoping the pathetic excuse for a breeze would make the hot flashes Blake brought on, disappear.

  “Dad is going to hear about this,” she said threateningly.

  His smile vanished. “It was a joke, Samantha!”

  She spun around to face him. “A joke? Larry and Brent went to the bar is a joke, Blake, not what you and George pulled off this afternoon.”

  His eyes twitched and he glared at me.

  Great, now the hottest guy in school thinks I'm a loser.

  “Didn't you hear what Master Longwei said about Elena that night? I guess not, you were probably too busy thinking about Medusa's naked body.”

  Tabitha's eyes narrowed and she lunged at Sammy, but Blake pinned her against the wall with one strong arm.

  “I'm going to kill you, Samantha. Your mouth is way too big.”

  “She's not worth it, Babes, calm down,” Blake said soothingly. He whispered something in her ear, and her smile returned.

  “At least I'm not a coward,” Sammy chirped.

  “Sammy,” Becky said through clenched teeth.

  Tabitha's jaw muscles tightened viciously as we turned and walked away.

  “Oh c'mon, Becky, she deserves that. Isn’t it enough that I have to be nice to her whenever we go home?”

  “Tabitha goes with you guys?” It slipped out.

  Sammy curled up her lip and rolled her eyes. “He only wants her for one thing.”

  “They're an item now.” Becky's eyebrow arched.

  “Who cares?” Sammy said.

  “You didn't have to do that, Sammy.”I felt terrible at the way he’d looked at me, and for his father finding out what he had done.

  “No, I had to,” she said. “The day my brother forgets what consequences mean, is the day it's too late.”

  Becky gave her a one-armed hug. “I'll try to claim him too if you want me too?”

  “Honey, you're good with a sword and a shield, but your skills are nowhere near good enough to tame my brother.”

  “I said try, but by the tone of your voice you can forget about my offer.”

  Sammy kicked Becky's butt playfully and bumped her softly. “I love you, thanks for trying to make me feel better.”

  The two girls acted as if they already shared a sisterhood.

  “Why did you call Tabitha a coward?” I asked, still confused about what I had just encountered.

  Well except for the part when Blake got me all hot and bothered.

  She sighed. “I'm probably going to hear it from my mom. ‘Metallic dragons are better than back biting, Samantha Leaf’,” she mimicked with a strong British accent.

  We laughed.

  “Snow dragons are the biggest cowards,” Becky said. “When the going gets tough, well, they usually go poof, but I have to give it to her, she's one smart cookie. She does Blake's homework for him on a daily basis.”

  “Urgh! My brother is just lazy.”

  “Did Master Longwei really tell you guys about me?” I asked quietly.

  “Oh, Elena, your arrival was the biggest excitement this school had in years. Master Longwei had to say something,” Sammy said.

  Great, just what I needed. Let's pity the new kid who lost her Dad.

  We exited the doors that led to the dome, and I cringed as I caught sight of more steps.

  “Hop on my back.” Sammy crouched in front of me.

  “Sammy, no, it's fine,” I said, looking at her ridiculous posture.

  “C'mon, Elena, I won't let you fall. Promise.”

  “Fine.” I gave in and climbed onto her back.

  Maybe it was a good thing Sammy carried me down the stairs, otherwise, I would have probably ended up breaking a leg or something.

  When she reached the bottom, she released me.

  “So, Elena, what's happening on the other side?” Sammy asked quizzically.

  I figured after they had told me so much, it was only fair to tell them everything. I told them about Dad, even though the tears still lurked in the corner of my eyes and my heart still felt raw every time I thought of him. They gasped when I mentioned how many times I had to move because of Dad's paranoia. They didn't understand why, and I didn't have the answers to make them.

  In return, Sammy told me more about the Dragons, with Becky's skillful interruptions whenever she felt Sammy's explanations lacked color.

  Sammy hated every single one of Becky's interjections and glared at her constantly. I didn't care. My ears were glued to what both of them had to say. The Night Villain was black and breathed acid; even his saliva could burn a hole right through a shield. I met the Sun-Burst, and they called the green dragon a Green-Vapor. They had the ability to lie through their teeth and owned the gift of persuasion. They were also chlorine breathers.

  We took the path that wound past the Parthenon Dome and walked to a forest with rocky mountains in the distance. I laughed when Sammy said a young Moon-Bolt, like George, would get banned from casinos, because Moon-Boltscould predict the dealers’ cards. Her hands moved wildly through the air as she spoke. I wondered if they were tied up, would she be able to still speak. Nevertheless, I couldn't take my eyes off her.

  Suddenly, I slammed into Becky, who stopped walking in front of us.

  “Sorry, Elena. I didn't think anyone would be here,” Becky apologized.

  I looked at what she was staring at and saw two dragons. They were big. One of them had a bronze shimmer to his skin, and the other one had a silver glow with huge swallow-shaped wings.

  “It's a Crown-Tail and a Swallow Annex,” Becky whispered.

  The dragons stared back at us and the silver one bowed its head in my direction. My heart thumped again.

  “What are they doing here?” I asked nervously.

  “They come here to be in their true form.” Becky grabbed my arm and pulled me back the way we had come.

  “Are they students?” I asked. Both nodded.

  “It's Becky's and my sanctuary. We love the trees, and there's a nice spot by the lake where you can clear your mind. Sometimes I help Becky to improve her fighting skills,” she explained.

  “What do you mean?”

  “Fight, Elena. Sometimes Sammy is my sparring partner.”

  “In my dragon form,” Sammy added, which gave it a whole different meaning.

  “Are you insane?” I shouted.

  Becky laughed. “C'mon, what do you think Sammy's going to do. She can't even hurt a fly.”

  “Oh yeah? Remember that when I light your ass on fire next time,” she warned.

  We turned around and went back to our room.

  When I got inside, I couldn’t stop staring at my bed. “So, what's going to happen if the other girl comes back?” I asked, scared Master Longwei might chuck me out of Dragonia Academy.

  “Vicky?”Sammy fell on the couch.“I don’t think she will be back any time soon. Sometimes a quest takes up to a year in order to figure out what your destiny is.”

  “Especially the way the Viden predicts them.” Becky opened the fridge door.

  Sammy gave her the glare she had been giving whenever Becky interrupted her.“She's a Crown-Tail, and on a self-discovery quest.”

  “What's a self-discovery quest?” I remembered Becky mentioning that term earlier, while I sat on one of the other couches.

  “Sometimes the Viden sees something that leads to a self-discovery quest. She'll see something that you must find. Whether it's something emotional or hidden, we can't choose. I don't know what she has seen with Vicky, but I remember the state she was in when she came back,” Sammy said.

  “Vicky disliked the Viden very much. She hated her even more after the day she got her foretelling, but we are obligated to see her at least once a month. Do you remember how obsessed she got?”

  Sammy nodded.

  “She spent most of the time in the library, just searching. When she started to miss classes, Master
Longwei forced her to go on a self-discovery quest and she was ordered not to return until she found whatever she was looking for."

  “They let you go on quests alone?”

  Becky tossed us each a soda and sat down next to Sammy.

  Sammy nodded.

  I didn't like the way they forced things here, and after all these stories, I sure didn't look forward to meeting the Viden.

  While we sat there sipping our sodas, Sammy explained how a self-discovery quest took weeks to plan. You had to do a whole statement, explaining the reasons you wanted to go. The members of the Academy board arranged a meeting and decided if the reasons were valid enough for a full fund and whether you absolutely needed to go.

  After this started to border on tiresome, the conversation switched over to dragons again. I listened in awe as Sammy explained, in detail, the rest of the Metallic ones. The Crown-Tail had bronze colored skin, and most of them went into law, they hated cruelty and loved the human race. She said that a lot of them disappeared the night of King Albert's death. The Copper-Horns, like Dad, loved telling jokes, riddles, and pranks, but the good clean kind, not what George had pulled earlier. The best part of what she told me was that Chef was a Copper-Horn too. They were also one of the Big Three, the largest of all the dragons. The Night Villain and Sun-Burst were the others. The Swallow Annex was silver and loved to fly. They had the biggest wings of all the dragon species and resembled the shape of a swallow. I felt proud remembering the wings were the first thing I noticed when we found them this afternoon. They had the ability to heal human injuries.

  I was told this was why Constance had gone into medicine. She was the best of Paegeia's doctors, which made her the head of the Health Association and a Council member, but she devoted her time to the academy. Becoming a member of the Council was Becky’s biggest dream.

  “Can I ask you something, Sammy?”

  “Shoot.”

  “How's it that you are a Fire-Tail, but your brother is the Rubicon?”

  They both giggled, but I was used to that by now.

  “Let me think.” She frowned while staring at the carpet as if the answer were written in the kinky fibers.

  “Use cats, they have cats on the other side,” Becky said, looking for a way to explain it so that I would understand.

  “Cats can work. You know when a litter of kittens is born, not one looks the same? It's the same with dragons. You never know what you might get until they're hatched.”

  “I still can't believe that you were born out of an egg.”

  She giggled. “Dragons only shift into humans when they're about five years old.”

  “Why do you have two forms?” I asked, interested.

  “Well to blend in, I guess, like your dad.”

  “You know, most of the teachers here are dragons too,” Becky said, changing the topic of our conversation away from Dad.

  “Really, who?”

  “Sir Edward and Professor Gregory teamed up a couple of years ago. They're not part of a dent, but you would think they were if you saw the two of them together.”

  “Who's the dragon?”

  “Sir Edward. He and Master Longwei are both Fin-Tails. The only two left, I think.”

  “Master Longwei is a dragon?”I hadn’t seen that one coming.

  “C'mon, Elena, you can see that he is from a mile away. His eyes?”

  I remembered the golden glint in them, but thought it was my imagination playing tricks.

  “What's the time?” Sammy sulked after her stomach growled loudly.

  “Time to go to dinner.”

  Chapter Eight

  The tables inside the cafeteria had big fluffy pillows lined up on either side instead of chairs. Each table had a square shaped sky lantern on top that was lit from the inside and glowed with a majestic light. Chinese balloon lanterns floated from the ceiling, illuminating the room. We went quickly through the buffet line at the back. Fresh fruit, milk, root beer, and other major soda brands, with chicken, fish, beef, and pork served with steamed vegetables and rice made my choice difficult. They even had a pudding section, which had a huge sign in front hanging from a golden chain that read CLOSED.

  Becky pulled up her nose and made an unpleasant sound while she eyed the food.

  I didn't care what we ate; I was starving.

  “Good evening ladies,” Chef said. His beard had a red-brown shimmer underneath the bright lights that gleamed over the buffet line.

  “You’ve out-done yourself tonight,” Sammy praised as she grabbed a plate and a tray. She poured orange juice into her glass.

  “It’s Friday. I want junk food,” Becky whined, complaining like a two-year-old.

  “Then answer my riddle, and you can choose whatever your little heart desires,” Chef countered.

  “Fine, I'll see what the stupid riddle says.” Becky mumbled the last part.

  It made me laugh remembering how much I hated riddles too. I would give up this meal, though,if it meant hearing one come from Dad’s lips again.

  Sammy and I sat at the nearest table with our trays. Becky went over to look at the riddle that was posted on the board in the corner of the cafeteria.

  She wrote it down on a napkin and walked back to our table.

  “Anyone have it yet?” Sammy asked, curious.

  She raised the corner of her upper lip and read the riddle out loud. “I never was, am always to be. No one ever saw me, nor ever will, and yet I am the confidence of all, to live and breathe on this terrestrial ball. What am I?”

  “Come again?” Sammy asked, clearly confused.

  “That's my point, guess we're going to have cooked meals for the next two months,” she said, and chucked the napkin aside.

  “Anybody got the riddle’s answer yet?”Lucian’s voice made me jump.

  He apologized for the scare, giving me one of his super smiles, and plopped onto the empty pillow next to me.

  “What are you still doing here?” Becky's mood changed in a flash.

  “My dad had to leave this afternoon for the meeting in Areeth. He’ll swing by tomorrow to come and fetch me.”

  “Meetings of the Royal Council,” Sammy whispered.

  Becky recited the riddle to him and he frowned.

  “C’mon Lucian, you are good at this crap.”

  “Sorry Becky, the riddle sounds like French,” he said, and gave a sexy chuckle. A million goose pimples broke out across my skin. Weird. Guess the image of him being okay with beating Blake half to death, wasn't as much of a turn-off as I thought.

  “Oh please, I don't know where Chef gets them. I wonder if he even knows the answers himself,” Becky said with a pout.

  The answer popped into my head. “It's tomorrow.”

  “What?”

  “The answer is tomorrow. I think.”

  The three of them stared at me with wide eyes.

  Becky recited the riddle softly. She shrieked and jumped from her pillow. “Oh my word, Elena, you're right.”

  “You're good at riddles?” Lucian asked.

  “It's the first one I got right, I usually suck at them.”

  “Wicked,” he said.

  Becky reached the buffet line. She leaned over to speak to Chef. He smiled, walked over to a big bell, and rang it twice.

  She did a happy dance, which made the entire cafeteria laugh.

  Lucian leaned closer to me. “You're going to be her favorite person,” he said breathily in my ear, which brought on a million goose pimples.

  “Everyone, what about pizza for breakfast!” Becky announced.

  A couple of boys cheered with loud whistles.

  “It's hardly a food group,” Sammy said with a pout.

  Becky returned with a tray of food and a big smile. “Why didn't you tell me that you’re good at riddles?”

  “I didn't know I was. Please, don't make this a daily thing.”

  “You're at least going to try, Elena,” she said completely serious.

  “So what's o
n the menu for tomorrow?” Lucian asked.

  “Pizza for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, and hamburgers for dinner.” She sounded pleased. Lucian reached his hand in the air and Becky slapped it playfully in a high five.

  “I might just stay for that.”

  “And give up a weekend of freedom? You'll leave and go with your dad tomorrow Lucian, even if I have to push you onto Emanuel myself.”

  “Emanuel is King Helmut's dragon,” Sammy whispered again.

  Riley walked into the cafeteria and went first to the buffet line. Chef nodded in the direction of our table. She turned around to look at us. Disappointment was written over her face as she stalked to our table. Riley wasn't pretty, but not ugly either. She had a strong body. I wondered who would win between her and Becky in the Parthenon dome.

  Without saying hello she asked, “You got the riddle?”

  I kicked Becky’s shin underneath the table and begged her with my eyes not to tell Riley it was me.

  “Yes, you have a problem with that?” she challenged.

  Riley huffed, arched her eyebrows and stormed away to a table filled with girls who couldn't stop glaring our way. She dropped into a pillow and huddled in with the girls at the table.

  “Why don't you want to let them in on the fact that you're good at solving riddles?” Lucian's question broke my gaze from their table.

  “I'm not good at dealing with confrontations the way Becky is.” I nodded toward her. She made brushing off people look so easy.

  He looked at his plate again and smiled. A gentle crease formed on his forehead. I could feel myself getting warm again; this had to stop happening in public.

  The food was great just like the company. I listened to Lucian talk with admiration about his father's kingdom, Tith, and how he wanted to make his biggest dream, to claim Blake, a reality. He spun his empty glass in circles on his plate as he talked. He sounded so brave when speaking of swords, shields, and fighting. He hardly made eye contact with me, but the few times our eyes did meet, I could feel the electricity passing through us. Maybe it was just my imagination running wild, but the picture of Lucian, the dragon abuser, vanished, leaving behind the image of Lucian, the hottest guy ever.

  By the end of the night, a couple of girls had scolded and murdered me with their eyes. I tried to ignore them, but I could feel their glares burning straight through to my soul.

 
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