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       Frostbite, p.9

           Adrienne Woods

  “It’s not easy conjuring your abilities while in human form. It takes time and the more you do it, the easier it comes.” He lifted up his index finger and a soft pink flame sprouted from the top of it. “This one you don’t have a problem with. Every being is afraid of the Pink Kiss.”

  “The pink what?”

  “The Pink Kiss.” He smiled. “I know it sounds stupid but I’ve grown quite fond of the name. When it touches skin, it spreads like a virus. Nothing can stop it and your enemy will die a slow and painful death. Constance can’t even heal it or slow the procedure down. There is no cure for the Pink Kiss.”

  I’d heard that before and seen it the night the Wyverns attacked us. “It’s like the Hippogriff’s venom.”

  “Exactly,” he said in a soft tone, just staring at the flame coming from the tip of his finger. He lifted up his middle finger, and right next to the pink flame a small spark of lightning came. “Lightning is handy in the ring, especially if it’s not the Dragonian’s ability.”

  “You used lightning on Lucian before.”

  He nodded. “He failed the first time because of my lightning.”

  Then he lowered both his fingers and showed me his palm. A green fog with a strong smell of gas appeared in the palm of his hand. I coughed a bit and covered up my nose and mouth with the sleeve of my robe.

  “It can’t harm you, Elena. You are immune to it. The smell is something to get used to though.”

  The ball of green fog turned into acid and it ran down his hand and landed on the ground, incinerating the grass and rocks it fell on. A tiny bit of smoke evaporated into the air. “Deadly,” he said softly and closed his fist. When he opened it, it was gone. His hand didn’t carry any mark, not even a red burn to show that he’d just handled acid.

  “It doesn’t burn?”

  “Slightly, but it doesn’t hurt the way it would a person that isn’t immune to it.”

  “How did King Albert claim your dad then?”

  He smiled and huffed softly while taking his seat back on the rocks.

  I followed him.

  “King Albert had a gift for making weapons. His armor was of the thickest metal there was, but it was also the lightest.” He smiled. “Don’t ask me how.”

  I giggled.

  “He had a weapon that the royal council still uses today. It’s called an acid blaster. He used to fill it up with my father’s saliva and then use it on the enemy. He wasn’t the type of man that loved wars though, but he was the bravest man I’ve ever met.”

  “You still remember him?”

  He nodded. “A dragon’s memory works differently than a human’s. Usually humans don’t remember anything before their fifth birthday. It’s different with us. I remember everything. Even before I hatched. I remember the inside of my egg, my mom’s tone of voice when she was close and the temperature whenever she lay on me.”

  I smiled thinking how amazing that must be, to remember everything like that. I couldn’t remember my father’s stupid stories and here he tells me what the freakin’ temperature of his egg was whenever Isabel lay on top of him. If that was normal, then I sure was a broken dragon.

  “I remember King Albert. He had a special look just for me. I guess it had to do with them knowing that I would become their child’s dragon, if they ever got to that stage.”

  “How did he look at you?”

  He laughed. “Admiration, warning.”

  “Warning. Why?”

  “I don’t know, but that’s what it felt like.”

  “I’m sorry that he died without giving you what you needed.”

  He chuckled and shook his head. I could sense he was hiding something.

  “What?” I smiled.

  “You would laugh if I told you.”

  “I won’t, just tell me.”

  He picked a long weed that grew from inside the rocks and started to bend it. I couldn’t stop watching him. “I woke up from a strong jolt the night Matt brought you here.”


  He didn’t look at me, but kept bending the weed. “I’d never felt anything like that before so obviously I had to investigate. Lucian woke up as I started to put on some clothes and wanted to know what the hell was going on. I told him something had happened and you know Lucian.”

  I giggled. “He wanted to know as well.”

  He nodded. “So we snuck to the infirmary and we heard Master Longwei and Constance speaking with Matt. He kept telling them that there is no way, kept talking about the wall and how no human could go to the other side if they are born inside Paegeia. That the girl isn’t who they think she is.”

  “Me?” I asked and he nodded. “Who did they think I was?”

  He looked at me. “Matt saw me, and motioned for me to hide. I knew that he would speak to me afterward. Lucian left after his curiosity was filled and I waited for Matt. I had this weird feeling inside of me the entire night that I couldn’t explain. When he found me, he told me about you and some details of the accident, but I swear he never mentioned Fox until the second time we met. He also told me about what he saw when he got a better look at you. He said that you didn’t respond and he was really worried and when he saw your mark, nothing made sense.”

  “What didn’t make sense?”

  “Why he never knew about you or your father, and if your father was a dragon how the hell you ended up with the mark of the riders.”

  “That makes two of us.”

  “For a long time people thought that you were somebody else. That your father wasn’t your Dad at all.”

  I thought about my dream, about what Paul said. People knowing who I was but not telling me. “What?”

  “Why do you think when you walk into a place everybody stares at you, Elena?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Because of who you remind them of.”

  “Who?” I give an irritated laugh. It felt like déjà vu and I knew that somehow I wasn’t going to hear the part I so badly wanted to. Like something was going to happen.

  He took a deep breath and I could see the invisible wall covering him again.

  No, no, no, please…

  “It doesn’t matter now, you’re not that person, you’re just somebody that looked like him. We should get started and you should concentrate on mastering your gifts.”

  He dropped the conversation right there. I just gaped for a while and knew that Blake wouldn’t say anymore.

  “Fine, so how do I do this?” I asked, using one of my frustrated tones.

  “You’re angry?”

  “You started telling me this story and then you just drop it out of thin air. You have no idea how much shit I have to deal with and this will just go on top of that pile.”

  “Elena, it doesn’t matter anymore. You are a dragon. It is not going to help you to move on. That is why I stopped telling you that stupid story. You are like me, that is why I woke up that night, nothing else.”

  “I still want to know who they thought I was.”

  “It doesn’t matter. You have to concentrate on what you are, not what everyone thought you were.”

  “Fine! But I have no idea how to concentrate now I’m worrying about your stupid story.”

  “I know it’s hard, but it will get better. I really should’ve kept my mouth shut.” He smiled again. He was enjoying every single moment of this.

  “Fine.” I sounded like an annoyed little girl. “How do you do it?”

  “Close your eyes.”

  “You’re not going to kiss me, are you?” I joked and he laughed.

  “I promise.”


  He chuckled. “Concentrate and see your flame.”

  I did what he said and thought about the pink flame I’d seen on his finger.

  “Now fill in the details. The pink in the middle, the red and purple edges, feel its warmth spreading from your fingertips to the middle of your palm.”

  I listened to the deep tone of his voice, and I swore
I could feel my palm getting hotter and hotter.

  “Now open your eyes.”

  I did and saw a ball of fire in the palm of my hand. I shook my hand fast and the flame disappeared.

  “Elena, you need to control it.”

  “It’s not normal.”

  “Nothing is this side.”

  I rubbed my hand against my robe and took another deep breath.

  “It’s not going to hurt you. It’s your friend and the sooner you make peace with it, the better it will be for you.”

  “I know, it’s just weird seeing it.”


  I looked at him. “Do we have to?”

  “Yes, again.” He sounded adamant.

  “Demon slaver,” I mumbled and he just laughed. I closed my eyes again and this time he touched my hand. He was warm and just like his music, his touch tingled through my body.

  “Concentrate on the flame.”

  We did that for the next hour. Every time I had it, he forced me to look at it dancing in the palm of my hand. I could feel the heat, and he was wrong. It burned which again didn’t make any sense. The minute he touched my hand and killed the fire, I imagined a big blister on the inside of my hand but when he took his hand away, I found nothing. Not even a hint of a burn.

  At four, I felt drained.

  “I think that is enough for today, tomorrow we can practice lightning.”

  I sighed.

  “It’s not that hard, Elena.”

  “No, I just remember Becky doing the shakes on the ground when she got her first dose of it.”

  “I promise you won’t do the hippy hippy shake.”

  I laughed and shook my head.

  “How do you feel?”

  “Like I haven’t slept for days.”

  “Climb on my back.”


  “You want to fly back home yourself?”

  “No,” I said softly and closed my eyes just in time as he ripped off his robe. He laughed again as he saw me standing there with closed eyes and I could feel him touching my arm and putting it around his neck. He lifted me onto his back in one movement and then he ran. I opened my eyes and saw how we dove off the cliff.

  He changed in mid-air and I grabbed one of his horns just in time. It was a ride Lucian experienced once before he died and here I was getting one without even lifting a finger.

  Thinking about Lucian again, knowing that he wouldn’t be waiting for me, asking me how it was made my heart ache. Still no tears would come. I rested my body in between two huge horns on Blake’s back and took in the air and the soft breeze. Even the sound of his wings flapping changed how I felt about everything.

  There was no more Lucian, but there was now, there was this moment and there was this amazing dragon that would turn evil by the 23rd of August.

  That couldn’t happen. It wouldn’t.

  A familiar feeling jolted though my gut. I’d only had it once before but I would never forget it. It was the time when I knew I would succeed in finding the King of Lion sword. It was that same feeling, but this time it had nothing to do with that stupid sword or the words the Viden had spoken. There wouldn’t be a substitute but there would be another mission. One Lucille wouldn’t be happy about, and one that would lead me to find out what Lucian knew. I was the only one that could find the answer to save Blake.

  OR THE NEXT couple of days Blake pushed hard, even more than Lucian had.

  Controlling my abilities wasn’t easy. It would leave me drained and then Blake had to fly me back home. It became the one thing I looked forward to every afternoon. It felt so natural being on his back that I didn’t know what I was going to do if he ever told me that we were done, that training was over and I was a real Rubicon.

  The mission was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t know where to start and going into the forest wasn’t the answer, although I knew it was where answers lay. I didn’t have Lucian’s skills and I wouldn’t know if I would ever be able to do whatever he had done to make it out of there alive, but I was a dragon, and not just any dragon, I was a female Rubicon, one I doubted the villagers would mess with.

  The remaining question was, why was I so afraid of going into the Acker woods?

  I tried to do as much research as possible. I typed ‘Acker Woods’ into the computer inside the library. When I hit the search key, the computer peeped and then it shut down.

  My hands jolted into the air and the fear of breaking the computer overpowered my emotions. I looked around and saw a couple of students reading in groups.

  No one saw you, get up and move away from the computer, my voice said with a cop tone inside my head. It made me suppress my laughter but I did what it said and moved away as fast as I could.

  I used huge steps to get my butt out of the library.

  The next morning I found a huge ‘Out of Order’ sign on the computer I’d used.

  Walking to another open computer, I decided to start with the wall and try to find Tanya Le Frey the way Lucian had the day after he’d discovered her existence. The computer didn’t shut down like the previous one, but it still showed zero results when I typed in her name. I tried to search Queen Catherine’s dragon, but that just showed me plenty of articles about the Queen and Tanya wasn’t mentioned in any of them.

  So instead, I ended up staring at photos of Queen Catherine. She was really so beautiful with her dark brown hair and shining grey eyes. Her features were soft and her eyes sparkled like diamonds. She was such a lovely person to watch and very photogenic. She was nothing like my dreams. The queen inside of my terrors was nothing compared to the one staring at me.

  I shut off the computer as nothing I typed led me to any information about Tanya Le Frey.

  Lucian was right, they cleared her off the database completely. It was sad though, thinking that she belonged to Queen Catherine and nobody knew about her.

  Eventually life moved on. Classes got better, and I could now master four of my abilities while in my human form. Amy, the girl who had pushed me against the wall that day inside the cafeteria, stared at me with a terrifying look. I doubted that she still thought of me as being pathetic.

  The feeling of power, the dark kind, grew stronger but it disappeared the minute I spent time with Blake. It was like he became some sort of neutralizer, taking away the good and the bad and just letting me become the old Elena for a while.

  The weekend was coming up and it soon became my worst two days of the week.

  “Come,” Becky said as she grabbed me under the arm when I backbit Sammy on Saturday. “It’s time for your daily dose of Blake.”

  “Becky!” I grunted.

  “Listen to yourself Elena, we can’t even look at you properly before you want to bite our heads off, I’m not going to let you ruin my new wardrobe again. It just so happens that I was due for a makeover and I so love my new clothes. Come!”

  “Fine,” I said and led the way. They both had to run to keep up with my strides.

  I flung myself down onto the pillow in the cafeteria and saw Blake sitting at a table far on the opposite side.

  Sammy and Becky both stared at me and my eyes rose as I stared back at them.

  “It’s not working.” Becky left her two cent comment.

  “He’s too far,” Sammy said; nowadays she had an answer for everything. It was as if she’d become the bearer of all knowledge. A real know-it-all.

  “I’m not moving closer, this is stupid.” I wanted to get back up but Becky pushed me down.

  “I wish George was here, then he could ask Blake to come over.”

  “I’m his sister, I’m sure he would come over if I asked him to.”

  “Sammy! This is stupid.”


  “Blake!” She yelled his name and I buried my face inside my hands and grunted softly.

  Becky bumped me hard. “Act normal.”

  I looked up and wanted to say something when she took the shades that were resting on her head
and put them over my eyes. “They are red, act normal,” she hissed.

  I just stared at Blake as he reached our table. I couldn’t believe that it had actually worked.

  “You heard anything from Dad?” Sammy asked.

  I cringed as I thought about it. Blake even looked at her funny.

  “You called me over to ask me that? No!” he sounded agitated. “Why do you ask? Should I have heard something from him?”

  Becky tried to suppress her smile and I kicked her calf.

  “No, I’m just worried about them. Aren’t you?”

  “Samantha. Why should I be worried about them?”

  “You know, that thing?” She raised her eyes slightly at him.

  “What thing?”

  “Blake, I’m not going to blabber the thing in front of everyone.”

  “Sammy you are not making any sense.”

  “What’s wrong with you? How can you not remember the thing?”

  The feeling started to go away as Blake and his sister quarreled about the thing Sammy was clearly making up.

  “I’m not going to fight with you over this, Samantha. I’ve got no idea what you are talking about and I’m going to leave now.”


  Becky was really struggling to suppress her laughter and when Blake was gone I smiled too.


  “I’m not good at this, how do you feel?” She mouthed the last word.

  “Thanks, Sammy.”

  “She’s back,” Becky said and we got up and walked to the buffet line.

  I gave the shades back to Becky.

  “Let me see.” She smiled. “Green as always.”

  “It’s getting worse.”

  “It’s not all bad, Elena.”

  “Yeah, sure.”

  The next week Becky and George were playing in their first Warbel games. I didn’t know if I should go or not, as I could feel the dark rising inside of me. Blake postponed our training, which made it hard for me to see the light. Becky found ways though. She dragged my ass every day to their practices where Blake would be. She wasn’t kidding when she said he was like a bear. He was nothing like the Blake that met me every afternoon on the mountain: he was Jerk Blake, and he pushed Becky and George the hardest. Even when they scored every single time.

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