Dragon airways, p.1
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       Dragon Airways, p.1

           Brian Rathbone
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Dragon Airways
Dragon Airways

  Brian Rathbone

  Edited by Andrea Howe of Blue Falcon Editing


  Copyright © 2016 White Wolf Press, LLC


  For Dad. You are missed.


  Note: Click or tap here to add narration.

  Without connection, energy cannot flow. To be disconnected is to be lost.

  —Gemino, sorcerer and artist

  * * *

  Cold fingers clutched a warm blade. Distorted shouts echoed through snowy fog. Danger was everywhere, but the lure of magic was irresistible. Whatever enchantment the dead man's knife possessed, it hadn't been enough to save him. It was, however, enough to lure Emmet Pickette from his bed and into the night—barefoot and in his pajamas.

  Time stretched. Fat snowflakes hung nearly motionless, suspended in air. Halos around gas street lamps looked like unshaken snow globes. Wild and uncontrollable, elongation of time was a rare thing usually experienced in only fleeting glimpses. Emmet was different, had been all his life; people told his sister so. He experienced time differently than everyone else. Sometimes his life was almost normal—time seemingly passing at the same speed for him as it did for others, but when time compressed, it felt as if everything were happening at once. Memories of what people called "episodes" haunted him, but he was just an ordinary boy on the inside. In some ways, though, he felt incomplete. Always he'd yearned for something without understanding exactly what, knowing only that it would be magic. Like a scent on the wind, it would come to him. And on this night, he'd traced it to the source.

  Removing the dagger from the dead man's icy grip gave Emmet chills, but he could not leave behind the magic he'd desired for so long. A lifetime of deprivation and anticipation ended when he pulled the knife free and gripped it for the first time. There was no sense of invincibility as he'd hoped, but finally holding an object with magical properties was exhilarating. Even unidentified and dormant, tangible magic still existed in the world. It validated things most considered myths and legends, and in some ways, Emmet's own existence.

  Only minutes before, he'd been sleeping. The presence of magic had grown strong enough to draw him out from under warm blankets. His need deep and insistent, he'd risked Riette's wrath and slipped outside. Always he had known, had sensed magic on the breeze but never so nearby. He was dizzy with it. Never had he expected to find a dead man in the courtyard. The cause of death was not readily apparent, save a small hole in his heavy wool coat.

  Running slender fingers along the dagger's rounded edge, Emmet wondered how he could have been fooled into thinking it was something so crude as a knife. Riette would not understand, and he could not explain it. Words were his enemy; those he did find caused no end of trouble. He was not supposed to make a spectacle of himself. He was to appear as normal as possible, lest the wrong people come looking for him.

  Snowflakes gathered on the dead man. Voices drew nearer. Every shadow had the potential to hold the "wrong people." Emmet had seen them before. Shivering, he stashed the dull blade within the hem of his coat. Noises from behind elevated his senses. Snowflakes fell with increasing speed. While he considered every possible escape route, the courtyard closed in around him. If anyone saw him, Riette would find out and he'd be in trouble—again. Holding up his pajama bottoms to keep them well above the dusting of snow, Emmet padded barefoot along the covered walkway where he would not leave such distinct footprints. Those he'd left in the snow already made him feel vulnerable and foolish, but it was done.

  Harsh voices grew louder. Shadows across the courtyard shifted. Emmet sprang like the Fae kind he so closely resembled. After slipping silently through the doorway, he was tempted to watch and see what happened next, but shuffling within the small apartment he shared with his sister urged him to move.

  Darkness and the sound of Riette talking in her sleep greeted him. Guessing what was to come, Emmet slipped back into bed and tried to get some rest, but his imagination conjured frightening images and scenarios. Panic rose within him. An unstoppable wave, it made his heart race. No words could truly explain what he experienced when time compressed. His convincing his mouth to utter such words was even less likely. Images, sounds, and feelings assaulted him in a relentless deluge, making it feel as if someone had picked him up and hurled him through time. A barrage of thoughts and senses came in a single, overwhelming rush, stacked atop each other until whispering wind felt as if it might crush him.

  Mom was gone.



  Dad was gone.



  It was too much. Only then did Emmet realize he was rocking violently, holding his ears. Heart and breath racing, his muscles trembled, the effects lingering like the last vestiges of nightmares. Doing as his mother had taught him, he took slow, deep breaths until the waves of energy grew larger and less frequent.

  Time once again expanded, the world now moving with what seemed exaggerated slowness. From where his coat hung, the dagger called to him, promising to change everything, but he could not afford to be caught with it. Riette would not understand. He couldn't make her understand. Emmet Pickette was a boy lost in time, and he was afraid.


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