Chapter Nine

“As you saw and heard me say, the main founder of Argonite, Eleanor, had a purple dragon as well, named Lilac. Since then, no other purple dragon has been born. Before Eleanor and Lilac passed away, Lilac foretold of another dragon, her descendant, would be born in a time of great need, bearing the same purple scales, and it and its’ Rider would bring peace to our lands. And since Lux is the only other purple dragon, it seems it will be him, and you,” Donovan finished and he and Kacey began to gauge my reaction to the prophecy, and I tried to keep my face neutral.
Liona, I know this is a lot to take in. But, I know we can do it, if we do it together. Lux said to me through our mindlink, and I nodded in response. That is when I realized when they mentioned fighting, they meant fighting with the dragon hunters, like my family. “We’re fighting the dragon hunters, aren’t we?”
Kacey smacked Donovan’s shoulder and looked at me worried, “He wasn’t supposed to bring that up yet, but yes, currently we are in a much bigger battle. This is the main focus of Argonite—to prepare us to protect the current and future dragon population from those who wish it to be destroyed.”
I sighed, not surprised, yet still upset. Lux nudged my hand and flicked out his tongue, tickling my fingers, “It’s alright, I just want my family to understand. Maybe I could get them on my side if I showed them Lux…” I trailed off, my brow creasing in worry.
“I didn’t mean to make you upset,” Donovan apologized, and I waved him off, telling him it wasn’t his fault.
“Besides, I got to hear about the prophecy that seems like it’s being kept hidden from us,” I smiled to reassure them, and we all gathered our plates and disposed of them before heading back out to the Dome.
Kelsey was bouncing up and down on our way there, “I can’t wait for you to meet Nisha, and he’s super excited to meet you.” We turned left as we walked in and walked up the closest staircase and entered the cave right at the top. Darkness covered it and I strained my eyes until I saw a flash of a shadow than came running out to meet Kelsey’s outstretched arms. Smaller than Amari, Nisha was as dark blue as he could get without being black. His eyes were a sparkling emerald as he fixed his gaze on Lux and I. He bowed similarly to Amari, before speaking to the both of us, “I do so hope you are the ones in the prophecy. My parents were killed by the dragon hunters,” he told us sadly.
“I understand, Nisha,” Lux bowed his head back and I felt his own sadness through our link—a reminder of all he had already gone through as a young hatchling. I smiled to Nisha and he returned his attention to Kelsey, as they seemed to be having a silent discussion among themselves. Before long, we were all following Kelsey outside, with Nisha and Amari, to watch Nisha practice flying. Amari took off into the sky, circling above us, with Donovan whooping up to her.
Lux huffed, “I want to do that.” I chuckled and Lux butted my cheek with his head, “Just you wait until I’m big enough to ride. You’ll never want to stop flying.”
I scratched his head in return, “But for now, I’m happy with you just the way you are.”
We looked over at Kelsey and Nisha. “Come on, Nisha, you can do it,” Kelsey prodded and Nisha shook out his wings, the light being sucked into his dark color. He pumped once, then twice, and just as he was getting off the ground, a massive blood red dragon swooped in front of him, the wind from the dragons’ wings knocking Nisha off balance, toppling him over. The rider atop the dragon let out a bark of a laugh before landing off to the side of us. He jumped off, and walked towards us, a smirk gracing his face. I could see Kelsey and Donovan tense as he got closer.
“Aw, Kelsey, is your little dragon trying to learn how to fly?” He teased, quite rudely.
“Most dragons aren’t bonded once they’re already grown, Justin, you just happened to get one that was,” Kelsey spat, and I was surprised at her tone, considering it hadn’t seemed like she had one mean bone in her body, so I assumed this guy was bad news.
“Who’s this pretty lady?” Justin peered around Kelsey and made eye-contact with me. My face inadvertently squished up in disgust, more so at his tone than he way he looked. Because he was definitely more attractive than most boys in the farming village I had come from.
“My name is Liona,” I started and his eyes widened slightly before bursting out laughing.
“He knows who you are and he thinks you aren’t good enough to ride me.” Lux’s attitude turned icy and his eyes were ablaze with anger. “I will not stand for the way he is treating you.” In a manner of seconds, Lux had jumped from my shoulder to where Justin was laying on the ground laughing, and bit his ankle. Justin stopped laughing immediately, and looked down at Lux incredulously.
“You need to control your dragon,” Justin kicked Lux to the side before addressing me.
“I will do no such thing. You need to have more respect for the King,” I replied snappily, before gathering Lux up.
“Do not worry, this human did not hurt me.” Lux said confidently.
“I will respect him, when I feel he has earned it,” Justin spat, before hobbling off to his dragon and taking off into the sky once again.
“Who was that guy?” I asked, my eyes following the receding image of the blood red dragon and its rider.
“That,” Donovan spoke up, “is Justin Normand, and his dragon, Rubone. His family are among the most prominent riders, of current and past. He expects to be treated the same way, without earning it.”
“Therefore, he will get my respect, only when I feel he’s earned it,” Lux repeated Justin’s previous words with spite and I nodded in agreement. Kelsey returned to consoling Nisha, and Donovan relaying the conversation to Amari, I decided to slip away to try and find our room.
“It’s been quite a day, hasn’t it?” Lux asked and I sighed in return. I just wanted to lay on a bed and sleep, and by the way Lux was struggling to keep his eyes open, he was feeling the same way too. I begin exploring the estate, and halfway into my search, I groaned.
“You never asked Kelsey what room we were in,” Lux said smugly. I lightly flicked his side in annoyance and spotted a slightly open door to my right.
“I’ll just ask in there where the girl’s rooms are,” I replied and made my way over. As I approached the whispered words began to reach my ears.
“I told him they were rallying, but he didn’t listen,” I recognized this voice and mind-linked the thought to Lux who agreed. “The King and his rider have just arrived, they are vulnerable until they are able to hear the entire prophecy, not just the pieces taught to the students, but it in its entirety.”
“Seems as though we haven’t gotten the entire story,” Lux said and I accidentally moved, causing my shoe to squeak on the floor. Booming steps come racing towards the door, and I run in the opposite direction, hiding behind a corner. I was able to peek out around as I recognized the man who had stormed out of the Dean’s office earlier, looking about, trying to spot the noise-maker. Before too long, he retreated back into the room, firmly closing the door behind him, not allowing us to overhear any further.
“Today continues to get more complicated,” I answered. “And I still don’t know where to sleep!” Lux chuckled and I feel our connection getting faint for a second, before it returns.
“I was able to contact Kelsey, she told me how to get to our room,” Lux head-butted my cheek again and I grumbled about why he didn’t do that in the first place.
Before long, we at reached room 014, the room we were going to share with Kelsey. I knocked, since I hadn’t received a key, and the door was quickly pulled open by a bouncing Kelsey.
“Seems like you got your better mood back,” I said, as I closed the door behind me.
“Nothing a bonded dragon and chocolate chip cookies cannot fix!” She pointed to a half-plate of cookies sitting on a side-table next to the couch. “Let me give you a quick tour.”
We were standing in the living/studying area, which included a table with four chairs and a couch with two side-tables. There were some beautifully drawn images of dragons all across the walls, and I made a mental note to ask about them later. Beyond the front area, there were three doors. The middle one, she said, was a coat closet, and the door to the left was her room. She showed that too me first, and I could tell she had spent some time decorating it. She had white furniture—a bed frame, and two side tables, including a sitting vanity with nicely sorted make-up and drawing materials. She pointed to another door, saying that was the bathroom, and another, saying it was a personal closet, and I had both attached to my room as well.
“I was getting pretty lonely after Nisha had to move out, I’m really glad you’re here,” she said shyly and I gave her a one-armed hug.
“I’m glad I’m here too, Kels,” I used her nickname and she grinned brightly.
“Now, your room is pretty bare-boned right now, because obviously, I didn’t know you were coming or your personality, but here it is,” she opened the door and I walked in, pleased with the basicness of it. I had the same white furniture, but no vanity, which was alright with me. My bags had been placed at the end of my bed, with a stack of books on the side table, with a piece of paper sticking out.
“Figured you would need these as soon as possible. Signed, Mariona,” I smiled and Lux jumped from my arm to the bed and bounced a few times before curling up on a pillow.
“I put sheets on the bed, since I thought you would be tired,” Kelsey said before beginning to walk out of the room. “Tomorrow there are no classes, but there is an assembly. I’ll wake you up so we can get breakfast before attending. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I yawned a, “goodnight,” as the door closed. I quickly changed into bed clothes, but not before checking the wound on my arm. I unwrapped it, and barely could contain my gasp. All that was left was a slight red mark.
“It will be faded by morning,” Lux gestured to the wound. “Just another perk of having a dragon.”
“And I wouldn’t trade you for the world,” I said as I laid down and Lux curled beside my head, a stark contrast of purple on the white sheets.
“Me neither,” echoed in my head as I drifted off into sleep.

Chapter Ten

A nip on my arm woke me up, and I sat up with a start. Lux rolled off me and landed with a thump on the floor. He stood and shook himself out, before jumping, flapping his wings to help him reach the bed.
He bounced on the edge of the bed with his tongue quickly flicking in and out, “Come on, come on! Our first official day of school!”
“Alright, alright, I’m up,” I chuckled before assessing my previously arrow-cut arm. I saw no trace of the previous cut and I was quite excited at the result. I stood and fished out a pair of thick brown leggings, boots and a forest-green shirt from my bag, promising to myself to put everything away tonight. I left Lux on the bed preening himself and headed for the shower. I emerged from the bathroom a little while later, dressed and ready for classes.
“Ready?” I asked Lux, holding my hand out to him, and he detected an underlying nervousness within me.
“Of course,” he crawled up my arm to my arm to my shoulder and rubbed his cheek against mine. “We’ll do great.”
With a big breath, and grabbing my bag with the books from Mariona, I headed out of my room and approached Kelsey who was sitting on the couch, sketching.
“Want to get breakfast? She said without looking up. I tried to peer at her drawing and she snapped her book closed. “Not until I’m finished.”
“Aw, come on Kels,” I whined and she laughed at me.
“No, let’s go before everyone gets the good food,” she stood up and grabbed my arm pulling me out the door. The hallway was filled with chatter and Lux and I visibly winced at the noise. I still wasn’t used to it, since growing up on a secluded farm. Kelsey maneuvered us through the people with finesse and soon we had reached the dining hall. Similar to the night before, we got in line and collected the food we wanted before sitting down with Donovan and a couple of other people I hadn’t met yet. I sat down next to Donovan and smiled shyly at the new people at the table.
“You guys are finally here! I thought you were never going to come,” Donovan ruffled my hair and I rolled my eyes as Lux lightly nipped in his direction. He chuckled and held his hands up in surrender. I took pieces of my bacon and fed them to Lux before turning my attention to the other two people at the table. A girl with purple tipped hair stretched her hand out to me and she gave me a good shake before saying, “Hi Liona, I’m Tevan, and this guy sitting next to me is Nathanial.”
“Nate, to my friends,” Nate smiled at me and turned his focus to Lux, “It’s an honor to meet you.”
“It’s wonderful to meet you all as well,” Lux nodded his head before chewing on the next piece of bacon I handed him.
“What’s like it?” Tevan leaned toward me and I swallowed the food in my mouth and quirked an eyebrow.
“What do you mean?”
She gestured to Lux, “Being the first rider to be bonded to the King, the purple dragon, what’s it like being you?” Everyone in the table leaned forward and I could tell Lux felt my anxiety levels rise.
“It’s alright, you’re alright,” Lux whispered in my head and he hooked his tail around my neck in reassurance. I nodded and answered the table, “Complicated.”
“But,” Tevan started before a voice over the intercom interrupted her.
“Students of Argonite, report to the Dome. All students of Argonite, report to the Dome.”
I looked to Donovan, he shrugged and helped me stand. As a group, we disposed of our waste, then began our walk to the Dome. As we walked, Lux released the pressure he had put on me with his tail as my anxiety dropped as my curiosity piqued. As we stepped into the Dome, we aligned ourselves against the wall and we could see a rainbow of dragon heads sticking out from the caves in the walls. Nisha and Amari were exchanging curious glances with us and I saw two new dragons looking toward us as well and assumed them to be Nate’s and Tevan’s dragons. One was small and had silver scales than deepened into black along the snout, ears, talons, and tip of tail. The other was a pale pink dragon almost near the top of the Dome, she was so large.
Tevan leaned over and whispered, “The silver one is my Cornelius and the pink is Luana, Nate’s other half.” I nodded in response before refocusing my attention to the rudimentary platform where Leon stood with Mariona behind him.
“I didn’t know she was still here,” Lux said and I agreed.
“Students and dragons, it has come to our attention that false rumors of King Lux and Lady Liona have been spreading. We wish to set everything straight.”
“False rumors?” My new friends and I exchanged glances as Justin waltzed past with a smirk on his face. That’s when I began to notice the suspicious glances being made towards Lux and I. Donovan defensively put himself in front of me, and I placed a light hand on his shoulder to tell him I was alright. Lux was fuming and he pushed off from my shoulder to fly above everyone and he roared. The building shook from the intensity and the dragons automatically submitted to him. As the people around me coward away, I stood proudly and pushed my way through the crowd to stand on the platform. Once Lux had finished his roar, he circled and landed once again on my shoulder, and for the first time, I felt powerful.
“Now listen here,” I raised my voice so everyone could hear me, “I am Liona, partner to Lux, the King of Dragons. I came from a family of dragon hunters.” I paused to allow for the gasps and the whispers to quiet. “I never fit into the family. It wasn’t until I found the Queen, dying at the hands of similar hunters, that I found out why. She died protecting Lux, and I watched her pass away. Lux hatched for me because he believes in me, and I refuse to let anyone put me or him down any longer. If you want to know something about me, just ask.”
Lux continued, “And I will not tolerate this disrespect any longer. As King, I am in charge of your dragons. I will not force myself upon them at any time, unless I deem that they are too impolite. Liona and I wish to rule with fair minds and caring hearts, but spreading lies is not acceptable.”
Lux and I finish our impromptu speech and we stare into the crowd, daring anyone to challenge us. Instead of angry glares, we saw curiosity, small smiles, and nods. Deeming this enough, Lux nudged me in my head and I understood what he wanted. I climbed down off the stage and the crowd parted, allowing us to make our way out of the Dome and away from those people.
“I think it’s time for us to have a little break, don’t you think?” Lux suggested once we were out of the Dome.
“I saw a lake a little into the forest when we flew over originally, want to go there?” Lux grinned toothily.
“Race you!” I yelled and pushed Lux off my shoulder, knowing he would easily catch himself.
“You’re on!”

Chapter Eleven

Lux beat me to the lake by a long shot, neither of us were surprised, but the run had already perked up my spirits. We jumping into the lake together, splashing around and making a fool of ourselves. It was nice to relax after having so many days feeling tense. I knew I could talk to my new friends, but there was something of just being with Lux, the two of us spending time together that I didn’t get with anyone else.
I floated on my back while Lux treaded water beside me when I saw a flash from the corner of my eye. “Did you…”
“Yeah, I did,” Lux’s sharp eyes surveyed around us, while I began to notice the change in the weather. Dark cloud had rolled in, and Lux and I were directly in the middle of a lake—a prime place for a lightning strike.
“We have to get to shore,” I said, as I began to swim, Lux beside me. We both noticed another flash, that could’ve been mistaken as lightning, but the both of us knew better. Lux was getting wary, and I could feel him preparing himself to defend the two of us, even in his small form. We reached the shore and I stepped from the water, automatically beginning to shiver. Lux flew to my shoulder and heated himself him for me, warming my neck and shoulders. Another flash.
“Who goes there?” I asked confidently, trying to contain my shivering in the cold. I began to hear whispers and I looked around, knowing Lux could hear them too. “What are you saying?” A splitting pain erupts on the right side of my head, where Lux is perched and I drop a knee to the ground.
“I feel it too,” Lux was able to say to me while the both of us are fighting the pain with our eyes screwed shut. The whispering gets louder, before it goes deathly silent, the pain receding almost instantly. Lux was the first to open his eyes and he lightly bumped my head and I open one eye at a time. Before us stood a massive dragon made from purple light, with a warrior astride its back, the dragon roaring into the sky.
“I think….I think that’s us,” Lux said in awe and I can see the resemblance of the dragon to Lux. The warrior takes off its helmet, and I’m struck with the fact that it does look like me, but she seems stronger, braver, and more confident. We all exchange eye contact before a person in a maroon robe stepped out from behind a tree. It waves a staff and the future image of us bursts into small light particles that disappear like stars in the early morning light.
“His Majesty and Your Ladyship,” its voice called out to us and it approached. The hood of the robe was removed and a handsome man’s face appeared. He had long blonde hair, slightly blowing in the breeze, and it moved to cover his face when he bowed.
“Hello,” I said, wary as Lux flicked his tongue in and out, his claws gripping my shoulder tightly. “Who are you, and why are you here?”
He stood from his bow and replied, “I am Maximus Ferrifield, and I am here to see the both of you.”
“Why is that?” Lux spoke up. Maximus looked to Lux and smiled lightly.
“You are growing wonderfully, my King. I am here to train you.”
“Again, why?” My voice conveyed I was irritated with his answers, and I could tell Lux was getting annoyed as well.
“Ah yes, you don’t understand. I am a mage, meaning I have the ability to use magic, like the two of you.”
“Magic?” I asked in awe. “How do we have magic?”
“The Legend, of course. Ones bonded with the Purple Dragon have access to what many wish they had. I am only one of three currently living able to wield magic. Now, that would be four, to include you.” He smiled brightly at me and it took all I had not to swoon. Lux smacked the side of my face in irritation and returned his attention to Maximus.
“Was that apparition the two of us?” Lux inquired.
“It is what one path in your future leads to, yes. There are many other paths, of which I cannot disclose. The decision will be made by the two of you, and the two of you alone.” Maximus said sternly.
“What decision?” I took a step closer to him in curiosity.
“That, my Lady, is a discussion for a different time. I will meet the two of you out here tomorrow morning. I bid you good night,” he bowed once more before turning on his heels, his robe flowing behind him as he disappeared into the trees.
Lux huffed at my statement, “He’s not all that.”
“Alright, the jealousy can stop now,” I rolled my eyes and began the trek back to school, noticing how dark it had gotten during the conversation with Maximus.
“I’m not jealous!” Lux defended, before turning his head away from mine with another huff.
I hummed in response, allowing a comfortable silence to settle between us. We reached Argonite and I was able to grab some food before it was dumped, since dinner had long since ended. I took the plate to my room, fishing the key from my zipped pocket and entered to see Donovan and Kelsey chatting.
“You’re back,” Donovan said with a smile and Kelsey looked up relieved to see me.
“We weren’t sure where you went, but I’m glad you’re alright. That was some declaration you made there.” Kelsey patted the couch next to her and I sat down, glad my clothes had dried.
I shrugged, eating my food and occasionally giving Lux a piece, “We are bonded and we aren’t going anywhere, I just hope the rumors stop.”
“I swear if Justin does anything to you,” Donovan fumed and I smiled at his outburst.
“I’m fine, see?” I gestured to myself and he nodded, his eyes softening. “Plus, I think Lux can handle him.” As I said that, Lux released a small burst of fire to prove my point and we chuckled at him.
“I’m going to go to bed,” Kelsey announced and left Donovan, Lux and I in the living room, closing her door behind her. Donovan switched from the chair he was sitting in to the couch and he stared at me closely. I swallowed under his intense stare and I could see Lux rolling his eyes again.
“This one too? I seriously hope you are not going boy crazy. Next, you’ll be telling me you like Justin!” Lux said annoyed as he jumped from my shoulder and flew into our room.
“Shut up.”
Donovan watched Lux fly away with a raised eyebrow. “He’s tired,” I said unconvincingly and he nodded.
“Did you go swimming?” he asked. “The roots of your hair are still wet.”
“Yes, and I met a guy,” I said before realizing how not wonderful that sounded, when Donovan quirked another eyebrow. “I mean I met the person training Lux and I. He said his name was Maximus.” Donovan nodded looking away from me for the first time that night.
“I better head to bed too,” he stood up and I followed suit. Before I could react, he pulled me into a hug and rested his head on top of my head for a moment.
“Goodnight, Lia.”
“’Night, Donny,” I said pulling away with a smirk.
“Donny? Really?”
“Yes, really, now get out of here,” I laughed and pushed him towards the door.
“Okay, okay, I’m going, sheesh,” he smiled at me one more time before leaving.
“You are going boy-crazy.”
“Once again, shut up!”

Chapter Twelve

I awoke early the following morning, cleaned myself before getting ready, all while Lux snoozed on. I gathered my books, then proceeded to poke and prod at Lux until he stood up and yawned.
“You’ve gotten bigger, just overnight,” I mentioned as he woke himself up. Lux surveyed himself, grown to the size of a medium-sized dog and could no longer fit on my shoulder. “I think you might have to move to the Dome soon.”
“Sadly,” he said, before padding out behind me, his longer claws clanking down the hall. People sent us weird looks, that left us both confused. We entered the cafeteria together, and I found Kelsey sitting in one corner, sketching while shoveling oatmeal into her mouth. I placed my books near her and told Lux to stay with her while I gathered us some food. As I was finishing up, I felt Lux becoming angered. I turned around from with the food and saw that he was being cornered by a group of students. Kelsey was trying to get them to disperse, but whatever she was doing wasn’t working. I started to hurry over, but Lux told me he could handle it. After saying that, he let out a huge burst of flames and I could smell the singed hairs on all the students that were screaming and running away in fear.
“Maybe we should go eat out by the lake,” I said after I finished chuckling and Lux agreed. I thanked Kelsey for trying to help Lux before waving goodbye. Once we left the building Lux flapped his wings, and flew into the sky, making loops around my head. “Impressive.”
Lux hummed happily at the comment and I began to throw pieces of meat into the air for him to catch. The sun glinted off his scales, temporarily blinding me, causing me to trip over a root I hadn’t seen. I planned on hitting the ground, but the impact never came. I opened my eyes to see myself glowing, with Maximus standing off to the side.
“Thank you for catching me,” I said as the magic helped me stand back on my own two feet.
“Of course, Lady Liona, I didn’t want you to end up with food all over you,” he smiled. I settled on the ground to eat my breakfast and Lux laid net to me, his tail curved around me protectively.
“Oh, come on, Lux. He isn’t going to hurt me.” Lux huffed out loud to my statement, but didn’t say anything. Maximus sat down as well, his robes flowing out around him as he watched me eat. I kept my glaze focused on everything but him, my cheeks heating under his intense stare.
“I see King Lux has grown,” he finally said. I nodded and scratched Lux behind the horns he was beginning to grow. The spikes that lined his spine were getting harder, as was the scales at the end of his tail and around his claws. I finished up eating and stood, brushing myself off, with Maximus following me.
“You can just call me Liona and him Lux, we don’t need any formalities here,” I said as I followed Maximus closer to the lake and he nodded in understanding.
“Today, Liona and Lux, we will work on basic elemental magic. Since the water from the lake is here, we will start with water. I want the each of you to try and make spheres, one each, of water from this lake.” He sat down cross-legged and patted the ground next to him. I sat down with Maximus on my right and Lux on my left. “Focus,” Maximus whispered. “Close your eyes and imagine a sphere made from swirling blue water. Feel the coolness of the water, hear the roaring sound.” Maximus’ voice drifted off into silence as Lux and I focused on the water spheres we were to make.
I could hear the roaring and was proud of my imagining skills before I heard Lux say, “Look.” I opened my eyes and gasped at what I saw. The lake was drained of all water, the water instead was flowing in two symmetrical spheres above the lake, with fish swimming around in them. Even Maximus seemed impressed. Lux and I lost concentration at the same time, the water rushing back into the lake, soaking the three of us when it splashed. We all let out a hearty laugh, with Lux shaking himself, soaking Maximus and I even more.
“Well, apparently you two are already stronger than I thought,” Maximus stood and reached a hand out to me. “I guess I can speed up the lessons. We will continue with water today, but I have no doubt you’ll have it perfected in no time.”

‘No time’ apparently meant only a few hours. By lunch, both Lux and I were able to wield water like we had always known. We were able to use water as a weapon, practicing with on each other. We threw spheres at each other, made water snakes and used them to grab on to each other, and I figured out how to make a shield with the water, something Maximus was surprised about. I taught Lux and before long, the two of us were wielding water shields in our practice battles. We even learned how to conjure water, but Maximus said we needed more practice with conjuring due to how taxing to our energy it can be.
Maximus clapped his hands as a signal for Lux and I to end our battle, the both of us breathing hard. “That was wonderful, you two! I will let you leave and get some food, but I expect to see the two of you tomorrow, when we will begin with fire.” I nodded, Lux and I using our newfound powers to get us dry by pulling all the water off of us and returning it to the lake. Maximus touched my shoulder as he passed, giving me a bright smile before disappearing into the trees like yesterday.
“Oh pretty boy touched your shoulder,” Lux said rolling his eyes and I chuckled at his attitude, but I knew something that would make him happier.
“You grew again during our training,” I said and he agreed.
“I can tell, I can look into your eyes easier now.” Lux’s head was now at my shoulder his neck longer than before, with his body grown in length as well. Spikes on his tail were beginning to appear, and his horns had grown enough to curl for the first time. His scales were varying in shades of purple, starting at a violet and deepening in color to almost black.
“You look handsome,” I said and scratched under his chin, earning a hum as we walked back to the cafeteria. “Soon, we’ll be able to fly together.”
“I can’t wait, you’ll love it.”
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the all high and mighty Lux and Liona,” I heard Justin’s voice and I rolled my eyes and continued forward, with Lux just flipping his tail at the voice. Justin fell into step beside me and I did all I could to ignore him. “Aw, come on, Liona, not even an arousing speech to give me?”
“Nope.” Lux echoed my sentiment, cutting between Justin and I. Rubone joined Justin and the four of us walked silently back toward Argonite.
Justin tried another question, “What were you doing by the lake?”
“Am I not going to get more than one-word answers out of you?” Justin stopped me.
“Look, I’m not sure what you want, but I will not forgive what you did to Lux. I don’t want us to be buddy-buddy because I don’t like you. Can’t you just leave us be?” I side-stepped him and continued to the cafeteria, leaving Justin and Rubone . I looked down to Lux when I reached the doors, “I don’t think you can come in anymore.”
“That’s alright, I’ll go pick a cave and I’ll get food there,” Lux rubbed his head against me before flying off to the Dome. I sighed from his lack of presence, which he reminded me in my head, “I’m still here don’t worry.”
I entered the cafeteria alone, quickly finding a table full of my friends after stocking up on a whole bunch on food. I sat down and listened into the current conversation while shoving my face full of food.
“And when she turned around, the back of her hair had turned purple!” Tevan was saying and everyone roared with laughter as I smiled, not understanding the story since I came in late.
“Hi Liona, how was your morning?” Nate asked and everyone’s attention turned to me.
I swallowed my food before answering, “Wonderful! I learned water magic and Maximus said Lux and I caught on so fast.”
“Maximus?” Kelsey cocked her head. “Who’s Maximus?”
“And you know magic? Can you teach us?” Tevan leaned forward in excitement, as did everyone.
“Maximus is one of the three mages and is helping me with magic near the lake. Maximus said the only reason Lux and I have magic is because he is from the Legend,” I said the last part sadly.
“That’s okay,” Donovan said, “Where is Lux anyway?”
“Oh I thought he was too big to bring in with me, he’s choosing a cave now.”
“Too big? You brought him in this morning no problem, even though he seemed really big,” Kelsey said.
“He grew since then. What do you mean he seemed big?”
Nate spoke up, “How big was he this morning?”
“His head was about the height of my hip, now it’s about the height of my shoulder,” I replied between bites, as my hunger was finally beginning to be sated. Donovan and Tevan whistled in amazement, while Nate had his mouth hanging open. “What?”
“He is growing incredibly fast! That’s amazing,” Nate said. “Can I see him?” Donovan, Tevan and Kelsey asked as well, and I told them we could after I finished eating. After cleaning up our mess, we all trouped out to the Dome.
“Lux?” I called out as I walked around the Dome. “Lux!?” I yelled, beginning to panic.
“You better come quickly. I think my sister is hatching.”

Chapter Thirteen

I hurried into the hatchery to see Lux standing next to the egg he had identified as his sister. There was no other human in the room, and I began to realize what this meant—her bonded human had chosen a winged unicorn. Lux rose his eyes to mine as he sighed, not knowing what fate would befall his sister now. Another crack reverberated throughout the room, and the egg hatched with jagged lines until a tiny dragon head cracked through the thin surface. Lux immediately licked her clean as she attempted to squirm from his reach. He chuckled lightly and called me over.
“Is it allowed for me to touch her?” I asked, worried something might happen otherwise. Lux shook his head and prodded her with his nose toward me. Huge brown eyes stared at me as she wobbled in my direction and I took the time to look her over. She looked similar to Lux when he was born, but there was something more feminine about her, she seemed more graceful. She had dark green scales that faded to pale green near her tail and snout and she gently head butted me when she got closer. As soon as she touched me, she spoke to me in my mind, “Hello Liona.”
I blinked in surprise, and looked to Lux for an explanation, but all I got was a blank face in return.
“Hi, how are you?” I asked, not knowing what else to say.
“Wonderful,” she looked backwards at her brother. “I know my human has chosen a winged unicorn, but I do not wish to be set free. I want to stay with my brother.” She returns her gaze to me, “Will you allow me to stay with you?”
“Of course,” I said with a smile, pulling Lux next to me. “But firstly, a name.” I pondered in my thoughts for a second, sharing them with Lux until he agreed with my choice.
“How about Meadow?” I asked and she vigorously nodded up and down.
“I love it, thank you.”
I picked her up and placed her on my shoulder, and the two dragons and I walked from the hatchery into the Dome. My friends stood around with their own dragons, waiting for me to return. I wave a hello and everyone bounds over to me.
“Is that the Princess?” Tevan asked with huge eyes.
“Yes, her name is Meadow,” I said, scratching the two dragons and smiling at everyone.
“Where is her human?” Donovan asked searching around and I shake my head.
“She said her human bonded with a winged unicorn, but she wishes to stay with Lux and I, so I agreed,” I said and everyone gave me wary glances.
“Are you sure that’s alright?” Kelsey said tentatively taking a step towards me. “I don’t know how Director Leon would feel about it.”
I feel Meadow tense on my shoulder and I clutch her protectively, “I will do what I can. She means as much to me as she does to Lux, and I will not allow her to leave.” I turned on my heel to find Leon as quickly as I can, before he gets word from someone else what has occurred. I find him outside supervising a flight class and I ran up to him with Lux in tow.
“Sir,” I said and he turned to me with a smile.
“What can I do for you, Liona?” His gaze lingered on Meadow before returning to meet my eye. “I’m assuming it has to do with the dragon sitting on your shoulder?”
“Yes, sir. This is Meadow, Lux’s sister and Princess to dragons. Her human bonded with a winged unicorn, but she wishes to stay with Lux and I. Lux wants to rule with her by his side, so isn’t it fitting for her to attend the classes Lux and I are supposed to take?” I stood confidently, a hand on Lux as I awaited his answer.
His eyes became distant for a moment, before he returned to our conversation with another smile, “Not a problem, Liona. But I want you to know that she is your responsibility. From now on, you have two dragons to take care of,” he said firmly and I nodded in understanding. “Wonderful,” he clapped his hands and gestured to the dragons in the air, “Lux, would you like to join them?” As soon as he finished his sentence, Lux took off into the air, bobbing and weaving between all the dragons, some with riders and some without. I sighed aloud, frustrated I couldn’t join him yet.
“Don’t worry, at the rate he is growing, it will only be a few more days before you make him his first saddle,” Leon pats my shoulder and heads off to talk to some other instructors. Lux landed and nuzzled my shirt, before reaching out a forked tongue to lick Meadow, causing her to growl with laughter. I hugged them all to my chest and laughed, finally feeling like I belonged.

Chapter Fourteen

That night, I left Meadow with Lux in his new cave so I could get some sleep on my own. The two of them looked like they were going to talk for hours and I needed some sleep for the fire training. I returned to the dorm and saw all of my friends gathered in the living room.
“What did the director say?” Nate asked as I closed the door behind me.
“Meadow is allowed to stay. She’s with Lux in his cave,” I answered yawning. “But, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to bed.” A chorus of goodnight’s followed me into my room as I quickly changed from my clothes into sleepwear and collapsing on my bed with a huff. I wiggled under the blanket and sighed in content, falling into my dreams.
I wandered around in my blackness-filled dream searching for the source of the voice. A bright light flashed and before me stood a being draped in flowing cloth that stood many feet above my height.
“Liona, Queen of Dragonriders, I am here to warn you,” a feminine voice called down to me.

“I am no Queen,” I stated to the being, shaking my head. “I am considered a Lady. I am just bonded to Lux, King of Dragons.”
“You will see,” the being answered. “But that is not what I am here to tell you. Meadow’s human bonded with a winged unicorn, yes?” I nodded. “This is very worrisome.”
“Why?” I feel confused. “She’s with me and Lux and she will grow to lead the dragons with Lux as a Princess.”
“No,” the being roared and I bent down into a crouch in reflex. “She cannot do so. She will meet her human and she will fight against you and Lux!”
“There is no way she would fight against her brother!” I yell back and the being kneeled down to be in level with my face.
“She will, and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you can prepare,” the being swatted me away from it and I landed on the ground coughing at the impact.
“Why are you telling me this?” I said after I caught my breath.
“Because,” the being paused and stared at me with its glowing eyes. “You are meant to be much more than you had ever planned.”
I woke up with a start, my body aching in pain, from what I assumed was the vision. I stood up and walked to my window to see the two moons high in the sky. I gave a start when Lux appeared outside my window, flapping his wings to keep alight. He had grown considerably in the few hours I had left him; he was much taller than me and longer.
I opened the window, “Did you see?”
Lux hung his head, “Yes. Do you think it’s true?”
“I’m not sure what to believe,” I shook my head and peered out the window. “Do you want to go to the forest and practice? I don’t think I can go back to sleep.”
Lux nodded and turned his back to me, “Hop on.”
“Do you think you can hold me?” I looked at him skeptically and he laughed.
“You scared, little girl?” He taunted and I scoffed, climbing on to the window sill and jumping off, feeling slightly weightlessness before Lux caught me and we soared into the sky.
“This is amazing!” I yelled above the wind and Lux roared in response, sending shivers down my spine in delight. He let out a plume of fire, lighting up the night sky, and even the moons I had admired so long couldn’t be as amazing as it felt to fly with my bonded dragon. His scales scratched the insides of my legs, but not enough to distract me from the brilliant feeling I was experiencing. I held out my arms as the wind threatened to tear me from his back and I couldn’t hear the panic in Lux’s voice until I slipped from his scales and began freefalling back to the ground. I could hear Lux yelling in my thoughts but my fear overrode anything he was saying. I couldn’t even scream, I just watched the ground come up closer and closer. At the last second, I felt my head ripped up by Lux gripping onto my hair and we crashed into the ground together. He had been able to slow me down, but not enough to where I didn’t feel the impact. My leg was twisted at an awkward angle and I could feel my head bleeding.
“Ouch,” was all I could say as I tried to sit up, checking on Lux. He laid next to me breathing hard, and I could see his wing was bent. “Oh, Lux. You’re hurt!”
“Not as bad as you,” he answered and lifted his head to lay it next to me. “I am glad you’re not dead.”
I laid back and placed a hand on his head, the two of us breathing hard, “I am glad you’re not dead either.”
We had both fallen asleep at some point and I awoke to sunlight streaming into my face. I could see people running towards us, including Leon and Donovan. I sat up and was pleased to see many of my fewer injuries had healed, and Lux’s wing seemed to be better as well. He lifted his head as the people approached and when they got close enough he stood up and growled, blocking me from the people.
“Lux? Lux! What’s wrong?” I prodded at him with my mind and I received silence in return. I stood up behind him, using his larger spikes to stand. I tried to move out from behind him to talk to the people, but he wouldn’t allow me to.
“Leave!” He growled loudly and I could only assume the people backed away in fear. I heard footsteps running away from us and when Lux turned around I hit his side.
“What was that for?” I yelled and he snapped at me. I backed away in shock and his gaze softened, placing his head on the ground in front of me.
“I can fix you myself,” he mumbled and licked my hand. “We don’t need them.”
“But that’s beside the point,” I leaded down to level with one of his eyes. “You cannot treat people like that. Especially because of you and your status.”
He growled at that, “Being King does not matter if I do not have you! And it’s all my fault.” He shifted his gaze from me to the ground, moving his talons around in the dirt. “It’s my fault you got hurt. I shouldn’t have let us fly, I should’ve caught you in time, I should’ve…”
I cut him off, “I will be fine. I need to be stronger, and this was just a mistake. We will fly again and we will do it right. Together.” I placed a hand on his snout and he puffed smoke into my face to make me smile.

Chapter Fifteen

Despite Lux’s statement, he didn’t allow anyone near me for a few hours. I was almost completely healed by that time, but Leon insisted I get checked out by the nurse. I was sure Maximus knew what had happened, considering he had magic, so I wasn’t worried about missing our fire lesson. When I walked into the healing room, the nurse gasped and hurried me to a bed. I was surprised at her shock until she shoved a mirror into my hand. Blood was caked across my head, but the more shocking thing was the fact my hair was a disaster. It was a combination of being singed from fire-breath and cut short from Lux’s teeth. I touched it lightly, slight sadness creeping into my feelings. I hadn’t ever worn it short, but it was the only way to fix the mess. The nurse brought in a friend of hers, who washed my hair to get the blood off, and then set to work chopping off the longer pieces of my hair that survived the destruction. Before long, the shininess of my hair returned, just at a much shorter length. It was about two inches long and it swooped to one side. I thanked the man for his work and met Leon outside the infirmary, where he walked with me back to Lux.
“I think we should start those royalty lessons,” he said and I agreed. “I think Lux is growing too quickly and it is affecting his moods.”
I shrugged, “I hope whoever is teaching us these lessons has a thick skin. Lux has been quite moody, as you saw evidence of today.”
Leon chuckled and shook his head, “Don’t you worry about Miss Kingsley. She’ll handle him just fine.”
Once I stepped foot outside, Lux wrapped his long neck around me, squeezing me lightly. I poked him until he let me go, and I figured we had time to visit Meadow before our lesson. We walked to the Dome side-by-side, Lux growling at anyone in our way. I apologized for him and everyone gave me sympathetic looks.
“I’m sorry about your hair,” Lux whispered in my head and I patted his side.
“I actually kind of like it,” I said aloud, touching it again. It felt weird to not have it hitting my back as I walked, and my neck wasn’t as sweaty as usual. “It won’t get in the way of training, but you won’t be able to catch me by my hair again.” I joked, but Lux hung his head in shame. “Please don’t be sad. I’m alright now.”
At this time, we had reached the Dome, and Lux lead me to his cave on the forth level. “It seems with my increase in growth, they are allowing me to move up to a cave so I can grow into it.” He flew up, but insisted I take the stairs. I reached the top and walked around the circle to the left, passing four caves before reaching Lux’s. A smaller cushion had been placed in it for Meadow, and she was resting until I walked in. She woke up immediately and stumbled towards me, and I leaned down so she could walk into my arms. Lux’s mood seemed to be happier around his sister, so I decided she could attend royalty lessons with us, especially since she was a Princess. I noticed that even with Lux’s size, he was quite small for the cave. But, I knew this would change quickly, so I wasn’t too worried. There weren’t many dragons on this level, and I peeked up to the fifth and final level and saw only one dragon present. My brow furrowed as I wondered about why there were so many dragons on the first couple levels, but steadily decreased as the levels increased. I knew we were training to fight against the winged unicorns and the destruction the riders caused, but I assumed there would be many dragons here to complete training. My thoughts were interrupted when Lux reminded me of our meeting, and we left the Dome to head toward the school doors.
A woman wearing leather boots, thick leggings, and a long sleeve shirt cinched at the waist waved us over to her as she appraised all of us from a distance. “Lux, stand tall. You are a proud King and you must portray confidence.” Lux growled under his breath, but followed her orders. “Liona, take longer strides and focus your toes forward, don’t walk with them pointed to the sides.” She blinked as she focused on Meadow, “And who is this?”
“Meadow, she’s Lux’s sister,” I explained as I bowed slightly to her. She returned the gesture and headed off around the school.
“I’m Miss Kingsley. There is a clearing behind the building that we can practice, as I can see Lux will not be fitting into the school anytime soon,” she winked and I smiled. Lux growled and she stopped walking, whipped around and marched up to him with a glare. “Listen here, you will not growl at me, nor will you growl unless someone threatens you, Liona, or Meadow. I refuse to have you treat me like I am here to ruin you.” She nodded once, turned on her heal and continued on her way. I nearly fell to the floor laughing at the look Lux had on his face. He had lowered his head near the ground and hadn’t met Miss Kingsley’s eye. Once she had her eyes off on him, he stood tall and followed after her, Meadow and I stifling our laughs.
We reached the clearing and it seemed Miss Kingsley and Lux had made up, and his mood seemed to have brightened as well. Her lesson corrected little outward flaws, mostly to make us seem as confident on the outside as we were on the inside. Meadow mostly watched from a stump, since she hadn’t exactly figured out walking or flying yet. Miss Kingsley let us leave only after half an hour, saying she would send a note for the next lesson.
We spent the rest of the day near the lake like we had intended the night before. We kept the thoughts of Meadow betraying us from our heads as we showed her our tricks. She didn’t seem to be able to control water the same as we had, but she shrugged it off, splashing us as she giggled. We all got into her playing and before long we were soaked. I grew tired as the sun sunk in the sky as I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before.
“I’m going to grab some food, okay?” I said as I clambered from the shallow water and pulled the excess from me. They nodded and continued to play and I smiled at their happiness.
As I walked away Lux asked, “Would you mind staying with me in the Dome tonight?” and I told him I wouldn’t mind. I gathered some food and ate alone, since it seemed my friends weren’t around. I returned to my room and took a quick shower, putting on a pair of shorts and a large t-shirt afterward. I grabbed an extra blanket and put boots on my feet and went to the Dome. Meadow had returned and was curled up on her cushion, but Lux hadn’t returned. At my questioning feeling, Lux sent me an image from his eyes. He was flying due to his wing completely healing. I watched as he circled Argonite and scanned the trees. He landed outside the Dome and I cut our connection as he entered the cave.
I had already placed the blanket on the cot, but Lux pulled it toward the center of the cave. He curled around it and nudged me with his nose to lay in it. As I was about to get comfortable, a voice cut through the silence.
“New haircut?” Justin pushed off the railing and walked into the cave. I turned my back to him in an effort to ignore him and I heard him sigh. “I just wanted to say it looked nice.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled, rolling my eyes. I heard his steps pad towards the exit and down the stairs. Before I fell asleep, I felt Lux place Meadow beside me and I pulled her to my chest. We all snuggled together and I fell into a peaceful sleep, without any life-changing dreams.

Chapter Sixteen

I awoke in the middle of the night to an ear-shattering roar. After hearing Lux’s roar, I knew it wasn’t his, but I scrambled to untangle myself from the blankets and Lux rushed toward the entrance of the cave. The roof of the Dome was on fire and I began coughing from the thick smoke filling the room. Lux picked me up from my shirt and placed me on his back as a part of the roof crashed on to the floor, leaving an opening that dragons that hadn’t already gotten out, flew from. Lux deposited Meadow in my lap before taking a leap from the ledge and joining the flurry of dragons exiting the room. He swerved as another large part of the roof crashed down, but a piece of the wood clipped his wing and he growled in frustration. Although he was hurt, he continued to fly from the Dome before dropped Meadow and I off in the woods and heading back to the Dome. I screamed after him, trying to run back, but Donovan came out of nowhere to hold me back. I could feel the pain he was in as a beam struck his back, momentarily stunning him before he collected a few single dragons. He crashed through the wall near the entrance and shuffled dragons out before jumping out of the way when the building collapsed. He breathed heavily as he also collapsed. Donovan finally let me go and I gave Meadow to him and ran to Lux, not realizing the tears streaming from my face until I tasted them on my tongue. I knew he would heal, but in the state he was in, I was terrified. I reached him and hugged his neck as he nuzzled me, assuring me his was alright. As my tears dried, lightening cracked and I saw the outline of a massive dragon silhouetted against the darkened sky. I blinked and it was gone, but not before I saw a group of winged unicorns flying off into the distance, melting into the black clouds. My anger grew as I realized this was not an accident.
This was an attack.
Lux slowly stood, dragging his hurt wing on the ground as we were told to get away from the building.
Liona, I’m too exhausted, but you can put the fire out. Lux said in my head and I nodded, drawing water from the lake. Everyone watched in awe as my water sphere flew from the lake and dissipated the fire before it spread to the hatchery—which would have been devastating to the school. I got a round of applause, which Lux and I agreed was unnecessary, before we joined Leon who was speaking to mostly people I hadn’t met and Maximus. Maximus smiled at me when we made eye contact and I nodded to acknowledge his presence.
“Liona, Lux, this is the Council,” Leon introduced. “Wyatt, Naomi, Ivan, and Maximus, whom you’ve met. We are in charge of the academy and the ones leading the war.” Ivan was a muscular man with trimmed facial hair and light wrinkles beginning to appear on his face. Naomi reminded me of Mariona, beautiful but a strong and determined leader. Wyatt had spectacles that sat on a sharp nose, and he carried a sack filled with scrolls and parchment resting at his hip.
“I wished I had been informed of this war more,” I said to the group, my expression serious. “I did not realize that the school was in danger, and it is the job of Lux and I to protect dragons and their riders. I saw a group of warriors on winged unicorns flying in the distance.”
I hesitated and the Council saw, leading Naomi to ask me to be frank with them. “I saw a dragon with them as well.” Wyatt let out a sharp gasp, before looking slightly sheepish. “What is it, Wyatt?”
“Well, there have been rumors of a rider who has joined the winged unicorns,” he said, pulling a scroll from his bag and handing to it me. “I haven’t really believed them until you have confirmed. The pair is believed to have magic, which is a great addition to their side, but a worrisome one for us.” I scanned the document and relay information to Lux. It seemed the dragon in question was dark gray with white markings and every time it was seen, lightening appeared.
Do you think they have lightening powers? I asked Lux and he nodded. How?
Not sure, he answered, shaking his head. Whatever the reason, it’s definitely an issue.
A student cautiously came up to our group, “Sirs and ma’ams, where are our dragons going to sleep now?”
I smiled at him and touched his shoulder, “I guess we’ll be camping out here. It’s a good thing it’s not snowing.” The student grinned back and ran off to tell his friends. Many of the students from the dorms had come outside to see their dragons as well, checking on them and attending to any injuries.
Lux suddenly hung his head and let out a sharp breath. I turned from the group, terrified his injuries had hurt him more when an anguished scream tore through the air. I rushed toward the Dome where a girl was kneeling in the rubble holding the head of a baby-blue dragon. Lux followed behind me as we approached her. She was bawling and cradling the head as she called her dragon’s name.
“Yajna! Yajna!” she cried and I knelt beside her. She let go of her dragon and threw her arms around me, sobbing into my shoulder as I held her. My heart broke as I watched her dragon lay dead in the destruction of the Dome. Lux let out a tormented roar, not doubt feeling the instant Yajna had died. Other dragons joined in his roar, as the ground shook, feeling the same pain.
She pulled away from me, put her hands on my shoulders and stared into my eyes, “Avenge Yajna. Avenge me.” Then she began to turn to dust, as Yajna did.
My eyes began to water again and before she was completely gone I asked, “What’s your name?”
“Josephine Caverly. Avenge my Yajna, Liona.”
The dust flew into the sky, the two sets twirling and twisting as though they were dancing. They melded together and in a flash of light a sword was made from the dust. It fell to the ground, stabbing it right in front of me. I choked on a sob as the names Josephine and Yajna engrave themselves on the blade. I grasped the hilt and pulled it from the ground, pointing it to the sky and turning to the riders behind me.
“They will not die in vain! We will avenge their deaths and we will win!” I screamed and Lux roared to accompany me, letting out a long flame. Dragons and riders answered with their own roars and screams before we all died down, taking in the gravity of the situation.
One of us had been killed.
How many others do you think have died, Lux? I turned to him, resting my head on his scales.
Too many he answered. Way too many.

The whole story is in this collection! XOXO sborek