Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5
One With the Dragons

One With the Dragons

A Story by A.L.

Young Adi has grown up with dragons her entire life. Until the poachers finally find them. Can Adi discover the truth and save her friends? Or will she die in vain, trying to save them?


It had been thirteen years since Adeline had been left with the dragons. Thirteen years since her parents dropped off their odd looking child at the cave on the cliff, perhaps hoping the dragons would eat her. Adi didn’t care what her parents thought of her, and she was thankful they had left her there over a decade ago. It was worth it 

The dragons had not eaten Adi, they had simply adopted her. As a pet or a child of their own, no one was completely sure. But Adi definitely looked different. 

Her hair was dark and fell to her waist in waves. Her eyes were two different colors, one a pale teal and the other a light amber. They worked, and that was all Adi needed. Sure, her posture was terrible and her etiquette didn’t exist. She was short for her age, and quite skinny. She had scars that covered her pale skin. But her body was perfectly functional. 

The mother dragon of the clan had really been the one to take in Adi. Edema had sky blue scales and knowing chocolate eyes. She was the oldest dragon, and her wings were more powerful than any others. Her tail curled gracefully as she walked. 

There were several other dragons in the Windfall clan. Zodius was younger, a little older than Adi. He had viridian scales and eyes the same shade as his mother’s. Velavan was maybe twenty or so, and she had the most beautiful violet scales and turquoise eyes to rival Adi’s. Merima was Velavan’s mother, and she had the same eyes and scales as Velavan, though she was much weaker. Merima had just given birth to Hylia, who had scales like Edema and eyes like Merima. 

Glip was the father dragon, and his scales matched Zodius, though his eyes were sapphire. Tresa was his dead wife who had been killed by poachers before Adi was born. He was stuck taking care of Farid and Ralil, his two sons the color of ash with yellow eyes. 

All the dragons, Edema, Zodius, Velavan, Merima, Hylia, Glip, Farid, and Ralil, were fond of Adi. They had marked her with dye made from plants of the forest. Her face was permanently stained with swirls and dots that claimed her as the Windfall tribe. 

However, the dragons had their own language. They did not speak English nor Spanish nor French. It was the language of the dragons that many people never took the time to learn. Adi couldn’t necessarily speak it fluently, though she was pretty good. She had begun to interpret noises at the age of five and she was currently working through it. 

The dragons helped when they could. All of them were shapeshifters, so they could appear human. Their scales would transform into clothes and hair, though their eyes would remain the same. The dragons all preferred their dragons forms, however, so Adi was normally surrounded by actual dragons. 

Occasionally, Glip, Merima, or Edema would take Adi into a nearby town and they would buy her a new tunic or they would get some candy. Adi liked to pretend she was just a normal girl. 

On one sunny afternoon, the dragons were preparing to move again. They did this often to avoid poachers. All of them were in human form, helping to pack up the area. Velavan was babysitting Farid and Ralil. Merima, Glip, and Edema were packing the tents. Zodius was helping Adi by the stream collect herbs for their meal. 

His green hair made him look like a cactus, and his soft brown eyes were wide. Adi couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy. Zodius always looked so handsome and she looked like a freak. 

“ Hey, “ He said in the musical language of the dragons. “ Why the long face? “ He touched her cheeks, lifting her lips. Any other girl would have blushed, but touching was common in her tribe, so Adi was used to it. She playfully swatted his hands away. 

“ I’m fine. “ She replied, picking some clover out of the clear water. “ I’m just going to miss this cave. “ 

Zodius laughed. “ I suppose you miss the other twenty caves too? “ 

“ Of course. But this one especially. “ Adi picked another blossom, adding it to her pouch of leaves. 

“ I would believe you if you hadn’t said that about all the other caves. “ Zodius splashed her with the water and Adi recoiled. She had always hated cold water. 

They splashed each other back and forth, their laughter carrying over the hills. Edema found them soon after. Her teal waves were tied back in a braid. 

Getting your work done, I see. “ She purred. Adi always had more trouble translating Edema’s words. Maybe it was the way her voice carried a strong accent. 

“ Sorry, mother. “ Zodius smiled. Edema ruffled his hair. 

Come, children, we are leaving soon. “ Adi and Zodius followed the mother dragon up the hill. 

Velavan and Merima had explained to Hylia what she was to do, all three in dragon form. Glip was showing Ralil and Farid the best way to spread their wings and catch the wind. Edema transformed into her beautiful reptilian form, Zodius following her example. Adi climbed on Edemas back, since she herself could not transform. 

Oh, the dragons had tried to teach her. They’d showed her how. But it had become clear that Adi was 100% human and she would never be a real dragon. That hurt more than she expected. The mother dragon flapped her powerful wings, hurtling herself into the sky. The wind tangled Adi’s hair in knots as she pushed her body closer to the massive dragon’s. They moved at a swift pace and Adi tried to take her mind off how cold the wind was. 

The dragon’s scales were their clothes, they hadn’t needed to worry about it until Adi came along. Mostly, they would just steal clothing from rich little girls. Adi would tear the dresses apart and sew tunics and coats. She avoided stealing fur skins because the dragons were repulsed by her wearing an animal. Is that seriously a dead fox? Zodius had asked when she first returned. When she nodded he threw up, over and over again. Adi had learned her lesson. 

As the sky grew darker, Adi adjusted herself so she could lay on her back and see the stars. Merima and Velavan had tried to show her them all at once. They tried to explain how they could harvest the starlight and use it in their fire. Adi hadn’t understood. How could you harness the power of something trillions of miles away. 

The dragons set down at the edge of a waterfall not far from a town. Glip and Edema started to unpack while Merima put the younger dragons to sleep in a small nest. Zodius and Velavan shifted to human and explored the cave with Adi. 

Velavan was the oldest child, and she knew it. Her purple hair hung in curls and her turquoise eyes were always playful. She blew on the tip of her finger, igniting it in flame. Adi could make fire with her mouth, but it hurt and left burns. 

The cave wasn’t deep and Zodius was able to find some leftover bedding from the last dragon tribe. He organized it and let Adi lay down first. He then shifted back into dragon, pulling a soft wool blanket from the packs, placing it over Adi. Zodius curled up around Adi’s body, heating the small girl. Velavan curled up next to the two of them and all three of them fell asleep. 

Adi was always the first one up and the next day was no exception. Edema and Glip had crashed in the front of the cave. Adi slipped by them easily. No one, not even Zodius, knew about her nightly travels. 

There was a lake at the edge of the cave mouth. The still water glistened in the moonlight. Adi walked calmly to the edge and dipped her bare feet in the cold water. The serene feel of the calm setting gave her chills. There were probably fish in the lake that Glip would hunt and they would all eat. Maybe she could spot a deer and Glip could make that for a meal. 

As long as Adi was back by the moment the sun touched the horizon no one would no the difference. Sure, Zodius was her friend, probably her best friend, but he was still a dragon. And she was a puny human. 

The wind whistled around her and Adi felt the hairs on the back of her neck tingle. She sniffed the air. The dragons had taught her many things, including the scent of intruders. Although she couldn’t tell the gender or age by smell, someone was definitely close, about 30 yards. 

Adi would not be able to make it to the cave. Moving would mean giving away her location. She rolled into the nearest bush, knowing that wouldn’t trigger any unwanted attention. Flashlight beams hit the ground and Adi knew that they were poachers. She had to warn the dragons!  

Quickly deciding that the dragon’s lives were more important than her own, Adi howled and shrieked like a wolf. The poachers turned, their footsteps loud. They knew exactly where she was. There were about six, only two facing her direction. She howled again, hoping that she could hear the wings of her friends wings flapping. No luck. 

Rash desicions were Adi’s speciality, so she swiftly darted from the bush to a tree, making her way towards the cave. A smelly fumes filled the air after her and she heard shouts. Inside the cave was chaos. The dragons had awoke, but they were all human. Merima comforted a weeping Hylia. Glip tried to keep Farid and Ralil from leaving the cave. Zodius and Edema scrambled to get all their supplies. Velavan was busy trying to roll boulders in front of the cave. Adi was able to slip in. 

“ There are poachers out there! “ She cried. Edema grabbed her by the shoulders. 

You know how dangerous it is to be out there alone. Do you know what panic you put us through when we found you weren’t here? “ Edema glared at her and Adi looked down. It was her fault the poachers knew they were here. 

“ Can’t you change to your dragon forms? “ Adi asked. Edema shook her head. The gas was visible and it was filling the cave. 

There was shouting directly outside the cave. Soon, six figures were planted at the front of the cave, dart guns in hand. One of them released another puff of gas, causing Velavan to promptly collapse on the ground. 

The misty gas was spreading and Adi pulled the cloth of her tunic up over her nose, but it didn’t seem to affect her. The poachers noticed too. 

The shouted words Adi could barely understand, although she had picked up some English. “ Get the girl. She’s human! “ Two men peeled away from the others and began to run at her. She grabbed Zodius and Ralil’s hands and pulled them away. 

The three Windfall members ran into the depths and shadows of the caves. Zodius pulled ahead, but Ralil stumbled with almost every step. They took several turns and soon the pounding of footsteps behind them disappeared. Ralil almost fell onto the wall, but Adi helped the young boy lower himself to the ground. Zodius followed him, seeming weaker than Adi had ever seen him before. 

“ Do you think it’s safe to check? “ Zodius asked her, leaning his head against the cave wall. 

Adi shook her head, although she knew he couldn’t see her in the dark. “ The weird gas seems to be effecting you, not me. If anyone should go, it should be me. Right now I’m the strongest, plus they don’t seem as interested in me. “ 

“ Um, some of them tried to chase specifically you. “ Zodius pointed out, but Adi had already begun to leave. 

She padded down the cave tunnels, making her way back to the entrance. Four figures were still there, and they were loading the remaining dragons onto a truck. She could barely hear them. 

“ The girl got away. She and the two others vanished. “ One man said. 

“ So you let her get away? “ Another voice. 

“ She had the two others, and one of them was old enough to spark flames. “ The first voice again. 

“ He would’ve been too weak. The sedative would’ve worked its way into his system. Besides, we managed to get a couple shots in. He’ll be dead before long. “ A third voice. 

Adi gasped. Zodius? Dead? Of course, she could only assume they were talking about him, although she didn’t know what a sedative or a shot was. 

“ Still, if the dragons haven’t killed her she must be important. I mean, did you see her eyes.” The second voice spoke again. 

“ Freaky alright. “ The first man agreed. She kicked a rock in anger. Her eyes were not freaky. 

“ Did you hear that? “ A different voice, gruffer this time. 

Footsteps came closer and Adi froze. Someone had heard her. A man peeked around the boulder she was sitting behind. He held up a lantern. Adi wasn’t sure how he managed to tame the flames.

“ It’s the girl! “ He shouted, reaching for her. Adi scrambled up and started to run. But with four men on her tail they easily caught up to her. One held her arms while another held her legs. One pushed her against the wall by her neck while another held the captured fire. 

The man holding her against the wall pulled a needle out from his pocket. And extended from it was a tube filled with orange liquid. He pressed it to Adi’s necked and she felt a pinch. The man dropped her as she choked, which was a mistake. She bit one man and kicked furiously at another. 

They all instinctively moved away and she was able to bolt. This time, adrenaline filled her sprint and she was able to pull away, despite the stinging sensation in her neck. 

She made it back to Ralil and Zodius. Zodius was asleep, Ralil holding his arm to check for his pulse. Adi felt something rushing towards her brain. Then it was in her brain, like it was filling with cotton. Adi gasped for air, curling into a ball next to Ralil. He petted her hair, stroking it calmly until cave finally turned into midnight blackness. 

Ralil shook her away about six hours later. His face was pale and worried, his silvery hair unruly. His yellow eyes reflected dimly in the firelight. Firelight? Adi glanced at Zodius, who hadn’t moved from the previous position he’d been in. 

“ Did you start the fire? “ Adi whispered, forcing her complaining muscles to push her into a sitting position. 

“ It was my first. “ Ralil nodded. Adi gave him a hug. “ It’s just … what do you think they’ll do with Farid? “ 

It took Adi a moment to realize that Farid and Ralil were twins. They had a special bond that no one else had. Ralil was probably only about ten, and he was most likely terrified. 

“ The poachers don’t want him dead. They’ll feed him. “ Adi soothed the small boy, although she was surely lying. 

Zodius stirred awake. His brown eyes shifted in alarm, and his movements caused him to groan. A tiny puddle of blood was forming on the ground, and Adi noticed the back of his shirt was soaked in it. Dragon blood wasn’t red like human blood, it was a silvery purple. 

His eyelids fluttered as Ralil froze in shock and Adi scooted over to help him. “ May I remove your shirt? I want to see the injury. “ Adi added quickly. She wasn’t sure if Zodius could take off his shirt, since it was basically his scales. 

He nodded, his voice failing as Adi cut the garment away with a sharp rock. More silvery blood spilled out of a divot in his back. A small piece of metal was lodged inside, and Adi pulled it out, causing Zodius to scream in pain. The bleeding continued and she ripped a bit of his shirt off, tying it around the wound. It was soaked with more blood, but at least it would stop the flow. 

“ Here, you’re bleeding too. “ Ralil said, pointing to a spot on her neck where the needle had been injected. He offered to use a bit of the green shirt, but Adi blatantly refused, ripping up her own black tunic and tying it loosely around her neck like a collar. 

“ What happened? “ Zodius mumbled groggily. Color had returned to his pale face, Adi hadn;t noticed it was gone earlier. 

“ What do you want to know? “ Ralil paused, fumbling through a bag laid on the floor. 

“ Everything since I passed out. “ Zodius said, leaning his head against the wall in pain. Adi crawled to the other side of the fire, warming her limbs. Ralil sent her a look, telling her to tell her part first. 

“ Well, I decided to check on the others. “ Adi started nervously, debating how much to share. 

“ I remember that. “ Zodius mumbled. 

“ And I went to see them. There were four poachers at the mouth of the cave. They were discussing the dragons and us. How we got away and everything. “ She decided not to mention most of the talk had been about her. “ Then I accidentally gave away my location and they chased me. When they got me one of them pushed me against the wall and held my throat, and then he put a needle into my neck here. “ She pointed to the bleeding spot. “ Then they dropped me, thinking I couldn’t run, but I did. I made it back here. Of course, then I somehow fell asleep, even though I wasn’t tired. “ 

Zodius nodded along drowsily. His eyes fluttered open and closed. “ My mom told me about things like that. “ His words were slurred and his skin was extremely pale. “ She said something about humans having a weapon they gained when they evolved. They began to use chemicals and compounds triggered different reactions. Some of them heal, some prevent diseases, some can knock people out, and some can kill. “ 

Ralil let out a shriek, Adi shushed him. “ Why don’t you tell us what happened, Ralil? “ 

Ralil nodded, seeming to think before speaking. “ Well, after Adi left, Zodius fell asleep as well, although he looked worse off. I did a couple of checks on his pulse and made him comfortable. I was about to prepare a bed when Adi returned, but then she looked terrible, so I helped her. I guess panic fueled me, because I was able to make a fire. Then I explored briefly, collected a few things, and made breakfast. “ 

He pointed to three decent sized perch on a rock, all cooked to perfection. Adi took one and ripped into it, then helped Zodius as soon as she finished. The fish made him a little stronger, but he needed sleep. 

“ What did you find? “ Adi asked when everyone had calmed down. 

“ A shard of glass, a mirror, a gray stick, and a net. “ Ralil answered, pulling his prizes out of a little pouch he carried with him. The shard of glass came from a lantern, and it was pretty sharp. The mirror could fit in someone’s pocket. The net could as well, it was extremely small, not big enough to catch a dragon. And the stick - it was the needle. 

“ Let me smell. “ Zodius grabbed the needle from Ralil, pressing it against his nose. His expression flickered. “ It smells … different. I don’t know what it is, but it reeks of gralia. “ Gralia was a type of plant that only grew along the rivers. To the dragons it was harmless, but when Adi was younger, they discovered it was nearly fatal to humans. One touch and Adi felt a burning sensation crawl up her arm and she woke up a week later. Zodius growled at no one in particular. 

Adi pulled her legs closer to herself. Someone was trying to kill her. “ Don’t worry, it only smells a little like gralia, mainly other things I can’t place. “ Zodius said. “ But it was definitely there, because you looked terrible. “ 

That thought made Adi scramble for the mirror. Zodius was right. Her face was gray and blotchy, and her eyes looked paler. Her lips had a blue tinge, and her neck seemed to be turning pink. Bright red. She put the mirror down. There had only been a small amount of gralia. She would live. Adi closed her eyes, resting her head against the cave wall.

She needed to rest, as did Zodius. But resting meant that they could be giving up on their clan. Adi felt terrible, except she knew that they would have better luck rested and healthier. 

“ We need to sleep. “ Adi said. Zodius nodded and Ralil looked disappointed, but he understood. 

Ralil extinguished the fire, turning himself into a dragon and curling his small, reptilian body around Adi’s tiny human one. Zodius joined in, still as a human, and all three of them fell into a deep sleep. 

Adi awoke to Ralil and Zodius both in human form, cleaning up their campsite. Zodius helped her to her feet, but as soon as she stood the blood rushed to her head and she promptly fell over again. 

Ralil supported her weight, and Zodius was able to limp out of the cave. The sun was sinking in the sky. “ It’ll be best to travel at night. “ Adi decided. 

“ Let’s stop at the village and pick up a few things. “ Ralil nodded. “ Can you right it down? “ Adi grabbed a pad of paper and a pen from Ralil. She loved writing, and made the dragon’s an alphabet. The letters were so beautiful, and Adi couldn’t help but admire them. 

“ We need clothes, food, some canteens, maybe a weapon or something. Anything else? “ Ralil counted on his fingers as Adi copied down his wish list. 

“ I want a dagger. “ Zodius announced. “ And I want some matches. “ 

“ Why do we need matches and clothes? “ Adi asked, still writing. 

“ I can’t start fires well, and Zodius is weak. Besides, I need to save my energy. “ Ralil pointed out. “ The clothes are so a) we can fit in, and b) so that you can look like a normal person.” Adi saw his point and wrote his requests, rolling the paper up and tucking it away. 

They hobbled along - the closest village wasn’t far. “ We need to split up. I’ll get the matches and dagger. Ralil, you get the canteen and some medicine for Adi. Adi can get some food, and we’ll all get clothing first. “ Zodius planned. 

Adi nodded, although she was feeling worse by the minute. “ We need hooded clothing. You have your weird hair and eyes, and I have those freaky eyes. “ 

“ They’re not freaky. “ Zodius said, a little to quickly. “ But the hood things are good ideas. “ Adi agreed, and the three of them trudged into the village. 

Ralil discovered the clothing shop first, and it was closer to the outskirts of town, which was good combined with the setting sun. The few people who saw them gave them dirty looks. There was an older lady on the counter inside, and she waved cheerfully at Ralil, Zodius, and Adi. 

“ What can I get for you, my dears? “ The older woman asked in English. Zodius and Adi were able to understand, but Ralil was helpless. 

“ A tunic and dress for the girl, and a shirt and pants for the boy and I. “ Zodius said, his words crisp and wrong. English sounded terrible in his voice. 

“ Is that all? “ The lady asked. When Zodius nodded she stepped out from behind the counter. Grabbing Ralil and Zodius, the lady pulled them along, leaving Adi to wander around for a little. 

Her current tunic was soft and light. She loved it dearly, and another tunic wouldn’t be so bad. But why had Zodius requested a dress? And how would he pay for all of this? 

The lady returned with Zodius and Ralil dressed in pale colors. Their other clothes were packed inside large satchel. “ Now it's your turn, dear. “ The lady pulled Adi to the corner of the store with girlier clothes. 

“ A dress and tunic, you say. “ She nodded calmly to herself, standing Adi on a stool. “ Any preferences? “ 

“ Could the tunic be light fabric, and I could use a cloak. So could the boys. “ Adi said politely. Her voice worked better with the English words. 

“ Of course. “ The lady disappeared behind several racks of clothes. She returned soon after, holding a dress and a tunic. 

The little old lady had Adi try on both articles of clothing, satisfied when they fit perfectly. The tunic was a navy blue, and the dress was lilac and cottony. She also found them each a gray cloak with a hood, and insisted they were free of charge. 

They decided to change immediately, and then split up. Zodius insisted they meet back at the fountain in the center of the town in one hour. He gave them each a handful of gold coins from his mother’s stash. Ralil assured Adi that whatever she wanted to get for food would work, and that it was fine to spend all her money. 

There was a butcher shop on one of the streets, and Adi decided to go there first. They had bread from a local bakery as well, and Adi bought two loaves from a kind woman. 

The bells of the door rang as she walked in, and Adi made her way to the counter. A young boy and his dad were busy cutting meat. Unsure of what to get, Adi attempted to read the labels above the meat cases, but she couldn’t read English. 

The boy must’ve noticed her confused expression. “ How may I help you, miss? “ Adi looked up and the boy let out a small gasp. 

“ What? “ She asked, feeling very self-conscious. 

“ I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen eyes quite like yours, miss. Have you, father? “ The boy turned to his father. The boy had brown hair and brown eyes. A typical village boy. 

His father ignored him and the boy rolled his eyes. “ Can I get you anything? “ 

“ Um … “ Adi started. 

“ I suggest you try the beef, although the chicken isn’t bad either. Oh, and we have fish, bacon, and venison. “ He winked at her, and Adi felt herself blush. 

“ Fish. And I’ll try some venison. “ Adi answered, feeling stupid for not knowing what any of these meats were. The boy began to put some chunks of meat in a bag and handed it to her. She held it with the loaves of bread. 

“ Hey, you don’t look too good. “ He said as Adi swayed. The gralia must’ve been affecting her more than she thought. 

“ I’m fine. “ She pushed the boy away. 

“ Here, let me help you. I’m Jason. “ He pulled her bags off her, and Adi was able to regain her balance. 

“ Adi. “ She replied. 

“ C’mon, “ He beckoned for her to follow. “ My break time is soon and father won’t mind I leave a bit early. I’ll take you to the candy shop, and maybe I can pick up some medicine for you. “ 

“ I’m fine. “ She repeated, but followed Jason anyways. 

He lead her to a shop down the street with colorful pictures and assortments of candy in the windows. Her mouth watered and Jason laughed. 

The store wasn’t packed, but there were a few customers despite the late hour. He bought her several packages of candy, promising that it was fine. She tried to pay him for everything, but Adi ended up with the same amount of money. 

Jason walked her back to the town square, telling her to be sure to visit again soon. Adi couldn’t make that promise, so she just smiled and walked away. Zodius glared at him. 

“ Who was that? “ He asked as soon as Adi dropped her bags. 

“ Jason was the butcher’s son. He bought me some candy and… “ Adi was interrupted by Jason, who had reappeared. 

“ Are these guys bothering you? “ Jason asked innocently. Zodius gave him a death stare. 

“ No, these are my friends, Ralil and Zodius. “ Adi replied with a small smile. 

“ Oh. “ Jason said. “ Wait, are they dragons? “ 

“ Nope. “ Zodius cut him off, crossing his arms. “ It’s a costume. “ 

“ But it sure looks like you’re a real … “ 

“ It’s. A. Costume. “ Zodius growled through gritted teeth. 

“ Fine, whatever. “ Jason turned back towards Adi. 

“ Well, we can’t do anything without a lead, Zodius. “ Adi said softly. “ And Jason might be able to help. “ 

“ I can help. “ Jason insisted. “ ‘Cause you say you aren’t dragons, I thought you might like to know that there were dragon poachers in town yesterday. They stopped briefly and promised to be back tomorrow. “ 

Zodius nodded along. Adi spoke up. “ I’m not a dragon. “ 

“ Of course you aren’t. “ Jason said. “ You’re a … “ 

“ Human. “ Zodius interjected, shooting another glare at Jason. “ But if the poachers are here tomorrow, maybe we can sabotage them. “ 

Ralil snorted, his first time speaking since meeting Jason. “ Yeah, us three? A young dragon, a weak dragon, and a poisoned human. “ He used no effort to hide his being a dragon. 

“ Poisoned? “ Jason cocked his head to the side. 

Gralia. “ Adi answered. 

Jason shook his head. “ I’ve seen the effects of gralia. On most people, it causes mild to severe skin irritation and headaches. I’ve never seen anyone get sick from it, nor their skin turn gray.” 

“ Did they have it injected into their skin? “ Adi crossed her arms now. 

“ Some, yes. But they only felt sick to the stomach in addition to some flu symptoms. “ Jason frowned.
“ Whatever, we need a place to stay. “ Ralil interrupted, shooting a purposeful glance at Jason. 

“ Of course. “ Jason said, walking towards the line of houses. Adi began to follow, but stumbled over her own feet. Ralil caught her. He held her up while digging through his small pouch on his waist. 

“ Whoops, almost forgot the medicine. “ He murmured, tipping a vial into Adi’s open mouth. The medicine hit her tongue and immediately she began to feel less warm. 

But then he tipped another vial and Adi swallowed on instinct. Her stomach twisted in revulsion and she thrashed. Ralil held her tight. “ Don’t fight the sedative. It’ll be better for your body this way. Shhh. “ Her vision collapsed and she felt strong arms carry her away. 

Adi awoke in a straw hammock, dangling above the floor. She felt an icepack on her forehead, and she felt worse than the previous day. She didn’t dare move, because she saw Zodius crashed on the floor beside her and Ralil curled up on a mat. She concentrated on breathing, but that was getting harder now to. She began to panic, thrashing and startling Zodius. Ralil simply sat up, yawned, and removed the ice pack from her forehead. 

He also removed a leaf from in front of her mouth. She felt as though she could breathe again and Zodius looked slightly less irritated. “ What time is it? “ She asked groggily. 

“ Almost noon. “ Ralil replied. “ I had to sedate you or you would harm yourself. You shouldn’t move for the next two days. “ 

“ But what about the poachers? “ Adi asked. 

“ We’ll take care of them. “ Zodius said with determination set in his voice. “ You will stay here with Jason. “ 

“ But… “ Adi started. 

Zodius pressed a finger to her lips. “ No arguments. You’re staying. Our plan revolves around you being here. “ Adi glared at him, and Zodius removed his finger. 

“ We were waiting until you woke up to leave. “ Ralil muttered, gathering his things. “ I’ll find Jason and you can stay here. “ 

Adi couldn’t really do anything, so she was forced to sit there as Ralil fetched Jason and Zodius watched her. Adi didn’t say anything to Ralil or Zodius as they left, and she knew it was stupid. They were going off to risk their lives and she wasn’t going to say goodbye because they were helping her get rest. 

Jason got her some food. She felt weak and could barely lift her arm, so Jason offered to do it for her. She refused, but she ended up being spoon fed anyways. Her strength returning, she felt strong enough to sit up. 

“ Now, “ Jason said finally, putting down the bowl of soup Adi had eaten. “ I know you aren’t going to just sit back and relax. So here’s what you’re going to do. I picked up some of this medicine this morning. It’ll boost your strength and healing time as long as you don’t overexert yourself. 

“ The poachers will be here soon, and your friends don’t stand a chance. We might, or at least, you might. The poachers will go for your friends, which will give you time to release any dragons in their truck and sneak in. Follow them to their lair, and I can find you. “ Jason said, his voice low. 

“ Wear this bracelet, it has a tracker. I’ll follow you with some of the townspeople. Don’t worry, and don’t die. “ Adi took his gift, a black cord with a single silver pendant. She placed it around her bony wrist before consuming the medicine. She felt a surge of power and jumped to her feet. Jason smiled. 

“ Sneak out the window. “ He said, opening it. Adi nodded, hugged him at a loss for words, and then slipped out the window. 

The smell of smoke filled her nostrils and Adi climbed down the narrow bricks. She could hear a fight starting on the street. The hairs on the back of her neck tingled as she made her way into the alley. Zodius was in the middle of the street, dragon form, and Ralil was crouched behind a trash can. 

She heard shouting, but despite the adrenaline pulsing through her veins, Adi didn’t fight. The same putrid smoke filled the air and Adi bolted from the alley and into the men’s truck. The back was roomier than she thought it would be, and there were several empty cages. One held a sleeping dragon, it’s scales golden. Adi unlocked the cage using a key hanging on the wall. 

She also freed a peach dragon, which transformed into a tall woman. The women helped Adi free the other two dragons, both light blue. The women sent her a quick glance before waking the gold dragon and then all flying away. Adi smiled to herself. 

Unfortunately, the rest of her clan wasn’t here. She turned to leave, but something large blocked her path. It was a man. “ I found her. “ He shouted loudly. Several men carrying an unconscious Zodius dropped him and went to grab her. Adi darted between the man’s legs, escaping the truck. Ralil was fighting as well, shooting flames into the sky. But too soon he was also taken down. 

She watched the men continue searching for her while forcing Zodius and Ralil into dragon form and shoving them away. Their frantic movements made her remind herself she was safe for now. 

The men didn’t give up, and a few villagers joined in. Quite a bit of them came down her alley, but Adi pulled herself back into the shadows, hoping no one dare check them. 

Eventually, only three men were still searching. Adi needed to move. Would getting herself caught benefit her? The men might find out it was she who had freed the dragons, and they might punish her. However, there wasn’t really any other way to follow them. She couldn’t run fast enough anyways, and the medicine Jason had given her was already wearing off. 

There was no other way. Silently, Adi snuck her way out of the alley and into the street. She stood still, her cloak pulled over her head. Adi wouldn’t go down without a fight. 

Taking a breath, she yanked back the hood to reveal her face. Exhaustion was already setting in and Adi knew she had limited energy. It was now or never. “ Looking for me? “ She called out in English. 

The three men turned and two popped their heads out of the truck. They all charged her at once, but Adi was prepared. She leaped over one, making him face plant into a wall. Two others sprinted at her, she stepped out of their way and they crashed. Another attempted to trip her with a rope, but she gracefully jumped over it and then grabbed it, pulling upwards with tremendous strength, causing the man holding the other man to stumble and trip. 

Adi felt hands like iron bands clasp her harm and she fought to break free. The hands twisted her skin, making her cry out. No one helped, all the villagers stopping to stare. She heard Jason’s scream from a window, and was able to wrench herself free with the distraction. 

Her adrenaline rush was fading, leaving her out of fuel. The man grabbed for her again, Adi dodged out of the way in time for him to hit the fountain. By now, the rest of the men had recovered from their various injuries. They surrounded her, forcing her against the fountain. Adi struggled to keep fear from her face as one held a rope, pulling it taught. None had any weapons, which gave Adi a small sense of satisfaction. Two grabbed her at once, holding her still despite her efforts to struggle. 

One began to wind the rope around her, pulling it tight so she couldn’t escape. The rough fibers dug into her skin, but the men had forced her arms behind her back. She couldn’t escape. 

“ How do we want to do this, boss? “ Said one of the smaller men. 

A bigger one stroked his fluffy beard. “ Knock her out. I don’t want her awake until I’m ready. Did Steven finish his … project? “ Another man nodded. “ Well then, let’s get ready to roll. “ 

“ Chemical or manual? “ The smaller man didn’t let go of her bonds. 

“ Neither. She’ll be out soon enough. If she’s still awake in five minutes, just do it manually. Until then, just make sure she stays standing. “ Was the reply as the man walked away. “ And be careful. “ So Adi stood, bound it ropes. Five minutes passed and she was still wide awake. 

The men looked at each other and the small one shrugged, raising his fist. He moved to strike, but before his fist hit her face, screaming erupted in the crowd. There was a flurry of appendages as the fist made contact, the blow forcing Adi to the ground. The people’s faces twisted into blurry shapes until Adi spiraled into unconsciousness. 

The first thing she felt when she woke up was chains. Heavy chains pulling her down. She didn’t fight them. 

Adi was in a dark room, unable to see anything but vague outlines of shapes. The room bounced and Adi realized she was in the back of the truck. Listening closely, she could hear the soft breathing of other beings Three, she guessed. Two for Zodius and Ralil, but who was the third? She could make out the distinct breaths due to sleeping with them. 

The third was human, their breaths loud and sharp, yet slow and calm. She glanced around, noticing the body beside her. The person was also chained, and she could just barely see facial features in the low light. It was Jason, the boy from the village. 

He was chained as well, though separated from her in a cage. Adi felt around, finding bars in front of her. They were too close together for her to slip through, and the chains restricted her movements She couldn’t move. 

Adi tried to shake loose the chains or at least slip her fingers through the keyhole, but someone had obviously thought that through and ensured that she couldn’t escape. 

Neither of the dragons were awake, so Adi curled up into a ball, her limbs sore. The gralia was affecting her more than it should’ve. Maybe the reaction got worse every time or something. She wasn’t sure. 

The truck bumped down the road until it slowed and the back doors open. Adi dropped limp and closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep. She heard footsteps and braced herself. Keys clicked in the locks and she heard the men dragging Zodius and Ralil out. Apparently it took a lot of effort, because they were gone for a long time before more men returned for Adi and Jason. 

“ What’d the boss want with these two again? “ A familiar voice said. 

“ You can use his name, Thomas. Maxwell requested the girl be moved to the new addition, same as the boy. He only came along because he attacked. I’m sure Maxwell will dispose of him quickly. “ Came a voice. It sounded like the small man’s voice from the town square.

“ Of course, Lucius. “ Footsteps again, and then the unlocking of Jason’s cage. They unhooked his shackles from the floor, carrying him away. Then her cage was unlocked. She felt the chains shift but dare not move for the fear of being exposed. Arms lifted her up and she forced her body to stay limp, calming her breathing and heart rate. 

They carried her face down, so Adi was able to open her eyes and gain a few glimpses of the area around her. They were in the middle of the forest, a large cabin was beside them. Behind the cabin was a mini village, several smaller cabins and a well. 

They carried her into a smaller cabin. She couldn’t see the words on the door, but there was a foul smell coming from it. Adi could just barely see Ralil’s tail being dragged into the bigger building. Someone laid her down and she could feel the warmth of Jason’s body beside her. Her head throbbed and she knew she had a black eye. 

“ Now what? “ Thomas asked. 

“ Maxwell should arrive any second. Then he’ll wake her up and we’ll start the testing. “ Lucius replied. “ Let’s get set up. “ 

Adi felt her chains being attached to the floor before the whir of machinery. The door opened and slammed shut, big boots stomped across the floor. There were a few more minutes of silence, with the exception of machinery moving. 

“ Wake her up. “ A gruff voice demanded. Maxwell. She groaned and awoke before anyone else could do it for her. Rubbing her eyes, she sat up with a considerable amount of effort. 

The fluorescent lights burned her eyes, and a large black chair was on the other side of the room. Her and Max were in a cage together, elevated slightly above the gleaming tile floor. There was no other furniture besides the scary looking chair, although there were three men. 

The biggest one Adi assumed was Maxwell, since he had attacked her in the cave. He had a big, bushy beard and a wide chest. His clothing was simple, yet he held his head with such grace that screamed he was in charge. 

The two other men were smaller. The smallest one was definitely Lucius. He had light brown hair that was scraggly and unkempt. His left ice blue eye twitched. The other man had blond hair, and he was slightly bigger in width than the other two. This one was Thomas, with narrow gray eyes. All three of them stared at her with such intensity it made her shiver. 

“Carry on. “ Maxwell ordered. Lucius came to unlock her cage as Thomas tended to the machines. Lucius’ movements were slow and delebrite. It seemed to take ages before the bars unlocked. 

Adi thought about bolting, but she knew the likelihood of her escape plus the guilt of leaving her friends behind would weigh her down and she would be caught. Lucius knew this too, and he didn’t hold her quite as tightly when the chains fell to the ground. He lifted her gently, carrying her like a baby as she fought. She didn’t fight hard, though, as she knew there would be punishment. He lowered her into the black chair. 

The chair was surrounded by instruments and machines, making Adi feel jumpy She always had that feeling around human technology. Lucius fastened the straps across her arms and chest, forcing her back against the cold seat. 

“ Proceed. “ Maxwell ordered when Lucius finished securing Adi. Thomas nodded, grabbing a pair of scissors of a nearby shelf. 

Adi struggled more, but the leather straps were tight, holding her still. Thomas moved forward, metal blades brushing her cheeks. There was a snip and a long lock of hair fell to the floor. Thomas snatched it out of the air and then placed the scissors back on the shelf. 

Maxwell took the lock of hair from Thomas, inhaling it’s sent and licking it slightly. Adi tried not to barf. A small smile returned to his face. “ Ah, so my suspicions were correct. Let’s continue onto test number two to ensure I am completely right. “ 

Adi fought against the bonds, but she was stuck and not moving anytime soon. A large bowl shaped helmet descended upon her head and she could see sparks flying off of it. Banging could be heard outside, Thomas and Lucius turned to Maxwell, but the machine continued. Maxwell beckoned for Lucius and Thomas to check outside. 

The helmet touched Adi’s head, showering her in sparks that pricked her and sent shivers down her spine. She felt the waves of shock going through her body. Then it felt like she was doused in fire. Screaming frantically, she saw Jason awake and his face registered fear. 

When it felt like she could take no more and she was ready to give up, the helmet disappeared from her temples. She felt her pulse racing as she leaned against her straps like they were the only anchor in the world. Maxwell was too busy reading a paper to release her, but the sound of fighting increased outside. There were no windows in the cabin. 

Panting and slightly out of breath, Adi could barely see Jason and his terrified expression as he fingered the bars of his cell. Lucius burst open the door. “ Master, Cadam and Soinia have escaped and are missing. We found Weajar, Edorith, and Alelini outside. Frille helped us, betraying her own kind to spare her life. Rhasa and Pendaron claim they saw nothing. “ 

Maxwell nodded to himself. “ Of course. Send out a search party for Cadam and Soinia. They couldn’t have gotten far. Weajar, Edorith, and Alelini will be punished accordingly. Frille can be spared for the time being. As for Rhasa and Pendaron, we will get information out of them. “ 

Lucius turned to face Adi. “ What about the girl, sir? “ 

Maxwell stroked his beard. “ Put her back in the cage with the boy, and lock it tight. “ Then he left. Lucius unstrapped Adi and locked her back up. Jason was waiting with open arms and didn’t seem to mind when she curled up in his lap. He stroked her hair, but she pulled away. Jason was reminding her of Ralil, and it made her angry. 

The door opened again and though it was probably Thomas or Lucius. Instead, it was a tall, middle aged man and an older woman. The man had dark hair pulled up in a bun, almond shaped emerald eyes, and jade robes that flowed to the floor. The woman had silver hair in two loose braids, but her face showed no signs of age. Her eyes were like black holes as she looked around. She also wore robes, but hers were shades of violet and lavender. 

“ Chen, fetch the children. “ The lady purred, reminding Adi of Edema with her voice. The man - Chen - came to release her. He produced a golden key from the folds of his robe and unlocked the door, letting Adi tumble out, followed by Jason. 

“ Hurry. My shield won’t hold much longer. “ She said. 

Jason helped Adi to her feet and they scrambled after Chen and the mysterious woman. They strolled casually down the street and Adi noticed the air held a slight pink glimmer and everything outside of it was still and unmoving. Chen grabbed Adi’s hand with a sudden movement, but his grip was like steel. Jason grabbed her other arm, and then gripped the woman’s. When the woman reached for Chen’s hand, the world began to spin into a blur of color and then they were gone. 

When Adi could finally feel Jason’s warm hand, she was in a dimly lit cave with a waterfall in the front. Two dragons sat on the floor playing cards in their human form. Adi knew they were dragons by their brightly colored hair. She assumed the boy was Cadam and the girl was Soinia. The boy had maroon hair and hazel eyes, while the girl had shorter golden hair with the same hazel eyes. 

Chen smiled at them and they waved back. The woman stood tall and straight as she addressed Adi and Jason. “ Welcome to my home. This is Cadam and Soinia, and you’ve already met Chen, my assistant. My name is Piria. Dinner is in one hour, and Chen will get you fixed up. What are your names? “ 

“ I’m Adi and this is Jason. “ Adi said, unsure of what to think about this stranger’s kindness. Instead of asking, Chen pulled Adi and Jason along further into the cave. 

There were several loose clothing garments on the ground, which Chen assured them were clean. Adi’s new dress and tunic were ruined, a waste really. Chen let them seperate to change. Jason didn’t need to, but he followed Chen’s orders. 

Adi changed into a longer, black tunic, done with bright colors. Chen didn’t judge and brought them to the mouth of the cave, which was obscured by a waterfall. He let them alone to talk. 

“ So… “ Adi started, the waterfall spraying her with bits of water. “ Why are you here? You’re not a dragon, you’re not a freak like me. Why? “ 

Jason shrugged. Adi liked how his face was still childish, even though he was probably older than her. She shuddered, hating herself for being attracted to a silly village boy. Edema had taught her not to get attached to anything, as they rarely stayed longer than a month at a cave. The last one had been different because Hylia couldn’t fly yet. 

“ I guess because I saw the fighting. I didn’t want you to get hurt, plus you forgot this . “ He plopped a note and cord into her lap. The note was wrinkled and dirty. She unfolded it, reading the words in her head. 

Dear Adi, 

By the time you read this, Ralil and I will hopefully have saved the rest of the clan. Stay safe and with that village boy, Jason. You know how much I disprove mortals, so you must understand the urgency of this note. Even if the poachers do manage to catch me, don’t follow. They’ll do worse to you. Mother always told me that you needed protection more than the others. Even more than Hylia, Farid, and Ralil. I think I finally know why. It clicked last night, when Jason was about to tell you. I think it’s best we let you figure out for yourself though, it’ll be much more meaningful that way. Anyways, Mother wanted you to have this. 

I guess I should explain. You see, Mother found this with you when you were left with us. She tucked it away after showing it to Glip. Last year she gave it to me and made me swear to give it to you when the time was right. I think now is the time. I don’t know what the stone is, but I think it’ll help you discover your past. Regardless of what it is, I won’t hate you. Don’t run and hide. Your past doesn’t define you. Your choices do. 

Forever and Always, 


Adi sniffled and Jason laid a hand on her shoulder. She smiled softly. There was a black, silk cord. Attached to it was a silvery blue stone. She pressed it to her lips. It smelled like the sea. 

And then it came rushing to her. 

Long ago, there had been many nature spirits. Nymphs. They each controlled one or two elements and could shapeshift like the dragons. Nymphs became hunted and poached. Their souls were very valuable and if you could consume one, you gained some of the nymph’s powers. They soon died out and everyone was devastated. However, recent sightings of nymphs had been common. Her mother or father must have been a nymph, meaning she was part nymph too! 

She shook Jason’s shoulder. “ I’m a nymph! “ She was giddy with excitement. 

He laughed. “ Took you long enough. With those eyes it should’ve been easy to figure out. “ 

“ Wait, you know about nymphs? “ She shook him even harder. 

“ I read a lot. “ 

“ Well … tell me. “ 

“ Okay, okay. “ He smiled. “ Nymphs are creatures of nature, right? Each one controls an average of two elements, which are air, water, earth, and fire. Occasionally, nymphs can control all four, but it’s extremely rare. Normally, their eye color reflects the elements that define them. In your case, amber and teal, probably mean water and either fire or earth, possibly both. I’m guessing your mother was a nymph, since they’re more commonly female than male. They can shapeshift into any living creature, but I read that it’s draining. 

“ They’re souls were very valuable, and they still are. Most people believe a nymphs hair and eyes are where most of their soul rests, though I think it rests in the fingertips. Many times, poachers would just shave the heads of nymphs, which wouldn’t kill them. It wouldn’t hurt them at all, which made the poachers go for their eyes instead. They would kill the nymphs to consume their eyes. “ 

“ So I’m really a nymph. “ Adi confirmed, looking down. 

“ I would assume so based on logical reasoning. “ 

“ Then why can’t I transform. “ 

“ What? “ 

Adi took in a sharp breath. “ Whenever Edema would try to teach me to shift into a dragon form, I could never do it. “ 

“ I think you have to master the elements first. “ Jason replied. “ C’mon, it’s almost time to eat. “ 

He helped her up and Adi reached out a hand precariously towards the water. Maybe awareness was what she needed. Concentrating, she focused on the tiny tingles she felt in her hand when nearing the waterfall. Trusting her instincts she pushed her hand through the waterfall. The water split to avoid her fist. Gasping, the water came rushing back down again on her hand. But she had done something! 

Jason didn’t look nearly as excited as she was, so Adi dropped the issue. Chen was waiting just around the corner. He lead them to an opening in the cave. Adi’s jaw dropped. 

There was an awaiting glen filled with plants and trees, exposed to the open sky above. The slight shimmer of color was there, but it looked beautiful. Lush green grass blanketed the ground and trees reached for the sky. Colorful flowers blossomed everywhere and released sweet smells. There was a stained picnic table sitting in clearing. 

Piria sat calmly at the edge, Soinia and Cadam sitting side by side. Chen took the other end, so Adi sat across from the dragons next to Piria. The lady clapped her hands twice and bowls of food appeared on the table Adi looked at in disbelief. “ What are you? “ 

“ A sorceress, my dear. Eat up, now. Stories after dessert. “ Piria said, her voice taking over Adi’s mind. Her words were so … fluent. They came out perfectly. Adi ate, piling her plate high. The fish in the cave and the soup this morning seemed like forever ago. 

The food was delicious and earthy. Cadam and Soinia shared a large piece of meat Adi recognized as deer. Jason looked like he was going to be sick when they offered him a piece of raw meat. 

Piria clapped her hands again when the food was gone. “ Ah, yes, where to start? “ 

“ Perhaps I should tell, milady. I seem to be more relatable for the children. “ Chen tried. 

“ Nonsense, Chen, good sir. I am more literate. It is simply the fact that this form is the closest I can stand to being human. I shall tell. “ She stood up. 

“ Or my sister and I could tell ours and Jason and Adi could tell theirs. “ Cadam said for the first time. His language was the language of the dragons.
“ Works for me. “ Jason replied in the same tongue. He ignored Adi’s startled look. “ I read a lot. “ 

Cadam switched to English. “ Is that alright with you, madam? “ 

Piria smiled softly, her black hole eyes far away. “ Of course, Cadam. Although your sister might be better for the job, since she was awake the entire time. You too, Adi. Jason doesn’t know the whole story. “ 

“ How did you … “ Cadam started. 

“ Magic, my dear. Very well, Soinia? “   Piria nodded towards Soinia. 

“ My brother and I were part of the Rumblesky clan. We did pretty well at hiding, if I had to say so. The poachers found us about a week ago. “ Soinia shuddered. “ They discovered our cave and there was a big fight. Our clan was seventeen members. Thirteen were captured, three escaped, and one was killed. Poor Asten. He was only four. They had no mercy. Cadam and I were among the captured. They sedated him immediately, since he was in dragon form and was quite big. I was stuck in my human form, and they just bound me and threw me in a truck. 

“ They brought us to this little town I heard them call Noreven. They took all of us to a big building in the center. It was filled with cages. They made us stay in our human forms since we took up less room that way, and forced us in cages. My brother took days to wake up, I feared he was dead. Luckily, when one of the men fed us, I was able to snatch a key off his key ring. I waited till the next afternoon after feeding time, because that’s when security is at its weakest. I slipped by and Chen and Piria were able to free my brother and teleport us back, then go back for you. “ Soinia finished, wiping her hazel eyes on her sleeve. “ My parents are still there, and our little sister, Lywyn. Everyone I ever knew, locked away. “ 

Cadam wrapped an arm around her shoulders as she sobbed quietly. Piria turned to Adi and Cadam’s eyes met her weird ones, searching for answers. 

“ I’ve been with the dragons since I before I can remember. I’m part of the Windfall clan. We just moved caves towards one on the outskirts of Jason’s town, Miraenwean. I got up early in the morning for some alone time, and I saw the poachers. I tried to warn my friends, but they filled the cave with smoke that made them stuck in human form. “ They hung on every word, especially Cadam and Soinia. “ I managed to save two of them, Ralil and Zodius. I went back out to see if anyone else was left behind, but the men were still there. 

“ They shoved a needle filled with gralia in my neck, and I had an allergic reaction. I managed to escape them, and we went to the town for supplies the next day. Jason found me buying meat and showed me around. Then my friends knocked me out to transport me to Jason’s. They left me at Jason’s, but I saw them try to fight the poachers. They didn’t have a chance, and to save them I needed to follow them. The poachers caught me too and locked me up. Somehow, Jason ended up in the cage as well, I think he tried to fight for me. “ Jason nodded. 

“ They took me into the village thinking I was still asleep and their leader, Maxwell, hooked me up to some sort of chair thing. His minions, Lucius and Thomas, cut off some of my hair and then electrocuted me. They said it was part of a test. Then Chen and Piria showed up and saved us. “ Adi fell silent, aware all eyes were on her. “ Oh, and I found out I’m apparently part nymph. “ 

“ Of course, that makes sense. “ Soinia nodded, her voice hoarse. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve one more time. 

Gralia you say? “ Chen stroked his pointy chin thoughtfully. “ I’ve never heard of a nymph coming in contact with gralia before. Maybe I’ll have to do some research. “ 

“ I can help. “ Jason popped up excitedly. I know the owner of the bookstore in my town, and I can probably get some books for free. “ 

“ Tomorrow we go to Miraenwean. “ Chen declared. 

“ That’s all good and well. “ Piria interrupted. “ But you all need rest. I would like Adi to begin training tomorrow. I was hoping Soinia and Cadam would be open to helping her before I put them to work. “ 

They all nodded and Piria seemed please. “ Now then, let us find our chambers. She stood at once, everyone else following her. They left the garden area and returned to the dimly lit hallways of the cave. Piria snapped her fingers and teal flames appeared in pockets of the walls, illuminating it. 

Piria lead them to four separate rooms, each in close proximity with each other. Cadam and Soinia’s each had a large window in which they could fly out of if they desired. Jason’s had many large bookshelves. Adi’s was probably the most spectacular of them all. Piria had assured them the cave would make room for its inhabitants, but it obviously thought Adi was more important than she was. 

The room had a waterfall from the ceiling to the floor and a large fireplace, not to mention high, rocky ceilings and an entrance to her own secret garden. There was a window at the top of the room and a large, squishy looking bed. Beside it was a nest of pillows, not unlike the size and shape of the nests she made with Zodius and the rest of the clan. She had her own bathroom as well, which was a new concept. Normally, the dragons bathed in the lakes, fully clothed. There was also a small closet filled with dresses and tunics and cloaks. Adi was overwhelmed. There was a small bookshelf and a candle for reading at night. Small lanterns dangled from the ceiling in the shape of stars and Piria showed Adi how to clap so they glowed in a soft, silvery light. 

Piria left them all in their new quarters. Jason seemed to immerse himself in books almost immediately. Cadam decided to take a nightly trip, and flew off. Soinia stayed behind, showing Adi some of the paints she discovered in her room. 

“ This color is my favorite. “ She pointed to a honey cream color. Adi nodded. 

“ I like this one. “ Adi pointed to a murky gray. 

Soinia laughed, a musical sound Adi didn’t realize she missed. “ Of course it is. Why don’t you try to add some color. “ She pointed to Adi’s parchment, which was covered in gray markings of letters. “ What is this anyways?” 

“ I made the language of the dragons into an alphabet. “ Adi explained. “ See this curly one? It looks like two ripples inside each other. It’s used in words like ‘stellae’ and ‘stollis’. They mean stars and dream in English. “ 

“ Interesting. “ Soinia sighed. “ But you need more color. Look at mine. “ Adi did. Soinia was truly an artist. Her parchment was coated with colorful paintings of dragons and swirls like a large mural. 

“ This is my mum, Ceac. “ She pointed to a maroon dragon with fierce hazel eyes. “ And my dad, Zeanad. “ A golden dragon with deep, navy blue eyes. “ And my brother, Asten. “ A orange dragon with brown eyes. She pointed out all of her tribe members. The three who had managed to escape were noticeably absent. 

Soinia soon fell asleep on her own wet parchment. Adi rolled hers up, carrying it back to her room. She wasn’t tired at all. Looking in the mirror, she saw her skin was still ghostly white, but the area around her neck was now the same color as the rest of her skin. Her eyes were sparkling again and her lips were back to normal. Even her long hair looked glossier. But her eyes were so pretty. She would never let them be called freaky again. They were the eyes of a nymph. Her eyes. 

She stepped away from the mirror. Maybe Jason was right. She needed to practice with the elements before shifting forms.  

Maybe that was why she had all these weird things in her room. Cautiously, Adi made her way towards the waterfall. She had done it earlier. A simple movement was all it took. Adi reached out, letting the cold water tumble over her waiting hand. She concentrated, feeling for the tingles like last time. They came faster, now that Adi knew what she was looking for. She focused and the water split like it had in previous attempts. 

Jason had said the nymph’s eyes contributed to their power over nature, generally two or three elements each. Water was definitely one of hers. But he had also said earth and fire. She would try again tomorrow, but it made her wonder. Why wouldn’t her eyes be plain blue for water then? Why teal? Unless … no way. Jason said it was extremely rare. What if she could control all of the elements? 

The next morning, after little sleep, Adi made her way back to the garden. Breakfast was served. Soinia sat with Adi this time, earning a questioning glance from her brother. Cadam seemed okay with Adi, however Jason seemed to pose a problem. Cadam refused to talk directly to him or call him by name, instead referring to him as ‘ the boy ‘, ‘ the human ‘, or ‘ bookworm ‘. Jason ignored this and began to read his book at the table. 

Piria made everyone eat, even though Adi wasn’t very hungry. Jason and Chen dressed in village clothes and left soon after, promising to be back soon. 

Piria forced Adi to change into something else. Adi chose a navy blue tunic, tying a silver sash and black leggings. Soinia offered to braid her hair, but she declined. Cadam and Soinia joined Adi in her secret garden, a meeting place chosen by Piria herself. 

“ Beautiful. “ Soinia breathed. “ Amazing. Is this all yours? “ 

“ I guess. “ Adi shrugged. “ I wonder if it’s connected to the other garden. 

“ Probably. “ Cadam noted. “ The whole cave is shaped like a donut. The garden is in the middle. “ 

“ Children, here I thought you would discussing something … important. “ Piria chided. 

“ We were. “ Adi complained. 

“ Tsk tsk. “ Piria tutted. “ Clearly I need to teach you prioritizing. Very well, let us continue. “ 

Adi rolled her eyes. Piria glared at her. “ We mustn't rush perfection, my dear. Where to begin, where to begin? Have you explored the realm of possibilities at all yet? “ 

“ I did  little with the waterfall last night. “ Adi replied, confused.
“ Wonderful, Adi, that’s a start. “ Piria chided. “ Let’s start simple. “ And they did. For the next hour, Adi endured the most useless training of her life. Piria wanted her to shape some water into a sphere, hover it over her hands, and then toss it to Cadam. 

Hard as she tried, Adi couldn’t form a sphere of water. With worthless tips from Piria, who thought the problem was weakness, Adi failed miserably. Soinia tried to keep the mood light by spouting fire at her brother, while Cadam rolled his eyes and stared into Adi’s soul. 

Adi collapsed on the ground, too tired and defeated to continue. Piria gave her a withering look. “ Seriously, Adi, you’ve accomplished nothing. “ 

“ It’s not like she hasn’t tried. “ Cadam said defensively. “ I mean, with you telling her tips that would help you, it’s not like she would accomplish anything anyways. “ 

“ I know she’s tried, she’s just not trying hard enough. “ Piria snorted. 

“ I’m trying as hard as I can. “ Adi snapped. “ But when my instructor is a sorceress, it’s kind of challenging to learn from her when she’s conceited and great at everything. “ 

Piria’s nostrils flared. “ Fine. I will leave. Soinia and Cadam can help you. “ And she strutted away, head held high. 

“ C’mon. Try again. “ Soinia pulled Adi to her feet. Adi made her way to the small creek that weaved its way through the garden. She pushed out her hands, searching for the tingles. As soon as the familiar feeling touched her palms, she pulled upwards, forming a sphere of clear water above her waiting palm. 

The tingles continued. Adi turned around, showing her new creation to Soinia and Cadam. They each drew in a quick breath. Adi tossed the ball up in the air, willing it to stay in form and hover one inch above her hand. It did as she commanded. Adi tossed it again and again, finally satisfied. She gathered more water, forcing it to twirl around her and the dragons. 

The world didn’t matter. It was her and the water. Just the two of them. It danced playfully around her, swirling and twirling. She followed it’s movements, a smile across her face despite the effects of the gralia. The water had healed her. 

Adi finally set the water down, back in the creek and let it return to it’s normal flow. Soinia ran over and hugged Adi as tight as she could. “ You did it! You did it! “ 

Adi was a lot more determined after that. Soinia insisted she try more elements and expand her control. Water was pretty much done. She had achieved its respect at last. The water treated her as its equal. 

Fire was Soinia and Cadam’s speciality. She had practiced with it before, but the fire had always burnt her. 

Adi hadn’t been able to will the fire to her commands yet, but she was proud of her progress with the water. Jason found them about an hour later, telling them it was time to eat. 

That was pretty much life for the next week. Adi would wake up, everyone would eat. Jason usually had his nose buried in a book, and he began to ignore Adi. Chen would go with Jason while Piria had made herself scarce. Adi rebuked her progress everyday at dinner, they trained all morning and afternoon. Cadam and Soinia worked on their own fire skills while Adi began to work with all the elements. Her theory had been correct. Air, water, fire, and earth all bent to her will and treated her as their equal. In the evenings, they would all gather in the sitting room near the entrance to the cave. Jason would curl up in a chair and read by the fire. Chen would occasionally ask him questions, but mimicked Jason otherwise. Piria didn’t appear much. Cadam, Soinia, and Adi all played games and became close. They shared stories, games, habits, and Adi felt like she had her tribe back. 

Jason, however, seemed to be drifting further away. It had been six days since they had got there, and Adi hadn’t talked to Jason since. She decided to confront him. Instead of letting him head back to his room, Adi stopped him in his tracks. 

“ What’s all this about? “ She asked. 

“ Hmm? “ He closed his thick book, brown eyes flitting around the room uncomfortably. 

“ You’ve been avoiding me. You haven’t talked to me all week. I know we don’t know each other extremely well, but you haven’t said a word to me. “ 

“ I’ve been busy. “ 

“ I can see that. “ 

He fidgeted with the pages of his book. “ Look, I need to focus on my studies. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone lately. “ 

“ Oh really. “ Adi snarled. “ Last night you seemed perfectly content talking to Soinia in her room after dark. “ 

He avoided her gaze. “ You … weren’t supposed to see that. It’s just that Soy wanted to talk to me about paints. “ 

“ She has a nickname now, does she. “ 

“ Yes. Am I not allowed to have friends, Adi? If anything I think your jealous. “ 

“ Jealous. “ Adi’s eyes narrowed. 

“ Yeah, in fact, you should be grateful. I don’t have to be here. I could be home in my town, right now. I thought I was doing the right thing, saving you. “ 

“ I didn’t need saving. “ Adi insisted. 

“ Sure… “ 

“ This is my story, not yours, Jason. And if you have any common sense at all, you’d help me. You’d want to be my friend. But apparently, your books are more important than any other person here. “ 

Jason growled. “ This is anyone’s story as much as yours. You're not the hero you pretend to be, Adi. Face the facts, everyone here is supposed to work together. This isn’t some thing where we’re all your sidekicks, this is real life. There are no heroes. You’re just some little girl whose parents didn’t want you. They left you, Adi. they didn’t want to be involved in your crazy life. They didn’t want to die for you like everyone else will. Face it, Adi. Your parents made the right choice, abandoning you. You aren’t a hero. You aren’t important in the grand scheme of things. You are just some silly, unloved little girl who wants to be a hero so she has something to cling to in her miserable life. “ 

“ Take it back. “ Adi whimpered, taking a step back. “ Take it back. “ 

“ Adi? “ Jason asked, his voice shifting. “ I didn’t mean … “ 

And Adi ran. She ran like never before, bursting out through the waterfall. It was raining outside. Pouring rain. But it didn’t bother her. She wanted to be anywhere but here. She didn’t hear Jason calling for her. Nor did she hear the flap of wings as Cadam and Soinia tried to find her. She hid among the ferns, embarrassed, ashamed, angry, and hurt. 

Jason was right. She wasn’t a hero. She was a selfish little girl who took everyone’s life for granted. She wanted to be the hero so she had something to claim. Something to cling to when her entire life was a mess. 

She heard footsteps but didn’t move. Cadam made his way through the bushes, his hazel eyes resting on Adi. “ There you are, we’ve been looking all over. “ 

“ Maybe I didn’t want to be found. “ Adi looked away as Cadam plopped down beside her. 

“ I heard what happened with you and Jason. “ He ignored her remark. “ He said he’s sorry, and he’s sincere. He didn’t mean it. Jason just … his style of working is independent. But he even some people can’t be alone for long. He tried to become friends with Soinia just because he was lonely. “ 

“ So you’re standing up for him now. “ Adi sniffed. 

“ No. I’m telling you the facts. “ 

“ The fact is that Jason was right. I am  just some little girl who wants to be a hero so she doesn’t have to pity herself every time she looks back on her life. “ She felt her shoulders lighten after admitting it. It was like someone had lifted the weight of the sky off her shoulders. 

“ That’s not true. “ Cadam said. He raked his fingers through her tangled, sopping wet hair. “ I suppose your used to touch, since you lived with dragons. “ He noted when she didn’t flinch. “ You aren’t unimportant Adi. You are our only chance of saving the dragons from the poacher. You don’t have to be the one and only hero. We’re here for you, and we’re ready whenever you want to try. “ 

“ You mean it? “ Adi asked. 

“ Yes. I promise. We’ll be right by your side when you’re ready to take on your role. “ Cadam stopped his fingers and pulled them away. Adi leaned on him. 

“ My role? “ She knew she should know this, but … 

“ Oh, wait. That’s why we were supposed to find you. Chen wanted to talk to you about something. He said it was the final step. “ Cadam said, standing up. Adi followed him. 

“ And you waited until now to tell me this? “ She pushed some of the plants out of their way as they made their way into the rain. 

“ It slipped my mind. “ 

“ Obviously. “ They made their way back to the mouth of the cave. Cadam volunteered to fly them back, but Adi objected. In this wind, who knew what could happen. They slipped through the waterfall, the tumbling cascades parting with a wave Adi’s hand. 

“ So you control water, but you can’t make us not wet? “ Cadam grumbled playfully. Adi rolled her eyes and drew the water out of their clothes and hair and off their skin, forming it into a cat and letting in prowl and pounce before it fell apart.
“ Any other suggestions? “ Adi retorted. 

“ Water the only thing you can do? “ Cadam asked, even though he had seen her train. 

Adi held out a palm and an orange flame blossomed from her hand. She blew on it and it disappeared, leaving only the faint trace of smoke. Holding up her arms, she called for the wind. It came to her side, blowing Cadam’s short hair and Adi’s longer locks. Then she made her way over to the small flower pots sitting near the fireplace for decal. Placing her fingers in the soil, she willed a small, raspberry bush to grow from it. 

“ Amazing. “ Cadam agreed, popping a berry into his mouth. “ You’ve really improved. “ 

“ I second that. “ Another voice interjected. It was Chen. He stood in the mouth of a hallway Adi had never seen before. “ Ready, Adi? “ 

She nodded, voice failing her. Chen lead her back a dark passageway. This time, only dark gray flames lined the torches, and they did little for the light. They arrived at an open room with the same stone floors and walls. There were several waterfalls pouring from the ceiling, which consisted of several paintings and murals. 

“ You like? “ Chen pointed to the murals. Adi nodded, once again, not finding the right words. What was going on with her? 

“ Let’s begin. “ Chen folded his legs and sat on the floor like he was meditating. 

“ What are we doing? “ Adi spoke up. 

“ The last step to mastering the elements is peace. The water, the fire, the earth, the air, they can all see your troubles. If you have too many, or are worried, the elements will ignore your pleas. They want someone who is calm and collected to work with. You must achieve balance and peace for the elements to obey you. “ Chen mumbled, his eyes close. Adi sat, trying not to focus on how weird she felt. 

“ You aren’t focusing. Keep your concentration steady and think of nothing. Keep your mind clear and open. “ Adi did, though it was hard to banish all thought. Finally, she felt a shift of her mind. All her skin could trace the molecules of water in the air. She could tell the water was there, and it took little concentration, just a simple thought for the water to obey her. Chen opened his eyes and smiled. 

“ Now go, my little nymph. You know what must happen. “ He handed her the teal stone that was in the envelope from Zodius. 

Adi met Cadam, Soinia, and Jason in the living area in front of the waterfall.  Jason avoided her gaze, but Adi ignored him. “ We need a plan. “ Adi said, pacing back and forth. “ A plan to save the dragons. “ 

Soinia smiled proudly, holding several rolls of paper under her arm. “ I think I have an idea. “ She unrolled the parchment and they began to plot. 

Two and a half hours later, Adi was ready. She had a small bookbag strapped to her back, and she stood outside the cave with Cadam in dragon form, Soinia as a human, and Jason holding his ow satchel ( he refuse to let Adi call it a man purse, but he smiled and they were at least talking again ). 

Piria and Chen appeared behind them, both looking pleased. “ Well, children, are you ready? “ Piria asked. 

“ Yes, thanks for the help. “ Adi spat. She didn’t really like her mentor that much. 

“ I helped more than you think I did. “ Piria replied stubbornly. Chen nodded once and winked at Adi before turning and pulling Piria back inside. Soinia shifted to dragon form, letting Jason climb on her narrow back. Adi heaved herself onto Cadam’s back and with three powerful flaps of the wings, they were airborne. 

Adi had forgotten what it felt like to fly. The wind blew her hair playfully, which Adi guessed would be typical now that her and the elements were friends. They soon arrived at the village of the poachers. Cadam and Soinia hovered just out of sight and Adi jumped. The winds cushioned her fall, due to her command. Jason did not follow and Soinia and Cadam flew off, waiting for their plan. 

Adi searched her backpack. She had brought her necklace, her note, some extra clothes, and a special dye Soinia had helped her make. She also carried several pieces of parchment, each one a different painting by Soinia. She used the dye on her skin, making the marks of her tribe fade away. She also pulled on sunglasses to conceal her eyes. Not very smart, but it was all part of the plan. Adi repacked her things before setting off. She walked into the village without the guards noticing. Perhaps they thought she was someone’s daughter. It was fine with her. 

Adi sat down on a bench in the town square next to the well and grabbed a book from her pocket. She had worn non suspicious looking clothing. A light gray dress and a pocketed, black cloak. The book was simply a blank diary Jason had provided. She drew a map of the village before crumpling it into a ball and discarding it. She threw it over her shoulder, calling the winds to take it a little further and it rolled into the woods. She scribbled some random words down in the language of the dragons, pretending to be writing a story. No one gave her a second glance. 

Adi tucked the book away, standing and yawning. So far, so good. She had provided Cadam, Soinia, and Jason a map of the village without them flying over it and being seen. 

Now was the tricky part. She slipped back behind a building, pulling out another bottle of dye and her spare outfit. She changed into a dark teal tunic with matching leggings. The style was the same as Velevan’s clothing. She dumped the dye on her hair, turning it the same shade. Her eyes would be the thing that tripped people up, but she could pass it off as a birth defect. 

She pulled the bookbag over her shoulders and draped the cloak over a nearby tree branch. It was a silly thing, but she wanted any of her tribe to recognize her scent, even if they didn’t recognize her. This was the most dangerous part. They had speculated and consider all possible routes the next phase could end up in. It could go the wrong way, but Adi was going to trust it would work out exactly as she liked. 

Adi found her way to the well and the climbed on the top of it. A couple heads turned. Not enough. At the top of her lungs, Adi screamed. “ Hello, my people of Graliric. “ She had spotted the town name on a billboard. “ I am Edith, Queen of the Dragons. Though I may look young, trust me when I say I have seen the rise and fall of many cities. I have seen the birth of the stars. I have seen every single one of your ancestors fight for freedom. “ 

There were a couple mothers who shoved their children into the cottages. Many guards drew their crossbows. One of them yelled, “ Seriously, you expect us to believe that! “ 

She summoned a flame in her hand, cupping it so her audience couldn’t see. She drew in a breath and blew on the flames, making it seem as though she was breathing fire. She willed the flames to expand, and then they did and turned a magenta color. One of the men fainted, while another formed a mysterious puddle under his legs. 

Adi smiled, the creepy way Piria did. “ That’s right. I am the Mother Dragon, here to rescue my children. Release them at once, and there won’t be a problem. “ She shouted. 

“ Yeah, right. “ Another man yelled. They jeered at her, throwing stones. Of course, they bounced off Adi’s tunic. Cadam and Soinia had provided some of their shed scales to sew onto Adi’s tunic. Really, they were just there for fireproofing it, but apparently they repelled rocks as well. Some of the men gasped. 

They were about to fire with their crossbows when another man strolled into the town square. It was Maxwell . He held up his hand. “ Lower your weapons. Let’s see how great the Mother Dragon really is. “ He turned to her. Adi resisted the urge to shudder. This was all going wrong. “ Who am I, Mother Dragon? Or should I say, Edith? “ Back to his men. “ Men, this is no ordinary dragon. For I am not sure it is a dragon at all. There is only one way to find out. Fire at will. “ 

Crossbows turned and Adi felt herself being pelted with arrows. They all struck her tunic - luckily it was long sleeved. She pulled a cloak out from a hidden pocket in her tunic and pulled it over her head. Suddenly, there were no more crossbows. She peeked her head out and stood. Then she felt a pinch in  her side. Her tunic had ripped, and protruding from it was a small, silver dart. With her head uncovered, and her tunic surprisingly ripped in multiple places where the scales had gave way, the men shot the crossbows again. One of them struck her shoulder, tearing into her with pain. 

Adi fell off the top of the well and into the hands of the waiting men, gritting her teeth with pain. “ Well, men, it seems our Mother Dragon isn’t a dragon after all. “ Then Adi passed out. 

When she woke she was surrounded by metal bars much like the bars of her previous cells. There were no shackles holding her down, and she knew why. Pain tore through her shoulder. Someone had bandaged it, though very sloppily. The blood was still coming. She needed medical help soon. 

Adi realized she wasn’t alone. Unlike before, she was in a cage surrounded by other cages. It was like a kennel or a vet’s office. Each cage housed one to three sleeping dragons. Dragons didn’t get as big as most people thought. Adi could see some were chained up outside, mostly the fully grown males and larger females. 

Most of them were in human form, though quite a few were still sleeping as dragons. She sat up, leaning on the bars of the cage. It was in the middle of a circular room, suspended on a pedestal if Adi had to guess. The cage was small, no more than a yard wide. 

Some of the dragons were watching her. Their eyes were dull and bored, though some looked almost hopeful. She spotted Velevan, holding as sleeping Hylia in her arms. Zodius was also there, in a cage alone, facing the wall. She saw Ralil and Farid in two consecutive cages, both asleep, even though they were seperated. She assumed Glip, Merima, and Edema were being housed outside. Luckily, this seemed to be all of the dragons. Cadam and Soinia weren’t among them. Which meant her plan still could work. 

She heard the door creak open and voices. Adi didn’t try to pretend she was asleep. She didn’t move at all, but glared in the direction. Thomas and Lucius appeared, each holding either a stack of bowls, or some food. They went from cage to cage, opening it slowly. The dragons must’ve been aware of some sort of harm that would come, because none tried to escape. 

They refilled the bowls of water with a hose and fed each dragon. They came to Adi, but didn’t feed her. “ Maxwell said to let her die in front of the other’s. Something about an important death. “ Lucius said loudly. Adi growled, but didn’t move. She waited until they left to act. 

“ Zodius. “ She hissed. “ It’s me, Adi. “ Zodius turned. When he saw Adi, his face lit up. Some of the other dragons turned. 

“ Adi? “ Zodius stammered, unbelieving. She nodded. Then she spoke to all the dragons in their own language. “ I need everyone to listen. We’re going to escape. “ And she explained the plan. 

Within minutes, the entire population of dragons was awake and ready. Adi pulled out a key from her pocket. She had snatched it when the men decided to catch her when she fell off the well. All she had to do was feel around subtly and grab a key. Her cage was unlocked in seconds. Her shoulder burned like fire, but it would have to do. She unlocked another dragons cage and handed them the key. They began to unlock all the other cages. 

Adi scurried outside. She spotted Glip, Edema, and Merima, as well as about nine other adult dragons. Luckily, she still had her bag. The men had not thought to take it from her. Inside was a small wire, which Adi had twisted. She inserted it into the cage lock containing Edema and unlocked it. Edema was in her dragon form. She stumbled out, gave Adi a nod, shifted to human form, and then took the wire from Adi. 

Go. “ Edema whispered in her mystical voice. Adi did as she was told. The dragons would need help escaping. 

She could hear screaming in the distance. Smoke was beginning to drift through the sky. On her way out the door of the building - after she had checked an made sure everyone was free - Adi tripped over something big. 

She looked down and choked back a sob. Two silver haired humans with unmoving yellow eyes, their chests bearing identical arrows sprouting from their heart. Their hands were grasped together, Farid and Ralil had been reunited at last. Their final moments and breaths spent together. She couldn’t cry now when everyone needed her. Adi tucked her grief away, saving it for later. 

The town square was a war scene. Somehow, the poachers had known about the attack. Every single on of the dragons was still there, none had been able to fly away. This was not part of the plan. Most dragons were in their dragons form, spitting fire and whacking people with their tales. Some of the younger ones were still shaped like humans, though they hid behind benches and trees. 

Not many bodies littered the ground. Farid, Ralil, and one other smaller dragon with murky gray scales seemed to be the only casualties. Adi had originally planned to burn the village and then wipe out the flames with water from the well, but with so many dragons still there, it would be impossible. They would have to fight. Her shoulder ached, but Adi climbed to the top of the well and began to summon waves, wiping the poachers off their feet. 

Edema and Glip joined the battle soon after. Glip fought ferociously, having seen his two sons on the ground, dead. Edema fought hard as well. Merima snuck away and gathered as many little ones as she could. Adi spotted Cadam and Soinia among the mix, fighting alongside two dragons that looked like the pictures Soinia had painted of her parents. Jason fought too. He had stolen a crossbow from one of the men and was pegging off poachers. He also stopped occasionally to heal a dragon with one of his homemade potions Adi had persuaded him to brew. 

The crowd of dragons and poachers suddenly dispersed. Adi climbed down from the well, but stood on its side so she could see. Maxwell strutted through the crowd like a show dog. He stood in the center so all people could see him. 

“ People and Dragons! “ His voice echoed through the square. “ I have been withholding something from you. For some it will be your worst nightmare, while others may have wished for this all their lives. “ He stood, his arms stretched out. Then he began to change. 

A new man, the same height and build as Piria stood in the town square. His robes were blood red and his eyes were the same as the sorceress, black holes consuming all light. The dragons screeched and shuffled nervously while the poachers began to bow. Maxwell continued. “ I will no longer be known as Maxwell. My true name, and my new name, shall be Elach. Would anyone dare to fight me? You could save your kind. “ 

A figure stepped forward. Adi choked when she saw who it was. Edema. She was in her human form, her long blue hair in a tight bun. Her steps were slow and delebrite. Elach smiled malevolently.  

“ No! “ Adi cried out. 

Edema turned to her. “ My dear Adi, I only hope you have discovered the truth. May it bring you victory. Take care of the tribe for me. “ Then she shifted to dragon form. Adi refused to belive Edema would die. 

The powerful dragon flapped her wings and spit fire at Elach. It blew over him, but he was not harmed. He shot a bolt of black magic at Edema, who dodged, shooting more flames. It was a slow battle, the great dragon spitting flames while the sorceror simply threw spells. Elach quickly grew bored and began to speed it up. Of course, the mighty female dragon could not defeat the great sorceror. She knew she couldn’t. 

Edema’s large body hit the ground with a large thumping, turning to human as Adi wept. Zodius stepped forward and hugged his mother’s body. Elach laughed. Adi screamed and charged him, only to be grabbed by the shirt collar. 

“ This little girl thinks she can stop me. “ Elach laughed, holding her shirt while she screamed and kicked and wept all at the same time. He had killed Edema, his men had killed Farid and Ralil, also many others. 

“ I can stop you. “ She hissed defiantly. 

“ We’ll see about that. “ Elach dropped her on her shoulder, sending bolts of pain through her body and making her black out “ Seems you’ve got a little infection there already. How long will that last you? Well, stand up and fight already. “ 

He circled her like a vulture, but the nymph’s head was spinning. She tried to stand but fell. Another dragon caught her and helped her up, then snuck back into the crowd. 

There was a collective gasp and thump and Adi turned quickly. Elach was behind her. He had tried to kill her, but someone had intercepted the bolt of magic. Adi collapsed to the ground in tears. Jason’s lifeless body stared at the sky. The poor human who had no business here. The human she had been mean too. The human she had taken her anger out on. Just a simple, village boy, dead because of her actions. Soinia and Cadam wisely remained hidden, but she could here sobbing. Adi began to sob too. Later on, she would be grateful Elach at least let her have a moment of silence for her friend. She laid on his still body and cried heaving sobs onto his shirt. 

“ Oh, Jason. “ She whimpered, rubbing his fingers gently. “ What have I done? “ She cried more until she felt the hairs on the back of her neck tingle. 

“ You were really attached to that village boy. I think I did you a favor. “ Elach’s ignorant voice said. 

Adi stood, ignoring the pain, the sorrow, and the weariness that had settled over her bones. She stepped in front of Jason. Then she screamed a fierce sound that cut through the wind. The elements felt her sorrow, her pain, the weight of her world. And they wanted to helped. The top of the well exploded and the wind began to blow harder. Small thorny bushes grew out of the cracks in the ground while a tiny firestorm swirled around Adi. She ignored the stares, the whispers, and Elach’s shocked face. 

Everyone made a path for her. That felt right. She was probably the last nymph. Ever. Elach took a step back. Adi subconsciously willed the bushes to surround him. He tried to escape, but his magic was no use for Adi and her elements. The bushes churned, scratching his skin and fire enveloped his cage. But then everything stopped. Adi felt her knees tremble and then collapse. She was not a murderer. 

As much as she wanted to avenge Edema, Farid, Ralil, and Jason, she couldn’t. She would not, could not, kill Elach. He laughed as he stood, and Adi turned away. She was ready to face the inevitable.  

She waited. Nothing came. Adi turned, hoping no one had sacrificed themselves again, and for once her wish was granted. No one had stepped in front of her. The time had seemingly stopped. Everyone else was frozen in their place. 

“ So we meet again. “ A woman’s voice purred. Adi saw Piria materialize out of no where. Her braids were shiny silver, as always. “ And this time you have a choice. “ She beckoned to four, silvery figures appearing out of mysterious mist. 

They were ghosts of Edema, Ralil, Farid, and Jason. 

Piria continued on. “ My job as sorceress is not to prepare people for the tasks and challenges ahead, but to help people through their challenges. My gift to you is one thing. I will grant what your heart most desires, the return of your friends. However, my magic grows weaker as Elach grows stronger. I cannot hold him back for long. I will revive one of your friends, though it is your choice. These are their spirits. I will give you one minute to discuss, then you must choose a friend to return to the world with you. Any previous harm done to their bodies will vanish. “ 

Adi nodded, her voice failing for the third time. The spirits of her friends waited for her. 

Well? “ Edema’s voice was still just as majestic. 

“ I don’t know. “ Adi said. “ I mean, just one person. I don’t know who. “ 

“ Let me offer a suggestion. “ Farid spoke up. “ My brother and I are reunited at last. And we think it’s best for us to stay this way. “ 

“ You’re turning down the offer to rejoin life and your father? “ Adi questioned. 

Ralil nodded. “ It pains us, but we need to remain together. Tell our father that we miss him dearly and can’t wait to see him again. But when he’s ready, we’ll be here. “ Adi rubbed her eyes. She knew she couldn’t hug the ghosts of the twins, but she tried anyways. Surprisingly, they were solid. Each twin comforted her and then their spirits dissipated into air. Adi sniffled happily. 

Adi, “ Edema stepped in. “ I think you know the choice from here. “ And Edema disappeared without so much as a good bye. Jason was the only one left. 

“ Jason? “ Adi asked tentatively. His smile was all she needed. 

“ You can’t stop Elach from attempting to kill you. “ Jason said. “ And I don’t plan on killing myself again. But I might be able to save you. “ He explained. “ If you gather the dark energy he sends at you, it will probably still poison you even if you manage to contain it. Try to send it back at him, using the force of the elements or whatever. It will definitely kill him. Or it should, anyways. “ 

“ I trust you. “ Adi interjected. “ Do what you need to do. I’ll do what I need to, though I can’t promise I’ll stick to your plan. “ 

Piria returned, gave Adi a quick smile of encouragement before whatever time sheild melted away and left Adi in the present. 

Elach charged and began to throw his energy spear at Adi. She felt her muscles tense. It was time to try something new. Or maybe it wasn’t a good time, but Adi knew she would have to try. She pictured a wolf in her mind. The wolves she had ran with when the dragons didn’t want her. When she didn’t fit in, she found the nearest tribe of wolves, and followed them around for the day. 

Her body rippled and in less than a second, a small, dark wolf with mismatched eyes darted out of the place Adi had been standing, barely avoiding the blast of dark magic. Her wolf form trotted casually over to a shocked Elach. 

She shifted to her human before attacking. Adi had fire in her hands and left burns on his body. The other dragons sprang into action, their instincts finally overriding their emotions and logic. 

Elach was no match. Covered in burns and turning to dust, as a sorceror does before dying, he shot one finally blast of dark magic out of his fingertips. It struck Adi in the chest. 

She collapsed onto the ground, and she could feel the dark magic creeping through her veins and flooding her with a cold feeling. Adi felt warm hands on her head, and by touch she knew they were Jason’s. Sure she was in the right hands, she left herself drift. Adi had her friends by her side, and that was all she needed. 

The next week or so was a blur. Adi woke up two days later, Jason’s cooling herbs on her chest. She’d been healed to the full extent of his abilities, and for once, Adi was glad she had a friend who read so much. 

Unfortunately, more dragon’s than she’d expected had been lost. Besides Edema, Ralil, and Farid, many others had also fallen. Zodius had seen Adi’s body, and combined with the grief from losing his mother, took his own life with a silver dagger. Adi was sad to see him go. The Windfall clan decided to join the Rumblesky clan and form one big tribe. Soon, the remains of the other clans also joined and every single dragon was involved in the new tribe. 

Glip was devastated by Ralil and Farid’s loss, and decided it was time to move on. In a quick flash, he had attracted the love of another widowed dragon, Sevosa. With her magnificent, pearly pink scales and turquoise eyes, her and Glip had three children, triplets, as well as Sevosa’s first kid, Faulin. 

Piria and Chen had disappeared completely, which wasn’t a complete loss for Adi. They had parked themselves in an abandoned town not too far off from the poachers, so the whole tribe had to fit in a small village. 

Cadam had also been killed in battle. This loss struck Adi the hardest. Although she had barely known him, Cadam had become a close friend. She had cried for a day straight when she found out. Her only comfort was grief torn Soinia. Soinia had taken up a new project to keep her busy while she coped. She decided to paint every single dragon that had died in the past month on the walls of the village. 

It hurt Adi’s heart to see all the colorful dragons. Cadam’s piercing stare and Zodius’s crazy hair. Edema’s sharp features and all the other dragons. The mural was beautiful, and Soinia had used both the description’s of the dragons from their families as well as their bodies. It made Adi feel sick. However, some bodies hadn’t been found. Cadam’s body showed no signs of harm or death in the first place. 

Adi had a theory. Both her and Soinia had been gravely injured during the attacks. Soinia had a crossbow shot to the heart, while Adi had the dark magic almost consume her. Jason had assured her that he would’ve saved her no matter what, but Adi was almost 100% convinced that both she and Soinia had been dancing the fine line between life and death. She was pretty sure that Cadam had been gifted with a rare ability among dragons. Some dragons could give parts of their soul and life to others if they were in grave peril. Cadam must’ve transferred his life to Adi and Soinia, with the cost of his own. 

She hadn’t told anyone this theory, not even Jason or Soinia, or their new found friend. Pibwyn was a dragon the same age as Adi, whose parents had been killed during the attacks. He had orange scales, though they were more pastel than neon, his eyes were yellow like the twins. 

Pibwyn had apparently met Soinia and Cadam before, since he was from Rumblesky. 

After all the injuries were healed and all the dead were buried and their murals painted, the new tribe got ready to leave. Jason had sent letter to his father explaining that he was leaving for a trip. The dragons pushed off and flapped their wings. The sun was setting. 

Adi hadn’t told anyone she was able to become a dragon, or anything really. They had seen her in wolf form and assumed that was her only other shape. Adi climbed aboard the back of Alelini, one of the pure white dragons they had rescued, and her new adoptive mother. Jason climbed up onto Weajar, Alelini’s son and Adi’s brother. Weajar had black scales to rival his mothers, though they both had gleaming silvery blue eyes. 

The powerful wings flapped in sync. The dragons began to fly. Adi caught sight of Velevan, Hylia, Merima, and Glip, who decided to stick together. She saw Soinia and her parents and sibling. They took off into the mountaintops and Adi was happy once again. 

She lifted her arms and stood on the back of Alelini as they flew faster into the sunset.  

© 2020 A.L.

Author's Note

This was my second story, also pretty bad. Just want feedback on the plot.

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on February 1, 2020
Last Updated on February 2, 2020
Tags: fiction, short stories, dragons, teen



I'm a teen, I'm just looking for advice on how to improve my stories. Any advice is appreciated. I hope to publish one of my stories for real in the near future. more..