Caught by the dragon mai.., p.13
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       Caught By the Dragon, p.13

           Mac Flynn
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I reluctantly let her drive me back to the junk yard and I led her to the specific area where the portal disappeared. We stopped near one of the larger trash piles and stopped.

  I turned to her and folded my arms. "I don't know if love is going to get that thing to open."

  Heather cupped her chin in one hand and furrowed her brow. "Do you remember how you got in the first time?"

  I rolled my eyes. "No. I forgot to click on my internal video recorder before they knocked me out."

  She strolled around the area looking at the ground and up in the air. "Maybe there's a button or something."

  I ran a hand through my hair and sighed. "Or maybe we're not going to get this thing open and we should just go home."

  Heather stomped up to me and grabbed my hands. She looked me in the eyes and frowned. "Don't you dare give up on me and your heart this fast. We're counting on you."

  I snorted. "When did my heart get a vote on this?"

  "When I said it had one."

  "And does my heart have any ideas how to get this portal thing open?"

  Heather paused. Her eyes widened and her wild grin stretched across her face. "Maybe that's it!"

  I leaned back and frowned. "Maybe what's it?"

  She dragged me to my butt-mark in the dirt and arranged us so we faced each other. "Maybe with your love and your mark thingy you can open the portal. They're both from the other world, right?"

  I blinked at her. "I have no idea how that would work."

  She shrugged. "Neither do I, but there's got to be a way. Maybe you could slap your mark or kiss it or do something."

  My face fell. "Seriously?"

  She released my hands and stepped to the side where she crossed her arms. "It's all up to you now, Miriam. I got you here, now you've got to get that mark going."

  "All you did was drive me here!" I argued.

  "Close enough, now focus on that mark!"

  I sighed and glanced down at my shoulder. There was a dull pain from that spot that made my whole arm ache. I pulled up my sleeves and grasped my mark in my hand. The skin felt warm. It reminded me of his body against mine, and the warmth in his eyes. I thought of my vision, and the last memory I had of him.

  I closed my eyes and pressed my lips together. My whispered words floated through the quiet air. "Damn it. . .why'd you have to go and be a hero?"

  The pain in my shoulder increased ten-fold. My eyes flew open and I whipped my head to my shoulder. The lines of the mark glowed a bright green and my hand glowed a bright blue. The brilliant colors twined together like silk bands. They floated into the air and swept in front of me. The pair of bands parted and drew two halves of a circle in the air before me.

  The border of the portal materialized. The two bands finished their work with a bang as the center darkness blew into existence. I stumbled back.

  Heather rushed to my side and steadied me. Her wide eyes stared at the reflective surface. "Wow." She looked at me. "How'd you do that?"

  I dropped my hand and shook my head. "I don't know."

  She stepped forward and looked at me before she jerked her head toward the portal. "Well? What are you waiting for?" I smiled and gave her a tight hug. We parted and I could see a few tears in her eyes. "Go on. You shouldn't keep a dragon waiting."

  Heather stepped aside. I looked to the portal and took a deep breath knowing I'd need it.

  With a hope and a prayer I leapt into the void. The trip was exactly like the first one, but the exit was a little different. I stumbled out of the other side of the portal and onto the hard stone platform. The front of my foot betrayed me this time and I tripped on one of those rocks. I fell onto my hands and knees.

  A green cloak came into my limited view. I tilted my head up and into the shocked face of the ancient sage. Behind him were his peers. Their faces had the same astonished expression.

  I grinned up at them. "Hi. You don't happen to-" My eyes noticed a large stain over the stones. The stain was a distinct red color. My heart quickened. I looked up at them. "Where's Xander?"

  Apuleius knelt down and offered me his hand. "We must get you to him immediately."

  That didn't do a thing to stop my fast-beating heart. I took his hand and he helped me up. Apuleius turned to one of the gray-cloaked men. "I will escort Our Lady to Our Lord."

  The gray cloaked man whipped his head up so quickly his hood fell backward to reveal his astonished face. "But Father Apuleius-"

  "If anyone is to see Our Lord to health, it shall be his Lady," Apuleius told him. He glanced at the others and bowed his head. "Please forgive me-" The one in the gold cloak raised his hand and shook his head.

  "Do not concern yourself with apologies. We all would risk our cloaks for our lords." He smiled and nodded at the air above us. "Now to the skies before I throw you myself."

  Apuleius returned the smile. "Thank you, old friend." He turned to me. "If you would climb on my back, My Lady."

  I blinked at him and glanced at his back. "I don't think I'd-"

  My mistake was cut short when the slits in the back of his cloak parted to make room for his large green dragon wings.

  "If you will pardon my forwardness, My Lady," he apologized.

  I didn't have time to ask him why before he swept me into his arms. He flapped his wings and we were airborne. Like any unprofessional rider I clung tightly to his neck and prayed.

  I was up to bartering my soul for a reprieve from the wind whipping through my hair when we reached the castle. The long fifteen miles had been covered in a little under fifteen minutes. An eternity for my heart, and I hoped I wouldn't expect to find Xander in an eternity of sleep.

  The guards greeted us with spears as Apuleius landed in the courtyard. I slid out of his arms and stumbled forward. My legs shook so bad I leaned on the old sage for support. His wings shrank until his old frame returned to his complete human form. It was only then that the guards lowered their spears.

  Apuleius looked to one of the green-clothed guards. "Does our lord still live?"

  He pursed his lips, but nodded. "Yes, Priest Apuleius, but only just barely."

  Apuleius turned to me and pressed his hand against my back. "If you would follow me, My Lady."

  He led me through the maze of corridors and doors to Xander's chambers. We found two green-clothed guards on either side of the door. They bowed their heads and one of them opened the door for Apuleius and me. I wondered how many doors were shut to this priestly fellow.

  That is, until I saw the figure in the bed. Then all thought fled from my mind. I froze just inside the doorway. There, beneath many layers of blankets, lay Xander. His face was ashen and sweat covered his brow. Bandages criss-crossed his chest. He shivered and clenched his teeth. Near the foot of the bed stood Cayden, and at his side was Stephanie. Darda stood behind them with her husband.

  Apuleius hurried to his side. He looked from Xander's pale face to a man who stood on the opposite side of the bed. He was a white-haired, gray-bearded gentleman in a long shirt with sleeves and leggings. His hands were covered in silk gloves that were stained by chemicals and sweat. His face was grave.

  "How is his health?" Apuleius asked him.

  The doctor pursed his lips. He closed his eyes and shook his head. "There is nothing more my skills can do."

  I hurried over to Apuleius's side and set my hands on the cloths. A closer look at Xander's face didn't help the heavy feeling in my heart. His breathing was quick and each breath was a struggle.

  I looked at all the faces of those who surrounded me. "What's wrong with him?"

  "The Bestia Draconis wore poison-tipped silver talons. One of them cut Xander very deeply," Cayden explained.

  I felt the color drain from my face. The ache in my shoulder got worse as I looked around at the dire faces. "Isn't there an antidote?"

  The doctor closed his eyes and shook his head. "My abilities are beyond this po
ison. Only the tears given by the Lady of the Pond can heal such a poison."

  I furrowed my brow. "The woman who lives in the pond near the castle? What's so hard about that?"

  Cayden sighed. "The Lady only appears to those whom she deems worthy of her attention. In this instance, she would not heed our calls and appear to us."

  I pursed my lips and spun on my heels so I faced the doorway. "Then I'll go," I announced as I marched toward the door.

  The guards on either side stepped in my way. I whipped my head over my shoulder to look at Cayden. "If you want your dragon lord to make it then let me go."

  Cayden shook his head. "We cannot allow you to escape again."

  I glared at him and pointed a finger at Xander. "Do you want him to die?"

  "If you were to-"

  "Let her go." The words came from Darda. She looked up at Cayden and met his gaze. "Our Lord would wish it so."

  Cayden sighed, but nodded his head. He turned his attention to the soldiers. "Step aside, and I will go with you."

  The guards stepped aside. I hurried to the door and grabbed the knob, but paused and looked over my shoulder. I gave the group a smile and a thumbs up. "I'll be right back."


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