Caught by the dragon mai.., p.14
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       Caught By the Dragon, p.14

           Mac Flynn
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I had no plan, though at that point what I really wanted was a machete and a flashlight. The world of dragons was very dark. The only light I had was the moon in the sky. I fumbled my way through the woods with Cayden as my guide. Every rock and tree branch tried to murder me, but the sound of the waterfall kept hope alive within me.

  Cayden held open the last homicidal branch as I stumbled into the clearing. The gurgling brook greeted us with its soft sounds, and the falling water glistened in the moonlight as its sparkling droplets splashed over the rocks.

  Cayden stepped forward, but I grabbed his arm. "Let me handle this."

  He pursed his lips, but nodded and stepped back. I took the forefront of this rescue mission and walked to the edge of the water. I leaned toward the edge and cupped my hands together. "Hello!" My voice echoed over the clearing. The water gurgled in reply.

  I straightened and frowned. She wanted to do it the hard way. I picked up a stone and tossed it in the air to catch it in my palm. "Here goes nothing. . ."

  I threw the stone. It landed with a hard ker-plop in the middle of the pond. A grin slid onto my face as the water gurgled. The familiar column of water burst into the air and exploded outward to reveal the beautiful woman. Her brilliant blue eyes looked from me to Cayden. The Dragon Lord knelt on one knee and bowed his head.

  "Dragon of the Golden Fields. It is a pleasure to meet you," she greeted me.

  He didn't lift his head. "The pleasure is all mine, My Lady."

  She returned her attention to me. "Why have you come without your Lord?"

  I stepped forward so I stood at the edge of the pond. "Some red dragons attacked us at the Portal, and he got nicked by some poison on their claws. We need your water so we can heal him."

  She tilted her head to one side and studied me. "Why do you seek the water?"

  I frowned. "I already told you, it's because Xander's hurt. He's dying of poison right now, but the doc said you could cure him."

  She walked across the water toward me. Every footstep left a small ripple in the still pond until she reached the rocks that ringed the pool. Her eyes caught mine as they had before. I couldn't move as she stepped off the last rock and stood within a foot of me.

  Her eyes searched mine. "Why do you seek to save him?"

  I swallowed the lump in my throat. It wasn't easy being this close to such an ethereal being. "Because he was hurt trying to protect me. I owe him one."

  She cupped my cheek in one of her palms. Her skin was cold and brushed against mine like the flow of the gentle creek. "Is that all?"

  I tried breath so close to her overpowering aura. "Isn't that enough?"

  "The power of my tears rests on the love of the one who seeks it. Without love there can be no cure," she explained to me. A small, sly smile slipped onto her lips. "Do you not love him?"

  I pursed my lips. "I don't know."

  Her smile widened. She clasped her hands around mine and cupped my hands together. Her brilliant blue light pulsed from her hands. I felt a warmth enter my palms along with a weight. She released me and stepped back onto the rocks. I opened my hands and beheld a small vial of crystal-clear water.

  I looked up at her and shook my head. "I don't understand. Why?"

  She stepped backward into the pool. The water beneath her bubbled up and surrounded her, but her soft words reached me as clear as the water in my hands.

  "Where there is doubt, there is still hope. Heal him and you will find the peace you have sought."

  My eyes widened. The water twisted upward and enveloped her. I stretched out my hand toward the woman. "Wait!"

  The water swallowed her and retreated back into the pool. The woman was gone. I dropped my arm to my side and looked at the vial in my palm. The clear water sparkled in the dim light of early morning.

  I clasped it tightly in my hand and turned to Cayden. He stood and looked from me to the vial. I took a deep breath and pocketed the vial. "Let's go."

  We returned to the castle and the room. The grave faces were paler, as was Xander. I pulled out the vial. The group parted for me as I walked up to the bed. Xander's breathing was quick and shallow. He clutched the covers so tightly his hands were as white as the sheets.

  I popped the cork and glanced at Cayden and the doctor opposite me. "Could you hold him still and get his mouth open for me?"

  Cayden took the arms, Apuleius the legs, and the doctor pried open Xander's clenched teeth. I took a deep breath and rammed the mouth of the vial between his lips. The cool liquid slid out of the glass and into his mouth. He arched his back and his body tensed. I threw myself over his chest as he began to shake and thrash.

  The episode lasted for a long few seconds before a soft blue glow spread from his head down the rest of his body. The light passed under us, and we could feel the soothing coolness. It relaxed my muscles and my fear.

  Xander's body relaxed and he fell back against the bed. We released him and stepped back to watch the light fully envelope him. The blue pulsed with a soft cold, but with each pulse it sank deeper into him. Soon the light disappeared. We waited with baited breath.

  Xander's eyes fluttered open. He blinked at all of our tense faces. His eyes settled on me and widened. "Miriam-" He tried to sit up, but winced.

  I grabbed his shoulders. "Easy there. Even dragons need to rest a bit after being almost-fatally poisoned."

  He grabbed my arm and searched my face. "Is it you or some apparition come to take me to the skies?"

  I smiled. "I'd have to go with the first option."

  Xander pulled me down and pressed our lips together. I heard a gasp from Stephanie and a chuckle from Apuleius. We parted so I could partake of some air and wipe the blush from my cheeks.

  "You could have just said 'thank you,'" I teased him.

  He smiled. "I thought words would be too weak."

  "Not as weak as you, My Lord," the doctor spoke up. He pulled the sheets over Xander's bandaged chest and up to his chin. "The poison may be vanquished, but your wounds from its talons are not yet healed."

  Xander fell back against his pillows and shook his head. "You needn't worry too much for me, Galen. I hardly feel any weakness."

  "But it is still a weakness, nonetheless, and I demand you get some rest," the doctor insisted. He swept his eyes over the many occupants of the room. "If you would all leave Our Lord may find some."

  Xander nodded at me. "Let her stay. I must speak with her."

  Galen bowed his head. "If you wish, My Lord."


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