Friday came faster than I wanted it to. Classes went super-fast.
Blake was in his element, and it was evident that he was built for war and all that crap. He thrived on it.
We were so different from one another.
At two o’clock Becky, Sammy and I were waiting in the main lobby. I’d asked Master Longwei this morning if Becky and Sammy could go with, but he’d declined, because he knew that I had to take a hundred people through to the other side this weekend. If that fell over to Monday or Tuesday, well, it was his reason and he didn’t want me to be distracted at all. It was so stupid.
Blake came running down the stairs fast with a huge bag over his shoulder.
He took mine, opened his bag, put mine inside, then zipped it up.
“Please, be careful.” Sammy was the first to speak.
“Samantha,” Blake got back up and put the bag over his shoulder again. “I’m the Rubicon. Don’t forget that.”
“You are still my brother, idiot, and even if you are the Rubicon, you are not indestructible. Be careful.”
“Fine,” he said, giving her a one-armed hug and a quick kiss on the head.
“You too, Elena,” Becky said.
“I’m just taking them in and out. Nothing hard,” I spoke.
“Still, you never know what could happen. Be safe and come back. Both of you.”
I didn’t like how they were behaving, as if they knew something bad was going to happen.
I gave both girls a hug and walked with Blake to the gate, where Master Longwei was waiting for us.
He had a few words with Blake then I turned around as Blake started to strip down. He was going to transform.
When the hulking beast of a dragon stood in his place, it was our cue to leave.
I grabbed hold of his paw this time and he flew with me to the Port of Elm.
Traveling to Areeth, back to David, was faster this time as the scientists had connected an elevator that went to that destination in two ticks.
I had to say goodbye to him and take the elevator alone, as Blake still didn’t trust that mode of transportation. He’d tried it once a long time ago and hadn’t liked the effect it had on him. I remembered it like yesterday. It was a horrible feeling, but mine went away the minute we stopped. Blake struggled days later with getting himself balanced again.
He stayed with me and answered a couple of reporters’ questions about getting the first hundred out of Etan. He was just like Lucian when it came to speaking in public, a natural. I had to learn the hard way.
Blake left immediately once I was safe from the cockroaches. He didn’t want me flying with him because he still didn’t have a saddle that could keep me secure on his back. He also wanted to see how fast he could get there.
The first time took us more than two weeks to get to David, but then again, we had been on a different mission to find his orbs. I still had no idea what they did, and by the sound of it, neither did he.
He just said that part hadn’t come to him yet.
King Helmut picked me up himself at the port. They’d set up camp after that night I’d told the Ancients that nobody was going to be put into quarantine and had been camping out, waiting for Emanuel to come back with that special something King Helmut wanted.
I wondered what it could be. Did he have family that side too, and had asked his dragon to make sure that they still existed? A sister, perhaps?
It was really sad to think how many people had lost loved ones, people they had no idea if they would ever see again.
“Elena, am I glad to see you.” He smiled and gave me a fatherly hug. “Where on earth is Blake?”
I smiled at him. “He doesn’t like the elevators so he is going to meet us there.” He wasn’t that fast yet, as King Helmut wouldn’t have asked where he was.
We took an SUV and drove the remaining miles back to the lodge.
The campsite had been set up yards from the lodge.
It was good to see everyone again: Luke and Daisy, the little ones. I couldn’t wait to get more of their family and friends away from Etan, away from that danger. My stomach turned into knots knowing that Blake was going to go in for three days.
He was adamant about finding Maxine, Nicky and Leana, and although I wanted them safe as well, especially for Tom and August, the two of them had no idea what they were asking from me.
If anything happened to Blake… I couldn’t even think about it.
Connie gave me the room I had the first time we came here. She was worried sick about David; although she hadn’t said anything, it was evident on her face.
Not having contact with a loved one for the past week, knowing that he was in Etan, would do that to someone.
Annie and Constance kept me company during dinner, and I was so happy I had at least saved one of Constance’s family members.
I went to bed around ten. Blake still wasn’t anywhere to be seen and I had tried to phone him a couple of times, but his voicemail was the only thing that came up.
I struggled to fall asleep, and dreamed again about the foretelling Blake had seen about the Saadedine and the missing ingredient.
I wished I could dream about what the missing ingredient was, then I would welcome this sort of torture, but it never was revealed to me.
Blake’s dragon form was so tiny against the Saadedine. Was Blake really telling me the truth that it wasn’t going to be that ratio when we found him, or did he only say that to make my own fear less?
The Saadedine opened his mouth and released a ball of yellow with green flames. Paul’s flame.
It connected with the pink kiss then something crazy happened.
It consumed the pink kiss. The green flame spread like a virus through the pink kiss and connected hard with Blake’s dragon form. I watched as Blake burned from the inside out and I couldn’t do anything. I just stood there frozen, staring in horror at how my dragon started to disintegrate.
His roar was one I had never heard before. It was painful, and I watched in shock.
Then he exploded.
I jumped up and found myself still in bed. I drew huge breaths as sweat ran down my temples. My hands trembled. My entire body trembled.
Was that going to happen?
Something stirred on the couch and I jerked. The night light went on and Blake appeared sitting on the couch.
He didn’t say anything; he didn’t have to. I knew he’d seen my dream as well.
He studied me with a worried expression.
“I hate my dreams.”
He smiled softly, as if my voice brought him back out of whatever was going on in his mind, and got up, then came over, sat next to me and kissed me softly on the shoulder. It felt so good to have him here, safe.
“I don’t.” He rested his chin on my shoulder. “They tell me so much, especially of the things we don’t know yet.”
“Blake, you don’t know if that is the truth.”
“Still, it gives me plenty of hints. Like that one told me to watch out for his fire.” He pushed himself from the bed and removed his shirt.
I looked away from his perfectly sculpted body and found the time on the digital clock. It showed three in the morning.
“Not so bad.” I smiled.
“I could’ve been faster.”
I shook my head. It was as if he was never satisfied with any of his abilities. My abilities. And he had to give it all up for me to be able to wield my fire while he was in human form. How was he going to do that?
I lay back down and pulled the covers over me. The bed shifted and I felt Blake’s warm body next to mine. I didn’t even need a blanket to keep me warm when he was near.
I turned around and shifted closer to his body.
It felt good. He snaked his arm underneath my head and held me slightly.
I tried to listen for a heartbeat, but there was nothing. It felt so weird. No sound was coming from him whatsoever. It was as if he wasn’t really there at all.
We drifted away faster than I thought we would, and I hated that tomorrow was going to be the day our paths were going to part again, but he’d made a promise and felt sort of the way I did about breaking them. So I had no choice but to let him do what it was he did best and believe that I would see him again. After all, he was the Rubicon.
The next morning I found Blake’s spot empty. I got up and went down to the dining area where I found him sitting at a table digging into a huge plate of bacon, eggs, sausages – you name it. All the food groups that made a breakfast were there.
Constance, seated in the chair opposite him, was keeping him company with a cup of coffee.
“Good morning sleepy head.” Constance smiled. She was such a beautiful person and her dragon form was even more beautiful.
“Morning. I really don’t think it’s a good one,” I sulked.
“Stop sulking, it doesn’t suit you,” Blake said between bites.
“Your food is not going to run away.” I looked at him.
“I’m hungry. I didn’t have dinner last night.”
“What, you didn’t devour a deer on the way?”
“No, I couldn’t find any, and even if I did, it wouldn’t fill me.”
Constance laughed at him.
“Morning, Elena.” Connie came out of the kitchen wearing an apron.
“Morning.” I smiled.
“Can I whip you up some eggs and bacon?”
“Eggs and toast will be fine.”
King Helmut entered and came to sit at our table as well.
Small groups of troops followed, women and men alike. The breakfast was festive and they spoke about plenty of things, about the people we were going to get out today.
Half of them were going to stay in the lodge but the other half had to stay in the tents. They were going to have to remain like that for the rest of the month until the first sector of the new houses was finished. They weren’t farms, but at least they would have a home for now.
When Etan was free, they could then decide what they wanted to do. Go back with the deeds to their farm and start farming again the way the used to, or sell their land to whomever wanted it.
A part of me didn’t know how any of them would want to take their farming duties again, but then again it was all they knew, so maybe some would keep their land. Especially if it had been in their families for generations.
If that was the case, I would make sure – no, my father would make sure – that they were all safe. He was going to come home. He just had to come home. I still didn’t even know if he was alive. Nobody on the other side could know the truth until the right time came. If that time was going to come, I didn’t know.
Blake finally finished his breakfast and stood up when Connie came to take away his plate. “Thank you, Connie. That was, like always, so satisfying.”
She smiled at him. “It is my pleasure. I know how to cook for dragons. Just promise me that you are going to bring him out soon.”
“Today, it’s a promise.” He winked, and she took my plate as well.
“That was amazing, thanks Connie.”
“You are welcome, princess.”
I didn’t correct her this time: princess was what I was, and I needed to get used to it.
“So.” Blake sat back down and took the napkin to wipe his mouth. “The way I see it, Elena and I will go in first. Make sure that all of them are ready to leave and then we can start bringing them out, taking new troops in.”
“Ninety of them come out,” King Helmut said. “The first group needs to come with. No negotiation.”
We stood in front of the Creepers again. This time King Helmut was with us, and many of his troops, all hundred of them to be exact, behind him.
The Creepers were still intimidating, and I hoped that after this weekend, they would lose at least that.
“You ready?” Blake asked.
“No.” I sighed. “But I guess I have no choice.”
He stared at me and lifted me into his arms.
The Creepers stirred then their mouths lingered around us, making the most awful hissing.
Blake flinched as he stared at one. “I have no idea how Emanuel couldn’t be scared of them.”
“Guess he trusts me more,” I said and he grunted.
“Not possible.” We entered, and his posture relaxed. I wielded my shield around us.
Blake stared at the sparkles that were vibrating off my shield with a slight frown and he put me down. “Why the shield?”
“We need to find a way to tell everyone not to mention my father’s existence, without letting the other ten troops find out.”
He smiled. “I’m not as stupid as you think I am.”
“What does that mean?”
“I already told them before Emanuel and everyone came in. It was only Luke and the ones that didn’t know.”
“When?” I asked.
“When we worked that day on the farm.”
“Guess you do have your strong points,” I teased.
He chuckled and lowered his head so he could kiss me.
Please don’t get killed now.
A part of me wished that we could hear each other’s minds again, but it was still silent.
“I promise you, I will find a way to get back. Nothing is going to keep me from you,” Blake told me.
“You sure you can’t read my mind?”
He grinned. “Wish I could.”
We walked out of the Creepers. It was dark and their hissing was going to be hard to keep at bay for the next few days.
I could only bring people out at night, because day time was too dangerous. Others would see that there was non-stop activity taking place close to the Creepers.
Still, Alkadeen was the safest way to get into Etan. It was far from the other cities.
Blake let me go when we were a good distance from the Creepers’ reach, and we walked all the way to Charles’s house.
As we drew near, we found Charles, David and Tom on the porch drinking coffee.
“Elle, Blake.” Tom got up and ran down the steps to meet us. “How are my sister and the others?”
“They are perfectly fine,” Blake said. “Elena made sure of that.”
Tom stared at me with soft eyes and a grateful smile. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome.”
“Mom.” Tom rushed back up the stairs as we both reached David and Charles. “Look who is here.” Tom’s voice came from inside the house.
“I take it everything went well. Are they comfortable on the other side?” Charles asked.
“It’s still very new to Cassy, but she is loving it. Just wants to know when Grandpa and Grandma are coming.”
“Soon.” Charles smiled. “I hope you told her soon.”
“I did,” I said, and gave him a hug.
“David,” I said and Charles let me go. “Your wife is getting antsy on the other side.”
“When is the Council coming?”
“In four days.”
“Okay, then I have three days to get ninety out.”
Charles eyes grew bigger. “Ninety?”
“There are one hundred troops ready to take your place,” Blake said.
“Where are we all going to stay?”
“At the lodge. I don’t care how we are going to do it, but I will make sure that everyone is comfortable,” David said.
“I don’t want to intrude,” Charles told David.
“None of this. I’ve made up my mind.”
Charles smiled. “It sure is nice to have him at my side again, Elle.”
“Well, then we can’t break that up. We are going to start taking you through around midnight.”
“Okay,” he said.
“Elle.” Gertrude came out of the house and gave me a motherly hug. “How is Daisy?”
“Daisy is fine and Cassy too. They are safe.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I was so worried.”
“Don’t be. I told you I’d take care of them.”
“So you did.” She squeezed my cheek.
“We need to get a meeting organized as soon as possible,” Charles said. “To decide which ninety are leaving.”