[Chapter Thirty Three]
Dyunzo was long since behind them. Although it had been a few hours since leaving and the early afternoon colours setting the sky, Olivia wasn’t able to adjust to the bitter cold searching for any exposed part of her skin. The girl shuddered and wrapped the cloak around her body, conserving any warmth she could. Behind her, Raegel was chattering and Olivia knew he wasn’t used to the cold either. She looked over her shoulder and held up the thick cloak. Raegel looked at it, yearning to be inside the little warmth but looked away.
Olivia held it closer. “It’s warm,”
Raegel looked at it again a little longer before leaning forward, taking the cloak and wrapping it around himself. He didn’t say anything and looked away with tinted cheeks. Olivia looked ahead while the wind howled in her ears from the dragon’s speed. Salvesta had wrapped the lower half of his body around her torso whilst the rest of him was settled on her shoulders, hidden underneath the cloak attached to her back. It looked like she was wearing a long black scarf and made a joke about it in her head, an attempt of humor that the cold snatched from her.
They had been flying for at least four hours, Olivia guessed it and thought that Exiron should rest. “Exiron. We should land!”
Exiron tilted his head to her and shook it. ”We can not, my Dragella. The sea remains below us, the sea of the dead where sirens await for the unfortunate,”
“H-How wonderful,” Raegel muttered through trembling teeth.
Exiron faced his head forward and continued flying. Olivia wondered where they were heading, someplace quiet she imagined. Maybe somewhere like Dyunzo, peaceful and warm especially. Winter wasn’t one of her favourite seasons despite being used to the cold; it was like saying she was used to being abused by Quinstella and liked it. Olivia cringed and shook her head.
“Quit staring at me, snake,” grumbled Raegel.
Olivia glanced behind and frowned at the elf. “Maybe if you were nicer to him he wouldn’t be seeing you as his next meal,”
Raegel sent her a short-lived glare. “Don’t talk to me. You’re the reason I’m in this mess!”
Before Olivia could respond Exiron suddenly stopped flying. He let out a beastly roar, Olivia tensed, and he tucked in his wings. They were suddenly dropping, diving nose-first into whatever was below them. Olivia screamed and held onto the handlebar for dear life. The wind shrieked into her ears. Salvesta tightened his body around Olivia’s chest and she found it harder to breathe. Raegel wrapped his arms tightly around her abdomen, screaming, and Olivia began to see black dots clouding her vision as she wheezed and gasped for air.
The cold air was too fast for her to suck in, Salvesta and Raegel didn’t seem to notice they were suffocating her and she clawed at Salvesta’s body, trying to loosen him. There was a soft hiss in her ear and Olivia’s eyes closed, barely able to keep them open. She still yanked at Salvesta’s body when they were all suddenly lurched forward. Rykal roared again, it was deafening, and enough to make her mind pound. He started shouting at Raegel about respect, Olivia couldn’t make it out as she swayed side to side before finally falling forward. Darkness overcame her, the lack of air going to her head and the last thing she heard was a hiss and a call of her name.
Olivia awoke again to an argument between Exiron and Raegel. Salvesta hissed at them and Exiron returned with a growl. Raegel was shouting at an enraged Exiron as Exiron bellowed at Raegel. Salvesta was gently wrapped around Olivia’s torso to a point where Olivia didn’t notice if it wasn’t for the slight shift in his position. Droplets of rain hit her cheeks and neck and Olivia groaned tiredly, stirring her head away. It was then she realized she was laying on Raegel and her head was on his shoulder, just turning away from him. Exiron’s body vibrated with deep rumbles and sent a shiver up Olivia’s arms and she stirred herself awake.
"Are you okay, my Dragella?” Exiron asked immediately when Olivia groaned again.
The girl cleared her dry throat and sat up. “I’m okay,”
“Great! The pride and joy is awake,” Raegel mocked. “Now can we turn around?”
Olivia fought the urge to glare at the ungrateful elf but sighed understanding how he would feel given his past life. Instead, she asked the obvious, “Why are you fighting each other?”
“Because,” Raegel cut in. “The damn flying lizard wants to fly through a storm. A lightning storm!”
Exiron growled in response. ”It is our only course of action. If we chose to swerve around it, it would take another day and more energy from my limited supply. Would you rather risk our chances with the storm or a sea of sirens below us?”
“Neither! Just fly back to Dyunzo,” Raegel said as if it was simple.
Olivia rubbed her temples with two fingers, keeping in the urge to snap at everyone as Salvesta hissed loudly, baring his fangs. Exiron growled at the elf and snake. Raegel only shouted in protest, saying how the two lizards were against him and the dragon smacked the elf with the tip of his tail. Salvesta hissed at Exiron and Olivia looked ahead, seeing the sky darken with grey clouds, flashes of light every minute or so. Raegel demanded Exiron to turn around to which the dragon ignored.
“Raegel!” Olivia snapped, fuming. “We have no choice, alright. I would rather take my chances with a storm than a sea full of man-eating mermaids!”
Raegel glared at her. “You’re the reason I’m looking at my death,”
"Enough!” Exiron bellowed, silencing the group. ”We are crossing through the storm if we have a sliver chance of survival. If you do not accept and debate a word of it, enjoy the swim with the sirens. I am sure they will save a bone or two for a collection!”
Exiron’s voice was deep with anger and thick with harshness. The elf remained quiet, hugging the black cloak tight around him and Olivia was tempted to snatch it off him. He wasn’t making it easier to be liked. Despite the rough times he must’ve gone through, it didn’t mean rip apart any sign of kindness and stack it into hatred.
The dragon’s body stiffened, the scales hardening when Olivia went to touch them and the droplets of water became more frequent. The storm was approaching and Olivia felt uneasy. Salvesta seemed to feel the same and tucked his head underneath the cloak. Raegel whined under his breath and huddled right behind Olivia, though she didn’t notice as the first flash of lightning struck beside Exiron. Thunder roared and rolled through as another bolt of lightning flashed behind them. They were in the storm and there was no turning back.
Rain hammered against Olivia, her cheeks were as red as an apple. She pushed her hair back though bristles were left sticking to her face. Exiron flapped hard, avoiding any dark clouds; with so much darkened grey clouds there was no difference to Olivia. She couldn’t see anything except when lightning shone around them and Exiron’s glowing self made her feel like they were an easy target. Another clap of thunder boomed through the air and Raegel screamed, jumping from his seat.
“Fly up!” Raegel screamed. “Fly above the storm!”
Exiron didn’t hear the elf as he flew sideways. The wind pushed against him, making him fly in directions he didn’t want to as they narrowly missed a lightning strike. Salvesta flinched, tightening his body around Olivia and Raegel pressed against her, trembling and chattering. Olivia had to wipe her face and eyes constantly to see a glimpse of anything but the rain was relentless.
“Exiron! We should fly above the clouds!” Olivia shouted.
Exiron gave an uneasy groan and tilted his head up. Olivia grabbed the handle and held on as strong as she could. The dragon flew up a little higher, not willing to go higher but the elf screamed at him to go higher. Exiron snapped his jaws at the elf and growled.
“You’re going to kill us! We’re going to die!” Raegel wailed and Olivia rolled her eyes.
"If we go above the clouds, certain death will await us then,” Exiron grumbled.
“Anything is better. Anything is better than this damn storm!”
Exiron whined ever so faintly and flew higher, flying right underneath the clouds. It wasn’t exactly a good idea when most of the lightning came from the higher clouds and they were all currently breathing it in. Another flash of lightning struck in front of Exiron and he roared in fright, tilting his body upright.
“Go above the clouds! Go above the clouds now!” Raegel practically screeched.
Exiron turned his head back to snap at Raegel when a lightning strike came swift and fast beside them. Olivia screamed in shock as did Raegel and Exiron roared in an inhumane beastly way; it was almost like a scream of his own. Olivia realized why. He’d been hit.
“Fly above the storm, you damn lizard!”
Exiron held his front right leg close to his chest but Olivia saw the scroching burn mark. She felt his body tremble with pain, how unstable and shaky his balance grew as he stumbled up and down. The dragon roared in a sense of helplessness and he flew straight up, beyond the clouds, the rain, the lightning and the heart of the thunder. He flew straight up until they were above the darkened clouds. Olivia saw the sun and she gasped in amazement; warmth touching her face. Floating islands were far off in the distance but Olivia caught a precious glimpse. Some were small and others larger. Shadows flew around the islands, there must’ve been dozens upon dozens of islands and Olivia was astonished at all the dragons she saw flying around. None paid attention to them, but it was an incredible sight to see. Then she spotted the largest island that all the others surrounded. And even though she couldn’t see well, the girl saw a castle, a large and magnificent gleaming white castle as tall as a mountain standing tall on the floating island. It was so beautiful.
Her sense of awe didn’t last long when Exiron whined, flying nowhere but above the clouds. Olivia then remembered he was exiled. And they were in his domain. Suddenly, her sense started buzzing wildly throughout her, the hairs on her neck rising with an unknown fear. A roar boomed over the thunder and a red-scaled dragon abruptly appeared beside Exiron. Olivia screamed as she made eye contact with the yellow-eyed beast. The dragon reached out, latched its claws onto Exiron’s neck as it collided into him. Exiron roared, the red dragon roaring louder and they went tumbling down. Icy water sprayed her face once more, cold wind howled in her ears followed by cracks of lightning and rumbles of thunder throbbing her ears.
A scream tore through Olivia’s throat. The world spun, flashes of glaring light shot all around her and she felt like she was going to be sick. Exiron used his three legs to claw at the red dragon, desperate to get it off. The red dragon lifted it’s head momentarily and Exiron lunged at it, sinking his teeth into the red dragon’s neck. The red dragon let go of Exiron and Exiron spun around, latching onto the red dragon’s underbelly that was exposed. The red dragon roared powerfully at Exiron, clawing at his injured leg and Exiron was forced to let go. He spread his wings as the iced over sea was below them, dangerously close.
The red dragon fell through the ice and Exiron beat his wings desperately to slow down but it wasn’t enough as he came crash landing against the ice. It cracked underneath him and his legs fell through. Olivia took it as a sign to get off.
“Raegel, get off. Get off the saddle!” Olivia urged, undoing the band and standing up.
The elf followed in close pursuit as Exiron groaned. Olivia’s heart clenched as the dragon spread out his wing to let Olivia and Raegel slide off. When they did, the red dragon surfaced, flying high into the air. Lightning flashed around it, thunder rumbling the air. The red dragon was slim and fast. Its body wasn’t as large as Exiron’s was and Olivia realized it was a female. She had a single pair of straight horns as large as Exiron, along with large fan-like ears. Her tail was all spiky as more spikes led up to her body. Her yellow eyes blazed wildly as she let out an ear-piercing roar.
The rain poured upon them and Olivia breathed heavily, fear ripping through her as the wind blew against her. Shivers crawled her spine, cold snaps of water soaking through her clothes and dripping down her trembled skin. Exiron growled and stood tall and mighty with a thumping tail behind him. He lept from the ground, creating a large hole in the iced sea and flew straight into the red dragon. They tossed and turned, snapping their jaws and swiping their claws at each other. Olivia was frozen. To say she wasn’t afraid was a lie. She was terrified. Raegel was behind her and he gasped though she didn’t hear it. Her sense began buzzing again but fear had chained her to the ground. She couldn’t move, couldn’t look away.
She didn’t realize how close she was to the crack until a shrill scream was heard; her sense frantically buzzed through her leg. Olivia snapped her head around and saw Raegel staring at the crack, shuffling forward. She frowned at his dazzled stare and looked to the crack. Small waves crashed onto the ice and Olivia froze again. A head was poking through the broken ice, slowly emerging herself and lifting herself up onto the ice. The siren’s pale blue skin seemed so sickly with gills protruding from the sides of her neck, webbed fins from her waist etching down to the ends of her slim, shark-like tail whilst long ones grew on her forearms. Her long, wet, black hair flowed over both her shoulders, covering her chest that was hidden behind a layer of tight blue skin along with her defined abdomen. Her webbed hands were long and slender, nails almost just as long.
She shrieked continuously and it pierced Olivia’s ears. The girl winced and quickly covered her ears yet Raegel didn’t seem phased. He shuffled closer, lost in a trance as the siren shrieked louder. She gave a dark grin, her purple lips twisting up to reveal her row of jagged teeth.
“Raegel!” Olivia shouted. “Raegel, snap out of it!”
Briefly, the siren turned to Olivia and snarled at her, baring her teeth. Raegel groaned, losing the trance he was under but the siren grew more focused on the girl. Her pale blue eyes narrowed, swimming over to the ice where Olivia was. She staggered back, but the rain made it impossible to move; she slipped down, and frantically pushed her body back. The siren came crawling to her, another emerged and joined the first. Olivia screamed, locking eyes with pale green eyes with ginger hair.
“Raegel, help me!” she pleaded. “Please help me!”
For some reason, she knew he wouldn’t. And sadly, he didn’t even move. He stared at her and the sirens as the first grabbed hold of her ankle. Olivia gasped and lifted her leg, kicking the siren in the face. The siren screeched and rolled back while the other grabbed hold of her leg, pulling her back. Olivia turned on her stomach and clawed at the slippery surface, praying to find something to grab onto. The two sirens hissed and snarled and started dragging Olivia back with them, scratching and digging their nails into her legs.
“No! Let me go! Get off me!”
Olivia felt like she was about to puke, on the verge of crying as thunder clapped above her, roars and snarls from the fighting dragons before she was dragged over the edge and into the sea. Meanwhile, Exiron made a clean slash to the female’s neck before she swiftly spun around and brought her spiky tail over his snout. Exiron growled in anger as he pulled back, breathing in deeply. His snout stung from her wretched spikes, blood dripping through the cracked scales. A white-hot sensation rose within him, burning up his body. Fire rushed up to his throat and into his mouth and he released it all with a powerful roar. The female dragon widened her eyes and quickly dodged the first wave but didn’t see the second wave of angry blue flames soaring at her.
She growled and whined in pain and Exiron charged for her. Though, she recovered quickly and dodged his charge, swiping his wounded leg with her tail. He whined, his body quivering with the stinging burn spreading through his leg. He couldn’t keep fighting the female in the storm, he wasn’t strong enough to scare her off. The female roared at him, flying high in the air before diving toward him. She was so fast Exiron couldn’t dodge it in time and she collided into him. Claws dug into his side and wing and Exiron roared in pain, so high pitched it seemed more of a wail. The female pulled out her wings and Exiron did the same. He landed painfully on the ice, though it cracked and broke beneath him.
He had no choice. He had to surrender. In shame and pain, Exiron flew over to a solid piece of ice near the pathetic elf and lowered his head, wings, and tail. The female growled at him, puffing out her chest to intimidate him. He bowed his head against the ice, and slowly flapped his wings up and down on the ice. The female roared dominantly, showing her victorious battle. She flicked her tail at him before flying up into the stormy clouds. Exiron watched on with hatred burning through his golden eyes and lifted his head when the female was gone.
In an infuriating manner, he turned around and walked to the elf. Immediately, he noticed the snake and his Dragella were gone. He searched the ice as lightning flashed the sky, illuminating the area briefly.
"Where is Olivia?” Exiron demanded to the terrified elf.
The elf only pointed down and Exiron’s eyes widened. Without a second thought, he jumped up and dove into the crack of the ice. Sharp edges grazed against his side and his fresh cuts stung but he hardly noticed. Water surrounded him, dark shadows circled him and giggles and hisses were below him. He swam down, using his advanced eyes and spotted his Dragella. A few sirens surrounded her still figure, Salvesta wrapped around her chest as he spat out purple venom. Exiron swam down, pushing his muscles against the current of the water. Salvesta bobbed his body up to Exiron, spitting purple venom at the shrieking sirens and Exiron reached out and grabbed them.
He swiftly turned up and swam up, flapping his wings powerfully to push back the putrid sirens. One managed to grab onto his tail and he only twisted his tail around her slithering body and squeezed as tight as he could. Her body split into two as he broke through the water, gasping for air and he landed gently. He laid Olivia down and felt Rykal pushing at his mind. Smoke surrounded him as his snout suddenly became smaller and pushed back into his head, his large body shrunk down to human size. His wings grew inwards as did his claws and tail. His horns disappeared into his skull and he was pushed back into Rykal’s mind.
“Olivia! Olivia, wake up!” Rykal shouted as the smoke vanished, dropping beside her, wearing the same plain white shirt and black pants.
No response. Salvesta unwrapped himself from Olivia as her face went pale. He quickly dropped to her chest, pressing his ear against it and his stomach twisted inside out. He couldn’t hear her heartbeat. He frantically pulled at the roots of his head before pushing against her chest repeatedly.
“Come on. Come one,” he chanted and didn’t hide the crack in his voice. “Come on!”
He blocked her nose, opened her mouth and covered hers with his. He breathed air in as calmly as he could before pushing against her chest. He tried to stay calm, he tried to keep a smooth repeated rhythm but when the first tear slid down his cheek, washed away by the howling rain, he lost it. He felt his chest clench, the scales on his body twitching and scratching at his wet skin, and he blinked, confused if his eyes were blurry with tears or rain. He screamed at her pale figure and thrashed his tail. His body was bulging and shivering with rage and he so madly wanted to pound his fists against her chest.
“Olivia, wake up! Curse the demons, wake up!” he cried, breathing air into her mouth.
Water suddenly gushed out of her mouth and Olivia’s eyes shot open. She hunched over and coughed roughly, hurling up the water in her mouth and weakly looked up at Rykal. She smiled as strong as she could but it was nothing but a small fragile one. He couldn’t fight against the overwhelming charge of emotions that made his eyes blurry with tears. He pulled her to his chest and squeezed her tightly, beyond relieved. He buried his face into her hair and more than happily breathed in her jasmine scent. His Dragella moaned weakly and leaned against his chest. She fell limp in his arms. Rykal noticed and instantly dropped his ear to her chest again, panicked and afraid. He heard her heartbeat again, soft light breathes leaving her blue lips and Rykal sighed in contentment.
Salvesta slithered over to Rykal and gently up onto his shoulder and Raegel cautiously approached. “Is she still alive?”
His anger toward the elf boiled over the edge and instead of answering, Rykal remained silent. Exiron pulled at his mind and Rykal allowed it. Rykal’s muscles expanded and grew, horns protruding from his skull and curled upward along with pairs of smaller ones. He hunched on all fours as his hands and feet were replaced by large, scaled dragon feet. His wings grew, his tail grew, and his body grew until Exiron stood in his place. His piercing yellow eyes gave the cowering elf a menacing glare.
"I dare you to speak one word, just one word and I will do worse to you than the tree in Dyunzo,”
Raegel said nothing and trembled with fear. Thunder rumbled around them, lightning streaked the dark clouds behind Exiron and darkened his tensed figure.
"Get the saddle and put it on,” Exiron snapped and didn’t give a second glance to the imbecile.
Raegel scrambled after the saddle, tripping over from the wet ice, but nevertheless did exactly what Exiron demanded.