Chapter 9

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When I woke up the next morning, my back was in agony. I took a deep breath and tried not to moan in pain.

I looked around to see everyone else was still asleep. Thankfully. I slipped out of bed, let out a gasp, and arched my back in pain.

I almost ran to the wash room and it took all my self control to not slam the door.

I ripped off my shirt and the leather armor, and felt instant relief. I reached back but before I could touch the frill on my back, my eye caught on my arm. On the outside of my forearm were the same scales that adorned my chest, the same color of my frill -- the frill that was rapidly turning into spikes.

I took a deep breath and put all my concentration in not passing out in the washroom, with my shirt off, where anyone could find me.

I took a few more deep breaths and moved my hand back to touch my frill, except it wasn't a frill anymore, it had completely hardened into spikes.

And my breathing started to pick up again.

Okay, calm down. Calm. Down.

I picked up the armor and replaced it on my back. It rested against my spikes, not even touching my back.

Deep breaths.

I tightened it until I felt a jerk and my spikes break through the armor, sinking deeply into the padding but not piercing all the way through. And with my spikes stuck in the armor, I replaced my shirt and left the washroom, my hope of keeping this secret rapidly dropping.

______

I got to the training arena, once again, earlier than everyone else. I approached a training dummy, and started hacking at it, Caelea, as usual, shouting moves in my head.

Suddenly, CRRRRACK! I jumped in surprise as a particularly strong slash broke the support pole the dummy was on, and sent the dummy spinning to the side.

I stared, dumbfounded. Am I really that strong?

I heard voices behind me, my dad's and Sir Aaron's.

"Fin?" That was my dad.

"What was that noise, Thielsen?" Sir Aaron asked.

I gestured at the fallen dummy, still stunned. "I, uh- it- ... It broke."

"What?" Sir Aaron rushed over to me and crouched down to examine the dummy pole. "How? these things are as thick as my arm!"

"M-maybe it was already cracked?" I swallowed back a stutter.

"Must have been. " Dad said as he peered over Sir Aaron's shoulder.

The other trainees were filing in and walking over to see what the commotion was about.

"What happened?" One of the trainees asked, I don't know who.

"Nothing, nothing," he stood up and turned around. "Enough gawking, get in line."

We all scrambled to get in line and stand at attention.

"Since Sir Thiel is back we will be studying dragon slaying techniques."

Greeeeaaaat. I silently groaned.

Fin, its fine. As long as you're not actually killing dragons. Plus, it might be useful if an insane or idiotic dragon ever attacks you.

Caelea's ease, understanding, and joking relieved me, and, as I listened, I realized that these moves could be used on practically anything, so learning them did benefit me, even though I was probably never going to fight a dragon.

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