Chapter 13

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Chapter Thirteen

The overseer shouted at the stable hands and gestured wildly at Jaxx's retreating figure. He pointed at Jaxx, "Why are you just standing there? Hurry up; he's getting away."

"No time," said one of the stable hands. "We can get him later. The young dragons are about to take their first flight. We'll worry about the boy after the Binding Ceremony." The men began running towards the arena, not waiting for the overseer to reply.

Jaxx ran in the opposite direction as the hands until he was well away from the stables. He stopped to catch his breath and noticed crowds of people moving in the direction of the arena. He grabbed a young boy by the arm to ask him what was going on.

"Where is everyone going?" Jaxx asked.

"The young dragons are about to fly," the boy said, pulling his arm away, "Hurry if you don't want to miss it."

Jaxx's stomach clenched. He had known this day was coming but he did not think it would be so soon. He could only hope that Ciarran would still remember him after she was bound to her mage but even if she did not, deep down he would always think of her as his dragon. He would continue to love her and watch out for her as best as he could.

He started toward the hatching grounds to get the caretaker's permission to go to the Binding Ceremony, but then stopped. What if the man said no? What if the overseer found him first and turned the caretaker against him? Jaxx did not know if slaves were even permitted in the arena.

He decided not to risk it. Even if it meant being punished, he could not miss seeing Ciarran's first flight. He would go to the Binding Ceremony without asking permission and worry about the consequences later.

As Jaxx made his way to the arena, he was surprised to see how many people had gathered to watch the dragons take flight. He had expected most people to be hiding because of all the dragons that would be flying overhead, but instead it seemed like the entire Caer had shown up for the event. He worried that someone would see him and send him away, but all eyes were on the ledge, watching for the dragons and no one gave him any notice.

Jaxx could hear the young dragons screeching to each other from the ledge.
You firssssst, said the blue.

No, you, said the green.

As the dragonettes continued to argue about which of them would jump first, the dragon queen came up behind them and pushed the one nearest to her over the edge.

Jaxx watched them, silently cheering as the dragons took flight one by one. When it was Ciarran's turn he could not help but cheer out loud with the rest of the crowd. That's my Ciarran, he thought proudly, glad that he would not miss seeing her fly for the first time.

From the corner of his eye, Jaxx saw the mages on the platform begin moving their arms. When he glanced over to see what they were doing, he was shocked to find oily, gray coils rising from their arms and moving toward the young dragons. It looked as if giant serpents were being summoned to attack his dragon friends.

Jaxx looked around at the crowd to see their reaction but no one else seemed to notice anything was wrong. Could they not see what was happening? Did they not see the magic serpents that were chasing the dragons? He did not understand why no one was screaming in fear.

Jaxx was about to shout a warning for everyone to run away in case the serpents changed course and came after the people as well, but realized everyone in the crowd was cheering the mages on.

He groaned, wringing his hands, silently pleading with Ciarran to fly faster. Where was the caretaker, he wondered? Why wasn't he doing something to stop this?

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