Chapter 18

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Chapter Eighteen

Lord Drakkar waited for Ella and Jaxx by the opening of a large cave set in some beachside cliffs. Inside, Jaxx could see dozens of dragons resting in nests set into hollows in the cave walls. The dragons were free to come and go as they pleased and he ducked instinctively when one flew overhead through the cave's large mouth. With no bars or cages, this was nothing like the stable where he had worked in Caer Llanwyn.

"How much did you cost me this time?" Drakkar asked, chuckling. He ruffled Ella's hair affectionately. She smiled and leaned against him, wrapping her arms around his waist. He turned to Jaxx. "Your Ciarran is flying under the watchful eye of my Gareth." He pointed to a spot far over the ocean. "He has become very protective of her."

Jaxx looked in the direction that Lord Drakkar was gesturing and caught his breath. Ciarran looked like a golden speck flying next to a much larger, darker speck. He had never seen a dragon flying so free before. It was magnificent.

"Call her to you," Lord Drakkar said. "She has been waiting."

Jaxx did not think she could hear him from this distance, but shouted obediently. "Ciarran! I am here." He thought his voice sounded weak against the wind and the waves.

Ella giggled. "Not like that, silly."

Jaxx looked from Ella to Drakkar, feeling confused. How else was he supposed to call her? He did not understand what they expected him to do. His heart skipped a beat. How long before they realized Ciarran did not belong with him and take her away? He stared at the ground, chewing his lip.

Ella watched him, her face curious. "Didn't the other Dragon Riders from your world teach you anything?"

Jaxx's eyebrows creased together. "People don't ride dragons where I'm from," he said. "The mages would never allow such a thing."

Lord Drakkar studied Jaxx's face and appeared ready to ask a question. Instead, he closed his eyes for a moment and said, "She speaks to you, does she not?"
"Yes," said Jaxx.

"Yes," Drakkar said, "and how does she do that? With her lips?"

Jaxx blinked at him. That was silly. Dragons did not have lips. He did not know how to explain how she spoke to him. He simply seemed to hear her thoughts. Drakkar watched him expectantly waiting for him to answer.

"Well," Jaxx said, trying to explain, "It feels like she's in my head." He glanced at Drakkar and Ella to see their reaction. They probably thought he was crazy.

Ella nodded dreamily, her eyes looking into the distance. "It's like she's part of you," she said, "like before you found her you were only half a being and then you met her and became whole."

That was exactly how Jaxx had felt. How did she know?

"That is what it means to be a rider," Drakkar said, a soft look on his own face. Then he looked at Jaxx sternly. "The bond between dragon and human is both a blessing and a curse. Once the connection has been made, neither the human nor the dragon can ever really be whole again without the other. It is the reason we choose potential Dragon Riders very carefully. Only the most worthy are permitted to make the bond."

Jaxx nodded, pretending he understood, even though he had no idea what the lord meant.

"Think about how it feels when she is speaking to you," Drakkar said. "Remember what it is like to be connected to her and use that connection to call her to you now."

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