Chapter 42

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Chapter Forty-two

Jaxx and Ciarran moved to the edge of the Bowl. He felt her tense, as if about to fly, but then, instead of jumping, she stopped and shuddered, stretching her neck to the sky and letting out a long, keening wail. He could hear other dragons howling in reply. Oddly, the dragons nearest them made no sound but only looked at them curiously.

"What is it, girl?" Jaxx asked, concerned. "What's wrong?"

Ciarran swung her long neck from side to side, almost unseating him. She stood on her hind legs and stretched her wings, still crying.

Dead, dead, dead, Ciarran said.

The noise from the other dragons was nearly deafening Jaxx. He glanced over at Ella while he fought to keep his seat. She was looking at both of them strangely.

"What is wrong with the dragons?" Jaxx asked, trying to shout over the racket.

"The dragons?" Ella said, puzzled. "What do you mean? The other dragons are fine. What's wrong with Ciarran? Who is she talking about? Who is dead?"

Jaxx looked around at the other dragons, who were quiet but alert, and the Dragon Riders, who were looking from him to Ella in confusion.

"Can't you hear them screaming?" Jaxx asked.

Ella frowned and shook her head. "None of the other dragons are screaming, Jaxx. What is happening? Why is Ciarran upset?"

Jaxx stroked and patted Ciarran's neck, trying to calm her.
Dead, dead, dead, Ciarran said.

"Who is dead?" Jaxx asked her, becoming frantic. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Commander Zionn striding toward them.

Instead of answering, Ciarran jumped off of the cliff, beating the air with her large wings.

"Ciarran, no!" Jaxx said, but Ciarran did not seem to hear. They flew straight up toward the sky and he had to hold tightly with his arms and legs around her neck to keep from sliding off of her and falling to the sea. He risked looking back over his shoulder and saw Ella and the Commander jump on their dragons to try to follow.

His heart sank. Now on top of everything else, they would think he could not control his dragon. Before the Commander and Ella could reach them, Ciarran took a deep breath and they were abruptly thrust into the hot, red nothingness of the In-Between.

"Ciarran," Jaxx said, but he could not hear his own voice. He tried to see where they were going but there was nothing but endless swirling red. There were no sounds or scents or any sign of another living creature. He reached out, trying to feel Ciarran's thick hide in front of him, but felt nothing. He gasped, but felt no air going into his lungs. He tried pinching himself, but could not feel his own arms.

"We will be back over the water any second now," Jaxx told himself. "I just have to stay calm.

The seconds seemed to stretch to minutes. What was taking so long? Surely they should be over the ocean by now.

Jaxx forced himself to take calm breaths. As long as he and Ciarran were together, they would be fine, even if they were lost and had a long way to fly back. He looked ahead, concentrating on trying to look through the mist and almost missed it when their surroundings started to change. The red faded and they flew into a blue sky. He exhaled his relief and looked down, expecting to see the sea below them. Instead, he saw a huge field with a castle in the distance. This was not Drak'ar. Where were they?

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