Chapter 44

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Chapter Forty-four

Ciarran screamed, and Jaxx looked up into the sky. He saw the long tethers of magic that connected the dragon queen and her mate to a mage in the tower like they were puppets. The dragon mate flew past him, barely missing him with a tongue of flame.

Jaxx looked up at the mages in the tower and wagged a finger at them. "Tsk, tsk," he said.

It took no effort at all to dissolve the tethers and let the dragons again fly free. Jaxx watched in satisfaction as they soared high above the castle and then moved toward the mountains. This is how all dragons should be, he thought, free from mages' chains. He had to do something to make sure the mages could not enslave the dragons again.
"Let's go," Jaxx said to Ciarran, swinging easily onto her neck. She tossed her head in agreement and rose from the ground, heading toward the mages in the tower. He could see them standing in the window, frantically trying to cast spells to stop him. As each spell came towards them, he averted it so that it went harmlessly to the side.

The magic inside of Jaxx scratched like an itchy sweater. He squirmed, trying to relieve the pressure. He had to do something to let it out.

Kill them, whispered a voice in his head, avenge all Dragon-kind.

Jaxx nodded in agreement. They should die for what they did to the dragons.
"Ciarran," Jaxx said, his voice sounding like it was coming from someone else, "I will avenge your brother and see to it that dragons are never enslaved in Caer Llanwyn again."

No, my Jaxx, I will lose you, Ciarran said, but Jaxx was not listening. She circled away from the tower and landed, calling his name. Jaxx, Jaxx!

Jaxx climbed to his feet and stood on Ciarran's back, raising his arms and staring at the mages that watched from the windows. A bright orb of power formed between his hands. He waited for it to grow large enough that he could hurl it at the tower and destroy everything inside.
The dragon queen returned from the mountains, Lord Drakkar and Ella following on Gareth. Four other Dragon Riders followed behind.

Jaxx, the queen said, adding her voice to Ciarran's.

Jaxx, Jaxx, repeated the dragons of Drak'ar, trying to break his trance.

From out of nowhere, a black shape swooped down and knocked Jaxx to the ground. He stood up angrily and stared into the eyes of the black dragon, the queen's mate.

Send the magic to me, the dragon mate said.

No, don't, said the magic, but it was too late. In his fury, Jaxx pointed his hands toward the black dragon and pushed, directing the magic inside of him to destroy this new enemy.

The black dragon did not die. Instead, it absorbed the power into itself. Jaxx kept pushing and the dragon kept soaking it up until finally, Jaxx was empty of the magic that had filled him. He fell, exhausted, to the ground.

The dragons landed, forming a circle around him. Ella slipped from behind Drakkar to run to him. Crying, she cradled his head on her lap.

Jaxx eyes fluttered open. "What happened?" he asked, bewildered. He squinted up at Ella. "How did you get here?"

"We waited for hours for you to come back from the In-Between. I thought I'd lost you," Ella said, her voice breaking, "but then the dragon queen came to us instead. She told me Ciarran sent her for help, that you'd saved the dragons but now the magic was taking control of you. "We were still wearing our group amulets. I wouldn't let anyone take them off and break the link, in case you came back and needed us. Lord Drakkar forbade us to come after you ourselves, but he had to bring me with him to find you and help the queen."

Jaxx rose to his feet shakily and made a weak bow. "I thank you my lord."

Lord Drakkar nodded. "It is my duty as the Lord of Drak'ar to help dragons and riders in need." He looked around, "But I don't understand what happened here. It looked like you were losing control of the magic. How did you break free?"

Ella turned toward the dragon queen, her eyes getting large.

"She says he is dragon-marked," Ella said in awe, then slapped Jaxx on the top of his head. "You never told me that."

"Ow," Jaxx said, rubbing his head. " I don't even know what it means."
"It means, Jaxx," said Lord Drakkar, "that when you are in need you may call on any dragon for aid and they will lend you their magic."

Jaxx looked between Ciarran and the dragon queen, remembering the day's events. When he could not connect to Ciarran's magic to fight Kaine, the queen dragon had given him her magic to make him stronger. Then, when the magic nearly possessed him for good, the dragon mate had absorbed it, taking it away from him. It sounded like he needed the help of three dragons to make his magic work. He wondered whether that made him a good Dragon Rider or a bad one.

Jaxx did not have long to think about it. He heard the sounds of shouting in the distance. The Master Mages were coming toward them, joined by a large crowd of villagers carrying pitchforks and other weapons.

"I don't think I have it in me for another fight," Jaxx said.

"I agree," said Lord Drakkar. "Someday, I would like to speak to these mages about their treatment of dragons, but for now I think it is time to go home."

"What about the dragon queen and her mate? Can they come with us?" Jaxx asked.

"Dragons will always be welcome and protected in our lands," said Lord Drakkar.

"Ciarran, are you ready?" asked Jaxx.

I am ready, my Jaxx, Ciarran told him.

Jaxx looked at the dragon queen and her mate. "Will you come with us to Drak'ar?" he asked.

We will come with you, they said. The queen bugled and Ciarran's remaining hatchmates appeared next to them. My children will come as well.

Jaxx mounted Ciarran's back and the dragons of Drak'ar rose into the air, leaping as one through the In-Between to go home.

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