Chapter 19

“I want to know about you and Tanith. How did you two wind up with Ryuu?” Ladon sighed, looking up from the cricket he had been messing with. I had found it in the backyard and brought it up here to play with.

“That is a long story. Let's see, where to start. Well, our village was much like yours, a small village living in fear of dragons. Unlike yours though, we had been attacked everyday. Something was always either destroyed or killed. The village men had finally become sick of it and decided that the next dragon they found would be killed in the most evil of ways.

“Tanith and I, meanwhile, had been fighting with our mother. When the villagers started their plans, she tried to make us leave. She refused to tell us why, just saying that we were in danger. We continued to refuse. After about a week, it started. I would wake up in the dead of night to horrible pain in my back or legs. Nothing would stop it. Our mother heard me one night and forced Tanith and I to leave.

“We had stayed near the village, watching the people we cared about be picked off, one by one. The pain would become worse every night. Tanith started to feel it too. A week after we had been banished, the pain started as soon as the sun went down. It lasted until the sun came back up, and when the pain left, I had become a dragon.

“One of the villagers had spotted me. The strongest of the men had come to fight me. Not knowing what was going on, my body responded automatically. I turned back into a human. I was weaker like that and the men surrounded me. Tanith stepped in and pretended she was a witch controlling me. The men backed off and we escaped.

“After studying our family history, I found out our father was a dragon. Our mother had fallen in love with him on a trip to the neighboring village. He warned her that when we turned sixteen, our dragon side would start to emerge. She thought it was us that attacked the village. Tanith and I wandered around until we met Ryuu. He listened to what we had to say and took us in. We have stayed with him since that day.” He finished the story. He seemed unaffected by what he had just said.

“Oh Ladon, I am so sorry. No wonder you hated me so much when I called Tanith a monster.” He looked up with a goofy grin, a cricket in his hand.

“But you trusted us eventually. I am glad you did too. You are a good friend, Amani.” He looked down, “Your parents might treat you as mine did me if they find out what you are doing though.” I shrugged and told him I didn't care, I would do it anyway.

“Did your village ever stop the dragon that attacked them?”

“Ryuu found out who it was. It turned out to be our father. Ryuu tried to make him stop, but he refused. He ended up killing our father.” I looked out the window, towards the hill. Ryuu protected them, and he had been protecting our village too. Tanith and Ladon had been helping him out.

So who was attacking our village now? And why couldn't they figure it out? I paused thinking over the people who had died, it wasn't our village, it was me. Someone wanted to hurt me, or blame me. It would be easier to blame me if they made it seem a human killed the dead, instead of a dragon. So it wasn't just me they wanted to hurt. I glanced at Ladon again. Maybe they wanted one of the other dragons to be blamed too.

“That dragon that was killed, with all of the other people here, what did he look like as a human?” Ladon looked at me.

“I could show you.”

I watched him warily, “I don't want to do that again.

“He shook his head, “They didn't warn you. Besides, I will be gentle. I promise.” He waited for my answer. I reluctantly nodded. He moved closer to me and rested his hands against my ears. I closed my eyes and let the image slowly become clear. The boy had bright red hair, freckles dotted his nose, and the rest of his face.

“That is Simon. He would play with Peter and I when he came to buy something from our village. He was a dragon?” Ladon pulled back and nodded.

“Yes, he visited us sometimes. I am surprised he told you his real name though. Most make a new one up.”

“You and Tanith told me yours, so did Ryuu.”

“Yes, we told you ours, we just didn't tell you the dragons you talked to everyday had the same names. I don't know why Ryuu told you his. He normally doesn't.”

“I don't know. I liked Simon though, he was a good friend.”

“So even the dragon is connected to you. Maybe you ended up making another dragon angry somehow. You seem to attract them.”

“Joy,” I muttered. “Then you better be careful. He might go after one of you guys next.” He nodded, watching me seriously. I leaned out the window, watching the birds fly across the sky.

“Alright, one more question and I will stop. Does Coda know?”

I could hear laughter from behind me. I scowled and turned around. Ladon shook his head and continued to chuckle. “Of course he knows. All animals can tell when a dragon is nearby. Unlike humans, they don't fear us. Well the occasional ones we eat do, but the others don't.” Interesting, I thought.

A scream broke the peacefulness. I could tell instantly that it was Jasmine's mother. Without hesitating, I ran outside to the town center, trying to spot either Jasmine or her mother.

The End

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