Venom, p.1

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  If you purchased this e-book from anyone other than Fire Quill Publishing or a licensed FQP reseller, you should be aware this e-book is stolen property.

  This e-book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Fire Quill Publishing

  Copyright © Adrienne Woods 2014

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  All graphics and text associated with Fire Quill Publishing.

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  Manufactured in South Africa.

  First Fire Quill publishing edition November 2014

  ISBN: 978 -0-0046536-2-8- e-copy

  Other Novels in this series



  Frost Bite

  Moon Breeze

  Other Novels by adrienne Woods

  dream caster

  Shadow Caster

  Coming in 2015

  ON’T IGNORE MY CALLS,” Lucian’s message played on my Cammy. I stared out the window and looked at buildings flashing by, barely processing the words of his heartfelt message. Ever since I came to Paegeia my life felt exactly like a vision swooping past me. Everything moving so fast I could barely take in more than a blur.

  The message played again. The reason behind his pleading emerged on the day we got back from our mission to find the King of Lions sword a month and a half ago. His parents still hadn’t approved of our relationship and they were making it really difficult for us to find time to be together this summer. He wasn’t even allowed to be with me on my seventeenth birthday since his parents had gone on an impromptu family vacation near the Wall for two weeks. Talking on the phone to one another wasn’t even an option as they had chosen the one place in Paegeia with terrible reception. I guess even in a world of magic we were all slaves to cell phone towers.

  But this lack of attention wasn’t the main reason I refused to speak to him.

  I couldn’t imagine my life without Lucian, but I had recently discovered that in two years he would graduate from Dragonia and he would be forced to marry Arianna Kinsley. The biggest biatch I’d ever met who also happened to be the Princess of Areeth. This arrangement arose from a ridiculous pact made between the two ruling kings of Paegeia when the Prince and Princess were children, as they hoped to once again to unite the kingdom under one ruling family.

  I listened to his message again.

  He sounded frustrated with me and seemed to sigh a lot more than usual. I wished I knew what the future held for the two of us. Maybe it would make this whole miserable situation seem a little brighter.

  I didn’t have much faith that this situation would be sorted out soon or very cleanly. Lucian had some pretty crazy ideas about what to do if his parents refused to break the marriage arrangement, but they all boiled down to one thing that I refused to even contemplate; running away. I was done running. After George, Becky’s dragon, transformed in front of me─ the result of a stupid prank─ the day I started at Dragonia Academy, I promised myself I would no longer run from my fears.

  Sammy’s hand touched my leg softly, shaking me from my thoughts. I took out one of the ear pieces that was connected to my Cammy and gave her a soft smile.

  “You okay?” She mouthed and I nodded. I knew she could tell something was troubling me as I assumed my perpetual misery every time I listened to one of Lucian’s messages, played out on my face in stark contrast to my usual happy self.

  It followed with a sigh. It was as much as I could muster, and I went back to staring out the window.

  “Can you drive a bit faster?” Becky asked her Mom, Lucille, as we drove toward the Wall.

  “I'm driving the speed limit and I'm not going any faster. George isn’t going to fly away or disappear, Becky.”

  “Mom, seriously you drive like Miss Daisy. If we stay at this speed, we won’t get there until nine tonight.”

  Lucille didn't answer, but gave her daughter a sharp side glance.

  George was coming back today. Thank Heaven for that! Becky’s back biting had really started to work on my nerves these past few days.

  This trip would be the first time I was going to see the Wall. I couldn’t wait to find what all the fuss was about, as I did not have a chance to see it when I passed through it the night my father died. A part of me wanted to jump out of my skin as visions of what I might see played on a revolving carousel inside my head.

  “Urgh! This is so frustrating.” Becky hit her head hard against the front seat. Sammy drew a circle around her temple with her left index finger eyeballing Becky and I bit the inside of my mouth, trying not to burst out laughing.

  Becky was such a spoiled brat sometimes. These past few weeks I’d learned a lot about her and her temperament. Being used to money and the lifestyle they led had turned her into somebody I never thought I would be friends with, but I couldn’t help it. I loved her for her braveness and her ability to tell you exactly what she thought, even if you didn’t ask for it. She was one of my best friends, just like Sammy.

  Lucille pulled quickly into a parking lot. The tall concrete structure reminded me of the airport parking garages I used to see in movies. "We’re here."

  “Finally!” Becky opened her door before Lucille could even stop the car properly.


  “Now we know just how much she misses George,” Sammy said as Lucille stared at her daughter with parted lips.

  I ran to keep up with Lucille and Sammy. Lucille didn’t want to be called Ma’am or Mrs. Johnson and insisted we call her by her first name. It took me some time to get used to as Dad had raised me to have respect for my elders. Still, I saw her point. She looked way too young to pass as Becky’s Mom, and could easily pass as Becky’s older sister. They had the same length hair and color, and the same striking eyes and taste for fashion. I had been living in their Victorian mansion, with a modern touch, for the past three week and now that George was finally coming home from Acapulco, it was almost time for me to spend some time with the Leaf’s. While I was excited to stay with Sammy the thought of being in the same house with Blake knotted my stomach.

  With his peacock blue eyes, sun-kissed skin and raven black hair he was the most “verautiful” guy I’d seen in the past seventeen years. That was if you didn’t count that awesome personality of his. The only emotion I had for the guy was admiration and a lot of gratitude, as he almost sacrificed himself in order to save my life seven weeks ago.

  Walking up to a towering brick building, we entered through twenty foot sliding doors. Passing through that massive structure, all the thoughts about the Leaf’s and Lucian marrying Arianna disappeared.

  I ducked my head as a guy on what appeared to be some sort of skateboard flew past my head. The contraption appeared, in the brief glimpse I got as it hurtling toward my head, was a mixture between a snowboard and a skateboard, with a jet flame streaming out the back allowing it to fly.

  While I wasn’t used to them nearly missing my face, I had become used to seeing them floating around. My initial trepidation was soon replaced with awe thanks to Sammy and her thorough explanation the first time one almost hit me in the back of the head when I was shopping in Elm. They were called Raiders and you had to pass a test in order to receive a license to fly them. As if flying on dragons weren’t enough.

  Becky had one too but she only used it around the house. She was still trying to figure out a way to bribe an officer for a license.

  Looking around
the building, I gasped as huge boards filled with hundreds of destinations around the world and numbers that changed every five seconds came into view. They hung in huge panels against the walls and there were sleek, silver counters below with attendants running in a straight line stretching as far as I could see. The counters were crowded with people as the attendants helped them to check in their luggage and sell tickets. “Sorry,” I said as I almost bumped into an older lady, distracted by the picture before me.

  “Sir, you can’t exit Paegeia without the correct documents,” A lady whose hair was swept up into a bun with thin pair of glasses resting on her nose behind one of the counters said. “They’re really strict on the other side and they will simply deport you back home.”

  The gentlemen in question wore raggedy clothes. “I have to get to the other side.” I felt sorry for him. Their voices drifted away as I walked faster to keep up with Lucille and Becky.

  “Sorry,” I apologized again as I almost walked into another guy by accident. He was talking on his Cammy and the girl on the holograph didn’t sound impressed. “That was rude,” she said in a tiny voice.

  I did apologize. Don’t get your panties in a twist.

  Attempting to follow Lucille and Becky, while taking in all the details around me, wasn’t easy.

  A raider making a horrible sound zoomed above my head. I looked up to the noise and my eyes widened as they caught on huge tubes mounted to the ceiling. They looked like the bad plumbing of an underground facility, but when I squinted, I could see people sitting on chairs inside the tubes and they appeared to be moving slowly forward. It reminded me of one of those rollercoaster rides at a theme park, waiting as you ascend slowly toward the top.

  Lucille grabbed my arm and pulled me back to where Sammy and Becky stood. I didn’t even see them stopped at one of the holograph, triangle information boards that hung in mid-air in the middle of the traffic way. Numbers appearing and disappearing in neon red made my eyes burn and I had to look away as my head started to turn. I plunged down next to an elderly lady on one of the wooden benches inches away from the holograph.

  I could hear Becky making grunting noises as she tapped on her leg. She was so impatient.

  Leaning back, I took a deep breath and scanned the crowd of people walking by. For a huge place like this, it felt a bit claustrophobic.

  I looked at the tubes above me again, curious about where they were going and who those people high in the air were. I tried to follow one but was distracted from my intense observation as another couple of people on raiders flew past.

  Turning my head up once again, I concentrated on a tube that led to one of the gazillion doors above my head.

  “Nothing like you thought it would be?” Lucille had taken the lady’s spot next to me a couple of seconds ago. She gave me a side glance. “What did you expect?”

  “I don’t know, planes, maybe.”

  Her eyes softened as she leaned back and gave a heartwarming laugh. “Sorry, Elena,” she said. “We don’t use planes. We use elevators.”


  She sighed one of those sighs you get after you’ve had a good laugh. “They’re enchanted elevators. Some of them take their passengers past the Wall, others to another destination in Paegeia.”

  I stared at one of the doors again. It opened and swallowed a row of two passengers sitting on the rollercoaster-like chairs. When they were inside, the door closed. A minute later it opened again and the same thing happened. It carried on like that without stopping.

  “So, you press a button and poof, it takes you to where ever you wanted to go?”

  Sammy gave her hyena laugh and I buried my head in my hands as people stared at her.

  “No, Elena. We don’t go poof, we get teleported to wherever we want to be.”

  Lucille giggled while looking at Sammy and shook her head slowly before she looked back at me. “The white tubes are for local destinations,” She explained, “anywhere inside Paegeia. Humans can use them too. It’s just a faster way to get where you want to go. The green tubes above them, those lead out of Paegeia.” I glared at the tubes too as she pointed at them. “We have over five thousand elevators. There are dragons hiding in their human form on the other side that work at all the airports. At least that’s what Will told us when he came back from his first trip to the other side.”

  Will was Ettienne, Lucille’s husband’s, dragon. They hadn’t shared a bond but they had teamed up a long time ago. Becky’s father had been almost a hundred years old when he’d met Lucille.

  “Every dragon that comes from Paegeia needs to be registered before they can enter the world on the other side. All the dragons carry passports and other countries I.D’s in case they need to show identification.” Her gaze traveled to another room positioned directly across the way from us. Five dragons turning around in circles as humans frisked them led to a crazy set of scenarios in my head.

  “What are they doing?”

  Lucille smiled again. “When dragons go to the other side, they get thoroughly checked out. They need to make sure they are dragons.”

  They can’t tell by just looking at them?

  She must have seen the question plastered on my face as she started to tell another story. “Once, a long time ago, a human tried to sneak in and the Wall disintegrated him. That is when they started with a full search.” My eyes grew but I waited patiently for her to carry on. She smiled. “There is a spell that can make a human appear dragon, and the stupid fool probably used it. It’s the reason why attendants thoroughly search every dragon now.”

  My lips parted slightly. I couldn’t imagine anyone trying to pass for a dragon. The disintegrating part I had witnessed only once before when Blake hit that Dragonian with the Queen’s axes I once carried. A shudder ran up my spine as images of that night flashed through my mind.

  Sammy and Becky started to back bite one another and we looked at them. Sammy was really trying to help Becky page through all the numbers on the board.

  Lucille took a deep breath and pulled her hand through her hair as she glared in Becky’s direction before carrying on with her story. “It’s a tight system and one you don’t play with, otherwise you can’t come back. Only those with special passes can fly directly through the Wall. For instance, the way Matt brought you here.”

  “Wait, Matt flew me directly through the Wall?”

  “You don’t remember.”

  I shook my head. “I only remember waking up at the Academy.”

  “Matt is one of a handful of dragons that have special passes. He knows every single dragon on the other side.”

  “He didn’t know everyone,” I whispered.

  “I’ve heard. Master Longwei told me about you when he asked me if you could come home with Becky. Why your Dad never registered the two of you on the other side is a mystery, Elena. One we’ll probably never get the answer to.” She squeezed my shoulder gently as her eyes softened like I imagined only a mother’s could. “Just know that you are safe now.”

  The corner of my mouth curved slightly. I really didn’t want to speak about my father and I desperately wrecked my mind for a something to change the subject.

  “George's elevator has been delayed.” The corners of Becky’s mouth hung downward in disappointment.

  Sammy rolled her eyes and shook her head softly. “He’s coming back.”

  Lucille stared at both of them and they stopped. “There’s a coffee shop, lighten up,” she said as she picked herself up from the bench. Shrugging, we all followed her to the nearest one.

  The coffee shop was packed with people, but we got lucky when a couple stood up and left an open table closest to the traffic way.

  The waitress had a wide Barbie smile plastered on her freckled face as she cleared the empty mugs that belonged to her previous customers. She was a petite looking girl and her unusually chipper domineer made me wonder if she’d had one too many cups this morning. “Can I get you something to drink,” she ask
ed after she welcomed us to A M Z coffee shop, still carrying her tray with dishes and a wet cloth.

  “Four hot chocolates please,” Lucille said and returned the waitress’s smile.

  “Will that be with or without Fire-powder?”

  “Three without, and one with,” Lucille looked at Sammy and winked.

  “Thank you,” Sammy mouthed through a huge grin.

  After the waitress wrote everything down on a small, purple notebook she left with our order.

  Fire-powder was dangerous to humans; that much I knew. How dangerous, now that was the question. It was a dragon food condiment that made their meals and drinks taste like it was literally on fire. Dragons were addicted to it, like cats to catnip.

  Waiting for our drinks to arrive, I couldn’t help staring at the people scurrying around me like ants on a mission for their queen.

  Turning back to the table my eyes caught the pile of napkin pieces that were lying in front of Becky. In her hands she had another piece that she tore into tiny bits, adding to the pile. She was silent for the first time today and I guessed the delaying of George’s elevator came with a bit of disappointment.

  In about five minute, the waitress reappeared with four huge mugs.

  Sammy and I started sipping on them immediately. The drink was sweet and deliciously chocolaty, just what I needed.

  However, Becky ignored her cup completely, instead picking up another piece of paper napkin and tearing it apart.

  “Stop that, honey. What's wrong?” Lucille put her hand softly over Becky's hand.

  “Nothing.” She dropped the napkin and started to turn her mug slowly on the table.

  Lucille raised her one eyebrow.

  “What if he met someone else?”

  We all stared at her as if she was insane.

  “Becky Johnson, George is your dent. If you think the past couple of weeks were hard on you, you have no idea what it was like for him. He’d never hurt you like that,” Lucille voiced passionately. It sounded as if she knew exactly what she was talking about and I believed her.

  After Lucille’s motherly advice, the only sound we heard for the next couple of minutes was the chattering of the people around us. Announcements came over the system every five seconds, breaking the silence that had settled over our table.

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