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Her Elemental Dragons: Ride the Wave: Chapter 13

SLADE

In the morning, I woke early and took a walk through the abandoned farm, down a steep hill. When I was out of sight of the farmhouse, I shifted into my dragon form for the second time. The transformation was strange as my bones cracked, expanded, and changed. Wings formed on my back. My fingernails turned to talons. My teeth turned to fangs. And everything around me suddenly got a lot smaller.

Compared to the others, I was massive. In my human form I was broader than Kira’s other mates, but I hadn’t realized it would translate to this body as well.

I glanced behind me again to make sure no one had followed me, trying to get used to the way my long neck moved, almost like a snake’s. With the sun cresting the horizon, my scales turned to green fire, and I had to admit they were beautiful.

I took a deep breath and raised my wings. The fear of failing a second time nearly held me back, but I had to try this again. For Kira.

I beat my wings as fast as I could and managed to lift up onto my claws, but that was as far as I got. It was like the ground itself was holding me down, preventing me from flying. I let out a frustrated roar before becoming a human again.

I knelt and picked up a handful of dirt, then let it run through my fingers. Would I ever be able to fly, or would I be condemned to the ground forever?

“Heldor had difficulty flying at first, too,” Doran said, making me jump. He stood behind me, appearing out of nowhere like Reven did sometimes. Sneaky bastards. “It’s not your fault. Your Earth magic makes it hard for you to fly. That connection with the ground is so strong you’ll have to learn to overcome and let go of it before you can lift off. I can help you.” He examined me. “It doesn’t help you’re such a large Dragon either, about the same size as Heldor when you shift. You’ll need to build up your wing strength too.”

I scowled at him, but his words felt right, and I had to admit I did need help. I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t have time to figure it out on my own. He’d lived for hundreds of years and had seen Heldor go through the same thing once. I gritted my teeth and said, “I’d appreciate your help.”

Doran chuckled. “I doubt that, but I’ll give it to you anyway. There’s no way you can defeat us if you can’t fly.”

“You want us to defeat you?”

“Of course.” He said it casually, so casually I suspected he might be lying. Like Reven, he was hard to read, and secrets perpetually danced behind his eyes. Until recently, I wouldn’t have trusted either of them. Then Reven went and saved my life and nearly died in the process. And Doran… Well, he’d helped Kira escape and had protected her. I wasn’t ready to let down my guard completely with him, but I was willing to listen to his advice.

Doran waved a hand at me. “All right, turn back into a dragon.”

“You want to do this now?”

“You have somewhere else you need to be?”

I scowled at him, then took a few steps back to give myself space, and returned to my dragon form. The others would be up soon, but for now we were alone out here.

He nodded as if confirming his suspicions. “Like I thought, your size is going to make it harder for you to fly. You’ll need to practice with your wings every day to build up their strength.”

I groaned, though it came out more like a growl. My voice was different as a dragon. Deeper. Louder. More gravely.

“But the real thing holding you back is your own magic,” Doran continued. “Along with your own self-doubt.”

Now I really did growl at him, though he ignored it and kept talking.

“What I want you to do is try to let go of your earth magic. I know it’s a part of you but try to block it out however you can.”

How did he expect me to do that? The moment the Earth God came to me, I became a different person. No longer a simple blacksmith living in a small town, but someone destined for bigger things. Even when I wondered if he should have chosen another, or missed my old life, or tried to guard my heart from Kira, I’d never wavered in my faith. The magic was a fundamental part of me and had become as natural as breathing.

I felt the earth through my clawed feet, which dug at the dirt. The only time I didn’t feel the earth’s presence was when I was flying on one of the other dragons’ backs, or when we were on a wretched boat. Even on a boat I’d managed to connect with the wood and the metal, but soaring high in the sky—it was hard for me to feel comfortable with that. Like a part of me was cut off.

Maybe that was the problem. I tried to focus on that uncomfortable feeling now. I pictured riding on the back of Auric or Jasin as they soared across the sky, and how empty and adrift I felt. I hated it, but when I tried to take off this time, my feet left the ground.

I didn’t get far. My wings flapped rapidly to hold me up, but I knew they wouldn’t last long.

From below, Doran called out, “Nice work! Try to hold it as long as you can.”

I hovered above him for a few more seconds, before hitting the ground in a thump, sending a cloud of dirt into the air around us.

Doran coughed and waved it away. “Good. Now I want you to do that every day. Preferably multiple times.”

I groaned and set my head down, already tired from that short flight—and from dealing with Doran.

He walked away while I rested there, enjoying the sun on my back and the dirt under my scales. As the sky grew brighter, I heard footsteps approach. Kira. I raised my head and met her eyes before looking away quickly, ashamed she had to see me like this. I was a failed dragon who could hover for a few seconds at best. She deserved better.

“I never got the chance to see you as a dragon,” she said, as she approached. Her arms wrapped around my head, embracing me. “You’re beautiful.”

I let out a grunt, but nudged my head up against her chest, enjoying her touch. The bond between us, which I hadn’t noticed before except when we’d had sex, suddenly took over my mind. I sensed how happy she was to see me like this and felt her belief in me. My own doubts slowly fell away. I couldn’t fly now, but I would keep practicing every spare moment I could—for Kira.


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