November 24, 2011:
I really shouldn’t be writing in this right now, so
I’ll try to keep it short. I’m packing my bags. Mom
says it’s because an official said so. She said he came
by. It must have been that strange, suspicious man
who claimed to be an “official,” and waltzed right
into our quarters, with the proposition that James
(my older brother) and I needed to go the a “talented
children’s boot camp” where we learn to “use our
I, honestly, think that he’s kooky. “Christopher,”
my mom says so often (even though I go by Chris),
“stop judging people so quickly. Be openhearted.”
And then she wonders why Dad got a divorce.
Okay, okay, I may seem a little harsh, but here’s
my reasoning. That kook came in uninvited, and tried
to brainwash Mom and James and me into believing
his whitewash lies. Mom and James fell for it. I did
not. I have heard rumors about the place we were
going to, if I’m correct in my prediction – we’re
going to the infamous CAMP (Council Academy for
Major Potential). I’ve heard that 1 in 4 children are
“selected,” 2 of 4 are “sent home,” and the
remaining 1 in 4… the council finds some sort of
excuse to “eliminate” them, the “parasites to
Another reason I shouldn’t go: I have no special
abilities that are of any use to council. I don’t really
have any, except for the disconcerting ability to avoid
anything that I do not wish to have happen. But, now
that I think of it, I do not hate this idea too much to
avoid it. I probably couldn’t, even if I wanted to. I am
curious. Are the rumors true? There’s only one way
to find out.
Since I’m going to CAMP, I’m going to start a
list of everything we’ll have to do – 1) trek 5,000
kilometers in less than a half-month (2 weeks, or 14
standard days). 2) Survive for three months without
food or water. 3) I’m going to…
Got to go. Mom is screaming at me to get
downstairs for Thanksgiving dinner. We’re eating
dinner with the “kook,” and then leaving for CAMP
– over 3,000 miles from here in Warsaw, Poland.
Where: 100 miles south from Turukhansk, Russia.
P.S. I’m out of paper in this journal, so I’ll need a
I slapped my leather-bound journal closed. I
stared at it, saying to myself, “Chris, you have no
idea who or what you’re up against in this round.”
“Christopher!” Mom squeakily screamed, “I’m
not calling you again! Get down here now!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I groused, as I
tiptoed down the stairs, and crept behind Mom.
“CHRISTOPHER!!!” she bellowed, hurting my
Regaining my composure, I said innocently,
Mom leapt two meters into the air and whirled
around. Her eyes showed complete surprise, terror.
When she realized it was just I, she laughed uneasily.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to remain
“It’s dinnertime,” she said. Then, right as I sat
down, she exploded into hysterical laughter.
“What’s so funny?” said a voice that made my
skin crawl, and made Mom nearly scream.
Regaining her face, Mom said, “Nothing, Mr.
Mr. Anderson took a seat at my left-hand side.
James sat on the right. Mom sat next to him. My
“dog,” if you could call her that – she’s a wolf –,
Natasha, sat at my feet. Everyone was chatting,
except for me, of course.
Mr. Anderson tapped his glass with his small
spoon. “May I have your attention, please?”
“Sure, anything you ask,” I said with mock
interest, which was rewarded with a round of glares
from Mom and James. “What?” I protested.
Ignoring my comments, Mr. Anderson stood.
“As you all know,” he began, “you boys are headed
to CAMP. It is a selection process in which every
teen, from every nation, tribe, and tongue,
“We [the staff at the camp] will test your
abilities. If you are satisfactory to the High Council
(which, as you know, the whole world ultimately
answers to), then you are selected for further training.
“It [CAMP] will last for seven years at most. If
you are selected before then, very good. At the end of
seven years, you have a choice: continue, or go
“If you continue, you will be allowed to do so,
until you are 24 years of age, or are chosen by the
Council, whichever comes first. If you never are
chosen, you can go back to school, get a job, or join
the Peace Corp [the military].
“That is all for me to say. Thank you.” Mr.
Anderson sat down, as Mom rushed to bring in the
food. There was turkey, chicken, salad, potatoes,
cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, beans, and a gigantic
basket of croissants. Not to mention, the huge fruit
salad. Mom made it (mostly) for me, because I’m a
strange person: I’m a vegetarian. I still take meat, but
I give it to Natasha to chew on, after I try a little bit.
Of course, I’m not a vegan, so I will have pie, milk,
eggnog, etcetera, in addition to cider. Lots and lots of
Mr. Anderson’s eyes were as large as the fruit
salad (which, in turn, was four times the size of the
turkey) when he saw all the food. I licked my lips in
anticipation. Everyone started serving. I took a turkey
drumstick, took a bite, and gave it to Natasha. She
wagged her tail. I pet her, as the Thanksgiving
celebration pulled away from dock.
About an hour later, I was back in my hideaway:
my room, packing my full journal, several empty
ones, my stationery, and a few books – The Lord of
the Rings series, the Inheritance Cycle and The
Chronicles of Narnia. I took a final look around my
room. Then, I heard the door creak. I whirled to see
who it was.
Natasha entered. “So,” she started, “it seems we
must split up.”
“Yeah,” I said, my eyes slightly teary.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll see each other
“How?” said I.
“How?” she countered, “The same way I talk to
you. I’m a wolf, remember?”
I nodded, confused suddenly.
“I’m magical. I’m immortal. I’m forever this
age. That is, until you die, then I age and die too.”
I heard footsteps. “Do me one favor,” I
“Sure,” she said.
“Don’t come looking for me, no matter what.”
She thought for a moment. “On second
“Thank you,” said I. I gave her a hug. Then, I
grabbed my bags, and walked out into the pouring
rain towards the car. Natasha followed, guarding me,
for whatever reason.
Mr. Anderson said, “You know you’re dog can’t
come with you, right?”
Natasha growled, “Dog? You call me a dog?!”
“She’s not my dog,” I said quickly, cutting
Natasha off, “She’s my friend.”
Mr. Anderson said, nervously, “Just get into the
I complied. I looked back out the window, back
at Natasha. Her eyes locked on mine for a moment.
Then, with her head and tail drooped, she walked
away. The engine sputtered and coughed, then revved
to life. The pouring rain became a torrent. Natasha
was no longer visible. The car lurched, and then
I leaned my head to the side, looking out the
window. Not that I could see anything anyway. I kept
having dangerous thoughts run across my mind. I
kept trying to push them away, but the torrent shoved
them back in.
After twenty silent, slow minutes, James, I, and
at least 94 other kids were crammed onto a bus
headed for CAMP. Where: 100 miles south of
Turukhansk, Russia. I was over 3,000 miles from
November 26, 2011:
I heard a distant bugle sound its reveille, waking
me from my sleep, which was for two whole days.
The crowded bus was hot and sticky and humid from
all the kids on it. We rolled into the gravel lot in front
of the enormous walls. I rubbed the sleep from my
tired eyes. The bus hissed, the brakes squealed in
protest, and the metal creature chugged to a stop. We
I took a last look at the outside world for seven
years. The trees had a thin frost layer on the needles,
making them gleam with a predatory menace. I
looked at the walls. I knew they were huge, but how
huge were they really? They seemed black against
the mid-afternoon misty gray sky. I noticed huge
signs that said: “Warning: Radioactive area – keep
away,” hung up on the walls sparsely, and in several
languages: Russian, English, Chinese, and Spanish.
Liars, thought I.
Mr. Anderson stepped in front of a huge metal
door. “Children,” he started, “what you are about to
see is anything but what you’ve expected. Follow me,
and I will explain everything.”
Oh, crud, thought I, a wet feeling of dread
seeping into my stomach. Mr. Anderson turned his
back to us, and opened the metal doors.
To say the least, it wasn’t what I expected, but I
wasn’t surprised. Hundreds of Thousands of
teenagers from all over the world were concentrated
here. Many were 14 or 15, like I was. Others were 16
to 18, like James was.
The buildings were so fantasy-like, with the
wooden frames, the small size, and the condition of
them, which had a lot to be desired. They spread out
for a few miles, just like a medieval capital of the
world in the Middle Ages. I hoped that we wouldn’t
have to act like the people in the Middle Ages.
Mr. Anderson led us through the throng of
children to a small, silent enclave in an alleyway near
the school. “All right, Children,” said Mr. Anderson
in a hissing whisper/voice, “we must choose our
choice of work.” I rolled my eyes. Mr. Anderson,
when he started talking, there was no way to stop
him. “Okay, who will be the farmers?”
James and another kid.
I looked around. Few were left, including me. I
looked Mr. Anderson in the eyes, as he spoke.
“The rest of you will be sweeps and janitors.” He
dismissed us. I started to leave, but he caught my
shoulder. “Where do you think you are going?”
“To work, Sir.”
“I have a special job for you. Two, really.”
“Okay.” My “okay” sounded inquisitive.
“How many languages can you speak?”
“All of them, Sir.”
“I have a special job for you. Two, really. First,
you are an interpreter, when necessary.”
“What's the second?”
“Follow me.” He led me to a large building,
about 7 meters tall by 250 meters wide, by 500
“Wait,” I started. “What's the deal?”
“You'll see, you'll see.”
“Okay, okay,” I protested, following him to the
wooden doors. “What is this place?” I asked him.
“The dining/music hall.”
“Cool. What's my job?”
“You like to play piano, right?”
“Yeah, I love to.”
“That's your job.”
“Cool,” I said.
“Your pay is $7.50 per hour, plus tips for playing
the piano, $20.00 per composition published, and a
confidential bonus, if the high council likes it, per
“What are price ranges? For stuff I need to buy,
“Swords from the ironsmiths cost anywhere from
$15.00 to $300.00. Copyrights are absolutely free.”
“and,” he continued “thee paper costs $.25 each and
coffee costs $12.50 for 20 pounds of beans.”
“What about schoolbooks or other books?”
“Depends on the book.”
He fished through his pockets. Finding the key,
he opened the door. The room was empty except for
the janitor, who was sweeping the floor. And the
guitar player, bassist, and drummer, who all seemed
to be talking, not practicing.
Mr. Anderson handed me a spare pair of keys,
from off a nail in the wall. I looked it over, then put
it in my pocket.
Mr. Anderson clapped once, getting all of our
attention. “We have a pianist now. This boy,” he
patted my shoulder, “is Chris. He will be a pianist.
Choose your lead singer yourselves. Tanya!” he
yelled to the janitor.
“I must speak with you.”
They walked away muttering in low voices. The
band - Josh (guitar), Jack (bass guitar), and Jeffrey
(drums) looked at each other. “Well,” Josh said,
“We've got a new auditionist. What song?”
“Do you know 'How to Save a Life' by The
“Alright, then. That song, then.”
“Okay.” Everyone got prepped.
“Pardon my voice,” I said to the microphone,
“It's a little rusty.”
Jack flipped a tiny switch. I took a breath, then
started to play. I sang:
Step one, you say “we need to talk” he walks.
You say, “sit down, it's just a talk.”
Smiles politely back at you,
You stare politely right on through.
Some sort of window to your right,
He goes left and you stay right
Between the lines, of fear and blame.
You begin to wonder why you came.
Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness, and
I would have stayed up with you all night,
had I known how to save a life.
When the song was finished, no one moved I heard
bursts of cheering from outside. “What's going on?”
“Who knows?” said Josh, giving Jack and
Jeffrey a knowing look.
Jeffrey stated the obvious, “Well, we now have a
“Dude, how did you learn to sound like The
Fray?” asked Tanya.
“I do not,” I protested.
“Actually, you do.”
We whirled to see Mr. Anderson. “Excellent,
band. What is your name/”
I thought for a second. The other members
I faced Mr. Anderson “Faultlines.”
Several hours later, I sat at the piano, playing a
haunting, melancholy chord progression. I was
composing our band's first original composition
contributed by me. I had brainstormed at least 50
songs, but canned them.
I stopped playing the piano. Grabbing my
books, I stood up to leave. James entered. “You're
needed outside,” he said, breathlessly. I walked out
with him. Al the new kids were standing in a group,
talking. Mr. Anderson stood on the steps and yelled,
“May I have your attention please?”
I shouted, “Sure, Mr. Anderson,” as everyone
quieted down. Snickers.
He said, “Thank you.”
“You may be wondering why you're here. Some
believe it's punishment. Some believe it's because of
a hoax, a dream. Some believe it's because they're
making specific children spies.”
“How many of you believe in dragons?”
“How many of us don't?” I yelled, generating
snickers and laughter.
“You're missing the point. How many believe in
All hands except mine went up.
“Are you kidding me?” I protested. More
“The point I make,” said Mr. Anderson,” is that
those thoughts are dangerous.”
“You're starting to sound communist. Look out,
Everyone laughed. Everyone except for Mr.
Anderson, of course. I've never seen a man turn so
red before. He was seething with rage.
“I brought you all here for a reason,” he said
angrily, “and that is to watch fantasy, hoaxes,
religion, dragons, all of them, die.”
“Whoa, someone needs a chill pill,” said James,
“Are you easily stressed, Mr. Anderson?”
“I swear to God,” he said through clenched teeth,
“I will feed you to the dragons right after
“Now you get all religious on me. Please,” I said
sarcastically “don't be a hypocrite.”
“You've sealed your fate, boy,” he hissed.
“Furthermore, is you hate me so much, why
would you wait until after dinner? I could just keep
making comment after comment...”
Two huge men thundered, “What is it?”
“Take this boy,” he pointed to me, “to sector A-
3230-ZB-D. Lock it, and throw away the key.”
He walked to me “You're just frustrated. So, on
Monday, if you're still alive, I'll release you. This
never happened. Life will go on. Unless,” he said,
”you do it once more to me. Then, your fate is
sealed. You will die.”
He turned to the guards “Execute plan alpha-
They saluted, and dragged me off. Everyone
cheered, as I headed off to “sector A-3230-ZB-D,”
or, simply “the dragon sector.” “Death row” may
have sufficed. I've heard about dragons. I've heard
they are aggressive, and they possess great magical
powers. I was about to spend the night with them.
Just shows that people suffer for protesting, I thought
to myself. Chris, you've got to pull together. You're
excellent in advanced psychology. He couldn't bear
the thought of a 15-year old shooting down his ideals.
This is your...reward? Punishment? You have no
A million thoughts ran through my head, none of
them pleasant, a I was thrown (literally) into the
sector. I hit the ground hard, knocking the breath out
of me. For a moment, my senses were jarred. When
I finally got them back together, I assessed the
situation. I needed to find a hiding spot - fast.
Frantically, I looked for a strategic place. I saw a
huge hole in a rock about 100 meters northwest.
Instinctively, I walked towards it. At the entrance, I
stopped. I needed to make sure it was safe. Quietly,
I crept in. No one was in there. I snuck into the back
corner area, and sat there. The sun was starting to
set, so I set my stuff down, and scrambled out. As I
poked my head out, I thought I saw movement. I
pulled my head back inside the cave, and waited.
Cautiously, I poked my head out. Nothing
moved. I walked out, and climbed the rock. At the
top, I had a perfect view of the area. I could see for
50 leagues (approximately 250 kilometers) in every
direction. The clouds, which got thicker and thicker
every minute, reflected an array of colors: blue, pink,
orange, yellow, red, and even purple.
I stood there for twenty minutes, then, as the first
few snowflakes fell, entered the cave.
I picked up my bag, and moved it. Suddenly, my
radar went off. Quickly, I ran down a cave corridor,
turned left, then right, left, left again and reached a
I heard the clatter of claws on the stone.
Whatever was following me was coming closer.
Instinctively, I looked up. About 4 meters up was the
continuation of the passage I was hiding in. I looked
back one more time. I could see a silhouette of my
pursuer: a dragon. I had only two options: Jump,
and make it, or...I did not want to finish the second
option. I closed my eyes and leapt.
My hands slapped the edge, and held on.
Laboriously, I pulled myself over the ledge. Finally,
I lay on my belly, peeking over the edge. Tanya was
there. “Chris? Are you in here?”
No response. I kept watching. She discovered
the bag. She looked at it. She set it down, with
another box, and a note. Then, she trudged away. I
waited for a few minutes, and then grabbed my bag,
the box, and the note, and tossed the bag over my
shoulder, and walked back the way I came.
I stopped at the main area of the cave. At least
300 dragons slept on the floor. That was when I
realized how big the cave was. And how small I
I passed by the sleeping dragons to the entrance.
There, I stopped. The snow and wind blew bitterly,
chilling the air at the entrance. I couldn't make a run
for it; I'd freeze in less than a minute.
I turned back. None of them had noticed me or
so I thought. I went to the edge of the dragon
perimeter, and fell asleep there. Naïveté.
Meanwhile, a gray dragon had stirred. She saw
me walk to the entrance, look back, and then re-enter
the cave. And she was concerned, because she knew
something I did not; I would not last in the morning.
Avoiding the others, she crept over to me, picked me
up, put me on her back, and stepped back to her
I felt myself bump the ground. I stirred but did
not wake. Suddenly, I felt a warm, scaly body
around mine. I did not know what to make of it; I
was too tired...
I was standing in the court of the High Council,
being tried for alleged blasphemy and for high
treason. Mr. Anderson was the prosecutor, and I was
the defendant. The High Council Chairman stood.
“Christopher Waikovsky, please rise.”
“You have been condemned guilty. Your
sentence is to the Dávlàknàvs for you.”
The two men. I hated those guys.
“Take this boy...”
Suddenly, glass shattered. A cloud of fire flew
through the room, brilliant and blue. The Chairman
was hit, instantly incinerating. Chaos ruled. I rolled
to the ground, trying to avoid getting hit with fire. A
large shadow fell over me. I looked up. Two gray,
glowing eyes looked back...
Everything swirled back into reality, as I awoke.
The sun had yet to break over the horizon. I looked
at my Swiss watch. 5:00a.m. I had slept late! I
started to stand, but couldn't. I began to try to figure
out why. I looked up. I couldn't see anything above
my head at all. I looked around, trying to find a way
out. I put my hand out - and felt the dragon's belly.
Quickly I jerked my hand away. Stay calm, I told
myself, while a billion outcomes, none of them
pleasant, raced across my mind.
I sensed movement. For some reason, I froze.
Suddenly I saw two gray, glowing eyes staring back
at me. Slowly, I backed up...into the dragon's tail. I
felt her tighten the perimeter. You don't want to move
outside, she told me. Why? Where an I? What's
You obviously displeased the camp warden, so
the two executioners threw you in here. I believe they
will take you back to the camp this morning, marking
you for execution in either the gas chambers or in the
bad end of the Dávlàknàvs. I can't allow that. You
could call me your guard, I guess.
What is going on? Why am I here? Am I being
punished for something?
Sorta, she started.
I know right here! I said slightly angry, still
Not meaning to change the subject, the dragon
commented, but you seem awfully brave.
Brave, I scoffed, what a joke. Why to you say
You aren't scared of me.
You're right - I'm not. I'm absolutely terrified of
It's been less than 24 hours since I got here, and
I'm talking to my own executioner!
What makes you say that?
You're a dragon, I'm a human. Dragon eat
human. Come on! I'm not a common sense teacher!
Her eyes narrowed just slightly. Before she
could retort, we heard a voice. “Chris?”
The dragon pulled her head out. I could see the
sky was not yet at sunrise. Good. Maybe I could see
I heard Tanya say, “Hello, Ashtéta. May I know
where Chris is?”
So that's her name, I thought to myself.
Ashtéta tightened herself further around me. I
don't know any Chris, but I am guarding Trevor
“Who the heck is Trevor Llyich Tchaikovsky?”
Me, I thought to myself. I'm Trevor Llyich
May I please see him?”
I sensed Ashtéta tense. No, she said, ready to
You heard me. You'll see him later today. He
must re-enter the lowlife camp alone. I must talk to
him. He will not talk about anything I have told him,
until the time is right.
Tanya backed up, until she was out of range,
then bolted away. I couldn't help but feel sorry for
her. She must have been at least as scared as I was.
Ashtéta released her grip on me, and stood.
I took a crawl back. Even though she was only
three meters tall, she looked like ten. Her tail, in a
word, was frightening. I mean, it's at least between
one or one-half meters and 3 centimeters thick. If I
was hit with it...I didn't want to finish my thought.
Gathering my courage, I stood. It was then that I
realized that she stood only a meter taller than me.
Ashtéta did not speak, so I started. I really need to
go now, I said.
Not yet, said Ashtéta.
Because, you need to know.
Ashtéta remained silent for a moment. One of
four children will die.
What's this have to do with anything?
Ashtéta flew off, without answering me. I stood,
watching the sunrise over the wall, the trees. The
reds, oranges, and yellows sent a beautiful hue into
the sky, adding to the blanketed, snowy ground.
I didn't really know what to do. After careful
consideration, I decided to re-enter the camp.
Quickly, I walked towards the gate. But before I
could reach it, Ashtéta, followed by several other
Don't leave, Trevor.
I counteracted the temptation to run. I hoped
that I made the right decision.
Ashtéta advanced. All the others fled. We must
meet tonight at 2200 hours, right here. Don't be late.
Okay, can I go now?
Ashtéta put her head on my forehead. For some
reason, I put my right hand on her face.
Please don't make me kill you, Trevor.
I can't explain why, just don't do it.
How am I supposed to not do it? I pulled away.
Don't get into trouble. She re-approached.
I retreated. Ashtéta narrowed her eyes.
I don't know how I did it, but before I knew it, I
was back in the human sector. My hand and forehead
burned. I ran down the empty street, as people just
started to wake.
I ran into the dining hall, and hid in the curtains.
In the dim light I looked at my hand. It looked
absolutely revolting. The flesh was charred, and
ripped raw. There was no blood on it.
I heard footsteps. Thinking quickly, I ducked
out the window, grabbing with my good hand
The footsteps got closer. I hesitated. Why
exactly was I running? Because I was hiding a
secret. A secret that marked me for death.
I let go. I fell through the air, for what seemed
like eternity. Before most people could think, I hit
the ground, running as fast as possible. I took a right,
left, right, left, left again, right, left, left again, right,
left, and a right.
I stopped. Exhausted, I collapsed against the
wall for support. My lungs felt that they would burst.
I looked up the filthy brick wall at the clouded
windows. Shadows passed by them, not even
pausing for an instance. Silhouettes, really.
I heard voices, footsteps. I was weary, but I
pressed on. I ran down one alley, turned onto another
one, and another one. I kept running. Running from
the voices. Voices that I did not know as to their
owners’ existence. I kept running.
I stopped. A dead end ahead. I ran to the wall
up ahead of me. Frantically, I examined the wall. I
found a few divots in it, and an outline of mortar,
which was different from the rest. Thinking quickly,
I looked for anything to pry at the wall with. I found
some iron shavings, a wood bean, and a rusty bar.
Quickly, I grabbed it and, ignoring the pain in my
hand, rammed it into the largest of the divots. The, I
pried downwards. I heard a crack, a creak, then and a
snap. The bar snapped in half, but not without
pulling out a few bricks from above.
As the bricks fell out, I walked up to the wall.
Reaching up with my left hand, I gripped the top of
the wall, at the bottom of the hole, and yanked. It
gave way, opening like a door, knocking me off my
I dropped down off the door, and crept inside.
All was dark inside. I heard footsteps approaching.
I pulled the door shut, and hid in the corner, hiding
my hand. I waited. Finally, I poked out of the
Suddenly, the lights came on.
The school's defense master entered. He was
busy, I could tell by his stance. As he walked
towards the desk at the front of the room I crept
towards the back door, hoping desperately that I
wouldn't be caught. It was an empty hope.
“Turn around, boy.”
The master looked as if he saw the ghost of
Christmas Past. He was at a loss for words. “How?”
he asked. “How did you survive?”
“An insider helped,” I said.
“I don't know,” I said, half-truthfully.
“What is your name?”
“Why do you ask so many questions?”
“Just answer the question.”
He wrote something down. “So, Mr.
Waikovsky, why are you here early?”
“I wasn't hungry.”
“I would expect.” More scribbling.
I tapped my knees together, as I sat in a desk. I
looked up for a bare light bulb hanging from the
ceiling. There wasn't any.
The Defense Master said, “Take this.” He leaned
over to me, “and go out into the hall. Take a left, go
thirty paces, take a right, and the door is the second
on the left.
I grabbed the piece of paper from his hand with
my right hand, instinctively. Ignoring the pain that
shot up it, I started to leave. Once I had exited, I
switched the paper and looked at my hand. It didn't
look as bad as it had before. The burns had healed
quite a bit, and the form of a mark of sorts began to
appear. There was no pain on it.
I walked down the empty, large hallway, my
footsteps echoing harshly on the cold, stone floor. I
followed the directions I was told, and came to a big
wooden, latticed door. I raised my hand to knock,
but before I could, it flew open.
A medium-heighted, stout lady with blonde,
curly hair, sky blue eyes, and a hearty French accent
stood there. The look on her face went from cheery
to worried in about 2 seconds. She looked around for
a second, then urgently said, “Come in, my dear.
I listened to her, shutting the door behind me.
“What is your name, sonny?” she half-whispered
“Birth or Current?”
“You won't tell anyone, right?”
I took a breath. “Trevor Llyich Tchaikovsky.”
She took a step back, and bowed low to the
ground. I looked around uncomfortably. “What the
heck is going on? What's the biog deal? I'm Trevor
Llyich Tchaikovsky. Big deal.”
She looked up, and then stood. “You mustn't say
that, child!” She walked toward me, and continued,
“You are the one who will end the evils of a one-
world government, and will be selected to lead the
human race to its golden age!”
“What coffee do you drink, and where can I get
it? That would be amazing, but there's this little
problem called execution being at any time..”
“Who told you that?”
“I shouldn't have said that.”
“Well, she prompted, “You did, so...”
“You win,” said I. The, I explained everything.
I did not tell her that “The Dragon” was Ashtéta. She
listened intently throughout.
“What is on your forehand?”
“I don't know.”
“You'll learn soon enough.” She wrote for about
2 minutes. “Take this back to the Defense Master.”
She handed me a small piece of paper covered in
That was all. I walked back to the Master's class,
and knocked. He opened it immediately, inviting me
in. I gave him the paper. He read it, looked up at
me, and trembled.
“I should probably go,” I said warily.
The Master fainted.
I walked out into the hall. Mr. Anderson was
there. “Come along, Chris.” I complied uneasily.
He led me out of the school and down the now busy
street. He led me to the end of it, turned right, and
led me just inside the Dragon Sector.
I looked, and saw a stone fortress. It was twenty
meters tall by two hundred wide by seven hundred
long. It had a dull, gray camouflage to it
Mr. Anderson led me to the door. He handed me
a pair of keys, and left. I slid it into the keyhole, and
turned right. The door opened easily. No one was
I looked around, allowing the door to shut with a
thud behind me. I turned on a duty light, which
illuminated a duty room, in turn. The room was five
meters tall by ten meters wide by four meters long. I
looked around the room, then walked to a simple
At the top stood a closet-type door. I pushed it
aside, and entered a large, bunker-like room. It was
dark, except for the light that came through the empty
gun portals. It was two and a half meters tall by 100
meters wide by 100 meters long.
I walked through it to another dolor. I pushed it,
and it gave way, after some difficulty. There stood a
fork. The right went down to a heavy, locked door.
The left went up to a small, seamless door. After
consideration, I chose the left passage. I walked up
the cold, hard, stone staircase to the door. It looked
like a wall, really.
I walked up to the door. I heard an automated
voice say, “Name, please.”
“Your other name, please.”
“Trevor Llyich Tchaikovsky.”
The door ground open. A huge hangar, or what
used to be one during WWIII, in 1984. The walls
were solid concrete, except for the wall across from
me, which didn't even exist. Old, broken, oil-covered
airplane remains littered the floor. The ceiling was a
mangled mess of metal, stone, and concrete.
I stepped down into the area of clutter and
clamored over to the giant, four-meter tall, seven-
meter wide door to my quarters.
I hesitated at the door. A quiet, breathing sound
emanated from the room. I saw a gray wing...
...and put two and two together: Ashtéta lived
here during the day.
As much as I hated to intrude into her territory, I
had to, in order to find my possessions. I stepped in
silently. My eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness. I
reached my belongings. I picked them up, then froze.
I sensed movement. Then, an even darker darkness
settled over me.
Ouch. That was my first thought, as I slipped
from one darkness to another.
I would expect. Ashtéta again. Why, oh why am I
always stuck with her? Something happens, she
Something wrong? Absolutely, yet absolutely
not. What happened? I got whacked, that's what.
My thoughts swirled together...
Wake up, Trevor, said the dragon.
Huh? I'm so groggy right now. This hurts, said
For the hundredth time, I saw the gray, glowing
eyes, Ashtéta's. Then try not to speak.
What happened? asked I.
Oh, I thought you were an intruder, so I
clobbered you with my tail.
I closed my eyes. I'll bet, said I.
Why were you running?
Why do I have a mark on my forehead?
I marked you, Trevor.
To protect you. Most of us dragons don't care to
have people around. You, of course, are the
exception. However, for other reasons as well, I
marked you. I'll fill you in tonight.
Sounds great. I'm going to sleep.
O.K., I'll let you do that.
That was all. I closed my eyes, and fell off an
invisible cliff into an invisible hole into an even
I heard the voices at first. Faraway echoes, as if
I were trapped in a dark tunnel, and the memory was
on the other side. I heard my irregular breathing, as
I kept running, running, running.
I stopped at the edge of sanity. I dared not to go
further. I stood on the outside of the dream,
watching the memory replay.
The sun shone on the small village of Yalisgrad,
Poland. The farmers were out, harvesting the last of
the crops. My father had just finished his tasks, and
had re-entered our small, wooden “house”. “Shed”
was a closer term for it.
“Daddy!” said I.
I ran to him, the old toy rifle I had in my hands.
“Daddy! Daddy! There are a bunch of men coming
with a bunch of guns!”
Dad tackled my nine-year-old self. I screamed
with laughter. Then , it happened.
There were hundreds of them all of them armed
with service pistols, rifles, and machine guns.
Gunshots resounded. All the men in the village ran
our firing their rifles. Men ran by, the faces blurred.
Our village fought bravely, but the bitter fight was in
the enemy's favor.
All of the fighting men from our village had died.
Now, ruthlessly, they began hunting down civilians,
pulling them outside, kicking them, and then shooting
them. I was scared, confused, but had enough sense
to hide, and keep moving. I hid behind a large,
wooden barrel of something. I saw a shadow pass
overhead. I heard the whistle of a stray bullet, then
the thud as it shot through the barrel, and heard it
pass by my face, grazing it enough to draw blood.
The shadow passed over again, this time much
larger. I panicked, running as fast as my short
stubby legs would let me. Several soldiers spotted
me, and aimed to fire. Somehow, I knew I was in the
cross-hairs, so I began running, jumping, trying not
to be locked onto. I turned around. A huge tank
rolled to a stop. At least a dozen soldiers jumped out.
All of them trained their rifles on me. I heard the
radio crackle, “Stand by.”
Suddenly, a brilliant blue cloud of fire engulfed
all of them. I flew about six feet into the air, and
about twenty back. Strong hands caught me. Uncle
Fredric. He gently set me down. Then, he fled. I
saw another shadow. One with large wings. A
serpentine head with a large, massive body. I started
to turn around...
Suddenly, I woke from my dream. I was alone
in the bunker. As I got my bearings I realized that I
hadn't eaten for over 48 hours. I stepped out of the
darkness into the hangar.
The sun was setting now, reflecting off the trees,
snow, and sky. There were no clouds this evening.
The air was chilling considerably. I re-entered the
quarters, and turned on the light.
The room was five meters by five meters, by five
meters. A chair and desk sat at the far end of the
room. On it hung a cloak. I picked it up, and a small
piece of paper fell out. I picked it up, and read it.
Then, I folded it, and put it in an inside pocket.
Then, I put the cloak on.
I looked at my watch. 2149 hours. I ran to the
edge of the hangar, and jumped down. I landed, the
snow cushioning my landing. Then, I ran to point
At 2200 hours, I reached point Rendezvous.
Ashtéta met me there.
So what's the plan? I asked her.
We must fly there.
Ummm, not me.
Last time I flew, I nearly died in the process.
Well, if I have to, I'll carry you in my talons.
No thanks. I'll just...leave now.
Oh no you don't, she said.
Ignoring her threats, I ran. Ashtéta moved
quickly, picking me up, putting me on her back, and
shooting into the sky. All I could do was hold on as
tight as I could, while she flew to the meeting area.
The destination was what seemed to be the
center for the dragons' society. I could see a huge,
gaping hole in the side of the mountain, which looked
like a giant had been playing on the beach long ago,
dribbling sand into a mountain shape. Dragons flew
in and out of the gaping hole.
Ashtéta and I flew through the opening and into
the mountainside. Hundreds of thousands of dragons
flew around the area. What's this place? I thought.
Ashtéta answered for me. This is the dragon
capital. Here our queen, her advisers, and the other
important dragons live.
Why don't you live here then?
Ashtéta laughed. I'm not that important.
We reached a ledge. Ashtéta and I landed.
Quickly. I slid off her back. I looked around. The
sights made New York City look absolutely tiny.
Huge, grotesque-looking rock formations gaped back
at me. The ledge we were on stretched on like an
indoor plateau. The ledge dropped for a least 300
stories. Well, really 300 stories is another ledge.
Ashtéta said. I must leave you now. Stay here.
I'll get you in a little bit.
Whatever, I said. I watched her fly off. Quickly
I picked up my bag, and pulled out my journal. I
November 27, 2011
Sorry I couldn't get to you sooner, but a lot has
been happening to me. I'm held prisoner in the
infamous CAMP, where there is no military training
whatsoever. It's its own world, and children are the
majority. The Kook apparently runs this stupid
operation, which the point makes no sense. I haven't
heard from James yet, but then again, I haven't heard
from anyone for about 20 hours. Well, anyone
I have an interesting relationship. I'm
supposedly in mortal danger, so a dragon is
“protecting” me. Why would anyone do that? Either
she's trying to find a friend, she's actually right, or
she's getting me to trust her, an then... No. She
wouldn't do that, would she? Either way, best to
trust no one.
Note to self: I need to write a letter home
tomorrow. I'll see if you're allowed to do that as
soon as possible.
I'm sorry that I keep skipping from subject to
subject. Let me start from the beginning.
Okay, the first day we arrived at the CAMP, we
were assigned jobs. James is an iron-smith, and I am
both an interpreter and the pianist/vocalist in the
band Faultlines. We learned how the system works.
You get up, have breakfast, go to whatever class you
have, given the day, go to your job, have dinner, have
free time, and then go to bed. Tight schedule, few
exceptions. Pretty much, it's a loyalty enforcement
That same day, I learned that dragons do exist,
and, for some reason, are to be eliminated. Of
course, I protested, and am now stuck in the dragon
sector as punishment. I'll be that way until Monday.
P.S. School starts on Monday for me. I hope
that I'll survive long enough. Got to go.
I shut my journal and looked around. I felt
exposed, unprotected. So I walked and hid in the
corner. There, I pulled out Eragon, and started to
read it. It was, not surprisingly, quite interesting.
I had been reading for only a few minutes, when
I heard the unmistakable talons of a dragon. I looked
up. A prominent-looking dragon stood about half a
meter away. She was looking straight back at me.
God, thought I, as I stared into her huge, hypnotizing
I'm not God, replied she. I'm only the queen.
Get out of here! Screamed my mind. I moved
quickly. Sorry, but I have to go. See ya.
Oh no you don't, threatened the queen.
I dodged between her limbs and tail. She hissed
angrily at me. Suddenly, six others popped out of
nowhere. I skidded to a halt.
Good God, thought I. The queen really does
want me. I was trapped near the edge of doom. They
advanced, their teeth bared.
So, they will fight for me, huh? I can
accommodate that. I prepared to fight, my heart
There were two that were closest to me,
advancing menacingly. They were the first to go. I
charged them, and, by using martial arts moves I
never learned, slammed the first dragon. She
slammed into the second one, and they both tumbled.
The female missed the ledge 300 stories below, but
the other didn't. He hit it hard, and didn't get back up
I whipped around just in time too kick the third
dragon clear to the ceiling. She flew off, once she
recovered – wise thinking on her part.
The other three remaining dragons now charged
at me. I ran to meet them. The two dragons on the
outside split off, letting the middle one fen for
himself. Looking back on it, I wonder if he knew he
was going to die.
He opened his mouth to intimidate me. I
frantically thought of how to take down a dragon. I
realized two possible options: make him bleed to
death, or lure him off the edge with a suicidal move.
I decided fast. I reached my hand into his mouth. He
started to close it around my hand. I grasped his
tongue, and ripped it out. He bled to death at my
The last two females were flying in on me – fast.
Quickly, I pulled and yanked and broke one of the
dead dragon's teeth off his jawbone. I slashed at the
one closest to me, who had been reaching her talons
to scoop me up. The tooth moved in a swift, slashing
arc, which sliced into the dragon's side. She quickly
forgot about capturing me. Both of the dragons
retreated a safe distance.
The queen dragon was furious with the outcome
of this fight. She jumped me from behind. All I saw
was a blur, and then I felt intense weight. I fell to the
ground; it was more than I could bear. I could feel
her talons grasping, digging into my back. My head
started spinning. I couldn't think of how to get away,
my mind was foggy. All seemed hopeless.
Did you really think that you could escape from
me? She asked.
Not really; it was worth a try, I said defiantly.
No one escapes from me. No one.
Suddenly I remembered my tooth “dagger”.
Try this. I stabbed the “dagger into her forepaw,
drawing blood, and a blood-curdling roar from her.
She let go of me, as I removed the dagger from her
paw, but not before her blood seeped into my torn
back. Before she could recapture me me, I was up
and running along side the edge of this plateau. It
might have been from running. It may have been
from my back. It may have been something else. I
started to lose the will to run. I couldn't stay stable...
I had gone insane with confusion. I wobbled, and
then fell. The three dragons had been following me,
and now stopped, looking down. I kept falling,
I heard the beating of wings. The dragon that
missed the ledge was now closing in on me. I cursed
myself inwardly. I should have at least disabled her
on the way down. I didn't, so no time to regret it.
The dragon kept coming closer...
Suddenly, I was yanked out of my free fall. My
pursuer had caught me, and now, holding me up
against her chest, she flew me back up where I was
before, dropped me down, and landed, pretty much
on top of me. I tried to crawl out of this awkward
position, but couldn't move.
Don't fight me.
I could kill you right now. You killed my mate.
You couldn't really do that would you?
I actually could. First, I'd like you to justify it.
Okay, said I. First off, you both were coming for
me, so I decided to make you fight to catch me.
A good one at that, she pointed out. For that, I
respect you. Well, as one might respect a prisoner.
Okay, I can't have you interrupt me.
Okay, second, after I got you out of the way, he
would have come forward to try to catch me, so I
decided to make you be an obstacle for him.
Third, it was an accident. You flew farther back
than I had expected, slammed into him, and both of
you went tumbling.
I have decided that I won't kill you.
That's a relief. Can I go now? I successfully
squirmed out from under her.
No. She started forward to recapture me. I was
free for about 10 seconds. The, I was stuck again.
I heard an angry roar right nearby us. My captor
jumped, giving me a glimpse of the aggressor:
Well, began the queen – Shravítàkala - how
pleasant of you to stop by, Ashtéta.
Give me back Trevor, and no one gets hurt.
Oh, dragons and people have been hurt, said the
queen. Two dragons dead, one injured. Trevor's
back is torn, and one who fled.
That boy is mine! You will pay for his blood
I chose him. I marked him. He is with me!
A little possessive, aren't you, Ashtéta? It is
quite like you to be like that, yes? Shravítàkala
clacked her teeth. Suddenly, two dragons wrestled
Ashtéta to the ground.
The queen approved. So, Ashtéta, you really
thought you could just pick him to be a rider?
She was silent. Ashtéta made no reply.
Apparently so. Well, unfortunately for you, you
picked the boy I've been keeping my eye on for years.
I was the one who rescued him from him executioners
in his former life.
Liar, thought I. Suddenly, my mind erupted in
excruciating, but brief, pain.
Ashtéta had given up fighting. I did now, too.
As things blurred, I heard Shravítàkala’s voice echo.
You're mine, Trevor, mine. Then I saw it.
I woke up, half-expecting last night's
occurrences to have been a dream. The pain was too
real for a dream. I opened my eyes. Dark. Warm.
Too warm, almost. My captor – Slåvèteçta – slept,
clutching me to close to her for my liking. I tried to
twist my way out of her grip, but it only made her
hold me even tighter to her.
Let go of me, you big, ugly brute! I yelled at her
Do you really think I'm ugly?
No, but you're missing the point! Just let go of
This is really awkward, and I can't move at all.
She opened her eyes, and released me. Good
morning to you, too.
Thank God. Now, I know you don't want me to,
but I really have to go. See you later.
Oh, no, you don't, she snarled, leaping over me
and hissing at me, teeth barred.
I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked at her.
Her eyes were flaming with anger, her wings
outstretched. Her head was only inches from mine. I
took a step back, as she snapped her mouth shut. She
stepped closer again. I have a question for you, she
said, her mood changed, suddenly.
Go ahead, said I.
What did Ashtéta mean by she marked you?
She literally put a mark on my right hand. I
showed her my right hand, which bore the mark. The
mark was shaped like a delta symbol, but had only
two of the three sides. Small runes filled the inside.
It was a dark gray color.
Slåvèteçta started back in surprise for a moment.
Then, she grabbed me with her talons, and took off. I
might have enjoyed the flight, had I been on her
back. I mean, it felt great to be in the air again, don't
get me wrong. The only problem was that I had
injuries that were yet to be dealt with, and being
jarred in my captor's talons was definitely not
Where are you taking me?
To Fláçtròn’, the hero of the undergrounded
Could we make a stop on the way? I left some
stuff last night.
She flew to the plateau, where my bag lay.
Quickly, I grabbed everything, and put it in the bag.
Then, carefully, I climbed on Slåvèteçta back. She
shot up like a bullet. It felt great to be airborne again.
We twisted through tight inversions and
corridors, until we reached the entrance to the center
of the earth. Suddenly, the corridors broke out into a
huge, hollow cavern. I almost forgot I was deep
underground. Almost. Suddenly, despite the walls'
distance from me, a wet sick feeling of
claustrophobia welled up inside my stomach.
Slåvèteçta must have sensed my uneasiness, because
she said, we'll get out of here after this.
We flew to a lower cavern opening on the north
side of the huge mega-cavern. Well, I thought it was
the north. I really couldn't tell, there were no signs
that told me which direction was north.
Suddenly, Slåvèteçta reversed her wings' strokes,
and we landed. I surmised we must have been in
Fláçtròn's cave. I heard a raspy growl, as I slid off
Who's there?, came the golden voice that
Fláçtròn spoke with as his own.
Slåvèteçta nudged me on forward. In a small,
yet strong voice, I said, “Trevor Llyich Tchaikovsky,
Fláçtròn’ stepped forward. He was a large,
golden dragon with piercing, vibrant gold eyes. He
cocked his head, his eyes staring intently.
You seem rather young, Trevor.
You expected me to be old?
Older. How long have you been in CAMP?
Wow. And they're already afraid of you.
I guess. They definitely hate me.
What brings you here?
I showed him the mark.
Who gave it to you?
Has she told you what it means?
No, actually. She hasn't had the chance.
Where is she?
The queen has her captured.
His countenance showed worry. Why?
She believes that she is the one who I would
master, not Ashtéta.
That is bad. You must tell the queen, and get out
of here. Slåvèteçta will help you release your
Before I go, tell me – what does the mark mean?
Have you ever heard of the legendary Riders?
Yeah. You mean to say that I'm a Rider?
Yes. You have been chosen.
And I thought I was the crazy one.
You disbelieve me.
Yeah. I mean, you really think that I'm that
important that important?
Actually, no I don't. Not at all.
He made no reply.
I'll go bust out a dragon now.
He retreated to the inner part of his enclave, in a
signal of dismissal. Slåvèteçta flew me to the queen's
court solemnly. She left me outside the court, and
told me that I would see Ashtéta soon. Then she flew
I took a deep breath. Then, trying to swallow the
lump in my throat that was just accumulating, I
The court was massive. Hundreds of dragons
stood in ranks, almost like an army. I walked to the
end of the ranks and right up to Shravítàkala. She
rose to meet me excitedly. Hello, little one. Have
you reached a decision yet?
I have. I gulped nervously.
Don't be afraid. You have no reason to fear me.
What is it?
I swallowed my fear. No.
She hissed. No? Why?
This is why. I showed her the palm.
She looked at it, hissed in surprise, and then gave
a serpentine laugh.
What's so funny?
You really think that that mark would stop me?
No, but if I told you I talked to Fláçtròn, that
might make you think twice.
It won't, she said, as she shot her forepaw out to
snatch me up . Quickly, defiantly, I evaded her
Shravítàkala gave a heart-stopping, angry roar.
She still remained still, though. My eyes darted
around the area. I saw something that caught my eye
about 25 meters away. A sheathed sword. I wished
it was in my hand.
Suddenly, it flew through the air and was. I was
dumbfounded, if only briefly.
Shravítàkala took a tentative step back, as I
unsheathed the sword. It flashed, as I brandished it in
a belligerent manner. Then, I sheathed it, pleased
that my gestures had given the point across. I am
now leaving, said I.
No you aren’t, said Shravítàkala with a snarl.
Oh, yes he is, came another voice. I whirled
around. Ashtéta and Slåvèteçta entered.
A score of the guards advanced on the two latter
dragons menacingly. They were all in very tight,
secure formation. Good information to remember, I
thought. It would prove truer than I could ever
Slåvèteçta diverted the guards, while Ashtéta
flew over to me. I leapt onto her back, and we shot
up. I saw Shravítàkala following suit.
Can you get us outside to the lowlife CAMP? I
Let's hope so, said Ashtéta.
We were 50 meters from the closing entrance.
We aren't going to make it, I surmised
apprehensively. The, defiance took over.
I thought of stopping the closing portal. It
ground to a halt. The guards could only watch, as we
flew through, clear to the crayon-blue sky outside.
Eventually, Shravítàkala gave up chase with a
menacing, this is not over, Ashtéta.
We were free! That was my first 16 hours
underground. I was exhilarated to be flying again.
Out in the open, that is. It was perfect, except for the
slight gloomy emotions Ashtéta had, which left a
sour taste in my mouth and stomach. What's wrong,
Ashtéta? Asked I.
Nothing, she replied almost curtly.
A dour silence fell over us, as we flew back to
the bunker. It did not take very long. Once we were
there, I slid off her back to the ground. Thank you,
said I. I stroked the smooth scales on her back.
Ashtéta hummed contentedly.
Thank you, Trevor. You helped us get away.
That was all she said, before she snapped out her
wings, and flew away. I watched her fly, until the
little, gray dot that was Ashtéta disappeared. Then, I
walked to my quarters, with the question of the day
burning in my mind. Two, really: What was I going
to do with the sword, and what was for lunch?
I had a sandwich.
My Defenses class was an unruly bunch. That
is, before the bell rang. The Defenses Mater stood at
the from of the room, observing us. He was a
medium-height man with a military crew cut on his
fair, light hair, and brown eyes accented with a dark,
spinach green. He was a lean man, but had a slightly
muscular build to him.
The bell ran, and the class silenced themselves.
“Now that I have your attention,” began the Master,
“let us begin the introductions. I am Mr. Livingston,
and you will be taking Defenses. I have a question
for you all. Why would defense be necessary?”
I raised my hand
“Because someone wants to take away your
beliefs, freedoms, and loved possessions, including
“Okay, anyone else?”
“Because the bad person with the gun is going to
hurt you?” inquired a boy named Robby.
“Okay, anyone else?” A girl raised her hand.
“I don't believe it's necessary.”
“The one-world government watches us so
closely, that peace is enforced.
Peace is false, an illusion, I silently protested.
“Suppose,” began Mr. Livingston, “that an
outside force invades us. Suppose a specific group of
insiders betray us. Where is your peace? The
government can't maintain peace like that. Where
does that leave you?”
I raised my hand. “Why are we talking
psychology? Isn't this Defenses class?”
“If you were someone different, I would have
punched you for saying something like that.” I
dipped my head, my ears burning with
embarrassment. “But” he continued, “You have an
“Enough with the introductions. Let's begin.
Mr. Waikovsky, come here.
He led me to the front of the room, to his desk.
Weapons of so many kinds sat on the table: knives,
bayonets, clubs, firearms, swords, and archery
equipment. I picked up a hunting knife, looked it
over, and set it down.
Mr. Livingston said. “Pick one or two weapons,
I took one look at the arsenal, then strode to the
archery section. I picked up a cloudy-gray ivory
quiver of arrows. I looked at the bows. There were
50 types of bows of 3 different materials. I picked up
the bow that matched my quiver.
“What is your second weapon of choice,
Waikovsky?” asked Mr. Anderson.
Silently, I trod over to my bag. I pulled out the
leather-wrapped object that poked out. I unbound the
leather straps that held the leather firmly around the
object. I let the leather fall, revealing a beautiful gray
sword. The sheath had a blue-gray tint to it, and the
giant crystal that was set into the helm of the sword
was gray, with beautiful, ocean-blue swirled in.
I unsheathed the sword. The blade was the same
color as the sheath, only much more reflective. My
eyes flashed up and down the blade, as I held it
Mr. Livingston gaped at the sword and me.
“How'd you get it?” he stammered disbelievingly.
“Long story,” said I.
“Great,” complained Gary. “Chris gets a bow
with darts and a tin steak knife. So what?”
“Let me tell you all a little story,” began Mr.
Livingston, who had since recovered.
“How many of you have read the Inheritance
Everyone's hand shot up. 35 of them.
“Very good. Then, surely you know that Eragon
becomes a Rider, and makes his sword. Correct?”
35 heads bobbed in agreement.
“Suppose that were happening on earth right
now, but the dragon doesn't hatch for it's rider – the
sword determines it.”
“How does that work?” Asked Tanya.
“Excellent question. That's where the story
“According to history, every dragon has a sword.
All of the legendary figures – Beowulf, Arthur of the
round templar and their like- found the dragon's
sword. Unfortunately, they killed the dragon with its
own sword, thus driving them mad and cursing them.
“Wait,” began another girl – Like - “you're
telling me that the Arthur of the Knights Templar
“Yes, That's what I said.”
“The legend doesn't say that.”
“That's why it's a legend.”
I sat down, looking at the beautiful sword I held,
while Mr. Livingston spoke. Ashtéta’s sword. My
“Waikovsky, tell us. How did you find that
“It's a really long story.”
“We aren't going anywhere, are we?”
“Okay, but what I say here stays here,
“Yes. Everything anyone says here stays here.
Any infractions will be dealt with swiftly.”
I told everything, starting with the fight I had
two nights ago, up until I left the mountain. Then, I
answered questions until lunch bell rang, excusing us.
“Meet outside by the fencing arena, said the Master.
Everyone filed out of the classroom, except for
me. I solemnly sheathed my sword, and set it at my
desk, along with the ivory bow and arrows. The, I
walked out to lunch.
I walked to the back of the long, snaking line
that sprawled into the cafeteria. I really wasn't too
hungry. Plus, we'd be sparring after lunch, and I'd
rather not vomit. I wondered what they'd be serving
“Chris?” It was Tanya.
“Come up to where we are in line!”
“Um, okay.” Tanya playfully grabbed my wrist,
and tugged me all the way up the line.
Ignoring the comments that people made of
Tanya, we passed by a few scores of people to closer
up in line to the food.
Today's lunch was Mexican food. Burritos,
tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos, beans, and rice
filled the platters and dishes.
“Okay, so what's good?”
“All of it.”
Robby hopped in line behind Tanya and me.
“Hey,” was all I said.
“Hey, Chris. What's your favorite Mexican
“I don't know. Haven't tried it before.”
Robby and Tanya gaped at me disbelievingly.
Americans, I thought to myself. It was our turn in
line now. I took some of everything. Robby and
Tanya followed suit. We walked over to our table.
Tanya said, “This is Jonathan,” as she pointed to
a short, Asian boy. I shook hand with him. She
continued, “This is Jacob, this is Tara, this is Erica,
and these four are Jose, Alexander, Alexis, and
Kelsey.” I introduced myself to all of them, and sat
between Robby and Jonathan. I absently bit into my
burrito. It actually was rather good.
“Está bueno, Verdád? Asked Carlos.
“Si. Es muy delicioso. Me gusta mucho.”
“What did he say?” inquired Jonathan.
“He just asked if I like the burrito. I said yes.”
I silently finished my food. Then, pushing my
chair back, I stood to leave. I walked back towards
the classroom. Tanya caught me in the hallway.
“Chris, may I ask you a question?”
“You just did.”
“Very funny. Have you met Ashtéta?”
“Do you know Trevor Llyich Tchaikovsky?”
“Who is he?”
I stopped and looked her in the face. “I am.”
I turned and left before she could respond.
Quickly I entered the empty classroom. I
grabbed my sword, bow, and quiver and walked
outside towards the sparring arena. The bell rang,
beckoning my class to the arena, which was still a
good league (at least)away. I saw kids get on a bus,
and it started moving. I got a sick feeling that I was
going to be late. Still, I started to walk.
I made it about twenty meters before I saw
Ashtéta pass overhead. She circled around, then
landed about half a meter away. Carefully I climbed
onto her back, and we shot up into the sky. I loved
flying despite the fact of my first flight, where I
Ashtéta, just wondering, but why are you here?
A dragon cannot remain apart from his or her
rider and remain, said she.
So you're hinting that I'm a full blown Rider?
Yes. However, I shall speak to Mr. Livingston,
who will teach you the rest of what you need to know.
Good. So I can trust Mr. Livingston.
Yes. You can.
We landed in the arena right near everyone else.
The kids baked away nervously. I slid off her back to
the ground. Mr. Livingston walked up to me.
“Whatever is going on. I don't have a good feeling
about” he muttered to me.
Hello, said Ashtéta.
“Hello,” replied he, cautiously.
Trevor, as you probably see, has my sword. He
is my Rider. I wish for you to train him.
“Me? Train him?”
Yes. That is what I said.
He turned to me. I raised my eyebrows in
response, and shrugged.
“Very well, then Trevor,” he said unsheathing
his long, thick broad sword, “On guard.”
Very quickly, I followed suit. The sword
throbbed in my hand. The two-meter long, thirty-
centimeter wide blade glowed blue. I slashed
through the air in a circular motion.
Mr. Livingston's blade met mine in midair. The
sound of metal striking metal filled the air. Mr.
Livingston's strength, and my speed, strength, and
stamina made the battle drag on for an hour or so.
Every swing, prod, or jab he took at me was quickly
parried by my blade, my blue sword. He jabbed at
my left ribcage. With an almost inaudible yelp, I
leapt to the right, and knocked the sword away from
me. I took the gap in Mr. Livingston's defense to
make an arching strike towards his arm. I struck just
barely too late. His sword and mine locked, neither
of us losing or gaining an inch. I was tiring, so I
didn't know how much longer I could last.
Suddenly, I gave. My sword spiraled out of my
hand and clattered to the ground. The blue
disappeared. Mr. Livingston's grass-colored blade
was merely inches from slitting my throat. The,
suddenly, he sheathed it. I picked up my blade. Not
a scratch, dent, or blemish on it.
“You have done very well. However, there are a
few things you must learn. Now, for magic.” He
handed me a stone. “Lift it to eye level.”
I stared at it intently. I closed my eyes, forcing
myself to relax. I opened my eyes. The pebble
began to rise, until it met my eye level. There, it
floated. I sustained it for a few seconds, then I let it
“Very good,” said he, “However, you seem to
have no knowledge of the Tügrésk’ Dråvé.”
Dragon's Tongue. Great pronunciation, by the
“Okay. Yeah, I know absolutely nothing of this
“I will teach you whenever possible.”
“Thank you.” I inclined my head submissively.
“My pleasure, Dråvéstüeçtalsk’” He returned the
The bell rang. “Now go,” said he.
I climbed on Ashtéta’s back. We shot into the
With the skills you displayed with your sword
today, I am not surprised that you killed two dragons
barehanded, said Ashtéta.
Yeah. Slåvèteçta is a little mad at me. I killed
She seems to have moved on from it, but I would
not be surprised. Wait, you killed her what?!
I killed her mate. On accident.
Of all the insolent, brash, rude, and intolerable
things you could ever do...! She described in explicit
terms the extent of my stupidity.
I love you too, Ashtéta, was all I said.
Why? Why did you?
Slåvèteçta and he were attacking me, so I
rammed Slåvèteçta to make her think twice. I hit her
harder than expected or intended, and she and her
mate went tumbling. She missed the ledge, he didn't.
She gave me a stream of oaths in the Tügrésk
Drave. A silent tear ran down my face, the first one
since my village was destroyed in a holocaust when I
was eight. She was right. I was stupid.
I maintained a solemn silence for the remainder
of the flight. When we landed, I wordlessly turned
Are you okay?
I'm fine. I walked away. When I reached my
quarters, I collapsed, sobbing convulsively.
I ate nothing. I felt as if I were going to vomit
up my lunch anyway. What have I done? I thought
I stayed awake all night, looking at the stars,
wondering what my dad was thinking, if he could see
me. Would he be proud? Probably not. Even is he
could see me right now, he probably would have his
back turned to me and the anguish I brought upon
I watched the stars tall from the sky, as morning
approached. Then, silently, I trudged outside into the
crisp, cold snow, the white blanket that covered the
ground. Ashtéta landed nearby. Good morning, little
Is this morning really good, or am I just
So, I take it that you are upset.
Yeah. Just a little. Didn't sleep at all.
What did you do?
Thought about my dad.
Why your dad?
He was one of a few people who actually cared
Where is he?
In heaven, I hope. Even if I don't make it.
I climbed on her back. We took off slower than
usual. We flew parallel to the ground, not wavering.
Did I ever tell you how much I love flying? I
No, you never did.
Just one thing in a whole pile of secrets, I said,
Why are you upset? You're a Rider. What more
could you want?
Who am I kidding? I'm not the one for this. I'm
not cut out for it.
But you are the one for it. You are not cut out
for it; you were born for this. I chose you,
Yeah, and with it, things just got a lot worse.
It's useless to argue with you. You forget that
I'm ancient in wisdom; you are my hatchling, my
I pondered that, as we landed. I pondered as I
walked to class. Her words echoed in my head: I am
ancient in wisdom; you are my hatchling, my Rider.
Rider. It felt so right, just like my sword. Rider. I
pondered it silently, while in class – navigation.
I pondered it while I detachedly worked all of the
problems necessary for today. It was simpler –
listing all of the Northern constellations.
I thought about it while waiting for today's lunch
– Italian. I wholeheartedly agreed with Ashtéta, but
there was a part that did so apprehensively.
Eventually, I resigned from the belligerent thoughts
that were adulterating my thoughts and acceptance.
The uneasiness flickered, and then disappeared
altogether. I devoured my lunch.
After school, I went to see Mr. Livingston to
begin my lesson on the Tügrésk Drave. “Hello,
“Hello, Master,” replied I.
Mr. Livingston handed me a thick, leather-
bound, bronze-plated book. On it, written in the
Tügrésk Drave, bore the title, E'lèct’ dávrà Tügrésk
“Open your book to page 1.”
Page one was the alphabet chart. There were
five or six variations to every vowel, and several
consonants that were really a combination of
I've seen all these letter before, I realized.
“Såcrè b'lêautè,” I muttered.
“I see that you are familiar with the alphabet,”
commented Mr. Livingston. “Let us begin learning
I became a living sponge, absorbing everything he
told me, from Astèríçtèsk (a star), to Riva (river),
to ash (ash), and tét (tear(s)).
So, ashtét means ash-tears, which is both the
crystal found on my sword and the basis for Ashtéta's
name. Ashtéta. I missed her.
“Enough learning today. Dismissed.”
I walked out of the classroom. Ashtéta was
there. I walked to her, and gave her a fierce hug.
Hello there, I said.
Hello to you too, she said.
I missed you, said I.
I missed you too, said she.
I climbed on her back, and we took off.
We flew to the bunker. Stay right here, I told
her. Then quickly I dropped my stuff off.
I climbed back on Ashteta's back. Let's do this!
Said I to her.
Ashtéta was enthusiastic. We shot up into a
clear, sunny sky. I gave a joyous whoop, as we shot
higher and higher. Ashtéta sounded her bugling road,
and we twisted. I felt weightless for a brief moment,
then was nearly wrenched off Ashteta's back, as our
climb quickly became a plunge. We plummeted
toward the earth, but leveled out just in time. We
banked sharply to the right. We flew so close to the
ground, I could touch the ground.
We abruptly climbed, then leveled out gradually.
We flew gently, swooping from side to side slowly,
high above the earth, burning with the suns intensity,
frozen over by the seasons. The three-hundred-foot
tall pines and evergreens merely looked like frail,
green toys. The air was very cold up here. Wisps of
icy clouds drifted by us.
My heart, which had been racing, slowed down
considerably. My face was still sanguine from the
flurry of flight and tight maneuvers. Wow, said I, we
need to do this more often.
I am glad that you enjoyed it too, said Ashtéta.
The earth looks so fragile from up here. It seems
I could crush a forest with my pinkie. Is that what a
No, we just enjoy the freedom. We are not
power-hungry. Unless you are involved. Add you (or
any other human with potential), and dragons would
kill each other to gain access to them.
So that's what Shravítàkala wants with me,
realized I. An angry defiance grew inside of me.
She'll never kill Ashtéta, thought I. I won't let it.
Even if I have to kill her myself.
Suddenly, Ashtéta dropped rapidly, pulling me
along with. I saw a jetliner pass over us. We waited
for a moment.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I asked her.
Yes, I am, she said. She put on a burst of
energy, and we shot forward, catching up to the plane
in no time. We pulled alongside, escorting the plane
out of CAMP.
I looked in the window at a young boy. He
stared back at me, his mouth moving as he spoke.
The plane pulled ahead of us. We made no
attempt to catch up with it. We watched it fly, as the
sun set over the horizon. The, with the air starting to
freeze around us, we landed.
That was amazing. Thank you.
You are welcome.
I took a look around. I saw the wall with a sign
We're on the wrong side of the wall.