• Prologue

    “Mia? …Mia, I’m here. Where are you?!” bellowed a deep voice. As he slithered into the light, Mia could see the red dragon. He was the color of passion, the color of love. His eyes were orange, and you could see a proud fire burning within them. His leathery wings were relaxed and hung down by his sides.
    “Oh, Derek, thank god you’re here!” Mia was short with long, frizzy, black hair. She had deep blue eyes, like bottomless pits which you would fall into if you were not wary of them. Derek had fallen into them, fallen in love with them. He had obsessed over them and their owner for the past two years. There was a flash of light, and then, a man stood there with curly red hair, proud, fiery eyes, and a kind face. Mia shrieked, her face twisted in pain, but her eyes remained happy.
    “The baby is coming! She’s finally coming!” Mia announced.
    The baby was born. Derek held her and said “She has her mother’s eyes.”
    “And her father’s hair.” added Mia. There were a few little red curls atop the baby’s head.
    “What will we name her?” asked Mia.
    Derek started to answer, but then screamed as a dozen or so black dragons flooded through the open windows. One of them shrieked a horrible shriek, worse than that of a banshee. It sounded like every happy moment in history shattering into thousands of tiny pieces. They leaped on Derek.
    Mia couldn’t bear to look at what remained of his mauled body. Mia was weak. She couldn’t defend herself. Her yet unnamed daughter was ripped from her arms. The last thing Mia ever saw was the glowing red eyes and murderous grin of the lead dragon. As the blood filled her eyes she could not escape the feeling of relief at the thought of her death, the thought of not having to raise a baby alone. The thought of everyone reuniting at her funeral, putting on a sad face, and pretending they actually cared that she was gone, if anyone bothered to show up. And though she should have been screaming in agony, she couldn’t help but smile. She painfully whispered an almost inaudible thank you in his ear.

    Chapter 1

    “Elly?!” Drake called out through the darkness.
    “Don’t come any closer! I don’t want to hurt you!” I shrieked.
    “Hurt me? What do you mean? You wouldn’t hurt me.” Drake said in a shaky voice.
    “GO AWAY!” I screamed
    I thought about what had happened in the past few weeks. On my 18th birthday, September 20th, I had woken up early, finally able to move out. I scribbled a quick note telling my parents not to worry. I threw on some clothes, brushed my curly red hair, grabbed my suit cases, carrying all my belongings, and left my old house forever. I took a cab across town, to my new apartment. I had paid for it with my own money, which I had saved from tutoring, baby sitting, and, against my parent’s will, waitressing at the Bar on Chestnut Street.
    It was a small apartment, only 2 rooms, including the bathroom. The bathroom had tile, but the rest of it had ugly florescent wallpaper. But to me, it was truly home. I hung up some posters, some pictures, and some of my art work. Not even an inch of the hideous wallpaper showed through. I had two mirrors exactly opposite each other, so I saw a million of myself. I glanced at my digital clock. 8:03. I called Drake and told him to come over.
    Five minutes later, there was a knock at the door. I turned off the T.V. and answered the door.
    “Hi Dr-. Mary, Dad, what are you doing here?” I asked.
    “Taking you home.” Mary replied.
    “No. I’m 18 now. You can’t control me any more! I’m not going back, I bought this apartment! I’m not your child anymore! I’m legally an adult! I can drive. I can vote. I can have my own house. I can finally have a home!” I said, trying but not succeeding to keep the fear out of my voice.
    “Elizabeth Reddington, you will come home and leave this, this pig sty at once.” Mary said.
    That did it. I slammed the door, locked it and shouted “Living with you was never my home, not since we moved in with you in your ‘quaint little suburb in New Jersey.’ I loved the city, it is my home and now I’m back again. You can’t stop me, you were never my mom, and you never will be!”
    Since then, I had lived with Drake. We were sort of like the ‘happily ever after’ couple, at the end of the story, when they always find out they’re perfect for each other. But it was only the beginning of our story together. But yesterday, I had felt strange. I laid down and fell into a restless sleep. I had dreams of falling, falling forever, down and down, but not into darkness, as these dreams usually were when I had them, instead I was falling into the bright, teeming streets below. The wind was whipping in my face, making me shiver. I tossed and turned.
    When I woke up I was gasping for air. I went into the bathroom, to brush my curly red hair, and my teeth. I looked into the mirror and saw myself. I had white scales all over. I had a long tail. I had large leathery wings. My hands and feet were long gleaming talons. I had large sharp fangs.
    I’m dreaming! I must be dreaming! I pinched myself “Ow!” Some red drops trickled out of the leathery skin near my claws, staining the skin deep red, as opposed to its former ivory. What’s the matter with me? I heard a low humming. It called to me. I ran to the open window. I squeezed out. I was falling, falling like the dream. But this time, I spread my wings. I soared through the air, following the noise. Though it was late September, and the wind whipped at my face, I was not cold. Flying was an amazing, indescribable sensation. In all my life, I had never felt so free.
    I followed the noise to a cave in the woods near the edge of town. There was a cave, and I went inside. It was pitch black/ I heard a noise. I whirled around. It was Drake. And so here I was, about to scare off my boyfriend, who, like me, had no clue what was really going on.
    Then, the cave was illuminated by a thousand glowing crystals. “Intruder!” voices screamed from far away but so close.
    “Elly?! What happened to you?!” Drake half screamed, half asked. There was an undeniable look of horror on his face.
    “I don’t know!” I answered.
    Then, the voices chanted, “Intruder! INTRUDER! INTRUDER! INTRUDER! INTRUDER!” The voices turned to swirls of what can only be described as dark energy. I shrieked as they swirled around me and Drake. And then, everything went dark.
    I must have hit my head. I tried to sit up. Something was on my chest, keeping me pinned to the cold damp floor of the cave. Nice time for me to turn human. If I were a dragon, I could have pushed it off easily.
    “Drake? Where are you? Are you okay?!” Great! I scared off my husband! Just plain peachy! The swirls were back, and they pushed the rock off me. Now how will I find my way out of this place without any light?
    “Left. Go Left.” A voice whispered in my ear.
    “Oh now the voices are back. Wonderful. Hey would you by any chance know where my husband is?! Or better yet, could you tell me what the hell is going on here?!” I shouted into the darkness.
    “Left. Go left”
    “Answer me!”
    “LEFT! GO LEFT! GO LEFT! GO LEFT!” It had become a chant now, thousands of voices, getting louder and louder. The noise was deafening.
    “Why?! Why left?!”
    I didn’t know what to do. In a flurry of panic, I ran right. I ran through tunnel after tunnel, blinded by the darkness. I felt as if it were a great black beast, darting all around, behind every rock, stalking me, closing in on me, making each step slow and precise, as if to insure its hunt would be successful in claiming me as its prey.
    I ran into something. I screamed.
    “Shh. Calm down.” Drake scolded. In the pale moonlight that flickered through the small crack in the rock above us, I could see into his eyes, which always gave me strength, but now they were blank. Nothing in them. No soft, sea green color, like Drake’s eyes. No life.
    “You’re not Drake.” I realized in horror. The disguise melted away. This was a taller man. Though he looked as though he was only about 20, his hair was white.
    “You’re right, I’m not. But Drake never was either. He was a disguise. I needed to find you, to get close to you. I was chosen to be your mentor when you were born. But I made an error. I got too close to you. I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with you.” His words were careful, precise, as if he had rehearsed. Intensely, he studied my face for my reaction. I just gawked at him, but then I looked into his eyes. They were set deep in his face, with shadows underneath, as if he had been deprived of vital sleep. They were a misty blue color. They looked warm, honest. But they also reminded me of an eerie fog, meant only to confuse the weary travelers who managed to wander into them. He himself was quite handsome.
    He had very sharp, defined features, as if they were chiseled by an expert sculptor. His nose was perfectly placed in the center of his face. His pointy chin jutted out from beneath his perfect, cherry red, smiling lips. Muscles rippled from beneath his navy blue sweater. He was as pale as the moon. He seemed to glow with radiant beauty. He had an air of confidence about him that made him seem almost arrogant.
    I gave him a warm and trusting smile. I new Drake was sweet. And he was Drake, wasn’t he? But when I smiled at him, a sly grin had played across his face. Perhaps he was like his eyes, seemingly sweet, handsome, and honest, but not without a dark side. Perhaps he was only meant to draw me in, with all the allure of a Venus fly-trap. I looked up at him. The grin was replaced by a sweet smile. Maybe I imagined it. But I hadn’t.
    “What is your name?” I asked, some time later.
    “My human name is Drake, but my Dragon Name is Ares. Ares is the Greek God of War. We chose our Dragon Name. And now you must chose your name.” he replied.
    “I don’t know…” I let the sentence trail off.
    “What color are you?” he asked.
    “Huh?”was all I could manage, Way to go Elizabeth, really intelligent, I thought to myself.
    “When you transform? What color are you?” he asked
    “So choose something that goes along with that, like Swan or Snow, or just keep your name now, you don’t have to change it.” he suggested, then, when I didn’t reply, he added “You don’t have to decide right now, you have until Monday.” he said.
    “Why Monday? I asked.
    “Because that’s when you start your training.” he replied.
    “What training?” I asked.
    “Here’s your schedule.” he replied handing me a piece of paper.

    7:00-7:55 Breakfast
    7:55-8:00 Homeroom-Professor Ares-302
    8:00-9:00 Social Studies-Professor Venus-306
    9:00 -10:00 Science-Professor Pluto-308
    10:00-11:00 Art - Professor Philia-401
    Or Woodshop Professor Pura-403
    11:00-12:00 Home Economics – Professor Asphaliah-405
    Or Music – Professor Veritas-406
    12:00-12:30 Lunch
    12:30-1:00 Gym-Professor Valens
    1:00-2:00 Math-Professor Mathema
    2:00-3:00 Language Arts-Professor Ares-302
    6:00-7:00 Dinner

    Wow, these people have strange names. “You may think our names are strange, but you’ll get used to it.” Drake said.
    “Drake, can you read minds?” I asked sarcastically.
    “Actually, I can. When you reach your 4th and final year at this school, you develop a power. Mine was telepathy. Professor Valens used to be a scrawny, little, twig. Then in his 4th year, he developed superhuman strength.” Drake said.
    “How’d you find this out?” I asked.
    “I’m his little brother, even though he used to be half the size of me. Ohh, and uh, don’t tell him I said that, because I really don’t want him showing up at my office crying again.” he said.
    “Again?” I asked.
    “Yup. Whenever his girlfriend dumps him or some one hurts his feelings.” Drake said.
    “Oh and by the way, once we’re on campus, you have to call me Professor Ares. And I have to call you what ever it is you decide on.” he added.
    “I’m just gonna keep my name.”
    I had a great weekend. I went to my apartment, and packed up everything I owned. I considered going to my Dad’s house, but than decided against it. When I was three, my mom died. Then, when I was fourteen, Dad remarried. I hated Mary. I figured that if Mary knew what I really was, that she would disown me. I really wouldn’t mind if she did.
    “If who did what?” Ares asked.
    “Quit listening in on my thoughts!” I shouted.
    “I can’t turn this telepathy thing off. I can try to tune people out, but I can’t turn it off. And you think really loud, so that makes it harder.” he said, laughing.
    “So I guess you know if some one was passing notes in class or something, wouldn’t you?” I asked.
    “Yes, but I let them slide. I don’t care what they do, as long as their work gets done.” Then, with a grin, he added “I also get to keep up with all the juicy gossip.”
    “Are you ready to go?” he asked.
    “Yup.” I replied. He drove me to the school. From the outside, it looked like any other. Just another big, brick, towering, intimidating, prison. But this one was special. The only school I can actually get into. I thought, though obviously not to just to myself, with Ares so close. “Welcome to Mathis College, founded in 1908, by George Mathis, so that dragons would have a safe place to grow up and go to school. It’s kinda like the X-men with the mutants, but this school existed first. Actually, it was the first school specifically for dragon students, although the outside world doesn’t know that, they don’t even know people like you and me exist. In 1910 to 1930, other people took the idea, so now there are a lot of schools, all over the world, but every year, the Dragon Olympics are still held here.” he said
    “Thanks for the history lesson.” I said.
    I wonder what you’ll do next. Bend a spoon? Saw some pretty women in half? This time I thought it in a joking way, knowing he would ‘hear’ me.
    “Hey! I’m not just some stupid Los Angeles magician.” he laughed. He led me to my dorm room. I took a deep breath, gave myself a mental pep talk, which I was sure Ares heard all of, and pushed the door open.
    “Hi. You must be Elizabeth. I’m Nancy. Err, I mean, I was Nancy, now I’m Cleopatra, but you can call me Cleo. Sorry. This new name thing is confusing.” said Cleopatra. Cleo was medium height, thin, tan, and had raven black hair, and dark brown eyes. She could have been Egyptian.
    “You don’t need to apologize. I knew I’d get confused, so I just kept my name. So how long have you been here?” I asked, trying to make small talk.
    “2 weeks, but classes only started a week ago. You should have no problem catching up.” said Cleo.
    I surveyed the room. There were two beds. The room was symmetrical, except for the decorations. On one half the bed had at least 10 pillows, a pink and purple bedspread, and a black and white tuxedo cat curled up on the biggest pillow. The closet was so full the door couldn’t close. There were Nickelback, Harry Potter, and Green Day posters all over. The desk had a laptop and printer, some pictures, and a lamp. The other side was bare.
    After Cleo helped me unpack, the room was even more symmetrical. We had posters of all the same bands and movies. We had very similar bed spreads; the only noticeable difference was the colors.
    “I can tell we’re going to be great friends” Cleo said.
    “I think so too. Apparently we have the same taste in every thing, right down to our symmetrical bookshelf!” I laughed. Our shelves had almost all the same authors. “Well actually, I’ve got more books.” Cleo smiled sheepishly and pulled out 2 buckets from under her bed.
    “Wow.” was all I could say as she pulled out another bucket. And another.
    When she was done there was 4 big buckets. “I have to donate these. See, I go to used book stores, and I buy them when they’re on sale for, like, 10 cents each. When I’ve read them all, I donate them back. That way, I don’t have, like, 15 zillion bookcases. Even if I buy a book ten times, that’s only a dollar. The ones that are in mint condition, or are classics, I keep.”
    “That’s actually a pretty good idea… Hey there kitty.” A little gray and black cat was rubbing herself up against my leg. I scooped her up and tickled her chin. She purred.
    “Where did she come from?” Cleo asked.
    “Isn’t she your cat?” I asked.
    “No, Boots is over there.” She gestured towards the cat on her bed. He was snoring. Loudly.
    “There are a lot of strays in the neighborhood. Maybe she’s one of them.” Cleo said.
    “Well, she doesn’t have a collar.” I said. “I wonder what her name is.” Cleo wondered.
    “She looks like a Fluffy.” I thought out loud.
    “Or a Tiger.” Cleo suggested.
    “How about Mindy?” I asked. The cat snuggled into my arm and purred louder.
    “She seems to like that one.” Cleo laughed.
    “Mindy it is then… Well, in the mean time anyway, we should put up posters everywhere, just to make sure she doesn’t belong to anyone. And maybe we should get her a collar, so if she shows up in anyone else’s room they know she belongs to someone, even if it isn’t us.” I said.
    “Not us, you. She chose you. I’ll help with the posters and taking care of her, but she obviously chose you. She picked the day you came to come here.” Cleo said.
    “Huh. Strange. With a name like Cleopatra, I guess you’ve got to be good with cats.” I joked. And Cleo and I started laughing. Then I glanced at the clock. 12:45. “Don’t we, like, have classes or something?” I asked.
    “No, they gave us the afternoon off, to get you settled. We missed lunch though.” she said. Until she mentioned it, I hadn’t realized I was hungry. But then my stomach growled, loud enough for the both of us to hear. “Hold on.” she said, and reached behind her bed for a bag of Goldfish.
    “We aren’t supposed to have food in the rooms, so I have to hide it from the cleaning crew, but the only one who could possibly know is Professor Ares, and he doesn’t care. Besides, I’ve got dirt on all the teachers, so I don’t have to follow the rules, I generally do, but I don’t worry about being caught on one of the little things.” Cleo grinned.
    “What kind of dirt?” I asked, sensing a juicy story was about to be told.
    “Well, I have a video on my phone of Valens crying, a picture of Venus and Pluto kissing, which is bad because teachers aren’t supposed to have relationships with each other, and a few other things.” Cleo said, smirking.
    “Interesting. How’d you learn all this?”I asked.
    “I was in the right place, at the right time.”
    We had been talking for hours when Cleo said, “We’re gonna be late for dinner, we better hurry!”
    “Okay.” I said. She grabbed my hand and we sprinted down the stairs into the common room, out the door, across the campus, past the school buildings, and to the dining hall.
    As we were running she said “Okay, I’m gonna introduce you to everyone in our little gang. They’re all a bunch of misfits, but you gotta love ‘em. Steve is the shy genius, Lilly is the outgoing, charismatic one, Georgina, or Georgy, for short, is the funny one, and I’m the group gossip, but I’m also good at keeping secrets, I know that sounds strange, but if you are my friend I’ll never lie to you, tell on you or gossip about you. I only spread rumors about my enemies. But don’t worry; if you’re a misfit, this school is the place you fit.” Cleo laughed.
    “Sounds about right.” I huffed, catching my breath.
    As we passed a dry erase board that said Spaghetti, Cleo said, “Oh no, there’s 2 guys in our booth. Oh, wait Georgy’s saving our seats. Everyone always sits at the same tables, but some times new kids try to steal our seats, because we’re always late, except Steve.”
    After we got our food (and it looked delicious) we sat at a large green booth with room enough for eight people. There were already three people there.
    “Hi everyone, this is Elizabeth. Elizabeth, this is Steve” she gestured to the guy in the seat across from me, who immediately blushed, and refused to meet my deep blue gaze. He had scraggily brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, and was full of freckles. It looked like someone had just stretched out a little kid, to the size of a basketball player.
    “and Georgy,” she continued pointing to a short, thin, tiny girl, with long golden curls, sea green eyes, and glossy pink lips, which now flashed a winning smile.
    “and Lilly.” Lilly was almost as tall as Steve, and flicked her dark hair back from her chocolate face and deep, gold flecked, brown eyes, and her lips curled back from her perfectly white teeth, which made an interesting contrast with her face.
    “Hi Elizabeth!” they all said, Lilly in a motherly voice, Georgy in a high squeak, Steve in a quiet mumble, and he even added a little wave, but still couldn’t look at me with out blushing.
    “Hi. You can call me Elly, for short, if you want.” I said, nervously.
    ”Elizabeth and I have everything in common, right?” Cleo said.
    “Yup.” I answered.
    Then Cleo and I both added at the same time “We even have almost identical book shelves!”
    “You so planned that.” Steve said.
    “No we didn’t!” I said.
    “Hey ladies.” a very muscular guy said, sliding into our booth, looking right at Steve. He had that sandy hair, the kind that couldn’t decide whether to be brown or blond.
    “Go away you jerk!” Cleo shouted pushing him out of the booth. He landed on the floor with a sharp thud.
    “Hey! I was just trying to be friendly!” said the jerk.
    “Yeah right, leave us alone, you pain in the a**!” Georgy shouted.
    “Two words: Go. Away.” Lilly said in a calm, resolving tone.
    After he left I asked “Who’s that?”
    “Daren. Just because he’s captain of the football team, he thinks that gives him a free pass to be the biggest jerk on the planet.” Steve practically growled.
    “He used to be our friend, for like, a week. That may not mean much to him, but it’s important to me. For what it’s worth, maybe if we showed him some kindness, he would do the same for us. I know that some where underneath the mean, tough guy act, he is a nice person. So maybe he’s said some things he didn’t mean, big deal, who hasn’t?” Lilly said, quite poetically.
    “How sweet.” Georgy said sarcastically, pretending to cry. We all laughed, even Lilly.