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Chapter Two

When the word DragonSpirit(s) hit our ears, a gasp rose up from us. My mind was in a state of befuddlement. A DragonSpirit? Me? That had to be a joke. I mean, I wasn’t special or anything. But wait. If it was true that I was to be a DragonSpirit, then that would mean...

“Dragons,” I breathed. I had never seen one before, as the wild ones were kept far away from the villages. The tame ones were kept in special facilities far away. Since the war had ended (or so we thought) before I was born, there was no need for the Dragonriders to be stationed right in the villages anymore. Perhaps, since I referred to this war, I should explain what happened and who was involved in it.

Five years prior to my birth, there had been an uprising against the leaders of our land (The Sircle) led by a former Sircle Leader named Belmore. Belmore had been known for being opposed to many things in the Sircle, and had a sensationally hot temper. He had been accumulating followers for some time and it was brought to the rest of the members of the Sircle’s attention by Belmore’s dragon. You see, dragons are loyal to their riders without question, but their first and foremost priority is the Sircle leaders. Since Belmore was plotting evil, the dragon had to report. Belmore was discharged from his position and the situation was tossed aside, everyone believing that Belmore was not in the right frame of mind and that was the end of that. Unfortunately, they were wrong, and the discharge of Belmore did not stop anything. Belmore found out what his dragon had done and killed him with the help of his followers. This alone sent Lyssnahei into a frenzy. Nobody - and I mean nobody - EVER killed a dragon. To kill a dragon was punishable by death. But Belmore and his followers got away and began to execute their terrible plan. They started slaying dragons everywhere they went in hopes that, when the small population was gone, they could get to the Sircle much easier with less resistance. But since his dragon had warned them, the Sircle was on high alert and preparing for a counter attack. Somehow Belmore’s band managed to get hold of some wild dragons, who had no connection to the Sircle, and had tamed them. He and his group avoided capture for over a year, killing up to fifty dragons over that span of time. Dragons, mind you, are extremely hard to kill. The only way to kill a dragon is to remove their power crystal from their forehead. It's not an easy task - many must attack at once.

Finally, Belmore was caught up to and a devastating battle took place that claimed the lives of eight hundred men and women and six hundred dragons. The numbers may not seem very high, but the total population of Lyssnahei is only two thousand, nine hundred and thirty-seven. But back to the war, it was during the first part of the battle that Belmore focused on wiping out entire villages, burning them to the ground. The war lasted on for two years before Ceannaire Buchannan and the Sircle finally cornered Belmore and defeated him (actually, Belmore surrendered). Ceannaire Buchannan made a mistake however, and instead of killing Belmore like he probably should have he instead persuaded the Sircle to let him live and serve in the work camps instead. Unfortunately, on the way to the camps the guard team was ambushed by survivors from Belmore’s gang and they carried their leader off. No one has seen him or his followers for years. Most presume him dead.

Anyways, the war ended before I was born. At it's conclusion, the DragonSpirits were taken off their posts at the villages. That's why I had heard so much about the dragons, but had never seen them. The wild ones were, as I said, kept well away from the settlements so there was no chance of seeing one of them. Ever since I was little, I'd been dying to see a real live dragon. Then, after my five very long years of wishing and wanting to see a dragon, I got informed that I was to become a DragonSpirit. When I was bundled in the cart by my father, he didn’t tell me where I was going. I just trusted him. Good thing I did. Never trusted him again, but at least I did for the one time that it counted.

As I stood staring at Ceannaire Buchannan, I could hear Brenden muttering to himself excitedly, and Kelley had a vice like grip on my arm. Sean seemed unaffected however, and calmly watched Ceannaire. I could hear the other children around me whispering excitedly to one another. Ceannaire opened his arms wide again, and made a sweeping motion this time. The group before him grew quiet once more. He smiled that serene - and slightly goofy - smile again.

“Now, if you’ll all FOLLOW me, I will lead you TO our dining hall, where the rest of the school is EAGERLY awaiting YOUR arrival!” he bellowed happily, putting special emphasis on random words. We all immediately tried to make ourselves look a little more presentable. I attempted to make my slightly too small blue wool dress cover over my knees. I had no shoes, but I had a pair of thin wool stockings on in order to keep my legs warm. I also attempted to untangle my hair, but it was not worth the struggle. Sean watched me with a smile, and when I glared at him he innocently handed me my little sack. I accepted it and we followed Brenden and Kelley up the stairs.

The entrance hall was, of course, first in line for our little “tour”. It’s walls and floor were paneled and laid with mahogany colored wood and black trim. There were two staircases; one on the left, and one of the right. At the top of the mahogany staircases, which were carpeted a rich red color, was a sort of balcony that had numerous passages leading from it. At the bottom of the staircases (which were each against opposite walls) were doorways that led to more halls. About thirty feet across from the entrance doors were another set of double doors, which led into the dining hall. Strangely enough, the entrance hall was not decorated with pictures or statues. Instead, there were plants. Hundreds of plants on the floor, on the stairs, on the walls, even on the ceiling! How they got the plants up that high is anybody’s guess, as the ceiling is incredibly high. The plants all looked well watered however, and I could have sworn a particularly weird looking pink spiky plant waved at us as we all walked by.

Ceannaire paid no heed to the performing plants however, and walked briskly through the room. He seized the handles of the dining hall doors (knocking aside some wiggling vines in the process) and threw them open with a flourish. Inside, the rest of the school had already gathered and spun around immediately in their seats to get a good look at us. There were around four hundred students, not including us, in the hall that ranged from the ages of six to seventeen or eighteen. We were led to a very long table where the six and seven year olds were already seated. At the table next to ours were the eight, nine, and ten year olds. Next to that table were the eleven, twelve, and thirteen year olds, and at the next.....you should get the general idea by now. All along the sides of the room torches were lit, glowing with white flame.

The room itself was like the entrance hall, paneled and floored with mahogany wood and black trim. The tables were black and lined up so they pointed toward the back of the room where the teacher’s table was located. The ceiling was very high and arched with skylights that, at the moment, displayed bits and pieces of the starry night sky. That brought me to my observation that, even though it was well past midnight, the entire student body was quite awake. I was about to see if Brenden, Sean, or Kelley had noticed this when Ceannaire (C. for short) took up a place at the center of the teacher’s table and clapped his hands for silence. He spread his arms (he did that a lot) and surveyed everyone with something akin to amusement shining in his eyes.

“Well!” he barked out with a laugh. “It seems that our wait for the new arrivals is quite over, does it not?”

There were a few murmurs of assent and light laughter along with loads of glances our way. Ceannaire Buchannan leaned over the table and peered at those of us who had just come in.

“Your carriages missed the transport spots,” he said, as if this was something we were supposed to get a huge kick out of. The rest of the hall certainly did, as they all burst out laughing. I think he knew that we were confused, as his grin grew wider. He didn’t bother to explain it though, and continued.

“But you’re here now, and that’s what matters. Since we’re all gathered I shall take a few moments to explain the workings of our school to you. Children between the ages of five and seven are known as the Priomhaires. You who fit into that group shall be slowly but surely exposed into the things that you will need to know for DragonSpiriting. Your courses include riding - horses, that is, as you don’t get your dragon until you are older - language, history, and gymnastics. When you reach the age of eight, you will become known as the Bunusachs. To get through that form, you must pass body skills as well as more advanced versions of the classes you took during your Priomhaire stage. When you become eleven, you have nearly reached the stages of your solitary training and become known as Forbarthas. Here you will receive the same classes as in the past two stages at extremely advanced levels and you will begin your weaponry and hand combat training. The work load will not be easy, but it will prepare you for the training you will receive once you get your dragon.”

Excited whispers once again rose up. C. Buchannan waited for half a second, then continued.

“At the end of your Forbartha term, you will receive a necklace.”

He reached inside the collar of his tunic and withdrew a very fine silver chain, on the end of which hung a circular, palm sized pendant. In the middle of the pendant was embedded a diamond shaped gem. It was colored purple like his eyes and....it was glowing. He made a motion with his hand and the other teachers at the table all removed a similar necklace from each of their collars. They were all identical except for the color of the glowing gem. No colors, though some were similar, were exactly alike. Just like C. Buchannan’s, they were all glowing. I looked around the room and observed that the older students (in my five year old perspective) all had such necklaces as well. C. Buchannan replaced his, tucking it safely back into his collar.

“These necklaces will be handed out when you reach twelve. The gems are clear to begin with until the time of the laying. When the egg of your future dragon has been laid, the clear gem will start turning into the color that is yours, and yours alone. It will match the color of the gem that is on the forehead of your dragon. It is this gem that enables you to communicate with your dragon telepathically. Never, EVER break your chain. It will permanently break your connection with your dragon. You can take off the chain for short periods of time, but don’t break it.”

I was on the edge of my seat now, wanting to hear every word that C. Buchannan was saying. On my left, Brenden and Kelley were doing the same. But on the right, Sean was sprawled lazily, attempting to keep his eyes open. I found myself staring at him, and blinked when his blue eyes met mine. He gave me a small smile before shutting his eyes completely and sliding down even further in his seat. Amused by the sight of him, I let out a small giggle before turning back to the proceedings. C. Buchannan eyed Sean for a second with amusement, and then continued.

“Now. From the bonding time until you are eighteen, you will go through a rigorous training with your dragon. Then you shall be posted. So, if that’s all clear, I suggest the new arrivals are fed, as they haven’t eaten yet, and the rest sent to bed.”

He clapped his hands three times, and panels on the sids of the Dining Hall slid open, revealing the strangest looking creatures that I had ever seen. They were round and blue, with big eyes, big noses, and no mouths. They had no arms either. They ran in between the tables, balancing trays of food on the tops of their heads. One with a red nose and very big green eyes ran up to our table, jumped, and the tray flew off his head and landed smack in the middle of the wooden surface. He (she?) then winked at us and ran back off into the wall with the others, and the panels closed after them.

I stared after them. “Wha-? Wait, wh...?”

Sean heard my stammering (along with a whole lot of others’) and finally opened his eyes again. He turned to look at my wide-eyed expression and laughed.

“Those ‘er Kradas. They’re used mainly as cooks or sumthin like that,” he explained. Brenden leaned back so he could look behind me at Sean.

“Oy, mate! ‘ow’d ye knew ‘bout oll that then?” he burst out. He gave his spiky blonde hair a run through with his hand, while awaiting Sean’s reply. It took awhile for Sean to come out with an answer, but I think that was due to the fact he was trying to figure out what the heck Brenden had just said. Brenden’s grammar, if you hadn’t noticed, was very bad when he was young. He quite often would also burst out with random words from random languages - he was from Anglers Cove in Sealon; more languages are spoken in sea colonies, and so his words quite often got all mixed up.

Sean finally responded after shoveling his plate full of food.

“Me brother has been here and thru about a year ago, Well, we wasn’t really me brother, I just called ‘im that. He told me aaalll about this place.” he explained. Brenden seemed satisfied with his answer, and he too commenced piling food onto his plate. Kelley and I shared an amused glance at the amount these two boys could eat before helping ourselves. After about a half hour of eating and chatting, we were herded back into the entrance hall and ushered up the left hand stairs. At the top we were led through the door second from the left and into a large, winding hallway. It didn’t feel like it as we traveled, but we were constantly going up. Every time I looked out a window, the ground was a little further down. The thick black carpet muffled our footsteps making it sound as though there were shuffle dances going on due to the amount of children dragging their feet. Finally, the girls and boys were split up and led into different doorways. Kelley and I stuck together as we were led into a very large circular room. Many, many doors led off from this room, and we were instructed to find the one with our name on the door, and that was to be our room for the next three years. I found mine after about five minutes, far on the right side. My name, Eire, was written in bluish script on a plaque. I twisted the knob and stepped into my new room. Compared to my little sleeping area back in my home in Lida, this place was huge! It was square shaped with a full sized bed underneath a large window that looked out over the ocean and cliff’s edge. The room was warm and friendly looking, with the same color scheme as the rest of the castle and a fireplace with flames flickering merrily in it. Next to the bed was a chest for books and such to be put in, and there was a wardrobe in the corner.

I remember feeling very out of place in such a room. I crept in, careful not to touch anything. I carefully unraveled my little package and laid out my other dress, stockings, and various other articles on the bed. I put on my nightgown which, like everything else I then owned, was too small. After changing I went to the wardrobe to put away my clothes and was shocked by what I found inside. This couldn’t be, could it? Inside was an entire row of dresses, pants, shirts, stockings, and shoes! Folded at the bottom, underwear and nightgowns neatly lined up. I held up one of the nightgowns and discovered it matched my size exactly. I changed into the new nightgown, and climbed into my new bed. Although I was in complete awe, I was dead asleep before my head hit the pillow. I didn’t wake up ‘till the morning.