books

/Tag: books

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 18.

“You’re, like. My best friend.”

Zoe doesn’t scream, although it’s mostly because she has her hands clamped over her mouth. Above them, her eyes are anime-girl wide; almost grotesque and comical. Eli shifts, awkward in the silence that’s dragging on far too long.

“So, um,” he says. “Ta-daa?” He sits up on his haunches as he says it, making a sort of car salesman gesture with his arms. Zoe’s eyes, if anything, go even wider, and a muffled squeak emerges from behind her fingers.

Eli lowers himself back down again. There’s no way he can be smaller than Zoe, short of lying on the ground, but he does his best anyway to make himself non-threatening. “Um. Zee? Say something, please?”

“You can talk!” Still muffled behind Zoe’s hands and woolen bracer things. But it’s a start.

“Um. Yeah?”

“You . . . you’re a dragon!”

“Apparently?”

“Since when?”

Eli shrugs. It’s more in the wings than the shoulders, and he doesn’t miss the way Zoe’s eyes follow the motion.

“A week?” he hazards, in answer to her question. “Since the peryton, really.”

Zoe drops her hands. She’s shifting back and forth, craning to look more at Eli now her shock is being replaced by curiosity. Something inside Eli unclenches in relief. If Zoe had been frightened by him . . .

Read more »

2019-03-22T17:55:49+11:0022nd March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 17.

“There’s something I need to show you.”

The Rosemont High gymnasium pulls double-duty as an auditorium, meaning one end is dominated by a long stage. There are rooms behind it, hidden and disused except during plays and assemblies, and Eli and Zoe hide out in one now.

“I hate crying.”

Zoe is sitting in the corner, hunched over her own bag. Her tears have mostly stopped, but she’s still sniffling. She’s still in her gym clothes, too, unkempt and unarmored.

“How do you feel?” Eli asks. He wants to sit next to Zoe, to wrap his arm around her and pull her close, but isn’t sure if she’ll allow it. So he leans against the far wall, instead, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his hoodie.

“Headache,” Zoe says eventually. “And . . . my mouth tastes gross.” She smacks her lips a few times to demonstrate. “Like I’ve been licking garbage.”

Eli doesn’t bother to ask how she knows what garbage tastes like. He can taste it too. Not strong, but: “It’s the rísók, I think.”

Zoe looks up at him, narrowing eyes red-rimmed from crying. “The what-awk?”

Eli bites his lip. “Um,” he says. “How . . . how much do you remember? About . . .?” He waves a hand, noncommittal.

“I . . . I warded my bag,” Zoe says, looking down at the object in question. “After Morgan. I . . . I didn’t want . . .” She stops, takes a deep, shuddering breath, and starts again: “We were outside. Running, y’know? When I felt, like . . . It was the ward. I can’t explain how I knew, but I knew. You know?”

Eli nods. He does know.

Read more »

2019-03-19T18:17:20+11:0019th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 16.

“Oh, Elias. This is exactly who I am.”

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Eli doesn’t flinch at the voice, doesn’t drop the bag, doesn’t try to hide. Instead, he very calmly turns around. His heart is absolutely racing and a cold sweat has burst out along his brow and shoulders, but he tries not to let either show. Instead, he turns and says:

“What I have to.”

Zoe is standing in the doorway to the locker room. She’s wearing gym shorts and a Evangelion t-shirt so old it’s gone from black to grey. She’s sweaty and breathing heavily, her hair pulled into a messy braid over her shoulder. She looks pissed, but exhausted, too. Worn and faded like her t-shirt.

“Have to what?” she sneers, vicious and angry. “Go through my bag?”

“Yeah,” says Eli. “I’m sorry, Zee, but—”

“Did Morgan put you up to this?” Zoe walks into the room proper. Her strides are heavy and purposeful, and Eli can feel the sick tendrils of magic as they ooze from the rísók and try and lure Zoe forward. “Where is she?” Zoe is saying. “Where’s that skanky little bitch hiding?” Her eyes roll in their sockets, white-ringed and feral.

“Zoe,” Eli says, trying to keep his voice calm, professional. Like the voice Dad used to use on the phone with panicked clients. “Zoe, listen to me. You’re under a spell. Someone’s ensorcelled you.”

Read more »

2019-03-15T17:39:33+11:0015th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 15.

“Ugh! I don’t believe you, Drake!”

“I want you to call,” she says, hands on his shoulders, eyes staring earnestly into his. “Every hour, okay? If you don’t call, I’m going to, to—” Her voice chokes.

“It’s okay, Aunt Addi,” Eli says. “I’ll call.”

“No texting,” Addi adds. “I want to hear your voice.” Eli nods, so she adds: “And I’ve got an appointment for you with Doctor Mallory, tomorrow at 3pm. It’s . . . it’s the earliest I could get. I’m sorry. Do you need me to come home and take you?”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll be fine, Aunt Addi. I promise.”

Addi stares at him a moment longer, searching for some sign of . . . something. Eli isn’t sure. He doesn’t even know if she’s found it or not when, a moment later, she pulls him tight against her. “Oh, sweetheart,” she says. “I’m sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not here. Not in Rosemont.”

“It’s okay,” Eli says, because he isn’t sure how else to respond. “I’ll be okay.”

Eli thinks about whether that’s a lie or not as he listens to Aunt Addi leave for work. His fingers dance idly across his Launchpad, beats and samples of something not-yet-formed falling against each other in a jagged, unharmonious throb.

Mo “Sir Percival” Dhillon is dead. Eli didn’t even know the guy’s full name until he heard it yesterday at the station, yet the guy died because of Eli. Maybe not directly, but . . .

“I could’ve saved him,” Eli tells his laptop. If he hadn’t been so afraid of transforming in front of Arthur.

Read more »

2019-03-12T18:11:55+11:0012th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 14.

“Are you saying I should breathe fire all over Zoe?”

Aunt Addi is gonna be pissed about Eli skipping class, but he figures she can deal. This is an emergency.

It’s an emergency that sees Eli ringing the buzzer of the mansion atop Rosemont Heights, hoping desperately Widow Adeline doesn’t have bridge club or Power Yoga or whatever else it is old women get up to during the day.

He gets buzzed in, which is a good sign, and Adeline greets him at the top of the driveway. She’s wearing knee-length yoga pants and some sort of crop-top/loose-shrug ensemble that really shouldn’t look so good on someone so old.

Widow Adeline, as it turns out, is kinda ripped.

Eli is sweaty and panting from running all the way from the school, but Adeline looks about the same. “By the stars, boy,” she says. “Whatever’s the matter?”

“I think my friend’s been possessed,” Eli blurts, because it’s the nearest explanation he has for the oil-smoke and malevolent presence he’d felt on Zoe.

Widow Adeline regards him for a moment, head tilted. Her hands and feet are taped up and she has sweat stains on her top, and Eli suddenly wonders if he’s interrupted kickboxing practice. Is the old lady at the top of Rosemont Heights secretly some kind of martial arts master as well?

Read more »

2019-03-08T17:46:29+11:008th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 13.

“No knights today, King Arthur?”

The next day is awful.

The first thing Eli sees when he walks into Rosemont High is Yvonne Lacroix. She’s standing there with her two lackeys, Fargo and Brooklyn, and for one, heart-stopping moment all Eli can think is:

Morgan told!

Which is irrational, of course. Even if Morgan had told her mom she’d spent yesterday evening in the forest with a dragon, why would Lacroix think that dragon was Eli, of all people? Unless Lacroix has some kind of magic dragon-sniffing mojo but . . . but surely Widow Adeline would’ve mentioned something like that, right? For being pretty, yanno. Life-or-death and whatever? Eli would totally text her to ask except Widow Adeline is like a thousand years old and still has a phone with a cord and a dial on the front. And not even in an ironic way.

Yvonne Lacroix, as it turns out, does not appear to have magic dragon-sniffing mojo. She does, however, give Eli a very tight smile when she sees him, accompanied by a slight incline of her head.

“Mister Drake,” she says. “My daughter, Morgan, explained our little . . . misunderstanding. I must extend my apologies, for everything that’s been done to you. Rest assured, such injustices will not happen again.”

“Um,” says Eli. “Yeah. Sure. Don’t worry about it.” He edges away from Lacroix and around the corridor before he lets himself slump down hard against a bank of lockers, hand coming up to grasp around the dragon-scale pendant, hidden safely beneath his hoodie. He knows, down in the depths of his flaming nebula dragon-heart, that he absolutely cannot allow Lacroix to see the pendant. Or know where Eli got it from.

Read more »

2019-03-05T17:35:31+11:005th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 12.

“Íl’iàn. That’s such a pretty name.”

Eli keeps expecting someone to haul his ass up over the Bathroom Incident, but no one does. People avoid him in the hallways, though. Where before he was invisible, now he’s feared. It’s not a feeling he’s unused to, exactly, and it’s definitely not a feeling he enjoys. Like hanging out with a whole school filled with the old women in fur coats who won’t sit next to him on the subway.

The rest of the day passes in a sort of flat daze. Eli keeps jumping between buzzing numbness and cold, sharp rage. He isn’t sure who he’s more angry with: Morgan, for ruining everything, or Zoe for sending Eli away. After he’d saved her. After she’d, what? Tried to bewitch him?

He wants to tell himself the magic would never have worked, but Zoe’s own words keep coming back to him: the only way to activate a mundane item is to use something that’s in itself magical. Like the hair of a dragon, for example. Eli keeps running his hand through his curls, trying to find the chunk that’s missing. He thinks maybe there’s a piece low near the back but he can’t be sure; if it was cut, it’s mostly grown back by now. Which means Zoe must haven taken it ages ago, maybe right when Eli first came to the school.

Goddamnit, Zoe.

Addi is out again when Eli gets home which, honestly, he’s fine with. He has a mountain of homework built up that he’d been too busy playing draconic Scooby Doo to work on, so he attacks the pile now with vicious enthusiasm. He puts on dubstep loud enough to shake the walls, and tears through algebra problems like the rotting flesh of a peryton.

Read more »

2019-03-01T16:15:13+11:001st March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 11.

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

Very little happens for the rest of the weekend. Eli goes back to see Widow Adeline on Sunday morning, where he’s promptly made to prune a huge hedge made of roses. It leaves him scratched and bleeding and irritated, although the wounds heal up as soon as he assumes his dragon-shape in Adeline’s grotto. It feels good to be out of his human skin, and the sun is shining for the first time in like forever, so Eli lazes around on the warm rocks while Adeline tries to teach him Xyl’tha, the language of dragons.

Eli never did have much of a way with languages, and the dragons’ in particular is . . . odd. It’s all back-of-the-throat hissing and tongue-clicks. Nothing with the lips, which Eli supposes makes sense, given he doesn’t really have any in this shape.

The writing system is more interesting, in his opinion. It looks a little like the cuneiform he’s seen on little clay tablets in the Met; all carved lines and angles. And it’s sort of like Chinese, in that it’s made of little symbols, not letters. Except the symbols are syllables, not pictures, and are made up of a part that represents a vowel and a consonant. So what looks like a complex language of thousands of characters is actually only made up of a few dozen different lines. It’s pretty cool, and Eli is writing in it in no time: transcribing English as best he can onto a whiteboard with a chunky marker that sits in his claw like one of Zoe’s ridiculously tiny Asian ballpoints.

Read more »

2019-02-26T17:41:54+11:0026th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|