Five hundred years ago, dragons live among humans in peace. Dragons, which had no taste for eating humans, tended to themselves, while the humans took care of each other. However, humans craved the wondrous powers that the dragons contained within themselves. Their powers enabled them to do almost anything—grow to unimaginable heights or incredibly small; change their features to disguise themselves among each other; even giving their powers to humans, which, in turn, took their powers away. When a dragon gave up their powers, they gain one new one: to become human at will, or almost at will. If they give up too little of their power, it is not at will; if they give up too much if not all, then they would be forced to stay as a human, with no way to regain their powers unless given back by the very human that took them.
When humans found out about these power transfers, they grew very greedy and began taking dragons from their homes and demanding that they give up their powers. The dragons refused to give up their powers, which resulted in severe consequences—whippings, enslave-ment. It did not take long for the poor dragons to take too much from the consequences, and they escaped, only to be killed afterwards. The humans grew tired of the dragons' disobedience, and they hunted them, killing off all but one. That one dragon had hidden to protect herself, for it was her mother's wish. However, when humans did find her, instead of killing her, they placed her in a magical box that contained her in a spirit-like form, preventing her from escaping. That box was placed in a palace, for the king of that country had hoped to one day open the box, forcing the last dragon to give him her power. He, along with the rest of the kingdom, died out before he even remembered the box and the dragon.
Five hundred years into the present day, that box and the dragons have long been forgotten. No one thinks of the powers that they had, or the fact that they themselves could have had powers. Instead, they live their normal, modern lives with cars, roads, trains, and even planes.
In the town that stood where the old capital of the country stood half-a-millennia ago, a fourteen-year-old boy lived with his parents and older brother. Caleb was a handsome young man, with fair skin, long, black hair and blue eyes. His clothing style revealed his happy life, with all different shades of blue and green. He loved his life, and was always smiling. However, one day would be the day that changed his life.
Caleb enjoyed his day, when not as school, roaming around town, learning more about the history of what it once was. However, he was never allowed to enter the forest that surrounded his home, for it was said that the old souls of dragons haunted the land they once called home, and they took any person that trespassed as revenge for the humans killing them off. One day, he decided to enter the forest, curious to see what was inside the forbidden area.
His curiosity led him to ancient ruins—the very spot where the palace had sat five hundred years ago. "Wow," he thought aloud. His voice was only slightly high, but it showed signs of deepening. "I'd better check it out…maybe I can find something valuable in here."
Caleb stepped into the old, broken-down palace, finding steep stairs and tall walls. They were covered in what looked like silk that had the color drawn out from them, and the floors were covered in stained marble. Amazing, he thought. Has anyone discovered this yet?
It did not take him long to find a long, spiraling staircase that led downward into a secret basement. He cautiously made his way down, finding it very dark and gloomy. At the end of the staircase was the door that led into the basement. The crevices of the door were glowing bright gold, and, with his curiosity taking the best of him, he opened the door. Inside was nothing except for a platform and an old, black box sitting right on top. The box had a design on it that glowed bright gold, just as the door's crevices did. Caleb approached the box, seeing that it moved vigorously. Maybe something got stuck inside this thing, he thought as he picked the box up; it shook even more at his touch. I can get it out…
As he opened the box, a roar was heard all throughout the ruins. Something very translucent flew out of the box and into Caleb. He jumped and fell backwards, yelling in fright and surprise. He heard a small growl before the translucent object flew out of his body and away from the sight of the ruins. At once, Caleb felt off; whatever the translucent object was had altered his body somehow. He stood up, and swaggered slightly, feeling very sick to his stomach.
What's wrong, he thought, with me? Why am I feeling like this?
All of a sudden, Caleb fell onto his hands and knees feeling pain in his head; another being had appeared inside of him, and it was trying to take over his body. He yelled in agony as the second being began to win and began to alter everything. His body grew to a scary ten feet from his shoulders to his hands, which were enlarging and losing the ability to grip objects properly, becoming clawed paws. His legs began to alter their form, as well, with his knees pushing upward and his heels moving back, forcing him to stand on the balls of his feet. Those feet also changed, becoming hind, clawed paws.
Caleb's neck lengthened to an extra four feet and became very flexible—he could move it to almost 180 degrees each way. His head also lengthened to only about a foot and a half, but it was complimented with teeth that became long, dangerous fangs. Caleb's nose flattened, becoming two oval-shaped slits on the tip of his altered snout. His blue eyes brightened, turning from brilliant blue to ice blue, and his pupils narrowed, becoming slits just like his nostrils.
As jet black scales grew all over his body, two enormous wings erupted from his sides close to his altered shoulder blades, and horns erupted on the top of his head. Spikes grew on his cheeks and what were his elbows and knees, and retractable spikes grew all along the middle of his neck and back, ending at the growing tail at his hindquarters.
Caleb stood there trembling in the exhaustion he had from the gruesome transformation his body had undertook. He breathed quickly, panting; his pants included sounds he had never heard before, sounding a little like growls and grunts at the same time. Caleb tried to speak and say, "W-what happened to me?" however his voice never came; instead came more unusual sounds out of his mouth. He looked at himself, seeing the creature everyone thought was gone: a dragon.
I…I'm a dragon, he thought. But how? How did I become this? He looked around with his newly developed eyes, seeing more than what he could have before. His eyes, however, landed on the black box; it lay on its side, no longer glowing. It was that…that box made me become this…
At once, the being that he felt before began to fight with him again, demanding to take his body. It gave him great pain, and he attempted to yell; a roar was emitted instead. That roar weakened Caleb, and the being took control. His eyes glowed ice blue and he roared again, trying to get out of the secret basement of the ancient, forbidden ruins. The doorway, however, was too small, and in his anger, the being in control thrashed about the room, doing everything except damaging the black box. Caleb fought for control again, eventually gaining it back once the being—the dragon—gave up.
Once Caleb had control, he felt his body shrinking almost immediately. It emitted smoke as he collapsed on the ground, losing the new features he had and becoming human. He lay there for a good minute, giving himself a chance to go over what just happened in his mind. A cold sweat covered his body as he trembled and shivered, and he realized that he lost his shirt and only had his pants, which were torn up. He held up his hands, rather relieved that he had them instead of dragon paws.
"I-I'm me again…" he said, jumping slightly when he noticed that his voice was much different—it deepened drastically, making him sound much older. He breathed heavily in his shock, and he slowly sat up, still feeling quite sick. After sitting for a minute, he could feel his sickly feeling disappear, and he slowly stood, leaning against the walls of the basement. Caleb looked around again before his eyes fell upon the black box again. As much as he wanted to keep the box away from him, he seemed so drawn to it that he slowly approached, keeping himself balanced by holding onto the wall of the basement. He picked it up again, but as he did so, he could feel the dragon inside his mind trying to push it away.
I need to find out how this thing turned me into a dragon, he thought. The dragon grew very angry at his thought, and it tried to fight for control. Caleb gasped in pain but fought right back, winning.
He left the basement and left the ancient palace. The moment he felt fresh air, he felt a little better. Caleb made his way away from the ruins and through the forest, still feeling that dragon in his mind controlling the majority of his thoughts and emotions. This dragon inside me won't go away, even though I'm me, he thought with worry. I have to be careful in case it decides to take over again.
The moment he reached his home, Caleb saw his parents looking all around the forest's edge frantically. His mother, when she saw him, ran to his side in her worry.
"Caleb!" she cried when she reached his side. "What on earth happened to you?"
At once, Caleb felt the dragon trying to gain control, wanting him to stay away from humans. No, no, I'm not leaving them, he fought back. They're my family! "I-I'm fine, Mom…"
"What's wrong with your voice, darling? What happened?"
"N-nothing's wrong…N-nothing h-happened…I…have to go inside…"
He made his way into the house, going upstairs and to the right to get to his small bedroom. The room was covered in blue hues—the walls were blue, the carpet was blue; even his bed sheets and comforters were blue. Caleb sat down, at once feeling a headache from the dragon inside his mind. It did not like the lighter color in his room and wanted to tear it up. If this dragon doesn't stop… he thought as his fifteen-year-old brother left his room right across the hall.
"Hey, there you are little brother," the fifteen-year-old said. "Where've you been?"
The dragon fought again for control; it wanted the fifteen-year-old boy gone. Caleb grasped his head in pain and fell sideways on his bed. "L-leave me alone, Kevin," the fourteen-year-old said.
"What the heck's your problem? Your voice is all deep and everything…"
"I said leave me alone!" For a moment, the dragon took over and made Caleb stand and approach the door, slamming it in Kevin's face.
"Jeez, you're having major problems, Caleb. Try having an attitude adjustment."
Caleb heard Kevin walk downstairs, and he just stood there, trying to quell the dragon's rage. There, he's gone, Caleb said in his thoughts to the beast. He's not going to bother anyone. He locked the door, and at once the dragon calmed down. He turned and sank down at his door, rubbing his face as he breathed heavily. His life had changed forever; however, he did not know how much it would change him later.
Two years past since the terrible incident Caleb had gone through. He had not been able to act like himself at all, for every time he tried to have fun, the dragon inside him would take over, forcing him to become a dragon. Whenever he felt the dragon fighting him, Caleb did whatever he could to protect everyone from harm. He would leave the campus in the middle of class and headed into the forbidden forest, tearing up one spot to make a clearing specifically for him. Every transformation he underwent was painful; he could not help but to yell in pain and agony, which became roars when he lost his ability to speak. For a moment, Caleb would have control, only to lose it moments later to the dragon. He spent the majority of the afternoon as a dragon, unable to revert to his human form until well into the evening.
Caleb worried his parents to no end. They would try to question him about what he does in the afternoon, but he never said a word. Caleb would find the dragon trying to take over again, and he would make an excuse to leave, saying he needed to take a walk. If he had no time to get to his "walk," he would run to his room and lock the door, becoming a much smaller, cat-sized version of the black dragon.
Because of the dragon, Caleb's entire demeanor changed entirely. Instead of being cheerful, he was quiet and fearful of being around others. Because of his transformations, all of his shirts were torn apart, and therefore he had to go buy new ones—all of them were black, for that was what the dragon wanted, not what he wanted.
One day at school, Caleb was walking to class, when someone bumped into him. He looked, seeing a girl looking very scared. As much as he wanted others to be safe, he had to admit that the girl was very pretty; she had golden tanned skin, and long, pale white hair held up in a ponytail. Her eyes were bright blue, just like Caleb's.
The girl jumped in fright, glancing up at him for a moment. "O-oh…I-I…s-sorry," she said, sounding very scared.
"I…it's okay," he said. Seeing how much she trembled, he asked, "A-are you all right?"
"I…fine…I am fine…" Without saying anything else, the girl hurried off.
Caleb watched the girl run off, and the dragon tried to persuade him to follow. I'm not going to follow her, he thought. She wants nothing to do with me…and I'm not going to put her in any danger.
As he walked to class, he heard his classmates speak about the girl. "Have you seen her?"
"Yeah, I have…isn't she strange?"
"She sure is…Who has long white hair?"
"And did you notice how she looks at us? It's as if she's not even human!"
"Yeah…she's just as weird as that Caleb guy."
The dragon grew angry and longed to go after the student that called Caleb weird. However, Caleb managed to quell the beast, saying in thought, he's not worth it; it's best not to deal with him.
When he entered class, Caleb was surprised to see the girl sitting in the desk right next to his assigned seat. She stared at the wood, looking very frightened as before. Again, the dragon longed to get near her, but he held it back. I'm only sitting next to her, nothing else, he thought as he took his seat.
The girl glanced up and jumped when she saw him. "It…it is you…"
He looked at her. "Are you all right?"
She hesitated. "I…I am fine…" They stayed quiet the rest of the time, and once the bell rang, the girl hurried out of class, just as she did when they first met.
The rest of the school day, Caleb constantly bumped into the mysterious girl, whether in class or in the hall. He wondered why he kept on running into her, but, more importantly, why she was there and why she was so timid. When the final bell rang, Caleb began to make his way to the exit, when he saw a group of students surrounding someone. Growing curious, he made his way to the group, only to find out that the group of students was surrounding the new girl. She trembled in fear as many of the students made horrible comments about her hair and her disposition.
"What's with the white hair? What are you, a hundred years old?" said one.
"You're so quiet, and you're so scared of everything…how stupid," said another.
The dragon grew angry at the group. At once, Caleb said, "Leave her alone."
The group, just now noticing Caleb, jumped and backed away. One, though, found another target to pick on and grinned slyly. "The quiet girl has a boyfriend…and he's just as strange as she is!"
The dragon grew even angrier, and took over slightly. Caleb grabbed the boy and pushed him into the nearest wall. "I said leave her alone," he said, glaring harshly at him. A growl even slipped through his lips.
Realizing that the dragon had taken over, Caleb removed the glare from his face and let the boy go, staying where he was in shock and fear. I didn't control myself, he thought as the boy, along with everyone else, ran off in fear. I didn't stop the dragon…
The girl slowly approached him, surprised by how he went out of his way to protect her. "I…t-thank you…" she said. Caleb did not move, still thinking of how he lost control to the dragon, the beast that ruined his life. She noticed how terrified he looked, and she said, "What is wrong?"
He looked at her, seeing that now she was concerned for him, and he said, "Oh…I… I'm…fine…" He paused for a moment, before asking, "A-are…are you all right?"
"I am fine…thank you again." They looked at each other before she looked away. "I…I am sorry for getting you involved."
Noticing the way she spoke, he asked, "Why don't you combine words like everyone else?"
She hesitated. "I…do not know how…"
They stayed silent for a moment, and in that moment, Caleb felt the dragon trying to gain control again. He looked away, fighting hard to stop the dragon. "S-sorry, I…" When he won the fight, Caleb turned to look at the girl, only to find her gone. Where did she go?
Deciding not to fully worry about her, Caleb left the school and made his way home. He avoided his parents and Kevin, staying inside his room until dinner was called. All he could think of besides his curse was the girl. Despite everything that's different, she's not all that bad, he thought. I didn't even ask for her name…
All of a sudden, someone knocked on his door, followed by his father saying, "Caleb, are you in there? Dinner's ready." Caleb hesitated before standing, leaving his room to go down for dinner.
The family ate in silence. Caleb stayed dead silent and mindlessly moved a couple of peas on his plate—he had not eaten any vegetables since he gained his curse.
At last, his mother spoke up and said, "Caleb, sweetheart, is everything all right?"
He looked up, surprised that she spoke. "O-oh…y-yeah, I'm fine," he replied.
"What's on your mind, darling? You know you can tell us anything."
"I know what's on his mind," Kevin said teasingly. "Caleb's got a girlfriend at school no one knows about."
At once, Caleb glared at him. "She's not my girlfriend; she's just new and scared, and everyone's making fun of her." He looked away. "I don't even know her name…"
Thinking of the girl caused the dragon inside Caleb's mind to grow restless, and at once he got painful headaches. He dropped his fork and grabbed his head, gasping in pain. Almost immediately following, his mother stood quickly and hurried to his side. "Caleb…sweetheart, what's wrong?"
He did not reply right away, trying to fend off the dragon a little bit so that he could hurry to the forest in time. "I…I'm…fine…J-just a headache," he finally replied. "I…I just need to go on…on a walk…"
Caleb stood and made his way to the door, ready to set out to his normal safe spot. However, his father stopped him, grabbing a hold of his arm. "Caleb, listen to me. You're acting very odd. Every time you go for a walk, you're gone for hours. Whenever you're gone, something happens each time. If something's wrong, you can tell me and your mother. Please, son, tell us what's going on."
Caleb hesitated, knowing that telling his father that he became a dragon without any free will would cause major problems. "Nothing's wrong, Dad, I swear I'm fine. Nothing's going on; I promise." After quickly moving his arm from his father's grip, Caleb hurried out of the house, feeling his headache growing worse.
The sixteen-year-old ran into the forest, his headache growing worse every second. The dragon became angrier the longer it waited. Just a little bit longer, wait a little longer, he begged in his mind. Please…not with town so close by…
Caleb reached his safe spot just as the sun sat by the horizon. It was a clearing torn up by him from every single gruesome transformation that went underway there. Trees and branches were all out of line, and the ground itself was very uneven. Along one side of the clearing, though was a spring filled with water.
The boy took his shirt off, wanting to save it from the terrible event that had destroyed the others. He stood there by himself with nothing except his terrible headache, which grew tremendously until he could not hold the dragon back any longer. At once, he fell to his knees, yelling in pain as his body grew to a terrifying height of ten feet from the shoulder. His hands and feet became clawed paws while his neck grew to four feet long. As his black scales grew on his body, Caleb could feel the dragon gaining control of his body. "N-no…not yet!" he cried, for he still had his voice for only a minute longer. That only angered the dragon, and caused him more pain. As his voice left, his yells of pain became roars, and, knowing that it would cause a huge commotion, he stopped and continued in silence. No more…please, no more… he thought as his wings and tail erupted from his body at once, ending his transformation.
As he did so many times before, Caleb stood where he was, in control for only a moment. He breathed heavily, with small growls coming from his nostrils. Hearing something move brush nearby, he looked quickly, wondering if that something was a person who had seen him trans-form. Please…let it be nothing, he thought with worry. I can't harm anything else…please…
The thought of having another presence around him made the dragon even angrier. At once, it moved in control, easily pushing Caleb's mind out. The dragon forced him to roar loudly, demanding that that presence show itself at once. When nothing appeared, the dragon decided to leave, ignoring Caleb's request to stay in the clearing.
All of a sudden, something gold flew out of the same spot that Caleb noticed the moving brush, pushing him to the ground on his back. Getting the chance, he gained a little bit of control to look at what it was.
It was a gold dragon, one of the most beautiful creatures Caleb had ever seen. The slender beast had the finest scales that blended so perfectly together that it looked as if it had no scales at all. Its legs were long but powerful, and its wings and tail had feathers. The dragon's eyes were a brilliant blue, and the spines, horns and claws were pale white.
Someone else has the curse, he thought. But how is that possible? I kept that box in my closet this entire time… However, he had no time to ponder about the dragon, for his dragon inside grew even angrier. It gained control again and growled at the gold dragon, struggling to get free. The gold dragon held him down firmly, snapped its jaws together and gave a louder, sharper growl before baring its teeth threateningly. After a moment, the dragon inside Caleb stopped and gave in, giving him full control of his body.
Realizing he had full control, Caleb shook his head, and looked at the gold dragon, watching it slowly rise from pinning him down. It moved away and watched him turn over onto his side. His body began to emit smoke and it shrank, becoming a human body. When the transformation ended, once again, Caleb was dripping in a cold sweat, and he was slightly short of breath. He lay there for a long minute, before thinking of the gold dragon and turning around quickly. The dragon was gone.
"W-where…where did it go?" he wondered aloud as he slowly stood finding himself with broken pants. Not worrying about them, he made his way to the spring and slipped in, wanting to calm himself down before returning home.
That was the shortest time I've ever been a dragon, besides the first time, he thought. That dragon that kept me down…did it know that I wasn't in control?
The next morning, Caleb entered school still thinking of the gold dragon. I've never known any other dragon, he thought as he moved toward a group of kids. I've looked them up and they all died out five hundred years ago…
His thoughts trailed off when he noticed that the group of students was surrounding the same new girl as before. She looked very terrified, and she looked away with closed eyes as someone said, "Ugh, she doesn't speak right…who doesn't combine their words?"
At once, the dragon inside of Caleb urged him to go protect the girl. He made his way to the crowd, getting them all to move away. The girl looked at him but did not move as he stood over her, whispering as he fought the dragon in his mind, "G-go…go to class…"
She obeyed, hesitantly leaving the crowd of students to go to her first class. Caleb stayed near out of the dragon's urging just to keep it satisfied. "I…thank you again," she said.
"Why do you let those students make fun of you?"
"I…I was told to let them…I cannot disobey…" she trailed off, looking very scared.
As she looked down at the ground, Caleb looked at her, noticing a bruise on her cheek. "What happened? Who did that to you?"
She looked at him, feeling her cheek. "O-oh…m-my…my f-father did it…I…I disobeyed him…"
At once, the dragon inside of Caleb grew angry; how could a father harm his daughter? However, he fought it back, not wanting to make a huge deal out of something that was none of his business. "I…never asked you yesterday…what's your name? I'm Caleb."
The girl looked at him before looking away. "I…I am…Jewel…"
"Jewel?" Caleb wanted to smile; he wanted to show her that he loved her name. He feared, however, that his smile would trigger more anger from his dragon. "That's…that's a beautiful name. If you ever need anything, Jewel, I'll help you."
They were silent as they entered their classroom. After a moment, Jewel looked at him and asked, "Can…you teach me how to combine words? I have a lot of problems with…with others…"
"Sure, I'll help. Why don't we start after school in the library?" She nodded.
At the end of the day, Caleb took Jewel to the library, asking for a study room so that he could teach her privately.
Caleb picked up a pencil, and began to write. "Okay, so…combining words isn't all that hard…you just have to think a little…Soon, you'll be so used to it that you won't even think about it and combine words like everyone else." He wrote down all of the combined words that he could think of, followed by the words by themselves. "This will be a study guide…in a way…these are all of the words I can think of, but I'm sure there's more."
"Okay…" Jewel looked at him. "Thank you again, Caleb."
Caleb tried to smile; he wanted to show her that he did not mind helping her. However, the dragon inside him thought otherwise, giving him pain. He looked away quickly, fighting the dragon. "N-no…no problem," he said.
Jewel moved a little closer toward him in concern. "What is wrong?"
"N-nothing…it's nothing." Feeling the dragon trying to take over his body, he knew that he had to leave. "I…have to go…I'm sorry, Jewel…"
Caleb ran out of the library, hurrying to the forest. The dragon grew angry as it waited. Not again…please…wait until we get to the clearing, the boy begged in his mind. However, the dragon grew too impatient, and before Caleb was even feet from his clearing, it took control. At once, Caleb fell to the ground, yelling in pain as the transformation went underway. Once he was a dragon and had some control, Caleb moved quickly into the clearing, wanting to stay in there to protect everyone. The moment he entered, however, the dragon inside him tried to gain control. No…not again! I'm staying in control, he said in thought, fighting back. That only made the dragon angrier and fought harder.
All of a sudden, he heard a growl, and he looked, seeing the gold dragon standing right outside the clearing. It stared him down, growling sharply, and the dragon inside Caleb quickly retreaded, giving Caleb full control. He backed away from the gold dragon, unsure whether it knew that he was not supposed to be a dragon. After a couple of steps, the gold dragon stopped growling, getting him to stop. Instead, it approached him slowly and calmly, and he stood still. When the gold dragon reached his side, its horns disappeared into its body, and it gently rubbed its head against his. It knows that I'm in control…It knows that I'm not supposed to be like this, he thought in relief. But who is this dragon?
Then, they heard gunshots go off, followed by loud whip cracks and a very angry man yelling out, "Where are you, Dragon?!" The gold dragon backed away very quickly, getting Caleb to follow. But then, he shrank and became human, collapsing. Another gunshot was heard, and the gold dragon grabbed him, taking off into the forest with the boy on its back. Caleb held on tightly as it moved with ease, going into a ditch covered by a boulder. The dragon shrank tremendously, becoming as long as Caleb was tall. Once inside, it covered Caleb's body, hiding in the dark as footsteps came into hearing distance. The dragon looked away from the viewpoint, closing its eyes to hide the glow. Caleb saw legs standing right in front of the ditch and he stayed very quiet until the legs left and the footsteps were no more. The gold dragon moved away from Caleb once it was safe. They looked at each other for a moment, before it began to leave.
"W-wait!" Caleb said, getting it to stop. It looked at him before he said, "I…t-thank you…for helping me." He reached out, wondering if he could touch the dragon; however, it left immediately.
A couple of days past, and Caleb noticed that Jewel did not come to school. He grew very concerned, wondering if her father had anything to do with her disappearance. All over school, students were asking where the strange girl went off to. Many joked, saying that she decided to leave forever. Others asked Caleb, for they figured that he knew.
On a Saturday, Caleb made a round-about around town, trying to figure out what happened to Jewel. Maybe she did leave, he thought. She was being ridiculed so much here, that…
All of a sudden, he saw a man run out of an alley, followed by the sound of a girl weeping. Immediately, Caleb hurried into the alley, finding Jewel in tears.
"J-Jewel…?" He approached her, seeing many bruises on her. "W-what happened?"
The girl looked up at him, and at once more tears trickled down her face. "M-my…f-father did this…I…r-ran away, and…h-he punished me…"
Caleb knelt beside her and she leaned into him, weeping terribly. Cautiously, he gently wrapped his arms around her, only to find that her shirt was wet with blood. He jumped immediately. "Your back…"
Jewel tried to look. "I…"
At once, Caleb was very angry; her father not only beat her, but whipped her as well. That thought also caused the dragon inside him to get very angry and long to go after the man. However, he did whatever he could to calm it down. We don't know the man…and it would be very awkward to suddenly go to him and tell him what to do with his daughter. "C'mon, Jewel…you need to see a doctor."
"N-no!" Jewel cried out. Caleb looked at her, causing her to jump. "I-I mean…n-no…it…it will heal…"
"How?" he asked.
"I…I've…this has happened to me before…it will heal…" She stood, looking very weak. "I…will be fine."
Caleb stood as she attempted to walk on her own. She fell over, but he caught her. "You need help, Jewel. Where do you go when your father's hurting you?"
She stayed silent. "I…can make it on my own."
"You can barely stand, let alone walk. C'mon, I'll take you…"
"You don't need to take me…I am…" Jewel stayed quiet, before she moved away from Caleb, running off.
By Monday, Jewel was back in class, completely healed. Caleb found it very odd to see that she was no longer injured, nor was she weak like she was beforehand. However, he made an effort to make sure that she was safe; he would stay with her and take her home, though she insisted on going home herself. In the afternoons, he would take her to the library to teach her to speak with combined words, and she learned very quickly.
After a few weeks, Caleb decided to do one thing he had never done with any other girl. He approached her one morning and said, "Hey, Jewel…I…was wondering if…maybe you'd like to go out with me…"
"Go…go out?" she replied. "I…don't understand."
"I want to take you to a place to eat. Would you like to…?"
Jewel stayed quiet for a moment. "All right…sure…I'd like to go out with you."
That evening, Caleb went to pick up Jewel, only to find her standing halfway to her house waiting for him. Deciding not to worry, he approached her and took her to a nearby restaurant, where they stayed very quiet.
When their food arrived, Caleb asked her, "Jewel, I'm just curious…Where are you from? I don't know of any place where people don't combine words when they speak."
Jewel stayed quiet for a long moment. "I…can't tell you…" Although he wanted to press on, he could see how uncomfortable she was getting, so he stopped. Feeling unsure about how he made himself look, he stayed quiet the rest of the time.
After paying the bill, Caleb took Jewel out for a walk around town. The entire time, how-ever, he fought the dragon inside him, who was urging him to take Jewel away from the humans that ridiculed her. They stopped after a moment, looking into the edge of the forest. The urge to hide Jewel grew stronger, but Caleb continued to fight the dragon off.
"Thank you, Caleb, for being so kind to me," Jewel said. "If there's ever anything that you need help with, I will help."
Caleb looked at her, forgetting about the dragon inside him for one moment, and smiled. "That's very generous, but you don't need to…"
All of a sudden, the dragon inside him took the advantage of Caleb's distraction. Angered that he had smiled instead of taking Jewel away, it fought to gain control. In pain, Caleb fell to his knees and grabbed his sides, gasping and groaning. Concerned, Jewel knelt beside him. "What's wrong, Caleb?"
He looked at her and at once panicked. His eyes widened in fear and he stood, still holding onto his sides in pain. "N-no…" he said as he backed away, getting closer to the forest. "J-Jewel…d-don't follow me…please…Stay here…" Caleb ran into the forest, fighting the dragon inside him and holding off the horrible transformation he had to endure.
The sixteen-year-old boy reached the rugged clearing as the dragon grew too impatient. He fell to his knees again, yelling in pain. As he began to grow, he heard, "Caleb!" and he looked, seeing Jewel hurrying towards him.
"J-Jewel…n-no…Jewel!" Caleb yelled in pain again as his body transformed. He looked away as the pain grew too intense. Yelling in pain again, it grew into a roar, causing Jewel to jump. Caleb watched her out of the corner of his eye, and he held back the rest of his cries of pain.
As the transformation ended, Caleb lay where he was, fighting the dragon in his mind. Keeping his eyes closed, he thought, Don't take over…Don't take over with Jewel here…
Jewel watched him lay there in agony. "Caleb…" He looked at her and jumped, backing away in fear of what she thought of him. She approached him, touching his front paw. "It's okay, Caleb." Caleb watched her lean against him, tears trickling down her face. She's not running, he thought. She's…staying beside me…but why? Hesitantly, he lowered his head, sitting it beside her. How is it that she's not afraid of me?
But then, Caleb felt the dragon inside him pushing to gain control. He jumped and fought in his mind, fearing of hurting Jewel. No…no I can't let you have control! Jewel will get hurt! "Jewel, run!" he cried, forgetting that no one could hear him. He roared, instead, and with the little control he had, he backed away from Jewel to protect her. Please…no…don't hurt Jewel…or anyone else…don't take over…
As the dragon took over, Caleb looked in the direction Jewel was in, only to see that she was gone. In her place stood the gold dragon, and it stared him down. The dragon in control of Caleb, thinking that the gold dragon took Jewel, growled, roared, and demanded for Jewel to return. The gold dragon growled back, before the dragon controlling Caleb moved to attack. He missed, and the gold dragon pinned him down. However, he pushed it aside and got up, attacking again. This time, he scratched the dragon on the upper part of its left front leg. The gold dragon staggered for a moment before moving swiftly, pinning Caleb down again. It growled sharply, baring its pearl-white teeth at him.
Caleb gained control after he was growled at. He shook his head and he looked around before seeing the gold dragon move away from him. Watching it limp away, he did not notice that he was becoming human, and he just stared at the creature as it looked at him. Once he realized that he was no longer a dragon, he jumped and stuttered, "F-forgive me…please…I n-never meant to hurt you, I swear…"
He backed away, looking down in fear that his other friend was furious with him. Instead, the dragon approached him and leaned its head on him, letting him know that all was forgiven. He stood slowly, only to fall over without any balance, and he looked at the ground. The moment his eyes stared at the ground, he heard, "Caleb, are you all right?" and he looked, seeing Jewel.
"J-Jewel…?" He slowly backed away from her, fearing her feelings for him. "Y-you came back…?"
She approached him, taking a hold of his hand. "Of course I'm back." Jewel helped him up, continuing with, "We are still friends… no matter what."
"I…d-didn't hurt you…did I?"
He looked around when he realized one giant being was gone. "W-where did it go…?"
"Where did what go?"
"T-the gold dragon…"
Jewel shifted uneasily. "D-dragon…?"
"Y-yeah…y-you…didn't s-see it?"
Jewel hesitated. "No…I…I didn't see it…"
Caleb looked at her, seeing how uneasy he had made her. He also noticed, however, that her left arm had blood trickling down it. "J-Jewel…your arm…"
She looked as her arm began to swell. "Oh…I…"
He stood on his own and gently rolled up her shirt sleeve, seeing a scratch that was not there before. "I did hurt you…Jewel…I'm so sorry…"
Jewel shook her head. "I'm fine, Caleb…"
He was too upset, however, that he had harmed his only friend. He looked away from Jewel, feeling tremendous guilt falling onto his shoulders. "My life's been ruined…everything changed for me because of this dragon inside of me. I can't be me anymore…I harm things that I don't want to harm…I lose control when I shouldn't…"
"It's not your fault, Caleb. We are still friends and nothing can change that."
Caleb was thoroughly shocked to see that Jewel was accepting the fact that he became a monster, and that, despite that he had harmed her, she was committed to being his friend. Despite everything I've done, she's still choosing to be my friend, he thought. "I…" he tried to say. "Thank you, Jewel…"
She gave him a gentle smile. "You are welcome."
Caleb walked her home, though she insisted on walking the last third of the way by herself. She left before she could allow her father to meet him, which to Caleb seemed extremely odd. He went with it, however, too content to see that he still had a friend. Once he knew that Jewel was safe, instead of heading home, he returned to his torn-up clearing, wanting to think to himself.
All he could think of at that point was of his curse and how he had harmed Jewel. I thought I was going to lose her, he thought. I can't think of how I would feel if I did lose her. What…what if she didn't mean that she forgave me? For once, the dragon inside his head did not bother him. Caleb thought of the dragon inside him, now having more questions about it; he realized that the dragon had a different demeanor since meeting the gold dragon. There's so much I don't know anymore… He directed his thoughts to the dragon, thinking, please; can you give me any answers? What is going on?
To his surprise, the dragon eased its way into his subconscious, not as harsh as it had done beforehand. He heard, "My wish has been to be free for many centuries; I was stuck inside that black box you found, and when you had opened it, I found my freedom. However, from the two years that I have been inside you, I have felt more trapped than ever. That is why I try to take control. That girl is different from others, and she must be protected."
Jewel… the moment he thought of Jewel, he thought of how she was so forgiving. Why have you tried to harm other people, like my family?
"I am distrusting of humans; I was stuck in a box because of that wretched king. I have seen, however, that your family is very caring of you." There was a pause.
Why did you get angry whenever I smiled?
"I do not understand your smiling; I never liked it."
Caleb spoke with the dragon inside him throughout the rest of the night. Once the morning came, he found new respect for his dragon, and the dragon promised that, unless specific circumstances arose, it would not force him to become a dragon. He had rather enjoyed the conversation, and with it he found out more intriguing information about dragons in general, which made him think of the gold dragon. That dragon appears only when I become a dragon…but why does it help me?
As if someone heard his thought, a loud roar echoed in the forest, and Caleb looked around. The gold dragon appeared flying at an awkward angle, breaking several trees as it landed hard on its side. Hearing its wing crack, it growled in pain, which in turned gave Caleb a motive to run to its aide. It looked at him and moved uneasily, but collapsed as it tried to stand.
"It's okay," he said quickly. "I won't hurt you; I promise." That was when he noticed hundreds of marks on the dragon's body. What on earth happened to the dragon? All of a sudden, the dragon's body began to emit smoke, and it shrank, becoming a girl with golden tanned skin, bright blue eyes and pale white hair—it was Jewel. "J-Jewel…?"
She glanced at him, and at once her eyes widened. "C-Caleb…"
As she tried to move, he quickly grabbed her, knowing that she was in no condition to walk on her own. So Jewel's the one that's been helping me, he thought. Why didn't she ever tell me? Was it because she was afraid of being rejected like I was afraid of her rejecting me? I'd never reject her. Thinking of keeping her safe, he held her piggy-back style and ran into the forest, deciding to take her home and get her taken care of. "You won't need to hide anymore, Jewel," he said, "not from me."
"I-I…" Jewel gasped suddenly, and Caleb felt her grow heavy. He let her down as she became a dragon, as small as a Great Dane but still very weak. She tried to stand, but collapsed again, getting Caleb to act quickly and help her up. He looked around, knowing that his house would not be a wise choice until he saw the ditch hidden by a boulder. Perfect, he thought.
Caleb took Jewel to the hidden ditch, having her hide near it while he gathered wood to make a fire and keep Jewel warm. Once everything was set and the fire was lit, he sat beside her while she was still a dragon to keep her company. "I won't shun you, Jewel," he said. "Especially since you're like me…" Jewel looked at him, and when Caleb turned to her, she leaned her head against him. He heard her moan, which he knew was a dragon's way to weep, and in return, he tried to lean against her.
He felt Jewel transform back to herself; but she still leaned into him and he heard her cry, saying, "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…P-please forgive me…!"
"Sorry…?" Caleb did not understand; there was no reason for her to be sorry. He hugged her and said, "Of course I forgive you."
It took a good hour for Jewel to calm down. Once she was set, Caleb had her hide inside the ditch while he quickly headed to his empty house, got food, and returned to feed Jewel. After making sure that no one was around, he had her come out, and he cooked the food in the fire.
Caleb gave Jewel some food, while he took a little bit to eat. After a moment, he looked to see that she had not touched her food. "You're not eating?"
She did not respond right away. "I don't deserve this…" she finally said.
"What? Of course you deserve it; you must be starving."
"No…I do not deserve your kindness."
Caleb shifted in his sitting position so he could look at her better. "Jewel…you need this kindness; your father beats you, you get harassed by everyone at school. No one's shown you kindness at all."
"I should have told you…you should've known."
"I didn't exactly tell you either." Jewel turned away, and Caleb stopped. He thought for a moment, and he said, "Actually, I should really be thanking you."
She looked at him. "Thanking me?"
He nodded. "If it weren't for you, I could've gone and destroyed town, or I could've hurt so many people. I would have never gotten in control if you hadn't saved me so many times." After a moment, Jewel finally took a small loaf of bread and began to eat, and Caleb smiled. "Just curious…how long have you had this curse?"
Jewel hesitated. "I…about two years…"
"Really? What happened?"
She looked away. "I…don't want to talk about it."
Understanding, he dropped the subject. "Well…I think you need to hide from your dad from now on."
"What? No, I can't! If I do not go home…he…will find me…"
"He won't find you if I hide you. You can stay with me."
"Caleb, you don't have to…"
"I want to…in return for helping me, I'll help you."
She looked at him for the longest moment, before leaning into him. "T-thank you, Caleb…"
Seeing the late morning sun peeking through the trees, Caleb left to find supplies for Jewel so that at least she would stay comfortable. When he returned, however, Jewel was gone. A note was by the boulder that read, I thank you, Caleb, but I will not let you put yourself into harm's way for me.
Jewel doesn't want me to get hurt, he thought as he took the note. But she doesn't get it that I'd want to get hurt…if it meant that she was safe… He looked around for any signs of where she could have gone; when he found none, he left and headed home, feeling rather upset that he could not protect Jewel.
For several weeks, Caleb made his way to school and Jewel did not appear anywhere. As like the last time she disappeared, many students questioned him as to why she was gone, and as like before he had no answer. All he could do however was to worry to no end for her and hoped that she would walk into the school just as she did before, completely unscathed.
One early afternoon when Caleb returned home from school, he was surprised to have his father say, "Caleb, there's someone on the phone for you."
He took the phone and held it up to his ear. "Hello?"
"I have your friend," the voice on the other line said, "the dragon."
"You heard me. You're going to do exactly what I say and I can return her to you unharmed. Disobey me and say good-bye to her."
This person has Jewel… Caleb thought. Inside him, not only was the dragon furious, but he was too. "What do you want me to do?"
"Come to the abandoned warehouse…and bring that black box that you have."
"How do you know…?"
"I know more than you think I know. Now do what I tell you and you'll have your dragon back."
The line was disconnected and Caleb could only stand there in shock. I've got to save her, he thought. After putting the phone back on the receiver, he ran upstairs to his room and dug through his closet, finding the empty, no-glow black box that he kept since the day he received the curse. If this saves her, then I'll give that guy whatever he wants. He ran down the stairs and out the door, making his way to the abandoned warehouse in the middle of town. The entire time, he thought of nothing and no one except for Jewel. I can't let anything happen to her; she's done so much for me…
As he reached the warehouse, he cautiously entered, finding nothing but boxes and more boxes. Boxes were stacked upon more boxes and they all formed a mini box city. As he looked up at the towers of cardboard, he heard a dragon's roar and he looked around, recognizing the roar as Jewel's. Caleb maneuvered his way around the warehouse before stumbling across a ginormous steel cage with the gold dragon inside, fighting to get out. Caleb immediately dropped the box and ran to the cage. "Jewel!" he said.
Jewel looked at him and approached his side of the cage, becoming human. "Caleb, you shouldn't have come," she said.
"I wasn't going to leave you here. Are you hurt?"
"No I'm fine, but Caleb, it is a trap…"
"Yes, it's a trap," said a voice. Caleb turned to see a man grinning a horrible grin on his face.
Immediately, the boy glared at him. "What've you done to Jewel?!"
"I haven't done anything…not yet, at least. Now that you're here, you can learn everything."
They heard a loud roar, and Caleb turned to see Jewel as a dragon glaring at the man. She growled, baring her snow-white teeth. The man glared back at her and said, "Now you behave." She only growled some more, before the man took out from behind his back the black box. She immediately stopped growling. "You wanna go back in here?" Caleb glanced, seeing the box as out of the corner of his eye, his friend backed away, looking quite scared.
"Wait…why are you threatening her with that box? Why did you even make me bring it here?"
"You don't even know?" The man looked at Jewel and a sly grin appeared. "After all this time, you haven't told him?"
"Told me what?"
"Have you ever wondered why you become a dragon?"
"How do you know…?"
"You had this box…this box contained a very important being, the being that is the cause to your 'curse'." The man moved toward Caleb and at once he moved away. He took out a key and unlocked the cage, opening its door. Jewel moved out swiftly and made her way towards Caleb.
He looked at her as she became human and once he could, he hugged her. "Thank goodness you're all right," he said. She said nothing, and he looked at her again. All he saw was guilt and remorse. "Jewel?"
"Caleb…I'm the reason why you become a dragon," she said sadly.
She hesitated. "Five hundred years ago, the king, the last king of the kingdom that this town was built over, took me, trapped me in that black box, because he wanted power…power only a dragon could give him. I refused to give him my powers, and my punishment was to be in the box. I was forgotten all this time…until you found the box and opened it. I flew out, thinking that I was free, but…but I had accidentally given my power to you. I didn't know what had happened until I was in the forest, and I became human. This man—" she pointed to the man standing there, "found me and knew what I was. He demanded to give him the rest of my power, but I again refused. So he kept me hostage until just recently. He forced me to go to school; he forced me to take the bullying that you protected me from. I…didn't know what happened to the other half of my power until I met you and saw you become a dragon that first evening. I felt so horrible that you had to go through a gruesome transformation and that you lost control that I wanted to help you…to make up for what I'd done. But…I never thought that I would find such a close friend in you…" Caleb only stood there, absorbing all of the words that she said to him. He saw tears form and begin to trickle down her face. "Caleb…Caleb I'm sorry…"
"Why…didn't you ever tell me?" he asked, still shocked. "You could've gotten all your power back…you…could've escaped when you had the chance…why?"
"I…was afraid of losing my friend…and I was afraid of losing my feelings for you… Dragons can't show feelings…we feel every emotion…except for two. There is no love or friendship…and I didn't want to lose my friendship…or my love…for you."
Her…love… he thought. She…loves me…
"Why, this is all touching," the man said suddenly. "But I didn't bring you here for just story time. I want one thing and one thing only: I want the dragon's power. And I'm going to get it one way or another." He looked at Caleb. "You're going to give me the power. You have the strongest amount."
"Strongest amount?" asked Caleb.
"I gave you more than half of my power," Jewel explained disheartened. "That's why you become a dragon unwillingly. Caleb, I'm so sorry."
Caleb looked at her, seeing how sorry she really was. I don't blame her, he thought. If I hadn't gotten curious and opened the box, then I wouldn't be able to become a dragon…
"Give me the power, boy, or else your dragon friend will go right back into the box."
Caleb moved away, taking Jewel with him. Seeing this, Jewel looked at him, before saying, "You don't want his power…his part can't be controlled. Mine is easier."
He looked at her. "Jewel, don't…"
The man grinned. "You're quite right on that…So…you'll finally give in and give me the power?"
"Y-yes…only if Caleb is left alone." She looked at Caleb. "I'm sorry Caleb…I…hope that this will repay these last two years that you've had to deal with everything I have done."
She moved away from him, becoming a dragon. "Jewel, no!" he said but he could not stop her. Her entire body became translucent and she flew into the man that threatened them. Caleb could only watch as the man slowly straightened his back and yelled in what seemed to be both pain and delight. Within seconds, Jewel flew out of the man's body as a dragon, only to immediately become human and fall to the ground. "Jewel!" He ran to her side, fearing that she had killed herself.
She looked at him as tears trickled down her face. "C-Caleb…f-forgive me…"
Jewel slowly and weakly tried to stand and Caleb helped her. However, he heard the man laugh in his delight of his newfound power. "I can feel it…" he said obsessively. "The dragon's power…it's all in me…and it's all mine!" At once, the man's body began to grow. Dark green, almost black scales began to appear on his body as his body lengthened, getting him to fall onto his hands. His arm muscles grew to three times their size and strength and the heels of his feet shot upward, destroying his shoes as his toes became long, sharp red claws. The man's neck grew about three feet and it, too, thickened with muscles beyond the strength of the normal human neck, and his face reshaped to a more lizard like status, with his nose flattening as just slits, and his eyes looking more like almonds, with slits for pupils. The irises changed from a dark brown to a bright red and they glowed just as how Caleb's eyes did when he was a dragon. Long horns protruded from the top of the man's head and spikes grew from his cheeks and a plate-like shield formed on the bridge of his nose. Spikes grew also along his back, becoming the spine that could and would stab any person that tried to ride this monster's back, and they continued along until it reached the end of his long tail, with one spike growing right from it. Two giant, bat-like wings grew from his side and they expanded to more than ten feet each, causing many box towers to fall.
"T-this isn't what you look like, Jewel," Caleb said.
Jewel looked. "Y-you can l-look like anything…a-a dragon c-can change it's a-appearance to anything, s-so long as it is s-still a dragon."
The man turned to look at them and a long, forked tongue protruded from his reptilian mouth. A white, toothy grin appeared and he let out a loud roar that echoed in the warehouse. Caleb held Jewel close as the rest of the boxes fell on top of each other, and he moved her away quickly from the man-turned-dragon. The man growled, but to Caleb it sounded a lot like a laugh that was so sinister, it made his skin crawl. That was when he noticed that this person, the one who took Jewel and held her hostage, was now eying the girl as she stumbled, struggling to stand on her own. Jewel, the boy thought. She's really weak from giving up all her power. He's going to make sure that he keeps his power by killing her.
"C-Caleb…g-get yourself o-out," she said as she tried to move away from him. She fell, however.
He immediately fell to her side and helped her back up. "I'm not going to let you get hurt."
As the captor began to make his way toward them, Caleb took Jewel and held her close beside him, backing away as he did so. He wanted nothing more than to protect her, no matter what it took. He felt the dragon inside him get edgy, wanting Caleb to transfigure to protect the one he loved. And he knew that it was the only way he could get Jewel out of the warehouse without her getting hurt. In his thoughts, he told the dragon inside him, do whatever it takes to protect Jewel…just let me intervene when necessary.
"I will," he heard it say and at once he felt his own body grow, but without the pain that he was expecting. He turned around and as he grew longer, he crouched lower to keep Jewel on the ground. Unlike their captor's transformation, as Caleb's black scales appeared on his body, his wings immediately appeared afterward and they opened and encased the two just as he sensed the green dragon raising his claw to swipe at him to knock him off his feet and cause him to let Jewel go. The transformation then quickened, as if time slowed down and once he was a full dragon, Caleb felt the dragon inside him take control of his body, and he used his tail, which transformed itself into a whip. It wrapped around the raised claw and pulled their attacker down, getting him off balance.
"C-Caleb…" Jewel said suddenly, and he looked, seeing her watch him in shock.
She doesn't get it that no matter what happened two years ago, I'm still in love with her now, he thought. He heard the man get up and growl, and he only glanced before he took Jewel in his front claws, making them transform to work like hands, and he took off. He glanced again at the green dragon, watching him roar and move to follow. I can't let him follow me…
He picked up speed as he flew in a circle in the warehouse, wanting enough momentum before he used his tail to make boxes fly into his enemy. Once the dragon was distracted, he flew to the roof, where it was a mostly glass dome, and he broke right through, making it shatter into a million pieces. As he rose in altitude, Caleb flew over the town, picking up as much speed as he could and made his way towards the forest. He looked at Jewel as he felt her lean into him, and he saw that tears continued to trickle down her face. You're not at fault, he wanted to tell her. If I had blamed you, then I wouldn't be trying to save you now.
As he reached the forest, he looked around, finding the old ruins. Seeing that he was not followed, he dove right into the old building, flying straight through the grand hall, down the spiral staircase and into the secret room after shrinking into the right size. Once they were in, he closed the door and held it shut after gently letting Jewel go. He became himself after a second and he looked at Jewel. "Are you all right?" he asked her.
She did not respond right away. "Y-you…saved me…" she finally said, "after…after I told you everything…?"
"Of course I saved you." He moved to help her up, for she was still very weak.
"It's not your fault, Jewel. I was the one who came here and opened the box. Besides…" He had her sit on the platform that the box had sat upon for five hundred years. "I don't regret opening that box and freeing you. If I hadn't opened the box, I wouldn't have freed you, or have gotten to know you and fallen in love with you."
"Y-you're…in love with me?"
He nodded and smiled at her. "Whoever said that there was such a thing as love at first sight…they were right…when I first saw you, I couldn't think of anything else but to protect you. Whether or not it was because I have a part of you in me I don't know, but no matter what the reason was, my passion for you grew each day that I saw you. Just because you accidentally gave me part of your power doesn't mean that I hate you; it was all an accident. In fact, I don't even consider it a curse anymore. It's not a curse; it's a gift, and you're the one who gave it to me." Caleb moved a strand of hair from Jewel's face and moved close enough to kiss her.
Jewel looked at him as they parted, and more tears trickled down her face. "C-Caleb, I…"
All of a sudden, they heard a dragon's roar. Caleb looked before moving towards the door, hoping to barricade it long enough. "Jewel, can you understand me when I'm a dragon and you're human?" he asked her. She nodded and he willingly became a dragon again, holding the door shut as he felt their pursuer ram against it. I won't let him hurt Jewel, he thought.
There was another roar, before he heard the man's voice yell out, "Come out, now!"
Caleb growled at the door, before he looked at Jewel. "I won't let him get to you," he said.
"Caleb, don't…don't do this for me," she begged.
"I want to…You mean too much for me to let you get hurt again." He felt the man ram against the door again and he held it steady.
"You can't hold that door forever!" the man yelled.
Jewel looked at the door, before saying, "Be careful, Caleb."
He nodded towards her and he cautiously opened the door, becoming human as he exited the room and closed the door. As soon as the door was shut, the man grabbed him by the throat and rammed him against the wall. "Good, you're out," the man, now human said, smiling a horrible smile with new, razor sharp teeth.
Caleb glared at him. "I-I'm not l-letting you hurt J-Jewel," he struggled to say as the man gripped his throat.
"You're as foolish as you look." The man began to grow slowly, letting his trans-formation linger only so he could speak. "I don't need that girl anymore. She's useless to me. You on the other hand have the rest of the power that I need to become a full dragon. Once I'm a full dragon, I'll be invincible!"
Finding that he could not breathe well as the man's hand was becoming a three-digit claw that began to suffocate him, Caleb made his body gain strength and he lifted his legs as they transformed into dragon hind legs, and he kicked and scratched the man, getting him to let go. As he caught his breath, he said, "You're going to have to take it from my cold dead hands. It's Jewel's power, not yours."
The man glared at him and became a dragon. The green dragon roared in his fury and moved to attack. Caleb also became a dragon and he moved as swift as lightning up the spiral staircase, whacking his aggressor with a paddle-like end for a tail. He growled as he reached the grand hall, finding that the light was being diminished while the sun set and the whole room was getting darker and darker. He found, however, that his eyes adjusted well to the growing darkness, and he saw the man-turned-dragon perfectly clear as he, too, flew up into grand hall. The two growled at each other before the green dragon began to grow, gaining strength. So, he's going to play the get-stronger game, Caleb thought. He willed his body to grow as well. Two can play at that game.
The green dragon roared, getting the whole place to vibrate. "You won't win!" he exclaimed. "I will take that power; it will be mine!"
He moved to swipe a claw at him, striking the boy's neck. He staggered for a moment before he growled again. "T-that's nothing," the boy said, remembering all of his painful transformations. Compared to them, that scratch was like getting a paper cut. The green dragon attacked again. That time, Caleb prepared himself, making his skin change so that it was as hard as armor. It protected him as his aggressor hit his hide hard, and he backed away in pain.
"You want to go down the hard way, do you?"
Caleb growled before he moved to attack. He can't have all the fun, he thought to him-self. He swiped a claw at the man's neck, just as he had done before, leaving a deeper gash than what was on his own neck. As the man staggered away, Caleb flew at him, trying to pin him to the ground just as Jewel had done to him to help him gain control. If it worked on me, then it should work on him.
"You think that just knocking me over will help you win? You're more of a fool than I thought."
Caleb glared at him, before he heard behind him, "Caleb!" He looked, seeing Jewel struggling to get up the stairs by holding onto the wall for support.
"Jewel…get back, Jewel!" he cried out; the last thing he wanted was for her to get hurt. Seeing that he was distracted, the green dragon moved swiftly, tackling Caleb to the ground. As he fell, he felt his wing move in an awkward angle and heard it break. He roared in pain, getting Jewel to jump.
"N-no, Caleb!" the girl cried out in her worry. She let go of the wall and moved to run towards him, only for her strength to fail her and she collapsed to the ground.
The man that held her captive looked at the girl and he growled as he grinned an evil grin. "If you won't give me the power, then I'll just kill the girl," he said as he made his way toward her.
Caleb stood immediately. "NO!" he yelled as he moved and pounced on his attacker, getting him to slide across the ground. He then moved towards Jewel as the man stood, but he moved even quicker. He took the man and forced him to the ground, breaking both of his wings. The man roared in pain, before struggling to stand. Caleb in turn roared at him, keeping the man pinned to the ground.
"All right, all right!" the man said as he transfigured, becoming himself. "I give up!" He moved to touch his back, feeling the pain from his broken wings still.
Caleb kept him pinned with one claw, not wanting him to escape. He glared at him as Jewel slowly stood and held onto him for support. He then glanced at her and asked, "Are you all right?"
She looked at him and said, "I am fine." Then, she turned towards the man. "Give me my power back…please…"
He hesitated, before the man said, "All…all right…"
Caleb slowly moved his claw away, but, as he had expected, the man stood and made a beeline for the nearest exit. The boy moved swiftly toward the exit, blocking the man's path and growling at him harshly. "Give it back, now!" he demanded.
"All right!" the man said, though he did not hear the words. He looked at Jewel before he became a translucent dragon, flying into the girl and giving her the power back. As he came out, he became human and collapsed to the ground. He stayed there for a moment before he stood and moved to leave. However, Caleb stopped him. "What else do you want from me?"
Caleb became human and took the man. "You're going to leave Jewel alone. If I find out that you hurt her again, or that you took her power, then I won't show any mercy next time."
"I promise…I won't hurt her again!" The man was released and he ran off without another word.
Caleb looked over at Jewel as she stood with her own strength again, looking better than she did before. "Are you all right, Jewel?" he asked.
She looked at him and smiled. "Y-yes, I'm fine." Her smile faded and she looked away. "I'm sorry…for distracting you, Caleb. I did not want you to get hurt…"
"It's okay; I'm fine, now." He held her hand to get her to look at the smile on his face. "So long as you're okay, I'll be fine."
Jewel stayed silent for a moment. "Thank you, Caleb…thank you for helping me…protecting me…saving me."
"I'd do anything for you, Jewel…" As he thought of his words, he thought of how he held a little more than half of her power. "Do you want the rest of your power back?"
"It's your power." He looked away, thinking of his feelings towards her. "And…I want you to be happy. If it means that you'll be a full dragon again, and not have these feelings anymore, then I'll give you your power back."
Jewel stayed silent for the longest time. He looked at her, seeing that she had so much shock in her face and tears rolling down her cheeks. "C-Caleb…" He became a dragon and made his body translucent, just as Jewel had done before. As he moved toward Jewel, she cried out, "Caleb, wait!"
However, it was too late. He flew into her body and gave her most of the power back. If I keep a little bit, then she may not be able to become human, but at least she'll have the love that she has…and she'll be happy, he thought.
As he left her body, he became human and collapsed to the ground, just as everyone else did. He looked at her, finding that the two years of having the dragon made him weak now, and she looked at him with the tears that disappeared as she became a dragon. She looked at herself before looking back at him as he slowly stood. "At least you can still love," he said to her. She lowered her head and moved it as close as she could to him. Tears stung his eyes as he leaned into her. "This is who you are…" He moved to leave the ruins of the old palace, and as he turned from her, he heard her roar. Caleb turned to look at her and she approached him, wrapping her tail around him. "I want you to be happy Jewel."
She shrank until she was a little bit taller than Caleb. She looked directly at him before leaning her head into him and he heard. "I'm not happy…I don't want this. I want to be with you. Do not leave me."
He looked at her as she lifted her head to look at him. He reached his hand out, and she touched his hand with her snout. "If you're here, like this, then you won't get bullied. That man can't do anything to you now that you have just about all of your power. You're safer here like this…and I want you to be safe. Please, Jewel…"
Jewel shook her head, growling. She leaned into him again. "Do you want me safe, or happy?"
"I…I want both."
"Then let me become human…let me be with you. I can't stand not being with you."
Caleb could not answer her request. "Jewel…"
"I do not care about the bullying. Those humans don't know what I am or what I have been through. And that man…if he tries to take my power away again, then I'll crush him; I will not let him take over my life again. Now that I have you with me, I am stronger than I had ever been as a full dragon. Caleb, please…"
He looked directly into one of her light blue eyes; he saw how she looked at him longingly, and, to his surprise, he saw a tear leave it. She…really wants to be with me, he thought. And…I really want to be with her…even if it means that I become a dragon, too. Caleb touched her chin and she lifted her head to look at him. "If…it means that you're happy, Jewel…"
He backed away from her and she looked at him for a second. Then, her entire body became translucent, and she flew right into him. He felt her giving him part of her power, and she lingered, saying to him, "Thank you Caleb…" before she left his body. She fell to the ground, becoming human and looking weak. Caleb immediately ran to her side and helped her up. After a moment, Jewel looked up at him and said, "Being a full dragon is not who I am…not anymore. Being what I am now…and being with you…that is all I want."
Jewel moved close and pressed her lips against Caleb's. He did not fight her and kissed right back. I will protect her, he thought. And I will make her happy. As they parted, Caleb smiled and held her hands. "I was going to miss being a dragon, anyway," he said as he ran his fingers through her hair.
She smiled and together they walked out of the palace, hand in hand.