Chapter 4: A New School
Four days passed since I was expelled from Newton Elementary. Since then, Dad had been busy looking for a new school for me. To make up for the time I wasn't in school, Dad ordered me to spend my time training with Theian.
That Friday afternoon, after Alex was done with school, Theian took us to the dragon realm to train. He opened a portal that took us to the very top of a giant mountain.
I went over to the edge of the mountain, got down on my hands and knees and gazed down, surprised at just how high up we were. It wasn't like when we were flying on Theian but we were still pretty far above the ground. In fact, I could barely even see the ground. It was mostly covered by the clouds below us. Nervously, I backed away from the edge, still on my hands and knees and as soon as I was far enough away, I stood up, brushed the dirt off my knees, and went over to where Theian and Alex were standing.
"Hey Theian, are you sure we'll be okay here?" Alex asked.
"Yes. You don't need to worry. I specifically chose this spot because it's far from the villages. No one will find us here." Explained Theian.
"Why did you bring us here, Theian?" I asked, confused.
"Why else? I brought you here to train." Theian responded.
"To train?" I repeated.
"Yes. Today, we're going to be training your wings." Theian said, turning to me.
"Our wings?" I repeated again.
"Are you just going to repeat everything I say?! Yes, your wings!" Theian yelled furiously.
"Okay! S-Sorry!!" I flinched, backing away slightly.
"In battle, a dragon's greatest advantage is its wings. If you have weak wings, you won't survive." Said Theian in a calmer voice.
Theian walked to the edge of the mountain and turned around, facing our direction.
"Now, on to your training. You boys will jump off this mountain. Once you do, open your wings and flap them for as long as you can. If you feel like you can't flap them anymore, let me know and I'll bring you back here. Alright then. Jake, you're first." Theian explained.
"What?! Me?! I've gotta go first?!" I fretted.
"C'mon Jake! You can do it man!" Alex said in an attempt to make me feel more confident.
"Well…okay…" I said, nervously and unsure.
I stepped towards the edge of the mountain. I looked down and gulped, my body shaking in fear. I took several deep breaths and closed my eyes as went into my half-dragon form. I stretched my wings a little. After that, I turned my focus back to the bottom of the mountain. I closed my eyes and took two steps forward but before I could take another step, I felt myself begin to fall at a really fast rate. Immediately I opened my eyes and saw that I was plummeting to the ground. I tried to flap my wings as hard and as quickly as I could, however all that managed to do was slow down my fall. My wings weren't raising me back up. I couldn't believe this! Was I going to die? No…I was only eleven. That's way too young to die.
"HELP!!! HELP ME THEIAN!!! HELP ME ALEX!!!" I shouted as loudly as I possibly could.
Just then, I saw a large shadow swoop down and pick me up just before I hit the ground. It was Theian! I don't think I'd ever been so happy to have him with me.
"Oh my gosh Theian! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I exclaimed while trying to breathe at the same time.
We returned to the top of the mountain where Alex was waiting for us. I jumped off Theian's back and sat down as I tried to calm myself down. I was still breathing really heavy and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.
"Are you okay, Jake?" Alex asked.
"Ye-yeah. I'm okay." I said in between breaths.
"Jake, why didn't you open your wings before you stepped off the cliff?" Asked Theian.
"I-I didn't know I stepped off. I had my eyes closed and—"
"You WHAT?! You idiot! Were you trying to kill yourself?!" Theian said in a very angry, very ferocious voice.
"No, I wasn't! I'm…I'm sorry Theian…" I apologized in a nervous voice.
"You almost died Jake. If I hadn't been here, you'd be dead right now." Said Theian, still sounding angry but not as angry as before.
"I'm sorry!" I whined.
Theian sighed, annoyed and placed his paw over his face. After a second, he removed his paw from his head and turned towards me.
"You're going to do this again. And this time, keep your eyes open!" Theian said, sounding irritated.
I stood up and walked over to the edge of the mountain. Just like before, I flexed my wings, only this time, I did as Theian said and jumped off the mountain without closing my eyes. I flapped my wings as hard as I could before I fell too far. As I flapped my wings more and more, I started to rise just a little over the mountain. After a while, my wings started to hurt, so I told Theian that I couldn't flap them anymore. Just as they were about to give out, Theian caught me and brought me back safely to the ground.
"Not bad at all, Jake. You've got quite a bit of potential." Theian said, smiling at me for the first time ever.
I was surprised to see Theian smiling. Usually, he was always seen with a frown so it looked pretty unusual to see someone like him smiling.
"Umm…Thanks Theian." I said.
"Hmm? What's wrong? You sound unsure." Theian said.
"Well it's just…What does 'potential' mean again?" I asked.
"It means that you're capable of doing great things." Theian explained.
"Alright Alex, it's your turn." Said Theian.
Alex became a half-dragon too and ran to the edge of the mountain. He leapt off and flapped his wings as quickly as he could. He started to fly higher and higher into the sky until eventually he was even higher up than I was. Alex must have stayed up there for at least four minutes before he called for Theian.
As I watched Theian fly up and get Alex, I thought about how awesome it was that Alex was able to stay up there for so long. I wished I could have been as strong as him but my wings were just too weak.
"Hey Alex, that was really good!" I called as Theian swooped down with Alex on his back.
"It was nothin'!" Said Alex proudly as he jumped off Theian's back.
"I wish I could have flown that high…or even that long. But I'm just too weak." I said, sounding sad.
"Jake, Alex is older than you and he's been training longer too. " Said Theian. "It's only natural that he'd be stronger. Besides, I don't think you're weak."
"Not at all. What you did for those kids, not everyone else could have done the same. It takes real courage to stand up for someone the way you did. You may not have the physical strength that Alex has, but what you do have is a strong heart."
"You really think so, Theian?" I said, smiling happily.
"I do. Someday, you're going to find a friend who will see you not as a half-dragon, but as another person."
"I hope so…" I said unsurely.
"Y'know…" Alex said, walking past me and folding his arms.
"I don't know why you want to be friends with humans so badly, Jake. I wouldn't be caught dead being friends with a human! You want to know what humans do, Jake? They hurt and kill one another, they bully each other! I should know! I was bullied just for being a half-dragon. If you do find a human friend and he learns that you're a half-dragon, he'll bully you too. Believe me, the only person a half-dragon can trust is one of his own kind." Alex said angrily.
"You really think that Alex?" I said, sitting down and folding my legs.
"I do." Alex replied, his back still turned towards me.
"You don't…want to have any friends? Even if they are human?" I asked again.
Alex didn't say anything for a few seconds. After awhile, he responded in a soft voice "If they're human…then no. I don't."
Hearing Alex say that made me a little sad. While I did think that there were bad humans out there, I didn't think they were all bad. Sam and Max were good humans. There had to have been other humans like them. They couldn't all be bad. But what if Alex was right? What if I did make a friend and he learned what I was? Would he start to pick on me then? Perhaps…the only way that I could keep friends was to hide my half-dragon side. Just make them see me as another human like them.
Alex walked to the other side of the mountain and sat down on the edge. I looked at Alex, feeling a little bad for him. What could have happened to him that made him hate humans so much? I wished he'd just tell me so then I might have been able to help him.
"Hey Theian?" I asked.
"Yeah?" Theian asked back.
"What do you think about humans?"
"To be honest, I don't really have an opinion on them at all. I don't hate them but I don't really care for them either." Theian answered, sitting down next to me.
"So you don't want to take over the world like Dad does?" I continued to ask.
"Not in particular." Theian answered bluntly.
"But then why would you work with my dad? I don't get it." I asked confused.
"Jake, you need to understand: Just because I'm working with your father doesn't mean I have the same goals as him. Every one of us, we all have our own reasons for being with your father. The reason I'm with Saulstrance is because, I figure that if I stick by him, eventually I'll find the person who killed my mom." Explained Theian.
"And when you do find that person, what are you going to do?"
"What do you think, kid? I'm going to kill him." Theian replied, his voice becoming lower and angrier.
"O-Oh." I responded, not sure what else I could say to that. "Hey, do you know the name of –"
"Look, that's enough questions, alright?" Theian said, cutting me off. "It's time for you to get back to training."
"Okay." I said as I stood up and brushed the dirt off my butt.
I looked over to where Alex was sitting and saw that he had already started training again. He would flap his wings and fly slightly higher each time before dropping back to the ground. On his tenth or so try, he flapped his wings as furiously as he could. Alex's wings brought him higher and higher into the air until he was flying far above the mountain. After awhile, I noticed that Alex was starting to come closer to the mountain. It looked like his wings were getting tired. Theian flew up to where Alex was, put him on his back, and brought him back down.
"Wow, Alex! You're really good at flying!" I said in amazement.
"Thanks." Alex said, sounding like he was in pain. "Ow!"
"Are you okay?" I asked worriedly.
"I'm fine. My wings just hurt, that's all." Alex said, sitting down and changing back into his human form.
Seeing how good Alex was at flying made me realize that if I wanted to be as good as him, I'd have to train twice as hard. Feeling inspired, I opened my wings and, with a mighty flap, launched myself into the sky. I wanted to try and get just as high as Alex did, perhaps even higher. I flapped my wings faster and faster as I grew farther and farther away from the mountain. Before I was able to reach Alex's altitude however, my wings gave out and just like before, I fell back to the mountain, screaming as I drew closer and closer to it. And just like before, Theian grabbed me just in time and brought me back to the ground. I sat down beside Alex and reverted to my human form as well.
"That should be enough training for today." Said Theian. "Let's go back."
As we stood up, Theian opened a portal back to the human realm. Alex went through first and I followed behind him but before I could enter, I was stopped by Theian.
"Jake, I'd like to talk to you before we head back."
"Okay. What about?" I asked, slightly worried that Theian might yell at me.
"Your flying is getting to be pretty good." Theian said.
"Really? Thanks." I said, looking away and scratching the back of my head.
"However, you need to watch how many times you flap your wings. Flap them too quickly, and they'll tire out faster. Got that?" Theian explained.
"Yeah." I responded.
"Good. Next time, I want you to try flying but not flapping your wings so quickly. Now let's go back."
Theian and I followed Alex through the portal. We appeared in front of my house where Alex was waiting for us. He asked us what was keeping us but Theian said that he had something he needed to talk to me about. Alex asked right away what it was and Theian told him that he was just talking with me about my flying.
I opened the door and saw Dad sitting at the table, drinking a bottle of water.
"Hey Dad! We're back!" I greeted.
"I see that. So how did training go today?" Asked Dad, taking a drink.
"It's going quite well sir. Both of them have improved quite a bit on their flying." Theian explained, pulling a chair and sitting next to Dad.
"Wonderful." Dad smiled pleased. "Ah, Jakol, I found a new school for you. Starting tomorrow, you will be attending Westwood Elementary."
"Great…" I said sarcastically, rolling my eyes as I sat down in a chair.
"You don't sound too excited about that." Theian noted.
"Well…I'm so sick of kids being mean to me! At my old school, they always acted like I was going to hurt them! The teachers would treat me like I was a monster or something…I can't take it anymore! I just want to be treated like everyone else!" I cried, slamming my fists on the table.
I laid my head on the table, in between my arms as I shook my fists and arms. I stopped after awhile when I felt something on my back. I raised my head and looked to the left of me. It was Dad. He had put his hand on my back and was looking at me worriedly.
"I understand how you feel, Jakol. But you see, that's just how people are. Remember what I said last week? I want to change this world. Make it so that there are no weak or strong. If I can do that, then maybe, people won't hurt others anymore. However, in order for me to see to it that that world is born, I need yours and everyone elses' powers." Dad said, looking me straight in the eyes as he put both hands on my arms.
"I know Dad. And I promise you I'll give it my best." I said as I started calming down.
Dad pulled me a little closer and hugged me. In response I hugged him back, closing my eyes and smiling.
"Just you wait Jakol. Soon, no kids will ever pick on you again. And you'll have all the friends you could ever want. This world will be just as much yours as it will be all of ours."
"Thanks dad." I said. I smiled and hugged him tighter.
That night, dinner went as it usually did. Dad cooked a kettle of Spanish rice which was emptied even faster than it was filled. Much to everyone's surprise as well as mine, Theian and Girido didn't get into a fight for once. It felt both strange and nice to be having dinner without those two going at each other's throats.
After our strangely peaceful dinner, Theian, Z'haer, Girido, and Eig'nia returned to the dragon realm. I headed into my room, played my PS5 for a little while, and then headed to bed. Just as I had finished changing into my pajamas which were a plain white shirt and long grey pants, Dad came into my room.
"Hi Dad." I said.
"Quite a strange dinner, wasn't it?" He asked.
"Yeah." I replied, sitting down on my bed.
"Are you looking forward to tomorrow, Jakol?"
"No…" I answered immediately. "It's just gonna be the same as it was at my old school. Why should I look forward to that?"
I laid down on my bed and turned on my side so that I was facing the wall. I felt my bed sink a little as Dad sat down and put his hand on my arm and rubbed it.
"Jakol, it's just going to be a little longer. I do promise you that you will have friends. It's just going to take some time." He said.
I breathed through my nose and rolled onto my belly, my head still turned towards the wall. Dad patted my back and stood up. Just before he left, I asked him…
"Dad...? Why do people hate half-dragons so much?" I asked, my back still turned to him.
Dad sighed. "I don't know Jakol. But I wish I did. But don't let that bother you right now. Try to get some sleep."
"Okay." I said, turning my head around so I was looking at Dad. "Good night, Dad."
"Good night Jakol." Dad said back to me as he turned off the lights and then closed my door.
I wrapped my arms around my pillow and placed my head on it. I spent some time just lying in bed, thinking about what my new school was going to be like. I really wanted things to be different for me this time but I knew that the principal would probably let my teachers know about what happened at my past schools. Then some of those teachers might tell the other kids who would spread the news around school until just about everyone knew. I wondered if I might be able to get dad to ask the principal if he wouldn't tell the teachers. Maybe then I might actually have a chance at making some friends.
My eyes becoming heavy, I began to blink a couple times before they started to close. Before I fell asleep, one final thought echoed in my head.
"Please…Let things be different this time."