Cold sweat breaks out all over my body as I shoot up from my bed. My heart is pounding in my chest, and I blink the sleep away from my eyes a few times. It was just a dream. The same dream I have been having for months. I am standing in the darkness, alone and confused, when a girl with short blonde hair and a button nose calls to me. Her petite frame turns towards me as she beckons me forward. I listen and follow her into the darkness. She leads me to a plum coloured door, her fingers resting on the golden doorknob as she gives me a crooked smile. She always looks over my features as if studying an old friend before opening the door and pushing me inside.
I am submerged in water. I feel like I’m drowning, and I can’t breathe for what feels like an eternity. Two men pull me from the water. Both have tanned skin, one with long hair and the other short. They shove me to the ground as I cough, clearing my lungs. Then, as if nothing ever happened, the girl returns. She holds her hand out to me, giving me another winning grin as she helps me to my feet, whispering, “Welcome home.”
Home? I frown to myself, wiping the sweat from my brow. I haven’t had a home in hundreds of years. My sister, Ariel, and I have been on the run since the day she was born. I have managed to keep us hidden from our enemies, but my power is weakening, and I need to find a source to regenerate.
Looking at the other bed, I watch my sister sleep. Her long chestnut hair practically covers her face as she snores away. For years, I have been protecting her from the burden of our birth. We are both Dragon Shifters, immortals who have the ability to turn into a dragon on command. I used to be the Prince of the Draco de Ignis, a dragon of fire, while Ariel…well, she is different from me. I have kept many secrets from her about her true history, ones that she can never know. I don’t know how to tell her we might be the last of our species.
Over the years, we have slowly been eliminated. Our biggest enemy is the dragon hunters, a group of mortals who have taken it upon themselves to kill us all. They don’t like the idea that there are beings more powerful than humans. Their solution? Bloodshed.
I sigh heavily, getting up from the springy motel bed, and walking over to the table. Currently, we are staying at an unknown motel in South Carolina. We have just left New York after a near run-in with some hunters. They are getting smarter now, and there isn’t much left I can do.
Source. I need a source.
Opening my MacBook, I search where to go next. We have been in the United States for less than a year after hiding in Europe for a majority of our lives. New York was the longest place we had been able to stay since…well, I don’t remember when. Ariel was actually starting to live a life of her own. It killed me to take that away from her. So, this next place needs to be it. For a while longer, at least.
Sitting back in my chair, I look at my tattoo, worry churning in my gut. The black dragon that wraps around my right arm is starting to fade from the lack of magic in my body. Just before I transform, the tattoo glows red, but at this point, I am not sure I could even make the shift. I rub my arm, squeezing my eyes shut as my head pounds. I’m tired—no, exhausted. My muscles and my mind are aching for a reboot. I can’t remember the last time I’d properly slept.
Slowly, I feel myself drifting off, and in the back of my mind, I see the girl again. Her voice echoing in my ears as she calls for me.
I need to find this home.
Opening my eyes, I continue my search, scrolling the internet. A few hours in, my cursor stops over a well-known city in the southern states. New Orleans. I have heard rumours of this place. The mortals say that it has a knack for the supernatural. Why have I never thought about this before? It is such a blatant clue that magick could be sourced there, and I missed it. I was so focused on keeping Ariel safe that I picked one of the largest places in America. In my mind, more people mean fewer chances of being spotted in a crowd.
“Cassie?” Ariel calls out to me, rubbing her eyes. “Why are you awake?”
I look over my shoulder at her. “Why are you awake?”
Ariel gets up from her bed, wrapping her blanket tightly around her.
“The light from your laptop. It’s blinding,” she jokes.
I scoff, looking at her more carefully. Her eyes have large bags under them, and her face seems sunken. Looking at her left shoulder, I notice her dragon tattoo is even more faded than mine. We are both taking a toll from this.
“You should sleep,” I tell her.
She shakes her head. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” I frown.
“I-I keep on having this strange dream,” she whispers.
“One second.” I sigh, getting up from my chair and walking over to the kitchen. Pulling out two water bottles, I pour the liquid into two mugs. I add packets of hot chocolate and mix it. I stick both cups into the microwave, and within a few minutes, they are ready. I walk back over to my chair, putting one in front of her.
“Alright. What was the dream about?” I ask her.
She takes a sip of her hot chocolate before putting it on the table.
“It is the same each time. First, everything is dark, and then there is this man who emerges from it. He looks like he is in his late twenties, early thirties. Quite handsome, if you ask me. He…he calls to me. Telling me to come home, but we don’t have a home.” Ariel sighs. “So tonight, I explored further. I followed the man until I finally saw light. We ended up on this street with another man and girl. There was so much sound and beads scattered all over the street. I-I think this is where we are meant to go.”
I nod, taking in everything she is saying. My eyes drift back to my laptop screen, and my brow furrows. I spin the computer to show my sister.
“Like this?” I ask.
She blinks a few times, her eyes adjusting to the light. The image is of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Her eyes widen with recognition before she looks up at me.
“This is it…” she whispers.
I look back down at the screen, nodding to myself.
“I think I know where our next stop will be then.”