Shades of Grey
When the Royal Family of Dracles is attacked during a parade in Dragon City and their daughter, Princess Arctica Summer Regis, vanishes a series of strange events causes the Dragon Booster to investigate further. Then the arrival of a new rider on the Down City races causes more confusion, mysteries and a new threat. Can Artha solve the mysteries in time?
The Royal Family of Dracles
She banged on the door with all her strength. She rested her head on her hand. Her daughter made it clear that she wasn’t going to come out without a fight. Strong willed, she banged on the door one more time. Her floating cloak flitted about behind her as she hit the oak door. She frowned and shouted once more at the door, “Arctica come out! You can’t stay in there forever!”
“Want to bet?” hissed Arctica from the other side of the door.
“You must come out! We have to do this parade or Dracles will be frowned upon forever!” said her mother shouting behind the door.
Arctica kicked her helmet which lay on the floor, “No mother!”
“It’ll make us look bad!” screamed her mother.
Arctica hissed at the door, “It’ll make you look bad. It doesn’t affect me.”
Her mother frowned, “You’ll have to come out some time.”
Elizabeth walked away from the door and down to her husband’s bedroom to tell him the news. She walked past a window and peered out of it. Their dragons waiting patiently. She frowned, and then smiled knowing that Arctica would never leave Andrw or Dyana waiting outside in the cold forever.
Elizabeth, accompanied by her husband walked towards Arctica’s door again to have another crack at getting her to ride with them. Arctica sighed. They knew that she could never keep to her word. She got dressed put on her necklace and opened the door with a huge scowl on her face. Both her parents smiled as she appeared from the door.
They walked down into the stables and mounted their dragons. It took Arctica a moment to decide which dragon to ride and so chose to ride Andrw, a purple dragon who Arctica had trusted with her life more than once. Elizabeth rode Solar, a powerful red bone dragon who proudly walked on four legs and hissed when threatened. Patrick, Arctica’s father, rode Regi a purple boned dragon whom he had kept for thirty years.
“Are you ready your majesty?” asked their most trusted friend, Douglas Powell.
“You know better than to call me that my dear friend.” replied Elizabeth smiling.
Douglas laughed, “You do realise that the publicity might attract criminal attention. Your other three dragons are worth a hefty price on the black market. Regal dragons are highly prized as are your red bone dragons.”
“We’ll be fine Douglas.” said Patrick.
“Let’s go already!” shouted Arctica who sat behind them on Andrw who had begun tapping his paw on the ground.
“Open the gates please Douglas!” shouted Elizabeth sitting up proudly in her seat.
Douglas bowed and then opened the gates. A helicopter flew overhead and the flashes of cameras glittered on the Royal Family of Dracles.
Conner called Artha down to have a word with him. Conner hit his staff on the ground. The large screen flew down and began showing pictures of a parade. Three dragons up front and a cart behind pulled by two bull class dragons. Security seemed tight with over twenty officers riding alongside the parade.
Artha’s attention was turned to the two strange looking dragons up front, “What are they?”
Conner pointed to the two purple dragons with his staff, “These are Regal Dragons, owned only by the Royal Family of Dracles. The three people you see riding up front are the Royal Family, the one on the red bone dragon is Queen Elizabeth Amy Regis. The man riding next to her is her husband, King Patrick Michael Regis. The young girl riding behind them is their daughter Princess Arctica Summer Regis.
‘The Royal Family of Dracles tried to defuse the Great Dragon Human War before it reached their land but they didn’t succeed. Most of their family was wiped out. Their dragons, the Regal dragons are purple boned but have red markings and purple skin colour. They may need your help. Dragon Booster’s help. Such an arrival is bound to grab some attention, I bet Word Paynn will be trying to get those Regal Dragons.”
“OK, I’ll go and get Beau.” said Artha running out of the Dragon Temple.
Arctica looked around, she was nervous. Butterflies in her stomach, more like dragons in her stomach. Her body kept trying to throw up breakfast however she kept forcing it down her throat. She could see both her parents smiling up front. They had been doing this sort of thing for years, Arctica had only done it as a child. She was practically an adult now. Andrw was confident, he was used to this. All Regal dragons were trained to be used to this sort of thing. They didn’t think twice about the same training with people.
She began feeling sick. She could feel blood rushing from her face. Andrw felt her nerves and gave a slight nod to reassure her. She patted him on the head, thanking him for his support. He carried on walking keeping in pace with the two dragons in front of him. The sound of the helicopter echoed and rang in her ears. Everything seemed to just cause her discomfort.
Andrw began getting concerned. Arctica was usually fine, this was her first time on parade so she’d be nervous, understandable, but her being this nervous just wasn’t normal for her. There must be something wrong. Andrw looked around. He saw nothing suspicious but he felt that something was wrong. With such tight security nothing seemed like anything could go wrong but Andrw knew how rare his species was.
Dyana, Unity and Fyre sat inside the cart pulled by the two bull class dragon that Dragon City Security had provided. Dyana constantly looking around and trying to look outside. Unity and Fyre assumed it was because she was young. Young dragons were always curious. Dyana knew something was wrong. One of the Dragon Security dragons looked different and their rider was different, she knew something was going on.
“Go!” whispered a voice in his head.
He pulled his dragon away from the parade and straight towards Arctica. Thirteen others did the same. Arctica looked around, thirteen dragons and riders headed towards her. She urged Andrw forward and he didn’t need telling twice. Andrw leapt forward at full pelt and ran past Solar and Regi before they could react. Andrw ran up front, heart racing. Solar and Regi looked around as the thirteen dragons ran after Andrw and Arctica.
“ARCTICA!” screamed Patrick who then urged Regi into a run and chased after the false officers. Beau and Artha watched from a tall building nearby.
Artha saw Arctica race by followed by thirteen officers and Patrick, “Beau!”
Beau nodded and leapt off the building. They both glided towards the chase. Landing next to Arctica, Beau roared loudly warning the other dragons. Andrw raced past terrified, as did all the other dragons. Patrick stopped and stared into the golden armour’s visors, “Please, save my daughter.”
Artha nodded and Beau ran towards the chase. The others were already too far away to catch up to despite their best efforts. Beau and Artha turned a corner. Andrw, the Regal dragon lay on the floor unconscious with no sign of rider nearby. Artha’s face fell. Arctica was gone but why was the dragon still there? It didn’t make sense. If this was Word Paynn’s work the dragon would be long gone.
Yet if the dragon was still there. That meant it wasn’t Word Paynn...
Patrick watched him come up the drive. Dragon Booster, a legend around Dragon City. He watched hoping that he had his daughter. Two dragons walked alongside him, Andrw and the Dragon Booster’s dragon. No sign of his daughter. His heart began to throb in his chest, “Is she OK?”
Dragon Booster’s head fell on his chest, “No, I only found her dragon. I’m sorry.”
Patrick turned his head to Andrw frustrated, “How could you let this happen?! You are supposed to protect her!”
“Shouting isn’t going to bring her back.” said Artha defensively.
“I’m sorry, it’s just... promise me you’ll find her.” he said as Andrw walked over to join Dyana in the stable pen.
“I’ll search every night until I find her.” he said.
A weak smile managed to push itself onto Patrick’s face, “Thank you.”
Beau then magged Artha and they disappeared into the distance. Patrick walked into the house to tell Elizabeth the news. If she hadn’t already seen it on the television.
“Artha what happened?” asked Parmon watching Artha walk in taking his helmet off.
Conner walked in, “Artha?”
Artha sat down and Beau followed him and sat down, “She’s gone, her dragon was there but she wasn’t.”
Kitt walked in with a handheld television, “Look at this, it’s all over the news. Princess Regis is missing. The helicopter flew with you, Artha and there were no CCTV cameras that caught the culprits. The family are offering huge rewards for her safe return.”
“Well they would. It’s their only daughter.” said Conner surprised that nobody else had guessed.
Artha pulled off his helmet, “Her dragon, her dragon was there but she wasn’t. Word Payne can’t be behind it.”
Conner frowned. This was very unlike Word Paynn, he was usually the one snatching dragons. So if it wasn’t him who could it be? Nobody had phoned the family for a ransom and there were no clues as to the culprit. None of the other Down City Crews would even think twice about stealing the Princess of the Royal Family, only the Dragon Eyes and it couldn’t have been them. It was a dead end.
“Moordryd! How could you let this happen?” asked Word screaming in the ears of his son.
Moordryd closed his eyes angrily and replied, “Someone else got to her first.”
“I’m not after her though, I’m after her Dragon you fool!” shouted Word with increasing dynamic.
“Her and her dragon, they were better organised; thirteen of them were dressed as Dragon City Security. They chased her into a dead end. Dragon Booster arrived and only her dragon was there.” retorted Moordryd trying to contain his own anger.
“Then go and find her!” screamed Word.
Moordryd began to walk out of the gloomy cave in which his father spoke to him. His father shouted at him as he walked out, “And you better win that race today. The stable brat is catching up to you, if you don’t get into the Academy I’ll disown you.”
Moordryd knew deep down that his father wasn’t joking and so walked out eager to get to the race on time.
Artha looked to his right. A rider he’d never seen before. The strangest dragon he’d ever seen before. The fact that the newcomer had one was astounding. They were new and they had low level gear. Artha dismounted and walked towards the strange new rider. They wore an armour that was black, grey and white. Their face was covered, but their posture hinted that the new rider was a girl, as was the dragon.
The dragon was white with black patterns all over its body. Its mag was grey, which everyone was mouth-drop-stunned at. The rider and dragon worked together well and seemed synchronized most of the time. Artha walked over to them with Beau in hot pursuit.
“Hi,” said Artha waving at the new rider, “I saw you racing today. It was amazing.”
She turned to him, “What’s your name?”
“Artha Penn and this is my dragon Beau, yours?” asked Artha.
“Shade, I don’t wish people to know my true identity, and this is my dragon Darklyt.” she said, a faint smile edging onto her straight face.
Artha nodded, “Is that a grey...?”
“Yes.” replied Shade.
“You’ve heard of Libris?” asked Artha.
“Oh yeah, don’t worry Darklyt is nothing like Libris, and before you ask I’m not a Mechanist.” she said patting Darklyt on the neck.
“Then what crew do you belong to?” inquired Artha trying to find answers to his curiosity.
“None. Now I needed to talk to you about something...”
“What type of dragon is that?!” asked Lance pointing towards Darklyt as she slept in the Dragon Temple below the stables.
Conner walked in and said, “Arthur?”
Artha smiled nervously and Beau tried to wake up Darklyt to greet Artha’s family, “This is a grey bone dragon.”
“How did you get a grey bone dragon?!” asked Conner.
“There’s a new rider called Shade, she wants us to look after her dragon because she can’t trust any other crew. I don’t know how she got the dragon but she told us to look after it. And she’ll pay.” said Artha.
Darklyt lifted her head and groaned at Beau for waking her up. She got to her feet and her shining black eyes glittered as they took in her surroundings. She flicked her tail about and began to run around. Conner, Lance, Beau and Artha watched with confused expressions as the energetic dragon leapt around playfully.
“She is a bit energetic.” said Conner as he watched the dragon leap about.
Beau raised an eyebrow and pulled his head back as though to say a sarcastic comment that would have made Cain proud. Lance smiled as the dragon began to chase it’s tail. Artha frowned, “How old d’you reckon it is?”
“Two, maybe three.” said Conner watching the dragon as it snapped at its tail.
“Shade said it’s the same age as Beau.” replied Artha.
“That’s just not normal.” said Lance.
Darklyt stopped and watched them as it panted for breath and tapped its tail lightly on the floor. Then realising it had made a complete fool of itself sat down and pretended to go to sleep, not really fooling anyone.
“How much was she gonna pay?” asked Conner.
Artha stared at the ‘sleeping’ dragon, “The amount of any damages.”
“Shade must have a lot of money.” said Lance.
Artha and Beau lead Darklyt to the track were Shade waited. Kitt, Parm, Lance and their dragons alongside them. Shade walked over to them smiling, “Thanks, I owe you all.”
Darklyt ran over to Shade and nuzzled her ecstatically. Shade hugged her dragon’s neck and turned to Artha and his friends. Conner stared at the two, Shade and Darklyt were like two sides of the same coin. They seemed to have a really strong bond, not unlike Beau and Arthas’.
“How long have you two known each other?” asked Conner.
“Since she hatched.” replied Shade.
Conner raised an eyebrow, “How did you get a grey bone dragon?!”
Shade lowered her head, “I can’t tell you.”
Conner turned to Artha. The look in his eyes were clear. Can she be trusted? Artha turned away, his body language also clearly stating fact: I don’t know. Shade looked at the two of them recognising the body language. She patted her dragon and then leapt onto the saddle.
“C’mon our race is about to start. Are any of you racing?” asked Shade turning to the others before making her way to the track.
“No, our race is next.” replied Parm.
“K.” said Shade setting off towards the track on Darklyt.
Word looked at the screen. His mouth slowly fell open. It was one of the Legendary Grey Bone Dragons. He stared at it as it and its mysterious rider swerved in between other riders gracefully dodging their attempts to knock them off the track. The picture did a close up on the dragon. The markings clicked a memory in his mind.
He walked off towards where he kept his notes. Filing through them, he finally found what he wanted. Darklyt, the grey bone dragon wasn’t like ordinary dragons. The fact that it was grey was homage to this but the dragon held a secret.
Word smiled, “Oh dear, I do believe our little friend Dragon Booster is in for a big surprise.”
Shade dismounted her dragon and walked towards the Pen Stables. Conner Penn stood there. She addressed him, “This is going to raise eyebrows but is it possible that I stay with my dragon?”
Conner managed a small smile, “Fine, third stall on the left.”
“Thank you, may blessings be upon you.” she said. Which quickly after she bit her lip as though realising she had made a mistake in what she had said. Giving away a bit of her identity. She walked to the stall quickly and didn’t look back.
Conner smiled, “Only members of the Royal Family speak like that.”
Shade collapsed on the floor next to Darklyt sighing loudly. She stroked Darklyt’s scales saying to her, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Darklyt nudged her and went to sleep. Shade shrugged and lay down beside Darklyt also falling into a deep sleep. Darklyt began to twitch involuntarily as the moon sat in the sky, bleeding light into the stall.
Conner looked up into the sky. It was a blue moon, the only month in his life time to experience two full moons in a month. He walked towards the stall in which Darklyt and her mysterious rider Shade slept. Holding a blanket in his hand he walked towards the stall. Beau heard the steps outside and upon seeing Conner moving towards Darklyt’s stall he raised an eyebrow and called at him.
Conner hushed Beau and walked into the stall. Shade slept with her helmet on and lying on Darklyt. Conner smiled placing the blanket over Shade. The helmet was strange. He put his fingers around the edge. The moon glittered behind him. He began to pull at the helmet. The moon began to change colour. The helmet began to slide off. The moon turned grey. The helmet came off, revealing Princess Regis.
He dropped the helmet and walked out of the stall, not noticing the moon as it began to turn grey.
Darklyt woke. The calling of the Grey Moon echoed in her ears. Darklyt awoke her rider. Shade stood up not realising that her helmet was not on. Darklyt roared as the transformation of the Grey Moon began.
Dragon Booster and the mighty Dragon of Legend walked down the streets of Dragon City. Beau looked up, a full moon… a grey moon. Beau raised an eyebrow and signalled to Artha that he should look up too. It was a grey moon, literally grey. Artha had heard of grey moons, it’s similar to a blue moon but is when all the planets are aligned as well.
He stared at it and then this horrible shooting pain leapt through him as though he’d just been shot at. He placed his hand over his heart. It was as though a million hornets had stung his heart. He doubled over and fell off Beau. Beau stared at him and then fell over too as the shooting pain erupted underneath his golden and black scales. The pain was too much to bear, Artha fell unconscious and Beau roared angrily into the night sky as a winged figure flew past the moon.
Beau’s eyes began to flutter and he too began to fall unconscious. He also fell under and a deafening roar came from the moon as a hovering figure was there in the moon. Both were vaguely aware of the flying thing landing beside them before the darkness engulfed them.
Moordryd watched in horror from the top of a nearby building. Lance and Parm were below him on the corner. All four of them observed Artha and Beau being taken away by the giant flying animal.
The Great Dracoon of Legend
“Wakey wakey.” cooed a deep dark seemingly evil voice.
Artha moved his hands to his head or tried in vain. He opened his eyes. Most of his muscles were aching. He pulled his arms and legs and found that both were restrained by chains. Opening his eyes revealed the ugly face of Word Payne. Artha would have leapt back in surprise but the Dragon Booster in him simply retorted, “Whoa! How many branches did you hit on your way down from the ugly tree?”
Word pursed his lips, “You won’t be smiling for long.”
“Well you clearly haven’t for several years.” replied Artha wittily.
An annoyed bark came from his right. Artha turned his head and saw Beau hanging up on the wall. Beau was angry and was barking at a figure which was shadowed in the shadows of the dark gloomy lair. Artha squinted, the figures were next to impossible to see. Artha turned to Word, “What’s going on?”
“Well, you’ve heard of the Royal Family,” said Word patronisingly, “There is a legend in the family, in a generation a member of the royal family will have grey as their primary influence. That person and their dragon is cursed, on the night blue moon will transform into one being, a winged dragon that can fly.”
A grey dragon emerged from the shadows and the sight instantly struck fear into their hearts.
The dragon began to talk. It’s mouth stayed shut throughout, “Dragon Booster, the saviour of Dragon and Humankind. The light and protector. I ask you now. Do you know who I am?”
“No.” replied Artha trying not to let his nerves show.
“I’m not surprised,” laughed the dragon, “As I am now is just through the power of a curse. A curse which the past dragon booster actually cast on my family. I am the grey. The bit which isn’t quite evil but not quite good. I represent all that is.”
“Elaborate on this curse thing.” said Artha.
“Hmm, as you wish. My family was cursed because we did something that was wrong. Which was all good and dandy but that curse landed on me. My parents don’t know it but: In the generation that the dragon booster comes again, the curse will come to pass. I am Arctica and I have Grey Draconium as my primary influence.” said the dragon, “I am also Shade and when that moon rose tonight, me and Darklyt fused.”
“I’m so so sorry.” said Artha who really felt sorry for Arctica, it wasn’t her fault she didn’t deserve it.
The dragon lowered it’s head, “There is a way to break the curse. I need the blessings of you and someone with Black Draconium Influences to free me.”
Word scowled, “The books said nothing of this! They said you had to kill Dragon Booster to free you from the curse!!”
“You shouldn’t believe everything you read.” replied Artha.
“He’s right. You must be a right loser if you just read all the time.” said Arctica.
Artha blessed her by charging her with some of the golden light that had defeated Shadow Booster so many times. Beau followed Artha’s lead. It took a roar from both Beau and Arctica to get Word to bless her with the black energy that seemed awfully familiar to Artha. There was a flash of grey light and then standing in front of them was Arctica riding on Darklyt. Both looked extremely grateful.
“Guess this is goodbye then.” said Artha as Arctica began to ride to her family who were standing, watching from a distance with Dyana and Andrw.
“You underestimate me.” said Arctica raising an eyebrow, “You will be seeing Shade on the tracks for a while yet.”
“Yeah well I’ll beat you eventually.” said Artha patting Beau’s haunches.
Arctica laughed, “To be honest I cheated last time.”
Artha pointed a finger to Parm and shouted, “Told you so!”
Parm glared back at him, “I’ll get you back.”
“Anyway, I’m off. C’ya round.” said Arctica before riding off to her family.
“So that’s just another day at the office.” said Artha clapping his hands together.
“I will find a way to get you back.” replied Parm acidly.
“Yeah yeah.” said Artha.
Parm gave him a cold look.
“Ok I’m scared now.”
The cold look continued.
“Ok seriously, you’re creeping me out.”
The cold look still continued.
“Okay, I’ll just go then.”
Artha promptly ran off towards the stables leaving Parm, Kitt, Lance and Beau to laugh at Artha’s’ ‘cowardess’.