Family Feud: The Beginning Of The End Of The Earth

Ava Griffin is a demigod. Basically, she is half-human,and half-greek god. She is a permanent camper at Camp Half Blood, a camp where all demigods train for the hard-and normally short-life of a demigod. When Connor Alati arrives, Ava befriends him. Connor quickly learns that Ava has many layers, some that even the campers are afraid of. When Connor recieves a prophecy that has been forbidden for years, Ava and Connor are set off on a quest to save the world. And they are not guaranteed survival. With the ghastly past, horrifying present, and impossible future, Ava and Connor discover that the world is falling apart, and the gods are to blame.

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10. We Hitchhike On The Loch Ness Monster

     So, I suppose you are wondering how I'm taking all of this. I'll give you two words:

     Not well.

     For starters, I still hadn't exactly resolved all the things in my past that had left me scarred and guilty. Now I had to go back to the very town that had given me those scars. Fantastic. I was terrified that we were going to be attacked by monsters-or even other gods-at any second. I seriously wouldn't put it past the gods to try to harm Connor and I, despite the fact we were trying to save their old, miserable, self-serving, wrinkly bums. Which brings us to our newest piece to the universally crazy, manic, wibbly wobbly timey wimey puzzle that is and always will be my life. Connor and I had five days-five days!-to go to Wisconsin to fetch Apollo his poem, then somehow get to Brazil to chat with Artemis and find the location of her precious bow, then find the bow, steal it back, and do all of it before time itself collapses and we all get vaporized by the sun. Yippee.

     How could Fate be so mean to just one girl?

     After our oh-so-cheery meeting with Apollo, Connor and I walked back to the magical elevator in a daze. Apollo had left us only with a happy "goodbye Earth and hello death!" song while we walked out of the throne room. We saw no other gods, which I was thankful for because I didn't have the energy to be hateful. We said nothing-how could we?-while we trekked down the mountain. A complete silence had shadowed the place, as if all the creatures knew about our latest conversation. In the elevator, I collapsed on the floor and stared numbly at the wall until a bell dinged and we were back in the Empire State Building.

     The receptionist lady waved and bid my brother and I a good day, hoping we had a nice visit. If only she knew what a terrible time we had had there.

     In few words, I told Connor that we should take a taxi to Grand Central Station. From there, we decided to take a subway to Penn Station, heading north through the state of New York. If I had not been so mortally scared, I would have given you all a nice description of the rats, sonic trains, and dirt that plagued the place, but, as you can probably guess, I wasn't in the mood.

     As we waited for another sonic Amtrak train in Penn Station, I decided we needed a plan.

     I turned to Connor, who was leaning against a wall by my side, fidgeting with the zippers on his backpack. "Connor, we need to decide what to do. How are we going to get to Aurora?" My gut twisted at that word. I promised myself I would never return to that place. Ever. But here I am, running errands for the god of stupid nursery rhymes.

     He sighed, running his hands through his hair. Connor's face was pale, and his green eyes vacant. Normally, Connor was the positive one, always picking me up out of my misery. At the moment, he looked as happy as roadkill. "What about by plane?"

      I shook my head furiously. "Connor, you're the son of the sea god. Being in the sky god's territory is extremely dangerous. And stupid. We can't risk that."

     Connor pouted. "Thanks for the tip." Connor thought for a moment. "What about water travel?"

     "You mean through the Great Lakes? How are we going to do that?"

     "I have an idea. We'll need to go farther north." Connor's expression told me he wasn't going to indulge any further.

     I nodded, although I had no idea what he was talking about. I heaved a sigh. I ached to know what Connor was planning. What? I'm a daughter of Athena. I need to know things. Trusting Connor would be completely fair, but yet I was couldn't find it within me. If my life was normal, I would be spending time getting to know Connor more. He was still practically a stranger. I bit my lip. I couldn't let small things like that get inside my head. Not with all the worries and questions about this quest jumbled up in there. Oh, and I can't forget the raging fire curse renting Room 2.

     He sighed. "Suppose we should tell Chiron what's happened?"

     I looked around at the bustling people rushing around. They gave Connor and I looks similar to that of the lady back in the Empire State Building. Demigods must just give off an aura of trouble. I stood up, dusting myself off. "Suppose so. Let's go raise his blood pressure."

     Connor followed my lead to where the bathrooms were. We snuck into the girls'-there was no way I'd go into the boys'-and headed straight to the sinks. There were some windows leaking in sunlight around us. Mirrors lined up in front of each sink all the way to a small window on the right wall.  I quickly glanced at my reflection, and regretted it. This morning, I hadn't even felt like brushing my hair. I hadn't slept in days. Dark circles rimmed my grey eyes, and my face was gaunt. I looked like I was on the set of a zombie apocalypse movie. I had Connor turn on the sink closest to us, all the way hot. Soon, a mist began to cling to the mirror in front;a small rainbow appeared.

     "You ready?" Connor asked, retrieving a gold drachma from his backpack. I nodded, took the coin, prayed to Iris, and threw the coin at the rainbow. It disappeared in a flash. The next thing I saw was the back side of a horse.

     "Oh that's lovely," I muttered. "Chiron!" I called out into the Iris message. The horse tail twitched in surprise. Chiron turned around, surprise etched all over his face. He looked both astonished and elated to see Connor and I.

     "Ava! Connor! Good to see you!" Chiron beamed at us with glee. His beard-or lack thereof, courtesy of me-was wrinkled around the corners of his mouth as he grinned. Chiron leaned his face in. "Are you two in a bathroom?"

     "Not the point, Chiron," Connor chided. "We have a lot to tell you." Together, we told Chiron the details of our meeting with Apollo. From how the sky was ripping open, our mission to retrieve a poem for Apollo, and how we needed to get to Brazil to meet with Artemis. All in five days. Throughout the story, Chiron's face became more and more haggard. When we finished, it was like he had aged ten years right before our eyes.

     "I see." Chiron was silent for a few minutes. "He said he left it in Aurora?" I nodded. "Aurora, Wisconsin?" I nodded again. Chiron's face fell even farther. He knew what this meant for me. "I'm so sorry, Ava. There's nothing I can do. I'm so sorry."

     I pressed my lips together in a hard line. "I know, Chiron."

     Connor looked at me confused. "What are you two talking about?"

     "Connor," Chiron interrupted, not answering, "are you planning on using your father's powers to get there?" He nodded. "Good luck. I believe he will help you. But don't make a habit out of it. The gods are now deemed unreliable."

     "You have 'deemed' this now?" I asked, astonished.

     The centaur nodded. "It is up to you two to bring peace back. I believe in you 37%." Chiron grinned again and gave us a thumbs-up.

     "Thanks, Chiron," Connor mumbled.

     The Iris message flickered. "You must go now. Send me an Iris message soon. I need to know you are still..."Chiron paused. His eyes watered. "Just...don't make an old horse wait too long, alright?" We nodded.

     "Goodbye, Chiron." I swiped the projection, leaving Connor and I alone again.

     "Let's go," Connor tugged my arm.

     

     Once on the train, the ride went by fairly quick. Before I knew it, we were whisked off the train into a station. From there, Connor and I took a bus to the shore of Lake Eerie. There were hundreds of boats lined along a busy pier. Fisherman and tourists walked about, taking pictures or carrying bait. The sun beat down on our necks, still fairly high in the sky, given it was only about 3 in the afternoon. The smell of water, fish, and grime tickled my nose as we walked along the shore. Connor seemed to search for someone, or something, along the coast. His sea green eyes scanned each boat with scrutiny.

     "What are you looking for?" I asked.

     "A boat."

     "There's about 400 to choose from."

     Connor rolled his eyes. "It's not just any boat." Connor stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes lit up. "There it is!" I followed Connor's gaze. "Isn't she a beauty? A glorious, magnificent, spectacular-"

     "Rowboat," I interrupted. "It's a rowboat." I looked disbelieving at the small, wooden boat rocking slightly in the water. It was tied to the dock with a rope. Two paddles lay inside, on top of two benches about three feet apart. I glared at Connor. "You expect us to get to Wisconsin in a rowboat? Are we supposed to paddle all the way there?"

     Connor rolled his eyes. "Just you wait and see." He stepped gingerly inside, being careful not to fall. The boat acted as if it knew Connor, becoming as still as possible. Connor extended a hand for me to grab. I took it, climbing in behind him. As soon as I was on board, Connor expertly untied the rope, setting us free. He sat on one bench so his back was facing me; I sat on the other. We both put our backpacks behind us. I grabbed a paddle, he grabbed the other, and we began paddling away from land.

     My arms began to ache as we paddled relentlessly. Many times I asked Connor what his plan was, but the only reply was to keep paddling, lava girl. A light freshwater breeze tossed my hair, but did little to keep us cool or move our boat. The sun felt like it was boiling my dark hair. Connor must've felt it too, since his hair wasn't that much lighter than mine. As if Apollo hadn't caused us enough problems, he could at least ex-nay on the heat-ay.

     Soon, we were the only boat in sight.

     Connor stopped abruptly. I followed his actions, sighing with relief. I moved my sore arms in small windmill motions.

     "What now?" I asked, massaging my biceps.

     "Give me a second." Connor leaned over in concentration. I still couldn't see his face, but I imagined he was furrowing his brow. For a few long minutes, I waited for Connor to do something. He just sat there, doing something intense but nothing I understood. Patience was not a talent I had acquired, and soon I became restless and annoyed. Along with dyslexia, most demigods also had a case of ADHD. I was not exempt from that rule. I played with my fingernails and Connor's backpack in front of me. I watched as waves nudged the boat, tilting us lightly from side to side.

     Just when I was about to yell at Connor, our boat picked up speed from nowhere and raced through the water. I screamed in surprise, nearly being thrown off the boat. Connor had to grab my hand to keep me from flying away. Wind whipped my hair back, plastered my clothes to my front, and made it hard to not be flung backwards. Fresh water spewed off the sides of the boat. It looked like our tiny vessel had now become a racing speedboat with NOS or something.

     "What's going on?" I yelled over the wind. Connor turned to face me, smiling like a madman.

     "Naiads! They're giving us a lift!" I turned around and looked in the water where, sure enough, three water spirits pushed against the wooden boat and swam fiercely. They smiled up at me. I returned the favor.

     I guess naiads-and nereids-could be described like mermaids. But, not quite. For one, their skin was green. Secondly, they weren't quite as nice as The Little Mermaid. In fact, they would probably drown you if you insulted their scales or their backstroke skills. Quite the friendly aquatic species.

     I turned back to Connor. "How fast are we going?"

     Connor thought for a second. "About 65 knots! How do I know that?"

     "65?! How are we not dead?"

     "I don't know! Isn't that awesome?" I rolled my eyes at his enthusiasm.

      I did a little math in my head. "We'll be there before dawn tomorrow!"

     "Sweet!" Connor and I smiled to each other. I glanced once more at the naiads. I shook my head. We were traveling at about 70 mph on a wooden rowboat. Being the son of the sea god apparently had its perks.

     I looked at Connor. His face was still beaming and he looked quite pleased with himself. Without paying attention to me, Connor unsheathed his sword. He looked intently at its celestial bronze color, at the purest emerald set deep in the handle. Nero translated meant water. I highly doubt the fact that he found the sword was a coincidence. Copying him, I took out my own weapon: Kafto. I noticed Connor eyeing me.

     "What?" I asked.

     "How'd you get that?" He pointed to Kafto, turning around to face me. "You avoided the question last time I asked..."

     I inhaled deeply. "I told you it was gift back a few weeks ago, right?" He nodded, remembering the time merely minutes before I incinerated a forest during capture the flag. That felt like forever ago. Back when I had no friends and everyone both hated and was terrified of me. Not like a lot of that had changed, really. "Well, it's not just called Kafto for fun. Kafto means hot, it literally burns the things it cuts. Like fire..."

     "It was a gift from Hestia, wasn't it?"

     I nodded. "About a week after my first incident, Hestia showed up and gave this to me. I think she wanted me to forgive her. I just...couldn't. Not after how she wrecked everything." I bit my lip. "She wouldn't leave without me taking it, so...I did. I only use it if I have to."

     "Why didn't you tell me at first?"

     I shrugged. "You didn't know about Hestia then."

     Connor leaned closer to me. "Ava, you don't have to be afraid to tell me something. You can trust me." He grinned widely. I'm sure if this was a movie, the entire audience would be like "aw", or even chant "kiss!" "kiss!". That's not what happened, by the way.

     "Words." Connor's face fell a little. "I mean, thanks, Connor."

     "You bet." Connor leaned back upright and clapped. "So, you hungry?" I laughed at his change of subject and nodded.

     "Starving." Connor and I dug out a granola bar and a water bottle from each of our bags, then dug in. I was still hungry when we finished, but conserving food and water was a high priority. We couldn't save the world if we died of starvation, now could we?

     Connor obviously did not understand the importance of rations. "Why not?" he whined. "We have a ton of money! We could buy food later!" I rolled my eyes at him. "Ava, please! Just another one? The're so tiny!" I groaned at his pleading.

     "Shut up, Connor."

     Connor mimicked me in an uptight girly voice. "Shut up, Connor! Do this, do that!"

     "I do not talk like that!" I glared at Connor. Where was this coming from?

     "Oh yeah? Look at me, I'm Ava Griffin! I'm so smart and pretty and amazing!" Connor flipped his imaginary hair over his shoulder.

     "Really?" I scowled. "Well, I'm Connor, I'm a dumb, selfcentered, egomaniac who can control a glass of water. Aren't I amazing?" I batted my eyelashes at him.

     "I am not dumb, selfcentered, or an, uh, that third thing you said."

     I smirked. "Case closed."

     "Brat." Connor stuck out his tongue.

     I rolled my eyes at him. "Ugh." I turned around in my bench, so my back was to him. Hair whipped around my face. "You're impossible," I threw over my shoulder.

     "You're impossible-er." Connor grumbled. "Well, I'm going to have another granola bar." I shook my head as I heard the wrapper crinkle.

     For awhile I said nothing to Connor, instead, staring mindlessly at the water all around us, trying to not blow up at Connor. He was the brat. He didn't know anything. He didn't appreciate how much he had. He'd learn to appreciate his granola bars when they were all gone.

     Bored and annoyed, I daydreamed about all kinds of things. Well, daydream wouldn't be the right term, more like daymare or whatever. I thought about monsters I had only heard of in books that might attack us, what Aurora would hold for me, if I had enough heart to get out of this alive. I knew Connor could do it, he was strong. Although I would never tell him that. I wasn't strong. I hadn't been strong since...since him. For a daughter of Athena, thinking had become a pretty dumb thing for me to do. If I let my mind wander I'd be faced with the consequences of my past, and I couldn't handle that.

     The sun was just touching the horizon when Connor finally spoke.

     "Holy Zeus." I turned to Connor. The boat stopped suddenly, making me jerk forwards. He was staring mouth agape at the sun. I followed his gaze. Holy Zeus was right.

     Right above where the sun was touching the horizon, a gap began to rip in the tinted sky. The tear exposed nothing but blackness on the other side. Everything as far as the eye could see became black and white. As if the entire color spectrum had been sucked from existence.

As I looked more into the black, I saw moments of my life flash in front of me. Moments that I couldn't even remember I was so little, moments from months ago, moments from days ago, moments from hours ago. I saw myself tiny and frail screaming as little black creatures crawled all over me. I saw myself running in a blind panic down a dark alley in some large city. I saw a girl that had my face but a smile attached to it that I hadn't seen in a long time. I saw myself sitting on a small wooden boat along with a dark haired boy. This boat. I looked at Connor. That boy. It was as if that blackness was sucking up my timeline. From the beginning to this precise second. I tore my gaze away and looked at Connor. His face was pale. I suspected the same stream of visions were running through his mind. Well, the ones of his life, anyways.

     I looked again at the seemingly large but in reality quite small gaping wound in the sky. Its inky blackness bled through the pink and orange sunset. Growing wider and wider. It was still fairly small compared to the entire view of the dome surrounding us, but it was expanding. As the sun became smaller, the blackness grew bigger. The air around it seemed to stretch and pull away, but to no avail. The way space looks around a monstrous blackhole. It was like this blackness was a blackhole itself, feeding off of the fact that the sun was leaving and the moon was not quite here. I realized with a start that that was exactly what it was:feeding. This was the nothingness Apollo warned us about. This was the end of humanity-and inhumanity-slashing through our atmoshpere, wrenching time from existence.

     And Connor and I had front row seats.

     Panic consumed me. I was positive that Apollo was wrong. We didn't have days, we had seconds. I was sure that Connor and I were going to die right here, in the middle of Lake Huron. I shut my eyes tight with fear.

     Nothing came. Nothing. I don't know how long we waited. I finally opened my eyes to find the sky black, dotted with millions of twinkling stars. The moon shown bright and full above our heads. Connor stood up gingerly, looking in awe at the horizon. Nothing was there, apart from the water and stars. The hole in the sky was gone. And we were safe. For now.

     "What the heck was that?" Connor asked. He sat down shakily, staring at me.

     "I think that was time collapsing. It's officially begun. The sky is ripping open." I turned back to the sky. No sign of the apocalypse present. Did all of that really just happen? Maybe it was a dream.

     Connor's face told me otherwise. "I can't believe Artemis is risking all of this for a stupid bow."

     I shook my head. "I can't either." The naiads started up the boat again. "When you looked at the gash, did you see-"

     "My whole life flash before my eyes?" I nodded. "Yeah, I did too. That was the scariest moment of my life."

     I looked down at the bottom of the boat. "It wasn't mine," I muttered. We both looked back at the sky unbelievably. We had five days to stop that? I think what we just saw made our whole quest quite real for Connor and I. And a lot more hopeless.

     Connor clapped his hands together. "Well, why don't you sleep? I'll take first watch."

     "You sure?" Connor nodded. "Okay." I lowered myself so I was sitting on the floor of the boat. I then propped my arms on the bench I had previously sat on and rested my head there. Not as comfy as a bed, but, it would have to do. I took one last disbelieving look at the horizon. "Good night, water boy," I mumbled.

     Connor laughed. "Good night, lava girl."

     The next words I heard were from Mike telling me to run for my life in my nightmares.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

     "Ava! Wake up!" I started awake at the sound of Connor yelling. He was shaking me furiously.

     "Ugh, what is it?" I asked while rubbing the sleep from my eyes. When I had fully opened them, I thought I had gone blind. It was nearly pitch black, the only light were from Connor's green eyes and the faint moon and stars above.

     "I don't really know. But we're in big trouble." Connor pointed to my right. Though it was too dark to see anything but black, I could hear and feel the water bubbling next to our boat, making us rock slightly.

     "What is that?" I wondered aloud.

     Connor shook his head. "I don't know. The naiads freaked and left. Even with my powers I can't tell what's going on down there." I turned towards the back of the boat. He was right, we weren't moving. We were sitting ducks.

     I swallowed loudly. I had been wondering how we had stayed relatively safe for so long. That record had just stopped short. "I think we're about to encounter our first monster together, Connor." I unsheathed my dagger and stood up, crouching.

     Connor copied me, unsheathing Nero and crouching as well. "We should scrapbook this."

     The moment Connor finished his sentence, the water around us erupted. Water doused me from head to toe, nearly capsizing the boat. I spit out water and wiped my hair from my eyes. Out of the water arose a creature impossibly horrifying. An enormous serpent rose from the surface of the lake. It was longer than a school bus, and probably as thick. Its seaweed colored scales sparkled in the moonlight. It had wings crusted with seaweed and mud colored emerald and olive green.

     "Ava, is that the loch ness monster?" Connor asked with a shaky voice.

     "No, it's worse." I inhaled sharply. Steam rose around me as I dried off. "It's an aethiopian drakon." I stared at the large beast. It was using its wings to fly around us, much like a buzzard would around roadkill. The beast's wings were long and leathery, a lot like a bat's but a harsh deep green and much larger. An aethiopian drakon had a horrifying reputation, yet most of its victims didn't exactly live to confirm it. I could see why. This thing was huge.  I could see the glimmer of its steely claws, as long as my body. It roared victoriously, displaying its teeth. They were more fearsome than anything else on the drakon's body. The teeth were razor sharp and fine tuned from what only frequent use could bring. They were grisly and stained;he obviously didn't floss often. The rest of the monsters face was a darker green than the rest of its body, almost the same color as the sky. Iridescent yellow eyes glared at Connor and I from high in the sky. I had never seen a monster on this scale before in my life. My confidence didn't allow room for the hope of ever seeing another again.

     "What do we do?" Connor looked at me.

     I took my eyes off the drakon to look at him. His hands were shaking badly, barely holding on to his sword. "Not die."

     Connor looked back at the beast. "Great plan." Connor closed his eyes, then reached his hand upwards. Water began to churn, rocking the boat. I had to grab Connor to avoid falling out. Suddenly, a column a water shot up, twisting rapidly until it smashed into the face of the drakon above. It roared in annoyance and pain, shaking its head.

     "Nice!"

     "I think I just made it mad. Look," Connor pointed upwards. The drakon was nosediving at us with incredible speed. Its eyes locked on us. Its teeth bared. It could have passed as a smile.

     "No!" I held up my hands. I'm not quite sure what I expected to come out of that. Really, was the drakon going to just stop its murderous descent because a little girl said no and held up her hands? Doubtful. Whatever the reason, I did not expect this next bit.

     Fire roared out of my hands. White hot. The drakon was hit right in the face with a blast of heat hotter than the sun. I felt the hair on my arms singe off while I continued blazing the beast. It howled in agony, roaring and trying to fly away. It reared backwards in attempt to dodge Hestia's curse. Connor fell backwards in surprise, right off the boat and into the water. I had no time to worry about him, I was too busy blowtorching a flipping drakon.

     In my mind, I was fighting another battle entirely. The curse Hestia had given me when I was born raged in my mind. I had to keep half of my focus centered inside my head just so I didn't get possessed and go berserk. The weeks I had spent training had given me the strength to stop the flames, but that didn't stop them from trying. It was like the flames were another personality, another being, crammed up in someone else's body. I couldn't really blame them for wanting to get out. They only craved for one thing though:destruction. Fire didn't care about beauty or life, only about how much it could destroy. And it was up to me to suppress that heat whenever it tried to find a way out.

     On the outside, I had been roasting the poor monstrosity for about a minute. The drakon's armor-like scales were making my task pretty hard. The drakon roared in anguish. Its roar seemed to make the water move outwards. I felt my ears ache at the noise.

     The aethiopian drakon roared once more before plunging back into the black water, disappearing from sight. The boat rocked backwards, nearly tipping over due to the splash the drakon had made when it sank back into the lake. I fell to my knees, completely exhausted.

     Connor somehow climbed back up onto the boat, completely dry. Being a son of Poseidon he never got wet, which I always thought of as a bit of ironic stupidity. Son of the sea god can't even get wet. Pathetic. Connor looked at me with a grin on his face. "Alright lava girl!"

     I laughed, looking at the water where the drakon had sunk. "I don't get why I'm even called that. I don't have lava."

     "Oh, shut up. You killed the monster!"

     I gave Connor an uneasy look. "Something's not right." I bit my lip. "It should have been harder. The drakon should have been tougher."

     Connor shrugged. "Maybe it wasn't in a fighting mood."

     "I'd hate to see it in one, then."

     Way to jinx yourself, Ava.

     From underneath the boat sprang the drakon. It caused so much force that the boat splintered into a million pieces, stabbing me all over. Connor and I were flung seperate ways, landing in the water with a painful whoosh. Fear and pain caused my body to thrash uncontrollably under the surface. I felt warm blood seep through my clothes and mix with the fresh water. Water roared in my ears. I couldn't see anything. Somehow I couldn't find the surface. Up was down and left was right. Nothing made sense. I swallowed seemingly gallons of water. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think. If I wasn't underwater I would have lost the fight with Hestia's curse. I realized I was going to die. Connor might be dead already. Any second the drakon could find me and have me as a midnight snack. I felt my body sink unwillingly. The blackness became even blacker as my eyes shut. The last ounce of air in my lungs left. I was dying. I prayed Connor had made it.

     With a shock, I felt strong hands grab my waist and pull. I thrashed in blind panic. All of a sudden, I could breathe. I inhaled deeply and started coughing and spitting up water. The hands that were still holding on to me slapped my back, making wet sloshing sounds. When I was done relieving my lungs of water, I opened my eyes. I was surprised to see light. Twinkling stars and a dull moon glittered above, giving the restless waves an oily look.

     I started suddenly, looking for the first time at the person who had saved my life. Connor grinned widely as he took in my expression. He was completely dry, though we were still in the water, his backpack on his back, barely looking fazed at all. "Miss me?" He handed me my sopping backpack, which I put on my back, thoroughly amazed he found it.

     I smiled widely and nodded, giving Connor a huge hug. He did save me after all. I can't believe a minute ago I thought I was dead. "What happened?" I finally managed to say.

     Connor's face grew dark. "You landed on the opposite side of the wreckage. It took awhile, but, it looks like I found you just in time." Connor puffed a sigh. "You really scared me, Ava." I looked into Connor's deep green eyes. His brow was furrowed and his eyes dark. I realized he was still holding my waist tightly. I swam backwards slightly.

     "Sorry," I muttered. A thought flashed in my mind. "Where's the drakon?"

     The look on Connor's face told me that thought hadn't occurred to him yet, though he very much wished it had. "I don't know."

     At that precise moment, my question was answered, for the drakon had made another abrupt entrance from right underneath us. I felt the rough hide of its scaly back connect with my thighs as it rose, placing me directly on its back. Connor was taken up too, though he was facing me and barely holding on. I screamed in alarm as we kept rising above the surface of the water, higher and higher until it seemed we were level with the moon.

     The drakon grunted in annoyance, as if we were irritating bugs. It shook its back in an attempt to throw us off. I desperately grabbed onto the rough scales to avoid being flung off. Connor collided with me, barely hanging on himself.

     The beast we were clinging to must have thought that we were too tough to be thrown off that way, even though Connor and I were extremely close to losing our grip. It changed tactics, rolling over in mid air so it was belly-up. I screamed again, now having nothing to hang on to. I felt my stomach drop as I was in free fall. And then I wasn't. I looked up to see Connor holding on to my hand, his other holding on to water . Water?

     Connor's hand was enclosed in a torrent of water that had fixated itself around the middle of the dragon. It held Connor's hand, making it seem like he was an amputee with his hand cut off. Somehow we were suspended, the water holding us firmly in place.

     The drakon seemed to realize this too, and it became even angrier. It tried to shake us, twisting madly and throwing us everywhere. Connor nearly let go of me twice.

     In a mad attempt to stop the monster's movements, Connor motioned with his water-enclosed hand to the head of the drakon. The water obeyed, wrapping around its head until it stopped moving. The drakon moved upright again like it knew what Connor wanted, plopping us onto its back roughly, Connor in front of me. I breathed in deeply, trying to find my stomach.

     When I finally could form words, I asked Connor, "What are you doing?"

     Connor ignored me, still motioning his hand to control the waves. Our poor defeated medieval beast sat in the water in the air, seemingly free but unable to move.

     I gave Connor a look. "What are you doing?"

     He answered this time, not turning to face me though. "We need a new ride. It blew up our boat, remember?"

     "We're going to ride on it? Are you crazy?"

     Connor faced me and grinned. "Yes ma'am.

     I eyed the serpentine jerk nervously. "You sure about this Connor?"

     "Nope!" With that, Connor swooshed his hand, the water acting like a giant whip as it lashed down on the drakon's back. It roared loudly in protest, but began to fly forward. Its muscled wings beat the sky. I listened to the noise quietly. Every few minutes Connor would whip the serpent again, ensuing a roar and a toss of its gigantic head. "Ava, how do we steer?"

     "Why are you asking me?!"

     "You're the smart one! Tell it where to go!"

     "Okay...Um, Mr.Drakon, sir?" I called out. "Could you please take us to Wisconsin? Would the coast of Green Bay work for you? It's quite a ways southwest from here..."

     The drakon snorted. "Maybe you should dumb it down," Connor suggested.

     "Drakon, fly..." I thought for a moment. "That way," I pointed southwest. "Is that dumb enough for ya, Connor?"

     "Very funny." This time, the drakon obeyed me, albeit very reluctantly. I listened to the flap of its forest green wings. The sound calmed me down, which soon made my eyes begin to droop.

     I must've been nodding off, because Connor cleared his throat and laughed. "Go ahead and sleep, Ava, I don't think we'll be here for more than a few hours."

     I yawned widely. "Okay. Nighty night." I leaned my cheek against Connor's warm back, and listened to the sound of his breathing and wings until sleep enveloped me.

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