A couple of hours passed after Jake was dismissed from the arena. A nurse goblin assisted the minotaur after the confrontation, it turns out that the minotaur had been acting all along, pretending to be a fierce beast but he was actually a nice guy and a bit dorky if I must say so.
Jake was heading to the northern cliff for the third test.
- Seriously kid, how did you know the minotaur was allergic to chocolate?
- I… it was a hunch. Guess I'm actually lucky. - Fu gave him a suspicious look.
- You know you didn't just made me lose all those brownies but now I owe 30 cookies to Donny.
- Well that's your fault for betting against me.
- Oh kid don't you see I'm a poor old dog, the least you could do is tell me if you can pass the test or not.
- How am I supposed to do it if I don't know what I'm doing myself!
The northern cliff, more than just a cliff, its and ancient altar uphill at the northern edge of the island. It was known for the spiritual energy that flows through the ancient monoliths around it, it's said that it could restore the vitality of a dragon in need among other things but now it was only used as a meditation ground by the elder dragons.
At the center of the stone circle were both councilor Kukulkan and councilor Kulde, next to them was Jake´s grandpa, they all looked at Jake when he arrived.
- Good you are finally here. Now we can begin. – Started councilor Kukulkan- since ancient times, dragons have been revered not just for their honored will and great power but also for their spirituality. That which gives us more than just physical power, but the ability to confront our enemies without the need of brute strength, even so allowing us to walk among humans without being noticed. We inherited this power from our ancestors, and it's this power which give us the ability to modify our appearance at will. Jacob Long, for this test you must proof mastery of your shapeshifting ability by turning into 3 different creatures by detail.
- So, that's all? I have to turn into 3 different creatures and I'll pass?
- That's correct.
- That's easy, just name them and I'll make it happen.
For this test Jake was confident in his abilities, he has been practicing his shapeshifting ability for the past months and he could actually pass this test with his hands tied. The first creature was an easy one, Jake turned into a unicorn effortlessly, the second creature was a sewer troll, which he also imitated at his best, finally for the third transformation, councilor Kukulkan asked Jake to turn into a member of the huntsclan and Jake made an astonishing presentation by turning into the hunts master itself.
- You have proven your talent and passed the test.
- Yay! Woohoo! The Amdrag is in da house.- he bragged dancing with a small dance.
Another day passed and Jake was overconfident by passing two trials in a row and didn't care that councilor Omina summoned him at dawn. She was waiting for him at the training tracks, along with Councilor Chang, Kulde and his grandpa, Fu wasn't even awake yet.
- Rising with the sun is a sign of discipline, a virtue you will need to pass this test. As dragons we may find ourselves in circumstances where we are alone. In order to surpass them, you'll have to create chi clones. – in that moment the body of the councilor started splitting in two creating an identical, copy of herself.
- In this test you will have to get to the other side of the course beating all the obstacles that come in your way without transforming into a dragon. In some of them you will need an extra hand so create as many chi clones as you need.- explained the clone. Before disappearing.
Jake was speechless, he had never seen anything like that, he didn't even know dragons could use their chi to create a clone. He stood at the start line without moving a single muscle.
- And well? Why haven't you started? – asked councilor Omina.
- I… well… you see. I don't know how to create a chi clone.- Jake muttered.
- Lao shi, how is it possible that you haven't teach your pupil how to create a single clone! – that was Councilor Chang with her authoritative voice.
- I, I was planning on doing it when he was ready.
Counselor Chang and Lao shi were about to start a dispute but Councilor Omina hasten to say
- Am afraid I'll have to fail Jake in my test since he isn't able to manipulate his chin properly.
- No wait! I can do it. I can still get to the finish line.
- It's no use Jake, councilor Omina is right. I have failed you as your master.
Jake was at the dining hall smashing his food with a fork.
- Hey come on kid cheer up, it's not your fault
- But it is my fault! Don't you get it Fu? I failed another test and if I don't pass the final test they will take gramps away.
- I'm telling you it wasn't your fault! Your gramps had his own reasons for not teaching you that.
- Yeah, he thinks I'm not ready. He doesn't have faith in me.
- Its not that…
- Then what is it? huh! Why he didn't even tell me about chi clones?
- Well, hum….- Fu didn't know what to answer.
- I knew it.
- Hey, your gramps believes in you, I believe in you and you need to focus on the last trial.
- Whatever, just leave me alone…
- As you wish, but let me tell you that your new nemesis is heading this was.
Fu walked away in all fours and tried to bite Fred Nerk as he approached Jake.
- Yet, if it isn't the little dragon that can't create a chi clone.– He said with a strong accent while sitting next to Jake.- were you crying baby dragon? Does the baby dragon want his mommy?
- Fuck off, Nerk.
- I don't think so, what you think mate?
- Ye I don't know, we should take him out of his misery- a second Fred said sitting at the other side of Jake.
- I said we turn his whole world upside down. - a third voice said from behind, grabbing Jake by the neck and pulled him, the other two Freds grabbed his legs and tossed him to the ground.
- That's how you create a chi clone, hope it wasn't too advanced for you.
Fred and his clones did a high five and the clones disappeared.
A big crowd of young dragons and their masters were gathered at the bay where the fifth test would take place. Compared to the previous ones, this one looked like a public event, a show and Jake was the attraction. Not like he didn't like the attention but all those people staring made him feel a bit uncomfortable, more so because he was nervous, if he fails the dragon council will take gramps away and he will have another tea her assigned to him. He will pass this test no matter what.
- This test will be tested by the isle of Draco itself- started councilor Chang- you will have to fly all around the island passing through 3 magic rings, facing all kind of obstacles. But survival it's not the only challenge, to pass the test you must fly faster than your competitor, which you get to choose...
Counselor Chang gave an evil grin with those last words.
- Wait a minute. I get to choose who I compete with?
- Indeed, you can chose any other dragon in this island.
This was great! The best opportunity he had to teach Fred Nerk a lesson. He would fly around the island, beat Nerk, and keep gramps as his teacher.
- I chose Fred Nerk
The other dragons started muttering while Fred walked to the front with his cocky attitude.
- Looks like ye didn't learned the lesson.
Both boys were waiting for Chang to give the instruction, they were in their dragon form. Compared to Fred, Jake looked smaller and puny, it was truth that Fred was taller than Jake as humans but the difference was more notorious in their dragon form. Not just Fred dragon was bigger and muscled but his teeth were sharper and his back filled with spikes. His golden scales even made him look majestic. The Australian dragon.
Jake sure was in shape but he didn't stand out like Fred, he had a few spikes growing on his back but his appearance didn't look as fearsome. But something did caught Jakes attention, something he barely have appreciated before because the only other dragon he knew was his grandpa. Lao shi was a honorable Chinese dragon with his elongated body and long whiskers as his heritage dictated, the lack of wings never seemed strange to Jake, even Jake never questioned the fact that in spite of being Lao shi's grandson, he didn't have any trait of Chinese heritage in his dragon form. Jake's dragon looked more European with a short body, big muscled arms and a pair of wings.
As for Fred Nerk, he looked like a whole different type of dragon, similar to Jake but with an elongated body, a thin long tail and wings covered in what could be described as feathers.
Councilor Chang gave the order and both dragons took flight leaving a cloud of dust behind them. Fred was leading for the first third of the race but Jake didn't want to be second place, it wasn't because of the test but because of his pride and hatred against Fred, by the second ring Jake was on the lead but before they reached the third ring a strange shadow appeared and trapped Fred taking him to the cave it came from.
In that moment Jake didn't know what to do, surely this was one of the traps that were set all around the island but still something looked odd, that shadow was something jake had never seen before and hos arachnid sense was telling him it meant trouble. The third ring was a few meters away from him and the finish line wasn't that far either.
- Oh man! I know I'll regret this.
The red dragon entered the cave after the shadow. Once inside it took Jake a couple of minutes to adjust to the dark, the cave was a long rocky tunnel that lead to an unknown place.
Jake heard at the distance. It was Fred and he sounded scared compared to his usual cocky way of talking.
Jake went deeper into the cave until he started seen a light, a bright area of the cave, big enough to Shelter a hundred people. In the middle of this area was Fred in his dragon form held captive by another dragon. This dragon was bigger than any other, his monstrous shape was covered in pitch-black scales and several scars, his wings were torn apart and his giant claws were pressing against Fred making him look as inoffensive as a bunny.
- Hey! Let him go!
The dragon turned to face Jake.
- Ahh, there you are.
Jake's body froze, at the sight of the dragon, he had seen him before, in the gym with a number 1 labeled.
- You are the dark dragon. – Jake muttered.
- So you know who I am, come young one, let me look at you closer.
Jake starter shivering, his whole body was trembling uncontrollably. But since he didn't took a step forward, the dark dragon decided to be the one taking the first step. Just after tossing Fred to the side, his golden scales were stained with a dark substance. The dark dragon started walking around Jake like a wolf assessing his pray.
- Just look at you, how pitiful! The grandson of Lao shi, looking as pathetic as his grandfather and any other dragon.
- My gramps it's a great dragon!
Courage started to grow inside Jake.
- Your grandfather is a mutt! He wouldn't recognize a real dragon even if he had one under his tutelage. But you my son, you are different from the other dragons, I've been keeping a close eye on you. Power flows in you, power you don't even know you have.
- Wait what you are talking…
- Join me and I'll show you what a great dragon can do.
- Join you? Ha, you must have dementia if you think I will ever join you. You are the bad guy!
- The bad guy, is that so?
- Yeah! Your dragon ass reeks of evil.
- Is that what they've told you? It doesn't surprise me that Lao shi has been filling you with lies. Didn't you wonder why he never taught you how to create a chi clone?
- What do you mean?
- Isn't it strange that your mother cant transform into a dragon, or that your father is ignorant of the magic world?
- What's that got to do with this?
- Why don't you ask him what happened thirteen years ago? Let's see if he comes clean.
- Thirteen years ago? What happened thirteen years ago?
- It's sad he have left you in the dark. But I can tell you the truth if you come with me.
Then Fred started coughing, he had turned himself back into human and was now laying on the floor. He was still alive. The dark dragon must have noticed the change in Jake's face because when he launched himself to grab Fred and leave, the dark dragon wiped his tail sending Jake back and hit against the wall. They were about to be locked into a battle but knowing he was against a much bigger opponent, Jake focused on dodging all the attacks coming from the dark dragon.
Desperate by not landing a single blow on Jake, the dark dragon started losing precision and throwing stronger hit that only managed to bit the walls after Jake successfully dodged them. The integrity of the cave was slowly diminishing making boulders fall from above, a few of them hit the dark drawing buying Jake enough time to retreat. He grabbed Fred's body and flew out of the cave.
After leaving the cave at high speed, the young dragon flew straight to the crowd of people waiting at the beach for the winner. They were cheering when Jake's figure appeared at the distance, but soon the acclaims were silenced at the sight of Fred who was barely conscious in Jake's arms.
- What's the meaning of this? What have you done? - demanded councilor Chang
- I… dark…. Barely escape. - Jake took a big breath before speaking again.- The dark dragon captured Fred and I went to safe him but we managed to escape.
The Murmur of the crowd went higher when they heard the name of the dark dragon.
- What's this nonsense of the dark dragon?
- It's true, he was huge with black scales and broken wings.
The members of the council were now intrigued by Jake's story.
- The dark dragon here? In the island? Impossible we would have noticed...- implied councilor Kukulkan.
It was Andam who intervened.
- Master dragons, if what the young dragon says it's true, we need to act immediately, take your pupils into the great hall. We will start a search party immediately
After all the commotion, the search party didn't find the dark dragon but the cave was certainly there. All of the dragons were sent back to their respective country except for Jake who was now in a meeting with the dragon council.
- Surely your actions were brave and now that Mr. Nerk had told his side of the story, we have no doubt that the dark dragon has returned. But regarding to your evaluation is up to councilor Chang to decide what will happen now.
Andam made space for Chang.
- Jake Long, in spite of your efforts and your heroic actions, you managed to fail the test of courage in flight for not crossing the third magic ring…
- What? This is bullshit! I would have finished the race if I hadn't…
Lao shi, grabbed his grandson telling him to stop.
- I think it's settled, Jacob Lucas Long you, you ha e failed 3 tests out of 5 which means… - it was now councilor Andam who hadn't finished his sentence.
Councilor Kulde cleared his throat
- Since you have proven to be a feisty warrior and a loyal comrade, I know that you have clear who your allies and your enemies are. Knowing that I think you deserve a reexamination in my test, proving you have a good judgement in fire I grade you with a pass.
- Wait what? This is awesome! - Jake almost hugged council Kulde if it weren't for the fact that he was in the podium.
- What's all this? Are we really letting the kid get away with this? – Reproached Chang. - Kulde, you can't…
- I certainly can, and I did. - He smiled gently at Jake.
Chang furiously moaned as she walked away.