Chapter 8

Facing the Past

Jake, Sun, and Rose flew through the sky, charging towards Central Park as the sun sunk lower and lower into the sky. Sun Park, the Korean Dragon, looked at the sky, signs of dark clouds already coming from the distance. "We must hurry. The Huntsmaster is already starting the spell, and it will be completed when the sun sets."

Jake nodded, the three dragons banking to the right before entering the thick cover of the trees in Central Park, "All right, let's get this party started. You ready Rose?"

Rose nodded, "I'll be right along side you Jake." The American Dragon nodded, turning his attention forward as the trio came across a platoon of Huntsclan warriors. The warriors all called out, one of them sending a flare up into the air as the others began to launch blasts of green energy at the incoming dragons. Sun reached the platoon first, flying straight threw while grabbing hold of two of the warriors. She then carried them up into the air, dropping them on another part of the platoon while Jake and Rose landed, and began the hand to hand combat.

Jake knocked a few huntsclan warriors over with his tail, smiling back at Rose as he said, "I have to say, these guys aren't as tough as you are."

Rose cut of a stream of flames, nodding her head, "Yeah, well, I was on of the top warriors in the entire clan. Still, do expect anything less."

"From you baby, no way. I've seen you fight, and personally it would take two platoons of these pushovers to even give us a problem." At that moment the other nine platoons of huntsclan warriors came running out of the forest, the flare shot alerting the whole army that there were dragons.

Sun flew over Jake and Rose's heads, landing as she knocked several warriors over and said, "You two, go get the Huntsmaster. I can handle these guys."

Rose and Jake nodded, taking flight as Sun Park began to summon up her dragon magic. Rose and Jake flew towards the center of a large clearing where the Huntsmaster was standing, a book of gold and silver in his arms as he chanted. Around him, the thirteen Aztec skulls were glowing brightly, their energy growing as the sun finally touched the horizon.

"Huntsmaster, were here to crash this party."

The Huntsmaster turned, his eyes narrowing as he said, "Ah, I was wondering when you would arrive, American Dragon. Hmmm…and you even brought a friend. Well, your right about something, this is a party, but I am afraid you won't be crashing it."

Jake growled, glancing over to the tree where Lao Shi was bound by a Sphinx Hair rope, "Rose, get my grandfather out of here. I'll deal with the Huntsmaster."

Rose hesitated, but finally agreed as Jake tore forward, charging at the Huntsmaster as he let the golden book drop to the ground, a green energy whip forming in his hand. Rose landed beside the tree, cutting the rope with her claws. Lao Shi dropped to the ground, resting on his knees for a few moments before saying, "Thank you stranger, I appreciate the help, but I am afraid you were too late."

Rose blinked a few times, "What, why do you say that?"

Lao Shi coughed, slowly standing up, "The Huntsmaster finished the ritual, now it is only a matter of time before every magical creature in the world is destroyed. When the sun sets, and darkness consumes the world, the magical community will be no more."

Rose shook her head, "No, there has to be a way to stop it."

"The only way to stop the ancient Aztec ritual is with the Spell of Balance, which can counteract the power of any spell. Unfortunately, it would take a huge amount of magic to perform the Spell of Balance right now, and I know of no wizards that possess the necessary strength."

Rose glanced in the distance, her eyes locking on the empire state building, "I know someone." With that Rose began to take off, glancing back at Lao-Shi as she said, "Go help Jake, I'll be back as soon as I can."

Lao Shi nodded, his strength returning as he took his dragon form and lunged into the fight between Jake and the Huntsmaster. Rose pounded her wings, flying like a bullet towards the Empire State building. Rose didn't think about anything, her mind focused on the distance as she caught sight of a shadow standing at the very top of the building.

Kryos turned, smiling as he saw Rose approach, "Ah, someone has arrived, and a day early no less. Well done Rose."

"There is no time no Kryos, the Huntsmaster has used the thirteen Aztec Skulls. You have to come and stop the ritual. Lao Shi said that the spells effects can be stopped if someone performs the Spell of Balance."

Kryos look off in the distance, his eyes catching sight of the ritual as the sun continued to set, half of the golden orb already hidden behind the horizon. "I am sorry Rose," Kryos said as he sighed, "but the source has forbidden me from interfering. I can, however, tell you a way to stop the spell."

"Tell me how?"

"You saw the spell book the Huntsmaster was using, that is the focal point of the spell. If you wish to stop the spell from destroying the world, then you must eat the book."

Rose paused, a look of confusion across her face, "Eat the book, what good will that do?"

"The book is designed to spread out millions of tiny strings that will blanket the earth, and kill any magical creature they come in contact with. The strings can pass through anything except living flesh. If you eat the book, the strings of destruction will not be able to spread, and the spell will be stopped. However, if you eat the book, the entire force of the spell will fall on you."

Rose hung her head, "And…I'll die."

Kryos nodded, "I am afraid you are correct Rose. Still, it is your decision to make, for I am sure Lao Shi or Jake would be willing to do the deed."

"No," Rose said as she raised her head, a fire of determination flashing in her eyes, "The world needs Jake, he is the American Dragon. Jake needs Lao-Shi, as a master and as a grandfather. It is my life that will be missed the least. I know Jake will be sad, but I'm the one without a family, whose whole life has been tuned toward the destruction of magical creatures. Now, its time to pay for my sins, for the sins of the Huntsgirl."

With that Rose turned, and began to fly back towards central park. Kryos watched Rose leave, a smile playing at his lips, "This, young dragon, was your final lesson." With that Kryos seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke, leaving the world in the hands of his dragon student. Rose raced back to the park, arriving just in time to see the Huntsmaster throw Jake to the ground. Lao Shi was lying a few feet away, struggling to get up off the ground only to fall flat from exhaustion.

The Huntsmaster smiled, standing over Jake as he said, "Well, dragon, I am happy to say it is finally over. In a few minutes the ritual will obliterate all other magical creatures. Still, I think you have been a big enough thorn in my side to justify some special attention. I will take your life with my bare hands, and then watch in joy as the world is finally rid of all mystical creatures you promised to protect."

With that the Huntsmaster raised up his energy whip, the weapon quickly shifting into the shape of the sword as the Huntsmaster prepared to strike. Suddenly, from out of no where, a blur of green charged into the Huntsmaster's side and plowed him to the ground. Jake looked up, smiling as he saw Rose land, an angry fire burning in her eyes.

The Huntsmaster stood up, biting back a growl as he said, "You insolent beast, you'll pay for that."

Rose lowered down into a defensive position, her eyes narrowing, The Huntsmaster rushed forward, holding the energy swords tightly as he began to slash at Rose. Rose jumped back, dodging it slash of the sword as the Huntsmaster pushed his attack. Rose glanced at the horizon out of the corner of her eye, only 1/3 of the sun still visible.

Rose finally saw an opportunity, rushing forward as she drove her fist into the Huntsmaster's gut. She then whipped around, wrapping her tail around his foot before throwing the Huntsmaster into a nearby tree. Jake smiled, picking himself up off the ground as he said, "Way to go."

Rose, however, did not return Jake's compliment. She, instead, turned and looked at the sun. She was running out of time. Rose's eyes then drifted down, falling on the Huntsmaster's spell book. Rose walked forward, picking up the book as she used the claws on one of her hands to cut it in two. Then, with a tear forming at her eye, Rose held her neck and placed the first half of the book in her mouth.

The thick block of metal pages and cover was hard to get down, but Rose eventually pushed the book to her stomach and then ate the second half. Jake went over to Lao Shi, helping his grandfather up as he asked, "What's happening G, why is Rose eating the spell book."

Lao Shi remained silent, offering a silent prayer for Rose's bravery. He remembered the stipulation of the spell for himself, that the strings of destruction could not pass through living flesh. Rose was going to take the ritual, and die so the world could survive.

Unfortunately, the Huntsmaster also knew this fact about the ritual. He jumped out of the tree, landing a few feet away as he said, "You, green dragon, don't think I'm going to let you stop me so easily. The spell starts when the sun sets, but it will only take effect when the moon rises. That is plenty of time for me to slice you open, and let the strings of destruction out to take hold of the world.

Rose turned, cringing a bit as the new weight in her stomach shifted around, "What makes you think I would let you release the strings."

The Huntsmaster smiled underneath his mask, pointing the tip of his sword at the sun rise, "Simple, the spells one, and most important, side effect." At that moment the last piece of the sun set behind the horizon, and Rose felt a sharp pain erupt in her gut. The pain grew as the strings of destruction sprouted from the book, and attached themselves to the inside of Rose's stomach.

Rose had never felt so much pain; it was like her insides were being torn apart. Rose toppled over, holding her stomach as the pain grew more intense. The Huntsmaster laughed, slowly stepping forward, "Well, dragon, I guess you will get to lead all other magical creatures out of this world, for with your death I shall bring about the destruction of all the others."

"Oh, and did you forget about me Hunts-chump." The Huntsmaster turned just in time to see Jake's tail cut through the air, and smack him across the face. The Huntsmaster was sent sprawling, the energy sword falling from his hand. Still, Jake did not stop. The American Dragon charged forward, picking the Huntmaster up and carrying him into the sky. The Huntsmaster struggled against Jake's grip, but could not do anything against the dragon's scales without a weapon.

Jake held his head down by the Huntsmaster's, his eyes narrowing as he said, "You want to know what your problem is. You are so blind you can't even recognize the person you have trained, and worked with since she was just a baby."

"What are you talking about dragon?" Huntsmaster quickly snapped back.

"That green dragon was Rose, the one you have always called Huntsgirl. She is the one who stopped your plan, and that's because she had enough sense to see the truth. You can be human or magical creature, and that doesn't matter. It is the person you are, and the way you live your life that matters."

The Huntsmaster growled, looking down as he saw a lake passing underneath him and Jake, "Spear me your lectures dragon. If that is Rose, then I am still sparred the trouble of killing that traitor. Though she has saved you and all the other magical creatures from the ritual, it will kill her from the inside out."

Jake eyes widened, his grip loosening as he looked back, "Rose, no." The Huntsmaster smiled, taking the chance to pull his arm out of Jake's claw before falling down to the lake below. Jake watched the Huntsmaster fall, but quickly began to fly back to where he had left Rose. The sky above New York was darkening, and Jake knew that soon, the moon would start to rise.

"The spell starts when the sun sets, but it will only take effect when the moon rises."

Jake began to fly faster, the worry building in his chest forcing his wings to flap faster. Jake landed on the ground, shifting back into his human form as he ran across the grass to where Rose lay, holding her stomach like it was about to explode. Lao Shi was standing nearby, his hands glowing as he tried to cast a spell.

The blue energy from Lao Shi's hands flowed into Rose, and gently began to ease the pain. Rose was able to let go of her stomach, lying flat on her back as Jack rushed up, his breathing ragged as he asked, "Grandpa."

Lao Shi turned, but gently shook his head, "I am sorry Jake, but I have done nothing more then eased the pain. I have no way of ending the spell, and the moon will rise in a few minutes."

Jake hung his head, slowly dropping to his knees. "Grandpa, can you do something for me. We left Hailey's teacher, Sun, alone with some Huntsclan warriors. Would you mind going to make sure she is all right?"

Lao Shi nodded, "Of course Jake." With that Lao Shi shifted into his dragon form, taking flight as he flew away. Jake remained on the ground, looking at Rose. The green scaled dragon slowly began to shift, opening her eyes as Lao Shi's spell took a firmer hold.

"Hey Jake," Rose said as she looked up, forcing a smile onto her face.

"Rose, why did you do it? You had to have known; otherwise you wouldn't have even thought of eating the book."

"I'm sorry Jake, but I had to do it. I went to see Kryos, and tried to get him to undo the spell. He has the power, but he doesn't have a choice when to use it. He is a disciple of the source of all magic, his strength comes from the source and he has to follow its will."

"That isn't a reason!" Jake said as tears began to pull at his eye, "there had to be another way. Rose, you don't know how much I missed you while you were gone. When I lost you the first time, I couldn't stop thinking about you, wondering if you were safe. This time, when you went with Kryos, the only thing that changed is I knew you were safe. That still didn't change the fact I missed you."

Rose slowly sat up, holding her stomach as the spell within her spiked, "I am sorry Jake, and I really wish there was another way. Still, my life weighed against the lives of every magical creature in the world. It is the least I can do to make up for the years I spent in the huntsclan."

Jake shook his head, "No, this can't be it. You're a dragon, and we can finally be together, and now you're telling me that we're going to be pulled apart again."

"Listen, Jake," Rose said as she set a hand on his shoulder, "I want to give you something, so you will always know how much I cared. First, can you change into your dragon form?" Jake nodded, a gentle flame of blue fire surrounding him. Soon, the red scaled American Dragon was sitting beside Rose, the pain of his heart still reflecting in his eyes.

Rose leaned up, ignoring the increasing pain in her stomach as she gently leaned in. Even though dragons didn't have lips, Rose pressed the end of her face against Jake's, gentle flames rising up from her throat. Before dragons could become human, they had a ritual that was much like kissing. They would press their faces together, and then each one would let their internal fire rise up. The gentle flames tickled the scales on a dragon's face, which could endure far higher temperatures then any other part of their body.

The moon then began to rise, its pale face starting to show over the horizon. Jake and Rose, however, continued kissing. The pain in Rose's stomach began to subside, but she didn't notice. Suddenly, a blue fire began to surround the pair. Jake began to shift back to his human form, but so did Rose. Soon, the pair of young humans were kissing the old fashioned way, sitting under the moonlight.

Rose pulled her lips away from Jakes, her eyes drifting up to the sky, "I don't understand."

"Well, it helps when you know the true translation of the spell." Jake and Rose turned, seeing Kryos land a few feet away. The white scaled dragon was consumed in fire, changing back into his human form. His hair turned its bone white, the black robes of his order reappear as he looked at Rose and Jake through his triangle shaped eyes.

Kryos smiled, walking up to the pair of young loves, "The Huntsmaster was saying the spell in its original context, the language of the Aztecs. He had first read of the spell from a translation done ten years ago, and it made him believe that it would destroy all magical creatures. This, however, is not true. With a proper translation, you find the spell will kill any creature born into magic. Rose, you may possess true magic now, but you were not born into it."

Rose and Jake stared at Kryos for a few minutes, but soon both had wide smiles on their face as they embraced the other. Kryos shook his head, stepping forward before he pulled Jake and Rose apart, "Now, wait you two. Why don't we go make sure Lao Shi and Sun are all right before celebrating? Besides, we haven't seen Fu Dog yet."

Rose and Jake nodded their heads, standing up as they both shifted into their dragon forms. While Kryos ran on the ground, Rose and Jake flew through the air. In the distance, Sun and Lao Shi were standing, talking in the center of a large field where Huntsclan warriors were lying, all of them knocked out cold.

A day soon passed, Fu Dog having been found in a pound on the southern edge of the city. Now, as night took a firm grip on the city of New York, several figures could bee seen flying up to the top a sky scrapper. On the edge of the building Lao Shi, Fu Dog, Sun, Haley, and Trixie sat, waiting patently as they stared up at the sky. Spud was a few feet away from the edge, laughing as he played with the mother hydra and her three babies. Apparently, while Jake and Rose fought the Huntsmaster, Haley was able to help the three eggs hatch. Spud was already begging Lao Shi, hoping he could keep the shrunken creatures as pets.

Higher up on the building, sitting on a ledge, Rose and Jake stared up at the sky. Rose turned, smiling as she asked, "Well, American Dragon, anything else exciting happening in your life?"

Jake smiled, "Well, I know it is going to be interesting when you make your first trip to the Isle of Draco. The Dragon Council may be a little stubborn in accepting you as a true dragon, but I'll do all I can to make sure you are given the same respect as me in the dragon community."

"Thanks Jake, that means a lot."

Jake shrugged, "Hey, its no problem… I just."

"Oh look, its starting." Jake and Rose then fell silent as the city's Fourth of July show kicked off, music filling the entire city as a huge fireworks display danced in the sky above. Jake gently lifted his hand, setting it on Rose's as they sat and watched the fireworks.

In the distance, Kryos smiled, gently disappearing into a puff of smoke, "A pair of star-crossed lovers, born to be the others enemy. Now, under the colored fire that fills the sky, the stars of the sky are rewritten, and their future begins to blossom like a Rose in summer."

Kryos then laughed, the last of his voice floating in the air, "Now that's how I wanted Romeo and Juliet to end."