Excerpt from Dark Ember
Before Rex could continue, Helio moved on the bed. He stretched, belching a little lick of flame. Rhama turned to the little wyvern, expecting him to rush over as he typically did. Instead, the little creature rolled into a ball, flame licking over his scales ominously.
“Dude, that’s my bed.”
Mindful of Jonas’ worry, Rhama stood from the chair. The flame continued to burn, covering the little wyvern and singeing the bedsheets. Summoning his magic into his outstretched hand, Rhama used his power to shift the little creature to the floor where it would not set the palace ablaze.
“Ember?” Rhama addressed the Drake without turning his head from the ball of fire on the floor. “What’s happening?”
Rex stepped forward, peering at the fire with a look of concentration. The flames reflected in his dark eyes as he considered the burning wyvern. A slow smile spread over his friend’s face, which almost immediately deflated Rhama’s panic.
“He’s growing.” Rex offered, turning from his crouch before the wyvern to look at Rhama. “He’s in a cocoon.”
“Dope.” Jonas dragged the two syllables out in astonishment. “He cocooned in fire!”
“How long will it last?” Rhama asked, admiring the flame now that he was sure there would be no pain for Helio.
“A few moments, this time.” Rex translated, his eyes back on the wyvern’s flame. “Every time he gets larger it will take a little longer. The last one could last a few days, so he’ll need to be somewhere he can burn without hurting anything.”
The trio watched for several seconds in silence as the fire grew. When he entered the cocoon, Helio was the size of a small reptile, perhaps six inches long. From the way the fire grew, Rhama expected he would be much larger when he emerged.
“Come closer,” Rex requested. “He’ll be a little disoriented. He should see you first.”
“Thank you, both of you.” Rhama murmured.
Rex patted his shoulder in that familiar, friendly way he often did with Jonas as he moved away. Rhama took a seat on the floor, crossing his legs at the knee the way children often did, to await the emergence of his little friend.
The wait was only seconds. Soon after Rhama sat, the flame cracked, as though it were surrounding an egg. Flame sputtered as Helio’s spindly leg kicked out. Another crack revealed another leg and within seconds, the cocoon lay in pieces on the floor.
Rex stepped forward, raising his hand with the fingers splayed toward the fire still burning. He seemed to absorb the fire into his palm, soothing the flame before it could further destroy Jonas’ bedroom floor.
Helio stood in the broken pieces of his second shell, stretching languidly. He was now the size of a small dog, his scales still a brilliant red with the gold on his head now in a crown that could raise up from his neck or lie smooth. His wings spread out to the sides, stronger now and more than the length of his body. His muzzle had rows of razor-sharp teeth, which were a match to the impressive set of claws on his four, muscled legs. His body was still abnormally long, as wyverns were supposed to be, giving him a serpentine look.
As though he knew he had grown more beautiful, the wyvern lifted his thin neck and eyed his companions with what must have been wyvern-humor.
“Yes, you are growing up, aren’t you?” Rhama asked, holding his hand out to the wyvern.
“Look at you, big guy.” Rex chimed in, crouching to get a better look at their little companion.
Helio nuzzled Rhama’s hand before he stepped into his lap, making him laugh. He bounced around on his caretaker’s legs, careful of his claws as he purred and chittered. The tone had deepened, only a little.
“He’s excited.” Rex translated again with a laugh. “You don’t seem as big anymore.”
“Oh, man.” Jonas chuckled, reaching out to stroke Helio’s head. The scales at the back of his skull flicked up and down, as though he could not control them. “He’s got a Queen Elizabeth collar on!”
Rex chuckled in response, shaking his head. “His second-favorite person is going to flip when she sees him. We should go find Swift, huh?”
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