A preview of The Twelve Stones: Petrichor for my loyal readers!
The flames from the dragon’s snout were hotter than anything found on earth. The fire spat from Scott’s transformed body instantly vaporized most of Professor Maxwell Collier’s body. Emily Harper watched as her former fiancé’s body was turned into ash by Alex’s friend Scott who had used the shape shifting stone to transform himself into a fearsome dragon.
The ashes from Collier’s body floated down peacefully back to the ocean. Emily buried her face into the crook of Alex’s shoulder as Scott flew through the clouds enjoying his new body.
“We have to move…” Alex said softly to Emily who didn’t react.
Christina stepped up to Alex and slide her arm into her friend’s, “Em…”
“NO!” she screamed, whipping away from both of them. “We can’t just leave…”
“There’s nothing left Em…” Alex said. “We have to go and regroup before those men with guns back at the power plant figure out they weren’t hallucinating three giant birds and a dragon.”
Emily buried her crying face back into Christina’s shoulder who patted her reassuringly. Christina looked down at her friend and back at Alex.
“Better get Scott back,” Christina said softly, her eyes darting up to the sky where Scott was still flying through the clouds.
Alex nodded and began waving, trying to catch his friend’s eye.
Eventually, Scott spotted Alex and with a flick of his wings, aimed his massive body down towards Alex, Emily and Christina. Using the stone borrowed from Alex, Scott shapeshifted back into his human form, the massive dragon’s body deflating and returning him to his naked form.
“We’ve got to get back to the hotel and regroup,” Alex said firmly.
Scott didn’t say anything, only leaning down to pick up his clothes that were lying on the ground where Emily had dropped Alex’s backpack.
“Can I get the stone back?” Alex asked. “I need some clothes.”
Scott glanced at the stone in his hand and his clothes in the other, hesitating for a second.
“I wanna try something…” Scott said and waved his hand over Alex.
Alex was suddenly dressed in a loud Hawaiian shirt and comically over sized shorts. He looked down at the ridiculous outfit he was wearing in dismay.
“It looks like Jimmy Buffet threw up all over me.”
“Payback for turning me into a parrot…” Scott said with the slightest hint of a smile.
“Funny, but how about you give the stone back before you inflict your tragic sense of fashion on anyone else…” Alex said, holding his hand out.
Scott didn’t say anything, and only drew back, holding the stone close in to his chest.
“Scott?” Alex asked again beginning to be concerned. “The stone…?”
“I…” Scott’s eyes began darting around as he took a step back. “You’ve got two stones already. Can’t I hang onto this one? I mean, think about it, if someone takes you out, we lose all three. Isn’t there something about keeping all your chickens in one basket, or whatever?”
“Scott…” Alex’s voice stayed soft, but there was a definite edge to it now, “I know how that stone can feel. It’s powerfully seductive… but you need to give it back before it takes over.”
Scott licked his lips and looked nervously at Christina and Alex. “You don’t understand…”
“I do…” Alex said softly. “I understand Scott. But, we’ve seen what happens when someone handles a stone they’re not ready for.”
“Alex, I’m still me, I’m not going crazy, I just…” Scott looked around stepping back toward the cliff that led down to the beach. “It’s important, there are things I could do with this stone that would change the world. I need it to make things right.”
“The very second we have all twelve stones under control, I swear, I’ll let you research them all,” Alex said carefully. He didn’t want to hurt his friend, but he was preparing himself in case Scott wasn't holding it together as well as he'd hoped he would.
“Remember what Siobhan said? The more stones I hold, the more powerful they get. If I have any hope of going up against Kline with his three, I’m gonna need every advantage. The dude’s already a billionaire with nigh unlimited resources. One miscalculation, one false step, and that’s it for all of us. Not just you and me, but everyone on this planet. You get that, right? We can’t know what might happen if he managed to separate us and got hold of that stone.”
“What if…” Scott looked around desperately, “What if I just borrowed it, just for a day or so? Let me take care of something. I swear I won’t go crazy and kill everyone, or even try to meltdown a nuclear reactor. I just need to take care of something.”
“What Scott?” Alex asked gently, “What do you need to take care of?”
“You won’t… can’t understand,” Scott said, his voice cracking. “You were gone Alex, and I had to do things that you don’t know about. Things that I have to fix now...”
“It’s okay buddy,” Alex said, keeping his voice low and conversational. No need to spook his friend. “Whatever’s wrong, we can fix. But you’ve got to give that stone back first.”
Scott looked down at the stone he was holding close and slowly stepped back. “People died because of me Alex…” Scott said, his eyes pleading. “I’m sorry, but I need to do this. I need to fix what I did and I can do it with this stone. I swear, I’ll bring it back as soon as I can…”
“Scott!” Alex shouted. But he was too late. Scott had already begun the process of shifting into the enormous dragon, its massive wings beating against the salty ocean air.
Alex leapt back, and held out the fire stone he'd claimed from Emily's now dead fiance. He felt the raw power of his new stone combine its energies with his other stone. He raised a palm and aimed it toward his friend, ready to unleash the pure destructive force he was holding.
But he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t, wouldn’t pull that trigger and risk hurting his friend. He watched Scott quickly gain altitude out over the Pacific Ocean as he quickly flew away from their position on the beach.
Alex stared at the rapidly shrinking dot that was his friend in shock and cursed the wind blowing in his face. He had two stones left, but what if Kline found him? Could he hold out against all three?
“Alex…?” Emily asked in a small voice.
“I know…” Alex said softly. “Unless I miss my guess, these stones are a whole lot more dangerous that any of us ever realized.”
He took off the necklace his father had given him and looked at the stone wrapped within the wire. His father had returned this stone to him only a few days ago (an event that felt eons away). He’d tried to warn him about the dangers of the stone, but Alex hadn’t listened. How could he be so stupid to let Scott handle a stone without knowing what would happen?
“Maybe he went back to the hotel,” Christina said hopefully.
He watched the tiny dot that was his friend recede into the distance until he could no longer see him. He swallowed and thought about what to do. Looking over at Emily and Christina and they way they looked (and how he felt) he knew they didn't have a choice.
“Even if he didn’t, we ought to,” he said finally. “We need sleep, and we’re not likely to get any out here.”
Emily didn’t react. She was still in shock and nearly catatonic over what she’d just been through. Alex glanced at Christina who nodded. She grabbed Emily and led her to the Hypertruck.
Alex watched Emily get into the truck silently and felt a pang of guilt. It wasn’t his fault her fiancé was dead, but if he knew anything about human nature, she’d blame him.
And to be honest, he wasn’t sure she’d be wrong to.
Alex stepped into the Hypertruck and started up the engines hoping that he could pilot it home and avoid the inevitable roadblocks between them and their wouldn’t keep them from getting back to the hotel for some rest. With Collier’s death and Scott’s apparent betrayal, all he wanted was for the worst day of his life to end.