Ch. 4.1 — Eli held his wailing baby brother close, jiggling and soothing him. In a moment his father was beside him.
The king smiled sadly down at Eli. “You saved your brother’s life. I’m so proud of you.”
Eli’s heart swelled with pride as he beamed up at his father. When the pain finally began to register, he looked down and saw blood spattered on his clothes, arms, and hands. His skin was bubbling. His lips trembled, but he stood tall and patted his brother on the back.
The queen reached them next and burst into tears. “Oh my poor babies!” When she would have reached down to take the howling baby, the king wrapped his arms around her and held her back.
“Don’t touch either of them. It’s dragon’s blood.”
Matthew, Mark, and Esther, who had rushed back onto the stage, stopped with horrified expressions. Esther screamed. Their servants seized them and pulled them back to safety.
Eli looked down at his wailing brother. One of the dragon’s claws had scratched Ezra from the top of his forehead, across his left eye, and down his cheek. The dragon’s blood had splattered him, and big red blotches were bubbling across Ezra’s face.
“Dragon’s blood! But that means…” Queen Natalie screamed. “No! Please, someone help them. Doctor? Where are you?”
The Royal Physician rushed up the stairs with his medical bag. But his face paled when he saw the blood on Ezra and Eli. He looked at the king. “Sire, if I touch that blood, I’ll die too. I’m sorry.” He turned, ran down the steps, and fled through the crowd.
Queen Natalie gasped. “Coward! Come back here at once. Guards, seize that man.”
But the doctor had already disappeared into the crowd.
Eli’s heart sped up. He was going to die? His arms, hands and face throbbed. The pain was getting worse. His baby brother kept crying. Eli looked up at his mother and was afraid. “Mama?”
King Frances shook his head. “I’m so sorry.”
“No,” said Queen Natalie. “I refuse to give up.” She turned to the magical beings on the stand. “Please, if you know an antidote, come and help them. I beg you.” She began to sob.
“Please,” said the king. “Is there anything you can do?”
The magical beings shook their heads.
“I’m sorry,” said Marin, the elf. “There is no antidote for dragon’s blood.”
The other magical beings nodded.
“We’re very sorry,” said the mermaid.
Queen Natalie began to sob. “No. There has to be something.”
“There is nothing we can do,” said the dwarf.
Eli felt dizzy. He sat down on the stage, still cradling his brother. His skin was burning. He was only eight years old. His brother was only a few months old. They were too young to die. He hadn’t even got to see if his dog, Cindy, had had her puppies yet.
Then Eli heard a rustle of cloth. A new voice spoke, a man’s deep voice.
“Actually, there is an antidote. I developed it myself. I would be glad to be of assistance.”
Eli looked up and saw a man with a long gray beard. He had a kind face and blue eyes, and he wore a wizard’s robes. In one hand was a black satchel and in the other was a long, stout walking stick. The man came towards them.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said to Eli.
Eli began to hope.
“Wizard Colin,” said the king. But he didn’t sound happy.