Drakor nodded. “When we toss titanium into a lightning shaft, it glows black and sparkles like diamonds. Black lightning isss special.”
Arak snapped his tail. “Should I feel honored that an ice dragon attacked us with black lightning?”
Drakor shrugged his wings. “Probably. They wanted to drive the point home.”
Arak stared at the charred wood on his skiff, feeling an inner storm of anger. Then he laughed. “Definitely driven home.”
Drakor clouted Arak on the back, nearly knocking him over. “Now I will teach you to gather lightning with no storm. First, stand tall. It helps to be higher in the sky.”
Arak stretched taller.
“Tilt your claws toward a sparkle in the clouds. Feel the tingle.” Drakor gestured with his claws. “Gather charges of energy. A small energy ball in your claws pulls in more energy. It isss like a snowball rolling down a hill. The snowball gathers more and more snow. Soon you have enough energy to make a lightning bolt.”
Arak tilted his copper claws and concentrated. Nothing happened. “Drakor, you’re right. Gathering sky energy to make lightning is very different from focusing body energy to make sparks.” He tried again. And again. Late in the evening, Arak finally held a tiny pearl of fire. He wore a happy/proud/exhausted expression on his face.
Scree’s eyes twinkled. “You look just like a dragon-lady gazing at her first egg.”
Arak gathered more energy and the fire pearl grew. “It’s like holding a star.”
Scree watched closely. “I can’t see magnetic lines, but I can feel energy. I want to hold a star.”
Drakor nodded to Arak. “That isss good. Let the lightning ball grow bigger. Then we will learn to find wrinkles so you can hit a target. This turns the bolt into a lightning sword.”
Arak looked up from his star. “What?”
“Wrinkles are wiggly magnetic lines. They attract lightning. I use my inner sight to find a magnetic wrinkle near the target. Wrinkles are small and do not hold still. When the wrinkle isss on top of the target I toss the bolt. The wrinkle will attract the lightning bolt and I will hit my target.”
“That would be more accurate than the way we toss lightning bolts onto the beach,” Taron said, frowning at the shadowed corridor between floating ice-mountains.
Arak followed his gaze. “Dorali, grab that pole. We may need it.”
Drakor eyed the channel and stood taller. “Why do you hit sand?”
Taron adjusted the tiller, carefully guiding the skiff down the middle. “The sand melts and makes glass rods. Octopi love them and trade us beautiful pearls, seaweed, even oyster spat.”
Drakor grimaced. “Spat?”
Arak laughed, but his eyes were glued to the ice-mountains. “Spat is oyster seed, to grow oysters. They’re tasty, and oysters make a strong reef. The tsunami tore up our shore under the sea. We put oyster spat on rope nets and placed them on the dead sand, weighted with rocks. This has grown into an oyster reef.”
Taron added, “Octopi planted new eelgrass below the waves. This and the oysters helped bring back the fish, and our undersea shore is alive again.”
Thick, blue-gray shadows filled the channel like dense smoke. Pale afternoon light slid along the knife-sharp edges of ice. Arak laid his ears back instinctively as he faced this menace. “How do you find magnetic wrinkles?” he asked, almost as an after-thought. The ice danger sucked him in as surely as a bog of quicksand.
“The same way I gather sky energy: I concentrate.” Drakor flicked his claws out and a bright pearl appeared. It quickly grew into a glowing, twisting ball. “Magnetic wrinkles are small, and they wriggle.”
Arak glanced at the energy pearl for just a moment. “I watch sparkles in the magnetic field to judge the strength of storms. I follow curved magnetic lines to find land. But I can’t see wrinkles . . . yet.” He stared at the towering walls of ice as they entered the narrow channel.
Taron carefully adjusted the tiller, steering the dragon-skiff down the center.
An ice-mountain tilted, creating a powerful whirlpool that sucked them into the ice.
Taron lifted the wood pole and stared hopelessly at the falling giant. Time slowed. The sky disappeared. Dragons stretched their wings to fly. Orm and Scree flowed to the edge of the skiff, ready to drop into the sea. All too late.
The air grew heavier as the mountain rolled over, crushing down.
A ball of blinding white light flew to the ice, stretching, growing into a lightning sword. The tip gouged deep into a crack, boiling the ice from within. The iceberg shattered. Ice chunks rained down and skittered across the deck as the skiff slipped past to safety.
Everyone stared at Drakor.
He flicked ice off the deck with his long tail. “This isss good practice for the ice game Slam.” Chunks flew overboard, skimming just above the rail, one after another. It was a precision drill.
“You knew that ice-mountain would fall?” Arak asked.
Drakor shrugged his wings. “Not sure. The ice-mountain was old, worn on top, so I was watching. Old, white mountains are more likely to flip over. After it flips, the ice isss blue like the sea.”
Arak clapped him on the shoulder. “So that’s why some are blue. That was a useful lightning bolt.”
Drakor grinned. “I make lots of lightning swords to practice for the games.”
Taron hit ice chunks with his tail, but they merely slid beneath the rail. “How do you play games with lightning swords?”
“Many ice targets are put on a field. Then the drum beats slowly. Each player has one turn. There are ten drumbeats to hit targets with lightning swords. The winner isss the dragon who hits the most targets in the least drumbeats.” Drakor’s eyes glowed.
Dorali wiped cold sea spray off her face. “Have you won?”
Drakor studied his sharp claws in silence. He flicked them out and started growing a new lightning sword. “Yes.”
*FIND DRAGON LIGHTNING HERE*