Chapter 34 Epilogue
Disclaimer: I Dardarax, do not own Spyro, Cynder, The Temple or any other character or place belonging to the Spyro franchise. I do, however, own my own characters, most of which are listed below; These same characters have also tied me to the writing desk and are barely feeding OHGODPLEASEHELPMETHEYAREALLMANIACS! I HAVEN'T SEEN THE SUN IN DAYS! NO, NOT THE WHIP! AAAAAAAHHHHH!
Savron: Sorry about that, just ignore that last part, he gets rowdy sometimes. Now enjoy the story he laboured to get to you. xD
Zindy yawned, stretching on the colourful expanse of her multi-coloured bed, careful not to stress her body too much. Blinking away the last vestiges of sleep, the little yellow dragoness scooted off of the bed and carefully stood up, her legs wobbling slightly. Once she was stable, Zindy hobbled across her room, around the scattering of toys lying about. She stopped at the door and let out a long sigh as she reached up to open the door, sticking her tongue out in concentration as her limbs wobbled while trying to keep her balance. She pushed open her door, and padded out of her room, only to shut the door with a shove of her back end. Then Zindy sauntered down the hallway, careful not to go too quickly, making her way to the cafeteria.
It was quite late in the day, Zindy's schedule requiring her to sleep much later than she'd normally like. She wanted to be racing along the corridors as the sun rose in the windows, and to skip between shadows the dawn light cast like steppingstones. But her grandpa insisted she get as much rest as possible so she could, hopefully, recover enough to eventually do those things.
Zindy wandered into the cafeteria and picked up a pork chop and some gravy smothered bread. She was sitting down to eat when she noticed Lyrith wander by the cafeteria, his paws dragging and his head slumped. Zindy sat up and shuffled after him, moving as fast as she could.
"Lyr! Howareyoudoingwhydoyoulooksosad?" Zindy called after the Albino.
Lyrith stopped and looked back over to her, yawning. "Tired, not sad," he replied gruffly, shaking his head.
"Oh, wellwhydon'tyoucomeandeatwithme?" Zindy asked, smiling brightly.
"I've already eaten today," Lyrith grumbled, blinking tiredly.
"Toobad, you'recomingwithme!" Zindy declared, grabbing Lyrith's paw and dragging him back into the cafeteria. Too tired to argue, Lyrith let the little electric dragoness pull him into the empty kitchen.
Zindy sat down at the table, staring at Lyrith until he sat down across from her. Then she started eating, gobbling up her porkchops while Lyrith watched her, sighing somberly.
"I see you've recovered well," Lyrith murmured, suppressing a yawn.
"I know! I've been doing great! I might evenbeabletorunagainsometimesoon! Howareyoudoing?"
"I was up all night studying for the upcoming exams. That plus all of the work Dera-dad's putting me through at the forge, and I'm exhausted."
"Oh, Isee… HaveyouseenSavronaround?" Zindy asked, changing the subject.
"I haven't seen anyone other than you today," Lyrith groaned, rubbing his temples with his forepaws.
"Oh… let'sgolookforthem!" Zindy exclaimed, dropping her half finished pork chop and getting to her paws.
"I have classes I need to go to," Lyrith replied, getting to his paws and shaking his head. "If you find them, tell them I'll,"
"Comeon! Youcancatchupon yourclasseslater!"
Lyrith sighed, wanting to argue, but knowing he didn't have the mental strength to do so. Zindy pranced on ward, glancing back now and again to make sure Lyrith wasn't trying to make an escape. He didn't bother, knowing that even crippled she'd catch up to him in a heartbeat.
Zindy chattered to him all the way down the hall, her tongue waggling so fast that he quickly lost track of what she was saying. He was fairly certain it started with something involving a small, orange one horned lizard person who hated dragons she saw in a dream. After wandering the Temple halls for more than half an hour, they came across Typhous, right as Lyrith was about to give up.
"Ah, Zindy, Lyrith, we've been looking for you two!"
"You have?" Lyrith asked, starting to frown, only to lose it during a yawn.
"Yes, we have," Typhous said, smiling. "We're planning on a trip down to the town, and we were looking for you two to join us."
"Don't we have classes?"
"We can skip those today. Come on, let's go," Typhous led the two through the hallways, checking down each one to see if the others were in it. After a few minutes, he stopped, looked around and rushed down the hall to the left. "Come on, this way!"
Lyrith and Zindy walked after him, Lyrith sighing tiredly. The sun stabbed into their eyes as they left the Temple, heading through the gate and down the winding, rocky path to the nameless town at the foot of the Temple. Lyrith plodded along at the back, his head throbbing from lack of sleep, causing him to slowly lose ground on the rest of the group. The group came to a stop at the foot of the cliff, and waited for Lyr to catch up with them.
"Aw come on, Lyr!" Savron called over to him as he shambled on over. "Lift your chin up, it's a beautiful day outside!"
Lyrith yawned. "Do you really need me here? If I'm going to skip classes today, I'd rather do it for something useful, like sleeping."
"Sorry Lyr," Tirren said, grinning. "But we wanted everyone here for a proper break."
"Then where's Danrah and Voltlyn?" Lyrith asked, giving Tirren an irritated look.
"Danrah and Vash are, uh, preoccupied with an assignment the Guardians gave them," Igneous replied.
"And Voltlyn?" Lyrith asked once more, grumbling grumpily.
"We wanted her to come, but she, uh, she couldn't. Not yet anyway," Tirren replied hesitantly.
"And why must I come when she can't?" Lyrith demanded irritably.
"She will be coming down, she's just delayed, that's all."
Lyrith sighed, defeated. "Fine, you win, I'll come. This had just better be worth it though."
"Sheesh, Lyrith's such a grump today," Savron said, rolling his eyes and giving Tirren a smirk. "Only a real sourpuss could want to sleep a day like this away!"
Tirren nodded in agreement, followed by the others. Lyrith looked up at the partially cloudy sky, and the puddles sitting around the rocky crevices, formed by last night's thundershower.
"It's not that great of a day," Lyrith muttered to himself, suppressing a yawn, Then, the Albino followed after his friends, through the half empty streets, towards the large log building labeled 'Venison Heaven.'
The gang hustled Lyrith into the restaurant, going past the line and stopping by the hostess to get their seats. As they were seated, waiters swarmed the large table, bringing them bowls of water and cream to sip at while they selected their meals. Lyrith glanced around at the group suspiciously.
"How long have you been planning this?" Lyrith demanded, his tired red eyes narrowing.
"What do you mean, Lyr?" Tirren responded innocently.
"You had reservations for a large group table at this place, and yet nobody told me about this until today."
"Um," Savron replied, his eyes quickly glancing over the rest of the gang. "Uh, we wanted it to be a surprise."
"A surprise for what?" Lyrith asked, his voice low and dangerous. He looked around at them all, his red streaked eyes molten with irritation.
"Well, as a celebration for your first year of being here at the Temple," Sleet answered, giving Lyrith a weak smile.
"Yeah, we wanted to take you out someplace nice for your first year here," Savron agreed, nodding enthusiastically. "So, what do you want to eat?"
Lyrith stared around at the others grumpily for a moment, then sighed. "Fine, whatever," with that, Lyrith opened his menu and gazed at the choices with bleary eyes. The waiters returned, took their orders and left to bring them their appetizers. Their food was only just arriving when a deep, voice rumbled from behind Lyrith.
"Well, I was wondering when I'd run into you again, rat."
Lyrith's eyes narrowed and he turned to face the speaker. Thunder stood above him, the massive yellow dragon smirking down at Lyrith.
"I was hoping I'd never have to see your ugly mug again, to be honest," Lyrith sneered, his muzzle peeling back to reveal his fangs.
"That's a shame, because you'll be seeing a lot more of me from now on," Thunder chuckled, leaning down to stare Lyr directly in the face. "That is, unless you've become a coward like the rest of your white skinned kind."
Lyrith rose to his paws, snarling. The others got up too, eyes wide as they readied themselves to stop a possible fight. Thunder merely laughed.
"Good to know your temper hasn't changed, runt. This is what I wanted to see,"
"What are you doing here, Thunder?" Igneous demanded, wincing as he stood. He placed a paw on his stomach scars, to try and ease the pain flashing through him.
Thunder glanced over to Igneous, and then returned his gaze to Lyr.
"I'm here to challenge milky here to a duel," Thunder declared, sneering down at Lyrith. "I want a rematch from back when he defeated me."
Lyrith smirked. "Took you long enough, I was wondering if I beat a bit too much sense into that thick skull of yours. I'm glad to see that that's not the case. You're just as dense as before."
Thunder laughed heartily, seemingly genuinely amused by the insult.
"You surprised me with your skill the first time around, milky, but you won't get that advantage this time around. I won't be holding back when we step into the arena in two weeks,"
"Two weeks? What, do you need to use that time to pump yourself up so you won't piss yourself when you get into the arena?" Lyrith snorted.
"No, I'm giving you that time," Thunder sneered. He looked Lyrith up and down, huffing. "Look at you, you're a mess. I don't want to be fighting an exhausted dragon. There's no honour in that. Besides, I've already taken the past several months to train myself for this fight. I'm at my peak."
Lyrith gazed up at Thunder, sneering, but saying nothing.
"So do you accept, Lyrith? Or have you let your cowardly 'Albinoness' get to your head?"
"I accept, Thunder," Lyrith snorted, glaring at Thunder. "And I will kick your ass so hard this time, that I'll knock the colour right off of your scales."
"I look forward to it," Thunder chuckled, turning away and striding out of the restaurant, past the waiters who had been standing back anxiously, expecting a fight to break out at any moment. Lyrith retook his seat, his muzzle twisted up into an angry sneer, gazing past his friends and out the window. The waiters nervously placed the platters down on the table and hurried away, returning to their regular schedules.
"That is going to be placing a damper on the rest of the day," Typhous sighed, shaking his head. "So much for everything going smoothly."
Lyrith dug into his appetizer, suddenly invigorated, the sluggishness having vanished from his face. The others glanced at each other and shrugged, glad to see at least something good came out of the encounter. Their meals were just arriving as Voltlyn came around to their table, and sat down across from Lyrith.
"Sorry I'm late," she murmured, giving everyone a shy smile. "I see you've all decided to order without me."
"Sorry Voltlyn," Tirren said, giving her an apologetic smile. "We didn't want to wait, since we didn't know how long you'd be. You can have some of ours, though."
"Thank you," Voltlyn said, nodding appreciatively. The gang scraped some of their food onto a spare plate and passed it to Voltlyn, which she accepted with a smile. The group quickly got down to eating, their chatter dying away in order to focus on their meals.
"So, uh, Voltlyn, how are things going with you?" Typhous asked the topaz dragoness as they finished up their meals.
"Oh, things are working out wonderfully, Typhous," Voltlyn said her eyes flickering up from her meal, over Lyrith to the grey dragon. "But I was in such a rush to get here I haven't gotten a chance to pick up my order yet."
Lyrith looked up at Voltlyn, raising an eye ridge. "Your order?" he asked curiously.
"Oh, it's just something I was having made at the Wyrm's Hoard Jewlers," Voltlyn answered, shrugging indifferently.
"Oh really. Well what is it then?" Lyrith asked, "It can't be nothing if it's custom made."
"Oh, well, it's…"
"It's time for us to leave, unfortunately," Tirren interrupted, standing up. "I'll go pay the bill, while you guys go on ahead. I'll catch up with you in a bit."
Lyrith glared at Tirren for interrupting, but before he could turn back to Voltlyn to try and return to the conversation, but sighed as he saw she had taken up conversation with Typhous. The Albino shook his head, and got to his paws to follow his friends as they moved to leave Venison Heaven. As they left the restaurant, Voltlyn and Typhous broke off from the group, heading further into town. Tirren caught Lyrith's gaze as he stared after them.
"She's going to go pick up that package she was talking about," Tirren clarified. Lyrith paused for a moment and then nodded.
"Why are you so inquisitive today, Lyrith?" Sleet asked, looking over at the Albino with an amused smile.
"Because I don't like people hiding things from me," Lyrith replied, turning his eyes towards the scrawny dragon.
Sleet's smile cracked. "Uh, I don't know what you're talking about."
"You don't think I bought that excuse you gave, do you?" Lyrith snorted. "All of you gave it away with your shifty eyes and terrible acting."
"Still don't know what you're talking about, Lyrith," Savron called from the front of the group. "I think you're just acting paranoid!"
Lyrith rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Whatever you're up to, I'm going to be watching you."
"Whatever you want, Lyrith!" Savron called back once more. The others chuckled at the purple dragon's carefree call, much to Lyr's chagrin.
"Okay, so the first thing on our agenda after the meal was going to be stopping by the town center to listen to some of the travelling bands play. Sound good?"
The group nodded grinning. Lyrith let out a weary sigh. "Hey, if this is supposed to be a "celebration" in my honour, why am I not allowed to pick what we are doing?"
The group paused and glanced at one another. Then they looked back to Lyrith.
"Okay then, what do you have in mind?" Savron asked, smirking.
"How about you all let me go and get a good day's sleep," Lyrith requested hopefully.
"Uh… no," Tirren replied, grinning and shaking her head. "That would ruin the point of this little get together."
"Which is to what? Exhaust me into failing the exams?" Lyrith muttered under his breath, the white dragon growing increasingly frustrated.
"Of course not, silly," Savron laughed, padding over to Lyrith and giving him a fond shake with his wing. Lyrith jerked away, shoving Savron to the side.
"Don't touch me."
Savron glanced between Lyr and the others, then shrugged and continued speaking. "This is the reason we're not taking your suggestions today, Lyr, you're so grumpy! We just want to have fun with you!"
Lyrith glowered at the lot of the, then sighed. "Fine, whatever. Let's go see the stupid street performers and their screeching music. It's not like it matters to me, since it's not like there are exams looming in the horizon."
"Don't worry about that, Lyr," Igneous replied, moving to walk in stride with Lyrith as the group started off. "Those exams aren't for another month or two. You have plenty of time to get work done."
Lyrith scoffed, his eyes rolling away from the red dragon. "You can never be too prepared, and I'd rather be too ready than not."
"Well, let's just forget about all that for today and relax. It's not healthy to be so worked up all the time." Igneous insisted.
"Fine, but just this once. Let's go see if there's anything worthwhile to listen too."
"… so you can see the benefits of having a patron, Voltlyn, free-lancing is not nearly as well paying as some artists like to make it out to be," Typhous finished, his perfect white fangs flashing as he gave the topaz dragoness a huge smile.
Voltlyn nodded as he finished his speech, her considering the proposal. "So, if you and your dad take me on as patrons, you'd commission paintings for me and sell everything else I paint for me? Am… am I getting you right?"
"Exactly! We'd take a pittance fee for anything you'd do for another noble, and whatever we sold for you, but other than that there is nothing you'd need to worry about! All you'd need to do is paint, and we would find someone to buy it for you, so you would never have to worry about that sort of thing again!"
Voltlyn smiled, turning her ocean blue eyes to Typhous and giving him a grateful smile. "I'd love that, Typhous. Thank you so much."
"You are most welcome," Typhous replied, giving her a small, flourishing bow.
Voltlyn looked away from Typhous and around at the stores surrounding them. After a long moment of searching, she sighed. "I can't see the shop, Typhous, are you sure it's around here?"
"Of course, Voltlyn, it is just around the corner," the grey dragon replied, pointing a claw to the intersection ahead. "It's two buildings down from the left of here."
"Oh, alright, I was getting worried," Voltlyn said, sighing in relief. The pair turned the corner and made their way through the crowded street towards the small jeweler's shop. A small bell tinkled as the pair of dragons pushed open the door and stepped inside.
The building looked just as small as it had appeared on the outside and was crammed with shelves and display cases. The only thing that kept the store from being an impassable maze was its meticulous tidiness, which left almost no lose junk lying anywhere around the store. A bespectacled cheetah sat behind the tiny counter at the other end of the store. He was leaning down over the counter, peering at a shining ring laying on a piece of white cloth.
The cheetah glanced up at the ringing bell and folded the cloth up, to place it under the counter. He rose with a groan, his old bones creaking and watched the pair of dragons as they approached him.
"Um… hello mister Willow," Voltlyn murmured, forcing a shy smile onto her face. "I'm, I'm here for my order…"
The cheetah looked Voltlyn over, nodding slowly. "Yer Voltlyn, right?"
"I finished yer commission two days ago, I was expecting ye sooner."
"There's nothin teh be sorry bout. It's not like you waited a month," the cheetah grunted, getting up and shuffling over to a door behind the counter. "I'll get it, ye wait 'ere."
Voltlyn and Typhous sat down on their haunches, turning their gazes about the other jewelery around them as they waited. After a few minutes the cheetah returned, a small box in hand. Voltlyn stood up as he placed the box down on the counter. She reached down to her neck, fished out a couple gold pieces and placed them down on the counter by the box.
"This is the last of the payment," Voltlyn murmured, smiling up at the cheetah. The cheetah looked down at the coins and grunted.
"Ye supposed to look at the finished product before paying the last bit, missy, so I know there's nothing else I needed the do."
"Oh…" Voltlyn murmured, her smile fading away. She glanced down at the counter, raising a paw hesitantly. After a few seconds she picked up the box, leaving the coins on the table and looked into the box. A huge smile crossed her face, and she looked up at the cheetah.
"It's perfect," she murmured, closing the box.
"Ye sure there's nothin more ye want me teh do?"
"No, it's exactly as I wanted it," Voltlyn replied, slipping the box into her neck pouch. The cheetah shrugged and slid the coins across the counter, and put them in his own purse.
"Good, hope yeh have a good day then, miss Voltlyn."
"I will, thank you so much.
"Just doin my job, miss."
Voltlyn and Typhous left the store, Voltlyn beaming the entire way. Typhous looked over to her with a raised eyeridge, "I don't suppose I could see it…" the grey dragon asked, curiously.
Voltlyn paused, frowning. "Well, um… I'm not sure…"
Typhous chuckled, shaking his head. "Never mind, I will get to see it soon enough anyway."
Voltlyn nodded, started to speak and then paused, her eyes fixing on an approaching figure. Typhous noticed her staring and followed her gaze.
"Oh, hello Danrah, I see you're finally finished Inferna's chores!" the grey dragon called over to the shadow dragon princess with a wave.
"Almost, but not quite yet," the black dragoness panted, jogging up to them and stumbling to a halt. "I… I'm down here to tell you that we only need another hour and everything will be… will be set up. So come on up soon, alright?"
Typhous and Voltlyn glanced at one another and nodded in understanding.
"Thank you for taking the time to inform us, Danrah, we will tell the others, don't worry," Typhous said with a short bow.
"Thanks guys. I think, I think I'll go get a drink before heading back up. I'm parched."
The topaz and grey dragon watched as Danrah wandered over to a café, her shoulders slumped in exhaustion. Typhous turned back to Voltlyn.
"I suppose we should go warn the others, we do not want to miss it."
"Yeah," Voltlyn agreed, nodding once as the pair turned to follow the path the other group went down. They found the rest of the group sitting in front of a small stand, where a few cheetahs, moles and canines were playing an assortment of wind instruments. The gang sat surrounding Lyrith, with rapt gazes fixed on the band. The Albino, conversely, looked on the verge of falling asleep, the flighty wind instruments seemingly causing him to doze off.
Voltlyn and Typhous sat down on either side of Savron, who glanced momentarily up at them. He grinned as she saw the package Voltlyn held in her paw.
"So, how'd it turn out?"
"Better than I'd hoped for," Voltlyn replied with a smile.
"Sav, Inferna wants us to go see her in an hour," Typhous whispered, so as not to distract the band. Savron turned his gaze to Typhous, his broad grin fading for a moment.
"Oh, alright. I guess you guys were right about me not needing to plan that extra three hours worth of activities then."
Typhous gave Savron a sly smirk, and then turned to listen to the band as they finished.
"So, we've got another half hour before we should fly back up to the Temple," Savron told the others as they left the town square, having listened to each of the bands playing in turn.
Lyrith groaned. "Great, not only was I dragged out here after hours of exhausting labour, but now I have to do chores too. What did I do in a previous life to deserve this treatment?"
"Oh, don't worry about that, Lyr," Igneous said with a grin, shuffling over to the white dragon, about to start patting him on the back, only to deicide better. "Inferna only wants us to go, you're welcome to go and get some sleep instead."
Lyrith looked to Igneous, somewhat puzzled, then shrugged. "Sounds good to me."
"So, what should we do for the next half hour?" Sleet asked, looking up at his friends curiously.
"Hm, well I don't know if we'll have time to do most of the things I had planned," Savron huffed, looking down at his sheet of paper. "but just to recap them anyway, we could do the scavenger hunt, watch/play the kick ball game on the other end of town. Or we could enter that meat pie eating contest that new restaurant is hosting for its first week of being open, or we could..."
"Iwannaplaytheballgame!" Zindy cheered, bouncing up and down once, then wincing as pain strained her back. "Owie."
"That's probably not such a good idea, Zindy," Tirren murmured, laying her wing comfortingly across the little yellow dragoness' back. "How about we watch it instead?"
"That's no fun," Zindy mumbled, pouting.
"Why don't we go down to the bookshop and browse a while. Like Sav said, we don't really have time for that sort of activity anyway," Sleet suggested, pointing to a shop just down the street.
"Oh come on, Sleet, if I wanted to study I'd go bury my head under a few books in the library and cry myself to sleep!" the purple dragon complained, rolling his head back in exasperation.
"Well, actually I'd like to see what they have there," Tirren replied with a smile, turning her gaze from Igneous, to stare at Savron.
"I would too, actually. I haven't read a good book a while, and it would be nice to find another," Igneous said as well, nodding to Tirren. The rest of the group spoke up their agreement with the two, and, without Savron's guidance, started towards the bookstore. Savron let out a groan, shaking his head.
"Fine! Have it your way! I'll go too, but I'm not going to enjoy myself!"
"Knock yourself out, Sav!" Tirren called back as they entered the store. "preferably literally, since we don't want to hear your sniveling!"
Savron muttered to himself, but followed them inside, having nothing better to do.
"Hey Lyr! Let'sgoandchecktouttheadventurestories!" Zindy insisted, grabbing Lyrith's foreleg and dragging him across to the left side of the store.
Lyrith sighed, a small smirk crossing his face, despite his rolling eyes. "Fine, if you insist."
Voltlyn watched the two, and then followed after them, a wide grin spread across her face.
"I thought you said Inferna wanted to see you?" Lyrith muttered to himself as he and the gang filed through the kitchens and out into the corridor heading towards the Albino's room.
"We do, Lyr, but, since you're so tired we figured we'd escort you back to your room, you know, in case something happens," Igneous replied with a shrug.
"Nothing will happen," Lyrith muttered, shaking his head. "It's not like… not like I'll be getting lost here. I've memorized where my… my room is," the white dragon yawned.
"Still, we'd rather you not accidentally walking over a landing platform without realizing it," Tirren insisted.
"Yeah, we really don't want to be responsible for you getting hurt because we weren't careful."
"You all worry too much," Lyrith replied as they approached his room. "I know exactly where I'm going, even when I'm this tired."
"Then why are we in the female's corridor?" Savron asked with a smirk.
Lyrith paused, glanced around at the corridor and then turned an angry pair of blood red eyes back onto Savron.
"We're NOT in the female's corridor," Lyrith snarled, glaring at the purple dragon.
Savron snorted in laughter. "Made you look. Maybe you aren't as confident as you led us to believe?"
"Go get your ass kissed by an angry snapping turtle, Savron," Lyrith muttered to himself as he turned to the door of his room. He reached over to the handle, and then paused. The door was open a crack, something he would never let himself do.
Lyrith immediately went on guard, glancing around the hall for any further signs of suspicion. He glanced back at the group, for a moment, gesturing with his eyes to the handle. The gang glanced at one another, their expressions suddenly turning anxious.
"Uh… I don't know, Lyr. Why don't you open it up and see if something's wrong?" Savron suggested nervously. "We'll be right behind you?"
Lyrith stared at the purple dragon for a moment, frowning at the response. Then, cautiously, he opened the door to his room and leapt in, ready for any danger whatever was in there might throw at him.
The lights flicked on in his room, banishing the darkness.
"Surprise! Happy hatchday, Lyrith!" came a cacophonous cheer as a dozen dragons jumped out of hiding from inside his room. His furniture had been moved about to make room for half a dozen tables that had been dragged inside and stacked with platters of nearly every meat dish imaginable. Colourful streamers and boxes of trinkets were crammed into the crowded room, filling the once dreary stone chamber with much needed colour. Standing in the middle of the room was Inferna and Deran, along with Spyro, Cynder and a handful of other teachers and students. All of them were dressed up in conical hats and blowing paper buzzers in celebration of the event.
After a moment they fell silent and gazed at Lyrith, who stood at the entrance of his room, staring blankly at them, his muzzle slack as his tired brain tried to process what was occurring in front of him. Finally, after a long minute of silence the white dragon swallowed, looking up into Inferna's eyes.
"This… this is for me?" he asked, his incredulous voice small.
"Of course, Lyr," Inferna said, walking over to her son and smiling down at him. "Remember back when I first accepted you as a student? I promised that we'd make your next hatchday a worthwhile event."
"We?" Lyrith murmured, staring up at the Fire Guardian in confusion.
"Yeah, we!" a small ice dragoness said, rushing out of the crowd to bounce around Lyrith excitedly. "Remember! We promised that our next hatchday would be especially for you!"
Lyrith stared down at the small ice dragoness for a moment, then recognition dawned on him. "Ireeca?" he asked, startled.
"You do remember me!" Ireeca squealed happily, giving Lyr a huge hug.
"Inferna put a lot of work into this party," Spyro murmured as he and the other partygoers approached Lyrith. "It's been in the works for nearly a month now."
"She roped quite a few of us into helping her, in one way or another," Cynder chuckled, looking around at the decorations. "She pulled favours that I didn't even know we owed her to get half of this stuff."
"What are you doing just sitting there, Lyr? Come on! Let's get this party started!" Savron cried from behind the white dragon, getting up to give Lyrith a shove further into the room. The rest of the students cheered, crowding around Lyrith, much to his surprise, and dragged him into the center of his room.
"Whatshouldwedofirst!?" Zindy whooped, stumbling into the room and looking around excitedly.
"Why don't we start with the cake?" Voltlyn murmured from the back of the group. There was a pause for a moment and then they all shouted in agreement. Lyrith yelped as they grabbed him once more and dragged him over to the long table sitting on the far side of the room parallel to the window. They plopped Lyrith down at the head of the table, in front of a huge pan covered in a plaid cloth. Inferna, Deran and Inferna sat in the seats at the head of the table alongside Lyrith, while everyone else grabbed what seats they could.
Savron was dragged over to sit by his parents with much protesting. Igneous and Tirren were about to sit together, only to be separated by an exuberant Zindy who plopped down beside the still injured fire dragon, chattering so fast she sounded like a chipmunk. Sleet and Typhous sat across from them, alongside Serion, the gym teacher, who was already singing happy hatchday bawdily. Danrah and Vash, took their seat opposite Lyrith, the black dragoness grabbing Vash's paw to give Lyrith a wave, much to the cloud patterned dragon's displeasure. Burnam, the chatterbox fire dragon sat down beside Typhous and started up a conversation with Zindy, while Talon, a silver dragon Lyrith vaguely recognized from several months back took up conversation with Sleet. Volteer, Dyama and Voltlyn sat at a far corner, a fair distance away from the white dragon, the later two half listening to Volteer's longwinded banter about the history of the hatchday celebration.
The Albino dragon stared around at everyone seated around him, rendered speechless by the sight before him. He looked over to Ireeca, then up to Inferna, his muzzle moving as he tried to form words to describe the warmth spreading through his chest.
"I… I don't know what…"
"Don't worry about it, Lyrith," Inferna murmured, placing a claw on Lyrith's muzzle to silence him. "You don't have to say anything. This is your day, enjoy it."
"So, when do we start singing?" Savron asked, shouting over the cacophony of voices.
"Weren't we already doing that?" Serion asked, glancing down at the purple drake.
"No, Serion, that was just you," Spyro laughed, shaking his head.
"Oh, sorry," Serion chuckled, shrugging. "Well why don't we start again?"
"Wait!" Inferna murmured, raising a paw to silence the partygoers as she scrutinized the about the table intently. "We're missing people."
Lyrith frowned and looked around at the assembled crowd, trying to figure out whom they might be referring too. Deran slapped his forehead.
"Crap, sorry darling, I forgot to go get them!"
Inferna sighed in exasperation. "Great, now we'll have to put everything on hold while…"
"Leave it to me," Cynder murmured, rising from her seat and approaching a dark shadow in the corner of the room. "I will go get them. Just wait a moment."
Inferna gave Cynder a grateful smile as the Guardian of Shadow and Wind jumped into the patch of darkness, disappearing from sight. She emerged a moment later, a small family of moles clutched to her back. Lyrith's muzzle fell open in shock.
"Aggernon?! Is that you? And Milesy, Grann? Bellue? What are all of you doing here?"
"Aye, zeh whole family iz here," Aggernon said with a wave as Cynder crouched down to let the moles down.
"But when? How?" Lyrith stammered, speechless.
"We brought them along with Ireeca by train, and hid them in safe rooms where you'd have no chance of running across them," Cynder explained, with a grin. "Though I'm shocked that we nearly forgot about an entire mole family."
"Aye, we were starting to zink yee brought us here for nefarious purposes," Milesy, Aggernon's wife, joking as she plopped down off of Cynder's back.
Everyone at the table chuckled at the jest, shaking their heads.
"Well, we tend to be a bit more careful with our "nefarious deeds,"" Inferna chuckled, giving the family a wide grin. "We prefer leaving our victims in our magic fairy dungeon guarded by a two headed unicorn and its redcap Gnome boyfriend."
The partygoers redoubled their chuckles, and were joined by the mole family.
"Eet would have been an easier wait had yah given us somesing to do while we waited," Grann mumbled, his laugh dying as the four moles wandered around the table, to take the spare seats.
"Aye, even a deck of cards would haff given us somesing to pass zeh time," Bellue agreed.
"Quite ze bellyaching!" Aggernon shushed, settling in his seat alongside Lyrith. "Eet is a hatchday party here! We shouldn't ruin zeh mood!"
"Agreed, Aggernon," Inferna said, nodding to the plump mole. "Now that everyone is here, we can finally start this party. Deran, if you please, lift the cloth so I may light the candles."
The green earth dragon gave Inferna a smile, and obeyed, reaching over to the pan in front of Lyrith, and lifting the cloth away. Lyrith was taken aback by the sight of the enormous meatloaf cake sitting under the cloth, already set with eighteen long candles. Inferna leaned forward, the Guardian of Flame taking a quick breath, and blowing a cloud of flame out of her nostrils. The flames took shape into a swarm of fire dragonflies, which flew around the table, much to the amazement of those sitting there. Then they doubled back, zooming over the candles and lighting them with their sparking wings.
Lyrith shook his head in awe at the display, watching the dragonflies sputter and fade into tiny puffs of smoke at the far reaches of his room. There was a whooping cheer at the display, the crowd of dragons and moles clapping at the show. Inferna rose and bowed, then took her seat beside Lyrith. Then, everyone turned their eyes to him.
The white dragon gazed down at the flickering candlelight, sudden warmth spreading through his chest. He took a shaky breath, then glanced up at the guests who watched him with wide grins across their faces. Savron shouted something from across the table, urging the white dragon to blow them out and ignoring the stern looks of his parents. The rest of his friends followed suit, cheering and waving their paws, trying to catch his attention.
Lyrith opened his muzzle, about to say something, only to find the words catching in his throat, the swelling in his breast nearly choking him. He took a long, deep breath, a smile breaking over his muzzle as the rest of the students, and Grann and Bellue started up a chant, urging him on. Lyrith looked around the table once more, gazing into the beaming faces of everyone seated at the long table, all chanting, pounding the table with their paws to the beat, or calling over the din their encouragement.
The Albino turned back to the candles, a broad grin now spread across his scarred features, the chanting finally getting to him, and inhaled sharply. There was a raucous cheering as Lyrith blew out the candles, catching every single one and snuffing it out.
"Aw, looks like Lyrith doesn't have a lady-friend," Savron joked from the other end of the table, calling over the cheers. Bubbling laughter joined the cheering.
"Neither do you, you dolt!" Tirren shouted at the purple. Laughter completely overtook the cheering, and jests begun to hurl across the thick wooden table.
Lyrith laughed alongside them, unable to contain himself as insults and jibes were tossed this way and that. Never before had he felt this light and exuberant. Lyrith paused for a moment, glancing up as he felt a paw rest on his shoulder. Inferna and Deran smiled down at him, the two large figures relieved to see Lyrith so filled with joy.
Without warning, Lyrith felt his eyes burn, momentarily choking up as his chest clenched tightly around his heart. Lyrith leaned over and hugged Inferna, his smile wavering only a moment before blossoming into a huge beaming smile. Inferna glanced over to Deran, who joined the hug hesitantly. There was renewed whooping and friendly shouting at the sight of the three embracing, though Lyrith barely heard them at all.
Finally, Lyr broke away from the two, letting out a deep sigh. He glanced up into both of his parent's faces, and spoke, his voice shaky from the tightness in his chest.
"When I… when I woke up this morning, this was the last thing I thought would happen," Lyrith chuckled softly, shaking his head.
"Why? Did you forget it was your hatchday today?" Inferna asked, coyly.
Lyrith opened his muzzle to reply, then paused, thinking about it. He answered with a shrug.
Deran looked over to Inferna, chuckling. "He did forget."
"Well it certainly made the surprise party more surprising that way," Inferna murmured, patting Lyrith on the back. "Now why don't you help me cut the meatloaf, Lyr?"
The jesting guests heard the remark and gave a thrilled shout.
"Aw yeah! It's about time!"
"Apparently that's Ember's special meatloaf! I can't wait to try it!"
"Give me an EXTRA big slice, I'm starving!"
"But you just ate at Venison Heaven, Sav! How can you be starving?!"
"Can you quite your nagging for just one moment and pass me a plate, Rin? I don't need to explain my method to anyone!"
"Sav's just a glutton, that's what."
"Shut up, Igneous! Stop tying to embarrass me!"
Lyrith shook his head, turning his attention away from the banter and accepted the knife Inferna offered him, getting to work cutting the meatloaf, while Inferna passed around the slices to the other guests, leaving the largest in front of the white dragon.
The meatloaf was gone in no time, guests demanding seconds, sometimes even thirds until there was nothing left to carve up. Once finished, Inferna immediately directed everyone to the various games littered about the room and everyone set off to begin the party.
Lyrith looked around his room, trying to decide where he should go first. He caught sight of Savron, Igneous and Typhous waving at him from beside a large tub of something. Shrugging, Lyrith wandered over to them.
"So, Lyr, how's the party going for you?" Typhous asked, giving the white dragon a nod and a smile as he approached them.
"I don't know what to say, honestly," Lyrith chuckled, shrugging. "But if I had to say something, I'd say it's everything I hoped for in a hatchday party."
"That's exactly what Inferna was trying to do. She said she wanted your first hatchday party to have everything one would think of when thinking about this sort of event." Igneous replied, looking around the room.
"Yeah, she got everything alright. Some of this stuff I haven't seen in a hatchday party since I was a cub," Savron laughed, tapping the tub with his forepaw.
"Bobbing for meatballs, pin the tail on the ape, spin the bottle, you name it!"
Lyrith gazed at them, his expression abruptly going dark. Savron, Igneous and Typhous noticed his change in attitude, and glanced at one another.
"Er… we say something wrong?" Typhous inquired, hesitantly.
"Inferna told you about this being my first?" Lyrith asked, his voice monotone.
"Well, yeah, she did sort of mention it when she was getting everything prepared," Igneous murmured, rubbing the back of his neck.
"She said it when she was explaining why she wanted all of the kitsch stuff," Savron murmured, gesturing around the room. "I'm sure she didn't mean to tread on any toes, she just wanted us to know why she was making such a huge event out of it."
Lyrith glared at them for a moment, then sighed. "Fine, I guess there's no harm done."
"Great! How about we start with the bobbing, then go around to the treat bar? I think I see some jam snacks Inferna had Ember whip up for you." Savron asked, grinning.
Lyrith smirked, and shrugged. "Why not?"
After several dunks, most of which failed to yield any meatballs, the four left the tub, wiping gravy from their faces and laughing. Halfway across the room they came across Danrah spinning Tirren about, as the green dragon held a pin and tail in one hand. Danrah stopped Tirren, facing the image of the ape, only to stagger about dizzily. The four drakes came a stop, to watch the green dragoness move hesitantly forward, trying to find the ape through both her blindfold, and her dizziness.
Savron grinned, watching her as she tried to decide which direction to go.
"Go left, Rin!" Savron shouted, grinning.
Tirren hesitated as she heard his voice, considered it for a moment, and then went right, going against Savron's decision. She pinned the tail on the picture, and raised her blindfold. She cursed: the tail was too far right of the ape's behind. She turned to glare at Savron, who shrugged, chuckling.
"Should have gone left, Tirren."
"You knew I wouldn't follow your instructions, you twit!"
"I was just trying to offer some helpful advice, Rin," Savron replied with a laugh, shaking his head. "You should trust me once and a while! I'm not always trying to trip you up!"
"Sure you aren't! And I'm an ape's uncle!" Tirren called after the four as they continued along, snickering to themselves. Muttering to herself she pawed over the blindfold to give Danrah a try.
"Seriously though, I was," Savron said to the others once they were out of sight. Lyrith, Igneous and Typhous rolled their eyes doubtfully. "Some friends you are."
"Hey, Lyr!" Ireeca called, racing up to the white dragon, Zindy following along behind her. "Come with us! We want to hear what you've been doing here at the Temple!"
Lyrith glanced up to where Ireeca was pointing, looking past Spyro and Cynder dancing in an empty corner of the room to the tune of Voltlyn's music box, across Serion, Volteer, Inferna and Deran talking, to Aggernon and his family waving to him. He glanced down at the two and nodded.
"Alright, let's go."
"Okay Lyr, we'll see you at the snack bar when you're done!" Igneous said, the three giving the white dragon a wave. Lyrith waved back, before heading off with Ireeca and Zindy, who chatted excitedly along the way.
An hour and a half later, Inferna dropped by the group sitting in the corner of the room, to watch Lyr as he recounted whatever story Zindy demanded he tell.
"Zindy dear, how about you give Lyrith a break so he can enjoy the rest of his party?" Inferna asked, raising a paw to quiet Zindy's exuberant greeting.
"Oh, Isupposethat'donly be fair," Zindy sighed, sadly. "Butwhenyougetbackyouhave tofinishtellingthemaboutthattime Torchrandomlyranoverand punched you!"
"Yeah, I want to know why he did that," Ireeca said, pouting.
"Don't worry, I'm sure he will," Inferna murmured, giving Ireeca a nod and a smile. Lyrith rolled his eyes in exasperation as Inferna answered for him, but otherwise did nothing. "Aggernon, Milsey, Grann and Bellue? Would you all like to come with us?" Inferna asked of the mole family as they sat quietly around the white dragon.
Milsey smiled, rose and bowed. "Eet would be our pleasure."
The mole family rose to join Lyrith and Inferna, and the group set off across the room, through the dancing and chatting dragons, to where Deran, Volteer and Serion sat. The Fire Guardian looked down to Lyrith as they walked, giving him a small smile.
"So, what do you think of the party, Lyr?" she asked, anxiety touching her voice. Lyrith looked up at her with a grin.
"It's amazing. It's everything I'd ever wanted," the white dragon murmured, shaking his head in wonder.
Inferna beamed, flashing her white fangs in delight. "Great! You have no idea how relieved that makes me to know you're enjoying yourself" and with that, the Guardian of Flame pranced on ahead of the group, a light skip to her step as she led the way. Aggernon chuckled, shaking his head in amazement as the Fire Guardian skipped away, humming happily to herself like a young girl.
"Aye, eet always amazes me zat she iz zeh Guardian of Fire. I always imagined zeh were all stuffy too-good-for-zee dragons. Yet, zey supprise me at every turn. Sometimes I forget who zey really are."
Lyrith nodded in agreement. "I know what you mean, Aggernon. Sometimes I forget that myself."
Aggernon, his family and Lyr all sat down alongside Inferna, the mole family giving a short bow to Volteer and Serion, both of whom wave it away with smiles.
"So, how is the party, Backflip?" Serion asked Lyrith with a smile. "Are you having a blast!?"
"I'm starting to get sick of that question," Lyrith retorted with a snort, rolling his eyes in sudden irritation.
"Oh," Serion said, his broad grin fading slightly.
"What he means is he's having fun. He told me so himself," Inferna said to the ice dragon physical education teacher. "Little Lyr just gets a bit grumpy on occasion."
Lyrith gave Inferna hard glare at the taunt, to which she laughed, sticking her tongue out at the white dragon.
"Ah, good," Serion said, his grin returning at Inferna's comment. "I am quite excited to hear that. We put a lot of work into this party."
"You are most correct, Serion," Volteer said with an emphatic nod. "It is extraordinarily gratifying to know that our laborious struggle to put this magnificent, extravagant, splendiferous party together that it has paid off in the end."
"Splendiferous?" Deran chuckled, incredulously. "Is your vocabulary finally starting to run dry, Volteer?"
The Guardian of Lightning huffed indignantly. "I would have you know that Splendiferous was once a very well respected term, back before the war with the Apes started. It is only now that it's silly connotations have begun to arise. Even still, I will not have you disrespect such a noble, magnanimous and grandiose word in my presence!"
Inferna and Serion desperately tried to reign in their fits of snickering as Volteer berated Deran for daring to insult "Splendiferous." Their giggling quickly caught on with Lyrith and the moles, who were unable to suppress their own chuckles any longer. Volteer turned to them with an indignant huff, rolling his eyes at the laughing group sitting around his table, not amused in the slightest. Deran soon joined them, getting over his shock at Volteer snapping at him.
Milsey sighed, wiping her beady eyes with the corner of her shawl.
"So, I could not help but admiring zeh stonework here at zeh Temple, Mister Volteer. We have never seen such a wondrous building before, even in Warfang itself," Milsey murmured, letting her laughter die, deciding it was time to change the subject.
Volteer perked up at the comment, his sour expression dissipating. "You are quite right, Mrs. Milsey, there is not another structure like it in all of the dragon realms, It does not have the history of the old dragon Temple, which was lostduringthefirstResurrectionwhen Malefor usedhismagictoheaveitupintotheair likesomesortoftoy, butitdoeshaveseveralnew…"
Milsey and Aggernon listened to Volteer's spontaneous lecture with interest, not seeming to fake it in the least. Grann and Bellue, however, who looked like they had questions, turned away from Volteer in frustration, seeing that Volteer was not gong to be slowing down any time soon.
"Mum iz right," Grann said, turning his attention to Inferna. "zis Temple is absolutely amazing. Now zat zeh party has begun, would it be alright if we were allowed to explore a little before we left?"
"Of course you are welcome to look around. There are lots of interesting things here at the Temple, though you may not be able to explore everything even in the week you are staying here, but I recommend…" Inferna said, stopping to contemplate what they might be interested in.
"Are zere any secret passages or rooms in zeh Temple?" Bellue asked, unable to contain himself. "We would really like to see some of zem!"
"Well," the red and orange dragoness murmured uncertainly. "I don't know if that's the best idea, some of those passages can be dang..."
"Go talk to Savron about getting a tour of the Temple," Lyrith replied, cutting off anything Inferna might have said afterwards. "He's big into exploration and knows just about every secret the Temple has to offer. I'm sure he would enjoy taking you around to see the sights, whether obvious or not."
"Thanks, Lyr!" Grann said with a smile, the two teenage moles getting to their feet in a rush. They gave Inferna a grateful bow and then rushed off to where Lyrith pointed out the purple dragon. Inferna gave Lyrith a flat look, to which Lyrith vengefully stuck out his tongue at her. After a half an hour of sitting around, chatting with friends and family, Lyrith rose to his paws, stretching.
"I should probably go back around to visit some more, mom, dad," Lyrith said, nodding to Deran and Inferna. "I will talk to you later."
"Bye Lyr!" Inferna said, giving Lyrith a wave as he turned away. Then she added, jokingly. "Don't forget to write!"
"Have fun, son," Deran added with a nod, giving a short wave of his own. Lyrith returned both waves, and then disappeared into the crowded room once more.
The Albino dragon had only been walking for half a minute when he bumped right into Voltlyn, neither of them having paid any attention to their surroundings. The topaz dragoness immediately flushed as the white ran straight into her, the dragoness quickly looking up from the floor to his face.
"Oh, sorry," she said, giving Lyrith a small, apologetic smile. Lyrith looked her in the eyes, frowning slightly.
"Don't worry about it, it was probably more my fault anyway," Lyrith replied after a moment, shrugging. "So, how are things going with you?"
"Oh, I'm doing great," Voltlyn murmured, glancing around at the party slowly growing out of paw around them. "It's quite something isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is," Lyrith replied, before going silent. The two stood together in silence for a moment, simply listening to the chatter around them. Then Lyr spoke up once more. "So I take it that this is the reason you all dragged me down to town? To keep me from finding out about this party?"
Voltlyn nodded, a small smile breaking over her muzzle. "Yes."
"I thought you were all up to something, but until I opened the door to my room I wasn't sure what," Lyrith chuckled, plopping down on his haunches and shaking his head. "You all had me fooled."
"What did you think we were up to before?" Voltlyn asked, sitting down beside him, and looking up into his face.
"I don't know. I guess I thought that you all might have been trying to force me to take a break from studying, or maybe that you were planning on playing a prank on me."
Voltlyn snickered. "Well, the first guess was part of it, at least. We wanted to make you take a break. You are working too hard, Lyrith."
"That's the only way I do work," the white dragon sighed, looking up at the ceiling. "I guess I just go all or nothing."
"Well, hopefully we can help you find a medium," Voltlyn replied, placing a paw on his shoulder. Lyrith accepted the gesture, taking a silent, mental note to think about why he didn't snap at her when she touched him, like he did with just about everyone else. The pair fell silent once more, getting up from their spots only to let a conga line pass by.
"Lyrith," Voltlyn said after a long moment of silence.
"Would it be alright if you opened this early?" Voltlyn asked, reaching into the pouch hanging from around her neck, to produce a small box. Lyrith glanced down at it, raising an eye ridge in surprise.
"Is that a present?" he asked, startled.
"Yeah, it is. That's the reason I didn't want to tell you what it was when I went to go get it."
"Oh, that explains it. It was that package you needed to go pick up."
Voltlyn nodded. "Will you open it now, please?"
Lyrith took it from her open paw hesitantly, glancing around the room. "Isn't there usually a designated present opening time in these sorts of events?" he asked, cautiously.
Voltlyn nodded once more.
"So, why do you want me to open it early?" he asked, looking the box over.
"I… I don't know. I just… I just want you too," Voltlyn mumumbled, kicking her paws together lightly, her ocean blue eyes descending to the ground. Lyrith looked from the box, to Voltlyn, and then back down at the box. He shrugged and tore away the thin paper wrapped around the box, then lifted the lid. Lyrith's red eyes flew wide, and his muzzle fell open in astonishment.
Laying in the box was a huge ruby pendant, the huge flawless red ruby set in engraved gold, designed with patterns of small dragons battling, and hooked with a long, thin gold chain. Lyrith slumped down on his haunches, staring at the pendant in awe. Voltlyn smiled at his expression and leaned forward to look at it herself.
"I… I take it that you like it?" she asked, hesitantly.
"Where, how… this necklace must have been worth a fortune," Lyrith murmured, glancing up at her, his red eyes wide. "You shouldn't have done this for me. Not after the situation you were in…"
Voltlyn shook her head, her smile still holding. "No, don't worry about me, it didn't cost me all that much. I had to sell most of my paintings, but I supplied some of the materials myself, so it didn't cost as much as you think."
"You supplied the materials… ancestors, please don't tell me you used other jewelry to make this…"
Voltlyn shook her head. "Just the ruby, Lyr, and it wasn't a family gem. I found it when we were exploring that cave while trying to warn Spyro and Cynder."
"But this gem could have helped pay off your debt, or helped buy back your house. Why are you giving it to me? I don't deserve something like this."
"Because I want you to have it," Voltlyn said, her voice suddenly growing anxious. "Because you do deserve to have something wonderful like this. Because you're special to me..."
Lyrith gazed down at the pendant for a minute, not saying anything. Voltlyn glanced up at him, worried he'd refuse to accept the pendant. She met his eyes as he looked from the necklace, and saw a grateful smile grace his face.
"Thank you, Voltlyn. It's an amazing gift. I still think it's too much for me, but if you really want me to have it, I'll take it."
Voltlyn felt her heart lift, joyous relief filling her breast. She gave him a wide smile, nodding. "You're welcome."
Lyrith put down the box and took out the pendant, examining it closely. Voltlyn stepped forward and took the pendant from him, unlatching a small hook on its side.
"It's actually a locket," Voltlyn murmured, opening the pendant to show Lyrith. "It can't store much, but I could paint a portrait of someone special to put in there, if you wanted," Voltlyn finished the suggestion weakly, her smile faltering for a moment before she forced it back onto her face. "Maybe someone special from your past?"
Lyrith took the locket from her and examined it. He looked up at Voltlyn, his smile glowing. "Alright, Voltlyn. I'll think about it and tell you if there's someone I want you to paint, though you're not doint that for free. I AM paying you for the painting, whether you accept it or not."
Voltlyn chuckled, but nodded in understanding. "If you insist, Lyr. Now hold still while I put it on for you."
Voltlyn took the locket, unlatched the chain and sat down on her haunches so she could properly reach around his neck. Lyrith stared into Voltlyn's face as she leaned forward, nearly brushing her snout against his as she latched the locket on behind his neck. Then she quickly retreated, flushing at how close she had gotten to the white dragon. She glanced back up at him a moment later, and admired how it clashed against his scales, like a droplet of blood against white snow.
"It really brings out your eyes," Voltlyn murmured, her own eyes moving up to meet his. "I like it."
Lyrith flushed lightly at the comment, surprised at the warm feeling that was conjured in his throat and face. He quickly banished it and gave her a weak nod.
Lyrith looked down at the locket, taking it in his paw to examine it.
"This reminds me of the opal pendant Inferna gave me last year," he murmured, examining the necklace. Voltlyn frowned.
"She gave you her opal necklace?"
"Yeah. It was right after I told her about my hatchday and how I never got one. She insisted I have it, but I haven't worn it since I got to the Temple."
"I wonder if I'd look too gaudy wearing two pendants?" Lyrith chuckled, looking up at Voltlyn and grinning. The topaz dragoness smiled back, somewhat relieved to hear the comment. Once more they fell into an awkward silence, neither having any idea what to say to the other. Desprately, Lyrith looked around the party room, trying to think of something to say or do to keep the conversation going. He didn't want it to end there. His eyes fell on Spyro and Cynder who were resuming their dance after a particularly long break, and a smile spread across his face. He turned back to Voltlyn, getting to his paws.
"Volltyn, would you like to dance?" he asked, hopefully. Volltyn perked up, shocked by the suggestion. She looked between Lyrith and the ground, her face flushing rose red.
"Oh, um… that, that sounds lovely," she murmured, her voice catching in her throat as embarrassment gripped her. Lyrith offered her a paw up, which she took hesitantly, and then led her to the corner with Voltlyn's music box, both dragons flushing lightly along the way.
Spyro and Cynder noticed the two approaching their corner, glanced at one another knowingly and quickly stepped off so the two could have room to dance. Lyrith did his best to ignore the gazes and mutterings of the party guests as he and Voltlyn came to a stop in the middle of their corner, facing one another. Lyrith watched Voltlyn as she gave he limbs a quick stretch, warming herself up and then leaned forward, to whisper to her.
"Er, Voltlyn, I've got to be honest, I've never really done any dancing before," Lyrith murmured, hoping nobody could hear him. Voltlyn looked up at him as she finished her stretches, giving him a warm smile.
"It's alright, Lyrith. Just follow my lead. You're quick on your paws, so you should catch on quickly."
Lyrith nodded dubiously, hesitantly doing his own quick warm up as Voltlyn walked over to the music box, inserted one of the spare crystals and then returned to stand in front of Lyrith. A jaunty tune started up, the beat starting off somewhat slow, but quickly gaining speed. Voltlyn nodded to Lyrith and started moving around him, her paws shifting in deliberate and purposeful movements. Lyrith trained his eyes on Voltlyn's paws, watching her movements and mimicking them as best as he could, moving in the opposite direction to circle around her as she circled him.
Voltlyn kept her eyes on his face, a fond smile creasing her muzzle at the sight of the intense look of concentration on his face. Bit by bit, she sped up the pace of the dance, effortlessly twirling, bowing, stepping back and spinning to the beat of the music. The Albino's look of concentration did not fade as the dance progressed, occasionally stumbling over his paws as the speed increased, but otherwise matching her movements.
Finally, after a solid minute and a half of dancing, Lyrith raised his eyes up from her paws, to look into her face, to give her a strained grin. Voltlyn laughed delightedly, glad to see he had gotten the hang of it so quickly. Then she sped up the pace further, bringing them to the regular speed of the dance.
A small crowd was drawn as the two danced, Savron, Sleet, Ireeca, Zindy and Igneous cheering them on while Tirren and Danrah clapped to the beat, smiling at the sight. Spyro and Cynder glanced at one another, grinning at the sight of the two dancing across the floor, the black and purple dragons leaning their heads together to watch them.
Lyrith let out a laugh as he managed to go a few rounds without tripping up, a wide grin spreading across his face. Voltlyn moved closer to the white dragon, tightening the circle of their dance until they were nearly touching at points. Another few minutes passed and the song ended with a triumphant blaring of horns. Voltlyn and Lyrith came to a halt, laughing ecstatically, both panting lightly at the exertion. The assembled crowd applauded the display, not a single dragon or mole without a smile.
Voltlyn blushed a faint pink at all the attention, but Lyrith simply draped a wing over her back and led her away from the music box, over to an empty table. Voltlyn's flush grew a bit brighter at the touch, but she did not object to it in the slightest.
"That was shockingly fun," Lyrith chuckled as they sat down, the white glancing over to the lightning dragoness for confirmation. Voltlyn nodded in agreement, not meeting his eyes out of embarrassment at his embrace. Lyrith frowned momentarily and then realized he may be making her uncomfortable with his wing, so he removed it. Voltlyn opened her muzzle to object as he retracted his wing, and then shut it, not sure how she'd phrase it.
"So," Lyrith said after a moment of silence. "What should we do next?"
Voltlyn looked up at him, joy catching light in her chest at the suggestion of spending more time together. She glanced around, wondering what they could do together. Before she could think of anything, the door to Lyrith's room flew opened and a pair of Albinos marched in, dragging a trolley of colourful boxes.
"Your delivery has arrived!" Aeil declared, turning to face Lyrith, easily able to find the other white in the room.
Inferna quickly rose to her paws. "Excellent, you arrived just in time, Aeil, Twar. Let the gift unwrapping commence!"
The crowd of guests quickly gathered around the trolley, grabbing their presents and rushing over to Lyrith, demanding he open theirs first. The white drake stared at the mountain of boxes quickly piling up on the table in front of him, shocked into silence at the enormity of it all. Voltlyn looked between him and the presence and sighed, rising to give him room to deal with them all. She stopped when she felt a paw grip her foreleg, and she looked down to see it was Lyrith's. He turned to face her, his red eyes sparkling.
"I'm going to need some help with all of this," he chuckled, gesturing with wing at the gifts. Voltlyn smiled happily and sat down next to him, picking out a green gift box, while Lyrith accepted a huge blue one from Dyama. She wished him a happy hatchday and whispered to him her thanks, to which he gave her a grateful nod.
From off to the side Savron watched Lyrith and Voltlyn tear away the wrapping paper and boxes, to show their content to the assembled crowd. His emerald green eyes fell on the ruby medallion. He nodded appreciatively.
"Voltlyn sure does have a taste in jewelry," he muttered to himself approvingly.
"Er, Savron, can I have a word with you?"
Savron blinked in surprise, wondering who could be talking to him, when all the excitement was piled under that huge hill of gifts. He turned and found Twar standing beside him, the Albino's face downcast.
"Oh, hey Twar, what are you doing here? I thought you'd be over with Lyrith to watch him open his presents?"
"I… well," Twar began, trying to decide how best to start. "I wanted to apologize to you," he said finally, bowing his head shamefully. Savron cocked his head in confusion.
"Why do you want to do that?" he asked, puzzled. "did you break one of my figurines again? Because if you did, I already told you I have spares."
"No, that's not it," Twar sighed, shaking his head. "It's… it's about the time I told you about the ambush…"
"Oh, I see. Don't worry about it, Twar. That's not your fault. We probably should have been more careful, or maybe, gasp, listened to my parents for once. You were just telling us what you heard."
"But… but still, I put you all in danger because of it. I shouldn't have told you," Twar muttered, his head not rising from the ground. Savron rolled his eyes, letting out a weary sigh.
"Arlght, maybe you should have told the Guardians about it, instead of us, but even still, it was our choice to follow up on the information. You only told us about it, you didn't make us go. So just forget about it, alright? I forgive you."
"But that's not…" Twar started again, looking up into Savron's face, frustrated. He stopped as he looked into the purple dragon's eyes, seeing the warm smile and forgiveness in his gaze. Twar let out a long sigh, defeated. "Alright, thank you Savron. I don't deserve it, but thank you."
Savron gave Twar a pat on the back, chuckling. "Don't' worry about it. Hey, how about you help me with my chores next time I get in trouble, if you're that beat up about it?"
Twar gave Savron a grateful smile. "I will. Thanks again, Savron."
The purple dragon watched Twar leave to join his twin in the crowd around Lyrith and Voltlyn's table, shaking his head in bewilderment.
"By the ancestors," Savron heard Lyrith gasp. The purple dragon glanced over and snickered as the white dragon unwrapped a box filled with jars of jam, the many different coloured glass containers crafted to look like sitting dragons. "Who in the world… Tirren, is this from…"
"Happy hatchday, Lyrith. I hope you enjoy them. Once you're done with the jam, you might want to consider turning those jars into lamps. They'd be quite beautiful scattered about a garden."
"Thank you… Looks like I'm not going to have to buy jam for quite a long time now…"
Savron snorted. "If he thinks that's impressive, wait until he sees what I got him."
Thunder boomed, reverberating across the vast stretches of the northern mountains. Rain pounded relentlessly against the stony peaks, causing sheets of water to gush down their slopes. The scrawny trees clinging to the mountainside wrestled against the gale, hopelessly trying to stay rooted, only to be torn away from the rocks and carried off in the wind.
Huddling deep within one of the mountain caves was an emaciated red dragon. The flickering light of his dying fire, which he desperately tried to keep it alight, outlined his gaunt features. He sat up high on a rock, steam puffing out of his muzzle as he did his best to avoid contact with the rushing stream of rain water gushing from the cave mouth. A raw deer hide was draped over his back for warmth, blood still dripping from it.
Torch tore into the raw flank of his dismembered deer, greedily stuffing his muzzle with food he had been lacking for far too long. Cold water washed over his tail tip, and he quickly brought it back up around him, away from the cavern floor. With the deer leg finished, Torch dropped the bone into the water, and huddled up into his deer pelt, his eyes wide as he stared at the wall. He only had two more shanks of deer left.
"Oh ancestors, I'm going to die here aren't I?" the once-prince realized, shivering. "A dying fire, a raging storm, no protection from the cold? This can't be happening to me!"
"Dammit!" Torch groaned, curling up into a tight ball under his deer pelt. "This isn't fair! All I want is a warm bed and some hot food! I don't deserve this! I don't want to die!"
A bolt of lightning flashed, lighting up the cave for a brief moment, before being followed by a cacophonous 'boom'. Torch flinched at the sound, covering his head as the thunder battered his ear-frills.
"When will this storm end!?" Torch shouted, pounding his paws against the stone in frustration. "It's been going on like this for hours!"
"Hello? Is anyone down there?"
Torch perked up, startled at the sound a faint voice echoing through the cave. Crouching, he rose off the stone and jumped over to another rock, positioning himself so he could not be seen against the fire. Then he waited to see if the intruder would enter. After a moment of silence, a figure moved into the mouth of the cave and proceeded down. Torch watched the figure waded through the water, bearing a long walking stick to feel their way down the cave. The figure stopped just outside the light of the fire and glanced around. Torch felt a chill race up his spine as the cloaked intruder's gaze settled upon him.
"Why hello there. May I join you by the fire?"
Torch huffed and climbed back onto his rock, draping the deer pelt over himself once more.
"Why bother? It's not going to last much longer anyway, and I don't have the strength to make a new one right now."
"Well I wouldn't be much of a guest if I didn't return your generosity," the figure replied, stepping into the light. Torch watched suspiciously as the purple robed stranger put down his crystal topped staff and begin drawing runes into the air. After a few seconds, there was a bright flash of light, and several dry logs of wood appeared in the magician's hands. The figure tossed the logs onto the fire and then climbed onto the rocks himself, out of the water.
"Much better, don't you agree?" the stranger said as the fire flared up, greedily devouring the new source of fuel.
"Yeah," Torch grunted in agreement, scooting up close to the fire to let its warmth bathe him. He gazed into the dark cowl of the cloak curiously, trying to see the figure's face. "Who are you anyway?"
"Oh, forgive me for not introducing myself," the figure replied, throwing back his cowl. Torch flinched as he beheld Jaxar's twisted, half-dragon-half-panther face. "I am known as Jaxar. It is a pleasure to meet you..."
"Torch," Torch muttered, grabbing a shank of deer and tearing into it.
"Torch hm..." Jaxar murmured, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Interesting. I believe I've heard that name before..."
Torch paused halfway through taking a bite of his deer shank, and turned his gaze back up to Jaxar. A suspicious glower creased his hollow-cheeked face.
"Oh?" Torch replied, his eyes narrowing.
"Oh yes, that is where I remember your name from!" Jaxar exclaimed, a grin twisting his expression. "You were that wanted ex-prince I heard about. I saw your name and pictures on posters all over the place."
Torch rose quickly to his paws, snarling. "And what are you going to do about it, huh? Are you going to turn me in? Because if you do, I promise I will not come quietly."
Jaxar exploded with laughter, and waved his hand, gesturing for Torch to take a seat once more. "No no no! You do not have to worry about that! I'm just like you! A criminal, though only recently one."
"And that's supposed to comfort me? How do I know you won't slit my throat while I'm asleep and go back and use my bounty to buy off your crimes?"
Jaxar snorted and rolled his eyes. "That is extremely unlikely. My sentence is as extreme as yours. I would gain nothing but the headsmen's block if I tried to bring you to the authorities."
Torch slowly sat down, his red body still tense.
Jaxar leaned over and grabbed a flank of the deer. "May I have a bite?" he asked the red dragon, raising an eye brow questioningly.
"Sure... go ahead," Torch grunted, nodding warily.
Beaming, Jaxar brought the flank over the fire and snapped his fingers. The fire flared up brightly, engulfing the venison. Jaxar watched it smolder for a few moments, before allowing the fire to return to its normal flickering and pulled out his neatly sheared meal. The sorcerer tore into it with wild abandon, his crooked teeth ripping the meat off the bone with ease.
Torch slowly relaxed as he watched Jaxar eat, though he did not let down his guard.
"What are you wanted for anyway?" Torch asked once Jaxar paused to catch his breath.
Jaxar looked up and studied Torch for a moment, his red-orange eyes thoughtful. After a quite minute he spoke.
"Not long ago I was the advisor to the prince of the ferans, Ramolous. It was adequate at first, but soon I grew board of the little power I was allowed."
"Ah," Torch murmured, nodding in understanding.
"I wanted more. Not much, but something that would give me just a bit more control and respect. A barony or the like. So I cooked up a plan and started planting ideas of rebellion in my princes' mind. He was an unstable dragon, and easily manipulated. I got him to think that the purple dragons were Malefor reincarnated and had him begin a coup of his own, to murder the pair," Jaxar paused to bite into his shank of venison.
Torch leaned back on his rock and pursed his muzzle appreciatively. "Clever. That way you could get all the attention off of you, and on him instead, correct?"
"Exactly!" Jaxar laughed, wiping his mouth with the hem of his robe. "The coup he started would draw all attention away from me as I gathered my power. I'd poke and prod the fool into the right direction, so that he would be doing as much damage as possible and then, when the time was right, I would put him down myself and become a hero!"
"Obviously that didn't work though," Torch replied, smirking.
"Sadly not," Jaxar sighed, slumping. He raised a hand and rested his head in it despondently, a sad smile crossing his features. "The buffoon made one too many mistakes and got stopped before I could make my move. He was captured and he happened to mention me during the interrogation. Now I'm on the run, disgraced."
"Well at least you were convicted for something you actually did," Torch grumbled. "Yeah, sure owning a slave is 'technically' against the law, but honestly, what noble doesn't practice it to some degree?"
"How were you caught?" Jaxar asked, curious.
"This damned Albino rat found me with my slave. The vermin went immediately to the Guardians and they had me taken away in chains. The morons didn't even give me a proper trial!"
Jaxar sat up up, a frown breaking his amused smile.
"An Albino in the Temple? What exactly was this Albino's name?"
Torch gave Jaxar an incredulous look. "Why would you care?"
"There was a particular Albino from the Temple who played a key role in ruining my plans," Jaxar replied after a moment of silence. "He and his friends were responsible for the death of my apprentice, who I sent out to assassinate a key member of the opposition. The Albino's name was Lyrith."
Torch's expression darkened. "Lyrith," he spat. "That milk-scaled-wood-worm can't seem to keep his snout out of other people's business, can he?"
"Indeed," Jaxar snarled, slamming the butt of his staff into the stone beside him. "That was my best apprentice yet too! One of the few I was ever able to discuss magical theory with and actually get intelligent answers. And I was never able to beat him at checkers either!"
"I'm just surprised he was out of the Temple," Torch muttered, rubbing his head with his paws. "He loved it there. Happy as a rat in a fresh can of garbage."
"If I knew that, I'd tell you," Jaxar sighed, shaking his head.
Torch snorted, and mumbled some curses under his breath as he resumed his meal. Jaxar examined Torch closely, his orange-red eyes intent.
"You said you were a student at the Temple, am I correct?" Jaxar murmured, tearing a hunk off of his leg of venison.
"Yeah," Torch replied, barely pausing to eat, not even looking up at the sorcerer.
"What grade of student were you?" Jaxar asked, curious.
"I was the best!" Torch snarled, throwing down his venison. He grabbed it before it could fall into the water. "The only ones stupid enough to challenge me were that moronic Igneous and that rodent Lyrith! I would have shown them had I not been thrown out of the Temple!"
"I see," Jaxar said, a wide grin breaking over his features. "I have an idea, my good friend: Why don't you be my new apprentice!"
Torch glanced up, an eye ridge raised. "Didn't your last one die on you?"
Jaxar waved a hand away dismissively. "You needn't worry about that happening. I'll keep you out of harm's way, should you not wish to do any dirty work. I've always been a hands on sorcerer as it was anyway."
Torch grunted, not at all convinced. "And what would you teach me? What would I have to do?"
Jaxar smirked and stood, moving to sit beside Torch. "I'd teach you everything those Guardians were too afraid to teach someone as talented and smart as you. Magics too powerful and dangerous for those of weak spirits and minds to dabble with, how to contact those from beyond the mortal veil, and forms of sorcery that would bring the mightiest to their knees. All I want you to do is learn, and that when you have reclaimed your rightful kingdom that you give me a small position of power."
"You would help me become a king!?" Torch replied, stunned. "Why?"
Jaxar laughed. "You think that my ambitions of power ended with a mere set back such as what I went through? Oh no, I'm not ready to sit idle just yet. And I can see it in you, you are king material. I will teach you everything I know and together we can rule an entire kingdom!"
Torch's eyes gleamed darkly, a wicked smile creeping over his face. "You strike a hard bargain, Jaxar. I learn dark magic and the price is that I help you conquer an empire for myself? There has to be some sort of catch."
"The only catch is that you have to follow me and practice what I show you. Though, there may be times where you must go out and do something to ensure the success of our mission."
"Such as?" Torch inquired, staring into Jaxar's face.
"Such as gathering an army, finding allies and, more importantly," Jaxar leaned forward, a devilish smile cracking his face. "dealing pesky vermin like the Guardians and that foul Lyrith."
"Is there anything I don't like about this deal?" Torch chuckled, his yellow eyes blazing.
"Apparently not, because that is all I ask of you," Jaxar smirked, rising to his feet. "So, do you accept my proposal?" he asked, extending a hand.
"Yes, I accept," Torch grinned, gripping Jaxar's hand with his paw and shaking it.
"Together we will crush all who oppose us," Jaxar said, grinning maliciously.
"So, when do we start?" Torch asked eagerly, his eyes burning with a light that had gone out weeks before.
"For now, let us wait out this storm." Jaxar replied, sitting back down. "This cave is no place to practice the dark arts, and this weather will keep us from going anywhere for a while. For now you just rest and gather your strength."
"And then we make our way to the heart of these mountains, where we will be meeting up with a compatriot of mine at the Crossroads of Salvation. Then we can begin your training into the dark arts in earnest."
The only sound in the room was the flipping of pages and the hiss of sand dribbling down the enormous hourglass floating in the center of the chamber. Thousands of books lined enormous shelves reaching dozens of meters into the air, with countless more shelves lying in the rooms beyond. Books flew from shelf to shelf, constantly re-arranging as directed by the aged teal dragon sitting in front of a large podium. Occasionally books would stop in front of him, flip open and quickly skim through all the pages, as if being read at unthinkable speeds. Once each book closed in front of the dragon, the drake would nod and the book would fly back to its shelf.
Ignitus let out a long sigh once the last book slid into place. He rose and shook himself out, stretching his body.
"Well, that finishes up shelf CDXVIII," the Chronicler muttered under his breath, stepping down from his podium. Ignitus glanced up at the shelves standing around the chamber and snorted. All of the books vanished, returning to their original places. Shaking his head, the old dragon shuffled out of the room, giving the colossal hourglass a glance as he passed it by.
The former Guardian of Flame pushed open one of the massive sets of doors leading out of the main chamber and stalked through it. Ignitus paused for a moment to gain his bearings since, as he had quickly learned, the rooms had an odd habit of re-arranging themselves haphazardly.
"Books books books and more books," Ignitus murmured as he gazed at all of the shelves crammed into the chamber. "I was a great lover of literature in my life, but after twenty four years of nothing but reading... I wonder how the others handle it?" Ignitus squeezed through the shelves, the gaps being just barely large enough to let him maneuver around the maze of bookcases. He soon found the door hidden among the clutter of shelves and Ignitus threw them open: another storage room.
Ignitus sighed and continued walking, his neatly trimmed claws clicking on the white marble of the floor as he searched for the door leading to the balcony. Eventually he found it, and the teal dragon gratefully stepped out of the musty old dungeon of books, and into the open. Ignitus inhaled, relishing the delicious fresh air, and then leaned out of the balcony to look down over the lonely view of White Isle. The Chronicler sighed at the sight of the desolate white sand, and the stark pillars and threatening statues that dotted the island. A thick shroud of clouds smothered the sky, and only the twinkle of the blue ocean and fragments of blue on the architecture gave the isle any colour at all.
"Are zy feeling lonely?"
Ignitus started, the croaking voice sounding shockingly loud in the dead silence of the island. The Chronicler turned sharply, startled by the new presence. Standing beside him was a short, blue robed mole bearing a long staff, topped with a large blue crystal. Ignitus relaxed, letting out a sigh of relief. The mole turned his expression away from the sight of the White Isle, to Ignitus, the newcomer's eyes twinkling.
"Chronicler Reynard!" Ignitus smiled, bowing his head in respect. "It is a relief to see you."
Reynard gave a croaking chuckle. "I see zou art having somewhat ouf a personal crisis right now, gitting bored are zou?"
Ignitus smiled. "You could say that. Being stuck here in this place alone is becoming draining on my psyche, and the books only barely help to stave it off. Though, even they are becoming somewhat wearisome."
"What is it zou is missing?"
"I suppose company would be foremost," Ignitus replied, leaning over the balcony. "Though something else to do but read would be ancestor sent."
"Eet is unfortunate that zose are zings we cannot easily supply zou," Reynard murmured. "We are all simply too busy to pay zou many visits, and we all have little access to zeh outside world."
"I know," Ignitus sighed once more. "But at least you dropped by; being able to talk to someone beside myself is a relief. I have not felt as bored as I was since I was hiding in a cave waiting out the war. And at least then I had fear of Cynder to motivate me."
"Unfortunately I am not here for a simple visit," Reynard replied shaking his head.
"Of course not."
"A meeting has been called."
"What is the occasion?"
"Zis one is not a formality. Somezing has come up."
"What is it?"
"I do not know. Zey has not told me yet."
Ignitus sighed. "I see. I suppose that means we should head there immediately."
"Eet would be a good idea."
"Then let us go. I have no desire to be shouted at for being late again."
The two Chroniclers turned and returned to the cramped confines of the library. They weaved their way through the rooms back to the main chamber, wherein they hobbled over to a huge set of arched doors. They waited in front of it for a few moments, tapping their feet impatiently. Finally, Chronicler Reynard thumped hard on the great stone doors with his staff and shouted in frustration.
"Bring us to zeh Citadel, yee lazy swine!"
The doors opened grudgingly, almost as if offended. Ignitus glanced down at Reynard, smiling fondly.
"There is no need to be rude…"
"Eet knew zere was a meeting going on, so eet shouldn't have waited," Reynard replied, huffing as they stepped through the open doors into the darkness.
For a moment they could see nothing in the blackness, the shade oppressing their vision. Then the darkness cleared and the pair found themselves standing in a vast courtyard levitating on a massive chunk of floating stone. Ahead of them floated a great fortress, seemingly carved from a gargantuan piece of unrecognizable black rock. Huge spires, grand arches and monumental turrets rose magnificently from the Citadel, its lights shining like the stars.
Ignitus's gaze continued up however, to stare at the sky above where, floating high above them was the world. Their world. It was broken and abused, but still whole and shining like a jewel.
"This sight never ceases to amaze me," Ignitus whispered, shaking his head in wonder.
Reynard nodded in agreement, chuckling as he limped across the courtyard towards the Citadel. Ignitus followed, glancing back quickly at the door he had come from. All of the doors stood solitary and apart from one another, attached to nothing and seemingly leading to nowhere. Each door bore the name of its Chronicler etched in glowing letters atop its frame, and an engraving of the race they represented on the doors themselves. All of the doors were now barred, allowing no one to return. Ignitus's smile soured slightly.
Reynard stopped momentarily at the ledge of the rock, right before it dropped off into the void. He continued once Ignitus stood next to him, casually stepping out into the nothingness. The rocky debris floating around them abruptly flew forward to form a stepping stone under the mole's feet. The mole continued forward, the stones creating a path towards the Citadel, only to dissipate behind him. Ignitus sighed, forcing himself not to look down into the void below and then continued forward, the rocks gathering underneath him to form a solid platform.
The stars glittered around him as he moved across the emptiness towards the Citadel, the former Guardian's gaze returning to the wondrous sight of the world above him. He reached the foot of the Citadel, where Reynard was waiting for him. They nodded to one another as they stepped up to the gates, which swung noiselessly open. The pair stepped inside, neither glancing back as the doors slowly closed behind them. An endless hallway stretched out before them, leading to the central chamber. The pillars lining the carpeted floor reached up towards the impossibly high roof. It took a brief eternity to reach the end of the hall, where two enormous suits of armour stood guard, their plate mail suspended by crackling arcane energies. The sets of armour opened the chamber doors for the two, allowing them entry.
The central chamber was dominated by a great round table, carved from the very stone that made up the floor itself. Seated around it were countless teal robed figures, many of races Ignitus had, in his previous life, never even heard of before.
"You are late once again, whelp," growled an imposing saber-toothed feline, who rose to address the Dragonic Chronicler.
Ignitus flinched at the patronizing name, not having heard the phrase 'whelp' being directed at him for almost a century.
"I apologize, Chronicler Nazher," Ignitus replied briskly, biting back a witty remark. "I was only just informed of the gathering."
Nazher snorted, brushing a hand through his blue-grey mane and sneering, his long dagger-like-teeth barred. Then he turned his gaze away from Ignitus, towards the other Chroniclers.
"Now that everyone is here, we may begin."
Ignitus took his seat, and glanced upwards towards the ceiling. The teal drake shivered. Looking down upon them from the balconies were thousands of shadowy figures. Their faceless gazes were unwavering and intense and their shapes undefined. Ignitus quickly returned his gaze to Nazher as the Chronicler continued.
"I have called upon all of you to relay some vital information: The Family appears to be reuniting once more."
There was a collective gasp from the majority of the Chroniclers, who then turned to each other and started murmuring in hushed, frightened tones. Ignitus looked around, somewhat baffled by the reaction. Despite his confusion, a tingling sense of familiarity crept up his spine, and he wondered where he had heard of that name before.
"Do we know this for certain?" The griffon Chronicler Rathal asked, his glowing gold eyes narrowing.
"While browsing through the archives one of the spirits found it and brought it to my attention," Nazher replied briskly. "And I immediately called this meeting as a warning. I have examined the text myself and it does indeed reference The Family regrouping in the near future."
The muttering redoubled, the other Chroniclers growing anxious. Ignitus gazed worriedly at his compatriots, startled at how concerned they all appeared.
"As a precaution, I want all of you to shroud your abodes and avoid having any visitors in the near future. We cannot, will not, allow another assault on the Citadel to occur."
Ignitus hesitated for a moment, letting that declaration sink in. Then, unable to hold his silence any longer, he rose to address Nahzer.
"Chronicler Nazher, should we warn the mortals of this threat? If they are such a danger to us that we must completely cut ourselves off from the mortals, surely they are a threat to the world at large as well."
Nazher paused in his speech, and turned to look at Ignitus, a sneer creasing his face. The other Chroniclers fell silent as well, to watch the exchange.
"They are indeed a threat to the mortal world, whelp, but we will not warn them of it. Our duty is to gather and protect knowledge, not to interfere with the happenings of the mortal world. It is not our right to do so."
"Then why did my predecessor interfere?" Ignitus insisted, growing aggravated at how the others were looking at him mockingly. "He stepped in to help Spyro when the world was in peril. What is so different about this situation and that, if "The Family" is so dangerous?"
"Zat was an uncommon occurrence, Ignitus," Reynard said, turning his intense gaze upon Ignitus. "And even zen, eet was not immediate. Your predecessor waited a considerable length of time before deciding eet was necessary, and even zen he was punished for his transgression. Interfering with zeh mortal world is not somesing to be taken lightly."
"Should it come to pass that our interference is necessary for the survival of the mortal world, then we will permit it, but otherwise it is forbidden," Nazher said sneering. "It is this very ignorant and rash thinking that has led to the ban of new Chroniclers getting to contact the mortal world for the first two lifespans of their service: So foolish younglings like yourself do not contact your old friends and family to warn them of events that they are not meant to know about."
Ignitus sighed, shaking his head. "I understand Chronicler Nazher, thank you for… educating me."
"It was my pleasure," Nazher said, his fangs clenched. The sabre cat then turned to look at the other Chroniclers. "are there any other foolish and pointless questions? No? Then you are all dismissed. Go about your duties as instructed, then return here."
The Chroniclers rose in unison and moved as one towards the exit. Ignitus sighed, frustrated.
"Worry not, zey shall get used to zou in time," Reynard murmured, patting a small hand on Ignitus' large foreleg.
"And how long will that be?" Ignitus asked with an amused smile.
"Anozer century or two will sooze zeir view of zou, friend," Reynard chuckled.
"Oh really? That long?" Ignitus groaned sarcastically, shaking his head.
"Aye. It eez difficult for us Chroniclers to forget, considering our duties."
"Indeed, you must forgive my compatriots Chronicler Ignitus, especially Nahzer, they are all still sore about your predecessor's loss."
Ignitus came to a stop and turned to look at the speaker, only to blink in surprise. A huge ape stood in front of him, standing nearly as tall as the teal dragon. The ape was wearing a long cape and loincloth to cover his white hair and blue flesh, but was otherwise unclothed. The ape planted his crystal-topped staff on the ground, and smiled gently at Ignitus' shock.
"I apologize, Chronicler Ignitus, I had wished to speak with you sooner, but I had thought it prudent to wait a few decades before doing so, so that you're wounds regarding the war between our races might be soothed somewhat."
Ignitus was speechless for a moment, and then he nodded. "Oh… of course. I should be the one apologizing though, since that was very rude of me to react in such a way. Of course there would be an ape Chronicler."
"I suspect you are more surprised that I am speaking with such calmness, considering our respective races history together," the ape said smiling, his deep voice reverberating around the now empty chamber. The ape held out a gargantuan, wrinkled hand. Ignitus took it with a paw after a moment of hesitation. "I am Chronicler Kailgorn."
"And you already know who I am," Ignitus said, nodding. "Though in case you have not already met, this is Chronicler Reynard."
"We have met on occasion," Kailgorn said with a nod, smiling down at the mole. Reynard gave a short bow to the Ape.
"Eet is a pleasure to see zou again, Kailgorn".
"Now that introductions are out of the way, I came wishing to make an attempt at repairing the relationship between our respective races, even if it is just between us."
"You are already doing a marvelous job of that," Ignitus chuckled. "You are the kindest Chronicler to have approached me outside of Reynard."
"I was good-friends with your predecessor. Even during the Ape-Dragon war the two of us would visit on occasion and talk of philosophy and the metaphysical. But I suppose I am more capable of letting go of my feelings than our peers are. We all miss him deeply, but it is time to let go and welcome the new dragonic Chronicler into our ranks. "
"The previous Dragon Chronicler must have been very well respected among the others, if what you say is true."
"He was. Nazher in particular was fond of him. He was devastated at his passing, and his breaking of the Chronicler laws. He will take longer than most to recover, but he will recover in time."
"That gratifying to hear, hopefully it will be sooner rather than later."
"Indeed, I certainly hope so. You are a bright young Chronicler, much as you were a bright dragon in your youth."
Ignitus raised an eye ridge. "You know of my childhood?"
"I took time to read through some of your book, back when your predecessor was debating making you his successor. I am quite impressed."
"Ah, that explains it," Ignitus muttered, rather embarrassed at the realization that the ape Chronicler was intimately aware of his life. The three fell silent for a moment, and turned to leave the meeting chamber. Ignitus was halfway down the hall when he turned to the two Chroniclers accompanying him.
"Who is "The Family?" Ignitus asked abruptly, glancing at the two. "I have the feeling I have heard of them before, but I cannot remember any details."
"Ah, we should have suspected you would not know who they were," Kailgorn chuckled, shaking his head. "They are a secretive bunch."
"Zeh Family is a collective of zeh most depraved and monstrous creatures from around zeh world," Reynard started, gruffly. "zey are an organization hundreds of years old, started by zeh members whose names were lost to history."
"Lost to history?" Ignitus asked, incredulous. "How is that possible? Aren't we history? We have books recording the details of every single moment in every single living creature's life? How can we not know their history?"
"This was still before my time, mind, but it was close enough that I have heard all of the stories," Kailgorn muttered, his staff slamming sharply against the ground. "At first, they were of little interest to the Chroniclers, being just another collective. Then, their founding members abruptly, and without warning, attacked three of the Chronicler's abodes, destroying countless books and forcing their way into the Citadel."
"Zat should have been impossible. Finding a Chroniclers' abode is one sing, but zeh magics used to make zeh Citadel and zeh doors leading to eet are as old as zeh Ancestors zemselves. No mortal should have known zem."
"They stormed the Citadel, forcing their way through. They killed no Chroniclers, since, as spirits of the past we cannot be slain, but they were easily able to subdue us long enough to crack open the vault, find their records and destroy them, thereby erasing their names from all of our books."
Ignitus stared at the two in shock. "That is… I can see now why a full meeting was called just to warn us of them. If they were capable of it once…"
"Indeed. We cannot permit another such rampage of destruction to occur, especially here of all places. The mere fact that they are… were able to penetrate our lairs like that is utterly terrifying. Who knows what they might try and destroy next if they should attempt another assault?" Kailgorn muttered, shivering. "Even more mortifying is the unimaginable magics they must have wielded to achieve such a feat. I can scarcely imagine where they learned them."
"So, if their records are missing, how do we know anything about them at all, even their organization's name?" Ignitus asked, shifting the subject away from the idea of another assault.
"We lost only zeh information regarding zeir founders, not zeh osther members."
"Indeed, over the years we have found a few others who have joined the organization, but even through them we can only know the titles of the founders, and nothing more. Once such member of The Family we know of was my grandson, Gaul."
Ignitus stopped once more, turning to Kailgorn his expression shocked. The ape Chronicler huffed, his face cracking into an un-amused smirk.
"I know how you feel, Ignitus, but understand I do not share my grandson's feelings. Until my son stabbed me in the back, literally, I was planning on making peace with the dragons. My grandson took to his father a little too fervently."
"Oh, I see," Ignitus murmured hesitantly. Then he shook his head. "What are their goals, then? If we have information about a few of their members, surely we know their goals?"
"We know not. We might have known if we knew anything about their founders, but as it is we are uncertain. All we are aware of is that everything they are involved in has caused strife and chaos across the planet."
Ignitus sighed, glancing down at the ground in frustration as they arrived at the island of portals. Then he looked back up at the floating world above them.
"Why can we never have peace?"
"As a wise dragon once told me," Kailgorn said, approaching his portal. "strife begets strife, and until all parties are willing to set down arms, conflict will never end."
"So all hope is lost?" Ignitus asked the ape as they started going their separate ways.
Kailgorn turned back to Ignitus and smiled. "It is that sort of attitude that leads to conflict, Chronicler Ignitus. There is always hope for a brighter future, one just needs to keep searching for it, and not let failure and pain blind them."
Then the Ape was gone, stepping through the portal and vanishing. Ignitus turned back to Reynard, who had stopped by the entrance to his portal. The mole smiled.
"Nosing like his grandson, is 'e?" Reynard cackled. "let us convene at zeh entrance once we haf finished closing off our abodes. I have greatly enjoying our conversation," the mole then turned and stepped through the portal, leaving Ignitus alone on the island. The teal dragon sighed, and then smiled.
"What a day this has been," Ignitus murmured to himself, moving to his own portal, "but it is not over just yet. There is more to be done."
Ignitus stepped through the portal.
Lyrith, Savron, Ignitus, Tirren, Voltlyn, Sleet, Danrah, Vash, Zindy, Typhous.
Inferna, Serion, Deran, Aggernon, Milsey, Grann, Bellue, Dyama, Aeil, Twar.
Torch, Jaxar, Ramolous.
Chronicler Reynar, Chronicler Kailgorn, Chronicler Nazher, Chronicler Rathal.
Talon belongs to Talon The Dragon
And yes, I checked, Splendiferous is actually a word. :P
So, after months of work this chapter is finally done. Remember way back when I said this chapter was going to be easy and should be out soon? Yeah, turned out I was painfully wrong. Almost immediately I found myself stumbling over scenes, continually trying and failing to get them to work. In particular this was in the Chronicler scene and another scene that I was forced cut out (thought it will be including as part of the sequel) that refused to work for me for the longest time. It got to the point where I wasn't even able to write more than a few lines of the Lyrith bits without scrapping the entire thing. All of this, along with the backbreaking amounts of homework writing keeping me away from the desk when I wanted to actually write led this chapter to be hellishly difficult to work on.
Fortunately in the past month I suddenly felt the weight being lifted off of my back, as well as an excellent opportunity to do some hard writing looming over the horizon in the form of a road trip. So, after months I was finally able to sit down and actually get work done. And guess what? This is now the longest chapter I have posted; though it would have been second had I actually posted the chapter 29 and 30 together as one like I had originally planned. xD Just goes to show you that, when I actually push myself to do work I can accomplish a lot, despite what my track record is saying. (Though it might have been pushed over because of this unbearably long Author's note. xD)
So, that long and boring story short, I think I have finally moved past my writers block and will be able to do more writing in the future. I will no longer let my muse rule my writing, as that has only led to longer and longer time between posting. Instead, I will force myself to write a bit for all the stories I want to do every day from now on, and that should keep me from losing touch with my own work.
Now that this chapter is out, I will be returning to FC, EH in addition to working on DL2, though the sequel won't be published for some time (I want to get a few chapters done before I post anything). In addition, I am also going to be writing my own original story while doing all of this, though it will be taking a back seat compared to these other two stories. =)
Also I will be setting the poll I had started way back up once more. I have gotten so many more readers that I figure it is only fair to give them a shot at voting for what small story I might be doing alongside these other three. It won't be a regular occurrence, but every now and again I will post a chapter for it, just to do something different. =) So watch for that, readers, since it will be out soon and you might see something you'd want me to work on in the future. =3
Lastly, I would like to thank all of you for being such amazing readers. Back when I first started this story, I had never thought I would reach the height of 550+ reviews or 81,000 hits, especially not on my first story I posted here on Fanfiction. This has truly inspired me, and makes me think I might have a chance to achieve my dream of becoming a successful author. =)
I'll start writing the next chapter FC, EH immediately, as, from this point forward, it is no longer on hiatus. =) Man does it feel amazing to finally have this story done. Two-three years of writing... wow.
Ps. A HUGE thanks to Goldengriffoness for all her help betaing my story most of the way through it. She has been a real asset at finding those pesky little errors and for talking about how parts of my story might be improved.
Similar thanks to go Deeth Irteen, who has been there with me for a while, and has been a big help to my writing by letting me bounce ideas off of him to see if they stick.
Thanks guys, you've been a colossal influence on my writing career. =)
Pps. Also, in case any of you noticed and were wondering, I changed the category of Dark Legacy from "Adventure Drama" to "Friendship Drama." This was done, since, for the longest time I was wondering if "Adventure" was an appropriate category for the story. I made the decision to change it now when a friend of mine mentioned how the story was closer to a 'friendship' one, since the majority of the plot does revolve around Lyrith's adaption to life at the Temple and growth as a character to accept friends into his life. It's really not all that important now, since the story is over and done with, but I figured I might as well do it, just so that people who are coming into the story for the first time won't be misinformed.