Chapter One: An Old Friend
The young Purple Dragon made his way across the grounds leading to the small shack many of the inhabitants of that Realm used as a meeting place. He knew the one he was looking for was here, he just knew it.
As he entered the shack, he noticed how many of the people in there were drinking and laughing, as if there was nothing to worry about. But they didn't know the truth; they didn't understand the apocalypse that had been averted.
But none of them needed to know such a thing.
Spyro saw a door leading to another room in the back. Seeing that the main bar was right there, he made his way over and jumped up to the counter, looking for the bartender.
"Hey, pipsqueak, ya sure ya wanna be sittin' there?" asked an Ogre not far from him. "I could crush your head as easily as most would a walnut. Want that to happen?"
"I'm not here to fight anyone," Spyro told him honestly. "That, and I'm pretty powerful. Being a Dragon helps when it comes to fighting with others."
"Fair enough." The Ogre returned to his drink with a small hint of a smile on his face.
Spyro saw the bartender return from the room he wanted so badly to be in. It was time for him to make his move.
"Excuse me," he said to the bartender. "What is in there?"
"In here?" asked the bartender. "It's just a small room for those who wish to take a small amount of time for refuge. That, and the one who's in there says they're able to help others with their problems. Some fortune-teller or something."
"Would you mind if I get my fortune told at all?"
"Hm...sure. Just make sure not to bother them too much. They aren't always in the best mood, and it can get shocking, if ya know what I mean."
Spyro smiled, jumped off the stool, and entered the room.
He saw someone standing in the shadows, their back turned, cloaked.
"Hello," the person said, their voice a female's. It was soft, but it was filled with pain. "What do you want?"
Spyro felt relief as he recognized the voice.
"Cynder, I know it's you," he said to them.
"Spyro?" Cynder turned around, and due to her scale color and cloak, she blended in with the shadows, but her electrified blue eyes were shining brightly. "What are you doing here? I thought you were traveling."
"I was. But I've returned, and I wanted to find you, as well. What are you doing here, Cyn? Why are you a fortune-teller in this dark room?"
"Don't call me Cyn! You know why I'm here! You know what I've gone through!" She was becoming more agitated.
"I do," Spyro admitted. "I can hear the pain in your voice. Look, I just wanted to come and ask you something. If you don't want to accept this offer, then I'll leave. But it might be the chance you have to wipe your slate clean."
"I'm listening," Cynder told him.
"When we parted ways and I started traveling, I joined the Skylanders. I've been sent out to recruit, and you were actually the one I thought of getting first. They need more recruits. Right now, we have about 16. Once we get the amount we've been hoping for, we'll be choosing the captains for the elements," Spyro explained.
"What are the elements?"
"Magic, Undead, Life, Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Tech. I don't know which element you'd belong in, but the guy who's been helping out most, Eon, has put me in Magic. He's even told me that I'll most likely be the leader for the whole team! Isn't that great?"
"Sure, it's really good...for you. I'd probably never get that in my life. I'm not one who people would look up to. As soon as someone sees me, they'll recognize me as the Terror of the Skies, only smaller and with a different eye color. I'm sick of being a recluse, but it's all I can do right now! Yes, it's been 6 months since that whole battle, but it's still stuck in my head! I nearly killed you at the end of it all! And Malefor got away! How does it feel to know that the one who corrupted me and forced me to do all the terrible crap I did got away and is now planning something new? Huh? It hurts me to think of it all being this way! How do I know that none of the Skylanders will recognize me?"
"Trust me, none of them will. None of them are really from around here. The only one I know at the moment to be from around here is Gill Grunt, and he's from Leviathan Lagoon. Otherwise, the others shouldn't know you all too well. Will you please just come with me? I need you to, because I know good things will come out of it. You shouldn't doubt yourself in what you can do. I'll make sure to help you, but you will have to make a couple of decisions by yourself somewhere down the road. Will you come?"
"Fine," Cynder complied. "I just hope no one makes fun of me for any reason."
"They won't," Spyro admitted. "And if they do, then they're just hurting themselves, not you. Anyway, on to other matters. How well have you healed since...you know..."
"My leg's still broken. I have to limp to get around. But the wing's alright for now, so at least I can fly. As for my scars, they've begun healing. That's the good thing about being a Dragon, I guess you can say. How have you been since all that crap happened?"
"Great. My travels were pretty good. I went back home and met some pals of mine from childhood. It's weird being back in the main Dragon Realms, especially the Artisans. The king, Nils, let me stay with him and his family while I was there. Once that was done, I went to the Icy Peak and the Enchanted Towers. Let's just say, the Enchanted Towers were pretty annoying to get through. Plus, some of the thieves actually stole a couple of eggs, but I and a couple of friends stopped them. After that, I came here. Everything just seems so different. It's almost like there's no darkness around the Realms anymore."
"I've noticed that a bit. But it's been a little hard, especially because of the memories my mind keeps flashing through. I have to deal with the terrible things I did, and it's almost as if I can't change it anymore."
"Hey, there's no need to think of that," Spyro comforted. "One thing that helps me a lot is sleep. How much have you gotten this week?"
"I haven't slept for the past 3 days. It's too hard," Cynder told him.
"It's alright. At least tonight, you have a friend nearby. Maybe that'll help a bit more."
Cynder curled up and closed her eyes, which Spyro did as well. He was happy that he was near her again. But he didn't know the true extent of her pain or how it was affecting her.
Come now, Cynder. You're still my general. Come back to me, and you shall be the true queen of Skylands and all Realms beyond. Come back to me, or you shall face the consequences! COME NOW!
Cynder shot up, panting hard, sweating more than ever. Tears began streaming down her face, unable to understand what was happening to her, or what was coming for her.
There were so many problems that had gone on throughout her life, and it caused her to be more of a violent Dragoness. She could see how many would possibly believe her to be gothly due to her being more reclusive and her black scales. Although her black scales had a violet hue to them, she still blended in with the dark. The only two things that ever gave her away to others, other than the fact that some already knew her, were her bright ruby-red underbelly scales and her blue eyes. Otherwise, no one understood who she was, or what she had truly gone through.
She wished terribly to have a clean slate and to start over. She also wished to have a relationship with the one she truly loved, but she believed that it would never happen, especially after everything that had happened.
She wondered how much being a Skylander would help her to overcome the terrible boundaries that had been put in front of her by the monstrous Purple Dragon known as Malefor.
He had corrupted her as soon as she'd been born, causing her to become much larger than any Dragoness her age. For years she'd terrified the inhabitants of the Realms, but mostly in Skylands. She'd become known as the Terror of the Skies.
But then one day, Spyro had come along, and after he'd learned of her backstory, he had fought one last time with her, and then with Malefor. During that battle, she'd been knocked unconscious and returned to her normal size. Malefor had escaped, though, leaving Spyro to care for her.
She'd been wounded during the battle, which she knew Spyro blamed himself for, and was then taken to a couple of doctors in the location known as Shattered Island to be healed.
Ever since then, they'd parted ways, and Cynder hadn't thought she'd see Spyro again for a very long time. And now here he was, asking her to become a member of the Skylanders along with him.
Cynder didn't know if it was the right thing to do. Despite the fact that she wanted her slate wiped clean, she knew that consequences would be in store for her somewhere down the road.
"Please, just show me a sign!" Cynder said. "I don't know what to do! I just want to do something that won't require anyone having to be afraid of me! I want to be normal, not some monster." She felt tears streaming down her face and sighed. "It's probably too good to be true."
She returned to her spot and closed her eyes once again. She hoped she'd be able to make the right decision sooner or later. But, she thought, it was too hard to do so at that moment, and she'd need to sleep first.
She looked over at Spyro, who was breathing softly and had not moved even when she'd woken from her nightmare. He was one of the few who trusted her, as well as one of the only few who truly believed in her as well.
Why can't my life just be simple? she thought to herself before drifting off to sleep.
As the dawn broke, she felt Spyro shaking her awake. She stirred, but didn't want to get up at all.
"Hey, we need to go," he told her.
"Why?" she mumbled. "It's not like they're threatening to break down the door or anything. Besides, I booked this room for three nights. Last night was the first."
"I understand that, but I told Eon I'd return today. Do you want to come with me or not?"
"Fine. Just tell me, do you Skylanders get any sleep during the day? Or are you fighting other monsters a lot?"
"It depends. Recently it's been quiet. The main guy we have to watch out for is Kaos, this little tyrant who-"
"I know who he is. It's not too hard when he's on the most-wanted list in pretty much every place I go. Now, let me get ready. I need to keep wearing this cloak, because I don't want anyone to know it's actually me under here."
"You shouldn't have to worry about that," Spyro told her. "I'll protect you if they do get the wrong mind about it."
"I'm more powerful than you think, even when I'm this small!" Cynder snapped back. "I'm sorry, but I don't want to deal with thinking about people coming after me. It sets me on edge and makes me a danger to others."
"Okay. Do you have everything, or is something missing?"
Cynder went over to a corner. Spyro saw her put on braces around her ankles, as well as a choker. All of them had spikes. When she put a brace around her front left ankle, she winced due to the pain in her leg there.
"Done," she told him.
"What are those for?" he asked her.
"They're supposed to symbolize my freedom from Malefor. I found a blacksmith trying to sell them, and so I decided to buy them. The only problem with these are the spikes. They make it hard to sleep if I have to keep them on."
"How did you buy them? Did someone give you money?"
"Well, I didn't buy them. They were being given away for free. They just help me to feel safe and to be away from Malefor."
Spyro smiled, happy for her. As they left the room, some of the patrons turned and looked at them strangely.
"They don't know that it's me," Cynder whispered to Spyro. "And I really would rather that it stays that way." She saw Spyro nod, and then stayed silent until they had exited the shack. Once they were far enough away from it, Cynder took her hood off.
Spyro could see that she still had a scar underneath her right eye from the battle with Malefor. Just below the scar were the natural markings that circled halfway around her eye. It was the same with her left eye.
"So where exactly are we going at this moment?" she asked him.
"To where the Skylanders normally live. I think we'll be going on a mission soon, but I'd have to ask Eon about that. You'll love some of the other Skylanders I know. Sunburn and Sonic Boom are the best out of them all."
"Are they Dragons, or..."
"No. Well, Sunburn sort of is. He's a Hybrid. Sunburn was actually born at the very center of a volcano; he's a Dragon-Phoenix Hybrid. Sonic Boom, meanwhile, is a Griffiness. She's really sweet, as well. She always said she'd rather have a girl as a best friend, so you might just be that girl."
"Yeah, I'm sure of that," Cynder mumbled. "So how far can we possibly go before we have to stop?"
"We can actually get there in one day. I left yesterday late in the afternoon. I stopped a couple of times along the way, so it shouldn't be hard to get all the way back."
"If you say so..."
The two of them walked for what seemed like hours without talking. Cynder was thinking of what it would be like if she became a member of the Skylanders, if anyone would accept her despite her past actions.
"Hey, are you okay?" he asked after. He saw that she was panting now, and her limping seemed to be worsening.
"I'm really tired," she explained. "If I'm too tired and I try to walk anywhere during a time like that, then I'll start limping real bad. I don't have much more energy."
"If you're tired, then we can stop, so just tell me when, alright?" Spyro smiled at her. He could see that some form of a smile was on lips, but it was just barely there. Spyro was about to open his mouth again when the two of them heard the sound of bushes rustling, as if something or someone was there. "Who's there?" he called out.
Cynder drew the hood of her cloak up again to hide her face, although she was ready to attack as well as she could if a fight was about to break out.
Out of the bushes and shadows in front of them came a Dragon-like creature with mainly red feathers, although there were some blue and yellow on his head and around the eyes. Next to them was a Griffin. Cynder began to wonder and focus on what Spyro had said to her hours earlier.
"Hey Spyro," the Dragon-like creature said. "Who's this?"
"Hey Sunburn. This is Cynder. She's an old friend of mine. I found her when I entered a bar. She's kind of shy," Spyro explained.
The Griffin went up to Cynder. "Hi, I'm Sonic Boom," she greeted. But when Cynder didn't say anything back, she frowned. "Sorry if I made you feel weird." She backed away.
"Cynder, please, they're only trying to be friendly," Spyro whispered to her. "Take off your hood and try to be friendly to them as well."
Cynder sighed. She finally took off the hood, allowing Sunburn and Sonic Boom to see what she looked like.
"Wow, you're beautiful," Sonic Boom said.
Cynder smiled at that, the first Spyro had seen since he'd started on the journey back with her. He was sure it was one of the first times she'd done it in a long time as well.
"So what are you guys trying to do exactly?" Sunburn asked.
"She wants to become one of the Skylanders," Spyro explained. "I was bringing her back to HQ, and we found you guys here. Were you guys doing something?"
"We were sent by Eon to find you," Sunburn told him. "He says it's really urgent."
"Oh crap," Spyro whispered to himself. "That doesn't sound good. My best bet is that it's Kaos. Who knows what that little idiot's up to."
As they started heading on their way to their destination, Sonic Boom noticed how Cynder was limping.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. I was hurt while traveling, that's all," Cynder said, annoyed at having been asked the question again. "I'm tired, so it doesn't help with the injury. So what Element have you been chosen for?"
"Air. I've been told that I have a good chance at becoming the captain for it. Of course, it's between me and a Hybrid named Whirlwind, but it's all good fun." She smiled happily, causing Cynder to wish there was a way for her to be that happy for once.
"What Element do you think I would be in?" She asked the question softly.
"I don't know. My best guesses for that are Magic and Undead. I'm not very sure. I guess we'll just have to wait for that. All good things come with time."
After another 10 minutes, Cynder noticed how it had suddenly become very grassy and almost forest-like. Wind was flowing all around them, helping Cynder push back the pain in her broken leg. A gate came into view. She heard waves crashing against the surf, and could smell salt in the air. That meant a beach was nearby.
They came closer to the gate, and it suddenly opened.
A strange looking Elf was standing-no, floating-there, watching them.
"Hey Hex," Spyro greeted. "I heard that something's come up."
"Yes, something has. Meet us in the tent," Hex told him softly, and then left.
"What is Hex? And what's her problem?" Cynder asked.
"She's an Elf. But she's sort of a witch as well. Not in a bad way, though; she's a witch in the way that she practices magic. She's had a rough life so far," Sunburn explained. "I'm going to the tent. You coming with me, Sonic Boom?"
"Sure," she said. "See you guys later!" Once they'd left, Cynder turned to Spyro.
"They didn't even know who I am," she said. "I can't believe it. This has never happened to me before. I was sure that everyone would know that I was the Terror of the Skies."
"Well, not everyone who wants to be a Skylander is from around here. They wouldn't all know it. That's why I thought of bringing you here. Pretty much everybody's a great friend, Eon is someone you can look up to, and there's a really great healer here, too. Once I'm told of what's going on, I'll bring you to her to have your leg healed." He smiled brightly at Cynder. "So what do you think? Pretty amazing, huh?"
"I can't believe you'd do all of this for me. I was your enemy, and..."
"Cynder, that wasn't you, and you know it! You know what Malefor did to you. It was wrong, and that's why I decided to help you. I wanted to make sure you'd get a second chance at your life. You deserve it more than anyone I know! Yes, Malefor escaped, but that doesn't automatically mean that we have to be scared of what's to come. I just want you to be happy and have friends around here who care about you."
Cynder hugged Spyro tightly. "Thank you so much," she whispered.
"You're welcome. Now, you want to come with me to see what's going on? Once that's all over and your leg is looked at, we can talk to Eon about you being in the Skylanders."