Twisted Shadows

A/N: Told you very soon. By the way, things pick up a LOT in this chapter. I wanna hear back from all you guys on what you think is gonna go down, and how I'm doing after five years. Thanks! :)

In terms of timeline and canon - Wyldfyr was assumed to be a girl when this was written, before we all found out she was actually a he. Also, this was some time before Season 3-ish. I think. It was before Moordryd found the Shadow Booster amulet for sure. Excuse those things kindly, please.


Pathetic.

Moordryd stood outside the Dragon City Medical Center, Decepshun standing next to him. Really pathetic, you moron, he berated to himself. First you go tell him off, and next thing you know, it turns out, he wasn't listening! Now, you'd expect that, but not like that! Then you choke the word "Father" like that whole speech didn't mean anything and you begin panicking...and what in the name of the Magna Draconis was that all about anyway?

Moordryd gritted his teeth. He collapsed many times, Moordryd continued. On account of staying in that control room of his all the time, and not getting that much sleep. But it didn't take thislong for him to wake up. And…and just why am I worrying about him?

His eyes narrowed. No, I'm not worrying about that fool! He didn't listen to a word I said! He never does! Instead, he was too busy focusing on his monitors, or his plots, or his precious wraith dragons of his…idiot! I hate him! I –

He realized now that he had clenched his fist, and his fingernails had dug into it so hard that marks were left behind. "Enough of this," he said, more comfortable somehow by hearing his own voice. "Here's another issue we have to deal with, Decepshun; another of my father's wraith dragons suffering this virus."

Decepshun looked up with peaking curiosity. This definitely would mean that the control gear rumor would make no sense at all anymore – if control gear, especially wraith control gear, could be infected, and twice now.

After Moordryd had run over to where Word had collapsed, he realized that it was another wraith dragon that had cried after and had been infected. The gear glitched the same way as the other instance, the controlled dragon appearing and then disappearing, flickering like a dying light bulb much to the terror or Moordryd and Paynn Incorporated's security. The wraith's shadows had copied its movements as it had reared back and let out another piercing scream…

"Father was right," Moordryd mumbled. "This isn't natural. None of our wraith dragons ever got infected by this virus, until now. And if there is really a person doing all this…" He paused. "That's impossible. No person could get through the Paynn Incorporated building that stealthily and slip away from our sight that easily, especially with the jacked up security. But what about if – no, no. The virus can only infect dragons, not humans."

"Exactly!" a voice piped up.

Moordryd blinked. He turned to see Parmon Sean, of all people, exit the building, along with Lance, Artha, Kitt, and their dragons. All except Lance's dragon, for which Moordryd forgot what the mini-brat's dragon's name was.

"What are you doing here, Moordryd?" Kitt smirked, folding her arms.

"None of your business, stable brats!" he snapped, glaring at them. "I guess I should ask you the same. Does it have to do with why the mini-brat's dragon isn't here with you pipsqueaks?"

Lance glowered at Moordryd, betrayed slightly. "Yeah, and I can clearly see that you have Decepshun with you, Moordryd," Artha retorted angrily, nodding at Moordryd's black dragon. "So obviously you aren't here for your dragon getting checked up. Why are you here?"

"Why are you poking your nose in it, stable brat?" Moordryd snarled, fingernails digging into his palms again. "It's not your business, so get lost!"

"Artha, we better go," Parm started, looking rather cautious. "I don't think we want to upset Moordryd right now…"

"Yeah, listen to your friend, the geek," Moordryd sneered.

Parm's eyes narrowed. "You know, I know something that you know, Moordryd," Parm muttered under his breath. "Want me to tell them what happened to your father?"

Moordryd opened his mouth to yell at him but Lance caught the last bit. "Father?" he said. "What about Word?"

"Nothing about my father, you little insect," Moordryd growled, advancing towards the redheaded child as Beau and Cyrano came to attention.

"Get away from him, Paynn!" Artha yelled, stepping forward and shoving Moordryd.

He didn't intend for Moordryd to fall down and hit his head on the ground. Decepshun snarled at Artha and was about to attack, with Beau growling back, just as Moordryd jumped up and kicked Artha's stomach, causing him to stagger, but not without a retaliating punch directed at Moordryd's arm.

"Stupid stable – " Moordryd hissed, lunging at Artha.

"Not again, break it up, break it up!" Kitt cried, grabbing Moordryd while Parm had hold of Artha. Beau grunted disapprovingly at Decepshun, who simply sneered back. Kitt shot Moordryd a fierce glare. "Whatever it is you don't want us to know about, fine. We'll stop bothering you. The nurses at the front desk are checking on other people and dragons, which they shouldn't be doing right now, so if you stop now, they won't suspect anything when they get back to the front desk."

"And why should I take orders from you?" Moordryd yelled.

"Because if you don't, Paynn is not just gonna be your family name," Kitt retorted.

"We don't want any trouble with you right now," Artha said, calming down. "We've got way too many issues…"

"While you make such a big deal over nothing!" Lance finished.

Parm gulped, quickly seeing the error of Lance's sentence and just where this would be going. "Lance, Kitt, Artha, let's just…go now," he suggested nervously, releasing Artha slowly and stepping towards Cyrano.

Kitt and Artha all looked up at Parm stubbornly. Parm's expression suddenly hardened in equal strength. "I said now," he ordered, much to their surprise.

Kitt released Moordryd and was magged onto Wyldfyr, while Artha was magged back on Beau and Parm and Lance on Cyrano. "Stupid stable brats," Moordryd muttered as they walked off around the building corner.

Decepshun snorted in agreement. She suddenly stiffened, caught off-guard by some presence, looming over them. It was faint, but at the same time, it wasn't a friendly presence she was detecting…

She crept forward and peeked around the corner where Beau and the rest of the others have disappeared off to. She only glimpsed the shadow of the red and blue dragon. It stretched out to the right, showing his movements, and the stable brat's movements as well. The shadow of Artha seemed to look forward, then at his left, making it seem as though the shadow was staring at her.

A bit unnerving, yes, but now she was being paranoid. It was simply a matter of illusion.

"What is it now, Decepshun?" Moordryd said, walking up to his dragon and peered from the corner, trying to find out what she was looking at. All he saw were a few garbage cans, plus some garbage spilled around. A few light poles placed on the right side of the Dragon City Medical Center, and a shadow of the stable brat's dragon stretching to the right as well, disappearing at last…

Moordryd froze. Something was wrong here.

It was Decepshun who helped him out by stepping forward and having her shadow cast to the left. What? Moordryd thought, thrown off as he realized what was wrong. If there's light against an object from one direction, it throws a shadow in the opposite direction…not the same direction!

- - -

The same presence Decepshun felt seemed to bring up the Penn Racing's dragons' attention as well. Beau stopped short in his tracks and growled, his head jerking in all directions while Wyldfyr and Cyrano's eyes shifted around. "What is it, girl?" Kitt asked, patting the side of Wyldfyr's head.

"The dragons are onto something," Artha observed, cocking an eyebrow. "Must be something bad, because Beau's acting restless – whoa, hey, Beau!"

The dragon spun around sharply to look behind him, but there was no sign of anybody following them. Still, Beau had detected something…it didn't feel right, and it felt oddly familiar…disturbingly familiar.

"Beau?" Artha said, a bit nervous now. "What in the Magna Draconis is going on?"

Beau exchanged glances with Wyldfyr and Cyrano, who started speaking to him. "I wonder what they're talking about," Lance mused.

"Wouldn't we all like to know," Kitt sighed, resting her elbows on her saddle and placing her head upon her hands.

"Maybe Mortis knows one or two things about this!" Lance said. "I mean, he knows a lot! You can guarantee that!"

"It's probably nothing," Parm replied. "Maybe it's just dragon instinct, or being paranoid. When it seems rather quiet and deserted around, you instantly get this odd premonition about being stalked or observed."

Kitt shook her head. "All the dragons being paranoid at once?" she implied. "Sorry, Professor, but your theory doesn't seem to make sense."

Parm chuckled sheepishly. "Well, okay, then, let's see if Mortis has a clue or so," he said.

"Sounds like a plan," Artha replied. "Only Mortis doesn't seem to know better than we do."

"Oh." Parm looked rather dismayed. "But wait, he might have a clue, or some fragment of what's happening, whether be it the virus occurring, or what presence Beau, Wyldfyr and Cyrano detected."

"Then let's go to Mortis already!" Lance yelled, becoming impatient.

- - -

It can't be…well, it could've been something else…

Mortis groaned and placed a hand on his head as he staggered upwards weakly, using his staff to balance himself. Yes, something else…it's probably nothing, Mortis continued pondering. However...

In the Ancient Order, he was taught how to learn to detect a very old and dangerous presence, with a vision once the presence came. Word was also trained in such methods as well, and it took years and years for them to learn such an ability. But was this really necessary? Mortis thought frustratingly. Must I undergo pain if this should happen?

But it did happen. That meant only one thing.

A soul from three thousand years ago was here, in present day Dragon City. But that couldn't be. How was it possible? Mortis tried to stand up, but at that moment he heard voices.

"Mortis!"

That was Lance. "Mortis, what happened?" Lance questioned, running over and helping Mortis stand up.

Mortis blinked. "I – " he started, but then stopped. They shouldn't know about what he experienced; it would put their lives at risk. The Dragon Priest finally said, "I tripped."

Lance stared up at Mortis oddly. "You…you tripped," Artha said, also surprised at this.

"Yes, I tripped," Mortis responded. "I was pacing, and I was clumsy enough to trip over my own staff while I was lost in thought about our virus situation."

Parm, Kitt and Artha each exchanged dumbfounded glances. "Artha, remember when I told you how you must find out who is causing all these infections?" Mortis said, hoping to get them onto a new subject.

Artha blinked. "Wait, who?" he stuttered, deciding to ignore Mortis' very suspicious excuse. "Uh, heh, I thought you meant what. I took it as a little slip of the tongue. Even for a wise Dragon Priest like you, hey, everybody makes mistakes."

"And it was a slip of the tongue…up to now." Mortis sighed. "I believe now that this virus has become too complex to be natural."

Everybody was on alert.

"How?" Parm wondered.

Mortis regained his composure as he waved his hand. "A large multitude of dragons have been infected. Several of them have already lost their lives to this virus," he explained as the VIDDScreen popped out and appeared with statistics based on compiled research. "But the dragons which have been under critical condition died at different times and in somewhat different ways. One lasted only a few moments after he got infected, and another lasted three whole days before passing away. The breakouts seem to keep level, only increasing at some times, but not decreasing."

"So?" Kitt said. "That usually happens with most virus-caused diseases or pandemics."

"Ah, I see what you're saying!" Parm cried. "Also, the situation itself is rather complex and confusing. I mean, gear that cannot be detectable of infection, gear suddenly becoming infected during mag-procession…but I know other dragons with gear magged and not becoming infected! It seems like…it seems like a matter of choice!"

"What? But even other viruses, infections and diseases have those problems!" Artha protested. "It just makes no sense."

"Sense doesn't matter anymore," Mortis said firmly. "I know that somebody is up to this, and you must beware of this presence!"

Wyldfyr suddenly snarled at the last word. "Presence…" Artha muttered, then glanced at Mortis, an eyebrow arched. "And how do you know about this?"

"Trust me, Artha," Mortis pleaded. "You must. I can't explain why, but you must listen to what I say!"

Artha frowned. Right now, he was rather suspicious – no, extremely suspicious, but Mortis…Mortis was hardly wrong. Something that got on his nerves once in a while. "Fine," Artha simply said. "Let's change the subject, please? Like, what's up with you, Parm?"

"What?" Parm wondered. "What are you talking about?"

"The whole issue with Moordryd back then," Artha explained. "You know, about Word?"

"Okay, after I tried investigating our virus issue, I walked past this door, and…" Parm looked down. "I saw Word Paynn, unconscious and hooked to some equipment."

The four plus three dragons who were listening had their attention completely taken in now. "The only thing was that he seemed to be in a terrorized state," Parm continued explaining. "He was saying some things in his sleep, rather desperately, about somebody getting back, away from him, about something impossible, about danger…"

Mortis gripped his staff tightly. "Those were in his sleep!" Kitt scoffed, folding her arms. "Probably a nightmare."

"Why was he unconscious?" Mortis asked, his tone more serious now, startling Artha, Kitt, Parm and Lance. Mortis' voice rose to a level most describable as demanding. "Answer me!"

Parm shrieked and backed away. "I-I-I really don't have a clue, Mortis!" he stammered quickly, trembling. "I mean, all I did was see Word in the Dragon City Medical Center! If you want other humans, I saw a few who broke their bones or are ill with some sickness unrelated to our dragon virus, but..."

Artha glared at Mortis. "What is up with you right now?" he snapped.

Mortis turned his back on him. "I…I really can't explain," he responded.

"Yes, you can, Mortis!" Artha continued. Beau tried to raise his tail forward, but Artha pushed it away as he pointed a finger towards their mentor's back. "Look at me, Mortis! Look at us! What is it about us that you can't trust enough to tell us?! Clearly, whatever you have to say is really important!"

"We are not discussing this any further, Artha!" Mortis suddenly barked. He glanced behind his shoulder. "I'm sorry, but I would like you to find out why this is happening as soon as you can."

With that, he began walking away from them. "Don't walk away from this!" Artha called, stepping forward, only for this time for Beau and Cyrano to block his way. Frustrated, Artha cursed under his breath and headed back towards the elevator.

Lance gazed towards Artha, before he looked towards Mortis' direction worriedly. Kitt placed a hand on his shoulder. "Let's go," she said. She rolled her eyes. "Obviously Mortis doesn't seem to have any idea about this issue either."

Lance nodded ruefully. How he wished he knew what was bothering Mortis these past few days, and why it was bothering him.

- - -

Already, Mortis was starting to panic. If Word had seen the same thing he had seen, and suffered worse, then this presence was just as dangerous as what they were both supposed to fear the most. It's not the Hydrag of the Seas, or Emperor Armeggaddon, Mortis thought. Someone just under his level, like Gary the Lethal, or Sythe, or the sorcerer Nekkrall…

Suddenly, images began to flash into his mind again, and Mortis gritted his teeth as he quickly slammed his staff into the ground to steady himself.

A protective seal was shattered as what looked like a deep hole pulsated with sickly, dull black draconium energy. A dark, shadowy figure, with tattered clothes and worn out armour was clambering out, pushing aside what looked like a large dragon skeleton...

The vision swiftly vanished. Mortis stood rigid in complete horror, gasping and panting. I should have known! he realized. What have I done?! I must warn them about this!

Mortis spun around to tell Artha, Parm, Kitt and Lance the truth, but they were already gone.


To Be Continued…