Summary: Spyro finally gets to return to the Dragon Realms, but things aren't quiet on the homefront. What's happening to his beloved home, and why now?

This story has been updated. After five years I've re-planned the plot and edited all the chapters. There's still some smoothing out to do, but everything should be in order.
It's set after Year of the Dragon, and will probably have some details that are AU now that the new games are out. I haven't played any of the others. I hope there's still an audience who can read and enjoy it.

Anyway, enjoy.

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Spyro sighed. It was getting harder and harder to find things to do, especially after beating that darned Sorceress to who knows where. Well, she was probably deteriorating at the bottom of a lake of pink lava at the moment, but that was beside the point.
That was three years ago. Spyro was finally going back, to the Artisan Home World. He hadn't seen much of the place since leaving to Avalar, and it had copletely left his mind through his adventures in the Forgotten Worlds. The places he had visited were all pleasant, but he was sure after being away so long that Artisan would seem like a paradise.
He glided serenely through the portal to the dragon worlds, half of him hoping everything would be just like normal, the other half desperately pleading with the dragon gods that some catastrophe had taken place and he was actually needed again. It wasn't that he wasn't missed, he knew, but being desperately needed really put the cherry on top for Spyro. Plus it prevented boredom for as long as he could keep busy kicking bad guy butt. Yet he knew he's be just as content with some R & R, and Artisan was the place to do it.

Home sweet home... He thought, as he saw the portal no more than a hundred yards from him, gleaming in the sun of the high Umbra. Wait a minute... He thought, staring as the portal got closer. That's a Magic Crafter portal. I'm traveling to the Artisan homeworld...
Sparx gave a few buzzes of which only Spyro could comprehend, but would be translated to "This doesn't seem right, Spyro." The dragon nodded in agreement.

He didn't have a choice but to go through, the closest portal attached to the umbra he had just glided through could be miles away, and he couldn't glide forever. The umbra was a fickle mistress and you could never tell where you would end up if you veered off into the cloudy nothingness inside a portal.
Landing proved to be a problem. The weather on the top of the Magic Crafters world seemed to have changed from chilly to blizzard while he was away, and the iridescent dragons standing around the portal didn't seem to know what to do about it. The constant wind and small flakes of icy snow had caused the usual lofty, worldly Magic Crafting Dragons to become silent and stony-faced. 'Some paradise.' Spyro thought with both rising regret and hope for adventure.
There were three hunched over in a small group a few yards from the portal, hovering around what looked like a pile of long stalks that Spyro recognized as the staffs from those metal plated goons that used to hang out with the wizards around the area. Above them, hanging on poles made of dead pine wood, hung an Artisan woven canvas, bright red in color.
'At least they're being put to good use,' Spyro thought, thinking of his homeworld.
Spyro trudged towards them, his head bowed against the wind. "Hey! What's going on?" He yelled as he approached them.
A large orange male dragon, whom Spyro knew to be Jarvis, looked up from the fire. He was tall and slightly more plump than most Magic Crafters, his double horns a pale amber-red. Jarvis motioned for Spyro to come under the canvas, which was doing very little to protect them from the wind. Spyro, despite his obvious change in age (and size), still looked rather small compared to the other three.

Jarvis sat down again, leaving room for Spyro to sit.

"Spyro! May the spirits bless you, it has been oh so long." He laughed merrily, clapping Spyro on the back.

The dragon next to him, a blue Magic Crafter named Zander, laughed along with him. "It is a shame that you had to come back in such a caliginous epoch."

Spyro would have been annoyed with the cosmic ways of their speaking, but the mention of such a 'caliginous epoch' stole his interest.

"It is very nice to be back home again, especially after so long. I really didn't mean to stay, but there were, er, certain things keeping me back. Anyway, what is this you mentioned about an epoch?" He looked over at Zander.

The big blue dragon shrugged. "Besides the ominous bad weather, nobody knows. It's a mystery beyond which we can comprehend."

Spyro gave him a questioning look.

Zander folded his arms. "Yes, well, there is a slightly larger problem. The Artisans and Dream Weavers Worlds have been cut off from the rest. The portals will no longer function. Yet there is still enough magic to power them, as far as we can see. Nothing is out of place..."

Spyro's eyes widened. "The Artisans, closed off? We can't reach even them via balloon?"

Jarvis shook his head. "We had stopped using the balloons a while after your egg search. They were proving ineffective for larger dragons to travel from world to world, so we have installed portals."

"You don't have any lying around, do you?"

"When the Balloonists left the Dragon Worlds, so did the balloons."

"The balloonists left? Wait. Stop. You need to tell me what has been happening from the beginning."

The other dragon, which Spyro did not recognize from any previous adventures, finally spoke up. He wasn't as tall as the Magic Crafters, but was wider, and a deep green. Spyro knew a fellow Artisan when he saw one.

"I can cover part of that story better than Jarvis or Zander here could." His voice was less smooth and deeper, and lacking that aggravating whimsical note. "I think this all first started in the Artisan and Dream Weaver home worlds, at least, the portal failures. By the way," the Artisan said, "My name is Cillian."

The two other dragons nodded and settled down, Spyro (after a polite nod) followed suit.

Cillian leaned against a nearby rock, his dark scales glistening in the dim firelight. "I'll try not to get too dramatic on this." He cleared his throat. "As you probably have heard, both the Artisans and Beast Makers portals have stopped working. We think it is a lack of magic; Something is removing the magic in the two worlds in a similar fashion."

At his point Spyro nodded. "I've seen something like this. Back where I had to get the eggs, that is. All the magical beings in the area left, so all of the portals stopped working."

Cillian nodded. "So we know that is what is happening. I was in Artisans when it began. Five years ago, after the time we where rudely terrorized by a certain Gnasty Gnorc, the Artisan world began to experience small but noticeable weather changes. Then the rains slowed greatly, especially during the Summer months."

Spyro shook his head. "I left for Dragon Shores because of the rain that Spring."

Cillian kept talking. "One of the last rains we had. By the time you got back from this Avalar place, the Artisan worlds had been nearly dried up."

Spyro's head snapped up, eyes on Cilan's. "What? But I was told that-"

"That the world was having some strange weather, yes. We didn't realize how serious it was. Not even the dragonflies could tell what the magic was doing. Most of the fountains had dried up, the grass a bit dry, the sun hotter and brighter, but besides that everything seemed normal. The only other noticeable event to signal a possible drought was that the tide line had greatly receded in Stone Hill. And nobody took notice of that, the beach being so small. By the time it got to the point that we noticed something was really wrong, it was too late to do anything. The portals began to shut down, and that was the last straw for the balloonists. They left after that. We built our portals between homeworlds, but we still could not reach the Artisans. It was simply too far to fly. We tried to evacuate as many as possible, but it was too late by the time we started. There ae still many trapped with nowhere to go.
"At the same time, it seems the Dream Weavers were having similar problems. It became cloudy and shadowy all over their realm, even past the main worlds and portals, so even those below, here in Magic Crafters, could notice. That's what is producing the storm. If it is this cold here, we can only assume that up in the Dream Weavers it is freezing. We aren't sure how long us dragons can make it, even being warm-blooded like we are.
But those two worlds aren't the only ones suffering. You already know about the blizzard here, it's rather obvious. But down in the Beast Makers World, the lowest in altitude of all the dragon worlds, the swamp has grown immensely. Most of the area is unreachable now, especially for the Beast Makers themselves. Some of those big dragons step on the ground and they go straight down into the mug. Some portals have sunk into the ground. Tree Tops has completely disappeared, and there isn't enough magic to raise it again."

"Good riddance," Spyro muttered, but Jarvis gave the young dragon a look and he returned to listening.

"There are floods, too. Misty Bog is completely underwater according to our last report. We have had to evacuate most of the Beast Makers, but, due to their extra large size, space has been cramped since the swamp became waterlogged. The ones we could get out in time are in Peace Keepers right now. Everyone, actually, has been moving to Peace Keepers for safety. But that's the big question. 'What about Peace Keepers'? The place has suffered no damage whatsoever. No weather changes, no portal outages: In fact, the portals have been in better condition than they ever have been, and the non-existent plant life has become, well, existent. Things started growing. Not everywhere, and not very large. A few gangly weeds by the good lakes is all, but the green is unexpected. None of us have been to the Peace Keepers in days, so we don't know how it is going. That pretty much sums it up."

Later that night, Spyro was in deep thought. The Artisan World had been dried up? His home had become victim to a freak drought, that not even the magic of dragons could prevent. Dragons. Nothing had happened like that in the history of the Dragon Worlds, as far as he knew. And he knew a lot. He curled up in a tighter ball, trying to shield himself from the wind. It had long since stopped snowing, fortunately, but it didn't get much warmer.
The group had decided that Spyro would travel to Peace Keepers via portal the next morning, accompanied by his dragonfly, Sparx, and an escort. Spyro wasn't sure why he needed an escort, but Jarvis had assured him that the dragon in question was being sent in for security. Turns out that, during the evening of their talk, some small Gnorcs that had (presumably) survived the destruction of Gnasty had turned up in the Peace Keeper homeworld and actually injured a dragon. Spyro couldn't imagine how that could happen, but Jarvis kept talking and he soon forgot about the situation.
A faerie was also going to be accompanying Spyro. Her name was Molli, and was heading for Beast Makers. Only fairies could travel around the swamp. Molli was to make a pit stop in Peace Makers to pick up some 'equipment', though Spyro very much doubted that. The only equipment fairies needed were wands, if anything. He didn't press the subject, however. You didn't want to mess with fairies.

By the time breakfast came, it was clear that the wind would not let up for the rest of the day. "It's getting worse..." Commented Jarvis as he lay out a small pile of fruit and some bread. "It used to storm only at night, when we were asleep. Now it continues on during the day, ever tormenting us."

Spyro helped himself to an apple. "But it's bright out, at least on Magic Crafter standards. You can still see everything."

"Yes, but flying is near impossible, if the wind doesn't get you, the cold will."Spyro nodded, taking a bite of his apple. This proved difficult. It was near frozen from the cold. He wrangled with it for a moment but gave up before his teeth broke.
"Sorry about that," Jarvis apologized. "It's been hard to get food up here, and any food we do receive freezes."
"That's fine." Spyro put down the apple and reached for a small loaf of bread. It was solid as well, but at least he could break off a few bites.

Breakfast continued without much talk; There was hardly anything to say, most things being covered the night before. Spyro consulted with Sparx about the other dragonflies; why they weren't aware of the magic leak and if they couldn't do anything about it. Sparx wasn't much of a help; he had only seen other dragonflies at the Speedways and Flights. He could only say that, from what he heard from those sources, they had sensed something in their healing powers, but it hadn't been strange. Sometimes, when the dragonflies would try and heal, the affected area would heal oddly, or leave scars that should have been covered up, but it did happen occasionally on any regular day so they had dismissed it as nothing important.

"We should have been more aware, it was happening more and more in the Dream Weavers and Artisans, but not enough to concern any of us." Sparx thought to himself, then buzzed again. "That might mean I am unable to heal you now without making it worse. The magic in the dragon worlds is too far off. If you get yourself hurt, I can't tell what will happen."

Spyro nodded understandingly. "We'll just have to be more careful, that's all. Come on, we should make sure we have everything ready. Not that we have much to bring anyway."

Jarvis had figured that all Spyro would need to go to the Peace Keepers World would fit into a single side poncho. It was a beautifully woven Artisan poncho (a dark green fabric stiched with reds and whites in diamond patterns around the seams), that fit nicely over Spyro's back, so it wouldn't hang in front of him. In it, Spyro threw a few fruits and some bread from breakfast, a healing salve in case something happened and Sparx couldn't help, and a long rope. The three years he had been gone, Spyro complained, he had learned to fly short distances, but Zander insisted that he take it. The cliffs in the Peace Keepers, he said, were more than a short flying distance up or down. Spyro finally gave in. For an extra measure, Jarvis gave Spyro one of the bright red Artisan tarps in case he ran into bad weather.

"Whatever you say, Jarv." Spyro said skeptically, but the orange dragon just gave him a smile.

"We just want our hero to be safe."

"I can take care of my self."

"How many times did you pass out on your last 'adventure'?"

"Point taken." Spyro mumbled, mentally cursing how he had gone from thirty one saving orbs to three in a single world, specifically, the world called 'Cloud Nine'. "Bloody cliffs..." He muttered, taking his poncho bag and swinging it over his shoulder.

"Time to go, Sparx." Spyro said only half an hour later. There were more good-byes than packing in the last thirty minutes, and Spyro wasn't the mushy farewell type. They had all assembled at the portal, Molli and the large orange dragon (who Spyro recognized as Titan, a native Peace Keeper) who would travel with Spyro to the Peace Keepers homeworld. They would split up after, Spyro headed for Cliff Town and Titan for Dry Canyon. Up on two legs, he headed for the portal to Peace Keepers.

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