He thought at first it was Convexity. The chunks of rock that floated lazily in midair were certainly there, and the architectural ruins. But no, it couldn't be. Convexity was destroyed. And the portal was absent. In its place, there was a podium, and a small depression of what looked like water, only the surface was glowing. Like Ignitus's Pool of Visions, he decided.
Getting up from where he lay sprawled, he crawled to the edge, trying to get a better look at his surroundings. "Hello?" he called, not really expecting an answer "Is anyone here?"
'Do not be frightened, young dragon. You are not alone.'
He almost squawked in surprise. Backing away, he asked tentatively, "Who…who are you? What is this place?"
'I have summoned you here so that you might be warned; the night of the eternal darkness approaches, and time is running out.' The voice replied, echoing dimly.
Spyro felt the prescient coldness return, and a clear, sharp scream ravaged through his mind, light flashing before his mind's eye, Cynder transforming from a cruel, murderous beast to a small hatchling just like him, a face of stone glaring coldly at the desolate mountainous landscape, the moons coming together…
He tried to cry out, wanting to escape. With a desperate wrench, he tugged himself from the apocalyptic pool, "Make it stop!"
It felt like water. Like a wave had washed over him and everything around him. Sound was nonexistent, movement difficult. And cold. Mind-numbingly cold, as though the wave of nothingness had been ice.
Pulling himself together, Spyro launched himself forward from the plateau, pushing with all his strength through the air, for it seemed almost solid. As he touched down on the lower, larger ruins of some sort of ancient building, the pressure disappeared as though it had never been. He gasped as his legs gave way, and he fell forward before the pool of glowing water.
"How did that happen?" he demanded of no one in particular, and the voice answered with a hint of bemusement, 'the purple dragon can wield many abilities that others cannot…including time itself.' Before Spyro could reply, the voice continued, 'learn to master it, and you will able see things almost before they happen…but, use this gift sparingly, only when circumstances demand. Manipulation of time is not to be done without the utmost care.'
Mechanically, he nodded, instinct urging him to step up to the pool. The surface of the water gave off an essence of energy, draconic energy, which Spyro was familiar with yet stranger to.
In a tone that was more thoughtful than critical, the voice said, almost as though it was originating from the pool, 'Curious. It is your destiny to harness the powers of the elements,' Oh, Spyro had heard that said one too many times, 'yet, you possess naught.'
"I haven't been able to use them for some time now," Spyro said, a little defensively.
The voice chuckled, 'yes. Right now your power lies dormant within you…Let us see if we might not awaken them…'
The little dragon blinked. This voice, which he did not know, and had even less reason to trust, was going to help him breathe fire again? How?
He unfurled his wings, ruefully reminding himself that if he succeeded, he would most likely have to fly again. But he wasn't good at flying, he had never been taught. Sure, Ignitus had tried to teach him the basic evasion techniques, and a few pointers on how to increase speed without straining his wings, but that didn't mean he could.
The voice interrupted his irritated thoughts, emanating impatience. 'Relax, Spyro, and feel the fire that flows through your veins. Allow its heat to consume you, and breathe with it.'
Easier said than done, Spyro thought bitterly. He had been trying that for days. Ignitus had even given up.
Regardless, he obeyed the strange entity's instructions. Within him, the molten fire which had been so recumbent lately began to stir. Excited, he felt a burning at the back of his throat, the same as before, only this time…it felt as though it was going to work.
Slowly, he sucked in his breath, as though he didn't want to waste any potential air for fire, then, arching his neck, he blew out. Like a dog to its master, the fire raced out, a great orange tongue of flame, to dissipate against the ruins.
In his exhilaration, he let out a cry of pure triumph, several small gouts of fire following it. Finally, after weeks of tenacious attempts, he could use fire again. He felt the entity's approval, 'good,' he said, 'now, rise up, and unleash the firestorm within you.'
And Spyro did. Blood bubbling with adrenaline, fire gathered from every part of his body, from his head, to his wings, to the blade of his tail. Hovering midair, a column of heat gathered round him, every scrap of air burning. Immune to such trifle minorities, Spyro reveled in the wall of heat. He was part of the fire and the fire was part of him. Flaring his wings, a surge of power ran through his entire body, and the column exploded outwards, the rush igniting it as it went.
He dropped to the ground, panting, but grinning from the success. The voice sounded pleased, 'well done, Spyro. You're a natural. But…now that a primal fire rages inside you, show me you have command of it.'
And that didn't? Spyro almost said, but controlled himself at the last minute. He decided that he would do as the voice bid, and just be grateful that he could breathe fire again.
So he raced through the course, which tested every bit of his knowledge of fire, and his skill of how to manipulate it, until he flung himself, panting, back to the centre of the remnants of the building.
'Is that it?' he asked, tempered by an unexpected respect for this mysterious voice. He flipped his wings back against his sides, talons clicking unnaturally loudly on the rock face.
'Yes,' the voice replied, 'you have done well…but now, it is time for you to return. However, be careful, Spyro. The enemy approaches.'
'Wait,' Spyro called out, 'you still haven't told me who you are!'
'You may know me as the Chronicler. Seek me out…'
An image reached Spyro's mind of a great tree, surrounded by a bog, before he lost consciousness.
"Hello? Sleeping purple?"
Spyro grunted, stretching his stiff limbs tiredly, then raised his head, wide eyes drinking in his surroundings with surprise, then recognition as he found Sparx.
"Aaaaand he's awake! Tell everyone!"
Slowly, as though he was struggling to understand his own words, Spyro said, "Something is happening Sparx…and I can't explain it."
"No kidding. Well, while you were catatonic this whole place has been filled with hootin' an' howlin'. Listen." He gestured with one hand to be silent.
Faintly, Spyro could hear something, rather like…
"What is that?"
An explosion rattled his bones so thoroughly that he was temporarily numbed from shock, and before he had time to recover himself, a second explosion, the dropped bomb clearly visible, created a shockwave strong enough to hurl him and Sparx against the stony wall, the thick entanglement of vines only slightly softening the pain.
In the interval that followed, Spyro cried with fear, "the Temple is under attack!" He glanced at the little archway through which he had come. The bomb had caused several of the crumbling pillars to fall and block it. They couldn't return that way.
He glanced worriedly at Sparx, who was still a little dazed from the impact. "The others are still sleeping, we need to get back!" His tone was fearful.
Sparx, giving his head a little shake, demanded, outraged, "Are you crazy? You want to go towards the danger?"
Ignoring him, Spyro said, more to himself then anything else, "we need to find another way in, before they do. Come on."
With out further delay, he ran off into the night the same way Cynder had gone.
Sparx brought his palm to his face, muttering under his breath, "I liked you better when you were sleeping." But he followed him, nonetheless.
They were mad. Indisputably mad. Their eyes were constantly unfocussed, even as they lurched, howling maniacally at the little dragon, trying to rip his scaly sides with their claws and bared fangs. And he didn't even know Apes had fangs.
As he stood his ground against the on-coming foes, Spyro wondered if they ever thought about why they were trying to rip him to shreds, or if it came instinctively. See dragon. Must kill. Or maybe it was just because they were crazed beasts with pikes and other weapons which probably shouldn't be given to them and needed to smash something open. Like, for instance, a dragon's skull.
He swept his tail blade around swiftly to knock back one, before arching his neck and releasing a blast of fire to dispatch of it and serve as a warning to any others. Not that they ever took the hint. As if to prove his point, several came at him at once, cackling and hooting with bloodlust. Seconds later, anther group came from behind, and only Sparx's last minute warning-"Spyro, crazed monkeys at twelve-O'clock!"- saved him from having his neck broken under the would-be ambush party…by leaping ungracefully into the air, and landing awkwardly, fouling his left wing in the process, a little bit away from them.
The Apes that had attacked from behind seemed puzzled that their purple quarry was not crushed underneath them, blinking stupidly for a moment before howling in pain, their fur afire, from his less-than-inconspicuous gout of flame. He enjoyed being able to use it again.
"Now can we move on?" Sparx asked ungraciously, as Spyro stared at the smoking bodies, pleased with himself.
He leapt forward and fluttered up to a stone ledge, eyeing the delicately carved statues that were flung haphazardly on their sides, and the unmistakable stench of Ape lingered around them.
"They've been this way," he said, indicating the door- yes, there was a door leading to a metre of stone ledge- "if we follow them, we might get back."
"We're still running towards and not from the danger," Sparx observed sourly, answered by Spyro's impatient roll of the eyes. The dragon paced around a fallen statue, noting its ugly gargoyle-like snarl, then bent and, using the tips of his horns as a lever, tipped it the right side up, flicking his head back casually.
He did the same thing to the others, pushing them out of the way. He met Sparx's odd look with an equally defiant one, "They've got no right to do that," he said defensively, "they're our statues."
Sparx gave a negligent shrug, "whatever you say O strange one."
Spyro growled at him, then turned and ran through the doors, old and hardly used by the cracked look of them. The corridors had fallen into disuse. A thick layer of dust had accumulated over the course of perhaps years, weeds wove into the cracks of the walls, and the ornamental artifacts peppering the Temple lay broken and forgotten. Spyro wondered what it had been like when this place was used, for it must have been amazing in its time.
Distantly, he heard the hoot of an Ape, and followed it, despite Sparx's muttered "we should be going the other way."
Spyro was awed by the sheer size of this place. It was labyrinthine; one corridor would lead to a fork, which would lead either to a dead end or more corridors, and more signs of abandonment, and he would get lost in the middle.
Silence pressed thickly on his ears, and the eerie lack of sound or life, except the unnaturally loud click of his talons against the stone, was frightening. He knew Sparx was afraid too, for he would occasionally make a deceptively calm remark, or dart up and pretend to examine a niche in the wall or an insect lumbering on its way, completely unaware of the little purple dragon and the glowing golden dragonfly tramping quietly through the forgotten halls.
Eventually, Spyro said in a would-be casual fashion, "I wonder how long these corridors have been abandoned for. It seems like ages!"
"This place is old alright," Sparx seemed just as relieved and eager to talk as Spyro was, "and it's huge. And we used to think the swamps were big!"
Just as you used to think that I was big, Spyro thought sardonically. He remembered that he had thought that he was some sort of mutated freak of nature. Well, better a small dragon than an oversized not-exactly-flight-savvy dragonfly!
To break the silence that had elapsed in their conversation, Spyro asked in a low voice, "Where do you think we go when we die?"
It was an unexpected question, and Sparx's expression showed it, but he recovered himself almost immediately with a non-committing shrug, "Don't know. Dad said once that we go to this place called the Sky Hollow or somethin' like that. If you're a good guy that is."
"What if you're not?"
"Maybe you're damned."
Spyro was thoughtful for a while, "I think we'd go to the Ancestors, you know, the spirits Ignitus is always talking about."
"I wouldn't," Sparx snorted, "I'm not a dragon."
Spyro's insides turned cold at the thought of life without Sparx, of dying alone. "I'm sure we'd be in the same place," he said confidently, but he was doubtful. So he put the matter out of his mind.
He cocked his head; the shrill screeches of the Apes were audible once more. "I can hear them better now, come on."
Spyro grinned at his sarcasm, knowing that he wanted to get out of these dreary halls no matter how it was done. He was just too proud to say it.
He went quicker now, lengthening his strides in order to catch up to the Apes. They weren't putting much effort into remaining inconspicuous, or perhaps they were aware he was following them, and were deliberately making a cacophonous racket. No…Apes were always that way. It couldn't be for any particular reason…Could it?
The dark corridor, after winding back and forth and making several false turns, finally widened out into a circular intersection, three doors standing tall and inviting, providing choices of which way to go. But Spyro's attention wasn't on the doors. It was on the Apes that stood guard there. They cackled and jeered at him, advancing on either side, the largest one standing stiffly in front of the middle door. That made Spyro think that he needed to go through there.
Tensing, he succumbed to the wistful burning in his throat, releasing a jet of flame into their midst. Some second sense must have warned them, but they pressed the attack in a close knot, a violent glee in their red eyes. He backed away, rearing back on his hind legs, spreading his dappled wings and leapt forward, clumsily taking flight. He was still average in flight combat, but the sparring sessions he had had with Cynder gave him a little experience; she was much more accomplished in aerial combat than he, and had given him some pointers. Strafing was a much safer way to attack grounded enemies from the air. Sucking in his breath, Spyro exhaled bursts of fire at one point in the group, before darting to another and repeating the attack. The nonplussed Apes screamed before they fell to his talons, now washed with blood, and he landed among the corpses, turning his flashing violet eyes to the last Ape, which, seeming considerably smarter than its companions, wearily stepped aside and let him pass, uttering a defeated growl. Wide-eyed at this show of honor and grace in defeat, Spyro slowly stepped past it and through the now open doors.
When they were out of earshot of the Ape, he said in awe, "I think they're not as stupid as we thought Sparx, or not as bad," whereupon Sparx made a rather rude sound, making Spyro grin. He had good reason, he supposed, to disbelieve that idea.
"Okay, fine," he said, "they have more sense than we thought."
"Now you're gettin' closer."