The halls were crawling with mutant wolves and black dragons. Tremor and Candice escaped the dungeon with very little resistance to stop them but now they faced the brunt of the Dark Master's recovering forces.

"We don't have time to waste on these guys!" Tremor shouted as he side-stepped the claws of a large black dragon before slamming his tail across the dragon's face.

"I'm open to suggestions Tremor!" Candice called back and froze a cluster of wolves where they stood.

"Here's an idea for both of you," Sparx interrupted. "Run!" The dragonfly took off down the hall past the other wolves and dragons.

"Sparx! Wait for us!" Candice hollered after him and took off past Tremor. She spread her wings and shot over the claws and weapons that swung at her underbelly.

"Out of my way!" Tremor ordered and covered himself in rock and barreled through the mass of bodies that blocked his path. The wolves yelped and leaped out of the way as the massive boulder rumbled down the hall. Candice banked around the first corner and Tremor burst from the protection of his barrier and shattered the rock, peppering the hides of the enemies that pursued them. He took to the air and quickly caught up to Candice.

"That should slow them down at least. But I'm not sure for how long." He coughed.

"Then let's make every second count." Candice beat her wings harder and shot past Sparx.

"Hey! Wait for me!" The dragonfly waved as the dragons ducked around another corner.

"Damn it! How big is this bloody place?" Tremor demanded.

"I don't know!" Candice called back over her shoulder. "I say we keep going until we find some sign of the others."

"Do you think we have that much time?" Tremor asked, looking back over his shoulder. He fired another earth bullet to block the hallway behind them to slow the wolves and dragons down.

"I guess we'll find out." Candice shrugged.

"Is it me, or is getting hotter all of a sudden?" Sparx asked when he caught up to Tremor.

"I don't think so." Tremor shrugged before something caught his attention. "Hey Candice do you hear that?"

"Yeah!" Candice perked up. "It sounds like dragons!"

"Uh, shouldn't we be going in the opposite direction then?" Sparx asked nervously.

"No, it's the others!" Candice replied. "I'd recognize those roars anywhere!"

"Are you sure?" Tremor inquired with a raised brow.


"I wonder how she knows," Tremor muttered to Sparx.

"Must be a girl thing."

Candice's heart raced as she beat her wings faster. She banked around another corner and saw the shimmering surface of a magic barrier extending into the hallway. The sounds of dragons roaring was nearly deafening but not compared to the roaring and crackling of combined attacks on a focused spot. All off a sudden the barrier exploded. Candice screamed as she was sent flying back down the hall. Just then Tremor and Sparx turned the corner. Candice slammed into the earth guardian and they both crumbled to the floor.

"I can't believe it!" Ember gasped. "We did it!" The pink dragoness bounded out of the room and into the dust-covered hallway.

"Great work you guys." Cynder nodded approvingly at the mass of damage they had made. She shrank back to her normal size and turned a firm gaze on the other guardians. "Now we need to go find Spyro."

"Cynder?" Sparx coughed as he fluttered through the dust and smoke.

"Sparx?" Cynder and the other guardians turned with wide eyes, surprised to see the dragonfly. "Oh my gosh! Sparx! Thank the ancestors you're okay!"

"Yeah. I'm glad to see you too." The dragonfly answered with a smug grin. "I missed you guys too. Although I see you've been having fun destroying everything in sight while I've been trapped in the dirty smelly dungeon this whole time."

"Hey, we had to destroy that stinking barrier that was holding us captive in that place." Ember pointed an angry talon at the demolished chamber. "It hasn't been a walk in the park for us either you know."

"If you were trapped in the dungeons, how did you get out?" Cynder asked skeptically.

"Those two." Sparx turned and pointed to Candice who lay on the floor.

"Candice!" Stella ran towards her friend as Candice lifted her head and shook the dizziness away. "You're okay!"

Before Candice could say anything Tremor groaned and slid out from underneath her. "That... really... hurt." He winced and clutched at his chest.

"Tremor?" Stella's eyes grew wide with astonishment. "You're alive!" She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him close.

"Tremor?" Flame, Ember and Cynder gasped as they came bounding up to them.

"We thought you were dead!" Ember sniffled, relieved to see that he was still with them.

"I'm not quite sure that I'm not," Tremor wheezed as the dragons piled on top of him. "But I won't be for much longer if you keep squeezing me like this!"

"I agree!" Candice squeaked from under the pile of dragons. "You're killing me too." The guardians helped them up and allowed them to shake the dust from their scales.

"As always, Tremor," Flame pointed out as he looked his friend over, "You look like hell."

"Aww, you noticed," Tremor replied sarcastically.

Just then a beam of convexity cut through the castle. The girls screamed and ducked under their wings as the violet energy burned a hole in the ceiling above them.

"What's going on?" Tremor shouted.

"Spyro's in trouble!" Flame replied over the dragoness's screaming. "We have to get to him before the Dark Master can steal his last power!"

"Then what are we waiting for?" Sparx called as he flew up towards the gaping hole in the ceiling.

"We're right behind you Sparx!" Cynder hollered and took to the air with the other dragons following close behind her.

"Tremor," Candice fell to the rear beside the earth dragon. "We're going to hang back and make sure no other forces follow after us. We can't afford to be overwhelmed when we face the Dark Master."

"I understand." Tremor nodded. He knew the situation was serious and Candice could read it in his eyes. With each level the dragons passed through, Tremor would fire an earth bullet, collapsing the walls and allowing Candice to freeze them over with thick layers of ice.

After what seemed like forever the guardians emerged out of the top spire of the castle. When they set foot on the floor, Candice froze over the hole.

"Oh no..." Cynder's voice trailed off. Across from them sat Liun. The black dragon was sitting calmly in a trance-like state. Black magic billowed from his body and around a suspended cage a few feet from where he sat. Below the cage was a violet crystal containing Spyro's power of lightning.

"Liun!" Flame shouted across the room but the black dragon didn't move. He didn't even hear him.

"What's going on?" Stella asked, taking a few wary steps forward.

"I don't know," Flame growled "But I'm going to get that bastard!" He charged forward, horns ready to impale the black dragon.

"Flame, wait!" Ember called. The fire guardian slid to a halt and turned a confused look on his dragoness. "Something feels wrong about this," Ember muttered looking around the room.

"I agree." Cynder nodded as the guardians stepped cautiously towards Liun and Spyro. Just then a beam of convexity shot from Spyro's body. "Look out!" Cynder shouted and dove out of the way as the beam cut through the floor. The guardians scattered before the stone that was beneath their feet melted away.

"What's Spyro doing?" Stella asked eyeing the curled up purple dragon inside the cage.

"I don't know," Cynder hissed, "But whatever Liun is doing to him, it ends right now." Cynder rushed forward, aiming at Liun. Candice glanced from Liun to Spyro and narrowed her eyes. She suddenly saw Spyro's eyes crack open and her heart skipped a couple beats.

"Candice, what's wrong?" Tremor asked when the ice dragoness groaned, clutching at her chest.

"Cynder! Wait!" Candice shouted, but the black dragoness had already lunged for Liun. The black dragons rolled over one another and Cynder pinned Liun on his back.

The black dragon's eyes opened and began to glow yellow as Malefor's consciousness took over.

"You shouldn't have done that, Cynder," He growled. Cynder looked back over her shoulder to see that the dark magic that had been surrounding Liun and Spyro was fading away. The shadows released Spyro from their hold and retreated into Liun's body.

"Oh no," Cynder said as Dark Spyro let loose a furious roar. The room shook and beams of convexity began to pierce through the castle and its towers. The guardians took to the air and dodged the beams that continued to shoot out from Spyro's body.

"This is your fault, Cynder." Liun laughed. "It would have been containable if you hadn't interfered with my work."

"Shut up!" Cynder snapped and struck the black dragon across the face, leaving three bloody gashes on his scarred cheek. Liun kicked Cynder off of him and charged her head on. He rammed her in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her. He flipped into the air, tail blade preparing for a fatal strike.

"Oh no you don't!" Flame jumped in front of Cynder, slapping the black dragon's tail away. Liun hit the floor and Tremor charged in, bucking him into the air with his horns. Once Liun was airborne, Candice darted in, slashing the dark dragon across his chest with her long talons before twisting away and letting Stella follow up with a bolt of lightning. The attack struck Liun in the chest and sent him crashing through the wall.

"Thanks, you guys," Cynder huffed as Flame helped her to her feet.

"Spyro, hey!" Sparx waved to the dark dragon. "Hey, Spyro! It's me buddy! You're ol' lovable friend Sparx!" The dark dragon turned his evil, white eyes on the dragonfly with puffs of convexity jetting between his clenched teeth. Sparx shrank back and his antennae drooped. "Yo, Spyro... Don't you recognize me bud?"

"Sparx! Get away from him!" Cynder cried. She leaped up and curled herself around the dragonfly as a beam of convexity shot from Spyro's body. The black dragoness shrouded herself in a protective orb of purple energy and the beam clashed against the barrier. Cynder rolled away, allowing the beam to cut into the floor.

Spyro let loose another roar and a wave of convexity burst from his body. The bars of the cage shattered and fell to the floor. The guardians all shielded themselves from the tremendous force of the wave.

"He's too powerful!" Ember cried over the roar of Spyro and the wind whirling throughout the room.

"Stay strong!" Candice called as she beat her wings against the opposing forces.

"Spyro!" Cynder cried as she pushed against the shock waves of convexity that were tearing the castle apart. "It's okay! It's me!" The purple dragon refused to listen and continued his onslaught.

"Cynder, you have to get through to him before he brings this entire place down!" Flame hollered.

"I'm trying!" Cynder yelled back.

It was then that Liun emerged from the hole in the wall. He glanced at Cynder and rushed straight for her.

"Watch out!" Tremor dove down and tackled the black dragon to the ground.

"Tremor, be careful!" Candice cried as she watched the two males roll over each other in a mass of hissing and clawing.

"You should have been dead long ago, guardian!" Liun snarled and slashed Tremor across the chest with his blade.

"Clearly you haven't heard Candice's stories about how stubborn I am!" Tremor head-butted the black dragon, knocking him senseless.

Cynder watched the two males brawl across the floor. When Tremor managed to stun Liun long enough he turned to her. "Go! Now!" He shouted. Cynder flinched against another wave of convexity before leaping into the air. She flew straight at Spyro only to get knocked back by another surge of convexity.

"Spyro! It's me, Cynder!" She wailed. "Remember me?" Dark Spyro paused and stared at the black dragoness with hate-filled eyes. "You remember me right?" Cynder asked as she hovered closer to the dark dragon. The surging convexity began to subside around Spyro and the darkness began to leave his scales.

"C-Cynder?" Spyro's normal voice whimpered mournfully. "Is that really you?"

"Of course it is Spyro." Cynder reached a paw out to stroke his cheek. Slowly Spyro's scales began to return to normal but his eyes remained the same. He looked around the room at the guardians then to Cynder and then his gaze fell upon Tremor who had Liun pinned to the ground. The earth dragon smiled over his shoulder and nodded and Spyro nodded back.

Liun leaned his head up and Malefor's yellow eyes flashed. Spyro's eyes grew wide and the darkness in his heart suddenly burst free. He let out a scream as his scales darkened again and his white eyes lit up as convexity began to surge from his body.

"Cynder, help me!" He wailed but his voice trailed off before turning into a blood curdling roar.

"Spyro! No!" Cynder screamed.

"What did you do?" Tremor fumed and turned back to the dark dragon beneath his paws. "I know you did something to cause that!"

"Well don't you know me very well." Liun sneered. Tremor roared and struck Liun across the face with a heavy paw. The blow stunned the black dragon and Tremor turned towards Dark Spyro.

"Spyro! Remember me!?" Cynder pleaded. "Remember the ones who care about you! The ones who love you the most!" Spyro's constant roars drowned out the dragoness's words.

At last Cynder had had enough. She threw herself at Spyro as another wave of convexity swept across the room. Cynder grabbed on to Spyro's face and pressed her lips to his. The noise from Spyro's roar subsided as he began to recognize the feeling that swept over him.

"It's just an illusion Spyro." Malefor's voice rang loud in his head. "Just like this entire place. It's all one big illusion."

"Noooo!" Spyro screamed in his head. He shoved Cynder away and continued with his blind rampage.

"Spyro, don't!" Cynder cried, shocked that he had shoved her away.

Just then the crystal containing the purple dragon's lightning power began to pulsate.

"Shit, we need to destroy that thing!" Stella hollered. She dove toward the crystal and spat a bolt of lightning. The bolt was absorbed into the crystal and the pulsing energy quickened. "Hm." The lightning guardian thought. She landed beside the large crystal and placed her paws on the hard surface. She let out a piercing cry and let her electric current flow into the crystal. The crystal's energy began to pulse faster and faster. Before long the light was flashing like a strobe.

Liun lifted his head to see the energy inside the crystal behaving erratically. His eyes widened in horror. "No! What are you doing?" He shouted furiously. He tried to squirm out from underneath Tremor but the guardian held him fast.

Stella glanced at the black dragon as she continued to force more of her own power into the crystal. "Overloading this thing. I won't let you get your slimy claws on Spyro's power as long as I'm alive to do something about it." The energy inside the crystal began to change from a golden yellow to a deep orange as the crystal's power capacity reached critical mass.

"No! That power is mine!" Malefor roared and Liun's eyes flashed yellow. Dark magic began to burn from underneath his scales and Tremor cringed against the pain. As Liun's shadows spread out Malefor took shape and let loose an angry roar.

"Get off of me!" Liun growled and wiggled an arm free to slash Tremor across the face. The earth dragon staggered back, stunned by the blow. Liun jumped to his feet and made a dash for Stella. Candice dove in and slammed the black dragon with everything she had. The two of them rolled across the floor before springing to their feet, snarling wildly at each other.

"Almost there!" Stella cried. She was beginning to fade fast but she wasn't going to quit until the crystal was destroyed. The deep orange of the confined energy turned to a dark, muddy brown and the crystal cracked.

"Get away from there!" Liun roared and tried to leap over Candice. The ice dragoness intercepted him in midair and slammed her tail across his face. Liun hit the ground and lunged for Stella again but Candice knocked him back again.

"Stop interfering!" Malefor roared and swung at Tremor. The Dark Master's claws raked across Tremor, sending him tumbling across the floor and spattering blood everywhere. The dark dragon lunged for Cynder and Stella but Flame and Ember were there to cut him off. Both fire breathers unleashed a spiraling wave of their breath, causing Malefor to bellow in pain. The shadows shrank back from the bright light and intense heat.

"Ember!" Flame called seeing the effect the light was having on him.

"On it!" The pink dragoness inhaled and screamed letting a shower of sparklers spiral about the room. Malefor's bellowing grew louder and the shadows began to fade away. The Dark Master collapsed to the floor and glared daggers at the two young fire dragons. He swung his long, deadly claws at Flame but Ember pushed him aside and opened her jaws wide. More sparklers shot from the dragoness's mouth, dissolving the shadows just before they could make contact. Malefor howled when half his arm was dissolved by the light.

"Keep it up Ember!" Flame coaxed. "Hold him back!"

"My pleasure!" The dragoness smiled and released another volley of sparklers.

"Get out of my way!" Liun snarled and swung his claws at Candice. The ice guardian grabbed his arm in her jaws and swung him around, turning his momentum against him. The wind rushed out of Liun when the dragoness flung him into the ground. The black dragon didn't have time to recover before the dragoness dropped down on top of him, driving her full weight into his stomach. Liun coughed and blood spattered against the guardian's hind legs. Candice gave him a disgusted look and slashed him across the face with her tail blade.

Liun glared back at her as blood seeped into his eye. His tail blade twitched angrily. Across the room, a dazed Tremor lifted his head to see the black dragon's tail flex, ready to strike.

"Candice, behind you!" He shouted.

The ice guardian turned her head and she saw the black dragon's blade rush up to meet her. She jerked her neck back and the blade missed her by mere centimeters. The guardian hopped off of Liun inducing a hard cough from the dark dragon. He rolled to his feet and slashed again with his tail blade. Candice blocked the attack with her own blade and slammed a paw into Liun's burned cheek. The black dragon gave an irritated roar and spun around, hoping to cut the dragoness in half. Candice jumped into the air and Liun's shadow-covered tail blade whistled beneath her. She coughed hard and Liun screamed, a long ice spike sticking out of his hind leg.

The black dragon retaliated with a bolt of dark lightning, catching Candice off guard. The dragoness shrieked in pain as the volts surged through her body. Liun increased the output, determined to kill her then and there. Without warning he felt a crushing force strike him in the chest. Tremor's earth bullet was enough to stop his attack and send him crashing into the wall.

Candice hit the floor and Tremor sprang over her and fired a salvo of earth missiles into Liun. With each hit the room shook and buried the black dragon deeper into the wall. To finish him off, Tremor inhaled as deeply as he could, his lungs burning like fire as he prepared his final breath attack. With an earth-shattering roar he fired a super missile and destroyed the uppermost half of the castle. The thunder of crashing stones and metal rang in the guardian's ears and died away as the lower levels of the castle collapsed.

"Candice." Tremor turned to his dragoness who lay still on the floor, her scales smoking slightly. Her beautiful violet breast scales were tainted by a nasty burn as well as several other scorch marks along her flank. "Candice?" Tremor nuzzled her cheek. The dragoness coughed hard and a couple tufts of smoke escaped from her mouth. "Thank the ancestors!" Tremor gasped and hugged her head close to his bloody chest.

"Tremor..." The dragoness whimpered, hugging him back.

"I thought I'd lost you for a second there."

"Not in this lifetime pebble-brain." The dragoness chuckled weakly. Their attention was grabbed by a loud crack. The crystal split in two and Stella screamed as she felt her power falling to dangerous levels.

"Spyro! Stop!" Cynder cried.

Dark Spyro glared at her and lashed out with his tail. The blow caught Cynder aside her head, knocking her to the ground. Flame dashed after the black dragoness as she slid towards the edge of the room that had fallen off from Tremor's super missile attack.

"I got you!" He called and grabbed the dragoness before she could fall over the edge. With a couple of hefty grunts, he pulled her back up as more stones fell to the rubble below.

"Are you two okay?" Ember came bounding up to them and took a defensive stance with her attention on Dark Spyro.

"He doesn't recognize me." Cynder sobbed as tears streamed down her cheeks. "He doesn't even recognize who I am..."

"Cynder..." Flame tried to comfort the dragoness but there was no time for that.

"Stella, get out of there!" Tremor roared.

"I've almost got it!" The lightning guardian shouted as another crack cut through the crystal and Spyro's energy began to escape. "Just a couple more seconds.

"Look out!" Sparx shouted. Stella looked up to see Dark Spyro turn his wicked white eyes down on her. A look of terror spread across the dragoness's face and she hugged herself closer to the crystal, trying to hide and finish what she had been trying to do. She could see the glow of convexity at the back of Spyro's throat as he charged up an attack.

"Spyro, that's enough!" Tremor lunged for his friend. Without even turning around, Dark Spyro's body surged with bolts of convexity. Tremor screamed as the destructive energy coursed through his body before throwing him back into the crumbling walls.

"Tremor!" Candice cried after him. She charged Spyro and fired a beam of ice at him. The aura of Spyro's convexity manifested into a dragon and blocked the attack with its wing. Candice skidded to a halt with wide eyes staring up at the wraithlike dragon towering over her. The beast snarled and swung its massive wing, knocking her into Tremor as he struggled to get up.

"Do something!" Sparx shouted as Dark Spyro focused the ball of energy at the back of his throat.

Before anyone could make a move Dark Spyro unleashed the blast into the top of the crystal. The crystal shattered with a deafening explosion. Stella screamed as she was thrown back across the room.

The explosion of negative energy rebounded them back up at Dark Spyro. The power that had been trapped inside the crystal fused with it and Spyro jolted from the recoil. The sudden overload of energy caused his body to swell like a balloon. The dark dragon screamed as his limbs began to expand to the point where they were about to burst.

"Spyro!" Cynder screamed.

The sudden sound of his mate's voice brought Spyro's consciousness back from the brink of eternal loss. No sooner had he recognized her, than the power inside him exploded. Spyro's screams echoed throughout the castle as his body was torn apart form the inside out. The energy that had gathered inside him escaped and suddenly his swollen limbs burst in a spray of blood. The dragon's body fell to the floor in a convulsing, bleeding mass.

"Oh my..." Ember began to wretch profusely at the sight before her. Behind her Cynder's eyes rolled back in her head and she fell limp.

"Cynder? Cynder!" Flame exclaimed and caught her before she could fall. "Cynder, come on! Wake up!" He coaxed patting her cheek.

Across the room Stella got to her feet and shook her head. She let out an agonized cry and collapsed to the floor. Her body was peppered with jagged shards of the broken crystal. She looked over to the purple dragon lying motionless on the floor in the middle of the room. She rose up again and staggered over to him. She found Sparx hovering beside his brother with a look of dismay on his face. Blood still flowed freely from the pores under Spyro's scales as well as his nose, mouth and eyes.

"Is he..." Stella winced as another wave of pain rushed through her. Sparx didn't answer; he was frozen in traumatic shock. Stella reached out hesitantly and placed a paw against Spyro's throat. Sparx watched her expression waiting for an answer. "Ember! Get over here now!" The lightning guardian shouted. The pink dragoness coughed and wiped her mouth, gasping for breath. "Hurry!" Stella ordered. Ember hustled over to her, still queasy from seeing Spyro in such a state. "Start healing Spyro! We can still save him but we have to do it now!"

"R-right." Ember nodded. She leaned down and picked up the blood-soaked purple dragon's head in her paws. He looked and felt so frail; not like the strong-willed hero she had grown to know so well. She took a deep breath and concentrated as she pressed her lips to his. Spyro's body began to glow golden as the healing energy swept through him.

Just then the room shook and broke Ember's concentration.

"What the hell was that?" Flame asked nervously as he carried Cynder over on his back.

"This place is falling apart." The guardians turned to see Tremor and Candice hobbling over to them. Bother were covered in cuts and bruises, Tremor more than Candice. "We need to get out of here before it collapses with us still in it." Candice reported.

"But what about healing Spyro?" Sparx whined with tears in his eyes.

"Don't worry yourself about him Sparx." Ember placed a comforting paw on his tiny head. "I'll take care of him, I promise." A slight smile tugged at the dragonfly's mouth. He knew if anyone would take care of Spyro besides Cynder it was Ember.

The castle shook again and the room began to slant.

"We need to get out of here!" Candice ordered.

"Then let's move!" Flame turned towards the open sky and spread his wings. He ran towards the edge of the room where the castle dropped off and sprang into the air. He beat his wings hard to get the air he needed and managed to stay aloft with a bit more effort than he expected. Candice and Tremor helped hoist Spyro's body onto Ember's back, but the purple dragon was so drenched in blood he slipped off.

"Candice, freeze him to her," Tremor ordered. "And you'll need to help her if necessary.

"Alright." Candice nodded before turning back to Ember. "Sorry about this."

"It's for Spyro; I can deal with it." The pink dragoness nodded and shut her eyes. There was a slight breeze and Ember felt Spyro's limbs freeze to her chest and legs. "I think I'm good." She reported after giving herself a slight shake to make sure he was secured. She followed after Flame, who was gliding in circles waiting for them.

"Hurry up!" He called. "This place is about to give." Another rumble shook the castle and the remaining guardians jolted from the sudden movement.

"Candice, go!" Tremor thrust his head towards the open sky beyond the room. The dragoness didn't argue and took off immediately. "Stella, climb on!" Tremor lowered himself for her to get onto his back.

"I'm all right Tremor." Stella tried to assure him but the earth dragon would have none of it.

"This isn't open for discussion." Tremor stared hard at her. "Get on now! We're running out of time! Sparx, stay close to me. I'll need you to get those shards out of Stella once we're out of here."

"R-right." The dragonfly nodded and waited for the lightning guardian to climb onto Tremor's back before tucking himself under her chest.

All at once the tower began to topple over.

"Tremor! Stella!" Candice screamed from outside.

"Damn it!" Tremor charged forward, letting the force of gravity gain him the speed he needed. As the tower started its final fall, the earth guardian fired an earth missile, blowing a hole in the ceiling. He flew out through the dust and debris and soared after his fellow guardians. Stella looked back over her shoulder to see the remains of the old fortress collapse in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. Fires had erupted in the lower levels, burning anything that had been trapped under them. She sighed sadly and tucked her head to Tremor's neck.

"You two okay?" Candice asked as she and Ember fell back behind Flame who was taking the lead.

"I guess," Stella murmured. "Just tired."

"Then get some rest," Candice urged her. "We have a long flight ahead of us."

Stella only nodded and closed her eyes. Tremor turned his head to his dragoness and smiled at her. "I love you," He whispered.

Candice returned the smile. "I love you too." She beat her wings harder and moved up next to Flame.

"So what's the plan?" The fire guardian asked in a rather monotone fashion.

"Hm..." Candice stared at Cynder who was resting on Flame's back. "I would like to go home... but..."

"But?" Flame raised a brow.

"I think we should follow through with what we were originally planning."

"You mean find the place Spyro was talking about?" Candice nodded. "Do you think that's a wise idea? I mean, just look at Spyro." Flame looked back over his shoulder at his dragoness who was flying with her eyes half open. He could see a faint golden glow around her and the purple dragon as she tried to fly and heal him at the same time. "And Ember really shouldn't be trying to heal him while she's flying. She could tire herself out and put both their lives in jeopardy."

"True." Candice nodded. "But my instinct is telling me that we need to find this place. I really can't explain it. I just trust Spyro's judgment."

The two guardians locked eyes for a long, tense moment. At last Flame nodded. "Alright then. Let's go." Candice smiled and nodded back. She took the lead and the other guardians fell into position. She banked to the right and the formation followed her lead toward the west.

The fallen fortress remained silent for several hours. It wasn't long until the rain began to fall, putting out the fires and soaking the remains of the castle walls. All of a sudden there was movement all around the castle. Patches of shadow fire slithered and crawled around the walls and across the piles of debris. They gathered together and came to a stop around one specific point in the debris pile. Then, dozens of black dragons emerged from the shadows. They were covered in bruises and gashes, some even suffering from broken bones. They all looked down at the center of the circle they were in and before long the stones began to move.

With a mighty roar Liun burst through the pile of rubble. In his weakened state he only managed to clear out enough to get his upper torso free. The other dragons moved in to help him up but he shoved them away angrily.

"Damn those dragons!" He growled furiously. "I swear that when I get my hands on them..."

"Settle down this instant!" Malefor growled. "Now is not the time to be seeking revenge!"

"But, I thought that..."

"We will get to that in due time." Malefor was even more infuriated than the young black dragon, but he needed to keep his composure now. He had bigger things planned than mere vengeance. "Right now, we must only concern ourselves with my revival. The guardians will come later."

"Hmmm..." Liun took a deep breath and pondered to himself. "I think I have an idea..."

A cold droplet of water fell from the ceiling and splashed onto Cynder's eye lid. The chill caused the dragoness to wake with a shudder.

"Cynder's awake!" Flame exclaimed.

"Flame?" The dragoness stared at him drowsily. She rolled onto her stomach to get to her feet and wobbled slightly.

"Easy there, Cynder." Flame warned her and stooped to help balance her. "You've been out for quite a while."

"Out?" Cynder stared at him blankly then her memory came flooding back. "Spyro!" She gasped and looked around.

"Cynder, relax." Flame placed a steady paw on her shoulder.

"But, Spyro! Is he..."

"No." Flame shook his head. "He's alive. But just barely." He stepped away from her, allowing her to stand on her own.

Cynder breathed a sigh of relief and looked around. They were inside a cave with the hint of a fire coming from the back.

"Where are we?"

"Candice suggested that we follow through with the plan to find this mystery place Spyro was talking about. We reached the mountain range a few hours ago. We've only been settled here for a short while." He jerked his head towards the back of the cave. "Come on, let's get you warmed up."

Cynder followed the fire guardian toward the warm glow of the fire. Ember sat beside a limp-bodied Spyro. The purple dragon rested on a bed of fresh pine the guardians had picked up on their flight. Ember nodded and Cynder returned the gesture. She sighed sadly as she stared at Spyro. He looked so weak and frail that he seemed almost dead. Candice had managed to stop his bleeding but he was still covered in dried blood, giving his scales a deep maroon color.

Tremor and Candice were curled up around Stella, who had patches of ice covering several puncture wounds along her body.

"Are you hungry?" Flame asked. "We only managed to get a couple of sheep between the seven of us in case Spyro woke up." He grabbed a burned leg in his mouth that was lying on a slab of ice against the wall. He exhaled, instantly warming the meat before passing it to Cynder. The black dragoness didn't feel any appetite but her instincts told her to eat anyways. She kept her eyes fixed on Spyro as she swallowed mouthful after mouthful of sheep's meat. When she had crunched down the last of it she sighed loudly.

"You should get some rest," Flame suggested. He curled up next to Ember to try and keep her warm. "It's going to be dark soon."

"I don't think I'll be sleeping much anyways," Cynder muttered. She got up and walked towards the mouth of the cave. "Thank you though. I'll take the first watch." Flame watched her leave before tightening his coil around his dragoness and draping a wing over her and Spyro.

Outside the cave the wind howled wickedly and snow blew across the mountain range. It reminded Cynder of the nights it rained back at the dragon city when she and Spyro would snuggle up together in their pavilion and keep warm by the fire. She gave a heavy sigh as a tear rolled down her cheek.

"Hey, Cynder. You okay?"

The black dragoness turned her head to see a groggy Sparx fluttering over to her. "I'm alright Sparx," She replied. "I'm just feeling a bit..." Her voice trailed off.


"Unsure of what lies ahead."

"You sound a lot like Spyro when you say things like that." Sparx remarked as he sat down on her shoulder. "You two really are made for each other."

"Hm...." Cynder sighed and sat down on her haunches as she watched the blizzard outside.

"Are you planning on staying here alone?"

Cynder gave a half-hearted smile. "If you want to stay, you're welcome to." Then the smile disappeared. "Although I would suggest you get some sleep."

"Why do you say that?"

"I have a feeling it's going to be a long night."