OK, took me a week to write this and when I was done it was far too long to post as a one shot chapter so I split it up into smaller chapters, I hope it reads well, it does to me. Credit goes out to Psyclone, the ever present guy with a sharp knife to 'poke' me in the right direction should I start to sway from the desired path. Well I hope you enjoy this, Happy Valentines day!
Warfang was abuzz with activity. Dragons from across the lands had gathered to participate in their most celebrated event; the courtship festival. It was the time that was most significant to the younger generations, a time for them to choose partners and experience love on a different level than just friends. Older generations also enjoyed the festival; couples remembering the festival when they chose their partner or the numerous dragons that benefited financially by selling the various merchandise that hopeful dragons purchased by the barrel full to try and win the heart of the dragoness they were doting after.
The festival this year, however, was even more significant. Since the war with the apes and the dark dragon Cynder, the dragons had not been able to hold a festival, the gathering of the dragons being a target no one would let slip by. Now that Malefor had been foiled in his attempts to end the world and begin anew the dragons were quick to put the festival on the top priority list after the repairs to Warfang were complete.
And thus it was so, that the yelling of shop merchants, the giggling of young dragonesses, and the occasional shouts from the few fights that broke out between dragons filled the air as Spyro and Cynder flew down over the city.
"Wow, I've never seen so many dragons in one place before," Spyro commented as he looked at the packed streets and the crowds below. He was looking for a place to land to search for the guardians. Both he and Cynder had taken a small vacation after they had stopped Malefor, observing the world differently now that the fate of their race didn't rest on their shoulders. They were careful to avoid members of their own race, fearful that they would break into spontaneous cheers and not let them live normal lives; neither of them wanted that.
When they finally decided it was time to return to the dragon temple there was no one there, it lay desolate. They had assumed it was so because it was still in disrepair since Malefor ripped it from the ground and suspended it high above the land. It had been returned to its place of origin when the world knitted itself back together thanks to Spyro, an action that cost Spyro much of his energy; it took him the first few days of his 'vacation' to be able to breath fire again.
That was why they went to Warfang; it was the only other place they knew of where dragons resided and if the guardians weren't at the temple they would be at the greatest dragon city that they had heard of. "Well at least the moles are good at fixing things," Cynder said as she looked down on the restored towers and mosaics that adorned the walls and street floors. There were few places that revealed that the city had been under siege by Malefor's forces, blackened craters in the least inhabited parts of the city still remained and ruined bricks were in piles in the dead-end streets.
The plant life in the city had also been restored to its beautiful splendour. Vast beds of roses filled the centre of thoroughfares with pathways down either side, many dragons using those paths and admiring the scents and sights. Courtyards with plenty of large trees and grass to lie in the trees' shades were also present, some dragons that had already chosen partners lay together and enjoyed each other's company in that shade. Spyro and Cynder, however, knew not that these dragon couples were single only the day before; they had never been told about the Courtship Festival and were unaware what exactly they were descending down into.
"Let's set down over there," Spyro said as he angled down towards the city's defensive wall above the city entryway. Other dragons were already setting down, the large cannon that had been used to defend the city from Malefor's army's siege engines had been dismantled and moved somewhere else, providing even more room for dragons of all sizes to land.
As soon as Cynder and Spyro did touch down they were immediately targeted by a mole carrying a large, horizontal, wooden tray attached to his chest by two straps over his shoulders. "Ah, a mighty fine couple you two make," he said to them, making both dragons look at each other with confused expressions. The mole then focused on Spyro. "Perhaps you'd like to buy her one of my lovely trinkets," he looked over his collection of jewellery with a practiced eye and picked out an elaborate horn ornament. "Ah, this one would look beautiful on her, the rich purple of the sapphire gems and the silver band matches her scales beautifully."
Spyro could see Cynder admiring the trinket; he would have bought it for her if it weren't for one problem. "How would I pay for it?" Spyro asked the mole, receiving a slight smile in return.
"Luckily for you I have been able to get my wares at quite a bargain, and naturally that reflects on my prices. Your partner could be wearing this for the price of only two gold pieces." Cynder looked at Spyro and noticed the uncomfortable expression on his face.
She leaned towards him and whispered, "What are you doing, Spyro? We both know that you have no gold. Besides, since when did you want to buy jewellery for me?"
Spyro whispered in return, "I saw the look on your face, you want it, and I know that you have no gold either."
"So then we're just going to stand here and barter him down to nothing? No, I'll save you the embarrassment of having to say you're broke." Cynder whispered back, and then spoke to the mole directly. "I'm sorry, but I don't think any of them are right for me, but if I change my mind later I'll be sure to come straight back to you with…my partner here."
The mole twisted his moustache between his right forefinger and thumb and smiled. "Of course, naturally you'll want to browse around the other merchants, but I assure you that you won't find a price as low as mine for the quality I offer." With that the mole quickly rounded on another pair of dragons that had appeared from a staircase and began to sell to them. Spyro and Cynder watched as the ice dragon bought the lightning dragoness a horn ornament like the one that Cynder was offered, except a gold band with red rubies.
"Do you think this is normal around here?" Cynder asked as the dragon slipped the piece of jewellery on to one of the dragoness' horns and the mole pocketed some gold.
"I don't know," Spyro replied, watching the dragon couple walk away with their purchase with their tails intertwined and the mole move onto another would-be-customer; a single earth dragon by himself. "Maybe it is, we've only been here once before and I don't think it would have been a good idea to try and sell whilst the city was falling." Spyro began to walk to one of the staircases that led to deeper parts of the city, passing the mole and earth dragon on the way.
"Ah, after a female of the wind variety are you, well I'd offer you this lovely silver band, I'm sure the purple would bring out the silver of her scales something fierce, but I'm afraid that piece is on reserve to two friends of mine. Perhaps this one…" The rest of the conversation was lost as Spyro and Cynder descended down the stairs and their ears were assaulted by the shouts of dragons and moles selling flowers, jewellery, even poems, most of which, Spyro and Cynder noticed, were love related.
"Have you noticed that there are a lot of dragons around our age buying all this stuff?" Spyro asked Cynder as he raised his brow at the three dragonesses in a building's doorway that were looking at him and smiling sweetly. He smiled back and each one of them broke into giggles and disappeared into the building.
"I have, I've also noticed that some of them show quite a bit of interest in us, and not the interest I would have expected," Cynder replied as she ignored the fire dragon that beckoned her to approach him, a red rose between his teeth. "I don't think anybody recognises me," she said with some relief, she then noticed the looks the females gave Spyro, "but it appears the girls recognise you."
"I don't think it's because they recognise me," Spyro defended himself; "they keep looking at the other males too. I think we should ask someone where to find the guardians, maybe they can explain what's going on." They stopped by a stall managed by an old looking earth dragoness. She beamed down at them as they approached and picked out a purple pansy, threaded the stem through a loop on a band of cotton and then held it out to Cynder.
"I notice that your partner doesn't have any gold, these flowers were grown by me and I insist that you wear one, free of charge, of course." Cynder looked at the flower, then at Spyro, and then shook her head.
"Oh, no, we aren't a couple," Cynder quickly said, making the elder dragon's face express confusion.
"But I've watched you from across the street, I even saw you land together, and now you both stand here together. You must be a couple." She said to them, the flower still held between her claws.
"We've actually just got here, we don't have a clue what's going on, and we were hoping you could tell us where to find the guardian Terrador." Spyro added, making the dragoness smile with amusement.
"Ah, Terrador, I pined after him for several Courtship Festivals many years ago." Spyro and Cynder gave each other confused looks again but then turned back to the earth dragoness when she continued to talk. "You best wear this anyway," she said as she gave the flower to Cynder, "It'll stop the less hopeful from doting after you both on your way to the citadel at the centre of the city. That is where you'll find Terrador; he'll explain everything to you, as is his duty." She then turned to two other dragons that actually carried gold.
Spyro and Cynder left the stall and found a reasonably empty space to stand away from the crowds. "She said Courtship Festival," Spyro said as he took another look at the crowds and recognised clues he hadn't spotted before. It all made sense. He turned to Cynder, and then stared at her as she tried to slip the cotton band over one of her horns. She had placed it on the floor and was trying to thread one of her horns through the cotton by rubbing her head in the dirt.
Spyro looked out at the other dragons in the crowds and saw that the gifts and treasures were designed to be placed onto someone by somebody else, "Um, Cynder, I think I'm supposed to put that on you." He looked back at her and saw that she had managed to get the flower on her self and was now straightening it.
"It's ok, Spyro, I've managed," she replied as she looked at him. "There's something I want to talk to you about," she then said, earning her Spyro's full concentration. "It's about what I said to you right after we defeated Malefor." She had a somewhat bashful look on her face, but Spyro was oblivious to it.
"Oh, what did you say, I don't remember?" Spyro asked, earning him an incredulous look.
I told him I love him and he doesn't remember? She thought to herself as she suddenly questioned the wisdom of discussing what was on her mind. "You really don't remember?" She asked, "It was right after you told me to leave and I refused."
Spyro thought for a moment, Cynder watching him intently but then he shook his head, "No, sorry, Cynder, it was pretty loud down there and I wasn't really paying much attention to anything else other than concentrating my power when you must have said it. What did you say?"
Cynder looked away, now that she wasn't in danger of dying in the next few seconds she didn't feel brave enough to tell him she loved him again. "Never mind, let's just find Terrador," she said as she entered the crowds again and set off towards the citadel. Spyro watched her for a second and then ran to catch up, pushing his way past his fellow dragons in the process.
By the time he did catch up to her they had already managed to traverse the length of the street to an open courtyard. The scent of the flowerbeds and the grass were strong in the air and both Spyro and Cynder inhaled deeply as they stepped onto the lush green turf, the cool earth soothing their scaled feet. "You know, this city is kinda nice when it isn't on fire," Spyro commented as a group of dragons and dragonesses passed him and Cynder in the opposite direction. A dark blue-scaled water dragoness winked at him as he met her gaze and he looked away, feeling slightly hot.
Cynder looked over at the other dragoness and glared at her when Spyro wasn't looking; the other dragoness quickly moved on with her friends; Cynder could have swore that she had heard her name bounce around the group. "So," Cynder began as they walked over the grass together, "how many dragonesses have you gained the attention of since we got here?"
"I haven't been keeping count," he replied bashfully, "about ten I think." Cynder gave a light sigh that Spyro picked up on, "What about you?"
"Two, guess I'm not as easy on the eyes as you are," she said with a small laugh.
"It's probably because you're wearing that flower," Spyro said to cheer her up, "you don't look the type to be easy to claim so maybe that's why you get so few, as that dragon said, it'll stop the less hopeful from doting."
"I guess you're right," Besides, I'm walking with the only dragon I want to dote after me anyway, she thought as they left the courtyard and walked up the stone steps to the citadel. There were few young dragons in this area of the city, most of the passer-bys were old, some bordering on ancient. Unlike the younger generations these dragons recognised Spyro and Cynder for whom and what they were. They each acknowledged the two as they walked past, either by a simple greeting or a nod of the head. Few expressed distaste at Cynder's presence but those few was enough to make her retreat into her thick-skinned self.
"Just ignore them, Cynder," Spyro said as one ancient ice dragon brushed past her without even apologising for the unwanted contact.
"It's times like this when I think they should be grateful I didn't kill them," She said, her anger getting the better of her.
"That isn't really the attitude to take on, is it, young dragon?" A deep voice suddenly sounded from behind the pair. They both turned around to face the voice's origin and gazed up at the muscular form of Terrador smiling down at them.