Author's notes:

Well. At last. Update. I wanted to post this before new year… but I had to change a lot of things in one very special scene. I wanted to make it perfect… but I guess you should tell me that that.

Enjoy (god knows I have)!

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The Legend of Spyro: Origins_Chapter 35

Spyro slowly dug out a llama body from underneath the rubble of a collapsed side of the cliff. Stones had fallen atop a group of soldiers, killing them when all the stones fell atop them before being buried by the rest of the avalanche. He had already dug out three llamas' soldier, a human one, and a panther. But there were still two more bodies yet to reach, including the one he had within reach now. Slowly, he lifted with his paws the heavy stone that covered most of the soldier so as to allow other people who were helping to grab the body and pull him out.

After a silent prayer to the deceased soul to join the ancestors, the corpse was taken away towards where all allied soldiers were being taken so they could take account of their casualties.

Off in the distance, against the blue sky of mid-morning, Spyro could see a huge column of smoke rising from another plateau. He doubted anyone could miss to smell it as well. The acrid stench of bodies being burned was a powerful odor indeed. Unlike the fallen alliance soldier, who would be separated and given proper honor to each, the dark army soldier were not so fortunate. A mass pyre had been placed somewhat away from the main city, where the enemy soldier were being thrown to be burnt after any item that could be of value was removed from them.

It had been lit before Spyro rose from the deep slumber he had fall into after he had made sure the battle was well an over. He, along with Cynder, had fallen asleep together, still covered with the grime of battle. Kane had offered Spyro a room to rest, but not for Cynder, still resenting of her past. But he had not stopped her from following Spyro. In the end, both young dragons had fallen asleep in a thigh embrace.

"That is the last one" Spyro said as he dug last body trapped the avalanche had hidden. But a slight movement and a small moan from the one he was digging made him double look at him and gave a urgent yell. "This one is alive!"

Immediately, two llamas arrived to carefully pull out the body from beneath the rubble. When they managed to pull the soldier out, they carefully carried him towards where a stretcher had been placed just for them to carry the wounded. After they had placed the injured soldier, two llamas grabbed both end of the stretcher and carried him off towards where the wounded were being tended.

"He is going to make it… isn't he?" Spyro asked towards the nearest llama with concern in his voice as he saw the grievous wounds the soldier had.

"I don't know" the llama answered grimly. "The wound he received in the head is too severe and he has lost so much blood. But if he is strong, the he will make it" he said before turning to Spyro. "Thank you very much for your help, God Spyro" said the Atlawa with a slight bow before.

"Don't mention it" Spyro said waving his paw in a dismissive manner. "Is there somewhere else where help is needed?"

"In the western area, near one of the safe houses" the llama replied after a moment of thought. "Heard that it was a very intense and pitched fight over there"

With a small thanks, Spyro leaped and took flight towards where the llama had directed.

With the new day, the recovery after the bloody battle was still underway. Wounded were still showing up and bodies were being found.

After each battle, there were many things that needed to be done. Kill the stragglers, help the wounded, find the dead, help more wounded that arrived later, dispose of the enemy's' corpses, bury the friendly ones, clear the debris and start making repairs. It was not done in a single day.

Spyro back winged as he slowly landed where he saw a lot of movement on the ground below, as that meant there were thing to be done. He slowly approached the officer who was in charge and offered his help.

"We have just started the cleanup in this place" the officer explained. "Drag the enemies' bodies and put them on that pile" he said as he pointed towards where the enemies were being placed so as to burn them.

With a nod, Spyro went to the nearest corpse, which happened to be an orc, and started to drag it towards the pile, which was slowly becoming bigger with each new body added.

After a few bodies, Spyro noticed that there seemed to be a huge amount of enemy soldiers, yet there seemed to be no alliance ones. Correction, there was no alliance bodies here!

"Excuse me" Spyro said to a nearby llama as they both dragged bodies. "Had they already taken the fallen alliance soldier from this place?"

"There were only a couple of them and those had already been removed" the llama said.

"A couple only?" Spyro took a look around and saw the huge number of dead enemies, confusion etched on his face.

The llama must have seen his confusion because he said next. "This used to be a civilian shelter" he explained. "From what I heard, the Dark army managed to break through one section of our lines and headed here. I think the llamas dead where the guards that were here to keep order"

"But if there were only a few guards, how come so many enemies were killed?" Spyro said as he flicked the two grublins he had carried into the pile.

"As I head it" the llama grunted as he put the body he carried into the mountain of corpses before following Spyro, "someone managed to halt the enemy advance at this location, saving the civilians inside"

"Only one?"

"That's what I heard" the llama said as he grabbed another body of an orc and dragged it. "A dragon, what is more"

Spyro stopped dead in his tracks as the llama continued his way.

'One dragon, huh?' he questioned in his mind as he with a smile. 'More like one dragoness'

Spyro had heard from Shockwave that Cynder had managed to halt a flanking force by herself. This must have been the place where she did it. Spyro shook her head in amazement. There must have been at least three hundred enemy soldiers in this place alone. The audacity, tenacity and bravery of Cynder still amazed Spyro sometimes. Still, it was a wonder that she managed to kill each and every one of them by herself.

'No wonder she is so tired' Spyro guessed.

After immobilizing Cynder rear leg, where she had suffered a nasty injury, and taking several red gems, they had gone to sleep into a room provided by Kane. With the new day, Spyro rose to start helping wherever she could. But unlike him, Cynder had only opened an eyelid at losing the source of warmth he had provided with his body; took a sleepy look at him and, with a few grumbles, placed her wing over her head to stave off the light and went back to sleep. She had refused to get up and only grunted in response to Spyro's questions. In the end, he had left her sleeping, snored peacefully.

And so the day passed, with hard work labor to clean up in the aftermath of the battle.

Meals were not a very pleasant affair. The rations were meager and the mood grim. Dead were still appearing and wounded dying. The battle had ended with the retreat of the dark army a lot sooner that Spyro had expected. Given the amount of time fighting, it was a high number since both sides had pounded each other mercilessly in the time that had at each other. Spyro had heard the estimated number of casualties, both dead and injured, must have been four thousands on their side, which was nearly twenty five percent… the triple of the enemy. But the army was still fighting able and it could have been worse.

But the llamas were not the only ones who had it rough. Other species that lived there, panthers, coyotes and dragons had also dead. But the highest ratio in proportion to the forces deployed on battle fell to the humans the human's side.

"I have made the numbers" Jackson said as he had a hand in his brow. "They are correct"

Parker shook his head in silence as he inspected the dark, brown and hot liquid he held in his cup. Spyro slowly approached the pair, as if asking if he could join them. When Parker noticed him, he gave a nod of acknowledgment. Spyro sat on the same table with his meager meal in order to enjoy whatever company he could in this grim day.

"How many?" Spyro asked simply.

"Thirty six are dead; thirteen three wounded, five missing" Parker said grimly. "That leaves only twenty one soldiers from the fighting force that is able to continue fighting. Not counting medical and research staff. More than half of our fighting force"

"The wounded?" Spyro asked simply, inquiring of the humans that were injured.

"They got past the critical stage and they shall make it" Parker told him. "Some were superficial wound, the other are more severe. But they shall all make it"

"That is good to hear" Spyro said. "The missing?"

"A squad of four men is missing, presumed KIA" Jackson reported. "Jason Powell is also missing"

"The last one who saw him was Ramirez" Parker said grimly. "Have you…?"

"I already talked to him" Jackson said before Parker could finish. "Last time he saw him was before the tower incident"

Before Parker could say anything else, another two humans approached. They were soldiers, identified easily by the camouflaged pattern in his outfit, as well as the helmet that they were removing. Their expressions were grim, however, most likely bearing bad news.

"Sargent Anderson?" Parker asked hopefully.

"Sir… we found bravo squad" the human called Anderson reported as he handed Parker the metallic plaques the human wore around their necks.

"Or more likely, only the parts that the enemy DIDN'T… liked" the second unnamed human said with a hint of disgust in his voice.

It took a few moments before they group understood those words.

"You mean… they were eaten?" Spyro asked aghast.

"Not a pretty sight" Anderson replied.

Parker put his head in his hands, as if the weight he carried had become heavier.

"Sargent, can you deal with it?" Parker asked.

"Yes, sir" Anderson replied. "We will bag them and take them with us back. Make sure they get a proper burial"

Parker nodded in a small motion. With that, the two soldiers saluted and left.

The two humans, and dragon, remain in silence for a few moments. Spyro ate slowly, not really savoring the assortment of fruits, grains and a piece of meat rather small for the hunger he had, that the llamas had given him. Parker remained seated, with the cup he had between his hands, staring into the brown liquid. Jackson remained standing, seemingly to gaze at something far away.

"You did what you could, sir" Jackson said suddenly, making Spyro look up from his meal. "Could have been worse"

"Perhaps…" Parker mused.

"As I said earlier..." Jackson interrupted. "You did a hell of a job. You managed to dictate the general strategy of the battle"

"Hardly difficult to do" Parker said in a dismissive manner.

"Your pre-sight of how the battle was going to turn allowed us to reinforce key positions and build hundreds of traps"

"Standard procedure"

"Your quick thinking managed to respond accordingly to every new plan the enemy came up with"

"Adrenaline tends to slow down the perception of time"

"You know what I mean, sir" Jackson started to become frustrated. "You lead us admirably in battle, sir. The people trust you and your judgment. Not every leader gains that amount of respect from the men. And before you say anything, respect is earned when a leader managed to bring out the best of a fubar situation. Miller could hardly have done better"

Spyro was looking carefully at Parker. He seemed awfully depressed and out of his character for some reason. The purple dragon though that it was because of the high number of, not only of humans he had lost in battle, but of all the other species as well. He was doubting himself.

"Jackson is right" Spyro said, trying to boost his friend's confidence and mood. "You lead us greatly. No one amongst us could have done as well as you have done. Remember when you ordered the bridges to be planted with explosives, even when the llamas protested against such action?" When Parker nodded, he continued. "Although others might have come up with that plan, few would have put it in motion. Your vision saved many lives"

"Perhaps" Parker murmured. "I just wish Miller was here"

"Capitan Miller would have been proud of what you have done here, sir" Jackson tried to reason.

"I'm not so sure" Parker sighed. "With so many lost…"

"Who is this Miller?" Spyro asked, curiously.

"He was the former leader of the company" Jackson explained. "We served under his command since we got to this world"

"And where is he then?" Spyro asked

"Dead" Parker said bluntly.

"Oh!"

"The plague we suffered a couple of weeks back took him" Jackson said. "With him no longer amongst us, Parker had to take command of what was left of the company"

"And… that is good, isn't it?" Spyro asked hesitantly.

"Of course it is" Jackson said bluntly. "Parker was the successor of Miller in case something happened, since he had the highest rank in the company besides the Captain. He was the choice. But our dear Lieutenant don't think it was"

"Why does he doubt himself too much?" Spyro asked.

"The weight of responsibility" Jackson said. "Parker is used to commanding a platoon, not a company. Add that the heavy casualties we suffered. But we were in the thick of the battle, putting fighting for what we believed to be right. There was no soldier in our group that didn't knew the risks. And even so, they fought anyways"

"But why is he so glum?"

"He feels responsible for their deaths" Jackson continued. "He believes he should have done a better job; tried harder to avoid those deaths. As the commanding officer, he is responsible for the welfare of the men serving under him"

"But he did a good job!" Spyro exclaimed.

"But Parker doesn't see it"

"So you say" Parker sighed as he finished the last of his drink with one large gulp before standing up. "Come on, we have to take inventory on the equipment lost now that we have the casualties. And we also need to find Jason. He is the only one unaccounted"

"Yes sir" Jackson said.

Both humans started to walk away, leaving Spyro with his meal still halfway done. The purple dragon felt sympathy for the humans. Spyro felt saddened by this. When he first seen the humans in battle, he was absolutely surprised. Their powerful weapons and their advanced tactic made them seem as if they were invincible in battle. Sure, he had seen a few of them die in battle, but he contributed those to bad luck. Yet, in this last battle, it seemed that his friend were as vulnerable as the rest of them were.

So many of humans lost in this last engagement. More in proportion than any other species. They had been in the front lines all the time, fighting the battle.

Fighting in a battle that was not of their concern, fighting in a war that was not their own. Dying for people they did not know… people not from their world. It made him think for the reason as to why they were fighting. Perhaps it was just kindness out of their hearts. This made him realize that there was more than he already knew about them. He didn't knew why, but he felt kinship with them. He felt at ease… more than any other species except his own. And he wanted to find out why.

His focus soon returned to his place, where his food was slowly getting cold. He dig in with the usual gusto he had when a plate of food was in front of him. But he would have company once again as Kane arrived. He started talking to him about the situation at hand and the things that needed to be done.

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"Come on! We have to get this caravan moving"

Incendio was ordering around the supply caravan that was going to take very much needed supplies towards the affected areas from the latest downpour.

"Get those bisons reined and ready to pull the wagons" Incendio said, towards a small troupe of moles, who were trying to control one of the huge animals.

When the young bison brayed angrily at the tending moles, Incendio sighed and stepped forward. Grabbing the bison by the horns, he twisted his body so that he had the struggling animal in a neck lock. The bison was bigger than him, not to mention heavier; but Incendio's maneuver left it in a very disadvantageous position as he completely immobilized the head. But the animal was not giving without a fight; it was still trashing his legs wildly. The dragon only held that position for a few moments before the animal calmed. When it did, Incendio nodded towards the group of moles, who promptly put in the reigns of the wagon on the animal.

"Have you got it?" Incendio asked the moles.

"Yes sir"

Incendio released the animal and, ready to pin it again of needed, watched the moles lead the creature towards the cart.

"Quite a nuisance, aren't they?" Incendio heard the amused soft and female voice behind him when the animal was safely in place.

"Most of the time they are very docile. But sometimes, it takes a little bit of a firm paw to control them… especially the younger ones" Incendio commented taking a couple of steps back from the animals before looking back towards Doctor Kelly, who was looking amused at the situation. "But once you do, they are as tame as a puppy!" Incendio smirked.

"I'll bet" Doctor Kelly chuckled. "It still surprises me that the bison do not have a natural fear towards dragon… you being predators and all that"

"Well, you could say that we have managed to domesticate them, as well as many other animals which we use for food and other tasks"

It was morning, two days from when they had spent the entire afternoon together. Incendio had told her of the situation outside Warfang, where villages and towns were destroyed or damaged due to torrential rains.

Warfang was sending food, construction materials, clothes, tools and medical supplies in order to help them get back to their lives. Incendio had been assigned to lead one caravan towards its destination in a nearby town.

The moment he told Doctor Kelly that, she had volunteered to go and help. It wasn't like her to ignore someone who needed help. With her knowledge in healing, she would help those wounded and prevent any illness that might occur due to low sanitary conditions.

"So… ready to leave?" Incendio asked hopefully. He really looked forwards to this journey.

"Of course" she said. "I brought some things that might be needed"

Incendio looked at the three overburden backpacks and many satchels that were lying around her… not counting those that she already carried.

"I can see that" he chuckled. "I think that you would be hard pressed with carrying all of that by yourself. Maybe we should put your equipment in one of the wagons"

"Of course. You didn't really expect me to carry all of these things, didn't you?" Kelly chuckled as she bent down to pick a pack.

"Allow me" Incendio hastily said as he grabbed one of the many packs that she had brought.

"No no no, please" Kelly said as Incendio tried to get her equipment. "This is my stuff. You shouldn't concern yourself with my needs. I do not want to burden you"

"Nonsense! No burden at all. Allow me" Incendio said dismissively as he grabbed all of the packs and placed them on the nearby wagon effortlessly. "I am more than eager and glad to help you"

"Why… you are so kind" Kelly complimented.

Incendio could not help but blush, but his colorful orange scales hid it very well from any who might look.

"Sir…" a mole called him. "We are ready to go"

"Good" Incendio replied with a nod. "The dragons will fly ahead and scout the path and detect any problem that might arise as well as keep a look out from the air. The other soldiers will walk around the caravan, protecting it from all directions"

"Yes sir" the small rodent bowed before stating to from the soldiers.

"Expecting trouble?" Kelly asked.

"Hopefully not" Incendio replied. "Even before the fall of the Dark Master, the coyotes' raiders have been a pain in the rump. Pillaging towns and villages for anything of value, as well as supplies they want. There has been an increase in these raids lately. One cannot be too careful"

"Is that is why the Guardian is coming as well?" Kelly asked.

Incendio turned to look at Terrador, who was inspecting the rigid dragons that were standing at attention, as well as other ground troops.

"In part" Incendio replied. "A town a day's flight distance from where we will be going was hit pretty hard by them. Terrador is going there to assess the situation. He is also going to train the town's militia in new ways to fend off the raiders as well as reinforce the town in case they return. That is why Terrador is coming as well. He will accompany us halfway towards our destination before going further ahead"

"But won't the town that was attack need supplies too?" Kelly asked concerned.

"Another supply caravan is already been assembled" Incendio explained. "That one will have a lot more troops in order to protect it. Those nasty canines are cunning and know that Warfang will send aid in terms of supplies to the raided towns. They often attack a village or town, leave for a few days and come back later to steal the supply caravans that arrive at said town. A caravan such as these will most likely catch their attention if we are found out"

"That doesn't sound too good" Kelly said.

Incendio gut gave small churn as he realized that he had said that Kelly might be in danger.

"Do not worry" he said quickly, attempting to calm her down. "Very few know about this supply caravan. Also, the other town that was attack was far away from where we are going. You see, the pirates do not dare to get that close to Warfang. Besides, what are the odds of them finding the caravan? And if worse comes to worst, I'll make sure that you remain safe"

"Thank you" Kelly said. "But with my father coming, I very much doubt he will let me get away from his sight"

Incendio only gave a small grunt in response before looking at where said human was. The human military leader was leaning against one of the already-to-leave wagons. His face was a mask of seriousness, not letting one emotion get past his facade. He was spinning back and forth a small dagger he was holding in his fingers by the point and handle as he watched the organized chaos that was around him.

Kelly wasn't the only human that was coming. When she had told her plans to the leaders of the human expedition, the reactions were mixed. Mara Espinoza had been rather neutral; she had told Kelly that she may do as she wished. Kelly soon found a couple other volunteer's, both of them medical staff to accompany her.

But her father did not take it as calmly as the female human leader had. He had burst in loud protest against her going, concern for her safety being his primary argument. Kelly had remained adamant about staying, saying she wanted to go.

Against such determination, Colonel Flanning could do nothing and failed to make her stay. So, instead of forcing her to stay so he could keep an eye on her, he decided to accompany her so as to not let her out of his sight.

He, along with a small squad of two human soldiers, would also come on the journey in order to protect the medical staff.

"Sir… we are ready to start moving" A cheetah warrior announced.

"Very good" Incendio said. "Open the doors!" he bellowed so that the moles manning the main entrance of Warfang could hear.

After a few second, the heavy rumbling of the massive doors that were the main entrance of the Dragon City started to open. The image of the dragon, imbedded in gold, started to slowly part by the middle.

In times of peace and stability, the doors usually remained open at all times. But during these times, they were closed at night and were only open during the day. Since it was early morning, they had the honor of being the first ones to pass the main entrance in this new day.

With a soft thud, the gates were completely wide open to allow the several wagons contain supplied to pass. The entrance was enough to allow two adult dragons to pass through it at the same time with room to spare.

"Move out!" Terrador bellowed and the caravan started to march.

Incendio walked alongside Kelly, keeping his longer strides in pace with her as they both passed under the walls. Once on the other side, what dragons there were, took flight in order to survey the land.

"Well, I guess that I have to leave. We'll see each other around" Incendio told Kelly.

"See you around" Kelly said.

Incendio, like the other dragons, prepare himself to take to the skies.

"Incendio" Terrador called from behind him before he could take off.

"Sir?" Incendio asked with his wings half unfurled.

"I will go aloft and keep a lookout" he said. "You remain here on the ground and see things are going smoothly"

"Yes, sir" Incendio said.

"You make a fine officer, young dragon" Terrador praised. "You have a keen mind and a fiery determination and the loyalty of those under you"

"Thank you, sir"

Terrador prepared for takeoff by unfurling his wings and, with a huge beat of his massive wings, beat them down with enough force to make dust swirl around him before shooting off. Incendio looked after the Guardian for a few moments as he rallied those in the air. Incendio shook his head slowly before he picked up the pace in order to catch up with Kelly.

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The smell of food being prepared made it way to Spyro's nostrils. Taking deep breaths, his mouth began to water as he savored the meal that was to come.

Not a meal, a feast!

A feast in order to celebrate their victory and to honor the dead ones and wish them, or in case of the Altawas to pray, for the deceased to be received with open arms by the Ancestors. Many types of meals were being slowly cooked. Fruits, cheese, bread, vegetables, meats… all was in the list for the huge meal that was to be held in late afternoon and night, which was only an hour or so away.

A soft rumble was head from his belly, indicating how much Spyro wanted to have his paws on some food.

"Eager, aren't we?" Cynder chuckled besides him as she head Spyro's stomach.

"I can't help it" Spyro said defensively. "The smell of food being prepared and me hungry… it's just too much"

"Males" Cynder chuckled under her breath. "Always thinking with their stomachs"

As if to prove Cynder's point, Spyro's stomach once again complained in a soft growl. Cynder, of course, could not help but giggle, much to the embarrassment of Spyro.

It had been five days since the battle had ended. The grim duty of the aftermath of such a fighting had been cleaned up and loose end tied. With the victory at the Battle of Tall Plains, Kane decided that the people needed a mood lifter. So, a feast was being held in order to celebrate their victory.

Not a bad thought in Spyro's opinion… both for the food and the mood lifter.

Cynder had gotten the day before from the room, his leg now finally healed, although she sometimes complained about lingering pain.

He watched as how the llamas set the decorations and the many tables for the guests on the great expanse in front of the shrine. Since this place was the most important place within Tall Plains, it was bound for the feast to be held here.

The place had been cleared of bodies, as well as the rubble from the fighting he and Cynder had seen in this place. Not much remained that suggested a battle had been here, the trees trunk had been pulled out, the rocks had been cleared, but some held some cracks, the blood washed, and the broken pillars removed. The only large scar left from the fighting was the deep gorge left in the façade of the temple, which was being covered by several long banners.

"Come on" Cynder said as he felt her tail tug at him in his forelimb. "Let us explore a little bit more of this place before the feast start"

With a sigh, Spyro relented and followed her.

"Don't worry, you will return here soon enough and you will be able to fill that belly of yours" Cynder commented at hearing Spyro's disappointed sigh. "And Sparx's too"

Spyro could not help but chuckle at hearing his foster brother's being mentioned. The dragonfly had gone off to 'inspect' the food that was being prepared. Spyro, of course, knew better that than. Sparx was most likely tasting everything he laid his eyes upon, filling his belly. Not that it matter that the feast was only an hour or two away since he would eat his fill again when the time came.

"Ah… there you are!" someone said behind him.

Turning to look, Spyro saw that Kane, with his ever present crane, was walking towards him. Behind the llama leader, around a dozen other llamas followed.

"Good thing I found you" Kane said with a sigh. "Quick, you have to get prepared for the celebration?"

"Prepared?" Spyro asked with a tilted head.

"Yes! You need to get yourself presentable for the upcoming feast! Something more akin your statue"

"Huh?"

"As god of the Atlawa, you need to look at your best. You need to bath, remove all that filth from the battle"

Spyro turned his head to look at himself. Indeed, he was covered with dirt and some patches of dried blood that he had failed to remove after the battle. His scales were a little bit dull and needed to be cleaned. He had not gotten a bath since the battle; with all the effort he had being doing in the aftermath.

Dragons do not get as dirty as other creatures on a normal day, and thus they do not require constant cleaning. Nevertheless, a great number of dragons enjoyed getting bath due to the pleasure out of it. What is more, dragons liked to look clean. Many dragons tried very hard to look their best, and thus they would often polish their scales, making them almost like gems, shiny and clean. They also had their claws trimmed and sanded.

He had not bathed since he left Warfang, so it was high time he took one. After a quick snif of his body, Spyro could not help agree with Kane.

"You also will get your scales rubbed and polished, as well as you horns and claws" Kane informed him.

"What?" Spyro exclaimed quite surprised at the sudden revelation at what he had to do.

"Don't just stand there!" Kane admonished in friendly way. "Go and get yourself clean!"

With that, the group of llamas behind Spyro walked forwards and encircled Spyro, pushing him away from Cynder as they lead him towards his destination.

"Wait! What about Cynder?" Spyro called as he was dragged away by the troupe, half struggling to get away from them

"Do not worry" Spyro head Kane said in a lot less friendly way. "She will be fine"

Spyro managed to look back and saw that Kane was looking intently at Cynder, his face a mask that covered all of his emotions. As for Cynder, she was looking back at the llama with the same level of intensity and with a mask of her own.

Before any of them could do anything, Spyro rounded a corner and they were both cut out of sight. The purple dragon looked ahead and stopped struggling as he started to go along with the llamas to whatever destination he was in for.

He was slightly worried about Cynder. She knew she could take care of herself if thing went bad, and he trusted Kane that there would not be any problem, since he had told him not to worry. Still, Spyro could not help but be slightly preoccupied about Cynder, since her reception at Tall Plains had been violent and not a lot of people liked her.

The entourage of llamas led him to a small building not far away. Once inside, they guided him towards one rather large room, where several large tubs were. They were big enough to hold an adult dragon. Obviously some kind of public baths. One of such tubs was filled with hot water, as seen by the steam that slowly rose from the surface. Spyro assumed that it had been prepared specifically for him. And Spyro had to admit, the hot water looked very tempting.

Even before Spyro could take a step towards the huge tub, the llamas pushed him, that was the closest definition Spyro could come up with, towards the tub.

"Hey! Watch it!" he exclaimed as he accidentally splashed around when he stepped over the edge of the tub, scattering water over the place.

Now that he was on the water at knee depth, Spyro turned to look at them with an annoyed look and with a snort, giving the hint that they should leave.

However, it was not to be.

The llamas started to gather bathing utensils for nearby shelves and surrounded Spyro.

"What…?!" Spyro managed to gasp before one llama poured a bucket of hot water over him, drenching him from head to tail.

Spluttering the water that managed to find his way into his mouth, the llamas started to clean him with brushes.

"No! Wait! What are you doing?!" Spyro asked them in an almost pleading manner; but the llamas did not listen.

They grabbed one of his forepaws, making him lose his balance and fall on his rump, sending waves of water outside the tub. Whilst his forelimb was being cleaned, another llama started to brush between his horns. Spyro head would sway back and forth as he was cleaned. And yet another one took hold of his tail, which Spyro was on the point of lashing around due to his uncomfortable situation, and started to clean it as well. The rest of the llamas worked on his flanks.

They started to apply some liquid soap that started to turn white and produce may bubbles when it was rubbed against his scales. Spyro gritted his teeth as they started scrubbing with some brushes with such ferocity that, had it not been for his scales, he would have been left raw.

They would use soap and brushes to clean the worst of the dirt and grime that covered Spyro's scales. Occasionally, a bucket of hot water would pour over him, clearing all the filth that had been rubbed loose.

The dragon would grumble all the time as the llamas cleaned him. He had not been cleaned by another since he was four years old, when his adoptive mother, Nina, decided that it was a gigantic job to clean his overlarge son that was much bigger than her by six or seven times. Since then, he had always worked his personal hygiene by himself.

And he decided now that he didn't liked having other clean him like this. But he put up with it.

The llamas rubbed his flanks, under and over his wings, his belly, legs and paws, neck, head and tail. Even one llama went so far as to try and clean his rump, but a low growl from Spyro made him think better of it.

But apart from that, all parts of his body was rubbed and cleaned.

When the furry creatures were finished, they got him out of the tube and proceeded to clean him with towels. Spyro's vision was a flurry of white as they cleaned him with the towels, but it was over in a minute and his body as dry as he had never gotten wet.

"Good, now I am clean" Spyro said. "Now if you would be kind as to…"

But he was never let to finish his sentence since once the bath was over, the llama entourage, with all the grace they had shown him before, led him to another room, which was right next to the one they were at.

In there, they made him sit ne one overlarge cushion; for him anyway. Seconds later, they arrived with some wax. Spyro had merely a second to see before he was assaulted from all side with the polishing wax and cloths.

Spyro, with an annoyed look in his face, braved it all and said nothing as the llamas worked. They worked for a good 15 minutes; but that was not the only thing the servants did. They also polished his horns and, much to Spyro's reluctance, trimmed his claws a little bit and polished them as well.

But there was still some more.

Another group of servants entered the room and brought along an entire wardrobe enough to dress fifteen llamas. The last two servants in the group brought two chest that, when opened, revealed an impressive assortment of jewelry of all kinds and of all types.

Spyro once again found himself surrounded by the llamas, who were arguing very loudly about what he should wear. They would pick a garment and, after placing it on him like a cape, they would discuss if it clashed with colors or fit on him. Once they said all the points on said piece of cloth, they would discard it only to start all over with a new one. Some pieces they just threw it away, claiming it clashed with his scales.

The jewelry was like the wardrobe. They would pick a set and put it on Spyro and comment on it, pointing the strong point and the flaws. Sometimes they would make him wear a combination of both a garment and some jewelry. If Spyro felt something uncomfortable, whether it was jewelry or garment, he would shake it off and the llamas would not put it on him again.

Spyro, like all of his treatment since he had left Cynder, didn't like at all. If this was how they treated a God, then he would very much rather not be… not that he ever wanted to be one in the first place.

After nearly an hour since he was ushered away from Cynder, the llamas, at last, stepped away from him. Two servants brought a large mirror and placed him in front of Spyro in order to see his reflection.

Spyro could help himself, his eyes widened as he gazed at his reflation in surprise and wonder.

His purple scales actually shone like gems thanks to the wax and the light that emanated from the many torches that were lit in the room. His yellow underbelly, as well as his horns and fins that ran along his back and tail appendix, looked like pure gold. His claws were like white opal, the very same stones that were set in the golden bracelets that had been placed in his forelegs.

A collar, also made out of gold, rested on his neck and shoulders. Symbols and sigils that were carved out of jade filled the thick collar. Spyro was almost positively sure that Kane had it made just for him, since the llamas insisted very much that he should wear it. Also, attached to the collar, was a light brownish-golden cape that fell to his elbows but left revealing his chest. Further back the cape went, passing between the wings all the way to base of his tail. The cape fell on both sides of his flanks, covering his sides all the way to the belly.

Spyro could not help but stare in wonder and amazement at his own reflection. He must admit that he had a very regal look. And the llamas agreed as well, since they were murmuring appreciatively.

But they did not let Spyro look too much at his own reflection. The llamas 'guided' him outside the building and into the city streets. Spyro saw that the sun was slowly in its decent towards the horizon, meaning that in a few hour night would be upon them.

He guessed correctly that the entourage of the preparation team would lead him to the clearing in front of the shrine where the feast would be held. People were already there, milling about, chatting and being social. The furry species, those being panthers, coyotes, a mole over there and, mainly, llamas, had washed themselves and groomed their fur. The dragon had waxed their scales and their claws polished. All of them held some fine garment or jewelry to celebrate the occasion. They ranged from capes to dress; from collars to bracelets.

Spyro walked around the guest of the feast. He stopped a lot of times from all the creatures that wanted to congratulate him or meet him. A little bit nervous about the ordeal, he shook paws with anyone that sought him. He also made small and polite conversation with anyone. They often praised him due to his exploits, and the llamas worshipped him. He, of course, was slightly embarrassed and uncomfortable through it all, saying that it was not necessary and that he did only what anyone else would have done.

In one moment, the wave of people, fans would be more apply called, pushed Spyro from all directions. The air in him was taken out and he could not take further breaths. He tried to tell them to back away a little bit, but the crowd could not hear him as all were trying to ask him questions. He felt as if he was going to faint due to the lack of air.

And suddenly, a familiar face appeared in front of him. Shockwave, it seemed had made his way towards him though the mob.

"Spyro!" he yelled loud enough from Spyro to hear him. "Follow me!"

"How?" Spyro managed to ask.

"Smoke!"

"What?"

It took a few moments for Shockwaves statement to make any sense. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a cloud of black smoke sprung from around him.

"Quickly!" Shockwave urged.

Spyro, confused as he was, did not hesitate to follow his friend. Both young dragons managed to slip through the crowd, and untangle themselves from the mob. After they left everyone behind, Shockwave lead him towards another section of where the feast was being held.

After a few moments, the smoke dissipated around the crowd and they figured that their hero had gone. It took even less for them to find them and begin a pursuit.

Fortunately for them, they did not have to go long before they reached safety. They passed some llamas soldiers without problem; but the rest of the crowd were not so lucky, since they were blocked by these llama soldiers.

"Whew!" Shockwave sighed. "Good thing those soldier are not letting anyone into this area"

"Why?" Spyro asked.

"Only special members are allowed in here" Shockwave said with a grin. "Thus saving us from them" he pointed at the crowd, who seemed to be mad at not being allowed into the special zone.

Spyro nodded in understanding.

"The smoke?" Spyro asked after a moment of remembering what happened.

"That was my idea" someone said above him. "With no effort on your part I might say"

Spyro turned is head and saw that a yellow glowing orb was coming towards him.

"Sparx" Spyro greeted his foster brother. "I haven't seen you in a while"

"Even if you do not see me and do not know it, I am always around… looking out for you and getting you out of trouble" the small dragonfly said. "Face it Spyro, you wouldn't survive one day without me. You need me"

"Of course i do" Spyro chuckled.

"After we saw the huge crowd, we guessed that it must have been you" Shockwave said.

"So, my pal here and me guessed that you needed some rescuing" Sparx informed. "I did a small smoke bomb, Shockwave here gave me the details, and I dropped it above the crowd"

"Whilst I went in and pulled you out of there" Shockwave finished.

"Really?" Spyro turned to his foster brother.

"Of course. How can you doubt of your brother, your side kick, so much? With all his usefulness"

"I don't know! Maybe because there are a few instances where you are actually useful"

"What!?" Sparx managed to choke out.

"Just kidding" Spyro chuckled at seeing his foster brother shocked expression "So, Shockwave, how's the wing?"

"Ugh!" Shockwave groaned as he took a quick look on his back. "It still hurts. I took several red crystals, but that was not enough to heal it completely. I will be away from the skies for a week or two until it heals"

Spyro also craned his neck to take a better look at them. Most of the wing membranes were covered with white patches of bandages.

"Well, it is good to know that you will heal"

"Yeah" Shockwave sighed. "Nice attire by the way" the electric dragon commented as he looked at Spyro's clothes and jewelry.

"Uhm…." Spyro stammered a bit. "Well… some llamas dragged me away so they could make me presentable for the feast"

"And Cynder?"

"Last time I saw her she was with Kane. I assume that she was also being prepared"

"For execution?" Sparx supplied.

"SPARX!" Spyro growled as his foster brother. "That was not funny"

"Are you sure it was wise to leave her alone?" Shockwave questioned. "With the Atlawas hating her gust and all that?"

"I trust Kane. No harm would come to her" Spyro said

'I hope' Spyro said in his mind as an afterthought.

"Enough with that" Shockwave dismissed the matter. "I'm hungry"

"Let's go get some grub" Sparx said as he led the dragons as they made their way towards the table were food located at.

Spyro could not help but be impressed at the array of food that was assorted in the table. The wooden furniture was brimmed with food! And were enough different choices of meals that Spyro could not hope to taste them all before morning arrived.

His mouth watering and his stomach growling, he looked left and right, deciding on which particular treat he would choose. In the end, some pork ribs that were bathed in some sort of gravy caught his eye… and he went for them.

He dug into their meal with gusto, clamping his teeth into the meat and tearing it right of the bone. After Spyro had cleaned the bone, he would put it next to him and go for another one. Even though Spyro had gotten a hearty breakfast in the morning, the dragon felt as if he had not eaten in days.

Shockwave also chose a particular piece of meat, that being a lamb leg. Sparx took some grapes form the fruit section. The dragons did not only stay in the meat course; they would also grab some fruits or vegetable that looked tasty.

The pile of discarded bones slowly grew larger as the dragons and dragonfly ate. But bones were not the only thing that was added to the pile. Apple cores, shells from some nuts, peels form other fruits, seeds they would spit… it was all sent to the pile.

Sparx would give the occasional loud belch, making passersby look at their direction with a look of slight disgust. But none of them paid them too much mind beside that as the group continued to eat.

"Hey… have you seen Gale?" Spyro asked as he licked his chops clean with his tongue before grabbing an apple and biting into it.

"Yeah!" Shockwave said after he passed his bite, understanding Spyros question. "He has not left his room and he hardly talks at all" Shockwave explained. Spyro gave a small groan as he heard this. "I am afraid what he saw shook him more than we thought"

"I understand" Spyro said sadly, since he also experienced it but to a lesser degree. "He has not had to live with such cruelty in his home, and seeing this for the first time… well, it made an impact on him"

Without saying it, both dragons decided to stop talking about the matter and continue their meal.

"Oh… I'm stuffed" Sparx groaned as he lay in his back atop the table after a while. "I cannot eat one more grape"

Spyro chuckled at seeing his foster brother bloated belly. He himself was satisfied, but not to the degree of his older foster brother who had eating almost his own weight. It was a miracle on its own that Sparx could eat so much and hold it inside that small body of his. But somehow he managed it.

A small commotion amongst the crowd draw the group attention. Spyro turned to look and his jaw fell to the floor in amazement.

Cynder was walking amongst the crowd, who seem to make way for her as if by magic. But that was not all. Like Spyro, she too had been prepared for the feast.

It was strange that black scales could glimmer, but hers did; as if made out of black jet, onyx or obsidian. Each a thing to behold in its own right. Her horns had been cleaned and polished and now shone like pure marble without any crack or imperfection in them. Her talons had been tended as well and matched her horns in equal measure.

Twin bracelets made out of silver adorned her forelegs. Each of them held in the center one huge emerald. His choker had also been replaced. Instead she now had a collar, also made out of silver, from where a huge and extremely beautiful and carefully carved emerald hung; which could only come close to beauty compared by the color of her eyes. A simple, yet beautiful tail ring was placed on her rear, also made out of sliver.

She wore also a cape, like Spyro's, that was made of the magenta color, to match her under wing color.

And the final touch, which in Spyro opinion made a more beautiful sight even better, was the flower that had been latched on one of her horns. The flower was a red rose and somehow matched her already impressive form.

Spyro stood there, unmoving, gawking as she slowly moved through the crowd that parted before her in what seemed to be admiration.

"Yo… Spyro, close your mouth else something might get inside it" Sparx suggested.

Spyro obeyed without really listening to his brother as he snapped his jaw shut with a small snap.

"Yo, Spyro, listen to me" Sparx said as he flew in front of his brother. "Spyro… are you listening to me?" Sparx snapped his fingers in front of Spyro to break the spell, but to no avail.

Spyro completely ignorant that his brother was in front of him, slowly tilted his head sideways in order overlook the obstruction that that blocked his view to continue to look at Cynder,

"Spyro, I'm talking to you!" Sparx said as he moved to hover in front of Spyro again. "Yoo-hoo!" Sparx waved his hand if front of Spryo.

Spyro only tilted his head the other way to continue watching the view without even acknowledging Sparx was there.

With a humph in annoyance, Sparx left Spyro for a few moments as the dragon continued to watch Cynder. The dragonfly returned a few seconds later carrying a rather large napkin. He hovered in front of Spyro and, after unrolling it, let the white sheet block Spyro's eyes as a curtain would block the theater from an audience.

But the white sheet that suddenly appeared in front of him did not faze the purple dragon. With a very calm demeanor and slow movements, blind to everything else, the dragon, with a single claw, lifted the garment in order for a single eye to peek through the cloth at what had caught his attention earlier.

"I give up!" Sparx yelled as he lifted his arms in surrender, letting go the napkin to fall to the ground.

Spyro, ignorant of all of this, continued his stare as Cynder, who had spotted them, slowly made her way towards them.

Spyro's eyes were transfixed on her lovely form, watching each step she took with a grace that could not be matched by anything else. Her head slightly with each footstep she took.

"Hi!" she greeted Spyro happily.

"Uh... hi" Spyro replied stupidly.

Both dragons stopped and, wide eyed looked at each other, up and down, with critical eye. They looked at each other, thinking that the waxed and polished scales only made the other scales more shiny and highlighting the color, and thus making each other features more prominent. Spyro body looked more muscular and strongly built whilst Cynder showed her feminine nature, with her sleek and graceful body. The jewelry and clothing only adding more good mix to what in each other's eyes was perfection.

Both of them were drinking the sight of the other, marveling and amazed that something such as incredible, beautiful and amazing stood before the other.

"I am... uhh… I am just… going… over there. Yes. Over there" Shockwave said as he made a wise tactical retreat in order to leave the two alone.

Both dragons ignored him, too busy at looking at each other.

"You… uhm…" Spyro stammered as he looked up and down her body.

"Yes?"

"You look… uhm. You look…" Spyro had trouble finding words.

Luckily, he had Sparx there to help him.

"Amazing? Lovely? Pretty? Gorgeous? Breath-taking? Sexy? Did I said that out loud?" Sparx supplied.

But none of those was picked by Spyro. He continued to stammer, not knowing what to say. So Sparx help him a little bit further. The dragonfly, with his tiny had, gave a slap in the back of Spyro's head in order to get the gears working again.

"You look beautiful!" the word came out of Spyro like an arrow sent flying from a bow.

"Why, thank you!" She said with a few giggles. "You look very handsome yourself, if I might say" she quipped.

Spyro's cheek scales became redder in a moment after she said this. This, of course, was noted by Cynder, which made her give of a few more giggles in amusement, making Spyro even redder.

"Come on, you silly boy; let go and enjoy this party" she said.

She turned and, whilst she was passing Spyro, she flicked her tail so that he appendix made a soft touch upon his cheek. Spyro immediately tensed as he felt the contact, but not in a bad way. But as fast as it came, it was gone. Spyro turned to look and saw that Cynder was walking away, her hips and tail moving in harmonious synchronization that only females could achieve. And that, of course, tend to draw males eyes… evident by Spyro looking at her body.

"Come on!" Cynder called without looking back. "There is a party to enjoy!"

With a snort in amusement, Spyro turned to follow, leaving Sparx alone.

"Why… why do I keep up with those two?" Sparx wondered to himself before following them.

***************************++++++++++4+++++++++++++************************

"Doctor Kelly! We have nearly reached our destination" Incendio informed the human medic.

Kelly walked next to Incendio to the small hill which provided a nice view of the surrounding area. Incendio pointed with his wings and, following his direction, Kelly soon spotted the town where they had been traveling to for three days.

The dirt road that they had been following led straight towards the medium size town after they had crossed the bridge over the small river. The town consisted in a hundred or so buildings. Many building were two stories tall, and also several of them were made out of stone. Still, the majority were made out of wood.

Unfortunately, there seemed to be many building that seemed to be damaged or destroyed. A little over a third the town in fact; those being the closest to the river. Incendio had told Doctor Kelly that flood had damaged this town badly. Oddly enough, the bridge survived the calamity. The flood had destroyed homes and crops, washing away people and supplies. The town was in desperate need for aid in terms of food and supplies.

A wooden palisade surrounded the town, creating a perfect circle around it… or would have had not been for the flood that had destroyed a portion of it. This defensive measure serve multiple purposes: protected the inhabitants from any wild animal that might hurt them during the night, some minor raids might be discouraged before it even began; and a thief might double think before stealing… since he would have to escape the town if he did.

Still, it gave the town a sense of security, even if the palisade was damaged.

Incendio could see from this distance a few of the chimneys spouting of a trail of smoke, no doubt from fires. He guessed that would be the blacksmith and bakers at work; but he also guessed a few household were preparing some late meals for lunch. Or perhaps it was just to warm their homestead or boil some water.

Either way, the town looked to be very inviting for the wary travelers… even in it destroyed state

"Come on" Incendio said. "We are nearly there". He then proceeded to follow the dirt road that led to the town.

The caravan had traveled slowly over the course of three days. They encountered no mayor problems during their trip. It had been slow and a little bit rough, which tends to be when you are out in the wilderness.

But now, in the early hours of the afternoon, they were reaching their destination. The walls were approaching with each step they took, giving the promise of rest and comfort for the night. Guards must have noticed their arrival because they heard a toll being struck inside the town to announce their arrival.

"What is the name of this place?" Kelly asked curiously as he walked next to Incendio.

"Questros" Incendio responded. "It is a small, yet productive town. The land is rich and fertile, making harvest here bountiful and plentiful. A great deal of its harvest is sent to Warfang, which is exchanged for supplies they need"

"I see" Kelly said.

They crossed the bridge over the river, which had survived the flood since it had been made out of stone, and entered the town itself. The palisade form the section they had entered was no more, and it seemed that the ground was still muddy in the dirt streets thanks to the flood that happened a while ago. Some debris still littered the area; large pieces of wood and stone. The buildings that survived, those that were made out of stone, were all muddy and dirty and were in desperate needs repairs.

"Excuse me" Incendio told Kelly as he saw several small guards approaching the caravan trough the muddy street and destroyed foundations of buildings.

This town was a hare one, so it was natural for the guards to be as well. The hares were taller than the moles. Unlike the moles back in Warfang, the hares were not bulky. Instead, they were lithe and fast. They lived in many small communities such as this one scattered all over the continent.

"Oh… another species" he heard Kelly said, but he ignored her for the moment.

"Hail!" Incendio greeted them with a raised wing.

"Hail" the leader of the guards answered in kind as he was near. "Are you the supply caravan sent from Warfang?"

"My name is Incendio. Warfang send its greetings and supplies" Incendio answered much to the relief and happiness of the hares.

"Thank the goddess" the guard exhaled in relied.

"Where shall we place the supplies?"

"Over the city center, in the main square" the leader said. "Come on, I'll show you"

Incendio nodded his head and the guard turned around and started to lead him, rather briskly, towards the main square.

"So… rabbits, huh?" Kelly asked as she stepped up next to Incendio.

"Hares" Incendio corrected. "Do not call them rabbit; it kind of offends them" he said as a warning.

"Very well" she acknowledged. "Hares, cheetahs, moles, apes, coyotes… dragons? So, what's next?" Kelly asked in a semblance of wonder.

"You'll find out that there are many species in this world, Doctor" Inendio responded with a hint of teasing wisdom.

"And I guess you will just let me figure that one on my own?" Kelly asked immediately catching up with Incendio's game.

"Where would be the fun if I told you? Wouldn't it be much better to find for oneself?"

Kelly gave a laugh at that, making Incendio smile.

They slowly walked through the devastated town until they reached the part where buildings remained standing; those being made of stone until they reached the city square. Unlike the big building in Warfang, these dwelling were not designed with dragons in mind. An adult dragon could not fit in an average home from a hare; that is if he or she even managed to get past the door in the first place. Someone of Incendio size could, but he would have to have his head bent the entire time least he made it bump with the celling.

In there, they found Terrador and his aerial guard, who have gone ahead this last section of the trip to inform of their arrival.

"Ah, Incendio!" the Earth Guardian greeted. "Nice of you to arrive" He then gestured with his paw towards the figure next to him. "This is elder Marre; the one in charge of the town"

"Greetings" Incenio said with a small deep of his head.

"Welcome to our town, young dragon" the elder replied. "Or what is left of it"

"With the supplies we brought, we can make it whole again" Incendio said in a positive voice.

"True" the elder replied. "Master Terrador, I am forever in your debt for aiding us in this time of need"

"You are welcome" Terrador said. "Warfang help his friend during the times in need"

With that, they parked the wagons in a circle around the main square and started to unload the supplies. Food was soon taken and taken to the blacksmith shop, which served as the kitchen, since it was there that all was concentrated and prepared in order to better rationalize it. With the new supplies, they would have their first hearty meal in days since they have been rationalizing it carefully.

Next was the medical supplies. Those were taken to the makeshift infirmary where the sick and, to a lesser extent, the wounded, were being tended. After a few introductions with the elder, Doctor Kelly went there without a moment to waste along with her medical entourage.

And then the rest came. Incendio remained by the caravan to see to its distribution remained organized since there were many villagers eager to get their hand on something.

The hours went by and night was approaching. Incendio finished distributing the supplies and saw that they were going to the right place before looking for Doctor Kelly. He wanted just to check on her, seeing how she was doing in this new environment.

As usual for someone of her profession, he found her where all the sick were located at.

Incendio slowly walked in one of the stones buildings, the inn, by the looks of it and started to look for Doctor Kelly. Since it was the only inn in town, it had to accommodate different species. It was one of the two buildings where dragons could enter without bending their heads. The first floor was a tavern. Now, it served as a storage area, as well as control for all medical supplies. The patients were being held upstairs.

After a few question, she found the person he was looking for.

"Hey" he called from the hallway when she saw her tending one of the patients in one of the upstairs rooms. She turned back and gave him a small smile. "Not interrupting anything, am i?" he asked.

"No" she said. "We are just finished"

She stood up from the small stood she was sitting on and revealed one old hare that lay to the bed with it covers drawn.

"Remember, drink a lot of fluids and keep your feet dry at all times" she said to the old hare.

The small hare nodded before giving in to a fit of coughs.

Doctor Kelly left the room and stepped into the hallway.

"So, how are thing going?" she asked.

"The distribution of supplies went quite well, and all of them went into the right location. Terrador will leave next morning towards the town that was raided. Now that the caravan has arrived, they will travel that much faster. And you? How about on your end?"

"Well, after assessing the condition the patients are and the state in which they live, I have started to create some sort of order around here"

"How so?"

"Well, i have all the bed sheets replaced. It will be done each day, as well as the dirty ones being washed. Also, the room should be cleaned and such. We need high hygiene conditions in this place. After that, i gave a few orders on how things should be run around here. Schedules, laundry, food and such. Now I am giving a small look to each patient, just to double check"

"Nothing serious, I hope?"

"Not really. Cough and sneezes mostly. Caused no doubt because of the low body defenses created by the poor nutrition these last days and sanitary conditions. Mostly old ones and young cubs were the ones that fell ill. The adult ones are more resilient"

"I see" Incendio said as they arrived at the next door.

Doctor Kelly entered the room and greeted happily the small child that was looking at the sky in rapt attention.

"Hey there little guy" she said happily.

The small creature, upon seeing the face of the human medic, light up in happiness and excitement.

"Miss Kelly!" the small female hare exclaimed and, unlike someone who was ill, came at full sprint towards them.

When she was near, she threw herself toward Kelly with open arms, who caught the small child and lifted her into the air, much to the liking of the small one.

"Oh! Rose… what did I tell you about resting?" Kelly said in a mocking cross tone. "Don't you want to feel better soon?"

"Sorry Miss Kelly" the small hare sniffed as she passed an arm through her nose, soon to be followed by a sneeze.

Incendio gave a slight chuckle. One way or another, Kelly somehow always managed to get her patient to obey her. Being kind to other helped a lot.

"Come on now" Kelly chided as she carried the small one to her bed. "You need to rest to keep up your strength. What were you doing looking out of the window anyway?"

"I wanted to spot the first star that appeared in the sky!" the small one replied.

"A star?" Kelly asked as she tucked the small one into the bed and placed the warm blanket over her to protect her from the cool air that entered from one of the open windows. "Do you like stars?"

"Oh yes! And the moon too! I often sneak away from bed to gaze at them during the night"

"Oh… you sneak away do you? Will you sneak from bed this night?"

"No Miss Kelly" the hare shook her head in complete innocence.

Incendio snorted in amusement. He knew, almost for a fact, that the little hare would do so and, by the looks of it, so did Kelly. But he refrained from saying anything.

"Good" Kelly replied before giving a small ruffle between the hare's long ears. "Now, off to bed"

"Miss Kelly?" the small hare called in uncertainty as the human doctor was about to stand up. "Could you sing me a song?"

"A song?" Kelly asked, perplexed at the question.

The hare gave small nods, almost as if she was afraid her petition being rejected.

Incendio was rather surprised at the petition from the small child. But he was even more surprised at Kelly's answer.

"Very well then. Let me think"

Kelly took a few moments in trying to come up with a song she knew to sing. The hare, like the small child she was, was sitting up straight with her hands firmly thight around the blanket, waiting expectantly.

For a moment, it seemed that Kelly would not come up with a song; but after looking out of the window, into the sky, as smile was formed in her face.

Turning back to the hare, she sat in a stool next to the bed. Then, she began to sing in a sweet, low and melodic voice.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are.

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Incendio eyes widened as he heard her singing. Her voice was incredible! She sang with a voice so harmonious that everything seemed to fall silent just to her sing. He felt that he being was drawn to her. Like some sort of spell she was weaving to hypnotize someone.

When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

The song was soft and low… and childish, but Incendio found himself fascinated by it. He liked it immediately. He slowly moved his head, and his tail as well, in tune with the rhythm she was keeping.

Then the traveler in the dark

Thanks you for your tiny spark;

He could not see which way to go,

If you did not twinkle so.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

When the final note dies away, silence reigned for a few moments. Both Rose and Incendio stared at Kelly. One because she wanted for the song to continue, and the other because he had a hard time believing what he had just heard.

"That was wonderful!" the hare exclaimed in happiness. "It is about stars! It love it! I will remember it. Can you sing another one?"

"I have already sung one song for you, little one" Kelly said. "Now it is the time for bed"

"Oh… please?" the hare pleaded.

"If you behave, then I promise I will sing for you another song tomorrow" Kelly said.

And that was enough for the child. Quick as lighting, she swung her cover over her and placed her head on the pillow, attempting to sleep.

"Sweet dreams" Kelly whispered before putting out the candle that was burning on the nightstand.

With that done, Kelly stood up and walked towards the doorway. Incendio stepped out of the way to allow her room to exit the room, to which she carefully closed the door.

When she turned, she saw that Incendio was staring intently at her. Inside Incendio's mind, he saw her in a whole new level.

"What?" she asked curiously.

As of waking from a dream, Incendio quickly shook his head an answered.

"Uhm… nothing" he replied. After Kelly gave her a small look with an eyebrow raised, he continued. "It is just that I did not imagined for you to be the sort of person that sings and cares for children greatly"

"Oh, you do not?" she asked as she stared walking.

"It did not cross my mind" Incendio confessed. "But it surprises me that you do not do such a thing more often since you have a wonderful voice"

"Thank you" Kelly replied. "I still sing from time to time. I usually do when I am happy or content. I used to sing a lot more when mother was alive"

Incendio, not wanting to her to go over her mother death again, changed the subject.

"And the children?"

"I used to work as a nanny before I started studying in the medical school; so I know how to care for them"

Incendio nodded his head slowly in comprehension. The pair continued to a couple more rooms for Kelly to inspect the patient before finishing her rounds.

Then, before they could say anything else, the loud clanking of a bell started to be tolled in a hurry.

"What is that?" Kelly asked.

"The alarm bell!" Incendio responded urgently before turning to Kelly. "I have to see what is going on. You stay here"

Before Kelly could answer, Incendio sprinted towards the exit of the inn.

Once outside, Incendio could see a lot of confusion. He asked a couple of hares and moles that hurried past him, but not one seemed to know of the cause for the alarm. Deciding to take the matter into his own paws, Incendio extended his wings and, with a might flap, rose into the skies.

Almost immediately, he saw that one of the wooden buildings was on fire. But before he could yell out the word fire, he saw several creatures move in and out the neighbor houses, taking supplies and valuables. He could not distinguish them very well due to the distance and the unfocused gaze one received when twilight was upon them. Then, those same creatures jumped over a part of the wall that was destroyed and into the wilderness, from where more creatures came, brandishing sword, spares and axes.

One word popped immediately in Incendio mind to describe these creatures.

"RAIDERS!" he roared at the top of his lungs.

The coyote raiders and wolf pirates were know through the world by their attack on peaceful settlement to steal supplies. They even sometimes took people for their macabre and bloody games in which people fought to the death for entertainment.

Incendio mind was in a frenzy.

'Raiders? Here? But how? Why? They have never gotten this close to Warfang before!' Incendio thought in haste. 'And just our luck Terrador left the town earlier!'

Terrador had left with the aerial escort to deliver some supplies to a nearby village that was also hit by the flood. They had left a little over two hours ago and would soon return to spend the night before moving on. Without them, they would have to fend for themselves.

Incendio mind also though other less savory thoughts.

Could these be the same pirates that have been attacking the towns? By the amount of raiders, he wasn't sure.

When the roar of the word raiders died down, down below, where confusion seemed to reign, chaos took over. The creatures down below all moved about. The only semblance of order came from the guards, who immediately went to the armory to retrieve their weapons to defend their homes.

Incendio swooped down and landed where the guards where gathering to rally the defenders. Incendio noted that there were just a pawful of them.

'Not enough; we are not enough' he though grimly as he surveyed the defenders.

Still, they would do what they must.

"The raiders are on the western section of the town. Follow me!" he ordered and the rest of the troops followed.

They trotted towards where the pillagers were located at. As they neared their destination, the smell of smoke started to permeate the air, making Incendio's nose itch. Soon, the glow of flames, and the fire itself were revealed.

And just in front of them, the coyote raiders stood, beating two hares, a couple by the looks of it, senseless whilst they took their possessions.

The coyotes were larger and bigger than the hares; thus making them stronger that the hares; but they could not compete with a dragon. But they were agile as well, making them formidable foes.

"A dragon?" one of the coyotes hissed. "Grrr… this will make it more difficult"

One of the raiders raised his bow and let the arrow fly. It passed by Incendio chest close enough for it to be uncomfortable. But the arrow hit the hare who was behind him, making him fall into a heap on the ground.

Incendio wasted no time in sending a fireball towards the assailants. The flame ball sailed towards the coyotes, who scattered at seeing the danger they were in, and exploded near them when it hit the ground. It sent the archer coyote flying away while the other three just got their fur singed.

The small hare guards rushed forward, seeming to be a small stampede of little animals. The remaining coyotes clustered together and began chopping up and down with their swords. The small animals, whilst weaker than their lager foes, fought valiantly and won through pressure and numbers; but at the expense of a few wounded… some of them badly.

"Take them to the inn" Incendio ordered a small group to tend to the wounded. "Then come back into the fight. The rest of you, search the town and repel the raiders"

With that, the small troop of small hares scattered and began to fight. They entered alleys, homes and streets in order to search for the intruders.

Incendio helped where he could as well. He heard the occasional crack of the human weapons as they too found themselves immersed in this raid. But they were only a three humans… and hardly made a true impact.

The small hares and moles that were sent to guard the caravan, though valiant in their defense, could not hope to match the strength of the coyotes. And with their surprise attack that caught them completely off guard, the defenders were forced to give ground. Those who had been living in this area of the town were evacuated; but the coyotes were fast, and some of them didn't make it.

More ground gained meant more loot for the raiders. More people they killed meant more supplies that didn't have an owner. And having a poor defense only added to their greed of the idea of taking the whole town.

"Get the inn evacuated!" Incendio shouted above the clash of steel, above the wood creaking due to fires and above the cries of pain and anger from both sides as he slashed with his paw and killed his sixth coyote.

It had been two minutes since the raid had begun and they had already been pushed towards the city center. Since the inn was not an easily defensible place, people could not take refuge in it. It had to be evacuated. If the raider went in, then they would most certainly kill all the elders and children that had fallen ill. They would not show any mercy towards them.

"Someone gave the order before you did. They are already taking out the last ones" someone shouted to answer him.

Incendio tilted his head in confusion before facing the skirmish once again with a small smile as the answer came to him. Doctor Kelly must have known something was wrong and decided that the people needed to be moved to a safer place.

Suddenly, another dragon appeared in his field of vision. It was that of one of the aerial escort Terrador had taken.

The dragon warriors were nearly here! This one was just the advance scout, sent before the main group to deliver messages that the main host was arriving. In a few moments, they could turn this crap of a skirmish and whip the raider out of town.

Suddenly, smoke started to come out of the inn. And where there was smoke there was fire.

Incendio hearth fell as he saw this. Doctor Kelly was still inside! She was his responsibility! And as thus, he needed to know she was safe. Without wasting another moment, he dashed towards the inn and got past the doorway as people got out.

Looking around, he saw several people as they were trying to get outside and into safety; away from the smoke. Smoke was aplenty in the interior, though there was no fire. So it must have been in another section. Even though the building was made out of stone, it had also a lot of wood structures to help support its weight. And dry wood would catch on fire pretty quick.

Not seeing the person he was looking for, he went in deeper into the structure. He searched room by room; seeing people getting evacuated or empty rooms. At one point he had to turn back, least he walked into a wall of fire that appeared from a doorway.

The being of his search not found in the first floor, he dashed towards the stairs that led to the second. By now, almost none remained inside the building, but he could not quit now.

The smoke was thick in the upper floor. The dense cloud prevented his from seeing anything. The air was hot and his breath came in choked gasp as oxygen tried to be found in the full of smoke area. His lungs burned… his mind became foggy… his vision wavered.

After a few rooms he entered and finding no one in them, he went straight towards the nearest window to get fresh air from the outside. Taking air by the lungsful, his mind began to become focused once again.

"Sir Dragon, sir!" someone called.

Looking from his vantage point, he noticed that several people have congregated from across the town square. He immediately noticed the bulky Terrador standing amongst the crowd. There were also several dragons, meaning that the aerial escort had finally arrived.

And there, in front of everyone, was a small hare waving his arm at him.

"Sir; all of the people in the inn have been evacuated" he yelled.

Incendio gave a sigh of relief. With that piece of news, he didn't have to stay in here any longer.

Placing his front paws on the window opening for balance, he pushed with his hind legs and jumped through the open window. His legs buckled when his paws hit the ground, absorbing the impact from the small distance he fell of the two story fall; which was relatively small in draconic standards.

Once firmly on the ground, he dashed toward the safety of their own lines. Some arrows flew past his head as the raiders tried to bring him down. He was two leaps away from friendly lines when….

The scream of pain that he heard drowned the sound of everything else. The roaring of the fires, the cracking of wood, the crash of timber as it broke down and fell; all of that ebb away, only to be replaced by a strange low whistle. Incendio stopped moving instantly in mid-step as all sound seemed to have disappeared. Only the fading sound of the scream he could hear. His heart, which was pumping rapidly, stopped for a moment. His mind went blank as he tried to register the sound from a voice he knew all too well. He eyed Terrador, who was looking behind him with a concerned expression.

Incendio had heard from dragons that had fought during the war against the Dark Master, that sometimes, when danger looms, they see time itself slow down and things got a heightened perspective, allowing them to see even the most miniscule of details. He himself had never experienced it before… until now.

With a chill running down his spine, with the world seemingly to be moving in slow motion, with only the soft whistle of the winds to be heard in the middle of a raid, he slowly turned his long neck to look behind him. What he saw made his blood go ice cold.

There he saw, Doctor Kelly, the person of his concerns, laying on the ground with an arrow sticking out if her back. She was nary ten steps away from the inn where he had seen her last. In slow motion, he saw how she tried to push upright, but before she could her feet under her again, her arms seemed to waver and her strength gave way, making her fall to the ground once more with a small grunt.

'No' Incendio thought in disbelief.

Incendio could not believe it. It was not true. It couldn't be true! Doctor Kelly was hurt! Everyone was supposed to have been evacuated from the inn! They told him it had been done so! Doctor was his responsibility! Her safety was of paramount importance!

He slowly turned his head in front of him with the world still in slow motion and not a sound to be heard. He saw Kelly's father struggling with two of his own species as he attempted to throw them off whilst he seemed to be screaming something that Incendio could not her. Guards were slowly moving in their own side of the line, preparing for the raiders attack. His gaze shifted to Terrador, who was still looking at Kelly, who was wounded behind him before shifting his gaze to Incendio.

Both dragon locked eyes on each other and, for just a moment, Terrador's eyes widened in surprise. Or was it recognition?

Once again, Incendio turned back to look at Kelly, who was slowly and crawling her way towards them. She was in a lot of pain, clearly indicated by the expression she made each time she moved. An arrow went by Incendio's head by a scales width away, but he didn't even flinch. He was only focused on Doctor Kelly.

Then, he noticed that a creature was approaching her slowly. Incendio's heart sped up as he identified it as a coyote raider, holding a long and thin rapier in his hands. He was eying the human doctor with a predatory triumphant leer plastered in his face. And behind him, more raiders came.

Comprehension dawned on his mind.

'They hurt her. They hurt her!' Incendio mind flared with anger as he identified the raider, the one who had hurt Doctor Kelly. 'How dare they?'

Acting with a rage that he had never felt before, and with a protective instinct, Incendio turned his body completely and ran towards where Doctor Kelly lay, now barely moving at all. The faint sound, the small whistle sound, was turning into a higher pitch and building a crescendo.

The lead raider was just above Doctor Kelly when Incendio rammed him with his horns at full might and speed, sending the canine flying away. The creature hit the stone walls of the inn and collapsed on a heap of a broken body… dead.

At the moment Incendio rammed his foe, time speed up and the sounds returned to normal. At which point, the dragon stood over his treasure, with Kelly underneath him, in a protective stance. Taking a deep breath he roared at the approaching raiders with all the rage and anger he felt.

The roar resonated through the whole town, making the fighters stop momentarily to listen to the powerful roar of a dragon. And all of them knew, in a second, with only that sound, one thing. That dragon was angry… very angry. And that someone would pay.

It was common knowledge after all, that no one… no one harms that which a dragon treasure the most and gets away with it.

Incendio's vision turned a slight tint of red as he gazed at the raiders that had stopped, fazed by the powerful roar directed at them. His fangs were gritted, locked tight with his clenching jaw as he uttered a deep and threatening growl. His muscles were all rigid. His wings half extended in a way that makes him look bigger. His blood was pumped by his heart at incredible pressure and speed; making him feel not pain nor exhaustion.

His mind was burning with anger. He wanted nothing more than to kill those responsible for harming Doctor Kelly. It didn't matter to him who it was or what it was. The only thing in his mind was that they should pay for what they have done. He would give no respite, no truce… no mercy to them.

Without further warning, Incendio jumped toward where the group of five raiders were still standing, to fazed to do anything. That proved to be fatal.

Incendio gutted one of the raider with his claws; slashing across his abdomen. Another met with his powerful jaws as they locked tight around his torso. Incendio shook his head violently, creating deep gashed and cutting away the flesh. The canines did not mind much, however, as his head snapped due to all the violent movement. Only after the limp figure was truly dead, Incendio dropped it before reaching towards the next raider.

The third raider was sent away with broken bones by a powerful whip of Incendio's tail, which went through a wall of a nearby home. The fourth was roasted alive with a short stream of fire.

As for the fifth and last coyote, Incendio batted away the weapon he was holding with a paw, whilst he grabbed the poor canine by the head with the other. Using his superior strength, Incendio lifted him of the ground with a single arm. Slowly, he closed his paws around the canines skull, adding pressure. The canine howled in pain the entire time until the skull gave way and imploded, ending its misery instantly. As a last gesture, Incendio tossed effortlessly the body, which went through a wall in the second story building.

Looking around him, Incendio noted that a lot of raider had ended looking at him with fear in their eyes. They clearly did not want to get near him. Even those within the friendly group were all reared back in shock and were in no inclination to get near the rampaging dragon, either to help him fend off the invader to snap him out of it.

Incendio was not himself.

As for the raider's, they knew that their luck was not in their favor anymore. But they knew that, without a doubt, if they fled, the enraged dragon would hunt them down and kill them off one by one. They had to put the dragon down before they leave.

With that daunt task in mind, raider started to approach Incendio from all directions, desperate to kill the enraged dragon and be off. But said dragon would not go down. Incendio would swat away the canines with swing of his tail and slashed of is paw. He would send canines flying whichever direction and torched to death with his fire breath or sink his fangs deep into their flesh.

He acquired several small scratches and injuries in their first few moment of battle, but he did not even notice them in his hazy mind. He did notice some raider got too close to Kelly. His mind focusing in an instant as he came to his senses, thinking clearly once again. The rampaging dragon was gone; but that didn't mean he was still furious. With an angry snort, he rush them and send them to all winds with a swing of his tail.

He stood protectively over the human female, barring his teeth in an angry snarl.

But the raiders got organized, they surrounded him from all sides and even some spear bearers could be found in the mass. Incendio exhaled a large tongue of flame around him to keep the attacks at bay. But that response was only momentarily.

Crouching slightly, his belly scales touched lightly again Doctor Kelly's unmoving figure. He concentrated hard in order to bring all of his power, all of his energy for one devastating attack. The air around him started to heat up. Small flickers of flame started to erupt from Incendio's body.

***************************++++++++++1+++++++++++++************************

Terrador stood looking at the young dragon. The dragon suddenly had sobered when he saw that the human female was threatened. And now, he was surrounded on all sided by the raiders. It was time they step up.

"Warriors, we need to help that dragon! Follow me before…"

His words died in his mouth as he suddenly saw a huge dome of fire surround the fire dragon. The raiders closest to him backed away, covering their eyes at the intensity of the light and heat it provided.

"What the ancestors…?" the Earth Guardian gasped.

The fire encompassed completely the young dragon, creating formidable barrier between them. The flames of the sphere were rotating at highs speeds.

But it did not stop there. The sphere of fire started to get taller and taller and spin faster. Whooshes of flares started to escape the sphere…

No; it was no longer a sphere… it was a Fire Tornado!

Flares would sometimes escape from the main torrent in the high speed rotating pillar of fire in lashes up to twenty meters long up high in the air before being caught again into the main fold.

The column of fire reached impossible heights a dragon could even hope to match. It seemed more like the wrath of the ancestors or a natural disaster that the magical attack from a dragon.

Then, the top of the pyre started to fold on itself. All the energy and fire started to funnel in, concentrating. The pillar was getting smaller and smaller, but the energy continued to rise. The whine of pent up energy started to get higher and louder.

Terrador noticed this and his eyes widened in surprise and fear.

"TAKE COVER!" he yelled in urgency.

No one questioned the urgency and danger in the Guardians voice. Everyone within earshot jumped for any kind of cover they could find. As for the Guardian himself, he created a barrier between him and the flames using his earth powers.

And not a moment too soon. The pillar of fire had returned to the original size of the sphere. The only difference was that the flames where a white hot with instead of the orange commonly found.

And it exploded.

The sound was deafening. The noise seemed to have torn the fabric of reality and brought another, unearthly sound into the world. It drowned everything else that might have happened.

As for the fire, the flames were sent with unimaginable force. The shockwave of the explosion made the wall Terrador had erected shake. The heat was unbearably hot, making Terrador scales singe a little behind his protection.

But like it came, it ended.

When silence reigned, Terrador slowly rose his head behind the boulder he had hastily created to protect him from the flames.

"By the Ancestors!" he gasped.

"My god…" he heard a human gasp.

It was a wasteland. A complete wasteland! The blast had been more powerful than Terrador had ever thought possible! Not a raider remained. The fire had completely vaporized them, as did their bones. But that was not the only thing it was burned.

About a quarter of the town had been blasted away or incinerated by the powerful fury! Not a single piece of wood remained except as ash. Any indication that a house once stood there were the foundation. In case of the stone buildings, the rock turn like gel like, slowly ebbing from their original form and was sizzling hot. The devastation continued up to the town palisade, which had been blasted away and had turned completely black thanks to the intense heat. Everything up to two hundred meters in front of him had been completely vaporized. Everything up to two hundred meters in front of the fire dragon had been completely obliterated and vaporized.

But they had survived… and they were closer to Incendio that the wall was. How?

Terrador noticed that the direction of the blast was directed towards the outside of the town… away from them. It was a focused blast. An exceptionally feat for a dragon to make… and an impossible one with the amount of power that was released.

Nothing remained except for the large cloud of smoke that was dissipating away in the air. And amidst all the destruction… stood a proud dragon, safely encompassed in a transparent blue sphere. He was standing with his neck craning to the sky and his wings extended, to position he used to release all that energy inside him. And around him, the bluish shield flickered occasionally; shielding them from the inferno that had raged outside just moments ago. And underneath him, the human female lay, unharmed by the fire.

***************************++++++++++1+++++++++++++************************

Incendio nearly lost his footing as the energy toll suddenly came upon him. He released the heat shield he had created to both safeguard Doctor Kelly's life. Once the shield was down, he started coughing thanks to the lack of air that the massive fire had consumed.

After he regained his breath, he took a quick look around him, observing the devastation he had brought forth. Everything was destroyed. Heaps of smoldering lava was slowly flowing from what used to be piles of stone. Sand on the floor had turned into glass, and trees, father away, had caught fire and were slowly staring to become a forest fire.

Satisfied that no treat remained standing, and a little bit I horror by such destruction he had caused, he carefully lifted one of his forelegs and peered down at Doctor Kelly.

"Hey!" he whispered softly. "Are you all right?"

But Doctor Kelly remained motionless.

That was when he saw the arrow sticking out of her back. Fear flooded through him and, as if by dark magic, any knowledge or information he had about healing vanished.

"Come one… wake up!" he pleaded as he nosed her a little to get any reaction out from her.

But there was no such luck. He started to fret as he knew not what to do.

Suddenly, he heard hurried footsteps behind him. Jumping around and landing on a defensive position above Kelly, he noticed that Flanning, Kelly's father, was making his way towards them. He ignored the charred hot ground in his haste to reach his daughter.

Incendio stepped aside to let the human help her. After all, they were of the same species. Once he reach them, he immediately got to her knees and turned her around.

"Come on baby" he said in a faint whisper as he lightly slapped her cheek to get her attention. "Open your eyes. Don't do this to me!"

"Is she going to be all right?" he asked concerned as he took a few steps forwards.

The next reaction was something that he did not expect.

Colonel Flanning, looked towards him with some very angry eyes and, before anything could be said, he took out his side weapon and pointed it right at him.

Incendio immediately froze when he saw he was pointing the weapon at him. He had been shot once… and it had hurt a lot. He knew that the damage the weapon would inflict on a dragon would not be threatening, unless he was hit in the head, but he was not keen to repeat the experience.

"Get… back" the human said slowly, each word pronounced individually so as to be there no confusion. When Incendio did not respond, he repeated it again. "Get back!"

"But I just want to know if she…"

"I said… GET BACK!" he nearly shouted that last part, making his weapon ready to fire.

Incendio eyed the human Colonel with anger, giving a faint and low growl. But Doctor's Kelly safety was more important that this argument, so he stepped back. Flanning watched his every move, looking for at him as if he was looking for any excuse to shoot him. When he was sufficiently far away, the human shifted his gaze towards his daughter; but he had not stopped pointing the weapon at the dragon.

After Incendio had retreated, Terrador arrived at the scene. He looked at both Incendio and the human leader. He had clearly seen who Flanning had threatened Incendio.

"Human, do not point that weapon at a dragon under my protection" the Guardian said forcefully. When Flanning did not respond, he said more forcefully. "Lower your weapon this instant!" he growled.

Slowly, Flanning lowered his weapon.

"Do not ever do such a thing again" Terrador warned. "But we have more pressing matters" the Earth Guardian said coldly. "How is she?" the baritone voice of Terrador asked.

"I… I don't know" Flanning confessed. Incendio understood, in part, that his anger was coming in part from his daughter getting hurt. "This was supposed to be a safe zone? Why where we attacked?" the human accused as he shot an angry glare at Terrador.

"These must have been the same raiders that have been terrorizing the other towns" Terrador guessed. "I guess that we found them. That was them; or at least one group of the lot. Coming here whilst we were here must have been a coincidence. At least we no longer have to worry about those when we continue the search for the others"

Incendio listened attentively to every word they said.

"At least? Is that how you see this?" Flanning asked, becoming angry.

"Do you think me for a fool?" Terrador growled. "No. I was merely pointing out that those that caused this had been dealt with!"

The human gave a small growl of his own, nothing compared to that of a dragon, but the meaning was clear.

"Let me see" Terrador said as he lowered his enormous head to look at the injured human. Flanning moved Kelly around until the arrow shaft could be seen clearly. "Carefully remove her backpack" It took a few tricky moments to remove it. And once done, her shirt was ripped open to reveal the wound. "Hmm… good thing she was carrying that backpack. It prevented the arrow from penetrating too much"

"But why is she not responding?" Flanning asked with almost desperation in his voice.

Terrador lowered his head and took several sniffs from the wound.

"I would like you to remove the arrow and give it to me" Terrador ordered. After an ugly look from the human, he clarified. "I would do it, but you know more about the human body than I and I do not wish to complicate it further. But that arrow has to be removed"

Nodding in understanding, Colonel Flanning grabbed the arrow with a hand that was shaking a little. Being very careful about it, he started to slowly wiggle the tip of the shaft out. It was like Terrador had said, not much had gone in, so not much damage was done. Still, Incendio shifted his weight from paw to paw I nervousness as he watched the operation.

And, with a final pull, the arrow was set free.

Immediately, Flanning pulled out a bandage and pressed it on the injury to stop the blood from coming out, which was not much. As he did so, he passed the arrow at Terrador, who took one long whiff from his nose.

"As I suspected" the Guardian said gravely as he wrinkled his nose and dropped the arrow. "Poison". Incendio's face fell… very much like's Kelly's father. "We do not have the antidote in here. She needs to be taken to Warfang immediately"

"How fast it the poison…" Flanning began, but trailed off, not wanting to think of the possibilities.

"About a day" Terrador answered.

"And how are we supposed to take her that fast? It took us three days to get here!" Flanning asked.

"I will take her!" Incendio volunteered without a second though. "Flying is the fastest way she can get there. I will take her to Warfang as fast as I can She will arrive early morning if we leave now" Flanning turned to look at him and shot daggers out of his eyes at him. But not Terrador. He looked the young dragon up and down, sizing him.

After a few moments of pondering the situation, the Earth Guardian shook his head.

"I'm sorry, Incendio. But you are neither big nor strong enough to carry a passenger the size of the human female for prolonged times. Someone else will have to do it"

"Then I shall provide escort" Incendio insisted. "I was the one who told her of the situation of the town here and that the people needed help. She took my word for it. She is my responsibility" Incendio emphasized that by slamming his paw on the ground. "Her safety is my responsibility and, as thus, I must ensure that she remains safe"

Terrador though for a few moments before nodding, looking at the young dragon with what appears to be a new set of eyes.

"I see" he said in a low voice. "An escort could be of assistance. Very well. You shall provide assistance in whatever form the bearer needs"

Incendio nodded his head in quick motions, showing his determination to get her charge to safety.

After a quick summon from Terrador, a bulky earth dragon appeared.

"Ruklion!" Terrador said gravely. "We need of your strength. You must bear this human to Warfang with all haste possible"

"Yes sir"

There was a problem though, Doctor Kelly was unconscious. She could very easily slip off from the dragon's back and fall down to her death. She needed to be secured.

Using some rope confiscated from the village, they created a small harness for the human to remain secure whilst the dragon was flying. The rope went around the dragon's chest, belly and neck.

It was a simple yet effective way for carrying someone safely up into the air.

With some difficulty, they hoisted the injured human on the dragon's back and tied her securely with rope like some kind of baggage. The human lay on her belly, unconscious to what was happening around her. Incendio did not like it one bit; but he knew it was necessary least she fell to the ground whilst unconscious.

When all was done, Ruklion took a simple moment to survey his passenger. He shook his body a little bit to make sure that she was tried securely.

"Young Incendio here will prove escort should you need some assistance"

"Yes sir" Ruklion answered.

"Incendio; be on the lookout for any more raiders that you may encounter on your way"

"Yes Master Terrador" Incendio said, with a small tingle of impatience to get going all ready.

Terrador took a moment to regard Incendio with his eye.

"You look so much like Ignitus, young dragon" he said in a sad, and yet, praising voice. "More than you know"

That sentence paralyzed Incendio, rendering him momentarily stunned.

"Fly with haste" Terrador told both dragons at last. "Every moment counts"

"Yes sir" Ruklion answered before taking off.

Incendio snapped back to reality. He needed to concentrate on the matter at paw. Without saying another word, he shot of, following the much bigger dragon. Once in the air, he took the lead, making flying easier for the burdened dragon behind him as he rode on his air wave. Once settled, Incendio looked over his shoulder, towards the uncurious human that was being carried by Ruklion.

'Hang on Kelly' Incendio though to her. 'You are going to be all right'

And so, the dragons left the raved town behind as the sun finally set in the west.

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It was midnight and the feast did not seem to be ending any time soon. Chorus of laughter could be heard everywhere and music was played by different instruments in different locations so one could change location to suit his ear.

Food was continuously being served, as if there was a never ending supply of it. People were having a good time as they chat, ate, sang or danced. Jokes were thrown and anecdotes were told. Belching contests were held and drinking games were played.

Spyro himself was having a very good time. He spent almost all of his time with Cynder. Then, the current song ended and a more relaxed and with a lower tempo began to be played in its stead.

It was at that moment when Spyro got an idea.

"Listen… uhm… would… would you like to dance with me?" he asked Cynder a little hesitant.

"Dance?!" she turned to look at him so fast that made Spyro recoil a little bit.

"You don't have to if you don't want to" he quickly amended.

"Huh? Oh! Sorry" she apologized for her outburst. "It is just that…" she trailed off.

"Yes?" Spyro urged.

"Well, it is just that… I have never danced before" she admitted with a little sad hint in her voice.

"You haven't?" Spyro asked quite surprised.

"Tell me one moment when we actually got the time to learn?" she challenged.

Spyro could not help but concede with that point.

"Well, I could teach you" he offered.

"And when did you learned how to dance?" she questioned with a smirk.

"Not learn exactly; but I saw a lot of parties back home in the swamp, and they used to dance a lot. I asked mom about it sometimes and she explained it to me"

"With your foster parents?" Cynder asked. When Spyro nodded, she continued. "Hate to break it to you, but that was a dragonfly's dance… not a dragon's"

"Still, the basics are the same" he said in a dismissing manner. "How hard can it be?" he asked hopefully.

"I don't know" she mused.

"Come on! It will be fun" he pushed.

Cynder took a few moments of silent meditation before she answered.

"All right! But only because you will get in ridicule if i fail miserably at it" she added playfully.

"You won't!" Spyro promised. "Come on" he said as he stood up.

A little hesitant, Cynder also stood up and moved to follow Spyro.

"So… how do we do this?" she asked in an unsure voice.

"Do not think on it too much. Just move your body to the rhythm of the music. Like this!" Spyro said as he demonstrated.

He would bob his head to one side, and then go to the other end. As he did this, he would shift his weight from one foreleg to the next in rhythm with his head. He would snake his body a little, like a wave, all the way up to his tail. And he did all of this to the beat of the rhythm of the music,

"Now you try" he said as he stopped. When Cynder just shifted her weight around in uncertainty, he continued. "Go on! You will do fine"

Cynder sighed in resignation. She started to mimic Spyro's move, but her moved were stiff and clumsy; slightly off balance. Spyro could not help but eyes widen in his surprise. He had not expected this! To him, Cynder had always had grace and fluidity. More so than him! For her to be moving to awkward… it wasn't just right.

But he was not about to let this drop.

"Maybe we should try this another way" he suggested. When he saw Cynder's disappointed look, he tried to cheer her up. "Try to follow my moves. We'll start moving slowly"

Spyro started to move tilt his head slightly towards his left before straighten. He would then tilt it to the right and reverse the process only to start again on the other side. Cynder, carefully, made the same movements he was doing.

"Good" Spyro complimented.

He then would tilt his head father away. It seemed as if his head would fall before his neck snaked towards the side to catch it and bring it back whilst it seemed to be balancing precariously. He then would do the same to the other side.

Cynder repeated Spyro's movements, carefully so at no not screw up.

After a while of doing this, Spyro moved next to shift his weight slightly from foot to foot. And then their hips entered in their dance, followed closely by the tail.

Spyro could not help but give a wide toothy grin as he saw Cynders progress. She no longer was moving awkwardly nor unsure. She seemed to be moving more fluidly. Still, it was still missing something.

Cynder too seemed to be grinning as she was actually dancing. She turned to face Spyro to show her enthusiasm.

"Now that you have the hang of it, you can dance with a partner, moving in sync with him" Spyro explained.

Cynder nodded a little bit enthusiastically at the prospect of it. Both dragons moved a little bit closer to each other to dance together. They started a little bit off tune with the other, but that slowly got better as the music continued.

Spyro looked at Cynder, her body moving with grace that had previously lacked when she started to dance. This was the way she should be moving. With graceful and fluid moves; carefully made so as to not waste more energy than necessary. The fluidity only added to her elegance, making her look as if she was some sort of royalty like Cyril boasted to be of.

Spyro then looked to see her eyes. Cynder emerald orbs seemed to shine joyously as they watched his amethyst ones in return. No matter that both of them were moving as they danced; both of them had their eyes locked on each other. They did not look away, not minding who was next to them, or peek curiously at the sudden explosion of laughter filled the air. They only had eyes for each other.

They moved closer to each other to share more their happy moment, having fun moving in rhythm.

Spyro, to bring their dance to new levels, started to walk towards the left. The sudden move caught Cynder off guard, but she quickly recovered as she also started to move to her own left. Their started to move around each other, both walking towards their right in a circling motion, as two combatant seizing up before their clash. But this was no combat, this was a dance.

They seemed to circle each other, moving in a clockwise motion. They never let their sight from each other; always focused on the eyes of their partner. Each step moved with perfect sync with the one on the other side.

When they finish their fifth rotation, they, as if it had been rehearsed beforehand, spun in place and started to walk on the opposite direction. But as an added thing, both of them had extended their wing that faced the other, the left one, and they crossed their tips, their joints.

Then, they faced in other and closed the distance whilst the other wing met its double in front. Both of them began to bob their head and move their bodies slowly in rhythm with the music.

By now their synchronization began to improve. It looked as if they had rehearsed beforehand their very moves. In fact, they seemed to know what the other was just about to do before the action was made.

All too soon, they both reared on their hind legs and clasped forepaws as they continued swaying. They released their wings that stood in their way as they started to slowly spin joyously in their embrace. They used their tails and wings to help them balance each other and not to interrupt the harmonious setting they had created.

Not one of them faltered for one moment as they continued their waltz. They moved in perfect sync, the semblance of a perfect partnership.

But the dance had to come to an end.

As the musical was closing to an end, both dragons got chest to chest, pressing their bodies together. They raised their head towards the sky trying to reach the heavens. The action made each other touch their neck, a semblance of intimacy and trust.

As the music faded away, they slowly fell down from their heightened position, coming back to all fours, but never allowing their foreheads to separate from their partners.

Silence began to reign, leaving the two dragons with nothing but themselves.

"Wow!" Cynder gasped with a smile as both separated. "That was incredible".

"It was amazing" Spyro agreed. "I thought that you didn't know to dance"

"I just… did what I felt to be right"

"So did I" Spyro confessed with a low voice. "And I am glad that we did. Thank you for sharing this dance with me"

"Oh! It was nothing" Cynder replied with a blush. "In fact, it is I who should thank you for teaching me"

Spyro looked around him for the first time since the dance and noticed that several pairs of eyes were looking at both of them with wonder in their eyes.

"I think we got some attention" Spyro whispered to Cynder as he gestured at the onlookers.

When Cynder noticed too, she could not help but giggle.

"Let them. As long as i have you" she said as she gave nuzzled him in his cheek.

Spyro's heart fluttered and his belly felt as if had butterflies inside for a moment when they made the brief contact. But that was merely it; a brief contact. Much to the displeasure of Spyro, Cynder retreated, leaving a strangely missed warm spot where she had caressed him.

"I hope you had your fun, but we are needed"

Spyro turned to look above him. There, Sparx, his foster dragonfly brother, hovered with a slightly annoyed and smug look. No doubt he had watched them.

"Sparx? Who need us?" Spyro asked.

"Kane" he answered. "He said he need both of you for something. Urgently"

Both Spyro and Cynder looked at each other, hoping that the other knew of the reason. When Spyro only saw confusion in her eyes, he shrugged.

"Very well, Sparx. Lead the way" he said.

It took a minute or two to find the leader of the Atlawas. He stood just in front of the shrine, where Cyril had once been tied up by Cynder during her evil times. He stood on the upper section of the small stairs, where the opening towards the inside of the temple was.

On the top section of the stairs, several llamas stood. Many of them were old, but there were also a handful of younger ones. And by judging by the armor they wore, they were soldiers.

"Spyro! Cynder! I am glad that you made it" Kane bellowed as he spotted them.

"Made it for what?" Cynder asked cautiously.

"The ceremony of course! It is about to start!" Kane said as if they already knew the answer.

"The what?" Spyro question puzzled.

"The ceremony!" Kane exclaimed. "We will drink to the memory of our fallen warrior, as well as to respect them. Then a ceremony award will be held to give recognition to soldier that performed admirable deed on the field. And last, but not least, we must show proper respect to our god"

Spyro looked even more puzzled. That was until it fell on him that he was the 'god' of the Altawas.

"What? You are joking, right?" he asked in despairing, yet hopeful voice.

Sparx did not seem to show Spyros reluctance to the prospect of it. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying it and looking forwards to it. He was rubbing his hand in a greedy way at just the mere thought of it.

"Don't just stand there! Go to your position!" Kane said as he pushed Spyro into a predestined position.

Spyro was visibly shaking. His legs were trebling and his eyes had gone wild. It was at that moment when he noticed that from the position he was in, he had a nice view of all the people that were gathering below him. And, they had a look good look at him as well. He quickly deducted that the higher section worked as some kind of podium.

"You know… " Cynder said in a mocking tone "it surprised me a lot that the mighty purple dragon, who stood against Malefor, the greatest evil in the world, showing bravery in hopeless situations, faced death countless times and did not even bat and eyelid in his fearlessness, is actually quite afraid of a little worship and attention" she chuckled.

"Easy for you to say!" Spyro said. "You are not the one who has to be in this position"

"Come on" Cynder said as she position herself next to him and entwines her tail around his. "Don't be such a baby"

Kane looked at Cynder with a raised eyebrow when she stood next to Spyro; but he didn't comment on it. Instead, he just went to the front of the assembly to begin the ceremony.

"People of Tall Plains!" Kane bellowed as he extended his arms into the air. Almost immediately, all chatter that was down below died away. "And any friend of the Atlawas!" he added after a moment "We gather here today, to remember those who gave their lives to defend our homes from the recent battle; those we lost. We gather here to honor those who gave their lives to protect us from those who wished us harm" Kane said, his voice full of sadness, and his eyes tearing. The people were completely silent as they bowed their head in sadness. "Let us remember each and every one of them; friends, brothers, fathers, sons; all of them brave people who fought valiantly. They, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives to protect that which they held dear. Let us offer a short prayer to them so they can rest in peace for eternity"

With that, Kane bowed his head and started to murmur to himself in silent prayer. The rest of the people below did as he. The murmur amongst people was heard, each of them silently praying for their deceased close ones. It was a full minute or two of it passed as people mourned those who had lost.

Then Kane rose his head, but not with sadness in his eyes, but with determination.

"But let us not stray in such gloomy thoughts. Even though our relatives will be sorely missed, they would not want us to wither in grief. They would have wanted us to move on; to continue forward" Kane said. People started to nod their head, accepting the truth behind their leader word. It may be hard, but they knew it to be true.

"But not only the fallen are the ones who fought valiantly." Kane continued. "There are many amongst us that fought in battle and, like those who passed away, need to be shown gratitude for their actions. Behind me, are people who distinguished themselves in the field of battle. Individuals that performed admirably whilst in combat. Their fighting spirit, leadership and dedication helped many to survive. And people such as them cannot go unnoticed. We must show respect and recognition to each of them. Captain Lerime, step forward"

As he said this, a llama soldier, took a stepped forward. He then advanced, walking in rigid movements like soldiers do with his sight always in front of him. He stopped in front of Kane, standing straight.

"Captain Lerime; your action, on the field of battle, must be properly recognized. By standing strong against overwhelming odds, you, and your men, successfully held your section. By facing wave after wave of enemy attacks, with little prospect of support, you held fast one of the most important sectors of the battle. You, and those soldiers under your command, are hereby promoted to one rank. Congratulations Commander"

"Thank you sir" the llama responded as he gave a slight bow before retreating.

"Soldier Nestos and Soldier Dastur; step forward" Kane called, and said llamas approached. "Soldier Nestos and Dastur; by going behind enemy lines along with a group of soldier, you successfully rescued a large contingent of friendly forces. Your actions allowed those people to continue fighting, knowing that their fight was not over yet; giving them hope to continue fighting so they could reunite with their loved ones.. That is why, both of you, shall receive the Medal of Valor. It is unfortunate that those soldiers who accompanied you perished in the attempt; but had they made it; your teammates would have also received this award as well"

And so went on. Nearly thirty more people had to step forward to receive commemorations and rewards. Amongst the lot, all of them had been llamas except for one. One panther, who had been a messenger tanks to his speed. He was granted recognition because he traveled fast and through dangerous areas to deliver the messages. Important messages.

"And now… I want to give a personal recognition to someone" Kane said, very seriously. "This individual past actions hurt us. Made us suffer. Made us have fear. Made us work under an iron rule. This individual appeared once again in our doorstep, not as an enemy, but as an ally. I did not trust this individual one bit" he said in a very serious tone. "I through this individual was full of lies and pain. I though in anger, think on what we were forced to under. I wanted justice, like many of you"

"But… I was proven wrong. I was told I wanted revenge… which was true. And furthermore, I was proven wrong about her. I will be the first one to say I was wrong about Cynder. That I judged her unfairly. She no longer is the Terror of the Skies, the one who enslaved us all. They may be the same body, but the Cynder who helped us in our times of need is the one who killed that monster"

The news of Cynder actions had spread all around the populace. Many did not believe it at first; but there were many witnesses. They could not comprehend it, how such an evil creature such as she had been, saved them all?

"I was told she had changed… but I didn't believe. I had it in front of me, proof of her change, yet I did not want to see it. Her deeds in the field of battle are amazing. Only after she performed a miracle, did I understand my mistake; a miracle that showed the truth to many of us. By standing her ground, alone, with no hope of reinforcements, trying to save a group of civilians that had been caught in the battle, she showed me the truth. She did so in order to save many lives; lived from people who hated her, who judged her, who wanted her death. She did save them all. She defended them from a whole attacking force. She stopped them on their tracks, on her own and saved, not only the trapped civilians, but the battle as well"

"It had been decided that Cynder the dragon shall be called a friend of the Atlawa. She shall be welcomed amongst us. She performed a great service, which greatly benefited our people. And, after careful deliberation, knowing her deeds rival only to those of Spyro, the elders and I have come to a decision. Henceforth, like Spyro, shall be treated with the same respect as him. She will hold the same status as Spyro does. She shall become our goddess!"

The announcement had mixed feelings. There were many who were displeased by it. They still felt the wounds inflicted by Cynder were fresh. Such wounds may never be erased. But far majority supported it. Many had witnessed her actions and were forever in her debt. And, many other had been changed minds, whether it had been by seen how she acted in and out the battlefield, or by persuasion of friends.

A cheer erupted form the crowd, drowning the complaints from other people who did not like this announcement.

"Spyro and Cynder, step forth" Kane announced.

The crowd continued cheering for the heroes. However, they faltered when the dragons did not stepped forwards. Kane, confused as to why not they did as he told, turned to look at his back to urge both dragons to face the masses.

Only thing, they were gone.

"What? Where are they?" he examined.

Those who had been at the top of the stairs looked around, confused at not seeing both dragons leave.

"SPYRO?" Kane yelled. "CYNDER!"

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Both Spyro and Cynder laughed joyfully as they ran away from where the feast was being held. They ran through the deserted streets and paths of the city.

Both dragons started to get bored with the ceremony and they could stand it no longer, although Spyro didn't want to be there when it was his turn to receive commemorations in the first place. Spyro suggested, and Cynder agreed with a mischievous smile, that they should make a silent retreat and get away. Besides, both of them wanted to have some alone time.

They had left the ceremony a while ago and, when no one was looking, slipped through the crowds, whose attention was focused on Kane. Spyro had to use his Time Control twice in order to avoid being seen, but in the end, they managed to get away.

As they ran, they head a huge uproar from where the feast was being taken.

"It seems they noted our absence" Spyro informed with a chuckle.

"What I would give to see Kane's face now" Cynder laughed as she heard the crowd calling for her and Spyro's name.

"I think he will be mad at us in the morning" Spyro said.

"You think?" she said with a chuckle. "I am certain he will be incredibly, awfully mad at us with our stunt. After all, we just ruined his ceremony"

"Boring it was" Spyro said as they started to walk away once again. "I thought I would have died of boredom had I been there any longer"

"You know, that sounded a lot like Sparx. Is he rubbing on you?"

"No!" Spyro exclaimed with mock horror as the prospect of him being like Sparx. "Ancestors have mercy on my soul"

Cynder could not help but laugh.

"Come on!" Spyro said. "I recall there was a nice outcropping with a nice view around here"

"Really? Spyro, I had been with you each moment since we arrived at Tall Plains. We never come near this area"

"I mean from the last time I was here"

"But that was over four years ago" Cynder exclaimed with some surprise. "Being trapped inside a crystal included"

"Well, it was such a nice spot that it burned into my mind its location" Syro said as we used his paws to remove some through foliage and step though. Cynder followed after him.

Spyro continued to lead Cynder for a few minutes, climbing rock walls and passing through bushes, all in an effort to search for this hidden place.

"It was around here somewhere" Spyro said out loud.

"I think you are lost" Cynder said.

"Cynder, I lived in a swamp for many years" Spyro defended himself. "I never got lost"

"You were stomping on familiar grounds. This is nowhere near a swamp" she retorted.

"But remember that the swamp was big. I never got lost on my adventures"

"And in the adventures Sparx dragged you?" she challenged.

"Oh! Ehem. It was… this way" Spyro quickly changed the subject.

"Come on; admit it. You don't know…"

"Aha! Here is it!" Spyro interrupted as he exclaimed happily.

The purple dragon stepped through a curtain made out of vines and weeds to reveal a hidden passage through the mountain. It was a natural cave, not artificially created, meaning there were stalactites and stalagmites from both the celling and floor. Speaking of floor, I was irregular, meaning they had to watch their step.

"I told you so" Spyro exclaimed as he turned to look at her with a mischievous glint in his eyes before entering the cave.

Spyro heard some grumbling and mumbling behind him. He guessed that Cynder didn't take well at having been defeated in this challenge of hers, besides having the cape she adorned caught some of the vines. This only made Spyro laugh under his breath.

"Now I see why you would remember this place" Cynder exclaimed as she lost her footing with one paw in the slippery cave floor. "But how did you manage to find this tunnel in the first place"

"I was trying to escape from some apes when I was here last. I was running and twisting around these passages. Sparx, who was ahead of me, turned to look back at me and ran face first into the entrance covered by the vines since he was not looking where he was going. After making sure he was right, I discovered the secret entrance and went in" Spyro explained. "I went further deep in order to avoid getting caught. Once on the other side, I came across the outcropping I told you about. I hid there for a while to rest before continuing"

"I see" Cynder said.

"Yeah" Spyro said as he stopped. "Listen, I would like you to close your eyes"

"Why?" she asked suspiciously.

"I want it to be a surprise"

Cynder gave a slight snort in amusement, but she complied.

"Don't you dare lead me astray Spyro" she warned as she closed her eyes.

"I would never dream on such a thing"

"And tell me what is on the ground, huh Spyro? No funny business if you forgot to tell me there is a step so I would trip. If you did, serious repercussions would follow"

"Not a chance" Spyro said before murmuring to himself "With the way she gets angry, i would have to be crazy to do it"

"What was that?" she asked with a tingle of annoyance.

"Nothing!" he assured rapidly. "Now, well just go slowly"

Spyro lead Cynder through the cave, which was not long and had enough light from the moons filtering through the entrance and exit of it,

"Are we there yet?" Cynder asked.

"Almost" Spyro said before turning to look at her. "No peeking, okay?"

"No peeking. Got it" Cynder said.

After making sure that she was not seeing by waving a paw in front of her. Spyro smiled and parted the vines that covered the exit of the small tunnel and led Cynder through.

"All right. You can open your eyes now" Spyro said happily.

Cynder opened her eyes and could not help but gasp in surprise at the sight before her.

They were, indeed in an outcropping jutting out from a cliff on the mountain side. It was large enough to hold comfortably four adult dragons. Tall grass grew in the entire area of the expanse, along with multitude of white and yellow flowers that were scattered all over the place. Furthermore, a medium size tree, with a trunk that slowly twisted upwards, grew along with its flora companions. It leaves were a deep green, and flowers adorned it, blooming at opened at their greatest extent. The cool breeze swirled softly, making the grass, flowers and tree leaves softly rustle as it made it way, filling it with the sound of nature and making a sweet aroma from the flowers rise in the air.

But that did not end there. The view they had was as fantastic as the area they were in. Down below them, the great expanse of the jungle that surrounded Tall Plains could be seen clearly in the night sky. Endless green stretched into the horizon until ground met the sky. And above them, millions of stars shimmered, twinkling and giving their faint light. And the twin moons were huge in the night sky, offering light and a sense of peace for all of those who would look at them. Like a sort of guardian who lead weary travelers during the night.

"Spyro… it is beautiful!" Cynder exclaimed in a low voice.

"I knew you would like it" he said, happy to see that Cynder had liked this place so much. "It is beautiful in here, with a nice view; surrounded by flowers and, most importantly, out of the way"

Spyro could not help but admire Cynder's body. Her lithe body seemed more defined and curved during the night than during the day. Her black scales actually shone under the moonlight; making her scales shoot small speckles of light in every direction. She seemed to be so in her element that everything from her seemed to have been highlighted in Spyro's eyes. She was truly a Lady of the Night.

Cynder shared his happiness as she gave a sudden laugh as went straight towards a large cluster of flower. She bent her head and took a long sniff from them. She obviously liked the smell because she took several more sniffs to enjoy them.

Spyro walked next to her as he took another sniff. When he stopped next to her, she raised her head and turned to look at him with glee in her eyes.

"It is perfect" she said as she gave with a soft nuzzle in his cheek.

Like before, Spyros hearth spin and his belly became full of butterflies, all madly flapping their tiny wings. With such wonderful feeling, he wished for Cynder to enjoy them as well. He moved his head next to her and began to nuzzle her own neck.

Cynder sighed in happiness as she felt Spyros contact. His warm breath rolled over her scales. But the small contact was not enough. She wanted more.

She sat on her haunches and, moving forward, she started to wrap her forelegs around him. She moved her paws under Spyros garment so as to touch him; not the piece of cloth. Her paws felt the strong scales that covered his shoulders; the strong muscles that outlined his body … brimming with strength. She explored his marvelous well tone body.

Spyro took a slight intake of breath as he felt Cynder's gentle paws started to softly move across his body. He too sat down and, with his paws, started to slowly caress her body, moving slowly under her cape and across her distinctive feminine figure and curves.

Cynder gasped as he felt Spyro's strong, yet gentle paws started to softly massage her body. Despite all his muscle and strength, he could be so gentle. His paws traveled across her back, softly and firmly massaging her muscles, making them relax in his grip and melt under his care.

Both pair of eyes were closed as each of them enjoyed the pleasant feeling that was provide by their counterpart. His hot breath was exhaled on her neck, as well as hers on his. As they embraced each firmly, they pressed their chests together in an effort to bring the other closer.

With soft and slow movement, both of them slowly started to move their head. Their smooth neck scales slide against the other as they moved. Their nose bumped lightly together, and that was their cue for them to slightly part open their mouths and lock their lips in a kiss.

Both of their tongues met each other in the middle and, after a brief and hesitant contact that made them shy away, they started to move. They started to make brief, fleeting and playful contact with the other, enticing the other to take a bolder move. It started as a dance on its own, one tongue darting this way and the other following before the role was reversed. In the end, both tongues shot towards each other. Instead of meeting in the middle, they went past the other tongue tip, slowly wrapping the other appendix in a tight coil. When their entire length of their tongues had been used, they finally rested for a moment, savoring each other.

Slowly, Spyro started to apply more weight into Cynder, making her lean back slowly. They reached a moment when she could no longer support her and Spyros weigh, and she ended toppling onto her back with Spyro atop her.

Both Spyro and Cynder moaned as the tasted of their partner. Even though their saliva was very similar, the taste of the other was very different. But that did not interrupt them for one moment as they continued to savor each other and enjoy the moment.

Eventually, their tongues unwrapped themselves and retreated to their own respective mouths. They broke the kiss they shared and Spyro head rose; pulling away from her.

He looked at her as he towered over her. Her beauty was dazzling; her form was perfect, her scent was exquisite and her eyes hypnotizing. But putting aside Cynder's beauty, she was also a great friend. A compassionate and comprehensive soul. A gentle being.

And Spyro made his decision. He knew beforehand that he would have to do this least it became too late and missed the chance. He would never forgive himself if it did. But it was also a little bit too soon. But he could hold it out no longer. He had to say it.

"Cynder?" Spyro whispered in the silent night, not wanting to interrupt their wondrous moment; but he wanted to ask her something very important.

"Yes… Spyro?" she asked in the same tone of voice.

"I… I know that…" he faltered for a moment before he continued. "I know that we are still young for this thing; for this level commitment"

Cynder tilted her head slightly in confusion as to what he was trying to say, but she kept her mouth shut and allowed him to continue.

"Cynder, you know that I love you; more than anything in this world. We told each other that a while ago. Yet, I am hoping for something more… that we currently at. I am sure beyond any doubt; I know deep in my heart; that you are it. You are the right one"

Cynder eyes opened wide, with a small intake of breath, in shocked surprise as she figured out what he was about to say. What he was about to ask.

"Cynder…" Spyro said slowly, careful and with a tingle of fear. "Would… would you like to be my mate?"

Cynder mind went into frenzy as Spyro asked her the question; yet only three words could be sounded within the confines of her mind.

'Spyro… my mate?' her mind said her over and over again.

The small insects seemed to have quieted down and the wind sat still for a moment, waiting on edge to hear her decision. And when she did, she leaned forwards with a huge smile plastered in her face and whispered to Spyro in his ear hole.

"I would like nothing more than to spend my life with you" she told him. "For all eternity"

Spyro beamed in happiness as he heard the words he had hoped for so long to hear. He released his fear in nervous chuckles as she told him her answer; his fear at being rejected by the one she loved.

Cynder also beamed with happiness. She had always also entrained thoughts of being the mate of Spyro. She had always wanted this. Even though they had declared their love for each other some months ago, she was afraid. She was afraid that this was all just a game, a fantasy, and that the dream she was in would break and Spyro would leave her in favor of another.

But now, all those fears were washed away since mateship was a serious thing. Even though dragons sometimes had consorts, a mate was a different thing. It was the decision to hold the other as the lifelong partner, the one chosen to spend their life with until death parted them. A dragon does not ask, nor do, such a thing lightly.

Their gazes seemed to delve deep into each other's souls… watching beyond the flesh to what truly lay beneath their scales. They could see their own reflection on the other orbs due to the moisture in them. Cynder' emerald eyes shone thanks to the moon's sunlight, showing a wisdom beyond her ages, caring and gentle eyes. Spyro amethyst eyes showed the bravery and courage; strength and will. Inside each pair of eyes, both of them found whet each creature strives to find.

Their other half. Two creatures, two being that complemented each other to their fullest extent. Sharing everything that each of them held. Spyro's strength would cover Cynder weaknesses and her strength doing the same for his. Two being so close to each other that they became one.

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Drops of chilling water fell from the celling as it was filtered through tons of tightly packed earth in the huge cavern. Dozens of torches lines the wall on all sides, providing ample illumination. Even though there were many fires around, the cavern was cold and foreboding.

But that didn't seem to mind to the apes. They stood around the huge purple gem in the middle of the cavern, adorned with battle armor and weapons. Some seemed to be fitted with ceremonial robes for the occasion.

Within the confines of the huge crystal, a figure could easily be discerned. A huge dragon, trapped and frozen in place with an expression of rage etched on his face.

A sudden surge of shadow, that seemed to become liquid, appeared on the edge of the cavern. Though this veil of shadow, a dark hooded creature, with an old looking walking stick, stepped out as if walking through a doorway.

"Is it ready?" he asked with an emotionless voice.

The ape, which was the biggest, strongest, the most hairy and the smelliest of the lot, meaning the leader, turned to look at him.

"Yes. It is ready" the ape said.

"Good"

"Now it is your turn and fill your end of the bargain" the ape said with a hint of threat could be heard beneath it.

"And I will" the hooded creature replied without acknowledging the treat. "Fear not. He will be back soon enough"

The ape only huffed in annoyance, but allowed the stranger to do as he said.

"Now, even though it will be quick, I require to concentrate, so do not make any rash movement nor any sound" he warned in a raised voice as he looked at the apes around him. "No one is allowed to utter a sound, because of you do, it would mean the end of your lives"

Some of the apes gave a short laugh, but other gave an audible gulp of fear, but all of them nodded their heads. With that in order, the dark hooded creature approached the crystal were the dragon was trapped. He extended his hand and touched the purple gem feeling the pulsing from within.

He pulled back his hand and, from inside his cloak, he pulled out an object wrapped with a filthy looking cloth. Once he unwrapped it, he revealed the perfectly crafted green gem; the gem that he had acquired lately for just this purpose.

"No distractions from now on until I have finished" he said to the apes that had gathered around in curiosity.

Without waiting for any acknowledgment from the apes, the hooded creature closed his eyes with the crystal lying in his open palm. Once he had gathered his focus, he started a chant.

The language in which he spoke was not one the apes had heard before. It was old and powerful; dark and spooky. The torches alone the cavern walls flickered, as of a rash wind was trying to extinguish the flames, only, the air as still as a dead body. The temperature dropped significantly, making the apes breath visible when they exhaled. And, if it seemed possible, the light given by the torches seemed to diminish, yet the flames did not reduced their size.

A minute passed and the magician continued his chanting, his brow in full concentration. His breath started to come in small pants, showing how much effort he was putting into this. After another minute of his chanting, the crystal that he held within his palm, started to pulse, showing a soft green tinted tone.

The glow increased unlit it seemed as if a lamp had been lit. Then, the crystal that was glowing in his paws, started to rise on its own. It levitated mere centimeters from the magician's hand, slowly rotating in place. After that, it slowly started to float forward, heading towards the huge purple crystal with the dragon trapped in it.

With a soft clink, the small gem touched the huge crystal. Immediately, there was a slight tremor in the cavern. Dust fell from the ceiling, and moving rocks were head from all around. Some cracks started to appear over the surface of the massive gem, slowly getting longer with each passing moment. Then, light seemed to come from the confines of the crystal, which escaped through the cracks that now dotted over most of the big crystal.

The light started to become so intense that the apes had to shield their eyes, but it did not stop there. One could almost feel the warm from such intensity of light. One had to wonder how strong the huge gem must be to withstand such energy.

But they didn't have to wait for one second longer.

With a massive explosion, the gem shattered, sending shards of the purple crystal everywhere. Some flew towards the walls, which shattered into even smaller pieces. Other completely disintegrated until nothing but dust remained. Other, smaller ones, smashed against the protective armor of the apes.

After the last echoes of the explosion faded away, did the apes dared to peek from behind their eyes.

Where the crystal was, now a dragon stood; his huge form imposing on the cavern. The purple scales glittered under the torchlight, which seemed to have come to life once again as the chant had ended. His muscular body allowing to easily carrying his form covered with scales.

The dark hooded creature ended his chant. The temperature started to slowly rise and the oppressive darkness receded, allowing the torches to give off their light.

The dragon remained immobile for a few seconds with his head tilted downwards. Then, he reared his head back and took a long and deep breath before exhaling and retuning it head to it normal position. Then, he opened his malevolent, evil, yellow eyes.

Malefor has returned.

"Welcome back, Dark Master" the hooded creature said.

Malefor turned to look at the creature.

"Ah. I see" he rumbled with his deep voice, which seemed to vibrate all around the area. "You have done well"

"I only doing what my Master commanded me to do"

Malefor only huffed before he started moved around a bit, flexing his muscles and cracking his bones as if waking from a long night sleep.

"It is good to be free from that crystal prison" he said.

"Master…" the ape walked forward and bent to one knee in front of Malefor. The rest of the apes following suit.

"Huh. Apes" Malefor grunted upon seeing the hairy creatures. "Tell me. What is what you want?" he asked in a rather formal voice, as if reciting something.

"We wish to serve you" the apse replied with his eyes downcast.

"Tell me. Who will you obey?"

"Only you"

Malefor nodded, not exactly pleased, but rather, expecting such an outcome.

"Why should I have someone as you serve me?" the dragon asked.

"Master?" the ape asked, confused at the question.

"Your kind once served me; but they did not do so loyally. They only worked with me to further their own needs. That is why, I punished them. I turned them into ghouls… neither living nor death… forever thirsty for that which they has so much greed, but never reaching it. So tell me, why should I let someone as you serve me, when the last time your species did so, they did not do so loyally?"

He ape hesitated, unsure of what to answer.

"We... we beg for your forgiveness" he answered at last. "We were blinded by greed and we knew not what we were doing. We beg for your forgiveness. That is why, we returned to aid you"

Malefor looked at the ape below him with a heated glare.

"You returned, that much is true" Malefor said. "Who will you be loyal to? Who will be your Master?

"You, Master"

"And will you serve your Master with the utmost loyalty, not expecting anything in return, to further your Master needs and not your own?"

"Yes… Master"

"I am feeling generous today "Malefor started "Otherwise I would have blasted you into dust. I will allow you to serve me. I will take some step to insure your loyalty, but it may not come to that. But remember what I do to those who do not serve me loyally" he said with finality.

"Thank you Master" the ape nearly squeaked. "You are most generous" he said as he stood up. "And, in honor of your most gracious return, we bring you a gift"

"A gift?" Malefor asked, slightly curious as to what the gift was.

"Yes Master" the ape said.

Just at that moment, footsteps were heard from one of the tunnels leading outside of the cavern. Through it, two apes appeared, carrying and dragging a cretaure one by the shoulders, letting his legs dangle behind as they moved forwards.

Once they reached in front of Malefor, they let him drop and making him fall to his knees. His head would have hit the ground, but he managed to bring his hands in front of him to stop himself; but barely. Drops of sweat and blood were pouring from his face, and his garment, which was only the lower parts, were stained with dirt and blood. He was panting and his arms were trembling. He was clearly weak from torture and hunger.

"This is one of the creatures that have been given us a lot of problems" the ape leader explained.

"So it is" Malefor grunted.

"They have aided your enemies during the siege of Warfang; they foiled our attempt at possessing the yellow crystal, which was within our grasp. And lately, they have fought against you again during this latest battle, which is where we captured this one. They came through the failed portal you attempted to..."

"That I failed?" Malefor inquired, his voice resounding dangerously deadly.

"Apologies, Master" the ape bowed his head. "They came through that portal which you created to aid in your campaign against the dragons, but later abandoned it"

"I especially created that portal so that it could only be used from one side… our side. So how did they…" Malefor trailed off before he chuckled. "Oh. Of course. Spyro. That whelp must have accidentally changed the direction of the portal when he pulled back the world. The massive energy influx he released could have changed the direction matter travels"

"A very good theory, Master" The ape agreed. "Once they showed they were not to bend under your rule, we decided to dispose them as per your instructions to kill anyone who did not aid you. But they proved to be strong. They have very powerful weapons that can kill from afar. However, we managed to close the portal to prevent them from getting reinforcements"

"You are a fool!" Malefor snarled.

"Master?"

"Your ignorance have turned this species from a potential ally to an enemy"

"But…"

"Diplomacy could have turned them to us instead of our enemies" Malefor said angrily as he started to circle the ape like a cornered prey.

"M… Master" the ape bent to one knee and sent his sight down. "I… I didn't know"

"Now I have to clean up the mess that YOU made" Malefor growled.

"I beg for you forgiveness" the ape pleaded.

"You have failed and I do not like failures. Do you know what do to those who fail me?"

The ape could only tremble in fear as he gazed downward as Malefor stalked him.

"However… I am feeling generous today. I have broken free from that accursed crystal… and, in hindsight, your rash action could be useful"

"Master?" the ape asked hopefully as he looked up at him.

"By shutting down the portal, you prevented them from contacting the rest of their species on the other side. We do not need more enemies to rally and fight against us. If we separate our enemies, it will be easier to kill them one by one. Divide and Conquer"

"Yes Master"

"Now that I know about that other world, I will reestablish the portal again when I hold power over this one. Once I do so, we can start anew; pretending we are friends and earning their trust. But first, we have to kill those that remain on this world. Their friends will never be the wiser. And, should their entire species prove difficult and stubborn to bend to my wishes, we can kill them since we will have learned from the ones who are here. We will know their strengths and weaknesses… and use that to our advantage"

"A marvelous plan, my Master" the ape agreed.

"Yes it is" Malefor said without any emotion in his voice.

"Hmmm" Malefor hummed as he examined the creature before him. "He does not look threatening" he commented upon looking at his frail from. "They are small and thin. Vulnerable. No fur nor scales to protect him. From the report I heard… I imagined them to stronger and bigger. So… these ones came from the portal, correct?"

"Yes Master" the ape said as he motioned at an ape. One of the soldiers that had carried the creature, stepped forwards and grabbed the creature by the hair. He then pulled back sharply, making him look directly at Malefor. "From our spies, we have learned that they called themselves humans"

"Oh" a small exclamation came from the side of the room. Malefor turned to look and saw that it had been the hooded creature who had done it. When he realized that Malefor was looking at him, he continued. "I just thought that, being such a small and frail creature, I find it fascinating that his species could cause so much trouble"

"Indeed" Malefor said as he turned to look back at the human, which had his eyes wide as dinner plates as he gazed at him, yet started back defiantly.

"Tell me; which kind of weapons does you kind use?"

"The kind that kick your ass" the small creature said.

A hard blow sent from the ape that was holding him sent him sprawling to the floor. The ape then once again grabbed him by the hair and yanked him upwards, revealing the bruise on his cheek.

"Is that it? Is that the best you can do?" the human asked, mocking the ape.

The ape hit him again, sending him to the floor and yanked him upwards again.

"Come on. A girl can hit harder than you"

The ape was about to hit him again, but Malefor stopped him with a signal from his paw.

"The only thing that we manage to get out of him is what we believe is his name and rank. Private Jason Powell" the ape informed the dragon.

"Huh" Malefor huffed. "So a stubborn one he is"

"We will break him Master. We will make him speak"

"Breaking someone is always so satisfying. Seeing them broken after being so confident about resisting is so amusing. The harder they are the more amusing and satisfying it is to break them. I will break this one myself"

"I will never tell you anything!" the human exclaimed in anger.

"Oh, don't worry. I am sure you will" Malefor said confidently.

With that, Malefor lifted a paw and willed the dark energies to concentrate on his extremity. The black tendrils of darkness seemed to be carried away by the wind like waves from the ocean dissipating as they went. Once ready, he placed his enormous paw on the human head.

The human opened his eyes wide, fear coursing through his face. His jaw hung slack, trying to comprehend what was happening.

It that expression did not last long. After two seconds, the pain came.

"AAAAAHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhh!" he screamed; his loud yelled pain echoing across the dark underground cavern and tunnels.

And many more would soon follow.

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Author's notes:

Yep! Spyro and Cynder… official mates! *crowd cheering*

So… how was that? Was it good? I did and adult scene, but that is posted in the a diffident story i created. So, if you want (and if you are 18 or older), you can come and read.

Please… if kindly ask for critic or comments.