If by some chance you ended up here without reading TLOC: New Beginnings, you should probably, like... do that. But just in case you go on anyway, here's the disclaimer: This story is very, very old. I wrote it when I was 12. Do not judge me as an author for any cringiness, weirdness, bad writing, or stupid references to cartoons you find in here.
Also, it's in an odd state of randomly rewritten chapters, so expect sudden quality spikes. The most recent rewrite (from 2014 or so) went up to chapter 9, so there will be decent quality until then. I probably won't be continuing the rewrite, but I did remove the cringy A/Ns I felt the need to slap at the beginning and end of every chapter.
Inside me there is an emptiness, a blank feeling that has consumed my mind and left nothing but endless white fog. I cannot see, I cannot think, I cannot breathe. There is no perception of time here, only the crushing mist. Sometimes I feel as if there is something waiting for me on the other side of the fog, but the will to leave is... nonexistent.
It's so peaceful and quiet. Somehow, I know that if I depart, all the serenity will vanish. On the other side is sadness and violence and blood. I was not happy there, but I am happy now. Why would I leave this place that is so beautiful in its simplicity? Why would I give up the peaceful world for the terrible one?
Because you are alone. I was not expecting an answer, but there it was.
I shouldn't be alone, I knew. There was someone... No, many someones out there. They needed me right now. I wasn't sure why, but I knew that somehow they were waiting for me.
I tried to recall these people, but I could not. The white fog that surrounded me was in my mind as well, and it blocked out any memories. Something danced just out of reach, and trying to grab it yielded nothing but thin air that slipped through my claws. Well, I thought, allowing doubt to rise in my mind, if I don't know of them, how can they exist?
Without warning, I began to hum. I wasn't sure what it was I was humming, or what this thing was called. Song? Yes, it was a song. But what was the song?
Hush, little baby, don't say a word...
The one who sang this song was unknown to me. Her voice was soft and sweet and it brought back slight remembrances of a bright childhood that faded almost as soon as they had come. But who was she, the one who had sung the song and dispelled some of the fog? And why did I feel such a longing to figure out who she was and find her again?
Again? Had I known her before? What do those words I'm singing mean? When did I start singing?
My head suddenly began to spin with questions. And, for just a moment, I remembered everything. Crying out, I dropped onto to the white sand I'd been sitting on before and clutched my head. The world flickered and rocked violently.
"These aren't mine!" I screamed, clutching my head. "It didn't happen! Make it stop!"
My mind immediately set to work to stop this. It built a wall that hid my memories from me, a wall that could only be toppled if I wanted to knock it over. The world calmed and so did I.
Why am I on the ground? Am I asleep? ...What is asleep?
I should stop asking questions. Questions are bad. The answers are worse.
Time passed, but I'm not sure how long it was. There were no true seconds there; they could drag on for hours or pass by more quickly than flower petals in heavy winds. I didn't care about time anyway; it had no meaning to me and I held little meaning to it. So I merely sat in the sand, watching the way it parted as I dragged my claw through it like a crowd of faceless people making way.
Eventually, one part of the mist began to turn a rather intriguing colour. It looked familiar somehow, and I felt with firm conviction that I had seen something like it before. Blinking, I looked down, and I was surprised to see that I was a similar shade. Purple, my mind automatically told me. But why—no, I couldn't ask questions.
Still, it seemed like this purple thing shrouded by the mist was getting closer and I couldn't help but wonder what it was. Then, before I knew what had happened, it—he—was standing before me. It only took a second to register who he was, and the memories of my childhood that came rushing back to me went unnoticed as if they had been there all along.
"Spyro?" I asked, blinking, squinting, and finally smiling as I realized I was correct. "There you are."
"Where are we?" Spyro asked. It was only when he spoke that I realized that our voices were echoing off nonexistent walls.
"I don't know," I said uncertainly, looking around. I felt uneasy... Before, when I had known nothing, I was happy. But now, even the bright memories I had received made me begin to feel something...
I felt fearful of this place, afraid of the missing memories, scared of what would happen if I got them back—or if I didn't receive them at all. With experience, however little, came knowledge. And I knew that this place, whatever it was, wasn't the true world. Perhaps it wasn't real at all.
For a few minutes, we sat in silence. Neither of us knew what to say or what would happen if we said it. But the lack of sound only made me more and more uneasy, and I had the sensation that something was going to attack us. I wasn't sure what it was, but I was starting to remember...
Soldiers. They were in my memories, but I wasn't sure why. Who were those dragons that were killing them so ruthlessly? Was that girl... me? But it couldn't have been; how could I have gone from the bright memories to these dark, violent ones? I felt overwhelmed and confused by all this. What had happened?
Finally, I was unable to hold my peace any longer. "Do you think we're dreaming?" I asked. My voice, usually steady like a ship on the sea, now trembled as waves crashed into it.
"No, this is too clear. It doesn't feel like a dream, more like..." Spyro trailed off.
I wanted to know what he was going to say so much, but he did not speak anymore. I sighed and tried to remember more of my life, but that fog, which now seemed so much less heavy, still remained. I felt blank and stupid, unable to form any thoughts or ideas that might get us out of here.
Besides waiting, there was nothing I could do.
The fall from the portal that had led Spyro, Cynder, and I from Convexity had damaged us greatly. The unyielding ground was too hard, the drop too far. There was no serious damage done, and for that we were lucky, but we had slipped into a brief coma. The only one to escape unscathed was Sparx, and he spent most of his time staring at Spyro and I, watching for the slightest movement that never happened.
The inescapable dream we had been thrown into did not release its grip on us no matter what I did. As often as I tried to get away, I could not.
I'm not sure when day faded into night or night into day, but as time passed and I began to remember more and more, I started noticing it. What was happening outside, in the real world, as the hours flew by?
My list of questions only grew longer. As I became more and more confused, I became less and less perceptive. I didn't notice when Spyro disappeared; I just looked up and he was gone. There I was, alone again, and with nobody to help me endure the memories that were becoming harder to bear.
At first, I rejected them, not wanting to believe it was me. What was I supposed to think? It was like somebody just handing me a life and saying, "This is who you will be now." Who is this girl? I do not know her. I do not understand her. Why must I be her?
But it was me, and there was no denying it. Over the course of the few days I spent in the coma, I watched my life play out before me. I noticed that it had been curiosity that led me as I blindly stumbled through my adventure; pure chance, not skill, that kept me alive. But I realized I couldn't just rely on luck anymore to lead me, as it was too dangerous. Not just dangerous for me, but for... everyone.
I could pick out every flaw, everything I did wrong, and I imagined what I could do instead to fix it. But I could not rewrite history; it was written with the blackest ink and erasing it was impossible. Still, I couldn't help but regard some of my actions with scorn and wish I could go back and do something different.
Is this what it's like to grow up?
It didn't matter what was happening to me. All I could focus on were ways to escape. My dream had turned into a nightmare; nighttime was terrifying and filled with visions that would shake even the most grounded person. The fleeting day, when the fog returned and took away the shroud of blackness, was my only reprieve.
The last night was the most frightening of all.
The visions came in flashes, each one worse than the last, terrifying in ways I didn't understand. A mountain loomed over me, swathing me in dark and shadowy gloom. There was a flash, and I was staring up at the moons just above the mountain. They drew closer and closer together until they eclipsed and the whole world darkened. Then, a dragon whose name escaped me was there. She was walking towards the mountain, looking back at me with remorse in her eyes. Lost in her own dream.
I tried to scream her name, but I could not remember it and no words left my throat. I wanted so desperately to move, but my body was working against me and it held me to the spot. The strange dragon turned away and fixed her gaze on the mountain, standing motionless until its shadow consumed her.
I stood where I was, silent, for several moments. Numbness was all I felt. But then, a great terror seized me, something that caused my heart to stop beating and my blood to run cold.
Get away! my mind screamed at me, and I complied without delay.
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I didn't know what I was running from, but I could feel it chasing me, and I knew I could never let it catch me or terrible things would happen. I was fast, but it was faster, and every second it was getting closer and I was even more frightened than I had ever been before.
But just as I felt the thing chasing me was sure to sweep me up and kill me right then and there, we were gone as the world slipped into nothingness. Finally, I slammed against the wall that barred me from my life and toppled it completely, allowing me to escape. I slipped away, and though I couldn't think, somehow I knew that I was safe from the monster that had been chasing me.
I was barely clinging to consciousness; my hold was constantly slipping and my paw seemed to be made of ice. But with a tremendous amount of will, I heaved myself up onto the ground and I was awake. The only memory I had left of what had happened was a few traces of a dream.
I tried to open my eyes, but it was as if my eyelids were made of lead. Eventually, I managed to force them open to reveal a blurry world. I could not bring myself to sit up, but I kept my eyes open though they threatened to fall down again at any moment.
It took a few seconds for everything to come rushing back to me, but when I remembered the last few moments before I had lost consciousness, I shot straight up. Every bit of fatigue was gone, replaced by a sudden rush of adrenaline. What had happened?!
Before I could even comprehend that I was in the Pool of Visions room, I stumbled backwards a few steps. Sparx was hugging my horn, and he had somehow thrown me off-balance.
"Sparx?" I asked, blinking. My voice rattled like dry leaves in an autumn wind.
"Crystal, I'm so glad you're awake; I thought you were dead! You and Spyro haven't moved for three days!" The burst of emotion that came from Sparx surprised me (the only time I'd heard him say something like that was when Spyro or I were in serious danger of dying), but what he had actually said surprised me even more.
"Three days? What happened?" I asked, sitting down as fatigue again took panic's place.
"Volteer said you three went into a coma," Sparx said, letting go and flying backwards.
"Three... Cynder's alive?" I asked. Turning, I saw that Spyro and Cynder were both motionless on the floor, but the former was beginning to stir.
"Unfortunately," Sparx said dryly, his voice suddenly cold.
"What do you mean by that?" I asked, unsure whether to be confused or defensive of Cynder. Sparx didn't answer, only looked at me pointedly with arms crossed. I suppose it made sense that he didn't like Cynder, but she hadn't even awoken since she changed back. She would be different. ...Wouldn't she?
When Spyro woke up, Sparx went to find the Guardians and returned with them a few minutes later. Everybody spoke over each other and a flood of words from the worried Guardians hit us. It took me a while to get my question in, but I eventually managed to speak.
"Listen—I feel like all my elemental energy has been sapped from me. Why?" I asked.
"I feel the same way," Spyro added.
A hush went over the room at this, wrapping itself around us all and smothering everybody. The Guardians exchanged glances, and their looks were enough to give me the answer.
Only one thought crossed my mind: Oh no...