A/N: This is a direct sequel to my previous story 'Tears of an Oracle', so if you haven't read that, I suggest you go do it! Otherwise you might be a little confused.

This story is probably (definitely) going to be longer than ToaO, but I hope you'll stick with me to the very end. There will be several main OCs in this story, and I'm going to have my work cut out trying to manage them all and develop them all as the story moves on. Let's see if I can manage it, shall we? Like many fics out there, Dark Spyro is going to play a large role in this story. However, the cheetah tribe is also going to be a large player in this tale.

So if you like cheetahs, mysterious long lost tribes, several new characters, and an evil dark side hidden within the main character, then I suggest you keep reading!


A/N the second: Greetings from four years later! I edited this first chapter a fair bit, but I couldn't be bothered doing all the rest, so forgive the quality drop. Mostly I just wanted to warn any new readers about how this story ends. I lost inspiration in this story before I managed to finish it, and so I discontinued it. Instead of leaving it unfinished however, I wrote a summary of all the things that would have happened leading up to the end of the story, and posted that as a premature epilogue.

So this story is marked as complete, because the whole plot is here and it does have an ending. A large chunk of the end of the story is only explained in summary, however, so be aware of that should you want to get into this story.

Other than that, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the journey!


Residual Darkness

It was a dark night. The celestial moons were hidden behind a thick blanket of cloud, and a chill wind blew over a field of stone at the base of a great mountain range. A lone dragon shivered as it nipped at his scales. He held his furled wings tight to his body and raised his pale head, squinting through the night-time gloom.

Even in the darkness, he found what he had been looking for. A tunnel led down into the earth, into a cloying blackness far deeper than anything the moonless night could offer. It was lucky his sight was better than most, but still he hesitated. He lifted his olive-green eyes to the sky, searching out a moon that wasn't there, and, with a shake of his head, moved down into the depths.

The tunnel led him deep into a cold cavern where his breath rose in plumes of mist invisible in the darkness. He had to strain to see, but he knew the way. It was as though something was calling him. He moved on, through a second tunnel that led deeper into the cold earth, and his keen eyes picked out the outline of a dead torch on the wall. He slashed his claws so swiftly over the rock that sparks flew and briefly lit up the tunnel.

They landed on the dry tinder of the torch, and he coaxed a small fire to take hold with a few gentle puffs of breath. It flickered gently, grasping hungrily at the tinder, and granted him warm light, if only a little. He took the torch in his jaws and continued on his way. As he went, strange markings on the walls of the tunnel were illuminated. He was going the right way.

His steps carried him into a cavern steeped in shadow, his firelight revealing two unlit torches mounted on the walls on either side of him. He lit them with the one he carried in his mouth and flickering firelight crept feebly into the cavern. A huddled shadow lay on the floor just beyond the pool of light. Timidly, he stepped closer.

His torch clattered to the ground, spilling light over the body in front of him. It was just as he had feared. Another dragon lay before him, with scales almost as pale as his own and wide blue eyes staring forever into nothing. Shuddering, he closed his eyes briefly, curling his scarred, bladeless tail around his paws like a shield.

Somewhat reluctantly, he opened his eyes again and he gazed into the sightless stare of the dead dragon. Something ached inside him, twisting in his chest, but his eyes remained dry.

"This is what has become of you…" he whispered, raising a paw to the dragon's cold face. "It is as I saw."

With a wispy sigh, he gently slid the dead dragon's eyelids over his unseeing eyes. Now, if it had not been for the dark stain of blood beneath his body and the obvious slit in his neck, the grey dragon would have looked as though he were merely sleeping.

"My brother…" he murmured, closing his eyes again. "At least nothing can hurt you now. I hope you found your eternal peace."

Without another word, he turned away from the dead body of his younger brother and strode away. He paused for a moment to put out the torches and plunge the cavern into darkness, then left what was to be his brother's eternal tomb.

It didn't take him long to reach outside again. The stars greeted him, peering cautiously through the cloud-blanket, but he gave them no heed as he went about his task. He sought out whatever loose rubble and rocks he could find in the field of stone, and shoved it all into the tunnel entrance, grunting and huffing with effort. When he was done, no creature bigger than an ant could enter. Never again would any creature disturb his brother in his final resting place.

With his task accomplished, the pale dragon trudged off into the unknown, never to set foot there again. Now he knew it for a fact: he was the last surviving member of the once great oracle tribe. And, as far as he knew, the last oracle dragon in all the world.


1.

The voice droned on, a monotone hum like the buzzing of a thousand bees. Spyro felt his eyelids droop lower and fought back a yawn as he struggled to stop his head from dropping to his paws. Something about Cyril's lessons always put him to sleep.

Around Spyro, most of the other young dragons were just as inattentive. Cynder had given up the fight to keep her head up and lay on her stomach beside Spyro, her paws folded beneath her chin. Across the room, Flame was snoring on Ember's shoulder as she traced patterns in the carpet with a claw.

They weren't the only ones in the room. Currently, Spyro's gaze was fixed on a yellow dragoness, mesmerized by the orb of electricity she was tossing from paw to paw. Lying on his side, her golden-scaled brother was watching the orb's movement with a lazy expression. Not far from them, conversing in hushed whispers, were two young male dragons—one blue and one red. They kept shooting mischievous glances at a green dragoness across the room, who sat attentively listening to every word Cyril said.

The blue dragon's sister, a white dragoness with a pale blue underbelly, was also focused on the Ice Guardian. Every now and then, she passed her whispering brother a disapproving glance. Several other young dragons lay in similar poses of boredom, completely ignoring the constant hum of Cyril's voice.

"…and so, when the Council passed the order, there was a great uproar amongst the citizens of the city. Their response was a series of protests led by the Earth Guardian of the time…" Cyril continued, completely oblivious to his less-than-attentive audience.

Spyro stared at the orb of electricity, passing backwards and forwards between the yellow dragoness's paws. It seemed to pulsate with energy, like a living heartbeat, and was far more interesting than Cyril's dull history lesson. Across the room, the quiet whispers between the blue and red dragons suddenly stopped. That was always a dangerous sign. Sure enough, seconds later, the green dragoness gave a great shriek of surprise as the carpet beneath her suddenly turned to ice.

Her yelp was so loud that it startled everyone out of their stupors, and prompted the yellow dragoness to force a little too much energy into her electric orb. It exploded, blinding everyone in the room with a brilliant white flash. Spyro blinked several times as the light receded and his vision returned. Many of the dragons around him were rubbing their eyes, and the yellow dragoness was looking politely stunned as she hid the burnt patch of carpet beneath her paws.

Cyril looked far from pleased. Glaring at his class, he grudgingly muttered the words they had all been waiting to hear. "Class dismissed."


Spyro took a deep breath as he stepped out of the stifling academy building, then let it out with an accompanying sigh of relief. Beside him, Cynder chuckled softly and he turned to grin at her.

"You hate Cyril's lessons that much, huh?" She smirked, but Spyro's grin only widened.

"No," he said, winking. "I just like being outside. Race you to the gardens!"

Before Cynder could protest, he shot off like a rocket towards the main gardens. But he didn't get very far before a loud voice halted him in his tracks.

"Oi, Spyro! You're not getting away that easily!"

Skidding to an ungraceful halt, Spyro turned sheepishly to face the red dragon that had called him back. Flame had a steely glint in his eye that always meant he was eager for a fight. That wasn't exactly what Spyro had in mind—even if he had promised Flame a battle after class.

"You owe me a rematch!" Flame called as Ember and Cynder rolled their eyes behind his back. "And this time I won't lose!"

Spyro snorted out a puff of smoke, his spirits sinking. "Come on, Flame, class just finished!"

Flame's eyes narrowed. "You promised me a fight as soon as lessons were over! You can't back out now! Or are you too much of a coward to fight me this time?"

Spyro pretended to look offended. After all, Flame called him a coward at least twice a day and he never really meant it. It was the usual attempt to goad him into a sparring match. Still, he had promised.

"If that's how it is…" Spyro paused and then added, "If you can beat me to the gardens, I'll give you your rematch. Deal?"

"Deal!"

Flame shot off towards the gardens the second the word rolled from his tongue. Spyro dashed after him, shouting 'cheat!' all the way down the street.

Ember and Cynder exchanged glances. Same old, same old. Tittering quietly, they linked tails and followed at a leisurely pace. The gardens were near the centre of the city, so it took several minutes to get there from the Academy in the north-western corner. Spyro and Flame were already facing each other from across the well-kept lawn by the time the dragonesses caught up. Flame's head-start had won him the race and the chance to fight Spyro yet again.

Cynder and Ember sat down at the edge of the lawn as the battle began. It wouldn't last long. Either Spyro would beat Flame down in a matter of minutes, or Terrador would see that they were fighting in the gardens again and give them all a stern telling-off. After Spyro and Flame had almost torn up the lawn during one of their earlier matches, he had banned them from fighting in the gardens. They were restricted to the courtyards, but that didn't stop Spyro or Flame from breaking the rules once or twice a month. Once, Spyro might have been more obedient, especially when the Guardians were involved—but after having Flame as a best friend for a year, he'd garnered something of a rebellious streak.

"You won't win, Spyro," Flame said, a wicked grin on his face as he lowered his body into attack stance.

Spyro faced him from across the lawn, smiling confidently. "Wrong. This time is going to be like all the others. Let's get this over with."

Flame wasted no time. He dashed across the lawn in a spray of fire, sending dirt and grass flying beneath his claws. Spyro had expected that move, and he easily sidestepped out of the way. Flame tumbled ungracefully onto the grass and skidded a short length, leaving a scorched skid-mark in his wake. He was back on his feet in an instant, whirling around to face Spyro, who had been stalking around behind him.

The sound of battle must have alerted someone, because a voice suddenly called out excitedly from near the edge of the gardens.

"Fight!" a young red dragon yelled, his eyes alight with eagerness as he turned around to call down the street. "Fight in the gardens!"

The message spread like wildfire through the streets, and soon young dragons from all over the city were dashing towards the gardens. Cynder rolled her eyes.

"Here we go again," she muttered to Ember as a large crowd slowly grew behind them.

The matches between Spyro and Flame were considered a bit of a spectacle by the young dragons of the city. They'd crowd around to watch and cheer on who they hoped would be the victor. After several battles in which Flame was soundly beaten, most of the young dragons had learned to cheer Spyro on instead. After all, who wanted to cheer on the loser?

The knowledge that their classmates were watching only seemed to spur Spyro and Flame on.

"Looks like your fan club is here to see you beaten," Flame taunted, smoke rising in curls from his nostrils.

Spyro snorted. "I'll believe you when you make good of those words. You've never beaten me once."

"That's about to change!"

Flame launched himself at his opponent, his fangs gleaming in a triumphant grin. But yet again his claws missed their target and he landed awkwardly with his back to Spyro.

With a simple tail-swipe, Spyro swept Flame's paws out from under him, sending him crashing ungainly to the ground. He struggled to get up again, accompanied by gales of laughter from the watching crowd. Flame whirled on his opponent with a furious snarl, only to see that Spyro was no longer there. Seconds later, he found himself face-down in the dirt with Spyro sitting on his shoulders.

"Go Spyro!" roared a yellow dragon from the crowd. "Show him who's boss!"

The words must have triggered something in Flame's mind, because his eyes glinted with anger as sudden energy coursed through his body. Spyro looked down in surprise as his scales began to grow hotter.

"I'll show you who's boss!" Flame roared, spinning a furious half-circle as fire curled around him, throwing Spyro off his back. His flames charred a large circular area of grass, turning it ashen black.

Shrieks of admiration and excitement cooed from the crowd, and their excitement doubled as Spyro rolled back to his feet and breathed a fine cold mist over the lawn, turning a large portion of grass into a lake of ice. Flame slipped as the ground turned to ice beneath his paws, crashing onto his side. Skilfully, Spyro skated over to his opponent and opened his mouth to unleash another gush of ice that would freeze Flame to the ground.

He never got to deliver that final blow. A loud, angry voice boomed out over the gardens and put an end to their battle.

"That's ENOUGH! What do you two think you're doing?!" Terrador roared. Spyro and Flame froze in position, timidly turning guilty eyes on the Earth Guardian.

"Step aside," Terrador growled as he pushed his way through the watching crowd. He came to halt at the edge of the frozen section of the lawn, glaring disapprovingly at the two young dragons.

"Did I not make myself clear last time when I said you were not to fight in the gardens?" he thundered, towering over the sheepish Spyro and Flame. "Look what you have done to the lawn!"

Grimacing at each other, Spyro and Flame glanced at what had been their battleground. Much of the grass had been charred black or torn up at the roots, and Spyro's large circular sheet of ice covered a sizable area in the centre of the lawn. He winced at the damage.

"Sorry, Terrador," he said, averting his eyes. "Guess it got out of paw."

"Out of paw?" Terrador stared incredulously at them. "Of course it got out of paw! You shouldn't have been fighting here in the first place!"

Flame and Spyro glanced helplessly at Cynder and Ember for assistance, but they merely watched from the head of the crowd, their eyes sparkling with what could only be amusement. The rest of the crowd looked on with interest, waiting to see what punishments Terrador had in store.

"Normally, a situation like this would mean serious punishment," Terrador growled, and Spyro and Flame cowered before him. "However…"

Spyro lifted his head slightly in hope as Terrador continued.

"…as this is the beginning of festival week, I will let you off with only a warning." Terrador glowered down at them, the corners of his mouth pulled down. "I would have expected better from you, Spyro. I certainly hope you will think about your actions first next time, or I will be forced to punish you. As for you, Flame… You can be sure I'll be speaking to Thasos about your disobedience. You are not to do this again, do I make myself clear?"

Spyro and Flame jumped to attention, almost slipping on the ice. "Yes, Master Terrador!"

"Good," Terrador growled. "Now run along. I've got to clean up this mess you made."

Hardly able to believe their luck, Spyro and Flame hurried away from the Earth Guardian and went to join the disappointed crowd. Clearly they had been eager to see some sort of punishment. Ember and Cynder, however, seemed pleased to have them back in one piece. Spyro opened his mouth to say something, but a glare from Terrador told him to move on and take the crowd with him.

"How lucky was that, eh?" Flame grinned as he, Spyro and the rest of the crowd slowly meandered away from the ruined lawn. "Didn't even get punished."

"Tell me about it." Spyro laughed, trying to ignore the guilt that Terrador's reprimands had risen inside him. "I thought he was going to make us sit through one of Volteer's lectures as punishment! Glad we avoided that one!"

The crowd laughed along with him and soon began to dissipate as small groups headed for different parts of the city. Spyro halted, frowning, as he thought about the reason Terrador had let them off.

"What did he mean, though?" he wondered aloud. "Festival week?"

Flame shrugged. "Beats me. Do you know?"

He turned to Ember, only to find her and Cynder staring at them as incredulously as if they had just announced they were flying to the moons. Spyro and Flame exchanged confused glances.

"What?" they asked together.

"You don't know?" Ember stared in disbelief as Cynder rolled her eyes.

"Honestly, don't you two ever listen?" she said with a snort and a flick of her head. "At least you should know, Spyro, considering it's to do with you!"

Spyro blinked, staring blankly at Cynder. "What's do to with me?"

Cynder stared. "You know, Spyro, I think all these practice battles have damaged your head. I would think that you'd at least remember…"

"Would you just cut to the chase, already?" Flame growled.

Cynder huffed. "It's been a year, Spyro. Tomorrow it will be exactly a year since we defeated Malefor. You remember that, right?"

Spyro's eyes widened. It was true that it had been a long time since he and Cynder had fought and defeated the Dark Master, but he hadn't realised that it had been a whole year ago. The time had just flown by.

"How could I forget?" he muttered, scowling at the memory of the former purple dragon. "But what does that have to do with this 'festival week?' "

Shaking her head at Spyro's ignorance, Cynder opened her mouth to respond, but someone else beat her to it.

"It's a celebration," said a white dragoness, the same one that had been in their class not moments before, "for you and Cynder."

She and her friend, the yellow dragoness who had been playing with the electricity orb in class, stopped nearby, obviously having overhead their conversation. Spyro stared at her, trying to remember her name. At first glance, with her white scales and pale blue wings, anyone would assume she was an ice dragon, but Spyro knew otherwise. Zephira, he remembered. That was it.

"For us?" Spyro asked.

"Of course," the yellow dragoness replied, her eyebrows lifting. "You are our saviours."

This was Saffron, an electricity dragoness—which was all too apparent from her bright sunflower-coloured scales. She and Zephira had been among those rescued from the caverns beneath the mountain range almost a year ago.

"It's a festival held in your honour to celebrate the passing of the tyrant Malefor and the beginning of a new age of peace," Zephira explained in a quiet voice. "You and Cynder will be hailed as the bringers of peace."

"Oi, don't go forgetting about me!" said another voice as Sparx darted into their midst. "I'm as much of a hero as they are, you know!"

Spyro chuckled appreciatively. "Good to see you, Sparx. What have you been doing?"

Sparx waved a hand dismissively. "Oh, you know, the usual: helping moles, teaching kids to fly, organising this whole festival thing..."

"Teaching the hatchlings to fly is Mother Seak's job," Zephira said with a giggle, then blushed when Sparx turned to look at her.

"What's your point, kid? She could use some help. Old red says I act as her eyes or something." Waving his hand, Sparx pulled a face and changed the subject. "Just got out of Cyril's lesson did you?"

They nodded simultaneously, but Spyro's attention was still on this 'festival' thing. And if anyone knew what was happening in the city, it was Sparx.

"What do you know about this festival, Sparx?"

Sparx puffed himself up importantly, pushing his chest out. "What do I know, Spyro? I know everything! After all, I am the one organising it!"

The dragons all glanced at each other. Even those who hadn't known Sparx for as long knew that he had a tendency to exaggerate things. Being in charge of a city-wide festival seemed a bit far-fetched even for him.

"You, Sparx?" Cynder asked, trying to keep the smirk off her face.

Sparx looked indignant. "What? You don't think I'm capable! Well I'll have you know that I—!"

"Alright, alright, Sparx," Spyro cut in before the dragonfly could blow his top. "We believe you. Now just tell us about this festival."

Sparx turned suspicious eyes on Spyro, folding his arms—but he never could resist blabbing whenever he knew something no one else did.

"Well, it starts tomorrow," he said. "Since, y'know, tomorrow it's been exactly a year since you gave that creep the old one-two. So, we're creating a new holiday! Cool, right? The Festival of the Purple Dragon! All classes are cancelled for the week, and even the cheetahs are coming to celebrate!"

Spyro stared. "A whole week for a festival? That's a bit much, isn't it?"

Sparx shrugged. "Eh, maybe, but why complain? It was old green stuff's idea. Since you didn't come back here until a whole week after you saved the world, y'know? That was when we really celebrated."

"Oh, I get it!" Cynder said suddenly, her eyes lighting up. "The festival starts on the day we defeated the Dark Master, and ends on the day we returned to Warfang!"

Spyro and Flame uttered identical noises of understanding, and the four dragonesses giggled. Spyro felt the blood rush to his cheeks, but Flame pretended not to notice.

"So, what do we do at a festival?" he asked. Everyone stopped to listen, for none of them had been to a festival before.

Sparx waved an airy hand. "Oh, you know. Dancing, singing, competitions, that sort of thing. There'll be a marketplace at the courtyard and stuff. I hear the moles are pretty good at making jewellery and armour. Might be able to get something for your pretty little dragoness over there."

He nudged Flame and winked, while Ember blushed and averted her eyes, shuffling her paws on the cobblestones. Flame looked half flustered, half annoyed. Spyro couldn't help but chuckle at his discomfort, while Zephira and Saffron giggled together.

"There's also gonna be a ball on the last day," Sparx added, bringing everyone's attention back to him. "The main hall's gonna be decorated and everything."

Spyro raised his eyebrows. He had never been to a dance before, but the idea was intriguing. Not that he'd ever learned to dance. In fact, he had no idea what a dance was supposed to look like. While he wondered if Cynder had any idea, Flame spoke up.

"Hang on a sec. Did you say that all classes are cancelled for the festival?" he asked, the slightest inkling of hope in his voice.

Sparx grinned. "You know it!"

Spyro's eyes widened. "You mean…that lesson with Cyril was our last class for a whole week?"

Sparx nodded. Spyro and Flame exchanged wide-eyed looks and cracked identical grins.

"Sweet!"


In a large circular building on the west side of the city, a council of dragons was meeting for their usual monthly discussion. The Council of Warfang held their meetings in the Atrium, one of the largest buildings in the whole city. The ceiling was painted with depictions of dragons, great colourful beasts that seemed to spring from the walls as though they were alive, and arched far above the heads of the council.

"Hard to believe it has been a whole year, eh, Captain?" said Ryokku—or 'old red' as Sparx had taken to calling him—a very old red dragon with a blind eye. He nudged the younger green dragon at his side. "It's a shame I wasn't around to celebrate with the rest when young Spyro and Cynder returned victorious."

"You forget, Elder, nor was I," Seriphos, the green dragon, replied. "We were still cooped up in our hiding place, waiting for some sign that all was well. It's a shame indeed."

As captain of a newly-formed guard, Seriphos was often called upon to attend the meetings of the council. It pleased him to know that he was wanted and needed by the city; it gave him a purpose that he accepted with pride. He was in his prime, fully grown and with strength enough to rival his old mentor, Terrador.

"Be that as it may, we are all here to celebrate their victory now," Terrador said from Ryokku's other side. "And hopefully for many more years to come."

"True, true," said Cyril, who sat across from Terrador. "I daresay this festival will be something to remember."

The council all nodded in agreement. There were nine dragons in the room, most several years older than Seriphos. The four guardians, Cyril, Terrador, Volteer and Thasos, had helped old Mother Seak and Elder Ryokku to reform the council almost a year ago. They had inducted three sensible dragons into this council: Elder Moro, an old electricity dragon whose once bright yellow scales had faded with age; Mistress Terrunda, the youngest of the three, a pale green dragoness with warm chocolate-brown eyes; and Master Feldun, a middle-aged ice dragon that had once led an ill-fated search party and returned two weeks later with several hundred dragons in tow.

"I hear that classes have been cancelled for the week," said Seriphos. "The young ones must be pleased."

Seated beside Mother Seak, Thasos chuckled merrily. "Yes indeed. Speaking of which, how did your lesson go, Cyril?"

Thasos was the current Fire Guardian. He had once been great friends with Ignitus, back when they were young. They had trained together, vying for the position of Fire Guardian, and Ignitus had eventually succeeded. Ignitus's death, however, had left that position open and Thasos had, somewhat reluctantly, taken up his old friend's mantel.

Cyril snorted a cloud of ice from his nostrils. "Dismal, as usual. Those young dragons don't know the meaning of respect!"

"Oh, I'm sure they can't be that bad," Ryokku replied with a deep-throated chuckle. "Younglings will be younglings, as they say."

"Yes, Elder Ryokku is right. It has long been confirmed that the physical capability and mental capacity of a young dragon is greatly unbalanced, leading to a decreased period of concentration and an increase in the demonstration of impertinence…" Volteer rattled off several long words in a matter of seconds, not once stopping to draw breath. By now, the council was used to it, though the meaning of his words often went straight over their heads.

"They'll come around," Terrador assured his fellow Guardian. "Most of them aren't yet used to spending hours in a classroom, learning of things they might not consider important. Spyro, too. He's spent the greater part of his life fighting to stay alive. I doubt the history of dragonkind seems all that essential to him."

It was true; the Academy hadn't been in use for very long. It had finally been restored to its former glory only three months previously, after having been destroyed in the war with Malefor's army. The moles, cheetahs and dragons had all been working on it, as well as the library, the flying grounds, the hatchery and the north wall, ever since the dragons had returned to Warfang. The wall had been the first to be repaired and it now stood tall once again, as though nothing had ever managed to break through it.

Only three months ago, the Guardians had announced that all young dragons were to attend the Academy every day, for several hours a day. They only had two days off, a fact that irked many of the new students. At first they had been excited by the prospect, but after several lessons in which they'd listened to Cyril ramble on about his ancestors and Terrador explaining the politics of war, the excitement had faded. Now lessons were seen only as a chore, save for those times when Seriphos taught them battle tactics and they were allowed to mock fight one another.

"I saw you in the gardens just before, Master Terrador," Terrunda spoke up for the first time. "Did something happen to the lawns?"

Terrador waved a paw. "Yes, Spyro and Flame again. I've lost count of how many times I've told them not to fight in the gardens, but they never seem to listen. Spyro almost froze the whole lawn over. They were skating by the time I got there."

"Yes, Spyro always was particularly good with the element of ice," Cyril said, the faintest hint of pride colouring his voice. After all, he had taught Spyro that element.

"Competitive young dragons, aren't they?" Thasos added. "I don't suppose Spyro wishes to become the next Fire Guardian, too?"

Terrador shook his head. "I doubt he would wish to take on such responsibility. So much is expected of him already as the purple dragon. It's a shame for a dragon so young."

"But he copes, Terrador. He copes."

All eyes turned to the blind Mother Seak, who had spoken. She had a calm, wheezy voice and her scales were colourless, having long since lost the lustre they'd once had when she'd been a beautiful dragoness in her prime. Her eyes were merely pools of milky white, blank and unseeing. She was far older than any other dragon in the city, even Ryokku.

"That he does, Mother Seak." Terrador bowed his head respectfully to the old dragoness.

A brief silence fell until Feldun broke it with yet another question. "Have we heard word from the cheetahs? Are they coming to attend the festival?"

"Hunter sent a hawk just the other day," Seriphos replied. "Apparently Prowlus is remaining in Avalar, but several of the cheetahs, including Hunter, are travelling here to attend."

Ryokku gave a grizzled smile, his one good eye twinkling. "Trust Prowlus not to attend. That old cat is stiffer than I! But come, we have a festival to organise, and sitting around here isn't going to get that done!"

There were murmurs of agreement amongst the other members of the council as everyone rose from their seats. Thasos assisted Mother Seak to her paws and she leant gratefully on him.

"Come, Thasos," she wheezed, limping towards the door with him at her side. "There are things we must attend to. I, too, look forward to this festival. And I can't count how many festivals I have attended in my many years!"

Chuckling to herself, she allowed Thasos to lead her out of the Atrium and into the welcoming air of the streets of Warfang.