A/N: Read this please. It's extremely important.
I must extend to you my sincerest apologies. Not just because I have not updated this in a year, but because this story is coming to a premature end.
I suppose you could say I'm discontinuing it, because I know I'm never going to write the rest of it. But I did not wish to leave you without an ending, wondering how everything was going to turn out, so I wrote this. It is both an epilogue to the story as a whole, and a summary of the rest of the story as it was going to be written.
I know this outcome is far from satisfying, but it's the best I can do for you. I no longer have the motivation and the love for the story that I once had, and it will never be completed in full. So I figured the least I could do was give you this.
Now I'll hand you over to Ignitus, and he can tell you the rest...
The caverns of the White Isle were, in a way, very much reminiscent of a tomb. They were dark and dreary, and the air was heavy with magic and memories. In the Chronicler's own chamber, the very walls seemed to whisper of days gone by and dragons passed on. But it was not, at the very least, cold. An ethereal warmth seemed to seep from the books themselves, as though they were not just collections of parchment and paper, but the lingering memories of living, breathing dragons.
Ignitus perused through one such book, flipping its thin, delicate pages with nary a touch. It seemed to hear his every thought and knew without prompting when he wished to see the next page. In silence he sat, bathed in blue light by the colossal hourglass behind him, listening absentmindedly to the rustle of parchment.
He was waiting. Soon his two young charges would arrive, bounding into his chamber like they had every night that week, brimming with promise and life. He would read to them from that very book, of a history they deserved to know. And it seemed, at long last, the story was nearing its end.
Pawsteps shuffled in the corridor outside and Ignitus lifted his gaze from the book. It was not a pair of young dragons who stepped into his chamber, however, but a lone male well into his prime. His scales, as purple as amethyst, glimmered when he stepped into the hourglass's pool of light, and he wore a gentle smile on his face that belied years of stress and hardship. Spyro had aged well.
He was no longer the small and somewhat round hatchling Ignitus had met in his days as a living dragon. His body had grown and filled out into a sturdy form not as burly as Terrador, but more so than Volteer and Cyril. His second pair of horns had grown in too, an identical, if smaller, golden lightning-bolt shape arcing from the back of his jaw. His resemblance to Ignitus was almost uncanny, but it brought a smile to the Chronicler's face. The blood of a fire dragon clearly flowed in Spyro's veins.
"Reading again, Ignitus?" Spyro chuckled as he approached, his laugh deep and pleasant. "It's all you ever seem to do these days."
Ignitus shared his smile. "I was never much of a reader in my living days—that was more Cyril and Volteer's thing. But you're never too old to start. It is, after all, part of the job description."
Spyro's face broke into a grin and he chuckled again. Smiling, Ignitus looked back at the book and added, "I was just catching up on history. I believe we'll reach the end of the story today."
"Finally?" A wry smile twisted Spyro's lips. "That took a while."
Ignitus passed him an amused glance. "It is a long story, Spyro. You should know."
"I know, I know." Spyro waved a paw dismissively and glanced briefly over his shoulder. "The kids should be along soon. They're just washing up after training."
"Of course." Ignitus dipped his head and turned back to his book, flipping through it slowly. When it happened upon the page he had been searching for, he let it rest, floating idly before him, and looked up at Spyro. "They have trained hard while they've been here."
"Of course!" Spyro's eyes widened and he sat up a little straighter. "It's an amazing opportunity for them. Not all young dragons have the chance to train in the legendary Celestial Caves themselves."
Ignitus chuckled. "Not all young dragons can call the legendary purple dragon 'father.' "
As expected, Spyro looked utterly flustered, his paws shuffling and his eyes darting to the side. After a moment, he countered, "Yes, well... I doubt the old Chronicler would have allowed us to do this."
"Just because my predecessor chose to live out his afterlife in solitude does not mean I should have to do the same." Ignitus fixed his former pupil with a fond look and waited for Spyro to meet his eyes again. "You and your family are always welcome here. In fact, I wouldn't mind at all catching up with your friends again, too."
Spyro grinned. "Maybe I'll bring them along next time."
"Do consider it."
They fell into easy, companionable silence for a short while, until the pattering of small paws on rock sounded in the corridor. Ignitus and Spyro turned as one as two teenage dragons, hardly older than Spyro and Cynder had been when they'd fought Malefor, charged into the chamber. A slender, dark figure stepped after them, sighing as she stepped into the light.
"Gale, Komet, do settle down," Cynder insisted. "You promised to behave yourselves in the Chronicler's chamber."
The young ones stopped and turned reluctant faces to their mother.
"We are behaving, Mum," said the male, rolling his eyes.
"At least I am," muttered the female, earning a reproachful look from her brother.
Ignitus smiled at them both. "I trust you had a good day, Gale, Komet."
"Yeah, we fought spiders!" Komet exclaimed, his face cracking into a wild grin.
"They were creepy," grumbled his sister.
Ignitus smiled wistfully and beckoned the siblings towards him, nodding politely at Cynder as he did so. As an adult, the resemblance to her corrupted form was alarming and obvious, but her body was fuller and healthier than it had ever been in those dark days, and her face rounder and kinder. No longer did she wear her shackles, and instead around her neck was the very same necklace Spyro had bought her many years ago. Well, almost. It had been reformed and modified as she had grown, and had its emerald reset at least once.
Cynder returned his smile and went to stand beside Spyro, who greeted her with a short nuzzle and a wing over her shoulders. Ignitus turned his attention to the young dragons.
Komet was the spitting image of his father, in almost every way. He was, Ignitus expected, what Spyro would have looked like if he had been born a normal fire dragon. With vibrant red scales, golden horns, and that familiar stubby muzzle, there was no doubt which element he controlled and who his father was. But Ignitus could see Cynder in the shape and colour of his eyes, and in his fiery, confident demeanour.
His sister, on the other paw, was almost the perfect mix of both parents. Her form was slender like Cynder, yet sturdy like Spyro. Her eyes borrowed her mother's shape and her father's colour, as did her horns. There was Spyro in the golden colour of her wings and underbelly, and Cynder in the delicate silver markings on her forehead, shoulders and rump. But her scales were silvery-white and marked her for what she was—a wind dragon.
No one had been sure, when Cynder had fallen gravid, what the union between a purple dragon and a black dragoness would bring about. There were few who had expected the outcome—two very normal dragons of wind and fire. Ignitus suspected that, because of the very nature of purple dragons, Spyro had the ability to sire a dragon of any element. And with Cynder, in whom flowed the blood of wind dragons, it was no surprise to him that their children had turned out as such.
"Are we all settled?" Ignitus asked as Gale and Komet sat down before him, gazing up at the floating book with curious inquisitive eyes. "If my estimations are correct, today is the day we reach the end of the story. Are you ready?"
Komett and Gale nodded quickly, and Ignitus turned his gaze to their parents. "Are you staying, Spyro, Cynder?"
Spyro seemed to think it over for a moment, until he met Cynder's eyes and, smiling, shook his head. "We'll pass. We already know the story, after all."
"I think we'll take a walk around the isle while you tell it," Cynder added, looking fondly at her children. "You two behave yourselves for Ignitus, now."
"Yes, Mum," they chorused together in monotone, pulling identical grimacing faces.
"And enjoy yourselves," Spyro added, then nodded at Ignitus. "We'll be back in an hour or so."
"Enjoy your walk." Ignitus dipped his head to them, then surveyed the young siblings with a smile. "I'll take good care of them."
"We know," said Cynder, her eyes twinkling.
Side-by-side, she and Spyro stepped out of the chamber and walked down the corridor. When they had passed out of sight and earshot, Ignitus turned his attention fully to his young audience. Komet and Gale gazed back at him, fidgeting slightly.
"Before we return to the story," Ignitus began, looking between them, "can you perhaps remind me of what happened before?"
"Mum and Dad were in that forest place with the fauns!" Komet said immediately, then stuck his tongue out at his sister. "Beat you."
She rolled her eyes as Ignitus said, "And what else?"
Komet's brow knitted and he hesitated, giving Gale a chance to jump in. "They got separated in the forest and that earth dragon Roku was poisoned, but the fauns found them and they all reunited at the...the Grotto, I think?"
Ignitus dipped his head. "The Grotto, yes."
"Oh, and then they got told that story about the Magic Crafters," Komet added. "And, and..."
"And figured out that the Magic Crafters are probably in the badlands," Gale finished with a smug look at her brother. He glared at her.
"Very good," Ignitus said. "And what about at Warfang?"
Both Gale and Komet frowned this time and went silent for a moment. It was Gale who spoke first. "The Guardians and the cheetahs were waiting for the right time to attack the panthers, and..."
"Oh, there was a spy!" Komet blurted out. "And they suspected that girl panther, but it was actually that jerk Chasm."
"Terra," Gale corrected, a little tetchily. "And they didn't suspect her, they were worried other dragons would, so they put her under guard. And those horrible assassin panthers were in the city, trying to kill the Guardians."
"Yeah, they got Volteer, Thasos and Terrador!"
"They only wounded them. But they killed a guard and hurt Mother Seak really badly." Gale's face fell slightly and she turned her gaze to the floor between her paws. "It sounded awful..."
"You're almost there," Ignitus prompted, drawing their attention back to him. "What was happening amongst the cheetahs at this time?"
Komet frowned. "There was... Hunter and the chief got into an argument, right? Hunter was worried that he'd have to overthrow him, because old Prowlus was being all stubborn and putting the cheetahs in danger."
"And Terra was worrying about Hunter, because she saw how stressed he was," Gale added.
Ignitus nodded. "Very good. I believe that is everything important we went through last time. Which, of course, brings us to the next—and perhaps final—part of the story. Are you ready?"
Komett and Gale nodded mutely, their eyes wide and eager, and Ignitus brought the huge floating tome up to eye-level. He gazed at his audience over the top of it, then turned his eyes to the pages.
"As the story continues, we return to the great dragon city of Warfang..."
As you'll recall, the Guardians of Warfang had called a meeting that morning to make the final decision on their counter-strike against the panthers. The spy, Chasm, overheard the meeting and hastened to inform the twin leaders of the panther tribe that the dragons and cheetahs would attack at dawn in two days' time.
This information, however, was wrong.
You see, suspecting the spy was still within the city, the Guardians decided to use it to their advantage. Though most important meetings are kept hush from the citizens of Warfang, they deliberately spread the rumour of this meeting throughout the city. Naturally, that information fell into the spy's paws, and the trap was set.
It was a fake meeting. The Guardians, the Warfang Guard, and Chief Prowlus did not, in fact, plan to attack in two day's time, but at dawn of the next day.
So off Chasm went, with wrong information in paw, and the cheetahs and the Warfang Guard prepared for war. News spread quickly through the city that evening, that dawn tomorrow would see an end to the war for better or for worse.
Young pantheress Terra was, of course, terrified. She had not expected it would be so soon and she feared whichever outcome the battle the next day would bring. Either she would lose her brothers or lose her friends. And Hunter, she noticed, was still stressed and tense, and she feared for his life in the coming battle. But though she wished to speak to him and alleviate whatever worries held him prisoner, it seemed she would not get such a chance before the battle.
She was, after all, still under strict guard—for her own protection, the Guardians said. Her guard was a great red dragon called Delos, who was very bitter and angry that he had been forced to 'play hatchlingsitter' to a panther. When news reached him that he would be expected to stay in Warfang to watch her while the rest of his comrades in the Guard marched off to battle, he was livid.
In an attempt to take her mind of the looming battle, Terra and her cheetah friend Mari, accompanied by her angry guard, went to visit Zephira, who had spent much time at the infirmary since Mother Seak had been admitted. Against all odds, Seak was somehow still alive, clinging to life by sheer willpower and constant contact with red spirit gems. The healers expected her to pass on within days.
It was in conversation with the glum Zephira that Terra was given the idea to do something drastic in her quest to discover what was bothering Hunter.
"You are a panther," Zephira had said. "Then you should be good at sneaking around."
So, that night, Terra snuck out of the room she shared with Mari at the infirmary, and crept through the darkened city in search of Hunter's room. When she arrived, Hunter greeted her with surprise and anger that she had risked being seen and branded a traitor by the dragons whose trust she had only just gained—even more so when he learned he was the reason she had come.
At first Hunter denied that there was anything wrong, that he was merely tense for the coming battle, but Terra stood her ground and refused to be taken back to the infirmary until he spoke openly to her. At last, her persistence paid off, and Hunter broke open.
He told her of his fears that Prowlus had become too rigid in his age to make a good chief. He told her how the rest of the tribe looked up to him and respected him more than their own chief. He told her how horrible he felt to be thinking such mutinous thoughts towards the chief he had always looked up to, and how he did not believe he was fit to become chief in Prowlus's place.
Terra listened well and, though she knew there was nothing she could say to help him herself, she urged him to speak to Prowlus. If Prowlus was the good cheetah Hunter insisted he was, then he would listen and he would understand. And Hunter, though reluctant, agreed.
He saw her safely back to the infirmary and bid her farewell at the window, saying that, though he could not promise he would survive the battle, he would do his best.
"That's it?" Gale asked shrilly. "He didn't...I don't know, kiss her or anything?"
Komet pulled a face and made a disgusted noise. Ignitus chuckled. "No, young dragon. Though I am certain the budding feelings were there, there was no romantic inclination between Hunter and Terra at the time. That would come along later..."
"Great," Komet muttered. "Can we continue? We're just getting to the good part!"
"You mean the battle?" Gale grumbled. "Sounds like a horrible part to me."
Her brother stuck his tongue out at her, but Ignitus cut in before they could start bickering. "Settle, settle. Let us continue..."
The siblings fell silent and Ignitus' voice filled the chamber once more.
At dawn of the next day, the Warfang Guard gathered outside the walls of the city, alongside the cheetah warriors and the Guardians themselves. Clad in armour, they marched to battle as the sun rose on the horizon.
The panthers were unprepared for the attack. The Guardians' plan had worked perfectly, and Chasm had delivered the information that their attack would not be until the following day. They thought they had more time to prepare. They were wrong.
It was a swift and brutal battle. The Warfang Guard came at the panthers from all sides and from the skies, all too easily surrounding the unprepared cats. The Dreadwings tried to fight back, but were brought down by Volteer's airborne force. With Terrador at the head, the bulk of the Warfang Guard broke through to the centre of the panther defence and cornered the twin leaders, trapping them in a deadly sharp prison of stone spears. One wrong move and they would die a most unpleasant death.
With their leaders trapped, the panthers laid down their weapons and surrendered. Terrador demanded that they return to whence they had come and never again set foot near Warfang and Avalar. The panther twins had no choice but to agree or be slaughtered. But as the defeated panthers began to trudge back towards the Badlands, and the twins were released from their prison, Skelos had one more demand to make.
He wanted his sister back; nothing more, nothing less.
When Terrador refused to hand Terra over to him, Skulk put forward the idea that they could make a trade. A traitor for a traitor. For Chasm had become caught in the battle too, and he lay somewhere on the battlefield, surrounded by panthers and mauled by Skulk himself.
Skulk demanded that Chasm be brought to him, and he was soon dragged forward by Orpheus of the Elite Guard. Terrador was horrified that his star pupil was the traitor that had almost seen he and his fellow Guardians assassinated. But Skulk refused to hand Chasm over unless they were given Terra. Before anyone could make a move, he retrieved one of his rapiers and held it to Chasm's throat.
Terrador hesitated. Dare he condemn a young dragon to death, traitor or not, or hand over an innocent panther to the brothers that may very well kill her for her betrayal? Before he could make such a terrible decision, Terra herself arrived on the scene.
She had convinced Delos to take her into battle, unable to stay away while her tribe and her friends fought to the death. And she had heard Skulk's demand. Unwilling to watch a young dragon die because of her, Terra handed herself over to her brothers and left no question that it was her choice and her choice alone. Terrador could not argue.
As the panthers began to leave, Terra along with them, Hunter wrestled with himself. How could he let her walk away? For all he knew, her brothers would want her dead, and all because she had done what was right. And, somewhere along the line, he had grown fond of the pantheress. He could not let her go.
And so he stepped forward and challenged Skelos to a one-on-one battle, with Terra and the Valley of Avalar at stake. Skelos laughed in his face. He could not accept such a challenge from a cheetah who was not the chief of his tribe. The Valley of Avalar was not his to give away.
But just as Hunter's hopes fell, Chief Prowlus stepped forward. He had always wanted, after all, to end this war on his terms, without the intervention of dragons. One last battle, one last death, just as their ancestors had fought a thousand years ago.
Whoever won would take the Valley of Avalar, and Terra. Whoever lost would leave those lands forever.
Ignitus took a deep breath and was silent for a moment. He gazed down at his wide-eyed audience and said, "I'm sure you already know the outcome."
"Well, yeah," said Komet, wrinkling his snout. "I mean, I think. There are still cheetahs in Avalar, so... Prowlus won, right?"
"But there are panthers in the valley too," Gale pointed out, frowning.
Ignitus nodded. "Yes, we will get to that soon enough. But Komet is right. It was Prowlus who rose victorious from battle, but he did not kill his opponent. When Skelos fell, Terra intervened, unwilling to watch her brother die, and convinced him to surrender. And, to Skulk's great disgust, he did."
"So...that's that, then?" Gale said, her eyes wide. "They just left? The war ended?"
Slowly, Ignitus inclined his head. "The war ended. Skulk and Skelos took their defeated tribe and returned to the Badlands. Terra stayed in Warfang, and she was not sorry to see them go. At the very least, she could take comfort in the knowledge they were still alive and their misguided ambitions dashed. And so began the process of healing. The cheetahs stayed at Warfang for some time, just in case, and Terra stayed with them."
"What about Mum and Dad, though?" Komet asked, his brow furrowing. "They were out there trying to find some way to stop the war, and it just ended while they were gone? That's, like, a major copout!"
Ignitus gave a small, bittersweet smile. "Yes, I can see how that would seem unfitting. But there was a reason I kept them away from Warfang and the war. A reason that, in the end, caught up with them regardless..."
Spyro and Cynder, along with their sizable collection of friends and companions, left the fauns' Grotto the following morning, unaware that the war they sought to end had already come to a close. They bid farewell to the fauns and headed north, towards the Badlands and, at long last, the promise of recovering the lost Magic Crafter tribe.
But, amongst the group, tensions were high. Young Kazan and Zannak were more suspicious of Nadi than ever, now that he had made his move on Zannak's sister, Saffron. Only Roku, now recovered from his brush with death, seemed to support their newfound relationship. Perhaps that was for the best. For Nadi held a secret in his heart and it was beginning to devour him from the inside out.
Yes, I'm certain you have guessed by now—or at least been suspicious—but he was indeed the spy sent by the panthers. He had followed when Cynder and the others had pursued Spyro after he'd come to find me on his own, with only Sparx for company. When they had stopped at the island of the Dragon Temple, Nadi had made his entrance as smoothly as possible. He had always been a good actor.
But he knew I would see him for what he was at once, and so he did not follow when Spyro and his companions came to me. Had I known, perhaps I could have saved young Saffron the pain of losing trust in one she thought she loved...
Yet, Nadi himself began to doubt where his own loyalties lay. He had indeed grown feelings for Saffron—those were no lie—and he dreaded the moment he would have to betray them. So it was that, when Spyro and his companions at last set paw on the Badlands, Nadi revealed himself to them.
He told them how he had struck up a deal with the panther tribe, how he had been expected to befriend Spyro so that, when the time came, he would be able to betray him. He was the panthers' trump card, their secret weapon should things go wrong and should they need to face the purple dragon. But Nadi had had enough of spying and he told them the truth. He knew how to find the Magic Crafters, for he had lived with them for a large majority of his life. He could take Spyro to them.
Alas, the others refused to believe him. Would you have?
They kept him under careful watch, bitter and on edge now that they knew one of their number had been—and perhaps still was—a spy. Saffron refused to speak a word for quite some time, and the group wandered lost through the Badlands without direction.
In time, they happened upon an old temple nestled at the base of a great cliff. It was much like the one Spyro had trained in as a young dragon, where the eggs had been kept and the raid had started it all. But this temple was old and abandoned, and looked as though it had been for a very long time.
The young dragons explored it, nevertheless, discovering strange murals on the walls that seemed to tell a story. While they were there, young Lumis—the oracle dragon, brother of Alta, if you'll recall—had a vision. It was a vision of the five dragon temples that had once stood proudly at every corner of the Dragon Realms. It was a vision that showed the dragons of this temple fleeing from Malefor's wrath, and the flames that devoured them.
For you see, this temple was the old Temple of Fire. Back before Malefor first came to power a thousand years ago, there were five such temples: of fire, ice, earth, electricity and wind. Only the Temple of Earth still stands now, as far as any living dragon knows, and it is that very temple in which Spyro's egg was kept before the raid. When the Temple of Wind, which Malefor took as his lair upon his escape from the Well of Souls, fell into the volcano during his battle with Spyro and Cynder, the Temple of Earth became the last standing sanctuary.
But I digress. While Spyro and his companions explored the ravaged Temple of Fire, Nadi attempted to sneak away. Saffron saw and followed him, attacking and pinning him outside the temple. Instead of fighting her, Nadi insisted she listen to his story.
He told her how he had always felt out of place amongst the Magic Crafters. He had been born from the union between a Magic Crafter and a wind dragon—his father, whose story Nadi had stolen in his attempts to fool Spyro. His father had died young, succumbing to the illness that had been dormant in his veins even after his escape from his disease-ridden homelands, and Nadi had been the only non-magic dragon in the village. He had never felt accepted.
Then the unthinkable had happened. One of the Crafters had suffered a vision, a vision that all but ruined Nadi's life. It claimed that the son of wind, with the aid of the purple dragon, would bring ruin upon the Magic Crafters. Nadi was in disgrace. Who else but he could 'the son of wind' refer to?
Faced by distrust on all sides, he fled his village, leaving his mother and younger half-sister behind. And, in his mind, he blamed this unnamed 'purple dragon' for everything. He promised himself that, if he ever met a purple dragon, he would kill him—and the vision that had forced him from his home would never be fulfilled.
With his story told, Nadi pleaded with Saffron to trust him one last time so that he might take them to the Magic Crafters. Reluctantly, she agreed.
And so the companions left the Temple of Fire behind, and Nadi led them through the deserts of the Badlands to the hidden village of the Magic Crafters, concealed behind illusionary enchantments that only Lumis could see through. At long last, they had found the lost tribe.
"What then what then what then?!" Komet exclaimed, practically bouncing in his seat. Gale gave him a reproachful look.
Ignitus held up a paw. "Patience, Komet, we'll get there. But first, I feel it imperative that you know what happened to Chasm and the defeated panther tribe."
"Yeah..." Gale said slowly, frowning. "What did happen to him?"
"Chasm was taken back to Warfang and sent to the infirmary after the battle," Ignitus began, grimly. "His wounds were healed, but his treachery could not be ignored. The punishment for traitors to the Dragon City has always been death. But..."
"They killed him?" Komet looked half awed, half horrified.
"They did not." Ignitus shook his head and gazed down at the tome again, hardly noticing the words written neatly on its pages. "The Guardians could not bring themselves to commit such a young dragon to death, no matter his crimes. Instead, they banished him from Warfang for the rest of his days, never to return under punishment of death."
"Wow," Gale mumbled, shifting uneasily.
"So what'd he do?" Komet asked.
"Chasm," Ignitus began slowly, "was at a loss. He had chosen the wrong path and it had cost him everything. All he had left was his life, and he did not even know what to do with that. So, spurred on by frustration and anger, he left Warfang and followed the trail of the panthers all the way to the Badlands. What he hoped to accomplish, I am afraid I do not know. Revenge, perhaps? I cannot say."
Ignitus shook his head. "But what of the panthers themselves? Skulk was not content to live with their defeat at Warfang. He believed it was time to call in their trump card... I'm sure you recall the scrying gem that was placed, unknown to her, in your mother's necklace before she left Warfang?"
Komett and Gale nodded. Ignitus sighed. "It was that gem that changed everything. It had allowed them to spy on a conversation they most certainly should not have seen... A conversation only I, Cynder and Flame should have been privy to."
"Ooh!" Gale sat up straighter, her lilac eyes practically shining. "You still haven't told us what that was about! Are you going to now?"
"Soon enough," Ignitus said, trying to smile though he felt grim at the very thought of it, even so many years later. "But first, let us return to the story..."
When they arrived at the Magic Crafter's village, Spyro and his companions did not receive the warm welcome they had expected. In fact, the Magic Crafters refused entrance to both Spyro and Nadi, much to Cynder's disgust. Your mother could not understand why they were hostile towards Spyro, who was known amongst dragonkind as a hero and a saviour. She believed they should be hostile of her, if anyone.
But the Magic Crafters told her that she had already paid for her crimes on the dragon race, and that she was welcome, but Spyro had yet to commit the crimes for which they refused him entry. Cynder did not take this well, but Spyro convinced her to take the others into the village and talk to the leader of the Magic Crafters about why I had sent them. He and Nadi would remain outside and wait.
Reluctant though they were to leave Spyro behind, the others knew there was no sense in not doing what they had come there for. And so Cynder and the others were taken into the village, where they met with the leader of the Magic Crafters—a great white dragon named Lotus. He was kind and welcoming, but very strange, as oracles are wont to be.
Cynder explained to him how they hoped the Magic Crafters would be able to help Spyro tame his dark self and the fickle element of Convexity, but his answer was not favourable. Lotus told them, in no uncertain terms, that there was nothing that could be done for Spyro. He was a purple dragon, and therefore destined to delve into madness just as Malefor had done.
You can imagine Cynder's anger, I am sure... But Lotus was not done. He told them what I'm sure your parents have told you before—that Convexity is not an element in its own right, but the congregation of all of them in one. It is the essence crystallised in Spirit Gems, though not as gentle or as dilute. In its raw form, it is devastatingly powerful and nigh on uncontrollable. And, as a purple dragon, Spyro was merely its vessel; a vessel much too small and much too fragile for such an overwhelming force.
Sooner or later, he would break.
Unfortunately, Lotus got no further than that. At that very moment, there was a commotion outside, and Cynder and her friends raced out to find the village overrun by panthers. They had been led there by the scrying gem still in her necklace—a fact she would not learn until later—and they wanted Spyro.
They attacked him, intending on awakening his dark side, but Spyro would not be changed. He fought back as the village erupted in chaos around him, but it was not to last. The panthers overwhelmed him, their elemental weapons giving them the edge they needed to wear down the already weary and strained purple dragon. Still, he did not break. But your father's friends would never have left him in danger like that, and of course they tried to help, even if it meant putting themselves at risk.
It was Flame who charged forth to help your father, and Flame who took the deciding blow that shattered Spyro's walls. When he watched Flame fall—his comrade, his rival, a dragon once his bitter enemy turned his closest friend—the barriers that Spyro had struggled to keep up for so long finally broke.
And so did he.
Ignitus sighed and fell silent, letting the floating tome drift a little closer to the ground. Gale and Komet stared at him anxiously, shuffling closer together.
"Your father has never told me exactly what occurred inside him in the moment his walls shattered," Ignitus murmured, fixing them both with a solemn look. "I believe it is something he does not wish to remember. I'm sure he dreaded the day I would reveal to you this part of the story."
"Dad...Dad told us about what happened back then," Komet said haltingly, pressing closer to his sister. "About...going dark. He said we deserved to know. But...we've never heard the whole story."
Gale nodded mutely, gripping her brother's paw.
Ignitus bowed his head and gathered his thoughts. At length, he looked up and fixed the young siblings with a grim look. "The beast that broke free in Spyro's moment of weakness was not your father. In that moment, he was little more than a vessel full of elemental power. His mind was...feral."
"Many dragons and panthers were slaughtered by that vessel's elemental rampage, including Skulk. When your mother tried to bring Spyro back, she was almost killed herself—but she was saved by someone most unlikely."
"Chasm," Gale murmured under her breath.
Ignitus inclined his head. "She has told you, I see. Yes, that young foolish Chasm... He followed the panthers to his death. He always was particularly fond of your mother and perhaps he fancied himself a hero when he pushed her out of the way. But he never got the chance to revel in her gratitude..."
"Dad killed him..." Komet clenched his paws, staring at the floor, his shoulders visibly tense.
"No," Ignitus said at once. "Your father has never killed another sentient being. What killed Chasm, and everyone else who died that day, was a storm of elemental rage trapped within a too-small vessel. You must understand that."
Komet's jaw tensed, but he nodded nonetheless. Shakily, Gale copied the gesture.
Sighing, Ignitus closed his eyes and continued. "When its rampage came to an end, the vessel fled unchallenged from the ravaged village. In great shock, Cynder and the others struggled to patch themselves up. Many of them had been wounded in the massacre, but at the very least they were still among the living. But Flame lay dying before them, and there was little anyone could do."
"There was no more fighting in the village after that. The panthers too were nursing their wounds, and Skelos mourned over his twin brother's body. Cynder took her rage out on him—verbally. The very idea that he and his brother had wished to use Spyro as a tool of destruction disgusted her. But Skelos reminded her of that conversation she and I had had, and in doing so revealed the scrying gem in her necklace. And after that, Cynder had no choice but to reveal to the others exactly what I had told her and Flame back then..."
Watched by his awed and eager audience, Ignitus turned and summoned another book to his side. This one was as purple as Spyro's scales and gilded with gold edges. He flipped it open to a certain page and hesitated, gazing at the picture presented to him. It was Spyro—at least, it looked like him. His scales were darker than they'd ever been, a deep indigo that seemed to swallow all light, and his eyes were white and soulless, his jaws spread in a soundless roar.
Slowly, he turned the book to face his audience. Gale gasped and shrank against her brother's side, but Komett just sat rigid, his eyes wide.
"This picture appeared in your father's book long before he ever succumbed to the elemental storm inside him," Ignitus murmured. "I knew, the moment I saw it, what would happen and that there was no way to stop it. As the old Chronicler saying goes: 'What has been written must occur.' I feared what it would mean for Warfang and so, when I got the chance, I called Spyro away. Back then, even I did not want to believe it couldn't be stopped. I knew, above all else, that I had to keep him away from war."
"It was why I sent him away to find the Magic Crafters. I knew that, even if he never found them and even if they could not help, though I hoped they could, at least it would keep him away from battle—and, with any luck, away from whatever might trigger his change." Ignitus bowed his head. "Alas, it was not to be."
"So...this is what you showed Mum and Flame?" Gale asked, her voice trembling as she stared at the awful picture of her father. "Why?"
"Because someone had to know," Ignitus said, shaking his head, "and I knew I could trust those two to look after Spyro. Your parents' bond was strong even back then, and Flame and Spyro had formed an unlikely but unbreakable friendship. I believed that, if anyone could save him from what he would become, it would be those two."
"And he was saved, right?" Gale said timidly. "I mean, Dad's fine now..."
"He was, yes," Ignitus said solemnly. "Not in the way I had hoped, but saved nevertheless."
He recalled Spyro's book, closing it, and slowly returned it to its shelf behind him. Then, turning back to Komett and Gale, he continued. "With the information that Spyro had been fated to turn into that beast now out in the open, all that was left was to find a way to bring him back. First, they needed to find out where he had gone. It was Lotus who supplied the answer. As we know, elements are inexplicably attracted to dark gems and, in that state, Spyro was little more than a living elemental tempest. There is only one place in the whole of the Dragon Realms where dark gems grow naturally. I'm sure you know of it..."
"Concurrent Skies!" Komet and Gale said together, wide-eyed.
"Correct. With that knowledge in mind, Cynder wanted to leave immediately, but the others would not let her go alone. Roku, who had also been wounded in the battle—though not to the extent of Flame—volunteered to return to Warfang to warn the Guardians of what had occurred. Nadi and Lumis chose to go with him, using Nadi's wind powers to speed up their travel. Perhaps if they had been able to take Flame back with them, he might have been saved—but it is likely he would have died long before they reached the city..."
"Ah, Flame... No one had expected such a brutal end to their quest. I'm sure you can imagine Ember's pain. She had watched her friend, her lover, fall—and there was nothing she could do to save him from his fate. A lesser dragoness would have given up then and there, but not Ember. Though there was nothing she could do for Flame, she knew that there was someone else who needed her. And she would never have let Cynder go after Spyro alone. So, the plan was set."
"While the dragons prepared, Skelos sent his brother's body back with most of the panthers to their village. But he and his Elite Guard called the remaining Dreadwings and set off after Spyro, for Skelos was not yet ready to admit defeat. Cynder and her companions left soon after, leaving the mortally wounded Flame behind, and headed for Concurrent Skies."
There was one last thing Lotus told our young heroes before they left the Magic Crafters' village. The only way to save Spyro from within the prison of his elements, was to remove the elements entirely. Cynder, of course, refused to believe this. She believed she could bring him back the same way she had every other time: with love and reason.
And so they arrived at Concurrent Skies and made their way up through Cynder's old fortress. Dreadwings still lingered in the halls, far too many to fight, and the young dragons became separated in their attempts to break through. It was Cynder, Ember and your uncle Sparx who made it to the final floor and charged into the stateroom, and there they saw an awful sight.
Spyro—or the elements that were now controlling his body—had slaughtered Orroch, the Dreadwing king. And, to their horror, his body appeared to be growing. You see, unrestrained, the elements were at last growing to accommodate their vast power, and the vessel they occupied was stretching and growing with them—much like as had happened to Cynder when she was corrupted by Malefor.
Cynder attempted to fight him, but it was a battle she was fated to lose. Spyro was not within reason, and he listened to none of her begging and pleading. When she tried to attack, he caught her in his grasp and flung her through the window.
She fell, and Ember dived after her.
"The vision!" Gale gasped suddenly, sitting up straight. "The vision Ember saw in the Pool of Visions! That was it!"
Ignitus nodded towards her. "Very good, Gale. You have a good memory. Yes, the vision Ember had seen had at last come to pass, and she recognised it too. I believe it was that which allowed her to act swift enough to save Cynder's life..."
"But what happened to Uncle Sparx?" Komet interrupted with a scowl on his face.
"Ah, Sparx..." Ignitus smiled wistfully into the middle-distance. "That young dragonfly would soon play an important part. You recall the mysterious gem he received from the fireflies? The very same gem that was in Spyro's satchel?"
Gale and Komet nodded dumbly. Ignitus leaned forward. "That satchel was thrown from Spyro during his fight with Skulk and Skelos, and recovered by Sparx in the aftermath of the massacre at the Magic Crafter village. Upon retrieving the gem, he was told by Lotus that it was, in fact, a light gem. A crystal infused with the pure energy of light, much like our spirit gems are crystallized Convexity. Have your parents ever told you about light energy?"
"Well, yeah," Komet said, raising an eyebrow. He took a deep breath and spoke as though reciting from a text book. "Light energy is a pure essence that is the counterpart to Convexity. It is not an element in its own right, but rather an absence of the erratic power of elemental magic."
"Convexity's opposite, yes," said Ignitus, with a grateful smile at Komet. "Light energy has the ability to heal and to negate elemental magic. It is gentle and ordered, unlike its chaotic counterpart."
"So, what's this got to do with Sparx?" asked Gale.
"Well, when the young dragons took off in pursuit of the corrupted Spyro, Sparx took that light gem with him. Perhaps he thought it might help somehow, or perhaps he was merely reluctant to leave his prize behind. But whatever the reason, it was a good thing he did..."
With Ember and Cynder gone, Sparx found himself alone with his corrupted surrogate brother in the stateroom of Cynder's old fortress. Instead of trying to fight or reason with Spyro, he did the only sensible thing—something he had always been quite good at. He hid. With light gem in hand, he tucked himself away in the banisters of the stateroom and waited for the right moment.
Meanwhile, Ember's swift actions had given her the time she needed to catch Cynder before she hit the ground. They landed safely amongst the crystals, but Cynder was in deep shock. Wounded by the shattered window glass and shaken by her inability to reach Spyro, she almost lost hope then and there. Had Ember not been with her, I suspect she might have.
But, with Ember's encouragement, Cynder realised there was still hope. Lotus had been right. There was only one way to save Spyro—to remove his elements entirely. But neither dragoness knew how such a feat could be managed.
Or did they?
It was Ember who recalled the moment not so long ago, when Flame had foolishly touched the uncovered surface of a dark gem. The gem had almost sucked his element right out of him, or so he had claimed. Though neither Cynder nor Ember knew if these dark gems could drain the elements entirely or merely their power, it was the only chance they had.
The only problem was finding a way to retrieve the gems without losing their own elements in the process.
At a loss, Cynder and Ember eventually made their way back to the base of the fortress where, to their great surprise, they came face-to-face with a panther: Orpheus of the Elite Guard. He had been left to keep watch, just in case, while Skelos and the last remaining Elites—Erebos and Silt, for the other two had fallen in the battle at Warfang and during Spyro's rampage at the Magic Crafter village respectively—had gone up to find Spyro. Ember and Cynder were in luck, for Orpheus had never been as cold-hearted as the other Elites, and he listened to their plight.
They told him that, for now, the war between panthers and dragons was no longer important. With Spyro as he was, if they did not work together to stop him, the whole world would suffer. Orpheus was not one to disagree.
With his assistance—for, as a panther, he was not affected by the gems—they received a shard of dark crystal and waited out the night in a hidden alcove amongst the crystals, giving Spyro time to let down his guard and Cynder time to recover from her fall.
Inside the fortress, the other young dragons found themselves separated and lost. They too awaited the morning, hiding wherever they could, and wondering what had happened to Cynder and to Spyro. Meanwhile, Skelos and his assassins awaited the right moment.
When dawn broke, Cynder, Ember and Orpheus crept back into the fortress. They fought their way back up to the stateroom, encountering Saffron, Zannak and Kazan on the way, and burst in to find the vessel that was Spyro had grown even bigger than before. In a blind rage, he attacked them, giving them no chance to strike him with the dark gem.
That was when Sparx made his move. He had never been very brave or very capable in the face of danger, but he was nothing if not loyal to his brother. He would do anything he could to save Spyro. And so he did the only thing he could do. He threw the light gem.
It struck Spyro in the forehead and shattered upon impact, showering him with shards of crystal and a wave of light energy. For a moment, he faltered, the Convexity inside him warring with this new, negating wave of power. It was not enough to nullify the elemental storm that controlled him, but it gave Orpheus the window of opportunity he needed to strike.
Orpheus sank the shard of dark gem into Spyro's shoulder and, with a howl of pain, he collapsed. The darkness filtered from his scales, his body shrank, and he was once more himself—pale and unconscious, but himself. The dark gem fell from his flesh, convulsing and sparking with the uncontrollable energy it had absorbed. Orpheus picked it up, and that was when everything went wrong.
A fireball struck the young panther in the back, felling him and sending the charged dark gem skittering across the floor. It came to rest at Skelos's feet, while his assassins Erebos and Silt moved to subdue the young dragons. Skelos claimed that he would never give up so easily, that it would be an insult to his fallen twin brother. He had seen what was written in the Books of Time, and he believed that Spyro would become the Dark Master. When he did, Skelos and his panthers would be there to welcome him as his loyal servants. He would lead them to victory.
And Skelos shattered the dark gem.
"I am sure," Ignitus murmured, "that he, like everyone else, expected the released elemental power to return to its source—to Spyro. No one expected what happened next."
Komet and Gale were staring at him, wide-eyed, all but quivering with anticipation. Ignitus gazed grimly down at their eager faces, and closed his eyes.
"That elemental power did not return to Spyro. Instead, it went into Skelos himself. We are still unsure how or why, though I believe it was the spirit gem upon his staff, with which he shattered the dark crystal, that was the catalyst. But no non-dragon is ever meant to control the power of the elements—not directly. If even Spyro could not control such power, then Skelos was little more than a vessel made from paper—a vessel all too easily torn to shreds."
A shudder passed down Ignitus's spine and he shook his head. "It was chaotic. The elements lashed out from their new, impossibly weak vessel, bursts of earth, fire, wind, ice and electricity that destroyed the stateroom and threatened to kill everyone in it. There was nothing anyone could do, least of all Skelos, who was being torn apart from the inside out by the power he could not hope to contain. They all very nearly died that day, but..."
"How?" Gale whispered, her eyes wider than ever, filled with horrified curiosity.
Ignitus smiled sadly. "The ancestors intervened."
At that moment, Spyro was an empty vessel. Void of the elements he had once contained, there was nothing left to stop the spirits of the ancestors themselves from entering his body. In the midst of chaos, he rose to his feet, his body glowing with power, and emitted a fury unlike any he'd done before. It was pure and it was white, and in its wake, the elemental storm that had overtaken Skelos was entirely negated.
A light fury.
The tempest of elements faded into nothing, and Skelos fell like a puppet with its strings cut. Cynder and her friends raised their heads to find their wounds had been healed, and Spyro stood before them, still glowing in the wake of his fury. But as he turned his head to them, Cynder met his eyes and realised it was not him.
She spoke to him, and the ancestors replied. They had had no choice but to intervene. What they had just witnessed, what had just happened to Skelos, was against the very laws of nature. An abomination, one could say. But, though they had been able to nullify the elemental storm, there was little they could do for Skelos himself. His very essence had been shredded by that power, and he was dying.
The ancestors bid their farewells to the dragons, thanking them for all they had done to protect dragonkind, and left Spyro's body. The light faded, their presence vanished, and your father collapsed into Cynder's paws. And as she cradled him, and as Skelos lay dying on the floor, the windows shattered and the Earth Guardian Terrador burst in, Hunter and Terra on his back, with Cyril and Volteer behind him, hoping that they were not too late.
But Cynder smiled at them, and told them they were just on time.
"So...that's how Dad lost his elements," Komet said slowly, when Ignitus fell silent. "He never told us the whole story."
"Yes, I am sure it was very hard for him," Ignitus murmured. "He had come to consider those powers as a part of himself, of his identity, and to lose them all at once... Well, I am sure it took quite some time to sink in."
"And Skelos?" Gale asked quietly.
Ignitus bowed his head briefly. "Yes, he died that day. But, at the very least, he died peacefully in his sister's arms."
"He was a bad guy anyway," Komet grumbled. "He deserved to die."
"No one truly deserves to die, Komet," Ignitus said gently, fixing the young fire dragon with a firm look. "Skelos did many bad things during his time as leader of the panther tribe, but he did them with the well-being and the honour of his tribe in mind. It is only a shame he chose the wrong path."
"Whatever," Komet muttered under his breath, averting his eyes.
Ignitus eyed him for a moment longer, until Gale's quiet voice drew his attention back to her.
"What happened after that?"
"After?" Ignitus echoed. "Well..."
With the last leader of the panther tribe dead, the battle had at last come to an end. Defeated and lost, the remaining panther assassins surrendered, though Cynder and Ember vouched for Orpheus, who had helped them. The Guardians were gracious enough to take them and their fallen leader back to their village in the Badlands, and so they left Concurrent Skies behind. The Dreadwings, once more without a leader, returned to skulking in their nests and have not been seen outside of Concurrent Skies since.
They returned to the scene of the ruined Magic Crafter Village, where they found to their great sorrow that Flame had indeed passed on in their absence. Ember wept and the others mourned in silence, for a dragon who had not deserved such a fate, a dragon who should have had his whole life ahead of him. But they could not mourn for long. There was still more to be done, after all, in the wake of war.
The Magic Crafters bid them farewell and would not be moved from their ruined village, refusing all offers to return with the others to Warfang. And so they had no choice but to leave the Magic Crafters behind, taking Flame's body with them so that they might give him a proper send-off within the city's walls, and moved on.
Upon arriving at the panther village deep in the Badlands, Hunter stood forward and, with the support of Terra and Orpheus, extended the hand of friendship to their former enemies. As long as they came in peace and goodwill, the panther tribe would be welcome in the Valley of Avalar.
Of course, the panthers remained suspicious and uncertain, and with their leaders dead they had little to guide them. Hunter left them in Orpheus's capable paws, and it was many months before the panthers again made contact with the cheetahs at the Valley of Avalar.
With their quest over, Cynder and her companions returned with Hunter, Terra and the Guardians to Warfang, where they were given a quiet but heartfelt 'welcome back' by Zephira, who had been waiting for them for so long. Spyro, who had still not awakened from his ordeal, was taken to the infirmary, and Cynder and Sparx refused to leave his side until, finally, he woke up.
At long last, they had come home.
"And that, I suppose, is where this story ends." With a gentle smile, Ignitus waved his paw and the book closed. He let it float before him for a moment, gazing down at its featureless black cover, and waited for his audience to speak. The awed silence did not last long.
"That's it? That's how it ends?" Komet exclaimed, sitting up straight. "But what happened to everyone? What'd they do with Nadi? What about the Magic Crafters? Did Kazan and Saffron finally get together?"
"Duh!" Gale nudged her brother roughly, rolling her eyes. "Of course they did! Lecter wouldn't exist otherwise!"
Komet rubbed his shoulder ruefully and gave her a dirty look. "Oh, shut it."
Ignitus set the book down between his paws. "Yes, much happened in the wake of the war, I assure you. The fallen were mourned, damages were repaired, reunions were had... Flame was cremated the day after Spyro awoke, and it took a long time for your father and his friends to recover from his loss."
"But they did, eventually," he added, with a small smile, "and there were many good things to come, with the war over. It was some time before Kazan and Saffron started courting. They were at odds with one another for quite a while, but there was always a spark there... And Saffron could not bring herself to stay with Nadi, even though he had come clean. He had broken her trust, and trust is something no relationship can do without."
"As for what happened to Nadi himself... He and Lumis left Warfang not long afterwards, and returned to the ruins of the Magic Crafter village. The Magic Crafters decided it was time they ceased living in self-imposed exile, and at long last left the Badlands. They began a new village in Twilight Falls, where they can be found to this very day. Nadi made peace with his family and has lived with them ever since, and Lumis too found a home there—among others of his kind."
"And Hunter?" Gale asked eagerly. "He became chief too, right? I mean, he's the chief now and everything..."
Ignitus smiled. "Yes, that he did. When all was settled, he took Terra's advice and spoke to Prowlus, who, in a great show of humility, apologised for how he had acted during the war. He gave Hunter the confidence he needed to accept the next duty that was expected of him, and so a new chief was named. Some time later, he and Terra made their courtship known to the world—and I'm sure you're familiar with their young son."
"Yeah, Flint is cool," Komet said with a dismissive wave of his paw. "Dad takes us to visit the valley sometimes."
"It's so nice that there's panthers and cheetahs there now, too," Gale added with a little smile. "After everything that happened..."
"Yes," Ignitus agreed, "it was some six months after the war that Orpheus made contact with Chief Hunter and the panthers returned to the Valley of Avalar. It was a favourable outcome after all that had transpired..."
"But what happened to Zephira and Mother Seak?" Gale asked anxiously. "Did...?"
"Mother Seak lived for longer than any of the infirmary moles expected," said Ignitus. "She clung to life for almost a month, and continued to instruct Zephira in the ways of rehabilitation from her bed. Alas, she did not live long enough to see Zephira fly once more. She passed on in her sleep and was found with a smile on her face. The city mourned, none more so than Zephira, but Seak had lived for a very long time...and it was the eternal rest she deserved."
"And Zephira...?" Gale gazed hopefully up at him, her eyes shining.
Ignitus smiled. "Zephira flew again, yes. It was many months later, but with the help of Myst, Domino, and even Cynder—for your mother too has wind dragon blood in her veins—she learned how to manipulate the wind to replace her crippled wing. Her friends, your mother and father included, all gathered to watch her fly for the first time following that terrible attack. And that was the first time your father saw a spirit, as Lumis had been trying to teach him—the spirit of Ciro, Zephira's fallen brother, flying alongside her."
"Happy endings all 'round, I guess." Komet yawned and stretched, grimacing after so long sitting still. Gale followed his example, yawning loudly.
"Happy endings are the best endings," Ignitus said with a smile, floating the book back to its shelf. He looked back at his audience. "And that is the story as best we can know it. Your parents and their friends were invaluable in helping me piece it together for the Annals of Time. And now you, too, know it."
"It was a cool story," Komet said, grinning.
"It was amazing," Gale murmured, with a more subdued smile. "I can't believe Mum and Dad went through all that."
"Your parents have been through a lot," Ignitus agreed gently, sweeping the young dragons closer to him with a wing. They giggled and nestled up to him. "They fought for this age of peace that you both have had the privilege of living in, and they have earned their happy ending. You can be sure of that."
"It's not an ending yet," Komet said, wriggling out from under Ignitus' wing. "They might be old, but they're not that old."
Ignitus chuckled, hugging Gale with his other wing. "Yes, there is much more happiness to come for you and your parents, young dragons. Much more."
"Thanks for telling us the story, Ignitus," Gale said, nuzzling his leg. "And for letting us stay here. It's been great."
"Yeah, thanks." Komet rubbed his foreleg bashfully, averting his eyes. "You're pretty cool, for an old guy."
Though he had not truly been alive for many years, Ignitus felt warmth bloom somewhere in the pit of his chest, and he smiled. "You are most welcome, young ones. And thank you...for listening."
Tiny pebbles crunched under Spyro's paws as he came to a stop at the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. As always, the ocean surrounding the White Isle was strange and mysterious, glowing with an ethereal radiance mirrored by the aurora of lights twisting in the dark sky. Far on the horizon was the distant shimmer of the rising sun—perhaps it was morning in the real world, outside of the bubble of displaced time that encased the isle and its caverns.
"It's a lovely view," Cynder said, stepping up beside him.
Spyro glanced sidelong at her and smiled. The blue glow of the sea and the sky reflected on her ebony scales, making them shimmer like gems. "Very much so."
Cynder shot him a sly smile, as though she knew what he was thinking. She sidled closer and rested her head on the side of his neck, and for a moment they stood there, soaking in each other's warmth at the edge of the White Isle. Spyro closed his eyes and savoured the moment.
"Think Ignitus will be done soon?" Cynder asked at length.
"Probably," Spyro said, opening his eyes again and looked back over his shoulder at the crystal-lined path they'd taken through the caverns. "He said they'd probably finish the story today."
"Did he? Well, it's about time. It took him almost a week to tell it!"
Spyro laughed softly and hugged her closer to him with a wing. "Like Ignitus said, it's a long story."
Cynder eyed him sidelong, her smile turning a little sad. "It felt even longer when we were living it."
Spyro hummed quietly in agreement, letting that thought sink in as he gazed back out over the ethereal ocean. It was so peaceful now, after all the chaos of their past. It was hard to imagine all that had happened to him. And, after so many years of being without them, hard to believe he'd once controlled all of the elements. Part of him, a part buried somewhere deep inside, still missed that power—but without them he felt freer and lighter than ever. It was for the best.
"This has been a nice little vacation," Cynder said, interrupting his thoughts. "We'll have to bring the others next time."
"Yeah... Ignitus said he'd like that too," Spyro agreed, smiling wistfully. "It's a shame Sparx couldn't come this time."
"Oh, you know him," Cynder teased, nudging his rump with her own. "He's never been fond of the 'wacky moon temple.' Besides, he and Lulu have their little larvae to take care of..."
Spyro grinned. "They'll be fully-formed dragonflies soon enough. I can't wait to see the look on Sparx's face when that happens."
Cynder smirked and nuzzled his neck, unspeaking. A cold wind swept up from the sea, and Spyro drew her closer again, his thoughts returning to Warfang and his friends. They'd only been gone a week, but already he missed the city. He missed his friends and the Guardians and the cheerful little moles who would always greet him with a smile.
The Guardians had chosen their apprentices some few years after the war, and a ceremony had been held to welcome and celebrate those who would one day succeed them. No one had been surprised when Thasos had chosen Kazan and Terrador had chosen Roku, but there had been a few unexpected developments. Volteer had broken tradition by taking Saffron, a female, as his apprentice, and tradition had been shattered even further when they'd instated Zephira as Wind Guardian in training.
Kazan had been solemn for a while after the ceremony, as had all of them; they had not felt the loss of Flame so intensely since those first few weeks after the war. Everyone had expected him to one day succeed Thasos, including Thasos himself. That he would never be able to was a truth that still made Spyro's chest ache. But, at the very least, he could be certain that Flame was at peace, up there somewhere with the ancestors, watching over them. Ember had not let them forget that, and Spyro still marvelled at her resilience and how well she had moved on with her life, despite her loss. She was, without a doubt, a strong dragoness—and a good friend.
After so long, things were good in the great Dragon City. Spyro smiled at the thought. Soon enough he'd be back in Warfang, back to his seat in the council and his ordered home life—as ordered as life could be with two teenaged children. After the chaos of his early life, he eagerly welcomed the mundane.
"Spyro?" Cynder murmured at his side.
"How do you feel?"
Spyro pulled back slightly to look at her, a small frown creasing his forehead. "What do you mean?"
Cynder shrugged, not taking her eyes off the horizon. "We've been living in peace for so long, but...all the fighting, all the war—it's hard to forget. You—we—suffered a lot. I just wanted to know. After everything, how do you feel?"
Spyro smiled softly and turned her head to face him with a gentle wing. Their eyes met. "What brought this on?"
"Just..." Cynder averted her eyes, but didn't turn her face away. "Ignitus has been telling our story to the kids, and I... I guess it just brings back memories."
"I know what you mean," Spyro said gently, stroking her cheek softly with his wing-claw. "I've been thinking about it a lot too, since we've been here. But I think it's good not to forget it. Everything that happened...it deserves to be remembered, no matter how bad it was."
A shiver rolled down his spine as memories filtered into his mind. The time he'd spent corrupted by his elements was a blur of terrible emotions and horrible images. Half-conscious, unable to do anything but watch glimpses of the atrocities his body was committing... In the years after it had happened, he had had many nightmares. But it was over now, and those nightmares had stopped long ago.
"I suppose so..." Cynder murmured quietly, raising her eyes to his again.
Spyro smiled at her. "And as for how I feel now, well..."
He turned his gaze to the horizon, over the shimmering glow of the ocean, to the sun rising above the waves. After all the pain, all the darkness, there was light on the horizon, a promise of morning and of all the good things it would bring. He had his son and his daughter, he had Cynder and his friends, and he even had the mentor he thought he'd lost in the war. It was a bright horizon indeed.
"I think that sums it up nicely," he whispered in Cynder's ear, turning her face to the sunrise.
Cynder followed his gaze to the rising sun, the light playing across her face, and her eyes seemed to twinkle. She smiled. "Yes, I suppose it does."
A/N: And that is, at long last, a wrap. There is so much I could say that I don't know where to start. Again, I must apologise for how this ended. I know it's not how any of you would have wanted or expected this story to end, and it disappoints me too that I had to end it this way. But remember this is just fanfiction, and I don't get much more out of it than my own enjoyment. I no longer enjoyed writing this story, and I couldn't force myself to continue. This felt, to me, like the best course of action. Better, at least, than leaving it completely unfinished.
I know there'll be some people annoyed by this ending, and I can only hope you'll be gracious enough not to flame me. :P I did my best, and it was time to lay this story to rest. It's been over four years since I started it... That's a long time. Life has changed for me, interests have changed, and this story no longer has a place in it. It's just a shame I didn't manage to properly finish it before that interest died.
This story has been one huge learning experience for me. I made a lot of mistakes in the plot, the characters and the writing itself, but there was a lot of good in there too. People enjoyed reading it, I enjoyed writing it (most of the time), and overall I am glad I wrote it. Now there are other things I want to move on to, other stories and characters and writing styles.
Never again will I write a story this big—whichever way you look at it, you can't deny that this story was just far too massive for one fic. And I'll probably never write something this big in following, either. Just look at it! Over 200 favourites and follows, more than 120 000 hits, and almost 1000 reviews! This was big, and I'm so, so grateful to all of you. You gave me confidence in myself and my abilities, you helped me to improve, and you gave me reason to keep writing. Thank you so much for reviewing and favouriting and following and just reading. This story would have been discontinued a long time ago if not for you.
And a great big thank you to GoldenGriffiness, who was my beta-reader for a large majority of this massive fic, and to Selvah, who did a fair bit too. You guys are awesome.
So now that this giant monolith of a story is over, what's next for me? Well, I am entirely done with this universe. Tears of an Oracle and Residual Darkness will always be there for people to read, but I won't be writing any further stories to do with them. The doors are closed, and I am very glad to put this universe to rest. But that doesn't mean I'm done with Spyro fanfiction just yet.
Currently I'm still working on my other TLoS-based story Firelight, which is the first in a series that I'm excited to write. I'm also playing with ideas for a Classic Spyro fic or two, which I hope to start writing soon now that I can finally put Residual Darkness on the shelf. Then there's the reboot of Lost, which I probably won't get to for some time, but I'd like to eventually. Basically, you can expect to see me around in this archive for a while yet. But for Spyro and Cynder and all the characters of ToaO and RD? Their story ends here.
So, for the last time, thank you so much for reading and I hope, in one way or another, that you enjoyed the journey. It sure has been a long one.