A/N: Been awhile, eh mates? When was the last time I updated? Like...over a month ago. :B Don't worry, I still love you. So here's the next chapter. Forgive me for how boring this story has started off as, but after reading through ToaO looking for errors, I realised it was exactly the same. So yeah...things will heat up eventually. Until then, enjoy the random fight scene I throw in every now and then. :3 Oh yeah, there's a few things I need to say, but I'll save that till the end of the chapter. See you down there!

6.

As Prowlus disappeared into his hut, Hunter found his thoughts drifting to those cheetahs he had left behind in Warfang. With all the excitement of the previous night, he had almost forgotten Meadow and the other cheetahs. Where were they now, he wondered? Still in the dragon city? No doubt they had heard the news and were worried.

"What of Meadow and the others?" Hunter finally posed the question to the one dragon who didn't seem to be doing anything – Seriphos, "Are they still in the city?"

Seriphos, who had been staring thoughtfully at the cloudy sky, jumped when he was addressed. Unlike the guardians, who were discussing things quietly amongst themselves, and Spyro who was whispering softly to Cynder and Sparx, Seriphos hadn't joined in any conversation. He glanced at Hunter.

"Meadow? Oh, yes, he and the other cheetahs left Warfang just as we did," the earth dragon explained as he recalled, "They went through the Forbidden Passage."

"Ah," Hunter rested his chin on his hand thoughtfully, "They should reach here by midday, then."

The whispers next to them suddenly stopped.

"We should be leaving for Warfang in just a few moments," Spyro said as he raised his head, "If they're not going to get here until midday, they'll miss us. Perhaps you should send Meadow a message?"

Hunter stood up, "That's a good idea, Spyro."

The cheetah raised his arm to the sky and whistled sharply. Spyro was surprised at how quickly the hawk responded to the call as it alighted on Hunter's armguard. The handsome, yellow-eyed bird gazed expectantly at the cheetah, awaiting instruction.

"Go to Meadow," Hunter told it, "Tell him that Prowlus is well and that he is heading for Warfang. I shall be waiting here for him at the village. Go now."

The hawk replied with a nod of its glossy head and sprang from Hunter's arm. With several strong flaps, the bird soared into the skies where rain clouds were gathering. Sensing the coming rain, Hunter gazed apprehensively at the threatening clouds.

"So you're not coming back to Warfang with us?" Spyro's voice brought Hunter's attention away from the skies.

The cheetah shook his spotted head, "No. Someone must stay here to keep the village in order and to protect the villagers if there is another attack."

Cynder frowned, "But if Prowlus isn't here, surely the assassins won't attack again?"

"True, but they do not know that," Hunter replied gravely, "If they return to find our chief gone, who knows what they will do? And we have no idea of their motives. Why are they targeting our chief? And why now of all times, a thousand years after their disappearance from Avalar? There are too many unanswered questions for me to leave this village unguarded. Perhaps if I remain here, some answers will reveal themselves. Until then, I will trust you to keep Prowlus safe. A chief is important to his tribe. Without him, we may crumble and fall into disarray. Perhaps that is what the panthers desire."

Grim as those words were, Spyro couldn't help but agree with them. He nodded in understanding, despite his growing anxiety.

"We'll do our best to protect your chief," the purple dragon promised as he gazed anxiously up unto Hunter's aqua eyes, "Be careful, Hunter. If anything happens, send word as swiftly as possible. These panthers sound like bad news."

"And I doubt your tribe could afford to lose you any more than Prowlus," Cynder muttered wryly.

A grateful smile touched the cheetah's face, "Your concern is touching. Don't worry, young dragons, we'll sort out this mess."

At that moment, the reed mat covering the door to the chief's hut was pushed aside and Prowlus strode back into their midst. The cheetah chief was looking as disgruntled as ever, his arms crossed in a disapproving manner. A thick woven bag hung against his back, held by a strap that stretched diagonally across his chest. Looking a little flustered, Forage staggered out of the hut too, with two spears and a reed bag spilling out of his arms.

"Where's Cougar?" Prowlus snapped, snatching the spear that Forage clumsily offered to him.

"Right here, chief," the stocky feline answered, pocking his head out of a nearby hut. He came out hefting a javelin larger than any Spyro had ever laid eyes on. The staff was about as thick as Hunter's arm and the spear head, with its array of jagged barbs, looked frankly lethal. Spyro didn't fancy being on the receiving end of that weapon.

Cougar propped the javelin up on his shoulder, "Ready to go, sir."

"Good," the grumpy chief turned his eyes on the four guardians, "Might as well leave now. No doubt you'll want to get back to your city as soon as possible."

"That would be preferable, "Cyril replied, a little tetchily. It was plain to see that he was not fond of the cheetah chief.

Prowlus snorted, "Fine. Seems I've got no choice anyway. This mess had better be sorted out soon!"

"We'll do our best," Spyro assured him, but Prowlus didn't seem impressed.

He turned instead to his captain, "Hunter, I'm trusting you to keep my village safe. You're a strong warrior – I wouldn't leave you in charge if I didn't know that for a fact."

Hunter nodded respectfully, a sense of pride blooming in his chest, "Thank you, Prowlus, sir. I'll do all in my power to protect this village and everyone in it. Safe passage, chief Prowlus."

"I'll be back soon," Prowlus promised, and then added stubbornly, "whether you sort this mess out or not."

"That's a relief," Spyro heard Cyril mutter bitterly, "I wouldn't want him in my city for any more than a week!"

Sparx grinned in amusement. Luckily Prowlus didn't hear the ice guardian's words. His eyes fixed on Terrador.

"I believe flight should get us there faster," the earth guardian said, "And it would not be wise to remain out in the open for too long if there is danger afoot."

Forage and Cougar, who had never flown before, looked both awed and excited. But Prowlus merely shook his head and muttered, "Not again."

The skies opened up about halfway to Warfang. What started as a light drizzle soon turned into a drenching downpour that soaked anything unlucky enough to be caught out in the open. Sparx was forced to take shelter beneath Spyro's wing, lest his own wings become too waterlogged for him to fly. Prowlus sat stiffly upon Terrador's back, his fur plastered to his body, looking bitterer than ever.

At the dragon city, most of the inhabitants had taken shelter. But a small group stood outside despite the pouring rain. Flame paced backwards and forwards in the central courtyard, his scales dripping with water as his claws kicked up splashes from the puddling cobblestones. Zannak, Ciro, Ember, Saffron and Zephira stood with him. They shivered in the cold rain, their eyes trained on the skies. Kazan watched from afar, standing beneath shelter.

"I don't believe this," Flame was muttering, "Leaving the city like that…he could at least have taken us with him! Now we don't know what's going on!"

Ember shook her wings, sending droplets flying, but the rain only soaked them again. She followed Flame with her eyes as he paced in front of her.

"It'll be alright," the pink dragoness promised, but didn't seem very sure of her words.

Flame ignored her, "The cheetah village could be destroyed for all we know!"

Saffron glanced anxiously at her brother, blinking raindrops from her eyes, "Zannak, can you remind us exactly what Spyro said to you?"

The golden dragon shook his head, "I-I can't remember exactly. He was panicking. Like…really panicking. He said something about the cheetah village…it had been attacked. He told me to tell the guardians. I-I've never seen Spyro panic before. It has to be something bad. Really bad."

Zannak was trembling. Ciro glanced anxiously at his friend, "Maybe it's not as bad as we think. Maybe…"

But the blue dragon broke off, shaking his head. He too, was worried. His wing was wrapped tightly around his pale-scaled sister, who was trembling so badly she could hardly stand upright. Zephira pressed against her brother's side, seeking shelter from the freezing rain. She refused to seek shelter, despite the cold. If Ciro stayed, she stayed.

Flame gritted his teeth, "I can't believe he ran off without us! Without me! Argh!"

Angrily, the red dragon slashed his claws across the cobblestones and sent water flying. Rain poured into his eyes as he glared at the sky. The guardians had forbidden him to follow them, so now he stood and impatiently waited for their return. A year ago he would not have heeded their words, but Ember had gotten better at talking sense into him.

"Is that…?" Ciro asked suddenly, his bright green eyes staring into the grey sky.

Flame's eyes narrowed, "Yeah. It is."

He would have been pleased to see Spyro and the guardians return, had it not been for his anger at being left behind. As the drenched dragons circled in for a landing, the red dragon dashed towards them, yelling furiously.

"Spyro! What the heck is your problem, leaving us like that? You could have at least stayed and told us what was happening before you ran off on your own! What the hell were you thinking?"

"I know, Flame! I know!" Spyro called over the sound of the roaring rain, "I'm sorry! But things happened so fast, I didn't have time to find you guys!"

"Didn't have time!" Flame snarled, getting so close his muzzle was almost touching Spyro's, "You didn't think we might have been able to help?"

"You weren't there!" Spyro shot back, "I didn't know what was going on at the time; I just did what my head was telling me to do! And I would bet anything that you would have done the same, Flame!"

The red dragon hesitated. Scowling, he muttered, "Fine. But next time you leave me behind, I'm going to torch you. Trust me on that one."

Flame turned on his heel, still looking angry, and strode back to Ember. But he looked back over his shoulder briefly and muttered grudgingly, "I'm glad you're ok."

Spyro couldn't resist a weak smile. Terrador gazed at the group of young dragons that had been standing in the courtyard, waiting to greet them. He didn't look pleased.

"You young ones should not be out here in the rain," the earth guardian eyed Zephira's trembling form, "I suggest you find shelter and dry yourselves off, before you perish from the cold."

"Sorry, Master Terrador," Ember sighed, pressing closer to Flame, "But we were worried. Is everything alright at the cheetah village?"

Terrador opened his mouth to answer, but a disgruntled voice beat him to it, "My village is fine."

Prowlus had slipped off Terrador's back the instant the great green guardian had touched down. He was not fond at all of flying. Cougar, on the other hand, seemed to have enjoyed himself. The stocky feline helped a queasy Forage down off Volteer's back, grinning despite his drenched fur. His massive javelin was strapped diagonally to his back. The young dragons stared.

"Ch-chief Prowlus!" Ember stuttered, surprised, "I hadn't expected…"

"It wasn't my choice to come here," Prowlus muttered snappily, folding his arms, "I was forced into it by your guardians."

"But…why?"

The guardians didn't answer Ember's question. Instead Cyril merely muttered, "I think we should all get out of this rain. I, for one, do not enjoy it!"

"Yes," Volteer agreed, his spirit only slightly dampened, "We must find quarters for our guests!"

Flame, realising that he was not going to get any answers from the guardians, turned instead to Spyro. But he had barely voiced the question before the purple dragon was called away.

"Come, Spyro!" Terrador called, "I will trust you to show Prowlus to his room."

The purple dragon sighed, his wing still sheltering Sparx. He turned to glance at his friends and muttered in a low voice, "Meet me in the foyer of the Academy building in twenty minutes."

And with that he turned and scampered away, his paws flicking up water from the puddles that pooled in the cobblestone paths. Cynder followed him, leaving the others to seek shelter out of the rain.

"Guess we'll have to wait for answers," Zannak murmured, gazing after the purple dragon, "Come on; let's get to the Academy. At least it will be warmer."

Twenty minutes later, Spyro was making his way through the waterlogged streets towards the academy. He cantered quickly, eager to get out of the rain, Sparx keeping up with him under the shelter of his golden wing. Cynder ran silently beside him.

The Academy was in the northern area of the city. Having been rebuilt after being destroyed during the war, it now stole the title of 'tallest building in the city' from the Atrium. The large cylindrical building was akin to that of a great stone tree, as Spyro had thought on many an occasion. There was a balcony on each level that wrapped around the circular outside walls. And on each level were five different classrooms, except for the very top floor. The top floor was known to most young dragons as the 'lounge' because it was for lounging.

As Spyro and Cynder hurried into the warm and dry foyer on the bottom floor of the Academy, they found their friends waiting for them. Even Kazan had joined them and Spyro had a sneaking suspicion that Zannak and Ciro had dragged him here by the scruff of his neck. Flame, who had been lounging on the red carpet beside Ember, stood up upon the purple dragon's entrance.

"There you are. We were beginning to think you weren't coming," Flame smirked, before the grin dropped off his face, "So what's the deal?"

"Hang on," Spyro shook himself like a dog, sending droplets of water flying in every direction. Sparx buzzed quickly away, but Cynder was caught in the spray.

The black dragoness scowled, "I was wet enough already before you did that."

Spyro grinned apologetically and was forced to jump away when Cynder repaid the favour. Most of the spray missed him, but it left a large wet spot on the wooden floor that Spyro was sure the elders wouldn't be pleased about. The purple dragon shrugged and grinned at Cynder.

"Missed me," he taunted.

Flame's eyebrow twitched, "Quit mucking around! Tell us what happened, Spyro!"

"Alright, alright!" The purple dragon yelped, jumping as though he'd been stung.

"Keep your scales on," Sparx muttered, brushing droplets of water from his arms.

Spyro looked around the room. Zannak and Saffron stood side by side at the edge of the circular carpet in the centre of the room. Ember lay on the carpet, Flame standing beside her, while Kazan stood near the wall away from everyone else. Ciro was tapping his claws on the floor.

"Where's Zephira?" Spyro asked, cocking an eyebrow.

The blue dragon shrugged, "The guardians came by a few minutes ago. Said they needed to see her about something. I don't know what."

Cynder frowned, "That's strange. I wonder what…"

"Never mind that!" Flame snapped, annoyed by all the interruptions.

The purple dragon sighed, "Ok, Flame, no more interruptions. I'll tell you what happened."

"Good," the red dragon grumbled and sat back down.

It took Spyro only a few minutes to explain to the group what had occurred at the cheetah village. No one interrupted him, for which he was grateful, though Flame looked like he was itching to speak.

"So what do we do about these panthers?" the red dragon blurted out the instant Spyro stopped speaking.

The purple dragon frowned, thinking, "At the moment we know next to nothing about them. What I want to do is find out as much information as we can. That's what I want your help with. There's got to be something written about them and any bit of information is going to help. Maybe we can find out why they disappeared a thousand years ago…"

"You want us to go to the library," Zannak said, catching on.

Saffron hesitated, "The library is a big place. There are hundreds of books. How are we going to know where to look?"

"That's why I need your help," Spyro explained, "If we all look, it should take less time for us to find something. We can split up and each search different sections in the library."

"Book hunting," Flame sighed, resting his head on his paws, "How thrilling."

Cynder gave him an irritated glance, "I know it's not very exciting, but every bit of information helps! We just might find something!"

"So," Spyro glanced at everyone in turn, "Who's in?"

There was a silence as the group exchanged glances. Flame seemed to think the whole concept was utterly boring and Kazan didn't look entirely pleased either. But at last Saffron shrugged and answered for them all.

"Well, it's not like there's much else to do," she glanced out the window at the rain that was still coming down hard on the city, "We might as well check out the library."

"Better than sitting here and doing nothing," Ciro agreed wryly. There were nods of agreement from everyone else in the room.

Spyro breathed a sigh of relief, "Thanks, guys. I owe you one."

"You can fight me later," Flame grinned, standing up and stretching, "When it's not raining, that is."

Spyro grinned, "You're on."

The group of young dragons took the long way around to the library, keeping under sheltered walkways to avoid the pouring rain. Ciro's thoughts seemed to be elsewhere and Spyro supposed he was wondering about his sister. He too wondered what the guardians wanted with the little wind dragoness.

A pair of handsomely polished wooden doors met them at the entrance to the library. They crowded under the thin awning away from the rain as Cynder pushed the doors open. They hurried into the warm building, letting the heavy doors close on their own. As they stopped for a moment to take in the interior of the large building, Spyro noticed something. The library was a lot busier than it usually was.

"Guess everyone's sheltering from the rain," Flame said, having noticed it too.

The library was two stories tall, relatively short compared to most other buildings in the city. But it spanned a wide area that was even bigger than the massive flying grounds. The books were arranged on huge mahogany shelves, the tallest of which reached from floor to ceiling. The second story was more like a balcony than a floor. It stretched around the inside walls, was wide enough for five dragons to walk side by side upon, and was reachable by a magnificent marble staircase. There were bookshelves up there, too, against the walls.

"So where do we start?" Ember asked, gazing around the building.

"Anywhere, I guess," Spyro shrugged, 'We'll split up. I'll take the shelves over there."

He pointed with a claw towards the far left corner. Soon, after a few arguments between Kazan and Flame, everyone else had chosen their sections. Ember elected to ask the librarian – a green dragon who sat at his desk near the centre of the library, a quill clutched in his tail and several sheets of parchment littering his desk. The group split up, wishing each other good luck. The sheer amount of books was rather daunting to their eyes.

No one was really sure how long they spent searching for books in the library. Zannak became bored quickly and took to sneaking around after his sister, waiting for the right moment to jump out and surprise her. Ciro, on the other hand, found something far more interesting than a shelf of old dusty books.

The ice dragon had been searching through a shelf full of old dragon biographies when he spotted a green dragoness and her fire dragoness friend sitting together on a pile of green cushions. Ciro's book-finding mission was instantly driven from his mind. Standing up talk, he strode confidently over to the two dragonesses.

Nalu and her best friend had been quietly talking together when they spotted a blue dragon striding towards them. Nalu recognised him instantly and her cheeks took on a rosy shade of red.

"C-Ciro!" she yelped.

Ciro grinned, "I wasn't expecting to meet you here, Nalu."

The green dragoness blushed deeper, "W-well, it's such a miserable day outside and there's not much else to do…"

"Miserable?" Ciro feigned ignorance, "What's miserable about it?"

The red dragoness, Nalu's friend, snorted and replied, "It's pouring rain outside, bozo. Even someone as thick as you should have noticed that."

Nalu was about to reprimand her friend for speaking to Ciro in such a manner, when the ice dragon cut her off.

"Oh, but there's nothing remotely miserable about being in the company of two beautiful dragonesses," he winked. Nalu's face turned bright red, but her friend merely rolled her eyes and stood up.

"Have fun," she muttered dryly to Nalu and strode stiffly away. Ciro snickered quietly.

"H-hey, wait!" Nalu called, but her friend had already gone. She looked disappointed.

"Guess the miserable weather got to her," Ciro smirked, settling down next to Nalu in the now vacated spot on the cushions, "Allow me to keep you company."

Surprisingly, the green dragoness didn't object.

Saffron was perusing a shelf near the centre of the library. This shelf reached all the way from floor to ceiling, one of the few that did. Many of the books seemed to deal with dragon history, which was why the lightning dragoness was searching this section. It seemed the likely place for anything dealing with the panthers. But there seemed to be far too many books for her to know which one to choose.

"This doesn't exactly make it easy," she muttered, craning her head up to the ceiling, "Why do they have to make the bookshelves so tall?"

"Guess they need to, to fit in all the books," Saffron sighed to herself, cocking her head to the side to read the titles of the books on the lower shelves.

Rebellion of the Earth Dragons; The Age of Fire; The First Oracle Dragon; Battle of Boyzitbig. Saffron shook her head. These were all old books, detailing stories long before the Age of the Purple Dragon began a thousand years ago. And besides, they were about dragons, not panthers. Thinking that there might be something promising higher up, Saffron took flight and winged her way up to the top of the bookshelf.

"A ladder would be nice," she mused to herself. Her eyes scanned a row of books quickly, but nothing jumped out at her. Flapping her wings, she moved further along the shelf.

A flash of silver caught her attention and she moved closer to examine the thick, leather-bound book on the second top shelf. The title on the spine of the book was written in silvery letters. Saffron tilted her head to make it out.

'A History of Dragon Relations.'

"Huh," the electricity dragoness frowned, "This might be what I'm looking for."

It was a large book with a black cover and a spine about as thick as her foreleg. She placed a paw on the top of the spine and attempted to pull it off the shelf. But it didn't budge. Scowling, she tried again. It barely shifted. The book was lodged firmly between the two books on either side of it and Saffron had no doubt that all of the books on this shelf were the same. They must have been running out of space if they were packing them this tight.

"Damn books," she grumbled as she placed both paws on the top of the spine. Bracing herself in the air, she tugged as hard as she could. The book creaked and shifted barely an inch towards her.

Gritting her teeth, Saffron threw all of her weight backwards, digging her claws into the spine of the book. It shot out of the shelf like a cork from a bottle, catching the electricity dragoness off guard. With a yelped she plummeted to the floor, the book plummeting after her. She hit the ground on her back, grunting at the pain, and looked up in time to see the huge dusty tome falling towards her. Her body stiffened for the impact.

"Watch it!" a voice yelled and a red blur suddenly shot over her, intercepting the book. Stunned, Saffron could only blink.

She rolled over onto her stomach, her head turned towards where the red blur had landed. Kazan stood at her side, the book at his feet and a strange look on his face. He nudged the book towards her with a paw.

"You wanted this?" he asked gruffly. Saffron stared.

She pulled the book closer, never taking her eyes off the fire dragon. Kazan looked her over.

"You know," he said, "you should be more careful. That thing could have crushed you. It's heavy enough."

The electricity dragoness narrowed her eyes, "What's with you? Since when have you ever been helpful?"

Kazan bristled, "Since when have I needed a reason to be helpful? I just saved you from a falling slab of parchment! I don't know about you, but I don't fancy getting flattened by a dusty old book!"

Saffron lashed her tail, "And since when have you ever cared about what happens to me?"

Kazan faltered, his fierce expression wavering. Had it not been for his red scales, Saffron might have noticed the blush that spread across his cheeks. But lucky for him, she didn't. The crimson fire dragon clenched his jaw and looked away.

"Fine. Sorry I even tried to help!" he snapped.

Saffron snorted and rolled her eyes. She stood up, tucking the book under her wing, and brushed passed the fire dragon.

"Well, thanks anyway. But next time," she looked back over her shoulder, "I can take care of myself."

She flicked her tail, her golden brown tailblade catching Kazan under the chin. As she sauntered away, he glared after her. He had half a mind to tackle her, to teach her a lesson about gratitude, when someone else beat him to it. A blur of gold scales shot out from behind the book shelf, slammed into Saffron, and sent her rolling head over heels.

"Surprise!" Zannak yelled, pinning his sister to the ground. Kazan stared.

With her jaw pressed to the floor and her brother draped heavily across her shoulders, Saffron could only snarl and swish her tail angrily in response. Zannak grinned down at her, ignoring the lethal glare she was sending him.

"What is your problem?" Saffron snarled, attempting to push herself up. But Zannak's weight kept her flat against the floor. With a growl, the electricity dragoness surged upwards, flaring her wings and toppling her brother off her back.

He rolled onto his back, grinning goofily up at her, "Someone's edgy. What's up, little sis?"

"You," She snapped, gathering up the book that had been knocked from her grasp, "You are 'what's up'!"

"I was just playing around," Zannak laughed, flopping onto his side. Saffron merely rolled her eyes and stalked away, the book under her wing.

Her golden brother jumped to his feet and trotted after her, laughing and teasing her. Kazan watched them for a moment before he turned on his heel and strode away, still brimming with indignation.

Spyro felt like he'd been searching for hours with no luck at all. There seemed to be books on every subject – guardians, elements, old war generals, ancient cities, myths and legends, even things like gardening and music – every subject, that is, except panthers. After placing yet another unsuccessful book back on the shelf, the purple dragon turned to see if anyone else was having more luck. It certainly didn't seem like it.

Kazan seemed to have given up and was mindlessly pacing past the shelves, muttering under his breath; Saffron was trying to read a huge book, while Zannak bobbed up and down behind her, irritating her to no end; Ciro was busy chatting up the green dragoness, Nalu; and Ember had struck up a conversation with the librarian, a wiry green dragon with a round pair of spectacles on the end of his nose.

The pink dragoness seemed to have entirely forgotten what she had meant to ask the librarian in the first place. In fact, the only dragon that Spyro could see who was even trying to help, was Flame. But, judging from the constant frown on his face, he wasn't having much luck either.

Sighing, the purple dragon turned away from the bookshelf he'd been browsing and decided instead to look for Cynder. The black dragoness had disappeared, no doubt have found her own little niche in which she could search in peace and quiet. After searching on the ground floor, Spyro took the curving marble staircase up to the second floor. He saw Cynder in a far corner, surrounded by piles of books. But someone else was with her.

Chasm didn't like rain. In fact, he detested it. It was wet, cold and rather uncomfortable. That was why, with the constant downpour drenching the city, the young earth dragon made his way to the library where it was dry and warm. He expected to be bored. After all, he wasn't keen on books either. Written letters confused him, no matter how hard Cyril tried to teach him. However, Chasm was gladly mistaken.

After several minutes of wandering aimlessly around the ground floor, the earth dragon made his way up the stairs to the balcony-like second floor. And there, nestled on a bed of cushions with a book in her paws and several more stacked around her, was the object of his desires. Cynder.

Chasm wasted no time in striding confidently over to her. She was alone and seemed entirely absorbed in the book she was reading. Her emerald eyes skimmed over the pages with an ease than made Chasm both impressed and envious. Reading was not his strong point.

"Hey," he said as he stopped just inches in front of her. She flinched so hard that the book in her paws snapped shut violently.

Cynder looked up to see Chasm grinning sheepishly at her.

"Did I startle you?" the green dragon asked. Cynder sighed, a wisp of black smoke curling from her nostrils.

"Oh, Chasm, it's you," she acknowledged him reluctantly, her paw inching towards her book.

"I came in here looking for shelter from the rain," Chasm said and added with a grin, "Finding you was an added bonus."

Cynder was flattered, true, but she could never consider fancying anyone other than Spyro, especially a cocky, obsessive dragon like Chasm. And besides, she was busy.

"Listen, Chasm, I don't mean to be rude, but…" she hesitated, toying with the book in her paws, "I'm a little busy at the moment and I don't really want any distractions."

"Distractions? Who?" as Cynder had expected and dreaded, her meaning went straight over Chasm's head.

The black dragoness sighed and tried a more direct approach, "I'm reading at the moment, Chasm. I'd like to be left alone."

The earth dragon blinked, "Alone? With books? Come on, Cynder, that's boring! I just came to keep you company."

Cynder's claws began to tap impatiently on the spine of her book, "That's very thoughtful of you, Chasm, but I find reading rather interesting and I don't really need any company…"

Chasm hesitated but, to Cynder's dismay, the earth dragon didn't give up so easily. He grinned widely, showing perfect white fangs, "Come on, Cyn, I won't take up much of your time. Just a little chat – at least until the rain stops."

Cynder refrained from scowling as she heard the nickname he had given her, "Chasm, really, I'd like some time to myself!"

"To read books?" Chasm laughed, not unkindly and yet still irritating to the black dragoness, "Just let me stay a while. I guarantee it'll be more interesting than that dusty old book you've got there."

Cynder opened her mouth to reply, feeling both impatient and annoyed, when someone else beat her to it. Someone cleared their throat behind Chasm, causing the earth dragon to spin around in surprise.

"I believe she asked you to leave," Spyro said, a little darkly.

The change in Chasm's demeanour was instantaneous, "I don't remember asking your opinion!"

Spyro's eyes narrowed dangerously, "Regardless, I expect you to honour a dragoness's wishes."

It was no secret that Chasm didn't like Spyro. Cynder wasn't really sure why, but she suspected it was jealousy. After all, Flame had been the same not that long ago. The earth dragon gritted his teeth.

"And I expect you to leave us alone! I was just talking to her!" he retorted angrily.

"She asked you to leave!" Spyro shot back, his voice rising in volume. It echoed in the silence of the library.

Chasm took a stance, "And I'm asking you to leave! We don't need your interference!"

"If there's a dragoness being harassed, be it Cynder or any other, I believe it's my duty to interfere!" Spyro growled, "And frankly, from what I see, this counts as harassment! So leave Cynder alone!"

Chasm whole body quivered with anger, "Harassment? You're the one doing the harassing! She doesn't need you to baby her! She doesn't belong to you!"

Spyro felt white hot rage burn through his veins at Chasm's remark, "She doesn't belong to you either! Or anyone! She wants you to leave her alone, so leave!"

"You leave!" Chasm roared and, before anyone could stop him, he charged at the purple dragon.

Cynder gave a help of surprise as the earth dragon struck Spyro hard in the chest with his thick, curving horns. He went flying backwards from the force of the blow and landed in a crumpled, purple heap. Anger sparked in Cynder's eyes.

"What are you-?" she began, when Spyro suddenly surged to his feet and charged.

"Get out!" the purple dragon roared, catching Chasm in the chest with his forehead. He felt his brains rattle on contact, as Chasm rolled across the floor.

Cynder skittered out the way, but one of the piles of books she had stacked was knocked flying as Chasm crashed into it. Several books landed on the earth dragon, enraging him further. He staggered to his feet, eyes burning with anger.

"Purple freak!" Chasm charged the purple dragon and Spyro almost managed to dodge. But the earth dragon caught his opponent's tail in his mouth and brought him crashing to the floor.

Spyro lashed out with his hind legs, catching Chasm a nasty gash across the cheek, "Get off!"

"Stop it!" Cynder yelled, dropping the book she had been holding, "This isn't helping!"

But neither of the male dragons listened to her. Chasm tried to dig his claws into Spyro's hindquarters, but the purple dragon retaliated with a quick slash of his wing barb. The earth dragon stumbled away, pawing at his stinging muzzle. He looked up, eyes watering with pain.

"Who do you think you are?" Spyro snarled, "Harassing Cynder? Attacking me? You might be Terrador's best student, but you'll never be earth guardian!"

A howl of rage tore itself from Chasm's throat as he launched himself at Spyro. The purple dragon barely had time to yell before the earth dragon slammed into him and sent him crashing through the railing. Cynder shrieked as the two male dragons plummeted from the second story to the floor below, several books tumbling after them.

Spyro gasped at the pain as he slammed shoulders first into the polished wooden floor of the ground level. For a brief second, Chasm landed on top of him, knocking the wind out of him. But the earth dragon's momentum caused him to roll off the purple dragon and onto his side, wincing as he landed on one of his wings. For a moment both dragons lay there, robbed of breath and aching with pain, until Chasm struggled to his feet. The earth dragon had ridden the fall down on his opponent, softening the blow when he finally hit ground. As such, he was the first to recover.

Chasm wasted no time with pointless insults and instead pounced on Spyro with teeth and claws bared. The purple dragon, still dazed and robbed of breath, was jolted out of his stupor when Chasm sunk his claws into his shoulders. Spyro roared with pain and his tail lashed out, catching Chasm's hind legs and knocking him off his feet. The purple dragon rolled onto his stomach, still wincing as his body ached.

But he had no time to recover before the earth dragon was on him again, this time aiming to bite his neck. Spyro uttered a wordless snarl, his claws finding their mark in Chasm's shoulders and tearing bloody gashes in his scaly skin. Like wild animals, the two rolled over each other and tore at every inch they could reach of their opponent. Dragons were yelling at them from the sidelines, but neither paid any attention.

The librarian was frantic to keep them away from the book shelves, but was powerless to do anything to break up the fighting males. Cynder raced down the stairs, galloping towards the fight.

"Stop this! Stop this, now, both of you!" the librarian was crying as Spyro and Chasm rolled closer to the nearest bookshelf, "Take it outside, at least!"

But it was no use. Spyro snarled as his hind legs found Chasm's underbelly and kicked the green dragon off his chest. He slammed into the bookshelf, causing it to wobble dangerously, and collapsed to the floor in a cascade of books and tomes. Chasm burst out of the pile of literature, claws aimed at Spyro's chest, sending books flying. The librarian moaned in horror as the books skidded across the floor, some lying open with pages half torn out.

Spyro spun a half-circle, whipping the charging Chasm across the face with his tail and causing him to stumble backwards. There was blood in his eyes from a scratch that the earth dragon had inflicted on his forehead. Everything in his vision was tinged with red – whether from blood or anger, he didn't know. An animalistic snarl echoed from Chasm's throat as he charged once more. But he never reached Spyro.

"Get out of it!" roared a furious voice as something red smashed violently into the charging earth dragon.

Chasm went rolling, locked in battle with the red dragon, until the two of them skidded to a stop. Flame was pinning the green dragon down, his golden eyes burning with fury and his teeth bared in a dangerous snarl. Chasm glared up at him through the blood that seeped into his eyes from the scratches on his face. Spyro stared.

"The hell!" Flame yelled in Chasm's face, "What the hell gives you the right to attack Spyro like that? You slimy, putrid excuse for a worm!"

Chasm grimaced and tried to rise, but Flame's claws were at his throat and he couldn't move a muscle. He could only show his fangs in a snarl that didn't seem quite so threatening now with him pinned to the floor. Flame was trembling with rage.

"I should tear you apart right here, worm!" he growled, his claws beginning to draw blood from Chasm's neck. The earth dragon squirmed.

"Hypocrite," he snarled thickly, finding difficulty talking with Flame's talons at his throat, "Everyone knows…how you treated Spyro when…you first got here! Let me…up!"

Flame's snarl widened, showing his fangs right up to the gum, "That's in the past, worm! Spyro's my rival and I'll be damned if I let you beat him up before I have a chance to! Not that you could, you filthy maggot! If you hadn't pulled that dirty trick and pushed him off the balcony, he'd have shredded you by now!"

"I could…beat him any day!" Chasm snarled back, struggling against Flame's claws as beads of blood ran down his neck, "Whether you interfere…or not! I'll be the one doing the shredding! And if you don't…get off me…it'll be you I shred!"

The fire dragon raised a paw, preparing to slash Chasm across the face, but the librarian's yell distracted both of them.

"That's enough!" the wiry green dragon yelled, "Get out of my library!"

He had been gathering up the books that had been knocked from the shelves and his spectacles were hanging off the end of his muzzle. He looked flustered and angry. Ember quickly moved to help him gather the books. Taking advantage of Flame's distraction, Chasm squirmed out of his grip and scrambled away, whacking Flame in the side with his clubbed tail.

Spitting blood on the floor, Chasm glared at Spyro and hissed, "Next time, you'll get what's coming to you. And even your idiot friend won't be able to save you! Purple freak!"

Then he whirled around and staggered towards the door, leaving droplets of blood in a trail behind him. Flame snarled and made to charge after him, but Spyro quickly stepped into his path.

"That's enough, Flame!" the purple dragon said quickly, restraining him with a paw, "Let him go. You've…done enough."

"That worm!" Flame snarled, glaring after Chasm as he left the library, "Who does he think he is? Next time I get my paws on him-!"

But at that moment, the librarian interrupted them, wings flared and spectacles still hanging askew.

"Get out! Out of my library! You've done enough damage! Out! Both of you!"

Grimacing at each other, the two rivals hurried away from the infuriated librarian and made for the door. Spyro glanced apologetically at Cynder, but she only shook her head and moved to help Ember and the librarian to gather the damaged books. The purple dragon sighed and followed Flame outside, his injuries still aching.

It was cold outside, but at least the rain had eased up. Instead of the soaking downpour of earlier, only a light drizzle fell from the clouds to dampen the streets. Spyro strode out into the open, letting the cold rain sooth his stinging wounds. His back ached from his fall onto the wooden floor. A part of him hoped Chasm was aching just as badly.

"I can't believe that jerk," Flame muttered, moving to stand out in the rain with the purple dragon, "And he's supposed to be Terrador's prize student?"

'He's not a bad fighter,' Spyro thought to himself reluctantly. Through the hazy drizzle of rain, he could see the green form of Chasm limping slowly away. 'I'd hate to see what he's like with his element.'

"Flame…thanks…"

The fire dragon glanced at Spyro in surprise, "What?"

"For standing up for me," Spyro added, with a smile that looked more like a grimace.

Flame snorted and looked away, "Yeah, well, he was out of line. If anyone is going to bloody you up in a battle, it'll be me."

The purple dragon grinned, "Sure, Flame. You know, you weren't that unlike Chasm when we first met…"

"That was a whole year ago!" the red dragon spluttered, looking offended, "And besides…I've changed."

"You know, I'm glad I've got you as a friend now, Flame," Spyro admitted, "rather than an enemy."

Flame didn't respond. After several moments in which the two dragons just stood in the rain outside the library, Spyro had an idea.

"You didn't find anything about the panthers did you?" he asked Flame first.

"Not a thing," the fire dragon responded bitterly.

"Neither did I," Spyro sighed, staring into the rain, "I think we should ask the guardians. They're older than us, wiser than us, and they just know more than we do. If they know anything…"

"Wouldn't they have told us by now?" Flame cut in sceptically, raising a scaly eyebrow.

Spyro scowled darkly, "They've kept secrets from me before. Come on, it's worth a shot."

The purple dragon set off towards the guardians' quarters, Flame trailing behind asking, "If they kept it a secret from you, what makes you think they're going to tell you now? And why would they keep anything a secret anyway?"

"The more we find out about these panthers, the better equipped we will be to defend ourselves against them if they attack," Spyro said stubbornly, "I'm going to try everything I can to get information, no matter how improbable it might be."

"Whatever you say," Flame sighed and fell into step beside him. But they'd barely moved away from the library when a small white figure appeared out of the hazy curtain of rain.

The figure paused for a moment upon seeing them before hurrying forwards calling, "Spyro, Flame! I've been looking for you!"

Spyro blinked rain out of his eyes, recognising the figure as it came closer, "Zephira? What are you doing out in the rain?"

"Yeah and where have you been?" Flame added.

The wind dragoness trotted to a stop in front of them, droplets of water running in rivulets over her pale scales. She looked like she'd been out in the rain for a while.

"I got away from the guardians about half an hour ago and have been looking all over for you," she sighed, shivering and shaking water off her rump, "I went to the Academy, but you weren't there, so I've been wandering around ever since. Where's everyone else?"

"Sorry, Zephira, we were in the library," Spyro apologised, feeling a little guilty that she'd been out looking for them in the rain all along, "The others are still there. We were just going to see the guardians ourselves."

"What did they want with you?" Flame asked curiously.

Zephira hesitated and, for the first time, Spyro noticed the underlying worry in her purple eyes. What had the guardians wanted with this petite little dragoness?

"I…well…" Zephira traced her claw over the wet cobblestones beneath her feet as thought she was hesitant to speak.

"What is it?" Flame pressed impatiently.

She looked up at Spyro, "They…want me to teach you."

Spyro was bemused, "Teach me?"

"How to control wind," Zephira revealed at last with a wispy sigh, "They think it's time you learned how."

"I…" The purple dragon blinked, stunned, and uttered the only thing he could think of, "You?"

Zephira blushed, her white cheeks turning rosy pink like the sky at sunset. Instantly, Spyro regretted his exclamation.

"I-I didn't mean it like…" he stuttered, his cheeks burning with embarrassment, "I'm sure you'll be a good teacher, I just thought, I mean…"

"I know," Zephira said quickly, cutting him off, "I don't feel like I'm ready to teach someone. I'm…only young…"

She looked away, "What if I'm not…good enough? But the guardians think I'm the best for the job because…because we're friends, I suppose…and there aren't many wind dragons in the city."

"What about Mother Seak?" Flame interrupted, "Isn't she?"

Zephira smiled fondly. She had always admired the old white dragoness known as Mother Seak. Seak was like a grandmother to her and a mother, too, since her own mother had died long ago during the war. But Seak was old and sightless, well past her prime years.

"Mother Seak is very old, Flame," the little wind dragoness explained, "She lost her ability to control wind many years ago. She still remembers what it was like and she uses that knowledge to teach the young dragons to fly. But she cannot teach Spyro to control wind."

"Right…" Spyro murmured, staring at his claws. Zephira looked at him anxiously.

"Do you think…do you think you could learn to control wind from me?" she asked carefully, worried about his answer.

Spyro wasn't sure how to answer. In truth, he didn't want to learn – whether from Zephira or anyone else. Didn't he already have enough to do? And yet the guardians just seemed to be pushing more and more on him. If this continued, Spyro wasn't sure if he could take it anymore.

"If…if it's what the guardians think is best…" Spyro stammered, shaking his head slowly, "But, you have to decide if you want to do this, Zephira. You have to decide if you think you can."

"I think," Zephira paused, her eyes glazed over, "I think I shall talk with Mother Seak. She will know what to say. She always does."

Spyro nodded in acceptance. He was surprised when Zephira turned her eyes back to him and added, "Oh, and Spyro? The guardians told me to tell you that your 'advanced training' will continue. Terrador wishes to see you for your lesson at the Western courtyard this afternoon. Spyro, what is this advanced training?"

Flame raised an eyebrow, "Advanced training? You been keeping something from us, Spyro?"

"I…" Spyro faltered. He'd almost forgotten that he hadn't told any of his friends, other than Cynder, of his advanced training. He hoped Flame wouldn't be mad.

"I'll tell you later, when everyone is together," Spyro promised, a little reluctantly. Flame didn't look pleased, but he never was the patient sort.

"Let's head over to the guardians," the purple dragon suggested, turning away.

"I'll tell everyone over at the library," Zephira offered and then scampered away.

Flame watched her go. Something was happening – something that involved Spyro – he was sure of it. Advanced training? Lessons with the wind element? It was almost as though they were trying to make Spyro stronger, as quickly as possible. But why?

"You coming, Flame?" Spyro called. Still with thoughts running through his mind, the fire dragon turned and hurried after his purple friend.

A dull knock sounded at the door, breaking Terrador's concentration and distracting him from the old scroll he'd been reading. The earth guardian heaved a hefty sigh and glanced out the window to see that the rain still had yet to cease, though it had eased. He rolled the scroll up carefully.

"Enter!"

In response to Terrador's call, the door creaked open and two dragons strode into his study. The earth guardian was a little surprised to see Flame and Spyro, but a part of him had been expecting it ever since they'd returned from Avalar. He could see the inquisitory gleam in Spyro's eye that told him there was something the purple dragon wanted to know.

"How may I be of assistance, young dragons?" Terrador asked, setting the scroll down in his very low wooden desk. It had been built close to the floor, allowing the guardian to lie down to read or write.

"We came here to ask you a question," Spyro said, watching the earth guardian carefully, "about the panthers."

Terrador sighed and lumbered over to an old and battered cushion where he laid his battle-worn body. He looked over the two hard-faced youngsters, considering them for a moment. Flame had always been very stubborn and, in a way, so had Spyro, especially in matters that concerned those he cared most about.

"I expected as much," Terrador admitted, shaking his head, "However, I am afraid I cannot help you."

The purple dragon looked shocked, "But…surely you must know something! You're the guardians, you should…"

"I know you seek answers, Spyro, but in truth I too have been searching in vain," the old green guardian turned his head to the pile of scrolls on his desk, "Even the oldest of my scrolls reveal nothing of the black felines known as panthers. We are at a loss, Spyro."

Spyro's face fell, "How can that be? How can there be nothing written about them?"

"Maybe no one wanted to write about them," Flame muttered dryly. Spyro glared at him, but was surprised by Terrador's next words.

"In a way, Flame is correct," the earth guardian sighed, "Dragons are a proud species. We only wrote about matters than concerned us, or anything to do with our species. Even before Malefor, our relations with the feline tribe in Avalar were minimal at best. We tolerated each other, but we were not friends by any meaning of the word. Just as the feline tribe meant nothing to us, nothing was ever scripted about them. Unfortunately, we are only discovering this now, when it matters most."

"So…so," dismay coloured Spyro's expression, "there's nothing? No information at all?"

"Not," replied Terrador, with a gleam in his eye, "in our history. But in the history of the cheetah tribe, you may discover something. In fact, there is someone in this city at this very moment who may have the information you seek. Can you think of who that could be, Spyro?"

Flame looked stumped, but the answer dawned on Spyro in an instant.

"Prowlus," he muttered.

"Yes," Terrador nodded, "If there was ever a cheetah so proud and knowledgeable of history, it is Prowlus. I am sure he knows, but it may be information he is unwilling to disclose. Perhaps it is something he is ashamed of. Either way, the chief of cheetahs may be the only source of answers in this city. I urge you, Spyro, to confront him. If anyone can coax information out of a cheetah as stubborn as Prowlus, it is you."

Spyro's face hardened in determination, "Right. Let's go, Flame."

"Yeah," Flame agreed, with a wicked grin, "We've got a cheetah to beat answers out of."

The two young dragons left Terrador's study as quickly as they had come, with a passing cry of, "Thankyou, Master Terrador!"

With another hefty sigh, the earth guardian was left to wonder and hope that they wouldn't annoy Chief Prowlus too much.

When Flame and Spyro left the guardian quarters, they found their friends already waiting for them. Zephira must have found them and led them all here. Cynder was at the head of the group and, upon seeing Spyro, instantly made her way over to him. The purple dragon hesitated.

"Cynder!" he yelped, noticing the steely glint in her eye. His demeanour instantly changed to apologetic.

"L-listen…I'm sorry about earlier," he mumbled, pawing guiltily at the ground, "I should have aggravated Chasm. I only made things worse…"

"Spyro, it's ok," the black dragoness insisted, to his surprise, "I just wish you wouldn't be so quick to jump to my rescue. I can take care of myself."

Spyro looked down, ashamed. There was a sudden sting in his forehead and he realised Cynder was licking clean the cut that Chasm had inflicted there. In front of everyone else…his cheeks burned with embarrassment. Cynder ceased cleaning the wound and nuzzled his cheek gently.

"Are you ok? You were pretty cut up and you had a nasty fall," she seemed genuinely concerned.

Spyro smiled weakly, "I'll be fine. I've had worse. Much worse."

"You don't have to tell me," Cynder agreed wryly.

"What did the guardians tell you, Spyro?" Zannak cut in, reminding the two dragons that their friends were still present.

"Uh…? Oh," Spyro shook his head roughly as though to clear it, "Terrador doesn't know anything. He suggested we ask Prowlus instead."

"Prowlus?" Ember wrinkled her nose, "How much is that stubborn old cat going to tell us?"

"Probably not much," Flame agreed bitterly, rolling his eyes.

"We won't know until we try!" Spyro insisted stubbornly, as everyone had expected.

Saffron agreed, "If anyone's going to know anything about the panthers, it'll be Prowlus. After all, weren't they part of the village in Avalar a thousand years ago?"

"According to Hunter," Spyro nodded, "That reminds me, did any of you find anything in the library?"

But as he expected, everyone shook their heads. Saffron admitted she had found a small paragraph concerning the feline village in Avalar, but nothing had been mentioned about panthers. It seemed Prowlus really was the only choice.

"Are you all coming?" Spyro asked and was greeted with several nods.

"The more of us there are, the more likely we are of getting answers out of the old furbag!" Zannak exclaimed, with a toothy grin.

"That settles it, then," Flame nodded, "So, who knows where to find the old chief?"

"I do," Spyro muttered, "If I know Prowlus, he won't have left the room I escorted him to this morning."

There were guards outside Prowlus's door when Spyro and his group approached. Luckily, the guards weren't strangers. In fact, they were two felines that Spyro quite liked. Cougar gave the group of young dragons a rugged grin, his handsome blue eyes twinkling merrily. Forage gave them a fleeting smile; he looked tired.

"Hey there, Spyro, I see you finally came to see us," the golden-furred cat winked and leant against the wall, his huge javelin held in his paw, "You know, it gets rather boring guarding the chief's door all day. Though I hear the weather's not so good either."

Spyro shook his head, "It's still raining. Cougar, Forage, these are my friends – Flame, Ember, Saffron, Zephira, Ciro, Zannak and Kazan. I believe you already met Cynder and…" the purple dragon paused, as he realised something for the first time, "has anyone seen Sparx?"

The dragons shook their heads, but Forage provided the answer.

"The little glowing dragonfly?" the blue-furred feline asked, "He came by not too long ago, said he was tired of watching you look for books in the library. I think he went off to the main hall."

Spyro shrugged, "Well, at least he's doing something. Cougar, Forage, I need to ask a favour."

"What'll it be, Spyro?" Cougar asked, fiddling with his javelin. Kazan was eying the weapon warily.

"We need to speak with Prowlus."

"Ooh," Cougar hesitated, running his free hand over the short golden fur on his head, "That's a doozy. Prowlus don't like anyone disturbing him, 'specially dragons. Right Forage?"

"Yes…" Forage looked worried, "I doubt he'd be very happy to see you, Spyro. Especially since there's…uh…so many of you."

Zannak grinned widely, "We're just the supporting team! We won't mess anything up!"

"Yeah right," Saffron muttered with a sidelong glance at her brother.

"This is important," Spyro insisted, "We need to ask him about the panthers."

"Ah," Forage's eyes lit up, but he still looked anxious, "Yes, that is a particularly touchy subject for the chief. I'd tell you the tale myself, but I don't know the details."

"That's why we need to see, Prowlus," Flame growled, "So if you'd just let us in…"

"Prowlus won't be very happy with us, either, if we let you disturb him," Forage shook his head. Cougar, on the other hand, didn't seem nearly so uptight.

"But he's cranky all the time, so we might as well give it a shot," the golden-furred feline winked, "especially seeing as it's something important."

"B-but…" Forage spluttered as Cougar moved to knock on the door. However, it was clear to the young dragons who was in control.

Cougar rapped smartly on the closed door with his knuckles. After a moment, a gruff voice called out agitatedly, "What do you want?"

"A few guests here to see you, chief," Cougar called through the door.

"Tell them to go away and leave me in peace," Prowlus's voice snapped. Flame and Spyro grimaced at each other.

"No can do, chief," the golden-furred feline called back, grinning, "They insist on speaking with you. And it's…pretty important."

There was a silence and then a grumbling sound from behind the door. After a few moments, they heard the sound of soft pawfalls and the door slowly creaked open.

"What could be so important that you have to disobey my orders…?" Prowlus was muttering, until his eyes fell on Spyro, "Oh. You."

The purple dragon dipped his head, "Sorry for the intrusion, chief Prowlus. We came to ask you something."

"The interrogation committee, I see," Prowlus growled, his eyes sweeping over the group of young dragons with disapproval, "What do you want?"

"Tell us about the panthers," Flame said bluntly, before anyone could stop him.

Prowlus's face hardened, "Demanding, aren't you? You want information? No. Go away and leave me in peace. I've got enough to think about without a group of rowdy hatchlings interrogating me about things that are none of their business!"

The cheetah chief made to close the door in their faces, but Spyro stepped forwards and held in open with his shoulder. He stared up at Prowlus defiantly.

"With all due respect, chief, this is important," Spyro said, "If we're going to sort out this mess and figure out why the panthers tried to assassinate you, we're going to need to know everything about them that you know. You want to get back to your village as soon as possible, right? Then maybe you can help us help you."

Prowlus's eyes narrowed. The purple dragon waited anxiously for his response, half expecting the chief to kick him out and slam the door shut. But, to his surprise, Prowlus did no such thing.

"You seem to have a put a lot of thought into this, dragon," the cheetah muttered, "If you aren't going to leave…I suppose I don't have much of a choice. The sooner I tell you, the sooner you can leave me in peace!"

He turned on his heel and strode back into his room, his cloak flying out behind him. Spyro took this as an invitation and strode in after him, with his group following behind. Cougar and Forage made to follow, but Prowlus turned his glare on them.

"Stay on guard!" he snapped, "And don't let anyone else in!"

"Sir," Forage said quickly and retreated out of the room. Cougar only grinned crookedly and closed the door behind them.

Prowlus stood in the centre of his room, his gaze sweeping over the small crowd staring expectantly up at him. He wasn't fond of dragons; especially young ones. And now there were nine of them standing in his room. The sooner he got rid of them, the better.

"Well? What do you need to know?" the chief snapped impatiently.

Spyro met his gaze calmly and replied evenly, "Everything you know about the panthers. Who they were, what they were like, and why they left Avalar a thousand years ago."

Prowlus snorted, "That's a long story, dragon. Might as well sit down and make yourselves comfy."

The young dragons did just that, settling down on separate cushions. There weren't enough for everyone, so some of them had to share. Cynder and Spyro were sharing a cushion, as were Flame and Ember and Ciro and Zephira. Saffron and Kazan sat as far away from each other as possible. Prowlus eased himself down onto a cushion, surveying his audience.

"This is a tale that begins almost a thousand years ago, long before any of you were born," Prowlus began, eying Spyro shrewdly, "It takes place in a time when the very first purple dragon was alive and very much in control. Malefor and his army of apes were terrorising the Dragon Realms and the world was a dangerous place for any creature, dragon or otherwise."

"In those times, the village in Avalar was formed of far more than just cheetahs and it was far larger than it is today. It was under the wise rule of Talon, a fearless cheetah if there ever was one – and one of my ancestors. With Malefor causing terror everywhere we turned, it was a dangerous time for any creature who couldn't defend himself. And, as such, the cheetah village needed to be strong and unified. But not everyone saw eye to eye…"

A/N: Wooooooo! Yep, random library fight scenes are the best. You can't deny it. So excited for the next chapter! :D I've been planning it in my head ever since I first thought of it. So yeah, bring your time machines because we're going back a thousand years! Anyway, raise your hand if you liked the chapter! Come on, don't be shy. I've got some news! I'm now officially a university student! *cheers* But that means I'm going to have less time off. However it also means I should be able to get back into a routine - which also means less procrastination - which might actually mean faster updates. After all, I wrote ToaO back when I was in my final year of school (final exams! D:). Who remembers back then when I could update a chapter a week? Ah for the good old days...

If you're reading this, I love you all. I especially love the OVER 100 REVIEWS for only 5 chapters (the hell, dudes? It hasn't even gotten interesting yet!). Forgive me if I don't reply to reviews - I forget sometimes (no, I didn't reply to any on the previous chapter). But draco363 asked a question waaaaay back in chapter 4 (which I didn't answer in chapter 5 coz I was in a rush) that I think needs an answer. How do I think of all this? Ask my imagination, it knows better than me. Haha, ok, that's not the answer but it's close enough. The real answer is - I'm an airhead. My head is in the clouds pretty much all day (and sometimes all night, which makes it impossible to sleep). It continuously thinks up new scenarios that play out like a repeated animation behind my eyes. Weird, right? Often ideas spring to me whilst I'm writing (Cougar's javelin for example. And all those random unplanned OCs including Cougar himself). I get inspiration from other fanfics, but I strive not to copy ideas - mostly, reading just gives me the motivation to create my own work that people will love as much as I love to read everyone else's work (did that sentence make sense?). So yeah...I live to imagine and my ideas practically just spring out of the air.

Has everyone heard about the horrible earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand? Lots of people have died and many buildings have been terribly damaged or simply collapsed. Remember when I said that I was going on holiday? Guess where I went. Yep, New Zealand. Lucky for us, no earthquakes struck whilst we were there. But, the funny thing is, the earthquake happened exactly two weeks after we left Christchurch. In fact, we had been sitting under the cathedral that very morning - and now there's just rubble everywhere in that exact spot where we sat. It's kinda spooky to think that, if that earthquake had struck two weeks earlier, I might not even be here. Anyway, to anyone who has been affected by that earthquake, my thoughts go out to you (though it probably won't help much).

Have I written enough yet? Oh yeah, just thought I'd let you all know - I have a deviant art account. I made one like...a month or so ago (I don't actually remember). Hopefully, soon, I should be able to upload pictures relating to my fanfictions (Yep, I like to draw, too). We'll see about that eventually. Until then, if you wanna go check me out on there, my username is The-River-Styxx. ;)

Once again, thanks for so many reviews (it really makes my day) and thanks a bunch for reading! Sorry about the long rambling A/N (I had a lot to say) and I hope you all enjoyed the chapter despite my long absence!

Toodles!

~Riverstyxx