"Man, it's good to be home." Hunter said, as he and Bianca materialized in Wizard Peak. "I know Dragon Shores was great, but…"
"I know what you mean." Bianca nodded. "There's a perfect length to a holiday where you just start feeling like you want to go home."
"Yeah. Hey, wonder where Spyro is?"
Bianca raised her staff. "Normally, all I'd do is a detection spell – but I feel like trying something special, since everything seems to work with this staff Spyro made. So I'll try combining it with a teleportation spell!"
"Right! Here goes!"
"No, wait!" Hunter said.
Bianca paused, holding the spell just short of completion. "What?"
"Hi guys!" came a familiar voice, made high pitched by speed. "Good to see you're back! …uh oh."
Spyro, supercharging around Wizard Peak as usual, intersected a spell designed specifically to locate and teleport to him at two hundred miles per hour.
Jarvis looked up on hearing the explosion, but wrote it off as nothing important.
Cheetah, rabbit, dragon and dragonfly landed in a tumbled heap on a cave floor.
"Ouch…" Hunter muttered, shaking his head. "What just happened?"
"Spyro!" Bianca said, rolling upright and checking her staff was undamaged. "What were you thinking?"
"Hey, I swear I missed you with that!" the dragon replied, checking Sparx. On seeing his friend was still safely bright gold, he relaxed a little. "Well, we're all okay. Where are we?"
"I don't know." Bianca replied, frowning. "The spell was meant to find you and then transport us where you were. But since you hit the spell with that supercharge, you were inside it when it triggered – so I don't know what would happen. What did happen." She gave a weak grin. "Good old spell backfires."
Loud roars echoed into their side cave, coming from a dark passage that ran past.
"That can't be good…" Hunter said, unlimbering his bow. "So, do we do the sensible thing this time?"
"I don't know, Hunter." Spyro replied, with a grin. "It's been at least three whole months since I heard any kind of monster. I'm getting kind of bored."
"Works for me." The cheetah padded over to the cave mouth and peered around it. "Nothing yet. I think we should get going."
"Sure." Spyro nodded. "Spark, can you cover all of us?"
"I can manage two." The dragonfly buzzed. "Three might be tricky."
Bianca raised her staff, and the purple gem flashed for a moment. "I'll shield myself."
Spyro and Hunter shared a grin, then charged off down the twisting passage. Bianca rolled her eyes, then followed her husband and friends at a steady, ground-eating lope.
Spyro and Cynder, working together for once, finished off the last of the grublins that had been menacing them.
Both young dragons paused, surprised by how easily their fighting styles had clicked, and exchanged nervous glances as the ground shook.
Then, a great stone golem surfaced from the lake of magma and roared at them.
Spyro froze for a fraction of a second in shock, then shook his head to clear it. Cynder, more alert or perhaps more jaded, immediately hurried over to the large metal staple that anchored them to the pillar. "We have to break this thing, it's holding us down!"
She pulled with all her strength, to no avail, but as Spyro added his muscles to hers the metal began to move. Once dislodged, it was a faster job, and within a few seconds they were only bound to one another.
The golem roared as they moved out of the way, then flinched as a sudden shower of lights struck it from the left.
Spyro and Cynder both stared. There was – were – two unfamiliar creatures shooting something at the golem. One of them was firing blasts of coloured light, and the other was shooting what appeared to be arrows – made of ice?
Then something even more surprising happened. A small purple dragon, perhaps a bit sleeker than Spyro but otherwise extremely similar, leapt out of the alcove where the other figures were and sprayed the golem down with water. Banking around with twin white trails coming from his wings, the other dragon drew the attention of the golem away both from his allies and from Spyro and Cynder.
Spyro flapped his wings, feeling the rush of a Superfly running through him. Of all the powerups he'd experienced, this was perhaps his favourite. And thanks to that staff of Bianca's, she could cast it on him at times of need – like this.
Right, right, giant monster.
Leading off with water might not have been the most sensible choice, but it was the only one Hunter couldn't accomplish – and if this creature could live under magma, maybe it did need to be hot?
Concentrating for a moment, Spyro spat several large "bombs" of water, trying to accelerate the process of soaking down the rock monster. Some of the water running off was hitting the magma itself and exploding – which was, honestly, kind of cool. And, more importantly, was also causing the magma to harden and solidify. Maybe he could trap the monster in solid rock!
Then find its' weak point, hit it three times and be done. Standard monster procedure.
Hunter of Avalar gaped at the sight below. He had thought himself beyond shock after the last few years – but then he saw two of Spyro, with clearly different attitudes, and a doppelganger of himself.
I kind of want that bow… he thought incongruously, watching as the other cheetah fired three arrows of ice with a single pull.
"Hey, uh, cheetah-guy? Hunter, right?" Spark asked him. "Do you have a twin? Does Spyro have a twin?"
"I do not." The warrior replied. "You would know more of Spyro than I."
"Well, unless I have a twin as well, and if I do then mom and dad have been keeping some serious secrets from me, then I don't know what's going on." Sparx shrugged. "Whatever. Hey, that big rock thing looks distracted. Should we go help Spyro?"
"Both Spyro and Cynder, yes." Hunter admonished, unfurling a rope. "Come, we must move quickly."
"Easy for the cheetah to say." Sparx quipped. "I make it look easy, but this hovering business isn't."
Both of them looked around as a meaty thwack resounded.
Spyro hit the platform hard, rolled over twice and stood upright. A quick check revealed that Sparx was still with him – though his golden glow had dimmed substantially. Another hit and he'd go blue.
"Thanks, bud. Ouch... that thing has a mean right hook."
"Who are you?" A female voice asked.
Spyro turned, and saw a lithe black dragon – and, connected to her by a writhing green tether of light, himself.
Or almost himself. There were differences – the horns, the back ridges, minor cosmetic details – but they were swamped by similarities.
It was almost like looking into a mirror.
"I'm Spyro." He answered, after spending a moment wondering what was going on. "And what about you two?"
His lookalike answered. "This is Cynder, and I'm… well, I'm called Spyro as well."
"Huh." The young Artisan dragon frowned. "That's going to get confusing. Do you have a family name?"
"I'll use my family name as a second name then. Spyro Artisan, nice to meet you. Where are we?"
"Looks like that rock monster has retreated." His dragonfly companion buzzed, looking back.
"Wait, this is too weird." Cynder said, pointing. "You have a dragonfly friend called Sparx as well, and you're both called Spyro…"
"Er… Artisan?" The other Spyro asked, and received a nod in return. "Who are those?"
'Artisan' turned, and saw that his double was pointing to Hunter and Bianca, who were headed down to them on a floating plane of force Bianca had produced. "Oh, that's my friends – the cheetah's Hunter, and the rabbit is his wife Bianca. They came here in the same magical accident that brought me."
"Hunter?" Spyro asked. "Hunter of Avalar?"
"Yeah, that's where he's from. Why?"
"I got a letter from him. Last year, when I was a prisoner on that pirate ship."
"I don't think you could have…" Artisan said, frowning. "He was helping me out last year, and we've never been here."
Cynder gestured over her shoulder. "Look, it's your Sparx, Spyro. And another cheetah."
"What'd we miss?" Hunter asked, stepping down off Bianca's platform.
"I think I lost track." Artisan said. "Can we start over from the beginning?"
"What are the chances of that…" Bianca mused, as she turned the idea of no fewer than three doppelgangers in this world over in her mind. "One is strange enough, but with three duplicates – down to the name! - I start to wonder if we've found them all."
She shook herself. "We can think about that later. Your story made it clear your world is in serious trouble. What were you planning to do, now you found your Spyro, Sparx and Cynder?"
Hunter of Avalar considered. "I was going to send my falcon to the city of the moles, where the four Elders reside, and then make my way there via the cheetah village in the Valley of Avalar."
"This is really confusing." Bianca's husband commented, scratching his head. "Not just people have the same name, but places as well."
"There is one bit of good news." Artisan – as the paler Spyro had said they should refer to him as – said. "Sparx just checked, and he can get from this world to the Dragon Worlds and back."
"Uhhh… how?" the larger Sparx asked, throwing his hands outwards. "I know the tiny version of me has some cool stuff he can do – you know, like, keeping his Spyro healthy – but how can he get back to this Dragon Worlds place?"
"I'll answer that." Bianca said. "After they beat the Sorceress of the Lost Worlds, some of the magic of the dragon eggs she stole rubbed off on Sparx. He can warp from place to place, and take passengers along with him. It does have to be somewhere he's already been, though."
"Speaking of which, where is the little guy?" the Hunter from Summer Forest asked.
"He's checking up on the usual suspects." Artisan said, confidently. "You know, Sheila, Bentley, the Professor, Blink, Agent 9… oh, and the Sergeant. I sent him after what the local Hunter said about a war."
Bianca smiled. "That's brilliant! If they're willing to help, it would make things much easier."
"I'm afraid I have no context for the names."
"Sheila's a kangaroo, and pretty good in a scrap." Artisan counted off on his claws. "Bentley's a yeti, and one of the two smartest people I've ever met. He can be a bit overwhelming, actually… all those long words. The Professor's the other smart one. He's an expert in everything – but portal dynamics is what he does best. He can build portals to reach as far as we've ever tried. If Sparx can get from there to here, the Professor will be able to follow him."
"Portals?" Spyro asked, remembering the tear in the sky that led to Convexity. "Aren't those dangerous?"
"No." Hunter, Artisan and Bianca chorused.
"Not if they're built right, and the Professor certainly builds them right." The sorceress added.
"Anyway, where was I?" Artisan thought. "Blink, right. Blink's a mole, and I imagine he'd be willing to help defend a city of moles – even if he has to be outside for it. Agent 9 is a monkey with a laser gun and who speaks at two hundred words a minute. He'll help just for the excitement."
"But the real help is Sergeant Byrd." Hunter took up the list. "He's got a small army of hummingbirds with heavy weapons, and he's no slouch himself."
Artisan snickered. "It's kind of funny, seeing a flying penguin lead a flight of hummingbirds into battle – until they open fire."
Sparx rematerialized. "Okay, I asked everyone, and they're all headed to Stone Hill tomorrow. I also let Nestor know what happened to us, in case he's worried."
"Thanks, pal." Artisan said.
"Oh, and I also got Bruno to squash a sheep for me. I don't know about you, but I don't see any butterflies down here."
"Oh, yeah, I see you're back to bright gold again."
"Did I miss something?" the other Sparx said. "What do butterflies have to do with glow?"
"Sparx – well, my Sparx – protects me, when I get in a fight." Artisan answered. "He can stop attacks from actually hurting me, but when he does it drains him. He's bright gold now, but he goes through dim gold, blue, green and red before he finally runs out of power. Big eater that he is, a butterfly perks him up – but nowadays it takes about five to fully get him back to healthy."
"Huh." Spyro said. "You don't do anything like that for me, Sparx."
"Have you seen the size of some of the things you fight?" Sparx asked dramatically. "I mean, when you fought Cynder she must have been about seventy feet of bad attitude and surprising hotness. Er, no offence."
"None taken." Cynder said, looking at Sparx perhaps a little less sternly than normal. "The compliment helped. I didn't know you found me attractive, though."
"…oh, so I said that part out loud again." Sparx muttered. "Any chance you could forget that?"
"Nope." The black dragon said, chuckling. "Not something that funny."
"Did I just hear what I thought I heard?" the Hunter from Summer Forest asked. Bianca nodded, a paw to her mouth to stifle her giggles.
"Okay, so we've got a plan." Bianca said. "We head to the Valley of Avalar, and use it as a staging point. How do we reach it?"
"The caverns lead upwards to a river, which we can use to reach a forest – the enchanted forest. The Valley is only a few hours' journey from there."
"Well, when we were transported here it was morning." Artisan said. "And as I understand it Cynder and my double were just awoken from a year in stasis. Are you two well rested from that?"
"Fairly." Spyro said. "We might need to keep using gems, but we'll make it."
"Gems? Why would you use them?" Artisan asked. "I mean, I like gems, but mainly to go in my hoard. Tell me there isn't a Moneybags franchise around here…"
Spyro and Cynder exchanged glances. "We don't recognize the name. Er, gems rejuvenate or otherwise strengthen dragons. They break up into energy that closes wounds, restores mana, or similar."
"Huh. So that's what you dragons do instead of have a dragonfly." Artisan checked the room they were in. "Looks like there's a way out up there. Bianca, mind giving me another Superfly?"
"No problem." The sorceress built a charge on the yellow gem of her staff, and pulsed it at her friend. "Take a rope with you, that way the Hunters and I can use it."
"Sure! C'mon, Sparx!" Artisan took a running jump, and soared upwards with trails streaming from his wings.
"What's a superfly?"
"Eh, Spyro – ah, Artisan – is still pretty young. He hates to talk too much about it, but he needs a little boost to properly fly. A superfly effect makes him… what is it, love?" Hunter looked pleadingly at Bianca.
"It reduces his weight a little, and gives him a small updraft and a following wind. Just enough to cancel his weight out."
"Spyro," Cynder began, slowly. "I know you can fly properly, but you only ever do it outside. Why is that?"
"It's because I can't quite fly properly – same as the other Spyro." Spyro admitted. "It's a tiny thing, but I need the wind to be moving to properly keep me up – I don't know why."
"I think I do." She said, frowning. "You've got several elements, but wind isn't one of them. Your Earth is holding you down unless you're in the open away from it, and you don't have enough Wind to counteract it." She tapped the glowing green chain, and noticed out of the corner of her eye that one of the cheetahs was shimmying up the rope. "But I think I might be able to lend you a bit, with this."
"You can?" Spyro asked, surprised. Cynder snorted.
"I have… experience, with moving the powers of dragons around. I may have been under the Dark Master's control, but I still did it. I remember the entire process."
"Will you be able to give me enough? I don't want you to hurt yourself."
"Yes." She said, firmly. "It's the least I can do. Besides, your wings have… got bigger… I wonder when that happened?"
"You're older as well. So is Sparx." Spyro frowned. "I think when my time powers burned out, they aged us. Maybe several years."
"Anyway." Cynder frowned. "We've got the magical connection so there's no need for a crystal, it's voluntary so I don't need any of the more exotic stuff… right."
She closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, then exhaled… and streams of dancing air flowed from her mouth onto the chain, and then ran up it to Spyro.
"Whoah!" he said, as the wisps of wind caressed him. "That feels strange. And I feel… lighter."
"Good." Cynder said, then swayed. Spyro caught her before she fell.
"Are you alright?"
"Fine. I just used a lot of mana, that's all. Dibs on the next green gems."
"Uhhh… hate to interrupt," Sparx said. "But everyone's waiting for you."
"On our way." Spyro replied, then eased off supporting Cynder. She set herself more firmly, spread her wings, and looked to Spyro.
"On three. One. Two…"
"I wish I could do that all the time." Artisan said, watching jealously as the two other dragons flew up to meet them.
"I don't know how you dragons do it." The blue-eyed Hunter said, shrugging. "After about ten minutes with my strap-on wings, I start to feel dizzy. I've seen you go for hours in the Speedways."
"Yeah, trying to beat your records." Artisan shot back. "I don't know how you can lift that much weight. Or how the feathers don't come off."
The cloaked, green-eyed Hunter frowned, sure he'd misheard somehow, then shrugged it off. "We should continue. Once we reach the open air, I will send Acaela to Warfang and lead you all to Avalar."
"Acaela?" Bianca asked, and was replied to by a sleepy chirp from a basket that Hunter carried. "Oh, the falcon."
"Well, where next?"
"Keep moving upwards. The air here is fresher, so we are approaching the exit."
"It never ceases to amaze me how your kind do that." Green-eyed Hunter said, as Cynder made short work of a pile of green crystals.
His blue-eyed counterpart got a contemplative look on his face, collected a pair of the red gems, and fired a shot from his bow at Artisan.
Sparx screeched as he blocked the lightning bolt, a low-powered one but still painful, and his glow dimmed.
"Hunter!" Artisan shouted. "What was that for?"
Hunter tossed one of the red gems at Spyro, who didn't react to it, and the second at Sparx.
That got a reaction – Sparx' golden glow brightened back to full intensity.
"There we go." Hunter said, satisfied. "There aren't any butterflies around here, so Sparx needs something else to stay strong. I guessed the red gems might do."
Bianca glowered at her husband. "You couldn't have mentioned it before testing it out on poor Sparx?"
"Uhhh…" the cheetah rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "That might have worked better…"
"Hunter, don't make me regret giving you that bow!"
Spyro and Cynder blinked, trying to assess the antics of the friends from the Dragon Worlds. "Those four are strange."
It took another half an hour to reach the river that led to the quickest route to Avalar. Artisan's reaction shocked the other dragons – the moment he saw it, he gave a whoop of joy and dove straight in, dragonfly alongside.
"Will he be alright?" Spyro asked, mainly to Bianca.
"Don't worry, our Spyro will be fine." Bianca shrugged. "Maybe it's because he's always had the potential for the Water elemental powers, but ever since Avalar – well, our Avalar – he's been able to stay underwater for hours at a time. It's mud he has trouble with."
"He's not the only one." Sparx said, shuddering. "Whoo! Let me tell you, Spyro, I did not enjoy our time anywhere with mud!"
"I thought those were the safest bits." Spyro replied mildly. "The ones where we weren't, say, a mile up in the air – or walking around an active volcano."
"Well…" the dragonfly paused. "I didn't enjoy those bits either!"
Another splash drew their attention back to the water, and Artisan shot upwards like a cork from a bottle. He gave a balletic flip in midair, breathed a cone of sparkling lightning that electrified the entire river for an instant, and dove directly back down horns first.
His Sparx remained above the water for a second. "Big mean fish."
"Right." The blue-eyed Hunter nodded, understanding. "At least it's not a metal shark."
A flash lit the river from below, and Artisan surfaced. "Got it!"
"Nice work." Bianca said. "Are you taking one of the rafts, or are you just going to swim?"
"Swim." He replied. "Hey, Hunter, you still afraid of getting your fur wet?"
"You bet." Hunter replied. "I'll just use one of those rafts there, nice and dry…"
Bianca hid her mouth for a moment to hide her smirk. She guessed Spyro would try shooting Hunter with his waterbreath at least once… and that Hunter would freeze the water with an ice arrow.
Hm. Actually, Spyro's earlier comment about how her husband could stay up in the air with those feathered wings of his had got her thinking. She'd always known Hunter was strong, but just how strong?
Because it seemed like the harder he pulled back on the string of his new bow, the more powerful the arrow…
Spyro, Cynder, both Hunters, Bianca, one Sparx and a shower of splinters landed in something of a heap at the bottom of the falls.
Artisan, though… he was having the time of his life, shooting around the system of rivers threaded through this forest like a purple dolphin.
"Doesn't he understand how serious this is?" Cynder muttered, watching as a shape much like – and different to – the Spyro she knew shot out of the water, opened his wings to glide, then dove back in at an angle.
"Probably." Bianca said. "It's just his way. He could be fighting a giant dinosaur, a powerful mage, or a robot, and he'd have a smile on his face and a joke on his lips."
"Why?" Spyro asked next. "How does he do it?"
"I think it's so he forgets to be afraid."
Everyone looked at Sparx. "What?" the dragonfly asked, flustered. "I'm just saying."
"You do the same thing, don't you." Cynder said. It wasn't a question.
Nobody felt particularly like continuing the conversation after that, so one Hunter released his falcon and the other lit a cooking fire with his bow. Artisan turned up a minute or so later with a dozen succulent fish.
"This alright, everyone? Oh, Bianca. I think I saw some watercress, I'll go get it."
Sunrise in the Valley of Avalar was a beautiful sight. It made Hunter long for his Avalar, for a moment, and Bianca was strongly reminded of the idyll of Sunrise Spring. Spyro and Cynder, who had been underground for over a year and who had undergone terrible privations since the night they had left the Dragon Temple, luxuriated in the quiet warmth and peace. The green-eyed local Hunter had allowed himself a few minutes to enjoy coming home, before he had to explain things to his village.
Artisan… well, he'd disappeared in a flash of light as soon as they'd got there.
"Don't worry." One Hunter had assured the other. "He'll be back in a bit. I think I know where he's gone, actually…"
"I see!" The Professor said, excited. "Another area entirely! And with the concordances you noticed in terms of both individuals and names, the chances are astronomical… Hmmm… yes, I think I might just have a plan. Agent 9? Are you there?"
"Don't worry, prof, I'm right behind you! Of course, that'd mean you wouldn't be able to see me even if you weren't a mole – and so blind as a bat, no offence meant none given thank-you! Anyway, you said there might be trouble? As in, interesting trouble? The kind of trouble that means mister laser blaster might get a work out kind of trouble?"
Artisan took a moment to sort that torrent of words out in his head. "Uh, yeah. Some kind of creatures called 'grublins', and a big war going on."
"We-ll, not as good as a Rhynoc, but I'll take anything. It's just been so boring these last few months – I wore out the simulator and the dogs in Haunted Tomb say they need me to wait a bit for them to refill the five trials, but what can you do. Say, Professor, would my helping out mean we get to go there faster and help them faster? So my itchy trigger finger gets scratched?" Agent 9 let off a giggle.
The Professor glanced nervously at his employee. "Er, yes. That's why I asked for you in the first place. If you can help me set up a high intensity portal in this Valley of Avalar, we can test which of the worlds would be best for building a transport one! Spyro, if you wouldn't mind, could you ask Cosmo to get the Magic Crafters' help on this?"
"Sure. What do you need?"
"They need to set all the portals they can find to signal on a frequency around 401 megahertz. I'll just lock onto the closest one to the Valley which is pushing that signal."
"Great! Thanks, Professor."
"Any time, my boy."
"Right, Sparx. Let's drop 'em off in the Valley, and then come back to talk to Cosmo."
Sparx began to glow more brightly.
"Er, Spyro…" the Professor asked, watching as Sparx became incandescent. "Should I close my eyes or something?"
"Nah." Artisan shrugged his wings. "It doesn't really help."
"Attention all new passengers. Face away from one another so that if you're ill, you don't get in a fight."
"Woo-hoo!" Agent 9 hollered. "I like the sound of this ride!"
AN: Yeah, this happened. I like the idea of crossing over the classic series with the Legend of Spyro... but it's caused a few naming problems.
So, the Sparxes are differentiated by dialogue font. Classic Spyro is "Artisan", though some characters will refer to him as "Spyro" if they would do so normally, and the other one gets to keep his name. As for the Hunters... classic is blue eyed and married to Bianca, Legend of... is green eyed and wears a robe.
If you're confused about the staff and the bow, they're from my earlier fic "More than a Peace Keeper".
This adds to the list of ongoing fics I have... which is getting silly now.