Hello everyone! Welcome to Chapter Nine of After the Storm. As always, I'd like to thank everyone who was kind enough to leave me a review for the last chapter. I truly love reading what you have to say! Anyways, I'm going to keep this introduction short, since I'm sick and exhausted. As always, remember to review and tell me what you think! Also, don't forget to check out the profile and stories of my Editorial Consultant, Darkness Oversoul. Finally, I'd also appreciate it if you took the time to swing by my profile page if you get the chance. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be posting a poll that I'd like y'all to vote on. Well, that's enough from me. Enjoy Chapter Nine!
I groggily opened my eyes and was immediately blinded by the sunlight streaming through the open window. I snapped my eyes closed, groaning in agony. I had a splitting headache; it felt like I had been hit in the head with Terrador's tail-mace.
'Where am I?' I thought to myself. 'What happened yesterday?' As I slowly adjusted to the pain in my head, I managed to lift my head up and look at my surroundings. From what I could gather, I was in someone's bedroom. I was lying on a small mattress, so the owner couldn't have been a dragon. The whole room was neatly organized; everything had a certain place. At that moment, the room's owner entered. As I swung my head to face him, the ape smirked at me.
"Well, well, look who's awake. Welcome back to the world of the living," said Duroc. I would've replied, but the throbbing pain in my head forced me to lie down again. The blacksmith crossed the room and handed me a cup. "Here," he said, "Drink this. It'll help remove the effects of the hangover." I complied, lifting my head so he could press the cup to my lips. The mixture was horribly bitter, and I gagged as I swallowed it. However, the throbbing began to subside. Eventually, I was able to get to my feet.
"What happened, Duroc? How did I get here?" I asked. The ape smiled and shook his head.
"Boy, you were drunk off your tail, that's what happened. As to how you got here, I haven't the slightest clue. Perhaps you should ask your friend that question," he answered as he pointed in the direction of the main room. I walked through the curtain and came face-to-face with a glowing ball of yellow light.
"Sparx! What did you get me into?" I shouted at the yellow dragonfly.
"What, no thank you? All I did was carry your big, limp, drunken body through the streets of Warfang," replied my foster brother. I snorted in contempt and brushed him aside with my wing.
"Yes, and as I recall, you're the one who got me into this situation in the first place. Why would you even do that to me?" I retorted. Sparx shrugged, and flew around my head.
"Because it was fun! You have to admit you had a good time," he said.
"I would, if I could remember it!" I snapped back at him. As I looked out of the window, I noticed the sun in the sky. "How long was I out for anyways?"
"Almost a full day," replied Duroc from the corner where he was seated, idly sharpening a broadsword. My jaw gaped in shock.
'A whole day!' I thought.
Duroc continued, "If you weren't so big, you probably would've been out much longer. Dragonfire is a potent brew; you should consider yourself lucky." While my brain scrambled to process this new information, one thought emerged above the others.
"Oh my Ancestors! Cynder must be worried sick!" I cried out in alarm. Turning rapidly, I sprinted for the shack's single door, only to be stopped by Sparx.
"Seriously Spyro? Just forget about her already! That was the whole point of yesterday!" snapped the yellow dragonfly. I was appalled at his words.
"How can you say that Sparx? You know I love her!" I countered. The remaining alcohol in my system fanned the flames of my rage; how dare he say these horrible things about her! "What has she ever done to you? I know that you don't trust her, but I do! She stood by me when it counted most, when I needed it most. I love her, and I want her to be my mate. Why can't you accept that?"
For a moment, Sparx hovered mere inches from my face. He was uncharacteristically silent, a fact I noticed almost immediately. Then, to my surprise, the unthinkable happened; my foster brother began to cry. This was something entirely new to me. Never in all my years had I seen my brother like this. Then, through his choked sobs, he spoke.
"Spyro…I never wanted this. I don't hate her, I just don't want to lose you!" I stood silently as Sparx continued his heartfelt speech. "You're the only true friend I've ever had, you're my brother. I won't let her take you from me." I shook my head in disbelief.
'I had better stop this nonsense now,' I thought.
"Sparx, listen to me. You should know one thing; despite my love for Cynder, you'll always be my brother. I would never forget about you," I told him. At this, his tears dried and he looked into my eyes.
"You mean it?" he asked, with hope in his eyes. I smiled earnestly, showing my sincerity.
"Yes Sparx. You'll always be my family. Just think of it like this; Cynder isn't replacing you, she's just going to become a part of our family, ok?" The yellow dragonfly smiled, his composure restored.
"Ok buddy," he said, "but I can still tease her right?" I glared at him, trying to look as intimidating as possible. Sparx however, gave me the same look that he had used time and time again to get his way. At last, my resolve faltered.
"Just please, try not to be so insensitive, will you?" I sighed. Sparx gave me his best grin.
"My dear Spyro, I'm hurt by your lack of confidence," he mocked. I chuckled and shook my head, before the sound of someone clearing their throat reached my ears. As we turned, Duroc stood up.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your little moment, but don't you have someone you need to see?" he quipped sarcastically. Once again, I began to panic. I dove for the door again, but I was stopped again. "Where do you think you're going?" snapped the ape blacksmith, his muscular body barring the exit.
"I'm going to Cynder. I have to let her know I'm alright," I replied. I tried to move past him, but he continued to block my path.
"Of course you are lad, but think about it. There's exactly one day until mating season begins. You know that your lass will be unstable, to say the least. Do you really want to risk an encounter with her before you're prepared for battle?" questioned the ape. As much as I hated to admit it, he had a point.
"Then what do you suggest I do?" I asked him. Duroc paused for a moment, stroking his chin in thought.
"Well since you stole my bed from me, I think the least you can do is repay the favor. You can stay here and help me with my work for today. You can do as I say; if you're lucky, we'll finish before nightfall." Seeing no other option, I shook my head in agreement. "Good," said the ape, "You can start by gathering some iron ore from the shed out back. We have much work to do, young warrior."
"Great, more work," Sparx grumbled as we began to work.
As the purple dragon and his yellow companion exited my home, I turned towards the glowing fire in the forge. Staring into the flames, I finally acknowledged the other presence in the room.
"I know you're here, spirit. Make yourself known," I said, my eyes not moving from their spot on the fire. Next to me, a swirling blue mist formed into a solid apparition. The blue dragon slowly moved next to me, following my gaze as he did. "You play a dangerous game, spirit. Tampering with destiny never ends well." The dragon shifted, before answering.
"You can see me. Not many possess such a gift," he said. For the first time, I turned to face the blue entity.
"I've been a soldier my whole life. My eyes have seen everything this world has to offer me. Somewhere along the way, all the horrors I've witnessed changed me. The veil of death no longer shrouds my gaze. So, you stand before me today, as clear as day." The aged dragon nodded.
"You are indeed wise, Duroc. Although, you are not entirely correct. You see, destiny is not concrete; it is like water, constantly flowing and shifting. The fact is, your destiny can always change. In this case, your destiny has now become intertwined with Spyro's," he said, locking his eyes with mine. Sighing deeply, I returned my gaze to the burning embers.
"I've done many terrible things, dragon. My life has always been one of hatred and violence; destiny may change, but people are different." The spirit shook his head.
"Is that so? Then how could Cynder, the Terror of the Skies, become the loving companion of Spyro?" he asked. I didn't know how to reply, but the dragon placed his wing on my back and continued. "Don't worry, warrior," he chuckled, "Spyro has a way of changing the destinies of those he encounters for the better. In time, you will be no different." With those words, the apparition began to dissolve back into the mist from which he had come.
"I hope you're right…" I said as he completely disappeared. Then, the purple dragon and his companion entered carrying the ore I had requested. "Alrighty lads, let's get to work."
After splurging on my breakfast, the rest of the day passed in languid boredom. For whatever reason, I found myself to be incredibly sluggish; all I could manage was to crawl back into my bed. As soon as I did, I fell into a deep sleep. At once, I was whisked towards a white speck. I recognized it as the White Isle, the place where the Chronicler resided. Spyro had told me about it before, but I didn't understand why I was here. As I pondered the situation, I felt a force begin to pull me forward. My feet moved on their own accord; all I could do was follow.
The invisible force guided me into an area that resembled a library. Suddenly, I regained control of my limbs. Then, a voice spoke in my mind.
"Well, hello young dragon. I must say, you look quite well," it said. I searched for the source of the noise, but to no avail.
'That voice…it sounds familiar,' I thought. The voice laughed loudly, resounding around the cavernous ceiling.
"Come now, I thought you would recognize me."
"Show yourself!" I shouted, lowering myself into a guard position. Then suddenly, I felt something warm resting on my back. I spun around, and found myself facing a pale blue dragon. He was a dragon I knew well. "Ignitus!" I screamed in happiness, throwing my body into his warm embrace. He chuckled, a welcome sound to my ears.
"Hello Cynder. Thank you for joining me," he said, "please, sit." The former Fire Guardian gestured to an area with chairs where we could rest. As we sat, I couldn't help but smile.
"Ignitus, I'm so happy to see you!" I said. He returned my smile in full force.
"As am I, child. But right now, we have important matters to discuss."
"Do they involve what's happening to Spyro?" I asked. The blue dragon's face fell instantly; it appeared as though a dark cloud blanketed his features.
"I'm afraid so. You see, Cynder, the destiny of the purple dragon is a complex one, more so than most beings," Ignitus told me.
'That makes sense,' I said to myself.
"I understand that, but what does it have to do with me?" I inquired. The Chronicler sighed, his brows furrowing.
"Cynder, there's something I want you to see." As he said that, a book floated down from one of the many shelves. It was a black leather book, with gold lacing along the edges. There was a violet border around the edges as well. A picture of two dragons adorned the cover; one was cut from black obsidian and the other was purple amythest. As it landed on the table in front of us, it opened by itself. "This," said Ignitus, "is the book of your destiny. It records the story of your life; every single event that has ever transpired is within these pages. As you can see, your destiny has merged with Spyro's." My eyes studied the book's many pages. Ignitus was right; it was all there.
"I still don't understand Ignitus. Why have you brought me here?"
"Young dragon, I'm sure you've noticed a change in yourself as of late," he stated simply. I nodded in agreement.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. Do you know what's happening to me?" Ignitus turned his head away from me. "Please, if you know something, tell me!"
"I'm sorry Cynder, but that isn't my place to tell you. Rather, I have a mission for you. I understand you've met Cyril's sister, correct?" said the blue dragon.
"Yes, Cyria. Why?"
"When you awake, go and see her. She will explain everything. Now go, you're needed elsewhere," said the Guardian. Suddenly, I felt myself beginning to wake up. As I slipped out of the dream world, I heard the voice of Ignitus whisper, "Remember child, I'll always be here for you."
I woke up, the events that had just happened still fresh in my mind. Throwing off my sluggishness, I dove out of the window and flew towards Cyria's shop. I landed with a skid, my claws sliding on the cobblestones of the street. I dashed through the doors and right up to the front desk.
"Excuse me, but I need to talk to Cyria right away. Is she here?" I asked the attendant. The mole stared at me incredulously for a second, before pointing to the back of the shop. I dashed towards the back of the store. I passed the area where I had first met Cyria, and moved further into the back. I eventually came to the main office; inside was the dragoness I was searching for. As I barged in, Cyria was finishing putting her things away.
"Cyria! I need to talk to you!" I said while trying to catch my breath. The ice dragoness silenced me by placing one of her claws on my scaly lips.
"Shh, calm yourself Cynder. Regain your composure; then you can tell me what it is that inspired you to come barging in here like a hurricane," she said in her dignified tone. I slowly calmed myself as she had suggested. "Now then," said Cyria, "whatever seems to be the problem?" As calmly as I could, I explained to her the dream. When I was finished, she stared at me, her sapphire eyes were like ice. "I see. Well Cynder, I understand why Ignitus would send you to me. Come, let us talk somewhere more private."
Cyria and I exited the store and flew to her home. It was a modest home, yet it also displayed the elegance of its owner. When we had entered and made ourselves comfortable, Cyria began.
"Now then, pay close attention Cynder. You have much to learn, with very little time to do so," said the ice dragoness. I sat in anticipation.
'Finally,' I thought, 'it's time for some answers.' Cyria gathered herself and started to speak.
"Now then where shall I begin…" said the ice dragoness. "You see Cynder, there comes a time in every young dragon's life when they must choose a mate. It is a special time, a time of love and bonding during which two individuals become one." I cocked my head to the side, trying to figure out where Cyria was going with this speech.
"Ok, but what does that have to do with Spyro and I?" I asked her. Cyria shushed me, her blue eyes fixing me with an icy stare, and continued to speak.
"As I was saying, the annual time during which we dragons choose our mates is rapidly approaching. As a result, our behaviors are starting to change as well…I'm sure you've noticed some of these changes in Spyro and yourself as of late," continued Cyria.
'Of course!' I thought to myself. 'It all makes sense now!'
"I understand Cyria," I told the other dragoness, "but what's going to happen to me? What about Spyro? Is he going to be alright?" As my brain started to panic with the uncertainty of the situation, the blue dragoness began to chuckle. She stood up and made her way into the conjoining room, gesturing me to follow as she went. The room, which appeared to be Cyria's private quarters, was elegant, prim, and proper.
'Wow, even her bedroom has a distinguished aura about it,' I thought. Cyria stopped before a large tapestry that adorned the wall above her bed. On it was an image of two dragons, one of which was clearly Cyria. The other was a obviously a male; his muscular cobalt body was laced with streaks of icy blue that travelled down his flanks. The two dragons' necks we intertwined, forming a heart.
"It's beautiful, Cyria! Who's the other dragon?" I asked.
"That, Cynder, is my husband. His name is Isen," said Cyria. As she stared at the tapestry, I was shocked; there was a stream of tears flowing down her muzzle. Not knowing what to do, I did the first thing that came to mind; I quickly moved next to her and embraced her, doing everything in my power to comfort her. As her tears continued to fall, the ice dragoness started to speak again. "I'm sorry Cynder…"
"Shh, it's alright. You don't have to apologize to me," I comforted her. Eventually, Cyria managed to calm herself down. "Cyria? I'm sorry, but I have to know; what happened to him?" The blue dragoness sighed, but regardless, she started to speak.
"Very well. If you must know our story, then I might as well start from the beginning. It all started when I was just a hatchling. I met Isen at our school; almost immediately, we became close friends. We spent the years of our childhood together, becoming even closer as time passed. Eventually, our friendship blossomed into something more; you see, we fell in love. Isen and I were truly happy with our lives. Cyril even managed to disregard his pompousness to wish us happiness when we announced our status as mates. Then, one day, everything changed. Isen and the rest of the warriors from our town left to fight in the war, leaving me alone. Each day, I'd wait for news of his return…but it never came. I waited for three years, three long years, for Isen to come back; he never did. After those three years, I knew I had to move on. So, I left my home and moved with Cyril to Warfang."
By the time Cyria had finished her tale, I found myself crying as well. Her story was just so…sad.
'I couldn't imagine what I'd do without Spyro,' I thought. However, the blue dragoness continued to talk.
"The moral of the story is this Cynder; be careful when choosing your mate. You must remember that dragons mate for life. Also, you cannot be reckless with matters such as these. Alas, you must follow your own path." When Cyria was finished with her emotional speech, I truly had only one thing to say.
"Thank you, Cyria. This has been so helpful to me." Cyril's sister smiled warmly, a sight which brought a smile to my face as well.
"You're quite welcome, my dear. Come; there may be a few more things I can give you…"
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