Basically, this is a Wings Of Fire spinoff. Some of the amazing characters mentioned are owned by Tui T. Sutherland. I do recommend you read the books first, otherwise, none of this will make any sense and there may be some spoilers.
I'm writing this series in the same ark as Aria Sienna
And you should read her book first as mine follows a little after. I hope you enjoy! :P
Exactly two generations after the Dragonet Prophecy...
The plague had hit. No one knew what to do. Chaos stomped through the kingdom, squishing society under its insincere talons. The queen was frantically trying to resolve it, but nothing changed. Dragons were dying constantly. As far as they knew, there was no cure. It was centuries since the last plague, and even then it wasn't this bad. The idea of an airborne sickness passing from dragon to dragon was unthinkable.
Shadowstalker rushed through the dark hallways of the palace, dodging NightWings as they stood there, yelling at each other.
His armor rattled against his scales as he sprinted past the crowded corridors.
"Please move! General Shadowstalker coming through!" Deadlyclaws shouted, brandishing her spear to make get out of her way. The NightWings grumbled, slinking back into the corners.
Shadowstalker mumbled a quick "thank you", ducking his head as Deadlyclaws shoved the large, wooden door to the throne room open. The door creaked slowly, revealing the mayhem that was the queen's quarters.
The largest tower was where the queen resided. Balconies jutted out of the walls for dragons to stand during hearings. Tall arches looped around the circular fortification, great holes dug between the pillars. Huge spruce doors were scattered across the room, leading out into the many hallways that snaked all the way around the palace.
Dragons were leaping across the balconies, others slamming doors behind them. Lying awkwardly on her obsidian throne, Queen Greatness choked and spluttered, a thick copper container grasped between her claws.
"Get her highness another bowl!" Allknowing ordered over the noise, quickly crouching as a servant swooped over her head to a ledge on the opposite side of the tower.
The skinny dragonet jumped down from her rock, sprinting towards the queen with a large silver bowl. She bowed, raising it high above her head. A bony, black arm reached over the bed of the throne, snatching it out of her talons.
The room was suddenly silenced. A gurgling sound broke the quiet, followed closely by blood dropping to the floor, crimson staining the bricks.
Shadowstalker froze as NightWings charged past him through the doorway, others flying above his head.
"Good luck," he heard Allknowing whisper as she sprinted out of the room.
"I don't understand these wimps," Deadlyclaws sighed, glancing back at the queen.
"It's just a bit of–"
She grimaced as the queen turned to face them. Her eyes were pink and bloodshot, suggesting she hadn't slept in weeks. Red splattered across her mouth, falling in small drops off her chin. Her claws were blunt and many had fallen off, leaving just the stubs on her talons.
"General Shadowstalker and Private Deadlyclaws are here with their report on the IceWings," Wisdom said regally, stepping out from behind the throne. She gave Shadowstalker a stern look that he could understand quite clearly.
"Well, your highness," Shadowstalker said, reaching into his breast plate for his notes scroll.
"From the research conducted, it can be concluded that the IceWings had absolutely nothing to do with it."
"What!?" Queen Greatness hissed. She quickly covered her snout with her claws. Blood poured out between the gaps, pooling at the foot of the throne.
"The IceWings have everything to do with it!"
She wiped her lips with the back of her talon, glowering at Shadowstalker.
I've done it this time, he thought, taking a few steps away from the malicious figure.
This isn't good. Why is she being so defiant? Sure, Queen Greatness is... committed, but this seems a bit much. Wisdom will never forgive me for this treason against her highness.
"Go to the interrogation with the princess," Wisdom ordered, soaking up the thick liquid with a stained cloth.
Shadowstalker looked at Deadlyclaws and she nodded, turning to the open doorway. His talons were shaking with anxiety and anticipation. It seemed odd to be questioning an IceWing princess, let alone her having the will to be trapped in the dungeons for weeks. To his disbelief, Shadowstalker felt sorry for the princess. In his opinion, the lowest prisons were atrocious. Even being assigned to a post on the ocean border seemed like heaven compared to where the craziest criminals were kept.
The muggy hallways were dimly lit by the dying embers of the torches that hadn't been ignited in months. No matter how hard Moonlight tried, she couldn't get rid of the bat infestation. Of course, she stopped trying after the countless winged creatures got into the castle, hanging from the ceilings and leaving droppings everywhere. Despite the similarities to dragons, he couldn't get over how stupid they were. The bats would just flap near the ceiling pointlessly, hitting their heads against the bricks.
The cells themselves weren't bad. Well, maybe he was overestimating. Old dragon skeletons were draped against the walls, hanging by their necks. To Shadowstalker's annoyance, whoever was supposed to clean the prison forgot to get rid of the carcasses. If Shadowstalker had the stomach, he would do it himself. No one deserves to see the bodies, flies buzzing around the remaining flesh.
Deadlyclaws smiled at him, raising her talon to the door. As lightly as she could, she stroked the metal with one claw. Shadowstalker watched in wonder as he heard the clanking steel mechanism, moving the countless locks around. With one final creak, the door swung open.
* * *
Lynx paced her cell silently, glaring fiercely at the snoring guard sleeping outside the bars. Why she decided to listen to her mother seemed unclear to her. She laughed at the idea of it. Although, there really was nothing funny.
Queen Frostbite had to get rid of her daughter somehow. Selling her to the NightWings must have been the greatest idea she'd ever had. Well, Lynx knew her mother was smarter than she wanted her to know. Her ears perked as a new sound entered the room. Lynx was happy to know that it wasn't the snores erupting from the guard's nostrils.
She could hear quiet muttering as talon-steps echoed through the hall. Armor clattered loudly, followed by the familiar sound of spears.
"Thank you Deadlyclaws, I'll take it from here."
Two burly NightWings came into view from the other side, one considerably smaller than the other. The littler one hurried off quickly, her spear clutched in her talons.
Lynx flinched as the second stepped closer, peering through the bars.
She leaped into the darkest corner, furling her tail around her leg. Lynx heaved deeply, taking in as much air as she could. She felt the ice building in her throat as she slowly turned to face him. Her head shot back as keys jingled in the lock, the dragon mumbling quietly under his breath. His dark scales glistened deep purple, to her genuine surprise.
I only thought these merciless dragons were just black. He seems– interesting.
She whacked her tail on the ground, brow furrowing.
Lynx, keep it together. Don't think anything other than–
"Is anyone in there?" she heard him call as his head poked around the corner.
She yelped, releasing her frost. A frightened look crossed his face as he stepped back. He ducked, rolling to the side. The NightWing hit the wall as ice crystallized on the floor. She slunk back into the corner, crouching low as her shoulders squared. Lynx hissed quietly, stalking around the great lump of black sprawled on the floor. She lunged at him, spewing her frost breath on his neck. He leaped back, battling her ice with scorching flames. Her eyes widened as he shoved her away, his strong talons pushing her to the far wall.
Don't... give up...
Her body crashed against the bricks as Lynx fell to the ground. But she wasn't going to give in just yet. Lynx pulled herself up as she curled into her corner.
"Listen, I don't want to hurt you," he said calmly, cautiously advancing closer to her.
She snapped her snout shut, watching in surprise as he grasped a metal muzzle in his claws. Normally, she would have sliced his face off. But she decided to hear him out first before taking any drastic measures.
"Please... just let me–"
She raised her head to his talons, wincing as the metal touched her scales. Lynx felt his claws brush her face lightly, and she got a feeling of his internal warmth. He clamped the buckle firmly around her neck, quickly loosening it when he saw her discomfort. Gripping it firmly in his claws, he pulled the thick chain behind him as he stepped out into the hallway.
Reluctantly, she followed, ducking her head as hisses erupted from the other cells.
Why am I following a NightWing? Of all dragons? one part of her mind questioned.
Because I was curious, her mind reasoned. And because–
A SkyWing lunged at her from inside his cell, clawing at her. She yelped, alerting the guard. His boiling talons scraped her scales, opening up the flesh. The NightWing reached into his belt, pulling out a sword. He jabbed it at the vermilion talons, watching as scarlet puddled on the floor. Lynx howled in agony at what felt like millions of small embers, moving across her scales, startling every nerve. Blue blood leaked out of the open wound, mixing in the crimson on the stone. Deep purple dripped between the cracks of the bricks, quickly spreading.
The SkyWing retreated into the darkness, his amber eyes glistening maliciously.
Her shoulder throbbed painfully as she staggered, leaning against the guard. He held Lynx up supportively, watching with caution as she limped down the hall.
After what seemed like many agonizing hours, he finally led Lynx into a small interrogation room. He sat her down at a flat stone slab, before taking a seat opposite her.
"I'm not going to take off the muzzle," the guard said, smiling warmly at her.
"Because in afraid you will freeze my face off."
She tried to laugh, but the metal bands held her jaw in place.
* * *
Shadowstalker reached his claws into his pouch, pulling out an empty scroll and some ink. Gently, he pushed them closer to the IceWing, and she reluctantly took them.
She's doing surprisingly well, he though to himself, watching her with legitimate interest. She slowly pulled the lid off the bottle, dipping her silver claw into the dark liquid.
She looked up at him, giving him the opportunity to try to understand how she's actually feeling. Of course, he suspected her emotions to be hard to interpret, but Shadowstalker felt a small ember of hope buried underneath the chills radiating from her scales. He took a moment to read her eyes, and found himself lost the fjord of sky blue that surrounded her pupils. Small flickers of silver seemed to be speckled across her irises, making the many shades of electric blue contrast against the white of her lean figure.
She glared coldly at him, jabbing a claw at the scroll.
"Er, right," he muttered, grasping a small parchment in his talons. He studied it quickly, grimacing at his terrible handwriting.
"Okay, first off my name is General Shadowstalker," he said, trying to sound like he wasn't taken aback. Of course, he seemed to fail miserably.
"Now then, I will be leading your interrogation before consulting with the queen. What is your name?"
Lynx, she wrote neatly on her page, leaving plenty of room for his next questions.
Smart. he was pretty impressed with how she handled the situation. He thought if he was ever interrogated by IceWings, he would be so anxious they would probably think he poisoned Queen Frostbite or had an entire legion of NightWing soldiers in the hiding to attack the palace. Maybe they would kill him on sight without any questions. He thought that would be better than having the IceWings suspicious of NightWing behavior.
But that's exactly what we're doing. Would Lynx rather die than tell me anything?
He hoped not. She felt like someone he needed to know more personally. Shadowstalker hated how other IceWings reacted around him. Always willing to rip his face off and stake it to the Ice Palace walls as a trophy. Then again, he had killed so many IceWings in battle. Maybe Lynx would never want to be friendly around someone who killed countless of her tribe.
I guess I will just have to change that.
"What is your circle ranking?" he asked, glad that he researched IceWings before his troop found her.
First. Despite how important rankings were to other IceWings, Lynx seemed ashamed of it, if anything. From the way she glared at the paper after she had finished, Shadowstalker knew he shouldn't ask more questions like that if he wanted to gain her trust.
"What is your position in the palace?"
"Who is your mother?"
"How old are you?"
12 next month.
After many questions, he decided to stop beating around the bush. He was aching to know the answer to his most important question. He looked up from his scroll, glancing at Lynx.
"Are you being honest with me?" Shadowstalker asked, hoping with every scale on his body she was.
"Good. One last question. Did you or your mother start the NightWing plague?"
Lynx dipped her claw in the ink, but hesitated. Her indigo tongue flicked in and out, before she gazed up at him. His chest tightened as a worried expression crossed her thin face, her eyes shining with tears.
Shadowstalker stepped out from behind the table, rushing to sit beside her. Snout only inches away from hers, he reached his claws behind her head, unlatching the buckle. The muzzle clattered to the ground.
"Lynx, I'm sorry if I said anything that hurt you," he apologized quietly, grabbing her talons in his. She flinched, a sudden chill transferring from her claws to Shadowstalker, combating against his warmth.
She shook her head, tightening her grip on his palms. For a minute, he fell into a blizzard of thoughts circulating in her mind.
Princesses don't cry... Show no emotion... Don't give in... Never let your guard down... Push him away... He can't know... Now one can know... Mother doesn't want me... Ermine would kill me to get to the throne... And he is a NightWing general... I bet he doesn't understand... He could never understand...
"Maybe I could!" he cried, squeezing her claws firmly, making her look up.
Could I? She seems to be going through a lot.
"If you'd let me try."
What am I doing?! This is crazy. It's forbidden to talk to prisoners outside a questioning level.
But she needs help, one part of his mind argued. You need this as much as she does.
"Okay," she mumbled quietly, letting go. She got up to leave, stumbling to the door. Lynx hesitated, turning her head to face him. Shivers rattled through his bones as her face hardened, serious once again.
"Meet me at my cell. Midnight."
* * *
Lynx was growing impatient. It was half an hour past midnight, and he wasn't there. Maybe she was just wasting her time. Maybe he would turn her in for being out of her restraints. Maybe she was just being paranoid.
Yeah, she thought, a small smile spreading across her snout.
Shadowstalker didn't forget me. But he might not want to talk to me. Hmm, Shadowstalker is a crazy name. It's like he creeps through the shadows like a stalker. No, he seems too nice for that.
She chuckled quietly to herself.
Or, he chases the shadows away, like a hero. That makes more sense.
"Or maybe he scares away the darkness, bringing light to every dragon." a fierce voice boomed.
Lynx jumped, startled at the sudden noise that trailed just after her thoughts. She turned to the door, rolling her eyes as Shadowstalker unlatched the lock, gently pushing it open just enough for him to slide inside. He stepped into the dim room, puffing out his chest proudly.
"Ever thought that it's impolite to read someone's mind without their consent?" Lynx snapped, squaring her shoulders as he stepped forward.
"Maybe, you should try to be a little less uptight," he retorted, smiling mischievously.
"Uptight?" she cried, glaring at Shadowstalker. "I am not uptight!"
"Alright, princess," he laughed heartily.
His laugh was so– real. He was so real. Lynx couldn't help but notice how he wasn't like the other NightWings. He was genuinely interesting. Not like the other boring IceWings that strutted through the palace like peacocks, looking down their snouts at her while ensuring they were the most impressive and mighty. She also despised all the tail kissers in the palace who sucked up to her for a ranking promotion. Or even the NightWings she had the misfortune of encountering. The worst ones made sure she heard their insulting comments and haughty laughter, mocking her as she was shoved head first into the prison.
And his laugh. Lynx wanted to hear his gorgeous laugh and see his charming face. She really just wanted to be around him. Her chest tightened as she remembered she couldn't. It was against the stupid rules Frostbite had set. Lynx vowed with certainty that she would change that when she was queen.
When I'm queen...
No, she thought, shaking out the idea. I want to be in the moment. With him.
"Now, then," Shadowstalker said, reminding her why he was here.
"Um, yes! The, uh, talk," she stuttered, an embarrassed smile spreading on her face.
"Hm," he agreed, bending his legs as he fell carefully to the floor. Shadowstalker rolled over so he was lying on his stomach, chin resting on his front talons as he faced her.
Not as she intended, Lynx dropped, landing clumsily on her chest. Her wings sprawled to her sides, drooping as her shoulders relaxed.
"Very graceful, princess," he teased, grinning at her.
"Oh, shut up," she grumbled, trying to move her limbs into a more comfortable position. Eventually, she gave up, letting her body stretch how it wanted to make her lie more casually.
She rested her head on the bricks, gazing at Shadowstalker who seemed to be trying not to snort.
"So, I want to understand you," Shadowstalker stated plainly, curling his tail over his back legs.
"Excuse me?!" she exclaimed, lashing her whip thin tail against the stone floor.
"I never agreed to this!"
"Yes you did."
"No. I. Didn't.
"Fine, be stubborn."
"I am not stubborn!"
"Hold on for a second," he said in a stupid voice, pressing his palms to either side of his head.
"I am sensing a great psychic connection between us."
"Yeah, right," she snorted.
"Good. Now I know you're listening to me."
He grasped her talons in his, making her heart skip a beat. Then he just stared at her.
"Now, I want to hear you're worries and thoughts, and talk to you about them without you saying anything."
Instead of making a sarcastic comment, like she normally would, she listened intently, allowing her thoughts to pour out of her head. For a second she was worried he would find something too personal she would never want him to know. But Lynx felt an urge to trust him.
"You worry about challenging your mother for the throne? Ok, well you should wait until you are ready so you don't go killing yourself."
Lynx nodded silently.
"Hmm. You are anxious that you won't be able to be with me because of the stupid laws your mother set. And no matter what she says, you still want me."
"Yeah," she sighed, rubbing her eyes.
It took Lynx a moment to realize what Shadowstalker actually said. Her her shot up as she glared at him. The NightWing rolled around on the floor, clutching his stomach as he laughed hysterically. He flipped onto his back, gazing up at her with his remarkable green eyes. Shadowstalker had stopped laughing now, and his expression was fierce, yet wanting.
He is such an idiot.
"Okay, are you done?" she sighed, her thoughts lightening.
Shadowstalker nodded silently.
Lynx buried her face into her arm, a look embarrassment and shame crossing her face.
I should have never trusted him.
She winced as something large and warm moved next to her. A big, black blanket unfolded over her shoulders, covering her back. She figured it was actually Shadowstalker's wing.
"You don't mind... do you?" he whispered, barely loud enough for her to hear.
"No," she mumbled in reply.
"I just–" Shadowstalker started, turning away from her.
"This... it's forbidden. I don't know if–"
"No!" she yelled, startling the NightWing.
What am I doing?!
"I don't care! I want to be with you."
"This is right. I don't care what anyone else says!" she cried, grasping his talon tightly in hers. He looked up at her, his green eyes filled with worry and patience. But she could tell this is what he wanted too. She reached up, nuzzling his chin with her snout. Shadowstalker hesitated at this, smiling at her as he lowered his head to the floor. Lynx followed, shuffling closer to his stomach. She felt his tail furl around hers, just under the spikes. His eyes saddened as he squeezed tighter, as if he never wanted to let go.
He seems universes away from me. Every time I try to get closer, he drifts further away. But whatever universe he's in, I'll be there.
"I... no IceWings started the plague... but I think I know what did," Lynx muttered, her eyes still shut.
"It's nothing Pyrrhia's ever seen. And I'm doubt you will believe me. But a strange dragon was wandering near the Ice Kingdom border to the east. It was unusual because the dragon didn't have a face. The dragon slunk in, seemingly immune to the cold. It grabbed a walrus carcass and left. It was so weird. But, Snowlight got sick immediately after being near it..."
* * *
"Um, Shadowstalker how did the interrogation go--"
Deadlyclaws stepped around the corner, her eyes looking at the crooked table. She paused, glancing at the floor, startled to see her general and an IceWing. She took a few steps back, before she turned and sprinted down the hall.
"Deadlyclaws, wait!" Shadowstalker cried, looking up at the door.
He turned to face Lynx, surprised to find her sound asleep. He sighed, relaxing as he heard Lynx grumble, curling into his chest.
He smiled softly and closed his eyes, drifting off beside Lynx.
* * *
"It's hatching. I can feel it."
"You're being dramatic. There's barely a crack on it."
"I know it will hatch tonight."
"You woke me up at midnight three days in a row, shaking me until I agreed to see it, and it was still black as usual. You also told me it was going to be special. And that he--"
"Mother's instinct, sheep brain."
"I know she will be a girl."
"Whatever. And by the way, we are not calling him Fierceteeth or Moondestroyer or those other weird NightWing names."
"Why?! Moondestroyer is a great name. In my kingdom, the parents name the dragonet after the head of the family. And, Moondestroyer is such an epic name she can strive to live up to."
"No son of mine will ever affirm his loyalty to your queen. He will never let himself be controlled by that hag."
"I'm not controlled. And no one picks who the queen is. She is pure royal blood."
The first voice snorted.
It was then that he realized who he was. He knew he was a living, breathing being. He felt himself reach out to touch the barrier he was held captive in, to feel his prison. His tiny claws gently brushed the wall, sensing how thin it was; how easy it was to break. At once, his eyes opened. Everything rushed in at once, fighting to enter his brain. He winced at the feeling of his mind erupting with colours he had never seen before. Abnormal images flashed in front of him showing blurry figures towering above. Instantly, he realized these were dragons. He was a dragon. The dragons raised their talons high above their heads, bringing pain and anguish upon their victim as their claws cut through vulnerable flesh, drawing spurts of crimson. The dragonet cowered in fear, his eyes crinkling shut at the sudden violence. He thrashed against the walls, pushing and shoving just like the others did. Another vision blinked on in his mind, taking his interest away from the old one.
This one was quite different. He saw a huge, unnatural being who stood before him, reaching out a massing claw. The dragonet lifted his small, insignificant talons towards this monster, allowing him to pull the dragonet up. Below him, the dragonet saw dragons trudging across an empty wasteland, collapsing after a few paces. The dragonet looked up at the monster, startled at the blood curdling smile he gave him.
"Look," the monster boomed, his silver eyes flicking from dragon to dragon. "This... this is power. You have power."
His claws tingled with a sudden sensation as the dragonet followed his gaze.
He looked at the dark figures hunched on the dry soils, twitching in fear of the giant.
The dragonet looked at the faces of the corpses, the horror and isolation draped across their scales. He glanced back at the monster, his glowing eyes pulsing with energy. The tiny dragon felt so irrelevant compared to this beast. He made up his mind. With a small flap of his wings, the dragonet leaped off the giant's palm, plummeting to the ground.
"No!" the monster shrieked, swiping his colossal claws in the hope to grasp his treasure once again.
The dragonet lunged forward, shifting back into reality.
He was thrown back against the walls, sprawling on the floor of the prison. He huddled into the corner, clutching his tiny claws to his chest. The dragonet couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. He closed them reluctantly, shaking as he sat up. He reached out to his left, touching his talons to the barrier. He felt a strong connection with something close to him. He realized it was another dragon, just like he was. He rested his forehead against the wall, wanting to be closer to this warmth. She was in a soundless slumber, not willing to wake up anytime soon.
He could change that. He knew he had the power to. She could be just like him. But she was so peaceful; unlike the dragons from his visions. Maybe not all dragons were as he thought.
The dragonet decided to leave her. He couldn't wait any longer. He pushed against the barrier, clawing at the thin material. Small cracks formed around his claws, thin bursts of light coming in. With one last shove, he broke the roof as blinding white exploded into his eyes.
* * *
"Ha! I told you so!" a silvery blue dragon grinned, wrapping her cold talons around the dragonet, lifting him out of the prison remains.
"Hmph, whatever. We still have the other egg to hope for," another grumbled, dark purple scales shining in the light. His emerald eyes flicked between the first dragon and him, assessing what he saw with deep concentration.
The ice dragon lifted him up to her smiling face. He felt comforted in her talons, despite the chills he got from her. She had a fierce exterior, but underneath a warm flare of love blazed for the other dragon. He came to the realization that this was his mother; and the other his father.
Mother curled on the nest, placing the dragonet in the center of the circle she made. He snuggled into her comforting frost, leaning against her smooth under scales. Father sat in front of them, glancing from the egg to the dragonet. He couldn't tell what Father was thinking, but he kept trying to reach his thoughts.
"Do you think he--?"
"Of course not," Mother snapped before Father could finish.
"Look at him. He's more IceWing. There is no way in Pyrrhia that my son has--"
"The scales!" Father exclaimed, pulling the dragonet out from Mother's protection.
Father brushed his claw over a scale beside his eye, grinning at it.
"He has the mind reader scale beside his eye! I knew it. He is special!"
"Probably means nothing. It could be a single IceWing scale."
"We'll just have to see," Father placed the dragonet down, watching as he scampered over Mother's tail to be beside her.
The dragonet rested against Mother again. The first thing he noticed were the moons, full as anything, shining through the sky hole of the hatchery. The three silver eyes glistened with a strange glow that he knew could never be understood. The craters on the pale surfaces darkened the shapes, adding levels of depth to the powerful objects. He reached out his claws to the moons, reaching for that light.
"Hmm, he reminds me of my grandmother," Father said, smiling at his son. "She absolutely loved the moons and astronomy. My mother told me about her. Grandma Moon even went to the Lost Continent."
"My son will do great things," Mother responded, her blue eyes shining at him.
The dragonet looked at his mother, then glanced back at the moons. This was his night. These were his parents. This was his world. And he knew he had to protect them.
"I know he will."
* * *
Seven years later...
A tangerine coloured SkyWing slashed at her opponent, her claw leaving bloody marks behind. She leaped back, sprinting around the arena to watch the enemy writhe in pain. The SkyWing pounced, gripping the orange dragon’s neck in her talons. She choked, helplessly clawing at her captor's forearms.
“Ernest, I order you to stop!” a dragon in the stands yelled, gritting his teeth hesitantly.
Ernest only squeezed tighter, a toothy grin widening on her face.
“I will be queen, Topaz,” she hissed. “I don’t care if I have to kill you first.”
Topaz screamed, flailing her tail wildly. She tripped Ernest, pulling away from her fierce grip. Topaz quickly rolled under the red dragon, stopping behind her. She tackled Ernest to the ground, scratching at her back. Ernest scowled, trying to move underneath Topaz’s weight.
A small flare flickered in her sky-blue eyes as Topaz wrapped her claws firmly around Ernest’s horns. With one swift movement, she snapped her opponent’s neck, ending her. Cheers erupted from the crowd as small coins were thrown onto the sand. Topaz panted, dropping the lifeless corpse.
“Queen Topaz!” the dragons chanted, stomping their talons on the stone platforms.
His head thumped against the bench as Penguin sat up, trying to look like he was listening.
“Uh, the answer is forty-nine squared?”
Professor Vigilance narrowed his dark eyes, slamming his talon on the stone floor.
“Mathematics was two hours ago!” the teacher roared, baring his teeth, whipping his tail at the blackboard so hard it rattled on its hinges.
“You are supposed to be learning how to convert abstract visions into proper prophecy!”
Penguin reached under his desk, groping for his scroll. He placed it down carefully, glancing back up at Vigilance.
“Sixty-seven,” Vigilance snapped, quickly unravelling it.
He stopped at a paragraph filled with complex structure Penguin couldn’t understand.
“Listen this time, ok,” his teacher sighed, pushing the parchment closer to Penguin.
“I know you can do better than this.”
“Good. Now, then. Twilight?”
“The author intended to prophesise the NightWing perspective of the Scorching,” Twilight answered, grinning supportively at Penguin.
“Very good, Twilight,” Vigilance said, a small smile spreading across his thin face.
A loud gong sounded in the tower, signalling the end of the class.
“Dismissed,” said Professor Vigilance as he stalked out of the dim room.
The quiet tower at the peak of the school was where the prophecy classes were held. Obsidian coloured bricks, carved ingeniously by NightWing talons, formed the tower. Huge maps hung from the ceiling against the walls, the ends just brushing the bottom. Tall shelves were constructed perfectly out of spruce wood, thick scrolls rested in the designated grooves. A large half-moon bench rested in the circular room, covered in many timelines and events. There were no windows in the tower, except for the exit door.
Being the queen’s most talented seer, Vigilance was teacher. He wore his job like a badge of honour, inviting all to see. Penguin despised him (and pretty much everyone else in the class besides Twilight) due to his constant taunts, telling him off and complaining about how stupid Penguin supposedly was. He was only nice to Penguin occasionally because the professor didn’t want another war with the IceWings.
Oh, how I wish I could make something to keep his mouth shut forever, Penguin often thought, chuckling quietly to himself.
Twilight would hate me, though. If she wasn’t such a teacher’s pet...
Twilight was his best, and only, friend. They were together for as long as he could remember. Twilight would stand up for him when he was bullied. Penguin was too timid to say anything, but she knew he was appreciative.
“Hey, Frost-breather, how many NightWings and IceWings does it take to screw in a lantern?” Fearless yelled, small bursts of flame shooting out of his nostrils.
“I don’t know, but it took two to screw up a dragonet!”
Fortuneteller was leaning against Moonshine, both laughing hysterically. Even quiet Farsight was chuckling from behind his scroll.
“Good one,” Fortuneteller said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Do another! Frosty won’t mind, will he?”
Penguin gritted his teeth, holding back a snarl. He curled his thick talons into the rock, small holes forming around the serrated claws.
Twilight came up beside Penguin, rolling her eyes.
“Do you guys seriously have nothing better to do?” she growled, baring her teeth at Fearless.
“Oooh, is your girlfriend sticking up for you again, Frosty,” Moonshine sneered, sitting next to Fearless.
Penguin flinched, a look of embarrassment crossing his face. Twilight seemed unaffected, but he could tell she really cared.
“Go get yourself killed by SkyWings, or something,” Fearless yawned, stretching his talons in front of him.
Fortune-teller and Moonshine howled like hyenas having a fit.
“If I really wanted to kill myself, Fearless,” Twilight sighed innocently, smiling back at Penguin.
“I would fly up your ego, then jump down to your IQ.”
Fearless opened his mouth, but quickly closed it again. The NightWings stopped laughing, glaring at Penguin and Twilight.
Fearless leaped at Twilight, clawing at her face. She screamed, trying to shove him off. He pushed her to the ground, his talons pressing her wings to the floor.
"Mother said when I'm king, I can do whatever I want. And the first thing I would do is banish weird dragons like him and fix you. Permanently." Fearless growled, flexing his claws. He gave Twilight a fierce look that made her cry out, her eyes filled with worry.
"I would rather die," she hissed in response.
"That could be arranged. Hmm, Frosty would be too disappointed, though." Fearless snarled, fire engulfing his snout. Moonshine and Fortuneteller pounced on Twilight, laughing as they sat on her back. Twilight yelped, struggling to break free.
"When did you care about me?" Penguin yelled over the noise.
"I could never let anything happen to my princess," Fearless responded, tightening his grip on Twilight.
What does he mean?!
Without thinking, Penguin grabbed a model globe off a nearby desk.
I just wish if I threw this at someone, they would be pushed by something with the force of a boulder, Penguin thought desperately, pulling the globe close to his chest.
He lobbed it as hard as he could at Fearless, with the small hope it would do something.
He missed, the globe bouncing off Moonlight’s head. She was pulled back to the far wall, insincerely. The dragonet hit the stone bricks hard, collapsing to the floor. Her head lolled to the side, eyes closed.
Fortuneteller was dumbfounded. At once, she pounced for the globe. Penguin crouched, covering his head with his wings. A white curtain folded over his body, obscuring him from Fortuneteller and the globe.
I wish my scales were strong. As hard as diamonds. So strong they could protect me from anything.
A weird tingly feeling cascaded over his back, making its way to his shoulders and his wings. The sensation was then subsided as his scales felt increasingly heavy. Fortuneteller threw the wooden sphere at Penguin. It cut through the air swiftly, quickly contacting Penguin’s thin barrier. The wood splintered and cracked, breaking into a hundred small pieces. The chunks crumbled into ash, marking the stone floor darkly. Fortuneteller’s jaw dropped, her eyes widening.
Penguin pulled his wings back, glancing at her. He brushed the dust away with his tail, getting up.
Fortuneteller bent down low, her snout twitching. A scared expression replaced her surprised one.
“L-leave me alone... you freak,” she stuttered, slowly edging closer to the door.
“What are you?”
“I don’t know,” Penguin replied calmly, spreading his wings to their full extent. His silver scales caught the bright embers of the torches, scattering light in all directions. “But I want you and your friends to leave.”
Fortuneteller ran out the door without a word, slamming it behind her.
To his surprise, Penguin found that Fearless was still on top of Twilight. The flames around his mouth grew larger as Fearless raised his claw high above his head. Penguin sprinted forward, conjuring up his frost breath. He quickly released it, icicles spreading across Fearless’ face, covering his snout completely. It was too late. Large flares spewed onto Twilight, burning her instantly. She screamed in agony, shoving Fearless off her back. Her burns began to blister uncontrollably. The frost held Fearless’ snout shut, steam rising from his frozen nostrils. He fell, hitting his head on the stone. The ice crackled, small white shards scattering. Fearless lay unconscious, wings flopping against his side. Penguin stepped closer to Twilight, lowering his head. Gently, he breathed a small plume of blue crystals on her side, covering the injury. She blinked, looking up at his smiling face. She quickly stood, facing Penguin.
“How,” Twilight asked worriedly, grabbing his talon in hers. “Did you do that?”
She turned it over repeatedly, examining it closely. He flinched, extending his silver claws in the light. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t know,” Penguin replied, looking at the floor.
“I’m already enough of a weirdo as it is. First, I’m a hybrid. Second, I go to a NightWing school for NightWings. And, now this?”
“You don’t look like a weirdo. You’re not a weirdo. They are just jealous.”
“Jealous of what?”
She sighed, letting go of his palm. Twilight paced around the tower, glancing at the timelines draped over the walls.
“You don’t get it, do you.”
“You’re not a weirdo because you a perfect in every way!” She yelled, stamping her talon.
Her dark, indigo eyes glared at Penguin, irritated.
“I-I’m leaving,” she muttered, facing her back to him.
“You should stop being an indecisive walrus!” Penguin yelped, taking a step towards her.
“Maybe you should stop being such a blunt lump of mud!”
Penguin chuckled softly, stepping closer to Twilight. He looked up, a wide grin on his face. Penguin wrapped his wings tightly around her, pulling Twilight close to his chest. Twilight buried her head in his shoulder, closing her eyes. The heat from her scales comforted him instantly. Her steady heartbeat quickened as Penguin coiled his tail around hers.
“I’m sorry,” he said, resting his head on Twilight’s.
“Why do I have to be such an idiot?” she choked out a quiet laugh.
“You’re not an idiot.”
“But I said– “
“You’re not a weirdo because you’re perfect in every way,” he mimicked, trying to make his voice sound like Twilight.
“Stop it!” she laughed, twining her tail firmly.
“Anyway, thanks for everything, Twilight,” Penguin said, trying to pull free. He retracted his wings, surprised that Twilight hadn’t moved. Her head stayed in the crook of his neck. She finally looked up, smiling shyly at him. Her snout was only inches away from his, making him feel slightly uncomfortable.
She uncurled her tail from his, wrapping it tightly around her leg. Penguin tried to read her mind, but a light fuzz came from her thoughts, drowning out everything else. He could make out a few words, jumbled with the soft buzzing.
Does that mean... What is he thinking right now?... wish I could read minds... stupid... why did I say that?... desperate much... if it gets too awkward, I could make a new window... stuffy room really needs it... why is he looking at me like that?
Her last thought trailed off as she gave him a confused look. It took Penguin a moment to realise he was staring at her. He quickly tilted his head to the floor, avoiding eye contact with Twilight.
Talons and tails, could she tell?
“Penguin, please be honest with me,” she grabbed his claws in hers, making him look up. Her dark eyes glistened in the torchlight. She flipped his talon over, trailing a spiral on it with her claw.
“You’re hiding something, aren’t you?”
“What?! Why do you think that?” he whelped.
“You, Prince Penguin of the IceWings, are an animus,” she replied calmly, glancing at him. She gave him a serious look, her eyes seemed to be taking his secrets right out of his own.
“How,” he sighed, a sharp pain entering his stomach. “Could you tell?”
“It’s not every day a small globe does that,” Twilight laughed, letting go of his palm.
“Moonshine deserved it,” Penguin mumbled, a look of shame crossing his face.
“And, I saw it in a vision a few days ago,” she sighed.
“Of course, I did. Hello, best student in the class and excellent seer,” she chuckled, puffing out her chest.
A loud crash echoed around the small room. Penguin looked to the door. Another thump erupted from the other side. The door flung off its hinges, landing with a loud explosion of sound. A rust coloured dragon charged into the room, his wings getting caught in the doorway. He grumbled, cursing his clumsiness, and stepped into the light. Penguin immediately recognized him as a SkyWing; a really grumpy one. His aunt had forced him to attend annual meetings with the other tribes. He found them excruciatingly boring. However, seeing the unfamiliar dragons excited him enough to not loathe the meetings entirely.
The SkyWing spread his wings to their full extent, the tips of the membrane grazing the towering roof. A golden, circular pendant rested on his front, the chain trailing around his neck. Engraved in the circle was a regal looking eagle. His eyes narrowed as he saw the lone dragonets in the middle of the room. A small, leather-bound scroll was clutched in his claws. The SkyWing bowed down low, his amber eyes glaring back at Penguin.
“Apologies for the interruption, your... highness,” the SkyWing spat, placing the scroll between the three dragons. He raised his head out of the bow, glaring down his snout at the dragonets. Penguin fumbled for the scroll, quickly unravelling it. Neat writing inscribed the scroll in red ink. He scanned the page, reading it aloud.
“Dear Prince Penguin of the IceWings,
Your presence is requested immediately at the Sky Palace.
It is urgent.
Kind regards, Falcon (chief messenger, court minister, SkyWing noble)”
Penguin looked at Twilight. She was looking over his shoulder, eyeing the scroll suspiciously. He glanced up, surprised to see the messenger gone.
“That was... interesting,” he said sceptically, checking the room to see if the mysterious dragon was hiding.
Another crash sounded; but this time in his mind. Penguin collapsed to the floor, clutching his head in his talons. He pulled his wings close, as if to shield him. He howled in agony as the headaches became migraines. The pain was unbearable. Silver flashes buzzed through his mind, repeating an endless cycle of visions. He had never had visions this bad. From what he learnt in his prophecy classes
A tangerine SkyWing is brutally murdered by a NightWing from behind...
Dying... dying... dying...
Trees crumbling into ash...
Fire... destruction... death...
Screaming... pleading... silence...
A large NightWing rising from the ashes...
His scales glistened black with splotches of silver...
More dragons coming...
Death... killing... murdering...
An IceWing screaming as she was grabbed by the huge dragon...
She is crushed mercilessly by his enormous talons...
Sapphire blood dripped from his claws...
Finally, the dragon looked at Penguin with his cold, blue eyes...
Listen to me, Penguin, a voice spoke to him quietly over the images.
Don’t let it take over. Penguin was pulled out of the vision into a quiet space, free of the nightmare.
Who are you? he yelled into his mind, trying to reach the strange voice.
Not important. Listen to me. Don’t let her- The voice grew quieter and muffled. Penguin strained his mind to find them.
A tall, orange SkyWing appeared before him. Her ruby eyes looked menacingly at him, filled with rage and fury. Despite the chills he got from her, she smiled cheerfully. He could tell it was fake, though. Inside her was like a blaze of anger; so hot, he couldn’t get any words from her mind.
“Hello, darling,” she said, stepping closer to him. Her claws were stained scarlet at the tips. Rubies were embedded above her eyes. A large, shimmering sapphire was grasped in her talon. She placed it in a small pouch drawn across her neck, edging closer to Penguin.
A noble SkyWing, maybe?, he thought, stepping back.
“I can tell we’re going to have a thrilling time together.” She turned her head to reveal a hideous scar that covered the entire left side. Groves and burns were embedded deeply into her jaw, casting long shadows across her face.
She pounced on him, her claws scraping his scales painfully. He screamed, wincing as he saw his own purple blood ooze down his shoulder. She laughed maniacally, clamping her jaws around his neck.
“Penguin?!” Twilight squeaked, shaking his shoulder roughly.
“Beware the topaz monster,
And everything hiding between her talons.
Beware the creatures of the depths,
Where frost and water intertwine.
Beware the sand beings,
Death and destruction follow them.
Beware the dark and ice,
Magic flowing through his claws.
Beware the winding paths,
Unseen futures lie ahead.
Beware the dragons of the night,
Their merciless army shall rise.
“Seven dragonets are coming,
Bringing light to the darkness.
Seven dragonets are coming,
Ending war forever.
Beware, beasts of the night,
The dragonets are coming.”
Penguin’s eyes shot opened as he finished. Twilight stood over him, a worried look plastered on her usually calm face. He shuddered, pulling himself up.
“What happened?” Penguin asked, rubbing his forehead gingerly. He winced as his claw passed over a large bruise.
“Well, you seemed to be having a fit,” Twilight replied, fiddling with her claws nervously.
“And you started mumbling some weird words. It sounded like a real prophecy!” she exclaimed.
Penguin stepped over to the crescent table, looking through the paths. He traced his claw over the thin lines, muttering the dates under his breath. His eyes widened, looking back at the vision. Talons and tails, he thought, wrinkling his snout. There were three full moons in the vision.
He pulled a different map closer to him, examining it.
“Two weeks from now,” he read aloud, squinting at the paper.
“NightWing royal hatching; SkyWing coronation; RainWing harvest festival; SandWing full moon celebration; SeaWing meeting at the Sunset Beach; IceWing,” he trailed off, rereading the sentence again and again.
“IceWing what?” Twilight asked, reaching for the map.
“IceWing gifting ceremony and The Circle event.”
“Basically, it’s important for me to be there,” Penguin sighed, placing the map back in its original spot.
Animus dragons had a year to prepare what they were going to present to the tribe as their Gift. It struck him that by IceWing law, he had to give something. It would only be a matter of time before his aunt figured out he had animus magic.
Three moons, what am I going to do? he thought, scrunching his eyes closed in frustration.
And, he was behind in his Circle ranking. An ancient IceWing animus gave the gift of Order to the kingdom, providing the Circle rankings to order the lowest of the tribe to the nobles. When a dragonet turns seven, they must be in the first or second Circle to stay in the palace. If not, they are isolated on a small island, far off the kingdom. The only way to get to the top quickly is by participating in the Diamond Star Trial. No dragon had ever made it out alive.
If I do participate, I need to get some things straight, he figured, glancing at Twilight.
Four weeks, Penguin. Four weeks.
"Hey, uh, Twilight. Earlier Fearless was yelling about you being his princess. I know, it sounds absurd. But, he was wrong, right?"
She paused, her purple eyes glistening. A single tear rolled down her cheek, dropping onto the floor as she wiped her eyes. Penguin hesitated, slowly reaching out to her. She looked up at him, her eyes filled with the same sadness from before.
"I--it's nothing for you to worry yourself with," she stuttered quietly, as if saying this more to herself than to him. "I mean, you are going on a crazy mission to the Sky Kingdom. That's worrying enough."
Twilight busied herself with an empty scroll and some ink, scribbling something down.
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Are you writing it down?”
“Of course I am,” she said blankly, dipping her claw in the small pot of ink.
"It might come in handy later."
Penguin picked up the message scroll, toying with it between his claws.
"Maybe I should head to the Sky Kingdom."
"I guess," Twilight mumbled, cursing as she misspelled a word, frantically trying to cross it out.
"If anything, you should leave now before they send another grumpy SkyWing."
"Can't you come with me?"
She laughed, her face anything but happy.
"I have to cover up the little 'incident'," she said, prodding a claw at the scroll.
"Yeah. Oh, one more thing."
Penguin reached into the pouch strung across his neck, pulling out a simple, black chain. He grabbed an ice crystal that lay beside Fearless, squeezing it between his claws.
"Um, enchant this piece of ice to turn into a stunning amethyst that will protect the wearer from any attack, sickness or threat," he muttered quietly, hoping no one could hear him.
Slowly, the shard grew larger and heavier. A deep purple colour washed over the smooth surface. Penguin touched it to the chain, breathing on it gently. A small silver lump connected the top of the gem to the necklace, securely. He turned to face Twilight, the crystal glowing ominously in his talons.
Twilight gasped, a smile spreading on her face. She dropped the parchment and ink, splattering small droplets on the paper. Penguin stepped over to her, holding the chain up.
He leaned over, wrapping the chain around her neck.
Penguin felt a stab of embarrassment as he felt Twilight reach up to nuzzle his chin.
He locked the two ends together, stepping back to admire her.
Her eyes shone as bright as the gem as she gave him a warm smile. She was absolutely beautiful. He felt his heart skip a beat.
He smiled at her sheepishly and she laughed.
Twilight ran over, wrapping her wings tightly around his neck, pulling him down.
Startled, he tried to move away. Penguin smiled as he lifted his wings under hers, embracing her in a tight hug.
"Don't go looking for trouble," she said, nuzzling his chin again. She passed him the prophecy scroll. He took it gratefully, tucking it in his pouch.
"Remember, you're doing this for the both of us. Be safe."
"I will," he promised, his smile fading a bit.