- Character Call
A Life of Lies: The Swamp Island is a fanfiction written by Peril's Fire on the question, "What if the False Dragonets escaped instead of the real ones?" It is from the point of view of Ochre, and will be succeeded by "A Life of Lies: The Magic Touch".
Flame, Ochre, Viper, Fatespeaker and Squid have been raised to be the Dragonets of Destiny, who would save the tribes from all-out war. The problem? The Dragonets can't agree on anything. But when a NightWing arrives and orders them to pick Blister, the dragonets can finally agree on something: They don't like being bossed around.
They decide to escape the Talons of Peace, and Ochre brings them to his tribe. His tribe accepts them hesitantly, but then news is recieved that there is a traitor in their midst. And if Ochre doesn't find out who, he may be suspected himself.... and killed.
Morrowseer had arrived early.
Nautilus was the only one out to greet him. He had often tried to soothe the Talons’ fear of Morrowseer, but apparently it had been in vain, as they were all hiding from the intimidating NightWing.
Nautilus was scared of the NightWing as well, but he could control his fear. And, honestly, those Talons could be brave if they wanted to!
“Hello, Morrowseer!” Nautilus called. “You’re a week earlier than expected.”
“The dragonet was early.” Morrowseer uncurled his claw to reveal the warm body of a tiny NightWing female dragonet. The dragonet cooed happily in her sleep, gently kicking Morrowseer with her tiny claws. Morrowseer didn’t even notice.
“Early? How so?” Nautilus asked, picking up the dragonet.
“We expected her mother would want to spend some time with her.” Morrowseer explained. “We guessed wrong. Her parents wanted nothing to do with her at all.”
“What’s her name?” Nautilus asked, looking down at the still-sleeping dragonet.
“Fatespeaker.” Morrowseer growled. “But there’s something you should know. At least, Dreamhealer thought it would be important.”
'“Dreamhealer?” Nautilus looked surprised. He had only heard Dreamhealer me'ntioned once before. “Your most talented future-seer?”
“You can see why I listened.” Morrowseer looked over his shoulder, impatient to leave. “She hatched with a… dejected look on her face. Dreamhealer saw glimpses of the future, and insisted on naming her Brokenheart, but her father overruled her.”
“I can see why.” Nautilus mused. “I have a daughter myself, and I would never name her Brokenheart.”
“Make sure she stays alive.” Morrowseer warned. With no further ado, Morrowseer flew into the sky. It took Nautilus a moment to realize he had left, for he had left very suddenly.
'Nautilus then turned around and entered the underside of the mountain they were standing 'near. He worked his way through several narrow tunnels. One tunnel was so narrow that Nautilus was forced to push Fatespeaker ahead of him. But Nautilus was used to this; he had designed the tunnels, and they had been built perfectly.
Finally, Nautilus found a small niche in one of the tunnels’ walls. He tapped the tune to The Dragonets are Coming into it, and it opened. Nautilus pushed the newborn NightWing in first and then crawled in himself.
They were not alone. Light shone from small cracks in the roof onto four dragonets. It was obvious that they had only just opened their eyes recently, for they were staring at everything in awe. A young MudWing ran over to Fatespeaker and poked her scales, giggling.
The MudWing was named Ochre. His mother had named the egg before giving it to Nautilus, telling Nautilus that if it was a boy, to name it Ochre, and if it was a girl, to name it Heron. Ochre had hatched wailing, like most dragonets, but also with a look of intelligence in his eyes. Nautilus had been there for every dragonets’ hatching, and payed close attention to the first expression each dragonet had.
Next up trotted Nautilus’ own son, Squid. Squid had bright green scales to match his father, and was flashing his underwater language at random. Nautilus noted that the translation was Coral Fish philosophy enjoyable smash, which got a chuckle out of the dragonet’s father. Squid had hatched with a brave look on his face, but was now shying away from the SkyWing that approached.
The SkyWing, Flame’s, parents had given up Flame with some difficulty; he was the only child they ever had, and could ever hope to have. However, Nautilus assured them that Flame would see them often, as they would be in the Talons-of-Peace camp together, and that convinced them. Flame had hatched with a caring look on his face, but he demonstrated none of that as he turned Fatespeaker over harshly to look at her back, allowing Fatespeaker to wake up and start crying. Fortunately, she stopped soon and fell back to sleep.
The last dragonet was Viper, the SandWing, and she ran up as soon as she realized she had been missing something. She had scared Nautilus when she hatched with a violent look in her eyes, but so far she had been happy with whatever was put in front of her. She curled up next to Fatespeaker, letting her scales warm the young dragonet.
Flame, snorting smoke, curled next to Viper to get warm. Squid jumped on top of Viper, but the SandWing didn’t seem to care. Ochre, after waiting for a while to see if Nautilus had brought any food, laid down on Viper’s feet.
Nautilus sighed and assumed that he would be the dragonets’ guardian for the night. “Sleep well.” he said, curling protectively around the five young dragons, who were already sound asleep. “Tomorrow we’ll move camp.”
But the dragonets couldn’t understand. They didn’t understand any words. Right now, they understood that they were together, and happy, and hoped that they would always be that way.
Ochre turned around and flashed a smirk to Flame and Viper. He turned around and shot fire as far as he could. It managed to reach an oak tree a long place away. "Ha!" he grinned. "I told you that my life had a purpose outside of food!"
Flame snorted smoke, something he loved to do when angry. "Now if you could only talk like it is."
"Good job, Ochre!" their SandWing instructor nodded, grinning at her student. The SandWing's name was Camel. She was an old dragoness, and had escaped Burn's army after being drafted. She was extremely nice to the dragonets, so even Flame couldn't bring himself to talk meanly about her.
"Your turn, Viper." Camel nodded to her fellow SandWing.
Viper mimicked Ochre, smirking at the two boys, and shot her burst of flame. It split the tree that Ochre had hit clean in two, as well as two others behind it.
"Very good, Viper! Your fire is especially strong for your age!" Camel congratulated. "Now, where did Fatespeaker head off to? She's supposed to be here."
"She probably escaped to go reading." Flame growled. Ochre honestly couldn't blame her. Breathing fire was a hard task, and hurt the inside of your mouth for at least five minutes afterwards. Fatespeaker had barely managed to shoot a dragon-length ahead of her before she snuck away.
"How has Squid been doing?" Camel asked them, settling down on the slightly warm grass. She loved to take long breaks during class, to her students' glee.
"Horrid." Flame also laid down, followed by Viper and Ochre. "But then again, he always is. He whines about every little thing. Daddy, I hurt my claw! Daddy, my scales hurt! Daddy, my heart is beating too fast! Am I going to die?"
Ochre and Viper laughed. Camel flicked her tail. "Now, now, students. We mustn't make fun."
"Easy for you to say." Viper growled. "You don't have to share a dorm with him. All night, he sits there and complains and/or talks about how great his dad is."
"Just be thankful nobody saw the need to tell him that we were Dragonets of Destiny." Ochre added. "Otherwise, we'd never shut him up."
"He shuts up on occasion." Camel pointed out. "Just never around me."
"Or me." Ochre sighed.
"Or me." Viper repeated.
"Ditto." Flame flung his tail from side-to-side.
While Ochre never really was friends with Viper and Flame, per se, he could get along fine without annoying them... unless, of course, he brought up food. He didn't see why it annoyed them; food was an amazing thing.
"Oh, look at the sun!" Camel looked up, and saw the sun setting in the sky. "You should probably get to your temporary cave."
Flame growled. "Fine." he stalked off. Viper followed.
Ochre looked back at Camel. She looked a little sad, but he didn't think very hard about it. Then again, he didn't think very hard about anything.
When they reached their temporary cave for the night (which was more of a large hollow built into a rock), Fatespeaker the NightWing was indeed reading. She had a scroll marked, A NightWing's Guide to the Dragons of Pyrrhia, and was reading it intently. Flame shot a small smark of fire at it, burning the scroll into a crisp.
"Hey!" Fatespeaker looked upset, but not too upset. She was never really upset; she seemed to assume that her roomates were her "friends." Ochre wished that he never knew her.
"That's the third time you've read that scroll." Viper growled, collapsing onto her ledge. "You're not going to find anything new."
"Yes I was!" Fatespeaker announced, brushing the ashes off her ledge, which was the highest. "I had a vision that told me to leave the fire-breathing lesson and read this scroll, and it would tell me why we were here!"
"Because we were born?" Flame asked.
"No!" Fatespeaker growled. "I mean here specifically! With the Talons!"
"We were born into the Talons." Ochre noted.
"I wasn't!" Fatespeaker growled. "Why did my parents give me up?" her eyes widened. "Maybe I'm supposed to be a Talon futureseer!"
It's a good thing that she hasn't used her logic to figure out that we're the Dragonets of Destiny. Ochre inwardly sighed, crawling onto his ledge. Otherwise, we would have no peace at all.
And then came a screech.
Fatespeaker leapt to her feet. "A NightWing!"
"Honestly?" Viper groaned. "It's almost nighttime!"
"That's why he showed up!" Fatespeaker bounced off her ledge, and shook Flame to awaken him. "I told you I wasn't weird for prefering the night to the day! I bet it's a NightWing thing! Wake up!"
"I wasn't even asleep... but I wish I was." Flame flicked Fatespeaker away with only a gentle push, and then crawled off his ledge, shaking his wings. "Let's go see what the fuss is about."
Ochre groaned, but got off his ledge and followed the over-excited Fatespeaker.
A crowd of Talons was pressing in to watch, and Ochre thought it was probably impossible to get through. However, Fatespeaker poked a nearby MudWing. "Hey! Let us through!"
The MudWing looked over. Ochre stepped back slowly. "Sure." the female surprisingly said. "Nautilus told us to let you five up front."
"Really?" Fatespeaker flushed with pride. "I don't... wait, MoWow! C'mon, Ochre! Flame, Viper, move it!"
Ochre slowly crept behind Fatespeaker, looking anywhere but at the MudWing. She, however, didn't neglect to notice him. "Hello, Ochre." she said warily.
Ochre sighed. "Hello, Mother." At that, he took off after Fatespeaker as fast as he could.
His mother, Morass, has given him up to the Talons for the prophecy. Ochre could understand this, but his problem with her was that she didn't care at all. His father, Bog, didn't even acknowledge him. Only his siblings, Camel and Fatespeaker seemed to like him at all.
Fatespeaker was bombarding Nautilus with questions, but he pushed her aside. Flame sat next to her, scoffing. Viper sat next to him, and Ochre next to her. After a few seconds of watching a black dot in the sky get closer and closer, they heard a muffled, "Ow! Ow! Stop pushing and let me through! My father is your boss, so move aside!"
Flame facetaloned. "Don't let him get near me."
Squid finally pushed his way through the crowd and collapsed next to Fatespeaker, panting. "You'd expect there'd be more respect for Nautilus' son." he muttered.
"Depends on who the son is." Flame growled. "When dealing with you, I doubt respect is a numeber one priority."
At that point, the black speck shot towards the ground, and got bigger and bigger. He landed on the ground without flinching, and Fatespeaker almost squealed. All the dragonets, even Squid, sat up straighter. The Talons shuffled uncomfortably and moved back a bit.
"Morrowseer!" Nautilus grinned. "Welcome back!"
"Whatever." Morrowseer looked bored, and then flicked his tail. Another NightWing silently scampered out of the bushes, and stood beside Morrowseer. She looked around middle-aged, and very annoyed with the NightWing next to her. "This is Dreamhealer. She came to see them."
Nautilus moved aside, so the dragonets were in full view. Ochre was trying his best to behave, but Fatespeaker obviously wasn't. "Oh my moons!" she screamed, jumping to her claws. "Two NightWings! In the same place! Hello! Or, should I bow? What do I do? Are you taking us to the Kingdom?"
Morrowseer looked positively disgusted. Dreamhealer remained emotionless, though her eyes followed Fatespeaker's movements.
"This is Ochre, the MudWing." Nautilus said. Ochre noticed that he didn't say "from the blood-red egg". Ochre himself didn't know if he was from a blood-red egg or not, but he supposed so, since he was in the prophecy.
"This is Flame. His egg had been especially huge." Flame snorted smoke.
"This is Viper. Her parents are talons, but we decided that hidden alone from the rival queens could just mean not a part of the war." Viper flicked her tail barb threateningly.
"And this is Fatespeaker. You know about her."
"You do?" Fatespeaker's eyes went wide. "You do!"
Nautilus then gestured to Squid. "This is Squid, the SeaWing."
"Was his egg really of the deepest blue?" Dreamhealer asked, and Ochre started. Her voice was majestic and regal, but also hypnotizing and intimidating.
Nautilus shuffled his talons. "Yes. We don't know why he came out green."
"Dad, why would my egg be blue?" Squid asked.
Neither of the NightWings looked surprised that Squid was Nautilus' son. Ochre wondered if they had read his mind and found out. "So they don't know?" Dreamhealer asked.
"Fatespeaker and Squid don't." Flame responded, making Nautilus jump. "The rest of us figured it out, though. It was rather obvious."
"What?" Fatespeaker asked. Then her eyes went wide. "Find the SeaWing egg of deepest blue... Wings of Night shall come to you..."
"Correct." Morrowseer nodded. "You are the Dragonets of Destiny. You are going to end the SandWing war. And we're going to tell you how."
Ochre leaned closer while Squid and Fatespeaker gasped. He wanted to hear this. Unfortunatally, Fatespeaker started squealing and Squid screamed, "I'm a Dragonet of Destiny! I'm a Dragonet of Destiny! I knew I was important!"
"Shut up!" Morrowseer yelled. All was suddenly silent. Not even the crickets attempted to chirp.
"Are these really the dragonets of destiny?" Morrowseer asked Nautilus, obviously annoyed beyond belief. "The SeaWing is tiny. The NightWing looks unsatisfactory."
"I'm not unsatisfactory!" Fatespeaker protested. "I have visions! I had a vision just the other day about how we'd be important to the war, and we are! But who are we going to choose for the next queen?"
"That's what we're here to discuss." Morrowseer announced. Everyone listened for the news. Even the Talons crept a little closer.
"The next SandWing Queen... will be Blister."
Ochre didn't know what to think.
Of course, he figured it would be Blister. Seeing as him, Viper and Flame got along neutrally, they had researched the Queens together and discussed it. They ruled out Burn almost immediately; she was much too violent to be a decent Queen. They had problems deciding between Blaze and Blister, though. Blaze was popular and kind but also rather stupid, while Blister was mean and disliked but intellegent. Ochre had suggested that they work together to be two good Queens, but this was shot down by the violence-loving Flame and Viper.
Ochre was also very worried that his tribe would hate him, since he didn't pick Burn. But then again, they'd forgive him, right?
"Blister?" Fatespeaker looked confused. "Why her?"
"Awesome!" Squid squealed. He was rather happy that his tribe had supported the "right Queen."
"We chose Blister," Morrowseer explained darkly, "because she would be the best Queen."
"Why?" Fatespeaker asked.
Morrowseer and Dreamhealer glared at her.
"Should I not ask so many questions?" Fatespeaker asked. "I'm sorry that I'm not behaving like a proper NightWing. There are no NightWings here, so I wouldn't know how they act."
Morrowseer's glare softened by about 0.02%, while Dreamhealer stopped glaring althogether, but still scowled. At least they understand a tiny bit of her point-of-view. Ochre thought. Nobody else can make heads-or-tails of her.
"Your training will intensify," Morrowseer instructed, ignoring any looks Nautilus or any other Talons gave him, "by tenfold. After a week, we will survey your progress and see if you are fit to be the Dragonets of Destiny. If not, well, then I guess we'll just find other suitable dragonets. We will stay here for that long."
Flame and Viper looked completely undaunted, but very annoyed at Morrowseer. Squid whined about how important he was, while Fatespeaker was endeavoring not to speak. Ochre himself was terrified. How in Pyrrhia am I supposed to survive tenfold training?
Nautilus found this point to take charge. "Go to your dens, Dragonets." he ordered. "It's time to rest now. We'll wake you up in the morning for your training."
Squid whined something. Nautilus ignored him for once.
Ochre figured he would never get sleep. Squid and Fatespeaker, he predicted, will be squealing about how important they are. And if Flame doesn't kill them, I won't get any rest at all.
The next day Ochre was woken up an hour early.
He was shaken awake, and muttered, "Go away, Fatespeaker."
"Get. Up." Ochre was surprised to hear Viper's voice. She sounded worried... which was a feeling Viper hadn't had since she turned two. "Now."
Ochre knew whatever was scaring Viper must be important, so he crawled out of bed and blinked sleep out of his eyes. He noticed that the other dragonets must have been given a similar wake-up call, because they all were glaring at Viper. Viper tapped her talons. "We have to be up and ready for them."
"Who?" Squid asked drearily.
"Morrowhealer and Dreamseer?" Fatespeaker inquired, obviously still too tired.
"No." Viper growled, thrashing her tail. "Tarantula and Meerkat."
Everyone was immedietely awake.
"Aw crap!" Flame growled.
"Not them!" Squid squealed.
"We're all doomed." Ochre slapped his talons to his head.
"Worst. SandWings. Ever." Fatespeaker added.
Meerkat and Tarantula were the only Dragons Viper was respectful of, if not afraid. They were vicious, deadly, violent and hated everyone. The only reason they were Talons-of-Peace and not part of the war was because Burn had seen them as threats and tried to kill them before they had escaped. Though they had done some good in helping Camel get to them, they were mostly focused on torturing the Dragonets' lives- including Viper's, even though Viper was their daughter.
Viper shook and made sure the Dragonets were in an even line before standing next to them. A few minutes later, the SandWings arrived.
Ochre tried not to narrow his eyes, or breathe to heavily, or stand to lazily, otherwise he'd get hurt, and he knew it. Meerkat had blindingly-white scales, and his mate Tarantula had the palest gold color. They glared at each of the Dragonets in turn.
"Follow us." Meerkat growled, before stalking off.
"Quickly." Tarantula added before following.
The five dragonets all groaned quietly.
"We're in for a long week." Ochre concluded.
Tarantula and Meerkat led them to a small, dark den. They leapt in without a second glance, but the Dragonets glanced at each other.
"It's probably safe." Ochre noted.
"We have wings." Flame pointed out.
"It still looks creepy." Squid whimpered.
At that, Flame and Viper leapt in. Ochre glanced back at Squid and Fatespeaker, who looked worried. Ochre shrugged and jumped in. He spread out his wings to slow his fall, and landed with a light thud on the ground. He looked up and saw light drift in. "Where are we?" he asked.
"Who cares?" Viper asked. "This place is awesome!"
Ochre suddenly noticed that there were dragon skeletons everywhere. He barely kept himself from throwing up. His eyes found Tarantula and he asked, "Do we get to eat? I haven't eaten yet."
"In battle," Tarantula hissed, "You may not eat for days. Weeks, if necessary. Dragons can survive up to a month without eating, you know."
I will never go a month without eating. Ochre thought.
There was a small "WHEE!" as Fatespeaker slid down the hole. She crashed into Flame and sent them both sprawling across the floor. Flame growled and shot a burst of fire at her, and she squeaked and hid behind a skeleton, before realizing what it was. She screamed loudly and leapt behind Ochre.
Squid finally came down, complaining the whole way. Then he saw Tarantula, Meerkat and the skeletons, and shut up.
"Attention!" Meerkat called, and the dragonets stood in line.
"Today you are going to learn how to fight like Dragons, and not sorry little scavengers." Meerkat growled. "Your former teachers, Penguin and Seal, were lazy and stupid, and taught you almost nothing."
"I liked Penguin and Seal." Squid muttered.
"Bring in the other troops." Meerkat instructed Tarantula.
Tarantula nodded and then walked into another room. She came back with a SeaWing and four SandWings, as well as five MudWings. They were all around the dragonets' ages.
"What are our siblings doing here?" Squid asked, being the first to recognize them.
Ochre shyly walked towards Flame, hoping to hide behind the siblingless Dragon.
Squid's sister, Seahorse, snorted. "Honestly, wimp, we're not that bad."
Despite looking exactly like him, Seahorse was the opposite of Squid. She had also had a large growth spurt recently, unlike Squid, and was also great friends with Viper and Flame, being of the same mind with them.
Viper's siblings were standing up straight in an army-like way, and walked in rhythm. Viper snorted, but Ochre noticed that there was approval and longing in her eyes.
Meerkat called out their names, as if in attendance. "Ironwood! Silver Cholla! Javelina! Bobcat!"
They called, "Sir! Yes, sir!"
Meerkat nodded to them and kept walking. Ochre wondered if he did that just to show off. He stole a glance at his siblings.
"It's Ochre!" Caiman, the smallest, squealed, and suddenly Ochre was hidden under a pile of MudWings.
"Quiet! Quiet!" Meerkat ordered, and Ochre's siblings slowly climbed off of him. They had also figured out about the prophecy, and Ochre was their idol. Even the Bigwings, Cabybara, couldn't help squealing everytime her brother walked by. Ochre used to wonder why they were so immature for their age, but then he realized that they raised themselves in the Talons of Peace. This war is destroying everything. he thought.
"What've you been doing, Ochre?" Cabybara asked, grinning.
"This is our first battle training session!" Coypu squealed.
"Do you like my wings?" Caiman asked, stretching them out for his brother to see.
"Have you met these dragons before?" Sedge asked.
"Did you see the NightWings after they left?" Wetland asked.
"SHUT UP!" Tarantula yelled, and the MudWings stopped talking.
"Dragonets of Destiny, go to one side of the room." Tarantula ordered. "Everyone else, to the other side."
Ochre's Siblings whined, but Ochre trotted to the other wall. "Thank you." he whispered to Tarantula, but she didn't seem to care.
Tarantula walked towards the Dragonets and hung leaves over their necks, so that it was shaped like a small bib. Meerkat handed some to the other dragonets.
"If your leaf is shredded, you're out and you have to go sit by the wall." Tarantula ordered. "The last one standing wins for their team."
"Wait, so we have to fight?" Fatespeaker asked.
"We don't want to fight Ochre!" Coypu whined.
"There's no picking allies in a battle." Tarantula growled. "You're either in or out."
"We're hopelessly outnumbered!' Flame pointed out, snorting smoke some more.
Meerkat smirked at him. "Battles aren't fair, SkyWing. When I say go, you fight. One... two... three... Go!"
Ochre's siblings immediately ran to attack everyone but Ochre. Seahorse leapt at Squid and bit his tail, causing him to shriek in pain. Ironwood and Silver Cholla ran off together and jumped onto Flame, while Bobcat and Javelina ran at Ochre. Ochre decided on the best course of action and leapt into a Dragon skeleton.
"Fight, darn MudWing! Don't hide!" Meerkat yelled at Ochre.
Javelina reached into the skeleton and tried to claw at Ochre, but he lashed out and took a large portion out of her leaf. She screamed and tried harder to reach him. She managed to claw an inch or so off the bottom before Ochre rolled forward and knocked her backwards with the skeleton. She went flying and landed against the wall, unconscious.
Bobcat roared with fury and started hurling himself at the bones of the skeleton. Ochre rolled towards him, too, but only succeeded in aggravating him more. Bobcat jumped into the skeleton, as well, and Ochre realized that he was cornered. Ochre leapt at Bobcat and flung him against the ground. Bobcat growled, but it was a tight space and couldn't move as Ochre shredded his leaf, and then slipped out of the bones.
Ochre noticed that, as well as Bobcat and Javelina, Squid and Fatespeaker were out, as well as Caiman, Capybara, Coypu and Wetland. Sedge was gnawing at Flame's tail, having forgotten the point of the game. Seahorse and Flame were in claw-to-claw combat. Viper was attacking Ironwood and Silver Cholla at the same time. Ochre jumped onto Silver Cholla's back, and flipped her over into the skeleton.
"Stop! STOP!" Meerkat cried.
Ochre stopped, and noticed that Silver Cholla's leaf had been shredded by a bone jutting out of the skeleton. He turned around and saw Sedge leaning against the wall, her leaf gone, and Viper standing triumphantly over Ironwood.
"We won?" Ochre asked.
Meerkat nodded. "Exceptional fighting skills, SandWings. SkyWing, nice job. MudWing, that was very creative, I wouldn't have thought of fighting with a dead dragon. Other MudWings, what the heck? NightWing and annoying SeaWing, I don't think you even tried. Other SeaWing, nice job, even though you lost. Now, let's do that again."
Ochre groaned, and then he got a surprise.
"We're switching teams this time." Tarantula announced. "I shall use your names to make it less comfusing. Flame, Viper, Ochre, Silver Cholla, Javelina, Ironwood, Seahorse and Bobcat, on one side of the wall. Fatespeaker, Squid, and the other MudWings, on the other side."
Ochre silently cheered.
"This time, we'll give you five minutes to plan your strategy." Meerkat hissed. "Ready, set, go!"
Ochre glanced around at the Dragonets surrounding him as Meerkat placed leaves over their necks. "What's the plan?" he asked.
"Nobody goes in alone." Ironwood instructed, with a voice that demanded respect and attention. "I'll team up with Bobcat, and we'll go after the NightWing. Silver Cholla, team up with Javelina and get the Bigwings. Seahorse and Ochre, you go get the SeaWing. Flame, Viper, you'll go after the rest of the MudWings, and we'll help you when we finish with ours."
"Who put you in charge?" Viper asked, tail thrashing.
"Mother did, actually." Ironwood hissed at her, which shut her up.
"Anyway, our plan of attack is to lure them towards the skeletons. If possible, we can use the fighting moves Ochre ingeniusly demonstrated today." Ironwood instructed without a hint of sarcasm, and Ochre swelled with pride. Ironwood scratched in the dirt to demonstrate how to go at "the enemy."
"Why is there light down here?" Flame asked, changing the topic dramatically. "Aren't we underground?"
"An animus is said to have built this place." Silver Cholla told him, rolling her eyes. "He went mad afterwards and killed lots of Dragons, and threw their bodies down here; that's where the skeletons came from. He was found dead days after he was caught in the act, killed by an unknown venom."
"Wow." Flame stated. "I did not need to know that."
"Silver Cholla's the brains of our troop." Bobcat explained. "Ironwood's the leader, I'm the normal strategist and Javelina's the spy, if we need her."
Viper looked mildly impressed. "And I'm the mindless soldier, I presume."
"No, actually," Bobcat went on, "You're our main fighter. Although, I guess you wouldn't know that."
Viper shut up.
"Time's up!" Tarantula yelled. "Three... two... one... FIGHT!"
Ochre, shocked, jumped up next to Seahorse and took off towards Squid. Seahorse ran ahead of him and leapt onto her prey, almost squealing with glee. "Not again!" Squid yelled as he was hidden underneath his violent sister.
Ochre decided that she didn't need him, so he ran over to the corner and hid inside another skeleton. He surveyed it, and decided that it was a SandWing skeleton. He noticed that most of the other skeletons were SandWings, with a few SkyWings and IceWings, and one MudWing. He concluded that the Animus had probably been a RainWing.
He stayed in the skeleton for the rest of the round, which didn't last very long.
"Right," Meerkat growled, "I'd love to stay and train you more, but we've been called with Nautilus to a meeting, and he instructed us to feed you."
"Wait, is that all our training?" Fatespeaker asked, incredulous.
"Aren't we going to learn certain and specific fighting meneuvers?" Ochre asked.
"Who cares about if you use fighting meneuvers if you're on a battlefield?" Tarantula asked. "Your goal is to survive."
"What is your meeting about?" Squid asked as him and Fatespeaker fell into line with their mentors.
"Secret stuff." Meerkat growled.
"What secret stuff?" Fatespeaker asked.
Viper's parents didn't answer, and instead flew out of the whole. They were followed by their children (excluding Viper), Seahorse and Ochre's squealing siblings. The Dragonets of Destiny were left.
"I just had a vision!" Fatespeaker excalimed.
"Don't let us know." Flame growled. "That's a fate worse than death."
"But it said that there'd be something important at the secret meeting that we need to listen in on!" Fatespeaker whined.
They all looked at her as if she had suddenly grown an IQ.
"Scratch that." Flame cocked his head. "That was actually a grand idea."
"Come on, then, before they get away!" Fatespeaker spread out her wings to fly up the hole. "What could go wrong?"
Ochre was worried that they would get caught.
Meerkat and Tarantula kept checking for followers every few seconds, so they had to send Viper ahead of them to signal when it was safe, because she was the least likely to get in trouble for it. Finally they landed around the peak of Jade mountain, miles above the camp.
The False Dragonets, without speaking to each other, hid in the thick bushed on the side. Ochre had the best view, as he could blend in best and was in less danger of being spotted.
He took a quick record of who was there. Meerkat and Tarantula looked grumpy, as always. Penguin and Seal were there, looking quite at home in the chilly breeze the mountain carried. Camel looked uncharacteristically unhappy, as she laid down on her side. Nautilus was there, along with Redwood and Carmine the SkyWings. Riptide, one of the new recruits, was there, looking uncomfortable. Morrowseer and Dreamhealer were there, which scared Ochre, but that fact scared him less than the fact that Bog and Morass were also there. Ochre noticed that there were at least two dragons from each tribe, except for the RainWings. There were no RainWings in the Talons of Peace, and if there were, Ochre hadn't seen them.
"Is everyone here?" Morrowseer asked impatiently.
"Of course." Meerkat snorted. "We're here to talk about Blister, so get talking."
Morrowseer looked ready to snap something back, but Dreamhealer gestured to Meerkat's barb, and Morrowseer continued. "We have chosen Blister because she has the... items necessary to the NightWings' survival."
The other Talons nodded. Ochre figured that this had been talked about before, but nobody questioned Morrowseer about anything further.
"And the Dragonets?" Camel asked, worry etched into her face. "What are you going to do after the week's up?"
"They shall be evaluated." Dreamhealer explained.
"Evaluated?" Riptide asked. "On what?"
"Their fighting skills, negotiating, and, most importantly, their intellegence." Morrowseer growled. "If they pass three out of four- and one of those must be intellegence- then they are suitable Dragonets of Destiny. If not... I'm sure we can find other dragonets."
"And the real Dragonets?" Penguin asked. "What will happen to them?"
Morrowseer emitted a low growl. "I guess they'll have to die."
"Die?" Redwood asked. "As in, die, die? No faking? Plain death?"
"Well, I'm not killing them." Bog announced. "I'm not killing any Dragons."
"I will." Meerkat announced. "I get the Sea..." he trailed off when he saw Nautilus' horrified expression. "The MudWing. The MudWing's annoying."
"You should see their Wings of Sky." Morrowseer snorted. "Absolutely pathetic. I don't think it even breathes fire."
"I taught the Dragonets myself." Camel insisted, and Ochre noticed that she was glancing straight at him. "They're much better fire-breathers than I'm sure anyone else is in all the Talons."
"Except yours." Carmine adknowledged, and nobody argued with her.
"And what if they don't like Blister?" Morass asked.
"Then Death." Dreamhealer stated unfeelingly.
Ochre silently slipped out of the bushes. He saw his fellow Dragonets' horrified expressions, and slipped down the mountain.
They followed him.
Down at their dorm, Fatespeaker ingeniusly stated, "I don't want to die!"
"How could they kill me?" Squid asked. "I'm important!"
"Obviously not that important." Viper snorted, though even Ochre noticed the fear in her eyes.
There was silence. Finally Ochre stood up, growling. "Then let's leave."
"What?" Flame asked, shocked.
"We'll leave." Ochre said. "We'll go to the RainWings; they'll never think to look for us there. We'll bring my siblings, because I'm sure they'll die without me here. We'll drop them off at the Mud Kingdom and then go on our way. We'll figure out how to stop the war from there. Then we'll be safe, and we won't have to give up being Dragonets of Destiny."
There was more silence.
"I think that's the smartest thing you've ever said in your life." Flame noted.
"I'm in." Viper added.
"This'll be cool!" Fatespeaker bounced, and then her face fell. "Will the NightWings be mad?"
"They want to kill us. I don't think their opinion matters." Ochre growled.
"We'll escape tonight." Viper said. She scratched lines in the dirt to demonstrate, like Ironwood. "We'll get your siblings from their little cave, Ochre. It's near ours, but keeping them quiet will be our only problem. Then we'll go over the Jade Mountains and to the Mud Kingdom. We'll hang there until they get settled, and then we'll go south to the Rainforest Kingdom."
"So it's settled?" Ochre asked.
They all nodded.