This is my second fanfiction. It is based off a certain play (try to guess), and includes Separateheart, Nightshade, Coldsoul, and the scientist Dr. Mastermind (his real name is actually Secretkeeper, but he prefers to use the name Mastermind for shock value). This is just for fun. If you need a funny story... Here it is! :3
On a populated island nearby Pyrrhia, a dense collection of NightWings thrived, having no connection to Pyrrhia. They tried to live on the sheep and livestock they raised, and they succeeded for a while. They lived happily on their little island, undisturbed by the outside world.
One of these inhabitants was named Skyguarder. She lived with her mate, Faceshifter,who was a plastic surgeon for a living. She had three eggs, which they were proud of, and they lived happily for a while.
One day, there was a loud thump. Skyguarder jumped up and ran outside. She saw that there was a NightWing who had landed on their doorstep. There were cuts, burns, and lacerations everywhere on her, as if she had been attacked by a group of dragons. Her mint green eyes were glazed over, and her talons shook as she held up a smooth egg. "Please..." She rasped, her agony evident.
"What?" Skyguarder asked gently, knowing that it was the end for her.
"Take... Take care of my daughter..." Skyguarder blinked, as the dragon raised the egg a bit higher. "Please... I can't... SkyWings..."
Skyguarder took the egg carefully. "I shall. What will her name be?"
"It will be..." The dragon was fighting for breath now, her life force fading. "Starlight. Her name is Starlight."
Skyguarder nodded. "I will take care of her as if she was my own daughter. Don't worry."
A faint smile flickered across the dragon's snout, but faded. Her gaze clouded as she passed into the next life. Her life melted like a snowflake on a rock... Gone, faster than she came...
Skyguarder bowed her head to the dragon. "Though I did not know you, you came to me. You came to me nearly dead, but still wanted your daughter to be taken care of. Know that my promise has been kept. I shall treat Starlight like one of my own."
She slipped back inside and carefully set the egg with the others, so that it was safe. She buried the dragon down in the cellar with Faceshifter, who was glad to help. As she sat back down in her place, reading the daily scroll, she heard a cracking noise.
Skyguarder looked at the hatching egg, which was shuddering and rocking back and forth. It was one of her own, not Starlight. A purple head poked up from the nest, a piece of eggshell on her head and violet eyes the same shade of the petals of a belladonna flower watching Skyguarder.
"Your name," Skyguarder decided, "is..." Her claw touched the dragonet's head. In her head, a scene played out: A dragon, exactly like the dragonet, mixing a poison. She dropped in it a sprig of...
"Nightshade." Skyguarder knew in her heart that it was the true name of the dragonet. "You name is Nightshade."
"Nahshuh," The dragonet said, repeating what her mother had said. Then, there was a second crack. It was Starlight's egg! Skyguarder watched as a long crack, like a lightning bolt, appeared in the smooth surface. A few seconds later, a small dark-colored head poked up out of the eggshell. Silver scales encircled her neck, like a necklace. As Skyguarder lifted her up, she saw that there were patches of colored scales on her body. Blue, red, green... It was like nebulae on her scales. Some silver scales encircled other parts of her body too, like her ankles and her tail-tip.
"Starlight," Skyguarder said quietly, smiling at the small dragonet. As she put her down, the third egg began to hatch. It was a male this time, with cold ice-blue eyes and obsidian-black scales.
"Coldsoul," Skyguarder told the dragonet. She knew that he was truly a holder of a cold soul. It was his cold eyes that gave it away...
Then, the last egg began to hatch. A small male dragonet flopped down at her talons. He had golden eyes, much like Morrowseer from the stories. Touching the dragonet's head, a vision floated through her gaze: A dragonet, holding a big golden horn, blowing into it and shouting, "FOR THE NIGHTWINGS!".
"Separateheart," She decided. "That is your name."
She stepped back and looked with pride down at her four dragonets, who were staring up at her. Coldsoul, Starlight, Nightshade, and Separateheart. Her greatest treasures.
She didn't care that Starlight wasn't even her dragonet. She didn't care how different Nightshade and Starlight looked. All she cared about was that they were her dragonets, and that she would raise them to the best of her (inadequate) ability, for as long as she lived. With a blissful sigh, Skyguarder left to catch some food for her dragonets.
Under the arching elms, at the edge of the quiet Summer Path, the great Brewster home stood in all its glory. It was almost like an overdecorated palace, built long ago by the descendants of the Brewsters.
Within this palace/house, there was the sound of clinking glasses. "Would you like some more of my fresh, grilled cow?" A voice asked.
That voice belonged to 12-year-old Nightshade Brewster, who lived with her two siblings (Separateheart and Starlight) in the Brewster home. She, as the oldest sibling, inherited the home from her late parents. Now a legal adult, she took care of her (slightly) younger siblings.
Starlight, at this moment, was at a fanfiction convention. She used to write a column for the Daily Scroll, but then they made her become the Official Fanfiction Critic. She didn't like the job, but it generated money.
Separateheart was there with Nightshade, along with their guest, an esteemed NightWing named Truthfinder. He was an elderly NightWing, who was actually the minister of the island.
"Oh, no, thank you," Truthfinder said, smiling at her. "I've had quite enough already."
"We make our own biscuits," Nightshade said persuasively. "And we add our own very special quince jam- We add some apple to take away the tartness. I'll send over a jar. More wine, Morrowseer?"
Separateheart, who believed he was Morrowseer, frowned and then nodded agreeably. "Why yes, I would like some."
Nightshade poured her younger brother a cup, who drank it cheerfully. Truthfinder then turned to Nightshade. "Miss Nightshade, I have been meaning to talk to you about your sister, Starlight."
"Oh, yes," Nightshade said, smiling. "She's at the convention now." She raised her voice to a shout. "Morrowseer, your sister will be here soon!"
"Dee-lighted!" Separateheart said, grinning.
"Miss Nightshade," Truthfinder said with a sigh. "I will be frank with you. I do not completely approve of your sister's unfortunate association with the fanfiction society. A Fanfiction Critic is constantly exposed to the fanfiction community, and I am afraid that some of it rubs off on them, so they begin to like it."
"Oh, no, not my sister," Nightshade said with a laugh. "Don't worry about Starlight."
"Oh?" Truthfinder asked.
"She hates the fanfiction community." Nightshade laughed. "She writes all sorts of nasty stuff about it. You can't blame her, poor girl. She was fine writing advice columns, which she actually knew something about, and then they made her take this horrible night position."
"My, my!" Truthfinder exclaimed, surprised.
"But, as she says," Nightshade began, "The fanfiction community can't survive for much longer, and in the meantime, it's a living."
Then, there was a knock on the door. "Who could that be?" Nightshade wondered, standing up and padding over to it. "I'm co-ming~!"
Nightshade opened up the door, and found another NightWing standing outside it. He had a police hat on his head, which had a golden star attached to it. "Hello, Officer Lawupholder!" Nightshade exclaimed, stepping back so he could enter.
"Thank you," Lawupholder said calmly to Nightshade. He turned to Truthfinder. "Good evening, sir."
"Evening, Lawupholder." Truthfinder greeted him. Lawupholder turned to Separateheart.
"What news have you to report to me, sire?" Separateheart asked him.
"None, Colonel Morrowseer," Lawupholder said dutifully, bowing in typical NightWing fashion. Separateheart nodded in approval.
"Splendid," Separateheart said coolly. "At ease, soldier."
"So," Nightshade said, "What brings you here, Lawupholder?"
"I'm here to collect toys for dragonets at the orphanage," Lawupholder said to her. "I was wondering whether you had any toys for me."
"How kind of you!" Nightshade exclaimed.
"Well, it beats sitting around HQ just playing Pick-Up Bones all day," Lawupholder said, rolling his eyes.
"Morrowseer, will you get the toys from up in Starlight's room?" Nightshade asked.
"From upstairs?" Separateheart asked. "Dee-lighted!"
He turned to look up the stairs. He brandished an invisible sword and shouted, "CHARGE!!", charging up the stairs. His loud, thumping footsteps echoed throughout the house, but no one paid any mind to it.
More somberly, Nightshade turned to Lawupholder. "How is your mate?"
He sighed. "Pneumonia."
Nightshade frowned sadly. "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that."
"Oh, it's better than before, but..." Lawupholder looked out the window.
"I'll have Morrowseer send over some beef broth for her later," Nightshade decided.
"Oh, don't bother, Miss Nightshade!" Lawupholder exclaimed. "You've done enough already."
Then, Separateheart stepped out and blew into a large golden bugle, an off-key tune. Lawupholder winced. "Uh oh," He muttered, and then shouted up to Separateheart, "You promised not to do that anymore, Colonel!"
"But I had to call a meeting to get the release of those supplies!" Separateheart exclaimed. He turned around and exited, probably to talk to the members of the 'meeting'.
Lawupholder sighed. "The neighbors used to complain about him and his bugle all the time."
"Ah, he's harmless," Truthfinder said, rolling his eyes.
"Sure, sure," Lawupholder said. He sighed. "Suppose he DOES think he's Morrowseer. It's a shame, a nice family like this hatching a cuckoo like him. The grandfather made millions; er, patented medicine."
Then, there was a knock on the door. A second later, a RainWing entered the room, the only RainWing on the entire island. "Hi, Shade!" She said cheerfully, calling her by her nickname.
"Hey, Tiger," Nightshade said, grinning. "How's Mr. Benitzky?"
"Well, it's pretty serious, I'm afraid," Tigerlily said with a sigh. "The doctor was there. He's amputating in the morning."
"Can I be present?" Nightshade asked, mildly hopeful. Tigerlily frowned at her as if she was crazy.
"That's against hospital protocol," Tigerlily said. "Or- Or something."
"Oh," Nightshade said, disappointed.
There was a loud thump, breaking the silence. "Oh, that's Morrowseer with the Army!" Nightshade exclaimed.
"Thank you, Morrowseer," Lawupholder said, bowing his head as he took the box. "This will make a lot of dragonets happy."
"What's this?" Separateheart asked. "What's this? What's this? The S. S. Pyrrhia? That's supposed to go to Pyrrhia!"
"Put it back, Morrowseer, dear," Nightshade said quickly. "It is going to go to Pyrrhia."
"Um..." Lawupholder gulped. "Thank you, Miss Nightshade."
"Ten-hut!" Separateheart shouted, making Lawupholder jump and salute quickly.
"Yes, sir, Morrowseer," Lawupholder said quickly.
"Dismissed," Separateheart said.
"Yes, sir," Lawupholder said, leaving the house.
"I shall retreat to field headquarters," Separateheart said, turning around. "CHARGE!"
As he stomped his way up the stairs, he shouted, "CHARGE THE SEAWING FORTRESS!"
"The... Um... SeaWing Fortress?" Truthfinder asked.
"Yep," Nightshade said.
"Have you ever tried to convince Separateheart that he wasn't Morrowseer?" Truthfinder asked Nightshade.
"Oh, yes," Tigerlily said. "We tried to convince him he was Mastermind, since it would be a welcome change, but he just stayed in his nest for days, not being ANYONE."
"It's better that he's someone rather than no one," Nightshade said.
"Erm... I see." Truthfinder turned away. "It's about time for me to go."
"Bye," Nightshade said. "And please, don't think too harshly about my sister Starlight just because she's a Fanfiction Critic. Someone has to do those things."
Truthfinder nodded, turning and closing the door with a final "Goodbye".
"Well," Tigerlily said, stepping back, "I think I've gotta go too. Bye!"
Nightshade watched as her friend left, and then turned. "Oh, Morrowseer~!" She called in a singsong voice.
Separateheart poked his head out. "Yes?"
"It's time to dig another lock in the Pyrrhian Canal!" She exclaimed, grinning. (Later, after the war, Morrowseer begins a project on a canal, the Pyrrhian Canal, to get water into the NightWing Kingdom. He survived the volcano.)
"Very good, very good indeed!" Separateheart said. "Dee-lighted! I shall prepare for the journey." He started to walk up the stairs, but realized he was forgetting something. "Oh," He said, taking a step back. He then stampeded up the steps, shouting, "CHARGE! FOR THE NIGHTWINGS!"
When the door slammed, Nightshade looked around. She slipped over to the chest nearby, and peeked inside. Satisfied at the contents, she stepped back carefully, slowly closing the chest.
During this time, Starlight was winging her way back to the mansion. She had yelled at a few writers, thrown the computer across the room, and in general had a very bad meeting. It was very rare that she was driven to this anger, but bad writing was like poison. It was horrific. Especially stories with bad grammar. Geez.
She landed in front of her house. Separateheart was standing in front of the house, wearing a sun helmet. "Hello, Starlight!" He exclaimed, shaking her claw. "Any news for me?"
"None, sir," Starlight said with a grave, serious air, "But the fact that the NightWings are squarely behind you, Colonel Morrowseer."
"Yes, I know," Separateheart said with a smile. "Isn't it great? Well, I'm off!"
"To where, sir?" Starlight asked.
"Pyrrhia!" Separateheart exclaimed. He went down into the cellar, closing the trapdoor behind him.
Tigerlily, who had returned, said to Starlight, "Hey, All-Star!"
Starlight turned and smiled at her friend. "Hey, Tiger!"
"You're sure sweet to Separateheart," Tigerlily commented.
"Oh, he was always my favorite brother," Starlight replied.
"Favorite?" Tigerlily asked, tilting her head. "Were there more than one?"
"There was Coldsoul..." Starlight said with a sigh. "We don't ever speak of him anymore. He tried to do plastic surgery on cows... With his teeth."
"Oh..." Tiger looked unnerved. "What became of him?"
"He wanted to become a surgeon, like Father, but his methods got him into trouble," Starlight replied. "I don't know what happened to him after that."
"Well, then..." Tiger looked around. "Mother only said I could visit you for a little bit. I have to go again. Sorry."
"Hmph." Starlight's attention was caught by the cellar again, by digging noises coming from it. She knew that he was digging another lock for the Canal, but why did Nightshade even want them?
"I'll take a shortcut around through the cementary," Tiger said, before lifting off and flying away.
Starlight entered the house, and Nightshade looked up. "Hey, Star!" She exclaimed.
"Hello," Starlight replied, not smiling. "Did you see my chapter on Current to the Throne? It's one of the only good fanfictions I've read in a long time. The ones I read today are horrible in comparison."
"No, I haven't," Nightshade said. "Truthfinder was over for dinner. He was a bit apprehensive of your association with the Fanfiction Community."
Starlight chuckled a little bit. "He'd love tonight's horror: Murder Will Out."
"Wow," Nightshade said. "Well, I'll go open a bottle of RainWing-made guava juice." As she left, she said, "It'll go with the roasted cow nicely."
Starlight put down her bag, and rummaged around in it for her manuscript. "I can see it now," Starlight muttered. "The same old thing, even though it's a play written as a fanfiction. When the 'curtain' goes up-" She paused and frowned. "Where is that chapter? Anyway, the first thing you supposedly see- maybe in the chest- is a dead body."
Starlight went over to the chest, opening it. "Just like this one." Then, she saw the contents. If she were a scavenger, she would have turned white. She slowly backed up, her heart pounding. "THERE'S A DEAD BODY IN THERE!!"
"A dead body," Starlight mumbled to herself in a low voice.
Nightshade returned a second later. She was singing a song cheerfully. "Oh, the dragonets are coming, coming to save the day--" She said calmly to Starlight, stopping her song, "Roasted cow is great with a little guava juice, don't you think, sis?"
"Nightshade?" Starlight asked tersely.
"What, sis?" Nightshade asked cheerfully.
"You told me you were making plans to send Separateheart to that sanitarium place: Happy Dale, right?" Starlight asked. Her heart was pounding out of her chest.
"Yes, sis," Nightshade said calmly. "It's been all arranged with Mr. Witherwings. All Separateheart has to do is sign the papers."
"He's gotta sign them quickly," Starlight replied, urgency stressed in every syllable. "Well... You've got to learn sometime. I have horrible news... Separateheart... He's killed a dragon."
"Nonsense," Nightshade said to her.
"There's a dead body in the chest." Starlight pointed one claw at the chest, which held the dead body of the NightWing.
To Starlight's utter shock, Nightshade said, "I know."
"W-What?" Starlight demanded. "You KNEW about the dead body? Then how did it get there?"
"Now, All-Star, just forget about him," Nightshade said. "Just forget you ever saw him."
"FORGET?!?" Starlight demanded, not knowing anything else that would be more impossible. "FORGET I SAW A DEAD BODY??"
"I never dreamed you'd peek," Nightshade said with a sigh.
"But..." Starlight seemed lost for words. "Who was he then?"
"Oh, his name was Shadesneak," Nightshade said. "That's about all I know about him other than the fact that he's a Scavenger Rights Activist."
"Well, what's he doing here?" Starlight demanded. "What happened to him?"
"He died," Nightshade stated flatly.
"Nightshade, dragons don't get into chests and die," Starlight said, facetaloning.
"He died first," Nightshade told her.
"How?" Starlight interrogated her.
"Don't be so inquisitive, sis," Nightshade said, rolling her eyes. "He died because he drank some juice with poison in it."
"How did the poison get into the juice?" Starlight demanded.
"I put it in there," Nightshade said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"YOU put it in there?" Starlight asked, as she began to inch away from her.
"Yep," Nightshade said cheerfully. "And I put him in the chest when Truthfinder came over."
"I see," Starlight said gravely. "So you knew what you did, and didn't want Truthfinder to see."
"Well, not at dinner!" Nightshade exclaimed. "That wouldn't be very nice. Besides, Starlight, don't get into my business. I'm entitled to my own little secrets, you know."
She put away the butter dishes and sat back down with a scroll. "Not if those secrets have to do with killing dragons," Starlight growled, her voice barely audible.
Then, Starlight's gaze flicked over to where she knew Shadesneak's body was sitting, in the chest. "Sis!" She exclaimed, agitated. "What are we going to do???"
"About what?" Nightshade asked, looking up from her scroll.
"THE DEAD BODY IN THE CHEST." Starlight couldn't believe how dense her sister was being at this point.
"Mr. Shadesneak?" Nightshade asked offhandedly.
"Yes." Starlight started pacing around. "Good heavens, I can't turn you in. What am I going to do?"
"For one thing, stop being so excited over it." Nightshade rolled her eyes. "And another: Just forget about it."
"Forget--?!" Starlight looked shocked even further. "Nightshade, how can I forget about a DEAD BODY? Why don't you realize that something has to be done?"
"Now, Starlight," Nightshade said sharply, "Get a grip! You're too old to fly off the handle like this!"
"But you can't LEAVE him there," Starlight snapped, pointing one claw at the chest.
"I'm not," Nightshade said simply. "Separateheart's digging a lock now, down in Pyrrhia."
"You-" Starlight's breath caught in her throat. "You mean you're burying Mr. Shadesneakers in the cellar?"
"Shadesneak," Nightshade corrected her. "And yes. I am burying him with the others."
"No, no, no..." Starlight muttered. "You can't bury Mr.-- Others?"
"The other gentlemen," Nightshade said simply.
"When you say 'others'-- Do you mean-- Others? More than one 'others'?" Starlight asked, feeling weak-kneed.
"Oh, yes," Nightshade said calmly. "This is about the... Umm... Eleventh, isn't it?" Then, she paused. "But if I count the first one, it would be twelve. Nice and even."
As if to break the awkward silence, there was a buzz from the Obsidian Mirror nearby. It was the main form of communication, other than scrolls, and were like today's phones. "Hello?" Starlight asked, too distracted by the newest piece of disturbing information to realize her mistake.
Then, realizing her mistake, she tapped the surface of the obsidian mirror, from which a dragon made of smoke formed. "Hello?" She asked again.
The dragon said something to her that no one else could hear. Nightshade was too busy counting on her talons to pay mind to it. Meanwhile, Starlight replied quickly to everything he told her.
"Lonemoon?-- Oh, gosh, I'm so relieved to hear your voice. NOT IN THAT WAY!" She snapped, as another dragon from his end snickered.
"Ten, eleven--" Nightshade said aloud, counting on her talons.
"Shhh!" Starlight exclaimed, and her sister resumed counting, but entirely soundlessly. "Oh, uh, checking up?-- Yeah, I know I didn't get the tickets for free admission to the fanfic presentation.-- Yeah, thanks for checking up on me. Get hold of Skycrystal. She's going to review the presentation for me.-- I'll explain later. Yeah, thanks. Bye." She hung up quickly, and whipped around again. "TWELVE DRAGONS??"
"Yes," Nightshade said. "I think I'm going to count the first one and make it twelve."
"Well..." Starlight groaned slightly. "Who was the first one?"
"Mr. Stormchaser, I believe," Nightshade said. "He came for a room. He was so old and sad... All of his kith and kin died, so he was so lonely and depressed. His lover died, too, which was devastating to him. And then when his heart attack came, he sat there in that nest, looking so peaceful... I made up my mind, then: If I could, I would help other lonely, sad dragons go on to peace like Stormchaser."
"He dropped dead right in the chair?" Starlight asked. She had been gone at the time. "How sad for you."
"It was rather like old times, you know?" Nightshade asked. "Father used to have a cadaver or two around the house."
"No, I meant-" Starlight was cut off before she could finish the sentence.
"Separateheart was digging in Pyrrhia, you see, and he thought he was a dragonbite viper victim," Nightshade continued. "That meant he had to be buried immediately, before more dragonbite vipers were attracted. Thus, I took him into Pyrrhia and buried him in the lock."
"And that's how it started?" Starlight asked.
"Yep," Nightshade replied. "Of course, I couldn't rely on having that happen again, so..." She paused. "Do you remember the bottles of poison Father had?"
"Of course," Starlight said.
"Well, you know my knack for mixing things." Nightshade winked. "You've eaten enough of my piccalilli to know!"
"Uh huh," Was all Starlight said.
"Well, for a gallon of guava juice, I take one teaspoonful of strychnine, a pinch of cyanide, and a sprig and ground-up fruit of the nightshade plant," Nighshade said, "And mix it in."
"Sure to bring a real kick," Starlight said appraisingly.
"Indeed!" Nightshade said cheerfully. "One of our, ah, guests even found the time to say: 'It's delicious!'. Anyway, I've got to prepare some dessert."
Starlight paced over to the Obsidian Mirror, and called Lonemoon. "Hey, Lonemoon?-- What? Skycrystal's in the RainWing kingdom for research? Oh, well, get SOMEONE. Get the office dragon. You know, the bright one. The one we don't like.-- All right then, get the printer. He knows what I write. Third dragon from the left.-- Yeah, but, Lonemoon, he might turn out to be another dweeb.-- Yeah, all right, all right." She hung up quickly, tired out from all the stress.
"Was that the office again?" Nightshade asked, walking back into the room.
"Nightshade," Starlight said, her voice pressured with urgency, "Sit down. Now."
"But-" Starlight cut her off.
"No arguing or complaining. Sit down. NOW." Starlight sat down across from Nightshade, and began to speak. "You can't do things like that. It's not only against the law, but it's- Just- Wrong! Not everyone will understand."
"I should have never told her," Nightshade grumbled.
"What I mean is- Well-" Starlight took a deep breath, trying to calm down. "This has developed into a very bad habit."
"I don't try to stop you from what YOU want to do, do I?" Nightshade asked. "Why are you interfering with me?"
Then, Lonemoon called back. Starlight replied quickly. "Hello, Lonemoon?-- What? Oh, fine. I'll see the first fanfic, and tear it to pieces. All right?-- All RIGHT! FINE!" She hung up, and whipped around. "Nightshade, I've got to go to another convention now. Please, before I go... Promise me something."
"What? I'll have to know what it is first," Nightshade said.
"Will you do it for me?" Starlight asked, gazing into Nightshade's violet eyes.
"What is it?" Nightshade asked finally.
"Don't do anything. I mean, don't DO anything." Starlight was still staring into her eyes. "Don't let ANYONE in the house. Don't do anything with Mr. Shadowsneak either."
"Why?" Nightshade asked. "I was planning to give him sevices."
"Services?" Starlight asked.
"He IS a NightWing after all," Nightshade said, sounding indignant. "Do you think I would just bury him without giving him proper NightWing services?"
"Can't that wait until I get back?" Starlight asked. Nightshade's eyes lit up.
"Of course!" She cried. "You'll love it, especially the hymns."
"Do you have some paper and some ink?" Starlight asked her. Nightshade handed her a jar of ink and a blank scroll. "Oh, good. I can write part of my review on the way there."
She left the room, and Nightshade paused, watching her go. A small fear creeped into her mind that perhaps what she was doing was really wrong. If it hurt Starlight so much... Immediately, that other part of her mind, that glorified in the deaths, squashed it. Of course it isn't wrong, She told herself as she walked back to her nest to take a nap before nightfall, when Starlight would be back and they would do the services. Starlight's just got a problem, that's all.
A few hours later, a certain dragon was staring into the window. He carefully lifted it and slid inside, his thick bulk moving silently through the shadows. Cold, ice-blue eyes penetrated the darkness. If Starlight had seen him, she would have freaked out and ripped him apart. She knew who he was.
Coldsoul turned around, and said in an icy voice, "Doctor... Come in."
Through the window, a smaller, scrawny NightWing slipped into the room. He spoke in a faintly exotic accent, almost Germanic. "Choldsull," he said, the burr of his exotic upbringing obvious. "Choldsull, I'm right behind you."
The window squeaked shut. Coldsoul's dark gaze moved across the silent, cold house. "As a young dragonet," He rumbled, "I couldn't wait to get away. Now I am pleased to return."
"Yah, Choldsull," The doctor said. "Very good hideout."
"The family must still live here," He mused. "Ah... There is something so unmistakeably BREWSTER about the Brewsters. And Starlight." He smirked. "She always was the weakest of my siblings. Oh, I can't wait to finish the job I had begun all those years ago."
He was silent for a moment, inspecting the house. "Oh," He said lightly, "I hope there's some nice food, awaiting the return of the prodigal."
"Yah, Choldsull," The doctor agreed. "I am hungry. Ah, a drink!" He chuckled, picking up one of the glasses. "Guava juice!"
"A good omen," Coldsoul said coolly. They toasted, and were about to drink when the door opened.
"Who are you?" Nightshade demanded, pulling out a small flask of her deadliest poison. She saw an unrecognizable dragon, who had scars on his face and cold blue eyes, and a smaller, scrawnier dragon, who had amber eyes and a nervous expression.
"Why, sister, do you not recognize me?" Coldsoul said smoothly, smirking. "It's your brother. Coldsoul. And this?" He paused. "is Dr. Mastermind."
"You're not Coldsoul," Nightshade snapped, "You look nothing like Coldsoul. And HE-" She jerked her talon to the other dragon- "isn't Mastermind."
"Actually, it's Secretkeeper Mastermind," Coldsoul amended. "And yes, I am."
"Get out of my house," Nightshade snarled. Coldsoul merely laughed, a low-pitched, cold, pitiless cackle.
"But I am Coldsoul," He said.
Nightshade paused. "His voice DOES sound like Coldsoul's did," She grumbled. She turned to him and said, "Have you been in an accident?"
"NO!" Coldsoul exclaimed. "My face... That is Dr. Mastermind's fault. He changes dragons' faces."
"Oh!" Nightshade exclaimed. "I remember! I've seen that face before. Back when I took Starlight to the movies. That face... That was the face that frightened her."
"Nightshade," Coldsoul began in a low and furious tone, his voice curling into a snarl.
"Choldsull!" Dr. Mastermind said quickly. Coldsoul turned and glared at him. "Don't worry, dear lady. These last five years, I changed Choldsull's face three times. This last one-- Vell, I saw that picture too, and I couldn't resist it-- and," He added with a smirk, "I was intoxicated."
"See, Doctor," He snarled, intensity in every syllable, "What you've done to me? Now, not even my own family recognizes me!"
"Choldsull, Choldsull-" Dr. Mastermind said quickly. "You're home, now! Vith your lovely sister! She knows you."
Nightshade looked like she wished she didn't.
"Well," Nightshade managed, "Where have you been all these years?"
"Oh, the RainWing Kingdom, the SkyWing kingdom, some of the islands..." Coldsoul said, recovering his composure. "And for the last five years, on the NightWing island, the original one. We met there, at the Tribe-Wide Fair. We were doing 'business' together."
"We found it a bit, ah, hot in the NightVing island," Dr. Mastermind said.
"Yes," Coldsoul said, taking a deep breath. He inwardly turned on the deceptive charm he had accumulated for this purpose. "Well, it's wonderful to be in the Brewster home again! And you-- Nightshade, my favorite sister!-- You don't look a day older!" Lies. "Just as I remembered you. Cute, charming, hospitable-" He stressed the word-- "And Separateheart! My favorite brother. He was a strong leader! You know, Doctor, he ran for Colonel of the NightWing army."
"Yah?" The doctor said, playing along.
Nightshade chuckled nervously. "Well, Coldsoul! Nice seeing you after all this time."
"Bless you, sister," Coldsoul said smoothly. "It's so good to be home again."
"Well," Nightshade said, "I mustn't let the water make the water boil over over the fire. If you'll excuse me, Coldsoul." Her voice turned hopeful. "Unless you have somewhere to go..."
She left, into the kitchen. Immediately, Coldsoul continued talking to Dr. Mastermind.
"Vell, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind said, "Vhere do we go from here? The police have pictures of that face. I've got to operate on you right avay. Ve've got to find some place for Mr. Augustus, too."
"Don't waste any time on that rat," Coldsoul snarled.
"But, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind protested. "Ve've got a bad stiff on our talons! Ve can't leave a dead body in the bushes. You shouldn't have killed him, Choldsull-- He vos kind! He helped us ven ve ran outta food!"
"He said I looked like that NightWing in the war, who got sprayed by venom and lived!" He snapped bitterly. "That's your fault, Doctor! You did that to me!"
"Now, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind said quickly, "Ve find a place-- I fix you up quick!"
"TONIGHT!" Coldsoul snapped.
"But, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind complained weakly, "I'm hungry! I'm veak! I can't do it tonight-"
Then, Nightshade opened the door again. "Um..." She gulped. "Well... Coldsoul... I'm flattered that you came to stay... But... You were never really happy in this house, and we kinda weren't happy when you were in it... So... This is goodbye."
Coldsoul looked shocked, and then outraged. He regained his composure and said, "But, I promised Dr. Mastermind here that when I took him to meet you, I would give him one of your lovely, delicious, home-made Nightshade-style dinners!" It was a total lie, but Nightshade blushed, flattered.
"Well, the roasted sheep are big enough, but-" She stopped, remembering that she was supposed to keep him OUT of her house. "I'm sorry, there won't be enough-"
Before she could completely deny her mistakenly revealed fact, Coldsoul exclaimed, "How lovely! Roasted sheep!". Dr. Mastermind nodded, agreeing.
"I didn't say that-" Once again, she was cut off.
"Why, thank you, sis, I will stay," Coldsoul said. "And so will Dr. Mastermind."
"Um... If you want to freshen up... You can use the washroom in Father's lab," Nightshade said nervously.
"Thank you, Nightshade," Dr. Mastermind said.
Coldsoul suddenly got an idea, as he whipped around to look at Dr. Mastermind. "That's it! Father's lab! You can fix up my face there!"
"Too bad ve can't use it," Dr. Mastermind said, sighing.
"I'll handle this," Coldsoul said coolly. "Why, this may be our headquarters for years!"
"Really, Choldsull?" Dr. Mastermind asked, excited. "This nice, quiet home? Oh, and your sister! What a kind dragoness! I'll get the bags from outside." Hard to believe she's your sister, He thought, but didn't say anything aloud.
"Wait," Coldsoul said. "We must wait until we are... Invited."
"Invited?" He asked. "Vhat if she doesn't velcome us and let us stay?"
Coldsoul had an expression that seemed to say, Are you kidding?. "One small female NightWing, against two NightWings that are much stronger than her?"
"Oh." Dr. Mastermind chuckled. "I see. That makes sense. Ah, it's so peaceful..."
"That's one of the things that would make it a great headquarters," Coldsoul said. "It's so peaceful. No one would suspect such a peaceful place to be a HQ."
Suddenly, there was a loud bugle call, offkey and belonging to a certain NightWing. Separateheart was standing proudly on top of the stairs. He raced away, out of view, shouting, "FOR THE NIGHTWINGS!"
As Nightshade called them to dinner, they shrugged and went into the kitchen.
Coldsoul, pleased, sat back. "Oh, Nightshade, you haven't lost a bit of your skill."
She turned red, blushing. "Thank you." She paused. "And now, I know you probably want to go wherever you want to go now."
"Oh, but Sis," He said smoothly, "I'm too full with your delicious dinner to move a muscle!"
"Yah," Dr. Mastermind said. "It's so nice here."
"Um..." Nightshade paused. "Well, it's getting very late, so-"
The door suddenly opened, and Separateheart strode in, holding a scroll in his talons. "I FOUND IT!" He exclaimed, waving it in the air like a lunatic.
"What?" Nightshade asked. "Did you lose something, Morrowseer?"
"I found it!" He said, showing everyone. It had the words 'For the Greater Good' on the front. "My biography! See, Coupplotter? Here you are." He showed Dr. Mastermind the picture. In the picture was two dragons: Morrowseer and Coupplotter. "That's me," He said, pointing at Morrowseer, "And that's you!"
"My, how I've changed," Dr. Mastermind commented.
"Well, you see, that picture hasn't been taken yet," Separateheart said. "We haven't even started that particular lock in the Pyrrhian Canal! Speaking of which, I must show you it, Coupplotter."
"No, Morrowseer, not to Pyrrhia," Nightshade stated.
"Yah," Dr. Mastermind said. "Pyrrhia is far avay."
"Nonsense," Separateheart said. "It's just down in the cellar!"
"The cellar?" Coldsoul asked, his voice sharp with interest.
"Yes, we let him dig the Pyrrhian Canal in the cellar," Nightshade told him.
"General Coupplotter, as Ruler of the NightWing army," Separateheart snapped, "I demand that you inspect the canal with me."
"Morrowseer, I think you should go to bed," Coldsoul growled, annoyed.
"And who are you, to push the Ruler of the NightWings around?" Separateheart demanded.
"I'm General Unrivaled," Coldsoul countered. "Now go to bed, Morrowseer."
"But you're an adult when I'm a dragonet!" Separateheart exclaimed. "But your face IS familiar... Maybe it's when I look in the jungle. You certainly look like someone who would be in a jungle."
Coldsoul stiffened. "Morrowseer-"
"It's your brother, Coldsoul," Nightshade said to Separateheart. "He had his face changed."
"Oh, so that's what you are," He snapped. "A nature-faker."
"And perhaps you HAD better go to bed, Morrowseer," Nightshade said. "Your brother and Dr. Mastermind have to leave now."
"Coupplotter," Coldsoul snapped at Dr. Mastermind, "Go to Pyrrhia with Lord Morrowseer."
"But, Choldsull-" Dr. Mastermind shut up at the dark glare he was sent by Coldsoul. "Fine," He grumbled. He turned to Separateheart. "Mr. Morrowseer, ve go to Pyrrhia!"
"All right... Bon voyage!" The two NightWings went down the cellar. Immediately, Coldsoul turned on Nightshade.
"Nightshade, I must correct your misapprehension," He said. "We have no hotel. We came directly here. This is my HOME."
"But you can't stay here!" Nightshade exclaimed.
"Nightshade, you have a very distinguished guest in Dr. Mastemind." He chuckled. "You'll see a very different Coldsoul in a few days."
"But you can't operate HERE!" Nightshade countered.
"Oh, that's right, I forgot to tell you," Coldsoul added. "We're turning Father's old laboratory into an operating room. We expect to be quite busy."
The cellar door opened, and the two NightWings turned to see Separateheart and Dr. Mastermind. Dr. Mastermind looked excited. "Choldsull!" He exclaimed. "Ve found something in the cellar! Wanna know vhat?"
"Doctor," Coldsoul said loudly, "Nightshade has invited us to stay here."
"Oh," Dr. Mastermind said, "You fixed it?"
"Well," Nightshade said with a sigh, "You're staying here tonight."
"Nightshade, please get our room ready," Coldsoul snapped.
"NOW!" Nightshade left the room at that, knowing the battle had been lost.
Dr. Mastermind immediately set upon Coldsoul. "Choldsull, vhen I go down into the cellar, vhat do you think I find?"
"What?" He asked.
"The Pyrrhian Canal," Dr. Mastermind replied.
"Oh, The Pyrrhian Canal," Coldsoul said sneeringly.
"It's a HOLE Morrowseer dug," Dr. Mastermind said excitedly, "That's twenty feet tall and ten feet wide!"
"Twenty feet tall and ten feet wide?" Coldsoul asked, stunned by this shocking piece of information.
"Mr. Augustus would fit perfectly!" Dr. Mastermind exclaimed. He chuckled.
Coldsoul laughed. "What a joke on my sisters. Living in a house with a dead body under it." Little did he know of the truth of what Nightshade had been doing all the time he was gone. "We'll bring it in through the window."
"Poor Mr. Shadesneak," Nightshade muttered, looking over at the chest. "He's waited so long in that chest, so patiently." Her voice became adamant. "I'm NOT inviting those two to the funeral, especially not Coldsoul! I'll have to wait until they've gone to bed."
The cellar door opened, and Separateheart stepped out. "Coupplotter was very pleased," He said to his sister. "He said the Canal was just big enough."
"Morrowseer," Nightshade said quickly. "There's been another dragonbite viper victim."
"Oh, dear me," Separateheart said, "Coupplotter will be very shocked. I have to tell him, you know. NightWing regulations."
"No," Nightshade added. "We have to keep it a secret. For the privacy of the victim."
"A STATE secret?" Separateheart asked.
"Yes," Nightshade told him. "Promise."
"By the honor bestowed upon me, as NightWing general and leader," Separateheart said, saluting. "You have my word. Cross my heart and hope to fly."
"Good," Nightshade told him. "Now, Morrowseer, you must take the poor victim down into the cellar. I'll come down with Starlight later to hold services."
"Fine and dandy," He replied. "You may announce that the dashing leader of the NightWings will say a few words." In a low voice, he asked, "Where is the poor devil?"
"In the chest," Nightshade muttered back, flicking her tail towards the chest.
"Oh," Separateheart said. "They seem to be spreading. We've never had dragonbite vipers there before."
He reached in, and grabbed the dead body. He hoisted it over his shoulder, and with a grunt of effort, he carried down slowly to the cellar door. "Rrgh... He died for his tribe... Up we go! Open the door, if you please."
Nightshade opened the door, and let him in. Meanwhile, outside, the two dragons were trying to pick up Augustus.
Dr. Mastermind said in a low voice, "Choldsull, are you out there?"
"Wait," Coldsoul muttered in a low voice. "I'll pick up Mr. Augustus."
"I can't see good in the dark," Dr. Mastermind grumbled. "Stupid genes."
There suddenly was a loud CRASH!, as Dr. Mastermind fell into the open and empty chest.
"What happened?" Coldsoul asked, alarmed.
"Some idiot left the chest open," Dr. Mastermind grumbled.
"Well, get out," Coldsoul snapped sharply. "And take Mr. Augustus."
They struggled to carry the large, limp body to the cellar. Then, Dr. Mastermind said, after cursing that he dropped a leg, "Ssh! Somebody's coming!"
"Get him into the chest," Coldsoul said quickly, as they lowered the dead dragon into the chest. They closed it, and just in time, too.
"Hello?" It was Tigerlily, who managed to arrive at the worst times. She entered the house. Her eyes, which couldn't see in the dark, did not see Coldsoul and Dr. Mastermind. "Nightshade? Starlight? It's dark in here. Can you turn on the light?"
She tried to stumble forward, but bumped into Coldsoul. She gasped, as his icy gaze landed on her. "Who are you?" He asked in a sinister voice.
"I'm Tigerlily," She said. "I live nearby. I just came to see if Starlight was home..."
"Turn on the lights," Coldsoul growled to Dr. Mastermind. He obeyed, breathing fire onto the torches, which lit up the room as if daylight was shining right into the room. Tigerlily's tiger-striped scales turned green in fear immediately.
"Who are you?" She demanded. "Where are Nightshade and Starlight?"
"Perhaps we'd better introduce ourselves," Coldsoul said, annoyed. "My friend here is Dr. Mastermind."
"I suppose you're going to tell me you're that NightWing who got sprayed by RainWing venom and lived," Tigerlily snapped coldly.
"I am Coldsoul," He said, not reacting to her anger.
Tigerlily turned white, unnerved. "Oh, y-you're Coldsoul," She stammered.
"I see you've heard of me," Coldsoul growled at her.
"J-Just this afternoon," She stammered. "Well, I'll be running along home now." She turned and was about to leave when Coldsoul grabbed her neck.
"I think she's dangerous," Coldsoul told Dr. Mastermind. "She knows who we are now. She's seen us."
"Let her go, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind mumbled, but wasn't brave enough to actually say it to his face.
"She saw us!" Coldsoul snapped at him. "Remember that!"
Tigerlily struggled to escape his crushing grip. She tried to turn her head and really spit venom in his face, but she wasn't an owl. She couldn't turn her head completely. It splattered against the wall, but didn't affect it, since it wasn't organic material.
Then, Separateheart entered the room. "Oh, Morrowseer!" Tigerlily exclaimed, desperate for help. "Tell them who I am! Make them let me go!"
"Oh, her?" Separateheart asked. "She's my older sister Foresight!"
Tigerlily's eyes widened with shock. "Oh, no."
He turned, brandished his invisible sword, and raced up the stairs, shouting, "CHARGE!". Tigerlily groaned, and then began screaming for help.
"Doctor! Gag her!" They muffled her screaming by gagging her.
"What's going on down there?" Nightshade's voice came down from up in her room.
"We caught a sneak thief," Coldsoul said simply. "Go back to bed. It's nothing."
The door opened suddenly, and Starlight walked in. Her eyes widened, taking in the scene. "Tigerlily!" She exclaimed. Her friend raced over to her, escaping their grip with one more, desperate twist, and hid behind her.
She took the gag out from Tigerlily's mouth, who immediately asked, "Where have you been?".
"At a fanfiction convention." Starlight frowned. "What's going on?"
"This is your brother, Coldsoul," Tigerlily said, pointing at him with her tail, "And that's Dr. Mastermind."
"Well," Starlight said with a sigh, "I know this isn't a nightmare, so what IS it?"
"I've come back home, Starlight," Coldsoul said, smirking.
Starlight made a disgusted face. "I always knew you were a horror," She growled, "But do you have to LOOK like one too?"
"Starlight," Coldsoul growled, "Do you remember what I used to do to you when we were dragonets? Locking you into the closet, and nailing rusty nails and glass bits into the sides to stab into you?"
"Oh, yes, I do remember," Starlight snarled back. "I remember you as the most vicious, venemous form of animal life I ever knew."
Nightshade, who had come back down, said in a reproving voice, "Now, don't you start quarreling with each other the minute you meet again."
"Coldsoul, you're not wanted here; so get out!" Starlight shouted at him.
"Well, I'm sleeping here tonight, and in YOUR room!" Coldsoul snapped.
"Er, Choldsull?" Dr. Mastermind asked. "Maybe we can sleep down here? In the chest?"
"The chest?" Coldsoul and Starlight asked in unison. Starlight's eyes widened, remembering Mr. Shadesneaker.
"I probably should sleep down here," Starlight decided. "Go ahead. Take my room."
"No, I think we should sleep down here," Coldsoul countered. "We wouldn't trouble you. We INSIST on sleeping down here. We'll go get our bags." Moving off, he added, "You can have the room back in a few minutes, Starlight."
"Starlight!" Tigerlily cried. Starlight turned around.
"What?" She asked Tigerlily.
"I just nearly died!" She exclaimed. Starlight's eyes widened, thinking of Nightshade's poison.
"NIGHTSHADE!" She shouted at her sister.
"No, no," Tigerlily said, "It was Coldsoul! He thought I was a thief."
"Would you like some food, Sis?" Nightshade asked. "And some water?"
"No guava juice," Starlight said quickly. "But that would be great."
"Don't worry," Nightshade said reassuringly.
Starlight had thought on her way home, and she knew what to say to Tigerlily. "I'm sorry," She said quietly. "I can't be your friend anymore."
"Why not?" Tigerlily asked, not understanding.
"It's my family's peculiarities," Starlight said. "I don't want to hurt you. I am part of a screwy family..."
"Now, just because Separateheart-" Starlight cut her off.
"No, it goes way back, to the beginning of the Brewsters." Starlight took a deep breath. "Take my great-grandfather for example. The first Brewster. You know how scavengers used to skin dragons? Well, HE skinned the scavengers."
"But that doesn't prove you're crazy," Tigerlily said. "Look at Nightshade! Other than you (whose sanity I'm wondering about), she is the sanest, kindest NightWing I know!"
"Even she has her... Er..." Starlight looked over at the chest. "Peculiarities."
She moved over to the chest and opened it. Her eyes widened, as she saw the dead body of Mr. Augustus. "Another one," She mumbled, silently cursing her sister for her craziness.
She slowly closed it, turning to Tigerlily. "Something big has just come up," She said quietly. "You need to go."
"Why are you kicking me out?" Tigerlily demanded.
"It's too dangerous," She said to Tigerlily. "You might actually get killed."
Tigerlily glared at her for a moment, and then snapped, "Fine, Critic." She left. Immediately, Starlight set herself on Nightshade.
"Who is it in that chest?!?" She demanded. "You told me you wouldn't kill anyone else!"
"I didn't!" Nightshade snapped. "No one but Coldsoul and Dr. Mastermind came in!"
"Oh, really?" Starlight opened the chest and showed her the dead NightWing. "Then how did this guy get in there?"
Nightshade stared at him for a moment, and then said, "I don't know who this is."
"You mean you're saying you didn't poison this NightWing?" Starlight asked. "Then how did he enter the chest?"
"I don't know!" Nightshade exclaimed. "I've never seen this NightWing before in my entire life!"
"Don't try to lie to me!" Starlight snapped.
"This guy's an impostor!" Nightshade growled. "If he thinks he can be buried in MY cellar, he's sadly mistaken! I'm not burying some..." She tried to find the right word. "FOREIGNER in my cellar!"
"But you put Mr. Shadesneak in the chest," Starlight said. "He couldn't have gotten the idea from HIM! By the way, where is Shadesneak?"
"In Pyrrhia, waiting for services," Nightshade replied. "Poor dragon. I haven't had a minute of time with Coldsoul in the house. I've always wanted a double funeral, but... I'm not burying some stranger in MY cellar!"
"Stranger?" Starlight asked. "Nightshade, how can I believe you? There are twelve dragons down in that cellar, and you admitted to poisoning them!"
"Yes, but you don't think I would stoop to telling a fib," Nightshade snapped.
As Starlight's gaze moved across the room, she saw that Coldsoul had re-entered the room. Then, a possibility occurred to her. "I'm sorry, Nightshade," She said to her sister. "I jumped to conclusions. And I was wrong."
"About time you realized it." Nightshade rolled her eyes.
"I think that Coldsoul is leaving now," Starlight said. "And he's taking his dead companion with him."
"Who?" Coldsoul asked, surprised. "And I don't think so, Starlight. You should leave, if you have a problem with me."
"From in the chest," Starlight said flatly.
"The CHEST?!" Coldsoul asked, shocked that she had learned about it.
"As your sister," Starlight said slowly, "I will give you a chance to get out of here, before I call the police, Coldsoul."
"Remember," Coldsoul threatened her, "What happened to Augustus could happen to you too."
Then, there was a knock at the door. "Come in!" Starlight called.
To everyone's surprise, Officer Lawupholder came in. "Hey," He said cheerfully. "All the torches were lit, so I thought something was wrong. I'll leave now that I know that everything's okay."
"No need," Starlight said. "Stay for some dinner and maybe some dessert."
"Who's this?" Lawupholder asked, looking inquiringly at Coldsoul.
"This is my brother, Coldsoul," Starlight said. She sighed dramatically. "Too bad he can't stay. We'll all go into the kitchen while he gets his things together to leave."
"Yeah, sure," Lawupholder said, as they left. "Say, Starlight, I was going to talk to you about my play I'm writing. It's a kind of like a fanfiction, but it's the story of my life..."
The kitchen door closed. Coldsoul turned to Dr. Mastermind. "This affair between me and my sister has to be settled," He snarled.
"Now, Choldsull-" Coldsoul cut him off.
"We're going to sleep here tonight."
"Vith a cop in the kitchen and a body in the chest?" Dr. Mastermind asked.
"That's all she's got on us!" Coldsoul said. "We're going to take Augustus and throw him into the bay, coming right back here. We'll hide our stuff in the cellar. Go on!"
"I think ve should get out, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind muttered reluctantly.
He opened the door anyway, and stepped into the cellar, where he saw Shadesneak in the hole. "Choldsull!" He exclaimed. "Come quick!"
"What is it?" Coldsoul asked.
"It's the hole!" Dr. Mastermind said. "Ve have an ace in the hole!"
"Still here, Coldsoul?" Starlight asked, as Coldsoul returned to the kitchen. "I thought I told you--"
"We're staying," Coldsoul snapped. Starlight blinked.
"You think I was bluffing?" Starlight asked. "You think I wasn't telling the truth when I said that I would tell Lawupholder what is in that chest?" She raised her voice. "Lawupholder?"
"If you tell him about what is in the chest, I'll tell him what is in the cellar," He countered.
"The cellar?" Starlight asked.
"There is a dragon in there that looks very dead." Coldsoul smirked.
"What were you doing in the cellar?" Starlight demanded.
"Ah, what was HE doing in the cellar?" He countered again.
"That's all the wine I can drink," Lawupholder said. "Oh, Starlight! I'd like to tell you the plot of the play I'm writing--"
"No, no, no, Lawupholder, you can't stay here," Starlight said. "You've got to report in to HQ."
"Yeah, but I wanna tell you abou the play I'm writing," He said.
"Maybe later," Starlight told him. "Somewhere else."
"How about at the City Hall?" He offered.
"Sure," Starlight said, not really listening.
"I'll be there!" He exclaimed, leaving the house and flying off. Starlight sighed, and then turned and sat down in the living room. She began reading her favorite scroll, For Both Worlds. She always did when she was stressed.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Nightshade called, "Starlight? Is that you?"
"No, Nightshade," Coldsoul said. "Starlight went out."
"And where are YOU going?" Nightshade asked.
"To the cellar," He said. "To bury Mr. Augustus."
"But he can't stay in MY cellar!" Nightshade exclaimed.
"There's a friend of Starlight's down there waiting for him," Coldsoul countered. "They'll get along splendidly. They're both dead."
"He must mean Shadesneak," Nightshade muttered to herself.
"You- You know about what's downstairs?" Coldsoul asked, taken aback. He had thought Starlight killed Shadesneak.
"Yes," Nightshade said. "He's no friend of Starlight's. He's one of MY gentlemen."
"YOUR gentlemen?" Coldsoul asked.
"Besides," Nightshade added with a shrug, "There's no room for him. The cellar's crowded enough already."
"Crowded?" Coldsoul repeated. "With what?"
"There are twelve graves down there," Nightshade told him.
Coldsoul's icy-blue eyes were stretched so wide, there was a serious danger of them falling out. His jaw dropped. He was, for the first time in his entire life, properly struck dumb by that piece of information. "T-Twelve graves?!?" He demanded, once he got control of his eyes and snout back.
"That leaves very little room," Nightshade said, "And I'm going to need it."
"You-" Coldsoul was stammering so badly, it was hard to understand him. "You mean- You- You killed- You murdered TWELVE DRAGONS?"
"Murdered?" Nightshade looked genuinely hurt by that statement. "Certainly not! It's one of my charities! Now you just take Augustus and get out of here!"
"You've done that here, in this house, and- And buried them here?" Coldsoul looked like he was going to faint.
"Extraordinary!" Dr. Mastermind exclaimed. "They stayed here and did just as good a job as ve did, and ve vere chased across Pyrrhia."
"Huh?" Coldsoul looked over at his assistant.
"Tvelve," Dr. Mastermind said, "And tvelve!"
"I've got thirteen," He protested. "Augustus here is the thirteenth!"
"Yah," Dr. Mastermind said. "But-"
"There was the first one in that SkyWing bar... Then there were the second and third ones, in the RainWing kingdom..." Coldsoul began counting on his claws. "One more in the SeaWing palace... Another in the Claws of the Clouds Mountains... And in the Scorpion Den, we killed two more... And in the MudWing kingdom--"
"The MudWing kingdom?" Dr. Mastermind asked.
"The prey-stealer," Coldsoul told him.
"Oh, yah," He replied, remembering.
"--The three in the IceWing kingdom, that other NightWing we killed in the original island, and Augustus here! That makes thirteen!" Coldsoul argued.
"But you can't count the other NightWing we killed on the original island," Dr. Mastermind said. "He died of an infection."
"He wouldn't have gotten it if I hadn't stabbed him with a spear," He countered.
"But still, that leaves you at twelve-twelve. Nightshade is as good as you are!" Dr. Mastermind exclaimed, delighted.
"Not for long." He paused. "All I need is one more..."
At that particular, not-very-good moment, Starlight returned. "I'm here!" She exclaimed.
"Where have you been, Sis?" Nightshade demanded.
"Getting Separateheart's papers signed," Starlight said calmly. "So he can go to Happy Dale."
"What is the matter with you?" Nightshade asked. "Getting papers signed at a time like this! Do you know what he's doing down there in the cellar? He's putting Augustus and Shadesneak together!"
"Well," Starlight said with a sigh, "Let him. Is Separateheart in his room?"
"He won't be any help!" Nightshade snapped.
"Well, you HAD to go and tell Coldsoul about the twelve graves." Starlight sighed again. "If I could make Separateheart responsible for those deaths, I could get you out of trouble and protect YOU, don't you see?"
"No, I don't see," Nightshade said, completely oblivious. "We pay taxes to have the police protect us, out of our own jewel storage. We'll summon them."
"Then they'll find out about the twelve graves, and Shadesneak." Starlight facetaloned.
"Starlight, I don't think that they would pry into our affairs if we asked them not to," Nightshade argued.
"No, no," Starlight said quietly. "I won't let you, Nightshade."
"Well," Nightshade snapped, "If Coldsoul AND Augustus aren't gone by morning, I don't care what you say, I'm contacting the police."
Meanwhile, within the cellar, Dr. Mastermind and Coldsoul had just finished burying the two dragons.
"There," Dr. Mastermind said calmly, "It has been done. Augustus and Shadesneak, all put avay very nicely. Ve are done here."
"You're forgetting, doctor," Coldsoul said gravely. "My sister, Starlight."
"Now, now, Choldsull," Dr. Mastermind said quickly. "Ve do that tomorrow-- Or the next day."
"No, TONIGHT!" Coldsoul snapped. "NOW!"
"But, Choldsull, I'm tired!" Dr. Mastermind complained. "And tomorrow, I have to operate. Ve go to bed now, huh?"
"Doctor, it's going to be done TONIGHT." Coldsoul said, with a tone of finality.
"Fine," He muttered, reluctantly convinced. "I know dat look, Choldsull! But the quick way, huh? The quick twist, like in the SkyVing bar."
"No, Doctor," Coldsoul said coolly, almost lovingly as he looked down at his talons. He could practically imagine his annoying sister's blood on them. "The IceWing method, I think. This calls for something special."
"Choldsull, not that!" Dr. Mastermind exclaimed. "Two hours! At the end of them, the one in the SkyVing bar was just as dead as the ones in the IceVing Kingdom!"
"Get your instruments." Coldsoul told him.
"No, Choldsull!" Dr. Mastermind protested.
"Get them!" As he left in resignation, Coldsoul said smoothly, "Tonight we operate-- On sister Starlight."
Meanwhile, Starlight was trying to convince Separateheart to sign the papers. "My bugle!" Separateheart exclaimed. "Get me my bugle!"
"No, Morrowseer," Starlight said. "Sign the papers."
"But I must consult the parliament before I sign a proclamation!" Separateheart said.
"This must be a secret," Starlight told him.
"A secret proclamation?" Separateheart asked, confused.
"The IceWings mustn't know until it has been signed," Starlight lied.
"The IceWings, eh?" Separateheart asked, grabbing the jar of ink. "Very well. I shall take it into the closet and sign it in secret. All secret proclamations must be signed in secret."
"Most certainly, sir," Starlight said, nodding. He left and went into the nearby closet. Starlight sat down with a sigh. As her eyes fell upon her hastily-written review, ready to take to work tomorrow, she thought of the latest fanfiction she had read. It had been a play/fanfiction, and she had scoffed at it.
"Yeah," She said aloud. "The usual fanfiction. There's this smart character. At least, she's supposed to be smart, and she's talking her head off, while these two dragons are sneaking up behind her." Coldsoul and Dr. Mastermind were, at that point, slipping up behind her, intent on capturing her. "Of course, she is completely oblivious to it, but they have fireproof chains with them that they'll wrap around her." Coldsoul was holding a chain, and, as he nodded to Dr. Mastermind, they swooped down in unison to capture her. "And it'll happen out of nowhere. She'll shout-- WHAT THE-" She actually cried this out when Coldsoul tied her up around the middle, binding her front legs and chest together. He then looped it around her several more times, completely ensnaring her wings, tail, and back legs. She tries to breathe fire on them to break them, but they were (gasp) fireproof. Then, Dr. Mastermind tied her snout tightly shut, so she couldn't breathe any more fire.
"Close the door, doctor," Coldsoul said. He dragged the struggling Starlight over to the chair nearby. "Now, Miss All-Star, why don't you sit down?"
He forced Starlight into the chair. Her forest-green gaze bored into him, filled up with all the hatred and rage she had in her body and soul.
"Starlight, I have been away for years," Coldsoul began, "But every night, I've dreamed of you. I dreamed of you in the SkyWing kingdom, in the IceWing kingdom... I was waiting for this for my whole life." He started pacing around. Starlight's loathing gaze followed him as he moved. "You were always the perfect child. Skyguarder loved you more than any of the other dragonets. Why? I don't know. But the point stands, she preferred you over me. I hated you back then, and I still hate you. More than Nightshade. More than any of the dragons I have killed. And now?" He smirked. "I can finally finish the job I started when we were dragonets. Doctor, the instruments. We go to work."
For the first time, Starlight's gaze showed the slightest bit of fear. She knew the truth: Death was imminent. At the claws of her insane brother, of all dragons.
"Please, Choldsull, for me!" Dr. Mastermind cried. "The quick vay!"
"All ready for you, Doctor," Coldsoul said.
"I must have a drink first," Dr. Mastermind said. "I cannot do this vithout a drink. Nightshade left one somevhere..." He found it, and poured the juice into two glasses. Starlight tried to mumble a faint warning, but the chains stopped her from saying anything more than "Thmsh pumh ih thuh" (There's poison in there).
They toasted. "To the thirteenth dragon." They were about to drink, when a loud bugle call made them drop the glasses. Separateheart was standing back at the top of the stairs, out from the closet.
"Cabinet meeting!" He announced. "Immediately!"
"That idiot," Coldsoul snarled, as Separateheart slammed the door closed again. "He goes next!"
"No!" Dr. Mastermind snapped. "I draw the line there! I von't operate on him!"
"We've got to work fast," Coldsoul said. "One twist of the chains..."
Before he could, however, the door opened and Officer Lawupholder stormed in. "That NightWing's got to stop blowing that bugle!" He exclaimed. His eyes moved across the strange scene.
"It's alright, Officer," Coldsoul said calmly. "We're taking the bugle away from him."
Finally, the officer saw Starlight, all tied up in the chair. "Why, Miss Starlight, what are you doing, all tied up?"
Of course, Starlight couldn't say anything. Coldsoul put in, "She was just acting out the second scene in a play she watched. That's what happened to the fellow in the play."
"Really?" He asked. "They practically stole the idea from my play!" He paused. "You know what? I'm going to leave you like that. I'll tell you the plot of my play, and you can't get out of it, Miss All-Star."
Starlight groaned, but couldn't say anything about it in her defense.
He began, relish in his voice. "Well, it starts in me mother's dressing room-- She's an actress, you know-- when I was being born, but I wasn't born yet, you know--"
He went on for over two hours. Starlight's head began to droop, and she felt herself slowly start to fall asleep. Around the middle, Coldsoul fell asleep entirely. The Doctor somehow was still awake and attentive. Later, he finally drew to a close.
"--Then, we get back to me mother. There she was, lying unconscious on the ground, and a guy with an axe was standing over her!" He took another deep breath. "How do you like it, Doctor?"
"Vell, it put Choldsull to sleep," Dr. Mastermind replied in an it-can't-be-that-bad tone. Starlight was unresponsive.
"Oh, that was just the second act!" Lawupholder said enthusiastically. "Now on to the third!"
Then, there was a loud knock on the door. Starlight's head jerked up, and she looked towards the door. The door opened up to a stern-looking NightWing, who stormed in the room. "What is going on in here?" He asked.
The doctor shoved Coldsoul. "It's the cops! The cops! Vake up, Choldsull!"
Coldsoul was still soundly asleep.
"Lawupholder?" The NightWing asked.
"Oh, hiya, Lieutenant!" He exclaimed. "I was just telling Starlight and the Doctor over here about my play."
"You had to tie her up in order to make her listen?" The lieutenant asked. "The entire precinct is looking for you! It's eight o' clock in the morning. Give me the Obsidian Mirror and untie him."
"You've got me all wrong, sir, I-" The lieutenant walked away from him and over to the Obsidian Mirror, which he used to call HQ.
"Hello, HQ?" He asked. "Yes, it's me. We found Lawupholder. Don't worry."
Coldsoul yawned, waking up, just in time to hear the rest of the sentence.
"We found him in the Brewster home," He said. "You can cancel the dragonhunt."
"So," Coldsoul muttered. "I've been turned in, eh?"
"You really got me all wrong," Lawupholder said again.
"I bet you and that foolish sister of mine will split the reward?" He asked.
At the sound of the word 'reward', the Lieutenant whipped around, hanging up the Obsidian Mirror. "Reward?" He asked. "Grab him, Lawupholder!"
Lawupholder grabbed Coldsoul by the shoulders. "Got him!"
"Now I'LL do some turning in!" Coldsoul snapped. "There are thirteen bodies in the cellar!"
"In the cellar?" The Lieutenant asked. "Lawupholder, you better go check with him."
"With HIM?" Lawupholder demanded, his eyes wide. "Not me, no! He looks like the NightWing who got sprayed by RainWing venom and lived!"
With a roar of rage, Coldsoul jumped on Lawupholder.
"Get him off me, Lieutenant!" Lawupholder cried. The Lieutenant bashed him on the skull, knocking him out.
"Ha!" Lawupholder laughed as he stood back up. "Thirteen bodies in the cellar! As if!"
"Get him out of here," The Lieutenant said.
"I'll have to drag him by his feet," Lawupholder said, grabbing them and slowly dragging him into the kitchen.
"What a story," The Lieutenant said sardonically. "Thirteen bodies buried in the cellar! Ha!"
Then, Separateheart strolled in. "But sire, there ARE thirteen bodies in the cellar!" He exclaimed.
"And who are you?" He asked.
"I'm Morrowseer," He said calmly.
"What is this?" The Lieutenant looked shocked.
"He's the bugle-blower," Lawupholder said helpfully.
Then, Separateheart saw the body of Coldsoul. "Dear me," He said. "Coldsoul, the dragonbite viper victim?"
"Oh, no, sir," Lawupholder reassured him. "He's a spy that tried to enter the NightWing palace."
Then, the Lieutenant turned to the still-tied-up Starlight.
"Didn't anyone untie you yet?" He asked.
She shook her head, managing a muffled "Uh uh". He untied her, taking the chains off. With a deep breath, she said, "Now Lieutenant-"
"That crazy brother of yours has to be carted off!" He told her. "We can't have him blowing bugles everywhere!"
"I know," She said. "We have to have a doctor sign the papers first-" Her eyes fell on Dr. Mastermind, and they lit up. "Doctor, come on over here!"
The doctor came over, and she pointed at the place he had to sign with her claw. "Sign here, please." He dipped his claw in the ink and obeyed, signing it right where Starlight told him to.
"And who are you?" The Lieutenant asked him.
"I'm Dr. Secretkeeper," He said.
"That reminds me," The Lieutenant said. He looked down. "We're still searching for Coldsoul's accomplice." The doctor stiffened. "He has amber eyes... Speaks in a foreign accent... Wears a lab coat..." Realizing that he was wearing the lab coat, Dr. Mastermind practically threw it on the ground. "And a case of surgical instruments." Dr. Mastermind threw them out the window quickly, but realized that his amber eyes still gave it away. He resignatedly held his front talons up to be chained, but to his shock, the Lieutenant shook his claw.
"If you see this doctor, Dr. Secretkeeper, please, let the police know," The Lieutenant said. Dr. Mastermind looked shocked at this miraculous event.
"Fine," Was all he said as Lawupholder left. The Lieutenant left temporarily to escort him to the HQ. They had forgotten about the knocked out Coldsoul. He turned to look at Nightshade and Starlight. He nodded awkwardly, and left as well.
The three Brewster siblings were suddenly alone. Nightshade turned slowly to her sister. "Starlight," She said quietly, "I have something to admit."
Starlight groaned. "What?"
"You signed those papers as Separateheart's next-of-kin, right?" Nightshade asked.
She nodded. "Yes... Why?"
"Well... Years ago... Back when Mom and Dad were alive..." She gulped. "I overheard one of their conversations. You aren't our sibling. You're not even a Brewster."
Starlight's eyes widened. "What?"
"You aren't a Brewster," Nightshade repeated. "Your mother landed on Mom's doorstep, and asked for her to care for you. She died on that doorstep. That's why Mom liked you best... She felt sorry for you. As did I. But don't get too sad about it," She added.
On the contrary. Starlight's eyes lit up. "I'm not related to serial killers?" She asked hopefully.
"That's right," Nightshade said, not realizing that she meant her as well as Coldsoul.
The Lieutenant returned, dusting off his claws. "That was simple," He said.
Then, the door opened again, and an unfamiliar NightWing wearing a bowler cap on his head came in. "Hello," He said. "I'm Mr. Witherwings. I'm here to pick up... What was his name?" He checked his list. "Separateheart."
"Oh, MORROWSEER!" Starlight called. He came over.
"What is it?" He asked. "I just finished my cabinet meeting."
"Good news," She said cheerfully. "Your term of office is now over!"
"So now I tour the RainWing jungle?" He asked. He turned to look at Mr. Witherwings suspiciously. "Who is this? Is he coming to take over my position even before I've packed??"
"Who?" Starlight asked.
"Nightkeeper," He spat the name out. "He's my successor."
"No," Starlight said quickly. "His name's Mr. Witherwings. He's your tour guide to the jungle."
"Oh!" Separateheart looked calmer. "I see! Well, Mr. Witherwings, I'm glad to meet you." He shook his talon. "Nightshade, I'm on my way to Africa! Isn't that wonderful?" In a low voice, he added to Mr. Witherwings, "If the safari comes, tell them to wait." He turned around and shouted, "CHARGE!", pounding his way up the stairs.
"Separateheart's not going with some random NightWing I don't know," Nightshade snapped. "Not while I'm alive."
"But they want him to go," Starlight told her sister. "The police even want him to go!"
"That's right, Madam," The Lieutenant said.
"Well, I'm going with him. I'm not being separated from my only real sibling," Nightshade told them. Part of Starlight's heart broke at that statement. Real sibling. If she hadn't poisoned twelve dragons, Starlight would be sad she wasn't related to her.
"We don't take sane dragons in Happy Dale," Mr. Witherwings said.
"Look, will you settle this?" The Lieutenant asked. "There are murders to be solved on Night Island."
"Oh, yes!" Starlight said, in a tell-me-about-it tone. Then, she recovered. "I mean... Oh, are there?"
"Separateheart's got to go," The Lieutenant said. "With the story he's telling, we would have to dig up the cellar. He keeps on saying there are thirteen bodies down there."
Nightshade frowned. "But there ARE thirteen bodies down there."
"I'll take your word for it, lady," He said, playing along. "I'm a busy dragon. How about it, Mr. Witherwings?"
"She'd have to be committed," Mr. Witherwings said slowly.
"Separateheart committed himself," Starlight said. "He signed the papers. Surely Nightshade can too."
"That's true," Mr. Witherwings said.
"Well, if I can be with Separateheart," Nightshade said, "I'll sign the papers." Starlight took them out, and she signed them without a trace of doubt.
"All right, it's all settled!" Mr. Witherwings said. "You're going to Happy Dale with Separateheart!"
"I'm almost relieved," Nightshade said. "This neighborhood has run down so."
"Come along now, Coldsoul," The Lieutenant said coldly.
"I'm coming," Coldsoul said, his surly voice making the dragons turn. He glared hatefully at his siblings. "Good-bye, Nightshade. I may not be able to better my record, but neither can you! It stands even, twelve to twelve! Ha!"
As he left, Starlight said, "Huh! He always was a mean dragon."
"I wish there was a way to prove I'm smarter than him," Nightshade said with a sigh. Starlight left to watch Coldsoul go at that point, so she didn't see what Nightshade did next.
"All right, Nightshade," Mr. Witherwings said calmly, "It's time to go!"
Nightshade's eyes widened as an idea suddenly occurred to her. She asked suddenly, "Is it lonely, there at Happy Dale? Does your family stay there?"
"I don't have a family," Mr. Witherwings said, taken aback. "So I guess I am lonely..."
Nightshade smiled her most innocent smile yet. "Then I should treat you to a cup of guava juice," She said, pouring him a cup.
"Why, thank you!" He exclaimed. "Guava juice!"
"I'm a great friend of a RainWing, who squeezes them herself," Nightshade said. "She has a garden, so she'll always be reminded of home."
"I thought I had had my last one a few years ago," He said.
"Oh, no," Nightshade said. "THIS is your last one."
As he drank the cup, no one saw the devious smirk that flitted across Nightshade's face.