Defenders of Pyrrhia is a fanfiction created by MewtwoLucario, and is copyright to her only. Feel free to edit any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, but leave plot suggestions in the comments. Do not edit this page otherwise.
Sixteen years have passed since the War of the SandWing Succession, and all of Pyrrhia is finally at peace.
Well...almost all of Pyrrhia.
King Timebender, the once fair and just ruler of the DreamWings, has suddenly started making plots to rule all of Pyrrhia. He plans to use the power of a mysterious force called "the Nothing" to kill all the tribe queens and reign in their place.
Meanwhile, Vampire, a Night/SeaWing hybrid, has delivered a prophecy about a group of dragonets who will hatch on a mistimed brightest night and, with hearts that beat as one, put a stop to Timebender's plans.
Shadowfang the NightWing: Major Protagonist
Crossfade the RainWing: Major Protagonist
Venomtail the SandWing: Major Protagonist
Icetalon the IceWing: Major Protagonist
Terra Cotta the MudWing: Major Protagonist
Cloudscorcher the SkyWing: Major Protagonist
Fishhook the SeaWing: Major Protagonist
Sonic Boom the SwiftWing: Major Protagonist
Renegade the TrickWing: Major Protagonist
Cipher the DreamWing: Major Protagonist
Scamper and Patch: Supporting Protagonists
Crypt the DeathWing: Supporting Protagonist
Skywalker the DriftWing: Supporting Protagonist
Peck the AviWing: Supporting Protagonist
Vampire the Night/SeaWing: Supporting Protagonist
King Timebender the DreamWing: Main Antagonist
Prince Mindinvader the DreamWing: Secondary Antagonist
The Defenders Prophecy
Four adult dragons sat in a circle around seven eggs: blackish-silver, blue with gold spots, pale gold with black diamonds, pale blue, blood-red, copper-orange, deepest blue with bright green splotches. The light of the moons shone on the eggs, making them sparkle.
"It's nights like this that remind me of home," said Crypt. The DeathWing looked up at the moons. All three were full and almost at their highest peak. "Crypt, stop moon-gazing and pay attention," said Skywalker the DriftWing, nudging Crypt. "Vampire, how long is midnight from now?" "Uh... I'd say a couple minutes," answered Vampire the Night/SeaWing. "Peck, you were a dragonet caretaker back in your kingdom. Are the eggs warm enough?"
"All except the SandWing egg, but SandWings are pretty much freezing in any place that's not the desert," answered the AviWing. "Hey, look! The MudWing's hatching!" The three other dragons turned their attention to the blood-red egg. A brown tail popped out of it, followed by a talon, a wing, and finally, the rest of the MudWing dragonet. The MudWing was a rather light shade of brown, with amber-colored underscales and wing membranes, and mossy green eyes.
"Wow," said Peck. "He's big, even for a MudWing. What should we name him?" "How about Terra Cotta?" suggested Crypt. "That's a pretty good name. Terra Cotta it is, then," said Skywalker. Terra Cotta suddenly lunged at the NightWing egg. "Whoa!" exclaimed Vampire. "Calm down," said Skywalker. "Firstborn MudWings are called bigwings. After they hatch, they help the other dragonets get out of their eggs." "Oh. Ok." Terra Cotta clawed at the NightWing egg until it cracked.
The NightWing dragonet broke his head out of the shell, then came the rest of his body. The NightWing was black with red underscales and wing membranes. His eyes were purely red; there was no white or black or any other color in them. The stars on his wings and the silver scales by his eyes stood out like diamonds against obsidian. "Hey, what's that on his tail?" asked Crypt, pointing. A dark red blade was on the end of the NightWing's tail.
"What in the...?" started Skywalker. "I followed the prophecy. His egg was on the old NightWing island instead of in the rainforest," said Vampire. "He looks like a Shadowfang to me," said Peck. "I like that name," said Crypt. Shadowfang and Terra Cotta stared at each other until another crack was heard. All the dragons turned their attention to the blue and gold-spotted egg. A wing burst out of the shell. The prehensile tail followed, then the RainWing's head, then the rest of him.
The RainWing was blue with rainbow underscales and gold eyes. His wing membranes were green and violet, with a black line separating the colors from each other. He turned a shade of purplish-blue: a RainWing color for pride. "He looks proud that he was able to get out of his shell," said Vampire. "Whew. Looking at him makes me cross-eyed." The RainWing dragonet seemed to notice that he was making the Night/SeaWing uncomfortable, because he faded into a calming shade of blue. "Crossfade's a RainWing name, isn't it?" asked Peck.
The SeaWing hatched next. She was a very dark shade of blue, with bright green stripes and dark green eyes, wing membranes, and webs. Her claws looked sharper than a normal SeaWing's. "I vote for Fishhook," said Vampire. "Any yays? Any nays?" The other adult dragons looked at each other, then back at Vampire. They nodded.
The IceWing and SandWing seemed to be racing each other for who could hatch the fastest. The IceWing's talons popped out as soon as the SandWing's tail broke through the eggshell. Then the IceWing's wings came out as one of the SandWing's talons burst through. Finally, the IceWing won. The SandWing hatched moments after. The IceWing was pale blue with white wing membranes and pale purple underscales. Her eyes were green like a pine tree. She had unusual dark blue swirl patterns on her wing arms, face, tail, and talons.
The SandWing had pale gold scales and underscales that were a darker shade. His eyes were more of a very dark grey that black, and he had a pattern of black diamonds running down each side of his neck. "Those swirls are rather strange-looking," said Peck, pointing to the IceWing. "I didn't know IceWings could have those." "It's pretty rare for an IceWing to have patterns," said Crypt. "I think her name should be Icetalon." "And the SandWing?" "Venomtail."
Finally, the SkyWing hatched. She popped her head out of the egg, then her tail, then a wing, and finally the rest of her. She had red scales and copper underscales, but her eyes were fiery blue. Her wing membranes looked a little unusual. They were a slightly darker shade of red than her main scales, but they were also orange and yellow, and styled like a fire.
"Her wings look like fire," said Skywalker. "What should we name her?" "Cloudscorcher," said Vampire. "I like Cloudscorcher," said Crypt. "Me too," said Peck. "Ok, then. I guess her name's Cloudscorcher," said Skywalker. The dragonets all looked at the adult dragons, then at each other.
This was only the beginning.
5 years later...
"Try to dodge this!" said Skywalker, spitting a ball of fire at Shadowfang. The NightWing yelped, threw his wings over his head, and ducked. The fireball just barely missed his horns. He looked around wildly as Skywalker charged up another stream of fire. Get to the rock-maze! the DriftWing thought, mentally pointing to the small maze of stalagmites, stalactites, and columns on the other side of the cave.
Shadowfang half-ran, half-flew over to the rocks, his tail-blade scraping against the floor. Skywalker kept breathing fire, but Shadowfang dodged it. Nice dodging, kid! Skywalker thought, starting to chase after the NightWing dragonet. Shadowfang was almost to the safety of the rock-maze, but Skywalker suddenly crashed down in front of him.
"Nice try, NightWing!" said Skywalker in a fake, deeper voice. "But I've gotcha now, and you're gonna be in even worse trouble once I bring you back to King Timebender!" "I don't think so!" Shadowfang said. He threw himself to the floor and rolled under Skywalker, slashing the DriftWing's underbelly with his tail-blade as he did so. "How'd ya like that?" he said as he ran into the rock-maze.
"Come on out, dragonet!" shouted Skywalker in his fake voice, stalking though the stalagmites. "You can't hide forever!" But you sort of can, his thoughts said instead. Being a NightWing and everything means you can blend in with shadows. Shadowfang ran towards a particularly tall stalagmite, with a stalactite almost touching it and out of Skywalker's line of sight. He flapped up to the top of the stalagmite and climbed up the stalactite until he was able to brush the cave roof with his claws.
"Alright, kid. Ya ready?" Skywalker asked in his normal voice. "Yeah, come and get me," Shadowfang called out. Skywalker started creeping towards the stalactite where Shadowfang was hiding. Wait for it.... thought Shadowfang, waiting for Skywalker to get directly under him. Wait for it.... The DriftWing was getting closer. And.... now! Shadowfang let go of his stalactite and fell directly on Skywalker's face.
"Gah!" exclaimed Skywalker. He whipped his head back and forth, trying to shake off the NightWing dragonet. But Shadowfang started crawling over his head, down his neck, and over his back. Finally he saw it: the vulnerable spot on Skywalker's tail. Shadowfang darted forward and clamped his teeth down on it. Skywalker roared in pain.
After a few minutes, the dragonet let go. "How was that, Skywalker?" he asked the battle-training guardian. "Not bad, kid," said Skywalker, rubbing his vulnerable spot. "Next time, try getting to the rock-maze a little faster, and maybe look for a longer stalactite so you can be higher up." "Will do," said Shadowfang. "Sorry if I injured you really badly." "Hey, it's fine," said Skywalker, heading for the tunnel that led out of the battle cave. "That stone you enchanted should heal anything. All I gotta do is find out where Peck put the darn thing."
Shadowfang took a few scrolls out of the rack by Cloudscorcher's sleeping ledge. "Let's see... The Missing Princess... no... A Longitudinal Study of Peculiar Scavenger Behavior... no... Animus History... DANG IT!" Shadowfang threw the three scrolls onto the floor behind him. "Hey, watch where you're throwin' those things, mate!" shouted a tiny voice from underneath the scrolls. "Oh. Oops." Shadowfang picked up the scrolls, revealing two small, two-legged creatures underneath them. They were Venomtail's pet scavengers, Scamper and Patch.
"Sorry, guys," Shadowfang said. "I didn't see ya there." "Yeah, like that's a surprise," said Patch, folding his arms. (Scamper and Patch wore necklaces with "Dragontalk Gems" on them, so they could understand and speak the language of the dragons.) "What are you looking for, anyway?" "I'm looking for my favorite scroll, The Legend of the Dragonets of Destiny. Have you guys seen it?" "I think I saw Crossfade take it out for some reason while you were battle-trainin'," said Scamper. "He was mumblin' somethin' 'bout 'readin' it to bore himself to suntime' or somethin' like that." "'Kay, thanks guys," said Shadowfang, running out of the cave.
The NightWing found Crossfade laying on the highest branch of a tree close to the entrance of the Defenders Hideout. The Legend of the Dragonets of Destiny was sprawled out in front of him. "Dude, what are you doing?" he asked. "Reading your dumb favorite scroll to bore myself to suntime. What does it look like I'm doing?!?"
"How can you be bored by this?" asked Shadowfang for the umpteenth time, snatching the scroll up. "Uh, 'cuz you've made all of us read it like 90 times," said Crossfade, sitting up and stretching. His pet sloth, Moss, climbed up from his neck onto the top of his head. "The plot twists don't surprise me anymore, the action doesn't make my heart pound anymore, Sunny being a Sand/NightWing hybrid wasn't even shocking the first time...."
"Shush," said Shadowfang, rolling the scroll up and it under his arm. "Y'know, the first thing I wanna do after leaving this island is go find the Dragonets of Destiny. Vampire says that he's been tracing my family history lately, and he thinks that I might be the son of the brother of the father of Starflight, and if ya ask me, it'd be pretty cool to be related to one of the biggest heroes in the history of Pyrrhia." "Yeah, yeah, whatever," said Crossfade, taking Moss off his head and stroking him.
"Hey, have you seen Icetalon around here somewhere? I wanted to ask her something." "You mean you're finally gonna ask her out?!?" exclaimed Crossfade excitedly. "Wh-what? No!" Ignoring him, Crossfade said, "A little romantic advice, Shad. When the female talks and the male doesn't listen, the female ends up killing the male. When the female talks and the male does listen, the male and the female end up living a happy life with six dragonets named Flake, Dreamchaser, Anxiety, Everest, Bergchiller and Shadowfang Jr.! And yes, I did name all of yours and Icetalon's dragonets."
Shadowfang glared at him. "Ok, fine," said Crossfade, laying back down on the branch. "Icetalon and Fishhook are out catching fish by the Aquarock Reef." The Aquarock Reef was a reef located a little off the coast of Edge Island. It was swarming with lots of different kinds of fish and was Icetalon and Fishhok's favorite place to hunt fish. "Ok, thanks," said Shadowfang, flying towards the reef.
Shadowfang swooped down towards the beach. The Aquarock Reef was only a couple more wingbeats away, but if he was going to look for Icetalon, he'd need something first. As he landed on the sand, a voice with a vague hiss to it shouted out, "Hey, dude! You're right on top of me!" "Gah!" exclaimed Shadowfang, leaping back into the sky. As he rose up, a pale gold SandWing with black diamond patterns running down each side of his neck came up out of the sand.
"Oh, sorry, Venomtail," Shadowfang apologized, landing back down on the beach. "I keep forgetting that you like to sink down in the sand to take a nap." "Hey, accidents happen," said Venomtail, brushing sand off of his chest. "What'cha doing here, anyway? I thought you wanted to spend all day reading that lame scroll about the Dragonets of Destiny." "Ok, first of all, The Legend of the Dragonets of Destiny is NOT lame," said Shadowfang. "And second of all, I need to ask Icetalon something."
Venomtail opened his mouth. "No, I'm not gonna ask her out," Shadowfang said, cutting him off. Dang it.... thought Venomtail as he closed his mouth again. "I need to ask her something related to this scroll." "'Kay, then," said Venomtail. "But Icetalon and Fishhook are out at the Aquarock Reef, and Icetalon's in her SeaWing form. You'll never be able to hold your breath long enough to find her." "Which is why I'm here, snails-for-brains," said Shadowfang, lightly smacking Venomtail's forehead. "I need to use my SeaWing necklace."
"Ok, fine," said Venomtail. He reached into the satchel that he always wore around his neck and left shoulder. It had been enchanted by Shadowfang to be able to contain anything without getting bigger, so Venomtail used it to carry all of the Defenders' stuff. (Did I forget to mention that Shadowfang's an animus? Well, he is. He wears a clamp around his neck that he found washed up on a beach one day, and he enchanted it to heal his soul whenever he used his animus powers. Now he can use his powers as much as he wants without danger of going insane. Scamper and Patch's Dragontalk Gems were actually just ordinary rocks that he enchanted to let them talk with dragons.)
"Let's see here," said Venomtail, rummaging around inside the satchel. "Crossfade's sloth whistle.... A Guide to the Dragons of Pyrrhia.... what I'm hoping is not a three-month-old boar leg... ah, here it is." The SandWing fished out a silver chain-link necklace with sapphires and emeralds dangling on it. The sapphire at the very front of the necklace had "Shadowfang" carved onto it. "Thanks, Ven," said Shadowfang, taking the necklace and dropping it over his head. The NightWing slowly morphed into a dark blue SeaWing with sky blue stripes and wing membranes, and green webbings and underscales. The only signs of the SeaWing being Shadowfang were his pure red eyes, long, top canine fangs, and his tail-blade, which was now bright green.
Shadowfang took to the air, flying out towards the sea. His eyes scanned the waves below him as he stretched his mind out, trying to hear either Icetalon's or Fishhook's thoughts. Finally, a long way below him, he heard a thought with a strange coldness to it: Dang it, I can't believe that swordfish got away from me! Well, whatever, I'll just go strangle a turtle or something. "Bingo," said Shadowfang, diving down into the water.
Shadowfang's already-extremely-good night vision kicked into overdrive as he dived deeper and deeper, keeping a firm grip on the thoughts that got louder and louder the deeper he swam. Strange, thought Shadowfang. Icetalon normally doesn't swim down this far. Then again, it does get colder the farther down you go, so maybe she wanted to hunt fish in icy waters.
Before long, he spotted another dragon in the distance, who was the source of the cold thoughts. There she is, Shadowfang thought. Now to get her attention. He lit up all of his stripes, hoping to get Icetalon to see him. This took about three tries before she finally swung around and started paddling towards him.
Icetalon's SeaWing form was light green with dark green underscales and wing membranes, along with pale blue stripes and webbings. The only IceWing traits that the form showed were her serrated claws, the spikes at the end of her tail, and her unusual dark blue swirl patterns. Oh, hey, Shadowfang, she flashed in Aquatic once she recognized his SeaWing form. What are you doing here?
I need to talk to you about something relating to this scroll, flashed Shadowfang, unrolling The Legend of the Dragonets of Destiny for her to see. (Shadowfang also enchanted all of the scrolls on Edge Island to be water-proof.) The Legend of the Dragonets of Destiny? asked Icetalon. You're not gonna make me read it again, are you? she joked. Shadowfang laughed, although the only thing that came out of his mouth were bubbles. Nah, he flashed. I'd explain it to you down here, but Vampire still hasn't taught me enough Aquatic to explain it now. Ok, said Icetalon. Let's head up to Scrape Peak and talk there.
Icetalon started swimming up to the surface, but Shadowfang stayed down in the water a bit longer. Ok, Shadowfang, you can do this, he thought to himself. Everyone's been convinced that you just need to ask her something about the scroll, including her. It's been three years since you developed this hopeless crush. Now's the time to look hopelessness directly in the eyes, scream "YOU ARE GONNA MAKE THIS CRUSH HOPEFUL, AND YOU ARE GONNA LIKE IT!!!!", finally make a move, go steady, get married, have six dragonets named Flake, Dreamchaser, Anxiety, Everest, Bergchiller and Shadowfang Jr., live a peaceful life on our own little private island, die peacefully in our sleep, and go out literally every day once we reach the world of the dead. Wait, did I seriously just recite my entire life and after life plan?
Well, it doesn't matter. I'm gonna ask her out, and I'm finally gonna get this thing off my chest. And with that, Shadowfang swam upward, kicking hard to catch up with Icetalon.
Shadowfang and Icetalon rose up out of the water, instantly taking flight. "So, when should I meet you at Scrape Peak?" asked Icetalon. "Well, by the time we get back to the Hideout, Crypt should be back with some prey," said Shadowfang. "So I guess if nothing extreme happens, I'll meet ya up there around sunset." "Ok, then," said Icetalon as they started winging towards Edge Island.
When they arrived outside of the Hideout, Shadowfang said, "I wonder how long it'll be until we're finally allowed to leave Edge Island." He took off his SeaWing necklace and transformed back into a NightWing. "I don't think it'll be much longer," Icetalon replied, doing the same and shifting back into an IceWing. "Peck says that the first thing we have to do is find the missing dragonets in the prophecy - the 'fastest dragon in the land', the 'mischievous dragon from the far north', and the 'runaway prince who walks into dreams'.
"Then she says that we have to travel through the kingdom of each dragon in the prophecy to find the 'Elemental Amulets', which will supposedly stop this Timebender guy from using the power of 'the Nothing'; but we'll have to find them before he does, 'cuz Peck says that if the Elemental Amulets fall into the talons of evil, they can also be used to resurrect the Nothing."
"Hmm." Shadowfang rubbed his chin with a talon. "Yeah. I guess that makes sense. Vampire says that he's already looked into the future and he can see us all facing off against King Timebender, and the other three dragonets are there, too. One of them's a SwiftWing - I guess he's the 'fastest dragon in the land'. Another one's a TrickWing - the 'mischievous dragon from the far north', I presume. And the final one's a royal DreamWing - he must be the 'runaway prince who walks into dreams'.
"But I've also looked that far - a little farther, even. That future shows us, including the other three dragonets, all standing on a freakish glowing Zodiac-wheel-thing in the middle of a bunch of ruins, and there's this weird giant black mass shaped like a dragon - which I assume is the Nothing - wreaking havoc across Pyrrhia out in the background, and King Timebender's there, too, but he looks scared and not in control of the Nothing, and there's a ton of other dragons there who are also afraid, including what looks like the Dragonets of Destiny, but grown up, and all the tribe queens, and our Guardians, and another royal DreamWing who looks a couple years older than the DreamWing who's gonna become a Defender, and....
"Well, bottom line is, it looks like there might be some futures that happen after we all face off against Timebender, futures where the Nothing gets free anyway, and we all have to unite together on the Zodiac-thing, in order to release some other ultimate power to defeat it once and for all or something. There are a couple futures where that sort of stuff doesn't happen, but in those there's always one who's gone from the faceoff against Timebender, probably meaning that they died or something."
"Well, we can worry about that later," said Icetalon, wrapping her wing around Shadowfang. The IceWing's scales always gave off a chilling air that, for some reason, always made Shadowfang feel relaxed and secure. "Right now, I'm starving, and judging by that mooing, Crypt brought us cows for dinner. Come on." She walked into the Hideout, with Shadowfang behind her.
Crypt had, indeed, brought cows for dinner. The rest of the Defenders and the Guardians were there, but Skywalker was missing. "Hey, where's Skywalker?" asked Fishhook. "I think he said that he saw something out on the horizon, so he went to check it out," said Peck. "Well, he better get back soon," said Terra Cotta, "before I eat all of these myself." "Mrrrph," warbled Moss from his perch on top of Crossfade's head. "Moss says that you need to not think about food all the time," said Crossfade. "Guys, we've been over this," said Shadowfang. "Terra Cotta DOESN'T think about food all the time, and Crossfade, for the love of moonlight, Moss can't talk."
"That's just what you think," Crossfade shot back. "I can hear Moss saying stuff in actual words. Sure, they generally come out slowly and he tends to stutter, but still. And by the way, why cows again? I CLEARLY asked for fruit this time -" "- And you were overruled by the rest of us," said Cloudscorcher. "Besides, you can get fruit from one of the trees out there." She waved a wing towards the exit. "Shush up, guys, I'm trying to eat here," said Terra Cotta, his mouth full of cow.
Shortly after dinner, a light purple and neon green blur shot into the cave. "WE ARE IN MONUMENTAL TROUBLE!" shouted Skywalker. "What do you mean?" asked Venomtail. "Ok, I went to check out that weird thing on the horizon, and... and..." "Hurry up, mate, we ain't gettin' any younger," said Scamper. "....And I just can't explain it! You gotta come see it yourselves!" He ran back out of the cave. Vampire, Crypt, and Peck followed him. The Defenders all looked at each other. "What do you think he's so hyped up about?" asked Cloudscorcher. "I dunno," said Shadowfang. "I think we should go with them."
A few minutes later, they were all standing on the shore of Lucky Bay, a horseshoe-shaped beach and the westernmost location on Edge Island. According to the Guardians, the mainland, Pyrrhia, was a directly westward journey from the bay. But now, a large wing of dragons was flying over the horizon. "What's that?" asked Crypt. "That's what I was trying to tell you!" said Skywalker. "I don't know who they are, but they're definitely being led by that dragon in the front there!" He pointed to the leading dragon.
Shadowfang shielded his eyes from the setting sun and leaned forward, trying to see the dragon. As the wing got closer, he realized that it was made out of dragons from different tribes: TempestWings, SwiftWings, TrickWings, but mostly DreamWings. And the lead dragon was a big male royal DreamWing. He had dark grey scales, pink underscales, dark gold horns and claws, purple spikes, and silver wing membranes. There was a giant scar running down from the DreamWing's left shoulder until reaching the star-shaped club at the end of his tail.
At first, Shadowfang thought the DreamWing was just someone important, by the way he was holding himself. But then he realized that there was a golden crown studded with black diamonds on the DreamWing's head, and matching braces around his neck, tail, elbows, and knees. "Holy flaming moons," said Shadowfang. He recognized that dragon, for he had seen his portrait in a scroll, The Rulers of the Tribes from the Scorching to the Present: Volume 3 - The DreamWings. The Guardians and the other Defenders looked at him. "The lead dragon," he said, pointing at the big DreamWing in the front, "is King Timebender."
"Toucans and Tasmanian devils, this is bad!" said Crossfade, turning various shades of yellow and pale gold. "We can't go up against Timebender now! We're only five, and he's like 70 years old, and he's got freakish DreamWing powers, and he's got a whole wing of dragons to back him up, and -" Icetalon grabbed Crossfade's shoulders and shook him until he stopped panicking. "Crossfade, calm down!" she said. "We might only be five, but we're in a prophecy! A real one, not like the fake one that jerk Morrowseer told about the Dragonets of Destiny! We're destined to stop Timebender's plans, make sure the Nothing stays trapped, and save Pyrrhia from its biggest threat ever! We are not going to die just because he's leading a random attack against us!"
Crossfade inhaled deeply. "Ok," he said. "I'm fine now." "But Crossfade's right, in a way," said Fishhook. "If we do somehow find a way to win this fight - and I know that no matter how long this conversation drags on, we're gonna have to fight Timebender and his minions anyway - Timebender's gonna know that we're a threat to his plans. Then, since the 'runaway prince who walks into dreams' is obviously related to him, he's probably gonna kill him just to screw around with the prophecy when he gets back to his castle - granted, of course, that he already hasn't."
"Don't worry, guys," said Venomtail. He was always the motivational speaker of the Defenders, and kept their spirits up if things looked bad. "We might only be five, but I'm ready to get this adventure thing started. And fighting Timebender's sneak attack thing is the perfect way to warm up." "Well, let's go out there and 'warm up'," said Shadowfang. He leaped up into the air and started flying towards Timebender's wing, with the Guardians and other Defenders behind him.
King Timebender was huge, bigger than Vampire (who was around the size of Kestrel), and he had a look of fierce, smug determination on his face, as if he knew that he was going to take over Pyrrhia one day. But first he'll have to get rid of us, thought Shadowfang. But too bad on him, because we're not going to let that happen.
As the two groups of dragons got closer to each other, Shadowfang could see that Timebender's eyes had gold pupils and pale yellow sclera. So that means he's a Mindscaper, Shadowfang thought. Mindscapers and Half-Mindscapers were royal DreamWings who could harness a single possibility of the Mindscape (a realm said to exist between the real world and the world of the dead, where dreams and the imagination come from) and use it in the real world. I wonder what his Mindscape power is.
When the two dragon groups were just a few SkyWing wingbeats away from each other, King Timebender and his henchdragons stopped and hovered. The Defenders and Guardians did the same. "So," said Timebender, "these are the legendary Defenders who will take down the big, bad king of the DreamWings - ergo, me?" His voice had an eerie echo to it, with a slight hiss, but he talked in an arrogant, authority-filled voice. He looked over the seven dragonets from their horns to the tips of their tails, definitely noticing their unusual features. "Honestly, I was expecting something more impressive."
"Well, buddy, this is the best that you're gonna get," said Cloudscorcher. Shadowfang could tell by her tone of voice that she had turned on her firescales. (Cloudscorcher was a firescales SkyWing, similarly to Peril, but she could turn her firescales on and off.) "Yeah," agreed Terra Cotta from beside Cloudscorcher. "At least until we get bigger and find the other Defenders and the Elemental Amulet thingies, then that'll be the best that you're gonna get."
"Oh really?" asked Timebender sarcastically. "Well, Mr. and Mrs. Bigshot, let's see how you and your friends do in a real battle, instead of those pathetic play-fights that you've obviously been having since you could talk."
He clapped his front talons together, and immediately a portion of his henchdragons flew out of the group. One of the DreamWings was royalty and was rather young for a soldier by DreamWing standards. He was about 4 years older than the Defenders, but he had the same determined expression on his face that Timebender had.
The young DreamWing had purple scales, brown underscales and wing membranes, dark gold horns and claws like Timebender, and pink spikes. He wore the same accessories as the DreamWing king, although his crown was smaller and his crown and braces had less black diamonds. His left eye had pale yellow sclera like Timebender's, but with a black pupil. The eye spoke, loud and clear, that the young DreamWing was a Half-Mindscaper.
That must be Prince Mindinvader, Shadowfang heard Fishhook thinking. King Timebender's favorite and eldest son, next in line for the DreamWing throne, obeys most of his father's orders without question and, other than Timbender, is the only known dragon in all of Pyrrhia who's onboard with his dad's plot to rule all of Pyrrhia. Younger brother is Prince Cipher, older brother is Prince Illuminati, who has been missing for two years now. Fishhook was VERY good at remembering stuff that she had read in scrolls.
"Ok, Dad, you can head back to the cathle," Mindinvader said to Timebender. His voice sounded almost exactly like his father's, but with a higher pitch and a lisp. It took Shadowfang a second to realize that the DreamWing prince had a few missing teeth. "Me and my thquad here will dethpothe of the Defenderth while you find out where the Nothing ith hidden." "Alright, Mindinvader. Later, Defenders!" King Timebender snapped his claws, and he and the dragons who weren't part of Mindinvader's "squad" vanished in puffs of smoke.
Mindinvader turned back to the Defenders and Guardians. "I know that Dad doethn't want me to admit it, but you guyth look jutht like how I pictured you," he said. "We do?" Shadowfang asked, surprised. "Thorta," Mindinvader said, shrugging. "I alwayth thought that the ThkyWing wath gonna be male, and the RainWing wathn't thuppothed to have rainbow underthcaleth -" "Dude, do you even know what you're saying?" Venomtail interrupted. "Of courthe I do! Thometimeth it'th juth hard to underthand 'cuth of my lithp. Anyway...." Mindinvader cracked his knuckles. "Let'th do thith."
The DreamWing prince lunged at Shadowfang, who instantly barrel-rolled out of the way. "You're gonna have to try better than that, Mindinvader!" he taunted. Mindinvader growled and shouted, "You guyth take care of the otherth! I'll handle him!" At once, the dragons who had stayed behind with Mindinvader attacked the Guardians and the other Defenders.
Out of the corner of his eye, Shadowfang could see Crossfade dodge a ball of water thrown by a SwiftWing and spray venom in a TempestWing's face. The TempestWing screeched and... vanished. Whoa, Crossfade thought. "Guys! They're not real dragons! They're just illusions!" he said. "Illusions?" Fishhook echoed. She smashed her tail against the stomach of the SwiftWing who had thrown the ball of water at Crossfade. Like the TempestWing, the SwiftWing screeched and vanished.
"Of courthe they're illuthionth!" said Mindinvader. "I made them mythelf. All of the dragonth who were with Dad are illuthionth too. He doethn't want any actual tholdierth 'cuth then he'll eventually run out of tholdierth to do hith bidding. Illuthion tholdierth are better 'cuth I can make an infinite army with them. Thure, they're weak and die in one hit, but - OW!!!" he roared as Shadowfang slashed the side of his face. "Ok, right, thtay focuthed on the fight."
Eventually, the illusion dragons were all defeated and Mindinvader was in no condition to keep fighting. "Ok... thith time... you win," he panted. "But my dad'th a Mindthcaper, and he'th... got more trickth up hith thleeve... than you guyth... have had wild boarth for breakfatht. Along with a little thomething that you'll never expect him to uthe." He snapped his claws and vanished in a puff of smoke.
For a while the Defenders and Guardians just hovered there, looking in the direction of the mainland. Then, one by one, they all turned and flew back to Edge Island. Shadowfang was the last to go back. What did Mindinvader mean by 'a little something you'll never expect him to use'? he thought, staring down at the ocean. Does Timebender have some kind of animus-touched weapon? The Elemental Amulets...what if he already has them? No, no, he couldn't have them now, or else we'd all be dead. His train of thought abruptly stopped when he felt something cold nudge him. He looked up, and beside him was Icetalon.
"You ok?" she asked. "Um... y-yeah," Shadowfang stammered. "Just... just worried." "Shadowfang," Icetalon said, twining her tail with his, "we can worry about what Mindinvader said later. Right now, we need to get back to the Hideout and find the Healing Stone to fix ourselves." Shadowfang looked Icetalon over. She had several cuts that were still pouring the bright blue blood of the IceWings, and a deep gash on the side of her neck. He had a feeling that it would never heal, no matter how many times she rubbed it with the Healing Stone. And it was so close to her throat, too.... What if it had killed her? What if she had died without me telling her how I feel?
Shadowfang shook his head. No, there was no time to think about that. Icetalon looked at him, puzzled. "You ok?" she asked again. "Yeah... let's just get back to the Hideout," said Shadowfang. He started flying back to the island, with Icetalon right next to him.
Cloudscorcher winced as Venomtail rolled the Healing Stone over her shoulders. "Don't move so much, Cloud," he said. "You'll only make it worse." "I know," Cloudscorcher sighed. "It's just so cold compared to the burn made by the misfired fireball that Skywalker shot." "Sorry about that," Skywalker said. He was tying a bandage made of vines around Terra Cotta's left arm. "Are you sure you want this bandaged up, Terra?" he asked the MudWing. "Yeah," said Terra Cotta. The scratch on his arm was too fatal for the Healing Stone to completely heal, so Terra Cotta wanted it in a bandage until it healed on its own.
"Wow, you guys really took a beatin', huh?" Scamper said. He, Patch, and Moss had stayed behind while the dragons had gone out to face Timebender. "Yeah, we did," said Peck. "We won in the end, though." Shadowfang sighed. "We almost died today," he mumbled. "We almost lost. We almost failed to fulfill the prophecy. Guys," he said, standing up. Suddenly he looked like a true leader, one with years and years of experience. "It's clear what we have to do. We need to leave Edge Island, fly to Pyrrhia, find the fastest dragon in the land, the mischievous dragon from the far north, and the runaway prince who walks into dreams, find the Elemental Amulets, and stop Timebender from freeing the Nothing.
"We need to leave tomorrow. Timebender won't expect us to leave so soon after an attack like this. We need to start this adventure thing at let destiny take over. It's like the final line in the prophecy says: ten Defenders are ready to take flight. Well, I'm ready to take flight. I'm ready to end this fight. And if you're all ready, too, then... I think we all know what to do."
He stretched his talon out. The other Defenders looked at each other, then, one by one, got up and placed their talons on top of each other's. "Destined together, friends forever, the Defenders will fight together and forever!" they said simultaneously, throwing their talons into the air. "Thanks, guys," said Shadowfang, pulling them all into a hug. "I don't know what I'd do without you." "You'd probably be a total wreck," said Crossfade, and everyone laughed.
That night, the Defenders curled up on the ledges in their sleeping cave. Most of them fell asleep rather quickly, but Shadowfang just lay awake for a while, staring at the small stalactites on the roof above him. He could hear Fishhook unrolling a scroll as she started to do her "before-bed reading", as she liked to call it. Is this the right choice? Shadowfang thought. Am I leading my friends to death by taking them off the island tomorrow? He closed his eyes and tried to spread the futures out. No, there weren't any futures were they died in the next few months, not unless they left a week later instead of the next day.
Suddenly, a vision came to him. A storm was happening. The Defenders were in what looked like a jungle clearing. He was holding an obsidian amulet, looking at it in wonder. The vision suddenly changed: a large number of NightWings - his own tribe - dropped out of the trees and surrounded them. "Give me that," snarled a giant female NightWing who looked eerily like him, minus the tail-blade. "No," he said, clutching the amulet to his chest. "We need it to defeat King Timebender. He'll kill all the tribe queens, including Queen Glory, if I give it to you." "So?" growled the female NightWing.
"So, we need it to stop him from killing the queens," Shadowfang answered. "If Timebender does become ruler of all the tribes, he'll -" "Appoint me as queen of the NightWings," interrupted the big NightWing. Shadowfang looked up at her in horror. "You mean...you're working for him?" he asked, terrified. "Yes," said the female NightWing. A flash of lightning illuminated the evil grin on her face.
Shadowfang sat up suddenly as the vision left him, but ended up banging his head against the stalactites. "Ouch..." He rubbed his head. My own tribe... working for Timebender. And that big female one... He laid back down and pulled his bearskin blanket over him. She looked just like me, only without the tail-blade. Same scales, same eyes, same large fangs... she didn't even have stars under her wings like a NightWing's supposed to have. Was that... my mother? Is my own mother working for Timebender? He shook his head. But she looked too young and sinister to be my mother. Maybe she's just a cousin, or a sister, or...
No. My own mother can't possibly be one of Timebender's minions. Maybe the vision was just a little messed up. He turned over so that he was facing the wall. Maybe it wasn't even a vision. Maybe it was just my imagination.
It wasn't until he was almost asleep that he realized he had forgotten to tell Icetalon about his feelings for her.
"Wow, Tail Blade. You really DO bring a whole new meaning to the word 'worrywart'."
Shadowfang shook his head and opened his eyes. "Huh? Wha?" He looked around. He was standing in an endless field of brownish-green, knee-high grass. There was nothing and no one else as far as he could see. "Chill out, Tail Blade," the voice said. It sounded almost exactly like Timebender and Mindinvader, but younger and without a hiss. Instead of sounding sinister or authority-filled, it sounded mischievous and unpredictable.
"Who are you?" Shadowfang asked. Instead of answering, the voice said, "I know how you're all worried and panicking about leading your friends off Edge Island tomorrow, but hey. Finally gettin' off that floating rock is the only way you're ever gonna beat... ahem... 'King' Timebender. I mean, Bolt Strike ain't ever gonna leave his kingdom unless he meets ya; Dagger will kill all of ya without a second thought unless Rainbow throws him into a tree; as for All Seeing... well, it ain't like I'm goin' anywhere."
"Wait, wait, wait. 'Bolt Strike'? 'Dagger'? 'Rainbow'? 'All Seeing'? And my name isn't Tail Blade, it's Shadowfang." "I know." The voice made a noise like it - he - was stifling a laugh. "I just like to call all of us by our Zodiac Symbols. You're Tail Blade, Crossfade's Rainbow, Venomtail's Diamond, Icetalon's Ice Cube, Terra Cotta's Rock, Cloudscorcher's Fire Cloud, Fishhook's Wave, Sonic Boom's Bolt Strike, Renegade's Dagger, and I'm All Seeing. But my real name's Cipher."
Shadowfang scratched his head. "What do you mean by you call all of 'us' by 'our Zodiac Symbols'? And who the heck are Sonic Boom and Renegade?" he asked. "That's pathetic, Tail Blade," Cipher replied. "You can see into the gosh dang FUTURE. How can you not know what the Zodiac is?" "Because... wait... is the 'Zodiac' that glowing wheel-thing that I see me and the other Defenders and these three other dragons standing on if I look really far into the future?"
"Hit that one right on the bulls-eye." Cipher snickered. "I could explain it, but you'd be better off seeing it for yourself." A blinding white light suddenly flashed over the horizon, so bright that Shadowfang threw a wing over his face to prevent his eyes from burning. Once the light died down, he opened his eyes and cautiously lowered his wing.
Instead of the field, he was now floating in a black void. "Where is this?" he asked, not sure he was asking himself or Cipher. "This is what we DreamWings call the darkest part of the Mindscape," answered Cipher. So Cipher's a DreamWing. Better keep that in mind, Shadowfang thought to himself. "Here, I'll show ya the Zodiac," continued Cipher. "Now, if I could just find it..."
A light blue light, dimmer than the first one, flashed up in a thick, infinite column. The column eventually faded until it was just a circle on the "ground". Ten smaller circles appeared in the center, and ten rectangle-like shapes formed around the outer circle. The entire circle was filled with the light blue light, and when it faded, the circle looked both strange and interesting to Shadowfang.
The ten small circles in the center were actually all similar-looking amulets: one made of obsidian, one made of bismuth crystals, one made of pale yellow jasper, one made of pale blue diamonds, one made of amber-colored fire opals, one made of rubies, one made of lapis lazuli, one made of yellow fluorite, one made of dark blue sapphires, and one made of gold-colored topaz. On each amulet, the gemstone was arranged into a certain shape; the amulets themselves were made of gold and silver.
Forming a circle around the amulets were ten symbols, with each symbol matching the shape of the gemstone on a certain amulet. From the top-left going clockwise, the symbols were a rainbow, a diamond, a block of ice, a rock, a flaming cloud, a wave, a lightning bolt, a dagger, an eye, and...Shadowfang's tail-blade.
The tail-blade matched the obsidian amulet, the rainbow matched the bismuth amulet, the diamond matched the jasper amulet, the ice block matched the diamond amulet, the rock matched the fire opal amulet, the flaming cloud matched the ruby amulet, the wave matched the lapis lazuli amulet, the lightning bolt matched the fluorite amulet, the dagger matched the sapphire amulet, and the eye matched the topaz amulet.
"This," said Cipher, "is the Defenders Zodiac. Each symbol and amulet represent one of the Defenders." "So I'm assuming that I'm the obsidian tail-blade, right?" "Yep. Ya wanna try and name all the symbols and amulets?" "Sure. Let's see......"
Shadowfang rubbed his chin as he "walked" over to the Defenders Zodiac. "I'm the obsidian tail-blade, Crossfade's the bismuth rainbow, Venomtail's the jasper diamond, Icetalon's the diamond ice block, Terra Cotta's the fire opal rock, Cloudscorcher's the ruby flaming cloud, Fishhook's the lapis lazuli wave, and... I'm assuming that Sonic Boom is the fluorite lightning bolt, Renegade is the sapphire dagger, and you're the topaz eye."
"You really are smart," mused Cipher. "So, does that mean that Sonic Boom, Renegade, and you are the other three Defenders?" Shadowfang asked. "What do you think?" "Well... if Sonic Boom is a SwiftWing, and he hatched on the brightest night, then he should be the fastest dragon in the land. If Renegade is a TrickWing, and he hatched on the brightest night, then he should be the mischievous dragon from the far north. And if you're a royal DreamWing, and you hatched on the brightest night, then you must be the runaway prince who walks into dreams."
"I prefer to not be considered a prince," sighed Cipher. "Ever since my dad started plotting to take over the continent, I've become ashamed to be related to him. Mindinvader, on the other talon, can jump off a cliff with his wings tied together. As for Illuminati, I dunno where the heck he's gone." "...I take that as a yes?" asked Shadowfang. "Right. Listen, Shadowfang. You're doing the right thing so far.
"Stop worrying so much. You've already looked and can tell that neither you or any of the others will die within the next couple of months. Frankly, I'd be more worried 'bout your evil relative." "So she is a relative?!?" Shadowfang shouted, remembering the evil lookalike NightWing from his vision. "S-she's not my mom, is she?!?" "No, no. I don't know how exactly she's related to you, but she's definitely not your mom. Way too young. She's still a mother, but not to you."
Shadowfang breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, looks like you're waking up," said Cipher. "Guess that's my cue to skedaddle." "Wait, Cipher!" Shadowfang called. "Before you go, I want to ask you something." "Yeah?" "Where are you?" "Well, right now, I'm in a dark, unfamiliar room somewhere in the Castle of Dreams. I'm chained to a wall by my neck, wrists, and ankles, and there's a really musty smell in the air. Once a week, either Dad or Mindinvader comes in, gives me some food and water, then they generally try to interrogate me before leaving. Naturally, I don't tell them anything."
"So your father and brother have you chained up and are starving you? Doesn't Timebender care just the teeniest bit that you're his son?" "Dad's barely given a wet moose carcass about me ever since finding out that I'm one of the ten dragonets who's eventually gonna take him down. Mindinvader still cares a little bit, though. Just don't come looking for me until after you get Sonic Boom and Renegade; otherwise, it'll literally open up a can of worms."
"Huh?" But before Cipher could answer, Shadowfang woke up. "Gah, great," he sighed, putting the palm of a talon on his forehead. "Now what?"
The next day, everyone was gathered at Lucky Bay. Shadowfang could tell that everyone was abuzz with worry, even without reading their minds. Skywalker was afraid that the Defenders' battle training hadn't been enough, and that they'd get killed the second they stepped off the island. Vampire worried that they still didn't know enough about the prophecy, and they would somehow fulfill it incorrectly. Crypt was convinced that they wouldn't eat properly for some reason or another, and Peck feared for all of the above.
Crossfade was insisting that Moss should come, despite the fact that the sloth would most likely just get in the way. Venomtail, on the other talon, was trying to convince Scamper and Patch not to come. Terra Cotta was wondering if hunting on the mainland would be any harder than hunting in Edge Island's small forest, while Fishhook kept trying to stuff every scroll she could find into Venomtail's satchel "just in case they needed them". Icetalon was stomping all over the beach, eager to get up into the air. Cloudscorcher refused to stop thinking if the skies were going to be clear with lots of space to fly, or absolutely crowded with dragons.
As for him, well... He was actually asking himself if he should tell the others about his dream. Cipher didn't seem like he was lying, but you never know. He remembered reading in multiple scrolls that DreamWings were conniving, sadistic creatures who would manipulate anyone or anything for a cheap laugh. When he was younger, he frequently had nightmares about an ancient DreamWing Mindscaper named Atbash, whom he had read about in a scroll of DreamWing myths and legends. Atbash was one of the most sadistic, but also one of the most charming and convincing, DreamWings to ever walk the face of Pyrrhia. His Mindscape power was being able to steal other dragons' bodies, so long as they agreed to his "deals".
Shadowfang breathed in deeply and made up his mind: he would keep Cipher a secret until the time came for them to rescue him. First, they had to get Sonic Boom and Renegade to join the Defenders. Then they had to find a way to sneak into the Kingdom of Dreams unseen. Then they had to somehow locate Cipher somewhere in the hundreds, maybe thousands of rooms in the Castle of Dreams. Then they had to find all of the Elemental Amulets, then they had to find out where the Nothing was, and then they had to find out how to keep it permanently locked away whilst keeping Timebender from freeing it.
"I've already told you, no!" said Venomtail for what Shadowfang thought was the thirtieth time. "Why NOOOOOOOOOOOOT?" whined Patch, acting like a five-year-old despite being roughly seventeen. "Yeah! I don't see what you're so worried about, mate," said Scamper, folding his arms and glaring up at the sand-colored dragon. "We're small, sure, but that's the beauty of it. Scavengers have been gettin' hunted an' eaten less an' less than they used to be. Prob'ly 'cuz of the whole 'Scavengers' Rights Act' or whatever it was called."
"Yeah, yeah, he's right!" Patch said. "We're an endangered species, after all! And like he pointed out, we're small! What if you guys come across a door that needs unlocking, or you gotta spy on Timebender's minions or something? We're masters of stealth compared to you big glorified bat-lizards. And even if we DO get caught, we know the sure-fire way to get out of a pinch: play dead and they'll lose interest."
Venomtail groaned and pressed a claw to each of his temples. "Okay, fine, you two can come along." "YES!" shouted the two scavengers triumphantly, high-fiving each other. "But you have to stay in the satchel and out of danger unless we need you!" "Ugh, of COURSE, there's ALWAYS a catch," sighed Scamper, face-palming. "Hey, it'll still get us off this island," said Patch.
Snickering, Shadowfang focused his attention on Crossfade and Moss next. "Mrrrph!" "Moss, for the LAST TIME, I wanna get you off this island as much as I wanna get myself off this island," snapped the RainWing. "But SOMEONE-" At this point, he glared over at Fishhook, still stuffing scrolls into the satchel. "-Thinks that you'll take up 'valuable bag space', DESPITE knowing FULL AND WELL that it can hold literally ANYTHING without having to get BIGGER!"
Eventually, everything was sorted out. Crossfade had (somehow) finally managed to convince Fishhook to let Moss ride along in the satchel, so the sloth was now sitting comfortably alongside two scavengers, many, many scrolls, and whatever else was deep inside Venomtail's Infinite Bag of Items. Terra Cotta was clutching several sacks of food for the flight - mostly fruits and fish. Skywalker had told them that there was a small, rocky island about halfway to the mainland, so they could rest there if necessary.
"Remember," warned Vampire, "don't tell anyone that you're in a prophecy unless you're absolutely, one hundred percent sure that you can trust them. You never know who might secretly be a spy for Timebender." "And if you DO meet the Dragonets of Destiny, don't tell Tsunami at all about the prophecy. Period," chimed in Crypt. "I heard that she's been incredibly bitter about prophecies ever since the whole incident with Darkstalker and Jade Mountain Academy, even more so than she was before then."
"If food is scarce, don't go crazy and start arguing over who to eat first," said Skywalker. "Us dragons can go several days without eating, especially SandWings like Venomtail. If you go that long without it, don't eat any plants you're not familiar with; you never know if an unidentified berry might be poisonous."
"And most of all," said Peck, "don't let any conflicts tear the Defenders apart. Doesn't matter if it's a petty grudge or emotional issues." She winked at Shadowfang and Icetalon as she said that. "If hostilities break out, solve them quickly. The prophecy says that you'll defeat King Timebender and the Nothing with hearts that beat as one, and that obviously means that the Defenders will have to stand together and forever in order to win."
"We'll be careful," said Shadowfang determinedly. "When next you see us, there'll be ten of us, and we'll be the saviors of Pyrrhia." "Good luck, all of you," said Skywalker. Unexpectedly, the four elder dragons saluted the seven young dragonets. "Th-thanks," stammered Cloudscorcher, obviously fighting back tears. "Well..." mumbled Fishhook. "Um..." grunted Terra Cotta. "S-see you guys later," finished Icetalon.
One awkwardly cold goodbye later, the seven dragonets were up in the air, winging their way towards their destiny and leaving their once peaceful lives behind. Shadowfang instinctively knew that the Guardians were still standing on the beach, waving after them. He didn't look back until he was sure Edge Island was well out of sight. He almost didn't recognize the group of dragonets following behind him. They all looked somehow older and more mature than ever, still covered in some injuries from the fight yesterday.
Crossfade was purple as a bruise, his color for determination. Venomtail was lashing his venom-filled tail. Terra Cotta's brow was lowered as he struggled to keep himself from dropping the sacks of food into the ocean. Fishhook was flexing her talons threateningly. Cloudscorcher was occasionally blowing brief plumes of fire, which she always did when she was trying to hide the fact that she was scared.
And Icetalon... Shadowfang's heart throbbed as he looked over at her. Her ice blue scales and their darker blue markings sparkled like diamonds and sapphires. Her scratches, especially the gash on her neck, almost looked like they were bleeding again as the sunlight landed on them. Her pine green eyes were narrowed and her teeth were bared. She always looked like the kind of dragon who was cute as heck but could break your neck, but now she looked like that even more.
The young NightWing turned his neck back around, looking out over the horizon. He set his jaw as he thought about what was going to happen once they reached the mainland. No more trying to avoid fate.
He had a destiny. He was going to fulfill it. And he was not going to let anything happen to his friends in the process.
The flight to Pyrrhia was, for lack of a better word, long. Shadowfang remembered Crypt saying that Edge Island was about 10 miles away from the mainland, but the DeathWing made it seem like nothing. Apparently, since adult dragons could fly faster than dragonets, they could cover the distance in a shorter amount of time. If it was Cloudscorcher by herself, she probably could've gotten there by now, Shadowfang thought, noticing that the SkyWing was the only dragonet not breathing heavily or complaining about the flight.
"Are we almost there yet?" Crossfade asked for the ninth time. "We'll GET THERE when we GET THERE," growled Venomtail. "Easy for you to say," panted Terra Cotta. "You don't have to carry sacks of food that are almost as heavy as you." "You could've saved a bunch of energy if you had let Shadowfang enchant the sacks." "But he doesn't like using his powers!" "But he was the one who offered, and you were the one who said, and I quote, 'No thanks, I can handle it'."
"Both of you, quiet down," said Shadowfang. "Look, Skywalker said there was a tiny rock island about half the distance to Pyrrhia. Fishhook, how long have we been flying?" "Um... about two hours, I think," said Fishhook. "In that time, we've managed to cover roughly four and a half miles. If Pyrrhia is ten miles from Edge Island, then half the distance should be at about five miles from Edge Island. And, as mentioned before, we've covered four and a half miles by this point. Therefore, we've not much father until we get to the island." "...Ya lost me at 'four and a half miles'," said Cloudscorcher.
Eventually, the Defenders spotted a lone piece of rock out in the ocean. "Wow. That is single-handedly the smallest island I have ever seen," said Icetalon as they swooped down to it. "Eh, it's only like half the size of our sleeping cave," said Fishhook. "Yeah, sure it is," said Icetalon, obviously not convinced.
As Terra Cotta unwrapped the food from the sacks, Venomtail opened his satchel so Crossfade could take Moss out. "Mrrph?" "No, we're only halfway there at the moment," said Crossfade, stroking his pet's back. "Don't worry, though, you can spend the rest of the flight on my back. Until then, want something to eat?"
Shadowfang picked a large salmon from the pile of fish and took a bite out of it. "So, where do you guys think we should go first?" he asked. "I mean, once we get to Pyrrhia." "Well, we should obviously try to look for the three other Defenders as soon as possible," said Icetalon. "But I remember Peck saying something about the Rainforest Kingdom being the closest kingdom to Edge Island. If we end up there, we can look for the Rain Amulet and maybe check the old NightWing island to see if that's where the Night Amulet is."
"But what if the Night Amulet isn't on the NightWing island?" asked Terra Cotta. "Hmm... If it's not on the island, then maybe it'll be somewhere in the lost Kingdom of Night," said Fishhook. "The lost Kingdom of Night?!? B-but that's where Darkstalker's ghost is!" said Cloudscorcher.
"Um... I'm pretty sure that's not the ideal place that Darkstalker's ghost would choose to haunt," said Venomtail. "Besides, he's not even dead. He enchanted himself to be immortal, remember? The Jade Winglet used the scraps of his scroll and enchanted him to fall back into his 'eternal slumber' so he wouldn't do anything like wipe out the IceWings."
"But I read somewhere that there's at least one actual ghost haunting the lost Kingdom of Night!" Cloudscorcher insisted. "The author of that scroll wrote, and I quote, 'Suddenly, from behind me, I could hear the rattling of chains. I whipped around, only to be met with empty space. As I looked around, scared out of my wits, I heard an eerie, echoing voice whisper in my ear, "What's the matter, scared?" I screamed as if I was being brutally murdered and flew out of the city as fast as I possibly could. I haven't gone anywhere close to the Kingdom of Night ever since, but I warn everyone I meet that there is a restless spirit haunting the ruins of the ancient city of the NightWings.' And what exactly would a story like that be doing in a scroll called 'Ten True Encounters with Supernatural Creatures'?"
The other Defenders were silent for a minute. "Hmmm. 'Ten True Encounters with Supernatural Creatures', eh?" said Fishhook at last. She reached into Venomtail's satchel, rummaged around for a short while, and finally pulled out a scroll. Unrolling it on the rock, she scanned it for any mention of a ghost.
"Let's see... ghost, ghost, ghost... ah, here. 'Plot-twist the TrickWing and the Ghost of the Lost City of Night'?" "Wasn't Plot-twist the author of 'Your Friends Think You're an Animus and Other Ways to Trick People'?" asked Terra Cotta. "Yeah, I think that was him. He also wrote 'How to Make Everyone Believe You're Psychic' and 'I Burned the Carpet, Blamed the Dog, and Convinced Mom that I was Innocent'," said Shadowfang.
"You see, Cloud? There's no ghost in the lost Kingdom of Night," said Icetalon. "Plot-twist made it all up like he always does. And even if there was a ghost, we wouldn't have to worry about it because we probably won't even have to go there." "...Okay, I guess you're right," said Cloudscorcher sheepishly. "It was stupid to think that a world-famous liar was telling the truth for once."
After a while, the Defenders were up in the air again, making their way to Pyrrhia. The rest had let them recover some of their old carefreeness. Fishhook and Icetalon often dove down towards the water, skimming the surface with their wings and splashing it over each other. Cloudscorcher was doing loops in the air and even tackled Terra Cotta a few times. Venomtail had taken Scamper and Patch out of the satchel and allowed them to ride atop his head, and Crossfade was telling jokes to everyone.
"Hey Shad. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey Shad. Hey Shad. Hey. Shad. Shad. Shad. Hey. Hey Shad." Shadowfang groaned. "What is it, Crossfade?" he asked his best friend. "Okay okay, so, like, there's a SeaWing, a mountain lion, and a potato," said Crossfade. "And, the SeaWing is like, he's all like..." Rolling his eyes, Shadowfang tuned out the RainWing to avoid hearing the joke.
Joke? Ha! Rainbow's got the humor of a bag of sand, said a familiar voice. Shadowfang jumped slightly, but Crossfade apparently didn't notice. Cipher? Is that you? he asked. But I thought DreamWings could only enter dreams? Cipher chuckled. Oh we can, but let's just say... I have my ways, Cipher replied mysteriously. But I can only contact you for a short amount of time, and only every now and then. I just wanted to check if this worked, and it just so happens that I managed to drop into your head just as Rainbow started telling his so-called 'joke'.
How is this even possible? Are you a Mindscaper? Is your Mindscape power being able to enter people's heads at any time? Nah, nothing like that, said Cipher. Suddenly, Shadowfang thought that he could hear a door being opened. Oh, geez, gotta go! said Cipher, sounding terrified for the first time since Shadowfang "met" him. Wait! Cipher, what's wrong? The NightWing tried mentally calling out to the DreamWing several times, hoping for an answer. But it was no use.
Reluctantly, Shadowfang tuned back into Crossfade. "...So then the mountain lion says, 'You can't force-feed a potato to a fish!' Haha!" said the RainWing, bursting into a laughing fit. Shadowfang offered a courtesy laugh, but then he spotted something on the horizon. A long strip of land, covered in trees.
"Guys, look!" he exclaimed, pointing forward. "Pyrrhia, dead ahead!"
The seven dragonets all put on bursts of speed at the sight of the mainland. They all seemed to silently agree at a race to see who could get there first, since they just flapped harder and harder every time someone passed them. Shadowfang thought that Cloudscorcher would have won, seeing as how she was a SkyWing, but she had apparently decided to give her friends a fair chance.
As they got closer to the line of trees, Shadowfang could see a beach between the trees and the ocean, covered in white sand. It stretched on for miles in both directions, and beyond it, the trees didn't seem to ever end. Rocks, both large and small, dotted the shoreline, and a large sea turtle was lazily crawling into the water. The dragonets swooped down towards the beach, and, for the first time in their lives, touched down on unfamiliar land.
"Wow!" said Icetalon. "This is the biggest beach I've ever seen! Bigger than four Edge Islands, I think." "This sand is so soft!" exclaimed Venomtail, flopping to the ground and burying his face in the sand. "It's like silk in sand form!"
"Okay, if someone could please pull Ven out before he becomes part of the beach, we can get going again," said Shadowfang. "Do we HAVE TO?" whined Crossfade. "Shad, my wings are KILLING ME. I swear, if I have to fly one more inch I think they're gonna fall off." Shadowfang groaned and clapped a talon over his face. "Okay, fine, we'll walk for a while."
Fishhook reached into Venomtail's satchel and pulled out a scroll. Unrolling it on a nearby rock, she said, "Hang on. We don't even know where we are. If what Peck said is true about the Rainforest Kingdom being the closest kingdom to Edge Island, then we have to find out exactly which part of the kingdom we're at is. If we don't, we'll probably just keep going westward, thinking that we'll end up in either the RainWing or the NightWing villages, when in reality we'll eventually find ourselves in the LeafWing slash AviWing kingdom." "Or worse, right into Timebender's talons," added Terra Cotta.
Shadowfang rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Huh. You have a point there." An idea suddenly struck him. "Let me see that map." Fishhook gave him a confused/curious look, but passed it to him anyway. Spreading it onto the sand, he placed one talon on it, another on his clamp, closed his eyes, and said, "Enchant this scroll to always show the current location of the Defenders."
As he opened his eyes, seven small, red dots formed on the picture of Pyrrhia. Since the continent was shaped like a giant dragon, the dots were all down where its "back legs" were. Three more dots quickly popped up: one in the Kingdom of Dreams, one in the SwiftWing kingdom, and one in the space between the Ice Kingdom and the Kingdom of Sand.
"There," said Shadowfang. "We're close to the NightWing village. We should head there first." "Whoa...," breathed Cloudscorcher. "I know I've said this a million times already, but I never get tired of seeing you use your powers." "What are those three other dots for?" asked Icetalon. Shadowfang shrugged. "I don't know. They must be the locations of the other three Defenders. I guess now we know where we can find them." Trust me, Dagger will find you first, came Cipher's voice, right before fading away again. Shadowfang raised an eyebrow upon hearing this, but he didn't bother calling out to the DreamWing this time.
Traveling on foot in the jungle was tedious, but not as much as flying through it. The Defenders had left the beach far behind them, and had been walking for roughly two hours by now. There were too many trees and vines and whatever to run into while up in the air, so they had opted to go by land for the time being.
Along with being overcrowded by plants, the jungle was incredibly noisy. Birds sang and chirped and warbled and cawed in almost every direction. Bugs hovered about the dragonets' ears and buzzed annoyingly into them. Far off in the distance, a tapir grunted. And there were at least five cicadas screaming their heads off at each other somewhere up in the trees.
"Can we stop for a while? My feet hurt," said Terra Cotta. Shadowfang sighed. "Those of you who need to rest, raise your talons," he said. Terra Cotta, Crossfade, Venomtail, and Cloudscorcher raised their talons. Shadowfang sighed again. "You got five minutes."
While the other dragonets rested, Shadowfang flapped up to a nearby tree and sat down on one of its branches. Am I being too rough with them? he thought to himself. I mean, I want them to take this whole destiny thing a little more seriously, but I don't want them to think I'm being pushy. What if they stop being friends with me if I keep this up?
A sudden thought - not one of his, someone else's - rushed into his brain. What are they even doing here? Startled, he nearly fell off his branch, but he managed to catch his balance. Someone else is here.
Quickly, Shadowfang flew back down to the jungle floor and ran over to his friends. "Guys, someone else-" He was cut off by a whizzing sound, and then a thunk. The seven dragonets whipped around to find a dart embedded into the trunk of a tree. "Ambush!" shouted Icetalon.
Another dart shot out of seemingly nowhere, heading straight for Venomtail. Luckily, the SandWing managed to roll out of the way just in time. "Who's there?" he said threateningly. "Show yourself! Or yourselves, if there's more than one of you!"
Suddenly, a voice cut through the trees. "LIFETAKER! What do you think you're doing?!?" At the sound of the voice, a purple dragon promptly materialized in front of the seven dragonets. "Oh great, here comes the Fun Police," he groaned, rolling his eyes.
Three more dragons materialized, surrounding the hybrid. One was an obvious Rain/NightWing hybrid, with dark green scales, a RainWing-type body and a NightWing head and wings. One was a black NightWing with silver underscales and rainbow stars under his wings. The third dragon, a full-blooded RainWing, had brownish-black scales with a small white crest in the center of his chest. His eyes were narrowed into a glare as he looked down at the dragon apparently named "Lifetaker".
"What are you doing, Lifetaker?" the brownish-black dragon growled. "Nothiiiiing.....," said Lifetaker, albeit not very convincingly. "Oh yeah, sure, like how you were doing 'nothing' when you knocked out that ambassador from the Mud Kingdom?" said the NightWing. "We had to put him in intensive care 'cuz of you!"
The RainWing sighed and stepped towards the Defenders. "I apologize for my student," he said. "He still needs to learn that patrolling is serious business." "Oh, uh, t-that's okay," said Shadowfang. "We're, uh, sorry for distracting your student?" The RainWing laughed. "You're not from around here, are you?" "Well, as a matter of fact, no. My name's Shadowfang, and that's Crossfade, Icetalon, Fishhook, Cloudscorcher, Venomtail, and Terra Cotta. What are your names?"
"Tasmanian Devil, but most people just call me Taz," said the RainWing. "You've already met Prince Lifetaker, rebellious son of Queen Glory and King Deathbringer. That's Princess Victory, Lifetaker's sister, and the NightWing is Peacemaker. He's part RainWing, too, hence the rainbow stars on his wings."
"So, if you guys aren't from around here, where are you from?" asked Victory. "Oh, um..." Shadowfang rubbed the back of his neck. Vampire had told them not to tell anyone that they were part of a prophecy, but then their whole "we were raised on an island ten miles from here" story wouldn't make a lot of sense. "We were, uh..." "We were raised on a island, really far away from here," said Icetalon. "Our parents were all refugees from the War of the SandWing Succession, and they all fled to that island 'cuz then they'd be out of all conflict."
"Y-yeah!" agreed Venomtail. "They're all WAY too old to make the flight back to Pyrrhia anymore, but they said that we can go 'cuz they think we're finally old enough." "Wow, cool!" said Peacemaker. "Kinda like the Dragonets of Destiny! Y'know, hatched and raised together, isolated from the rest of the world." It goes deeper than that, Shadowfang thought solemnly. Like the Dragonets, we're part of a prophecy, too.
"Well, how's about the seven of you come with us to the NightWing village?" said Taz. "It's kind of customary for new visitors to the rainforest to go there first of all. Victory, go tell your parents to meet us in the pavilion." "Aye-aye, sir!" said Victory, saluting, then turning around and flying off. "Dragonets, follow us. Peacemaker, try to keep Lifetaker in line."
The RainWing and the two hybrids took off into the air, and the dragonets followed them. Unlike them, the three older dragons had no trouble with navigating through the trees, probably due to them living in the rainforest their whole lives. Instead of flying, they gripped the branches and vines with their tails and then glided through the air. Crossfade attempted this a few times, only to either hit a tree trunk or get tangled up in vines, earning laughs from the whole group.
As they made their way to the NightWing village, Peacemaker struck up a friendly conversation with Shadowfang. He was mostly just asking about what it was like for them on their island home - how big the island was, how far it was from Pyrrhia, and how they managed to keep up-to-date on current events like the end of the war. Shadowfang, of course, had to stretch the truth a little, just in case.
There was something rather... off about Peacemaker, although Shadowfang just couldn't put his claw on it. He seemed as happy-go-lucky as any RainWing, but there was just something... familiar about him. Shadowfang could almost swear that Peacemaker reminded him of someone he had read about in several different scrolls before. But, that couldn't be the case. Could it?
Suddenly, Shadowfang screeched to a stop and clutched his head with both talons. He was having a vision. He and Peacemaker were standing in a clearing together, the light of one full moon shining down on them. Peacemaker was... shapeshifting? He looked like he was getting bigger, and changing, his scales darkening, his horns getting longer and more twisted. Suddenly, in the form of a prophecy, Shadowfang whispered,
"The one who stalked darkness
Was said to be heartless.
The one who makes peace
Will finally cease."
Groaning, Shadowfang opened his eyes. Apparently, no one had noticed him suddenly stop or hear his weirdly vague, cryptic prophecy, because no one had slowed down or turned around to help him. Shaking his head, he put on a burst of speed to catch up with them. What was that about? he thought, not sure if he was asking himself or Cipher. I'm... I'm not sure, said Cipher, his voice faint but there. Just... keep an eye on Peacemaker for the time being. I have a bad feeling about that dragon...