Something to get in your way
This a story that I started to write on the back of a work sheet in school before I ever joined any Wiki. Heart of Magic is copyrighted to Bogthemudwing. Grain, Frazil, and Icepick are copyrighted OCs of Bogthemudwing. If you see any spelling mistakes, please correct. If it's a grammar problem, I probably did that on purpose. Now, if you're anything like me, you don't like long paragraphs in front of what you're reading, so I'll just get out of your way now.
Dedicated to Luckybird7756...
Grain flew with his troops towards the stronghold. He wasn't eager to storm Burn's home, but he had to free the prisoners somehow, and there was no other way. He looked at the other dragons in the formation. Seven SandWings in an arrow shape in middle of ten other flight formations of SandWings and IceWings.
As he spotted Burn's stronghold on the horizon, Grain couldn't help thinking that they were screwed.
A light blue IceWing Grain knew to be Frazil broke away from her troop to fly next to Grain. "We're going back to have a word with the Queens Glacier and Blaze," she told him.
They turned together to go back to Blaze's palace. As they did, Grain looked back with twinge of guilty relief at the eleven flights of SandWings and IceWings. He didn't think they would survive to tell about their expierence.
Icepick was just starting to get the hang of it.
He had been trying to make the quill move for over four hours. No luck. He concentrated as hard as he could. Just when it gave the tiniest little twitch in the word, there was a loud knock on his door, and he jumped. He roared in anger, causing several of his thousands of scrolls to fly off the shelves. Icepick frowned over at the scattered scrolls. Why could he only do things when he was angry?
There was another knock at the door, more urgent this time. He walked down the stairs of his tower, thinking about those scrolls. One of them had looked awfully familiar. Icepick had begun reading the entire library after he found out his father had been a talon of peace. That was when he was a year old, when he was still learning to read, and he wasn't even close to finished. But there was something about that one scroll that made him terribly, unbearably sad.
Icepick had reached the door. He opened the door and then his mouth, ready to give the dragon on the other side a piece of his mind. But he never got to say anything. As soon as the door opened, a dragonet as blue as cobalt glass tackled him. His only thought was of the irony that he was being pinned to his own floor.
The SeaWing on top of him looked about six. His own age. Icepick had lived in the tower by himself ever since he was two years old. He had kept his sanity by reading. This was a dragonet, like him. Someone he immediately didn't trust.
She covered his mouth before he could speak. "Where do you keep your food?"
Icepick was bewildered. A SeaWing dragonet had just broken into his tower, pinned him to the floor, and interupted his practice, then demanded food. This had never to him before. He could only stare blankly up at her.
"Fine, I'll find it myself." She got up and ran up the stairs. When Icepick reached the top of the tower, The SeaWing was going through his food basket. She picked out a large fish and ripped it apart with her teeth.
"Why didn't you kill me?" he managed to ask.
"Why didn't learn to fight?" she replied, still tearing at the fish.
Icepick slammed his talons down on the floor. "I just spent four hours staring at piece of a dead chicken's butt! DO NOT JUMP ME LIKE THAT AND THEN TELL ME THAT I'M A BAD FIGHTER!"
The just dragonet laughed at his anger. "Calm down, Frosty, I was just kidding." She seemed to be very ammused by Icepick's rage. "Have a fish."
It was like she thought she owned the place. Her laugh was really getting on Icepick's nerves.
"What do want?" he asked.
I need a guide to the oasis on the other side of the Sand Kingdom," she told him. "My friends are there."
For some reason, Icepick had a distinct feeling that she was important. It was an extremely annoying feeling. "I'm Icepick. I guess I kind of have to take you, huh?"
The Dragonet finished Icepick's fish. "Yeah, because I'm kidnapping you, and your gonna tell me where to go."
Icepick really didn't like her now. He asked her, "May I please know the name of my kidnapper?"
She suddenly sat up all regal and mockingly superior. "Yes you may. My name is Tsunami."
Grain couldn't believe what he was hearing.
The SandWing had just been pulled from a suicide mission. Then he had found out that it was to go on another suicide mission. He could only stare at Queen Glacier. She was giving him a look that clearly said she thoght he was an idiot. Queen Blaze didn't even apear to be listening to the conversation.
"No offense Your Majesty and Your Other Majesty-" Glacier rolled her eyes as Grain spoke, "-But are you sure I'm the right dragon for the job? Frazil over there seems more than capable of finding him."
Blaze spoke up for the first time, "Why, that's a great idea! Frazil, you can go with him!"
"WHAT!" they both screamed at the same time. The two dragons protested and in the echoing room, Grain could't even tell what HE was saying.
Queen Glacier didn't like that one bit.
"SHUT UP!" she yelled, "Look you two. Icepick was a very powerful fighter who just magically disappeared. As you can imagine, I'm in a mood. So, I don't care if you don't like each other. I don't care if one of you doesn't like the way the other one snores. I want my soldier back, and with him gone, you two are the best options I have. So you better come back with a magic spitting IceWing between the two of you, OR I WILL PULL OFF ALL OF YOUR LIMBS WITH A FISHHOOK!"
Blaze looked very surprised by the other queen's savagery. "You had better do what she says," she told him, "I once saw her pull a dragon's wings off with her bare talons!" She looked over at Queen Glacier admiringly, like she couldn't ask for a better (or more violent) friend.
Grain was sizing up Frazil. She looked about eleven, only a year older than himself, but she had scars everywhere. The edges of her wings were tattered and torn. It was a wonder she had been able to fly earlier. She was strong looking and good at staring people down. But it wouldn't work on Grain. Grain was a good fighter and prided himself on being very logical and strategic.
Frazil seemed as alright as a dragon gets these days, slightly hostile, but not someone Grain would immediately single out as an enemy. The scars were a bit frightening, probably not something to joke about, which meant that for now, he didn't have much material. But how was he supposed to get along with a dragon he couldn't joke about?
An hour later, Grain was flying away towards the Sand kingdom with Frazil beside him, and a bag of supplies slung over his shoulder.
Frazil was still staring at him like a dead fish.
"What are looking at me like that for?" he asked.
"Nothing," she said and looked forward.
Tsunami really was a pain in the tail.
When Icepick didn't recognized her name she just shrugged like she didn't think he would have. Now they were standing behind the tower, each with a bag of supplies. In front of them was a life sized statue of a dragon that Icepick had been told he looked exactly like. He glanced at Tsunami, who was looking at the statue curiously. He hoped she wouldn't notice the resemblance.
He reached out to the statue. It grasped is talons, making Tsunami jump back with a hiss of alarm. But Icepick ignored her. He leaned in close to the stone IceWing and whispered, "Open the way."
It snapped back into place. Tsunami stared disbelievingly between the statue and the dragonet as the ice around it's base fell away. They were left with a large hole in the ground with a spire of ice in the middle, the stone statue of Icepick's father standing on the top.
"Whoa," Tsunami said, "That was amazing. Are you an animus?"
Icepick whipped around angrily to face the SeaWing dragonet. "I spent three years waiting for the statue to get done building this thing! Do you know how freaking long three years is? Not to mention how long it took just to find a stupid lump of rock big enough to carve into it! OF COARSE I'M AN ANIMUS! WHAT THE FREAK DO YOU THINK!" Icepick took a deep breath. "Come on. This leads straight to the oasis."
He jumped into the hole, keeping his wings spread to slow the fall. He heard Tsunami's wings flutter as she jumped down after him. "You need to learn to not get so mad over the smallest things," she told him. Amazingly, Icepick didn't become angry over this. He knew she was right. He had been alone in the tower ever since he was three, only leaving it when Queen Glacier sent him into battle. He had grown up believing that nothing was worth it, that no one could be a friend. But he new that was no excuse to yell at this dragonet. Full grown dragons were always battle-hardened, and mean. As he landed, he thought about the way Tsunami had laughed at his anger. Could she be any different than the dragons on the battle-field?
Icepick was speechless when he saw the tunnel. It was six dragons tall and three times as wide, with a deep river that extended all the way to the other side. But Icepick had been young and stupid when he had ordered his father's statue to dig it out, so he hadn't thought to make it light the place up. He stepped forward, and imediately tripped over something that was probably a dead animal.
Icepick pulled himself up. He was so amazed by the statue's work that he didn't even get mad at Tsunami for laughing at him.
"Wow," they both said at the same time. After a few seconds, Icepick noticed a glow emitting from somewhere behind him. He turned and was surprised to find that it was Tsunami.
He turned back around, and they both started down the tunnel.
Neither dragonet noticed the dark shape that was following them in the water on the opposite side of the river.
Frazil was humiliated.
She had been flying in the direction of Burn's stronghold with the perfect plan. A plan that she couldn't even remember now, thanks to this little twerp of a dragon crouching next to her. She looked over at Grain with pure hate. How could her queen put her on such an important mission with this? He was just dead weight. What use was he supposed to be?
Grain turned around with a small piece of cactus in his talons. To be fair, he was pretty smart. The cactus might be helpful in the future. But he was just so slow!
"I'm not that useless, you know," Grain said suddenly.
"How did you know I was thinking that?" she asked.
"I've got smarticles in my thought machine," He said with a confident smile, "You should listen when I say we should stop."
Frazil was trying to figure out what smarticles were. Grain took off, and she followed. There was a small village up ahead that seemed to have a lot of activity. They decided that Frazil should probably stay, because it was obviously one of the villages that Burn controlled. It was so weird how you could just always tell.
Frazil stood behind a small sandstone building, playing with a mouse that kept trying to escape from her talons. After a while, she got bored and just decided to eat it. Grain came back with no information.
"Maybe we should go and check out his tower," Frazil tried, "What if Icepick just got drunk and passed out over his scrolls."
Grain looked appalled. "He was only, like, six, ya big ding-dong!"
Frazil frowned at him. "How do you know that?" she asked, turning her head sideways.
Grain smiled, as if it were obvious, then said, "I can read, unlike some dragons I know." He leaped off the ground, beating his wings to fly. Frazil spread her blue wings to follow, but... Something hissed. Something small by the sound of it, but if it was brave enough to alert a full grown dragon, then it must have known it was deadly. Frazil turned around slowly to face the animal.
Rearing up before her was a sixteen foot long cobra.
Frazil heard a gasp above her as Grain saw her danger. She flicked her tail at him to keep quiet. The cobra had eyes that glittered deep blue, like the flame of the burning aluminum wrappers Frazil had taken from the various candies she had eaten as a dragonet. It was slimy looking and black and seemed to just be able to MAKE her feel afraid.
This same kind of snake had killed her family three years ago.
Suddenly Frazil was eight years old again. She was flying to her parents home in the Sand Kingdom for a winter visit. She could never understand why they would want to live in such a place. It was hot and dirty and it never, ever, snowed. But she loved her parents, and would always visit them in the winter.
She landed on the desert sand and looked happily over at the sandstone house. The smile left her face as soon as she saw it. There was no sign of life from inside. Nobody came out the door to greet Frazil. No friendly face smiled at her from the door frame.
She walked slowly inside, dreading what she might find. Had Burn's forces finally found the two IceWings living on their land? No. Frazil had expected to see the interior of the house askew, demolished, destroyed! What she got was much worse.
Her mother was lying over her drawing of Frazil's likeness with a smile on her face. A teardrop was splattered on the table as if she had died only a few minutes ago. There was a snake bite on her left thumb.
Her father was on the floor next to her with an expression of pain on his face. He had been bitten just above one eye.
Frazil had never cried before that day. She had never even seen another dragon cry. But right there, as she glimpsed an enormous black snake leaving out the window, she felt like the bottom had dropped out of her eyes. She buried her parents in their own back-yard that night, and joined Queen Glacier's army the next day.
And now, a snake just like that one sat coiled up in front of her.
It struck, blue eyes flashing, and Frazil hit it with a blast of cold air. It hit the ground at her feet, stiff with frozen flesh. Frazil stared down at the cobra for a second, then started to cry again. She didn't even try to stop when Grain landed next to her. She felt his wings wrap around her, and leaned into him.
"Your gonna be fine," he promised, "Tell me everything."
Frazil began telling him the story of her parents death between sobs.
Grain was a great listener.
Icepick was bored.
Tsunami was asleep on the ground next to him, but her scales hadn't stopped glowing, so he could still see. He took a fish from the pile she had hunted from the river, and ate it.
Icepick always had trouble sleeping. The memory of his mother's suicide kept him awake at night, coming to him in his dreams and haunting him until he jerked awake, so why bother? But eventually, he felt sleep's embrace. His eyes closed.
He was in his tower three years ago. His mother stroked his icecicle like mane of horns. She got up suddenly, and picked up a quill and a piece of paper.
She wrote, "Icepick, you know I love you, don't you?"
Icepick looked up in surprise. "Of coarse I do! I love you, too!" Her face was solemn. Even more solemn than usual.
She took the paper from him and wrote again, but this time her talons were shaky, as if she had just made a horrible decision. She gave it back. It read, "I'm sorry, Icepick, I have to go."
"Where are you going?" he asked, getting scared now.
She wrote on the paper again, "A better place, a place where I can be at peace."
Icepick didn't know what to make of what he was reading. He stared up at his mother, who was shaking all over. "How long will you be gone?"
She touched his face. Icepick new what she was going to do. His jaw dropped. He was so thunderstruck that he didn't even make an attempt to stop her. His mother took her talons off of his face and took a deep breath.
A spot of Ice appeared on her chest and started to spread. She froze from the inside out and Icepick never even had a chance to do anything about it.
The ice dragonet woke up crying and sweating. He checked to make sure Tsunami hadn't seen, but she was still asleep. He turned over and tried to sleep again, but remembered the scroll that had fallen from the shelf in his tower. He pulled it out of his bag and read it. It was the letter he had received from the Talons of Peace when his father's body was found! The letter that had traumatized his mother so much that she had lost her speech. The letter that caused her to freeze herself two years later.
He threw it into the river in disgust.
Grain felt very awkward now.
Frazil had trusted him with a secret that could never be told. He new he could keep it, that his own secret would keep him from ever cracking, but it felt so strange to know how this dragon's parents had died. He glanced over at the IceWing sleeping on the other side of the fire. He hoped she wasn't having any bad dreams.
Grain shook himself mentally. Right now, he couldn't be bothered by another dragon's well-being. He needed to focus on the task at hand. A scorpion burrowed it's way out of the sand in front of his nose. He jabbed at it's head with one claw, killing it instantaneously. Grain then proceeded to cut it open at the stomach. What did he know about a scorpion's biology?
He removed all of the organs from the scorpion carefully, then set them down in a line in front of him. He ate the rest of it with pleasure, even though he thought it sucked.
Grain dissected fourteen more scorpions in the night. Frazil seemed pretty surprised when she saw the organized lines of small arachnid organs on the ground. Grain pointed over to a pile of scorpion bodies next to the remains of the fire, "Eat up, we have a long day ahead of us."
"Did you sleep at all last night?" she asked, picking up a scorpion.
"No, of coarse not! There were bad things everywhere!" Grain was pleased by the way she was looking at the ground, like she thought one of them might come out of nowhere and sting her. "Don't worry, all of these have had there venom glands removed."
Grain waited patiently for Frazil to finish eating, then they took to the sky. A half hour later, they reached Icepick's tower. On the way, Grain thought about Frazil's behavior. Earlier, she had looked at him like she was trying to scare him off the mission. She didn't seem to exactly like him now, but at least she wasn't trying to stare him to death. He decided to say something funny to test her.
"Hey Frazil!" She turned her head. "Do you like cheese?"
She put on a confused expression. "Not really. Why?"
Grain smiled. "Because I've got a cheesy joke for ya'." Then he just stared at her silently, waiting for a reaction.
"What's the joke?"
"I'm waiting for you to tell me."
"But, I thought you were gonna tell me a joke."
"Who told you that?"
"I don't remember that."
"I think I would remember that."
"Think back about thirty seconds."
"Dude, you know I don't think, my brain is too fast to to to to to to to... Uh..."
Frazil actually smiled. "Think?"
Grain grinned at her. Mission accomplished. "Yeah! That!"
They stood in the tower room looking around. Grain really liked this guy's decorating style. The room was pretty simple. There was a food basket next to a pile of animal skins Grain guessed Icepick probably slept on, and a table in the middle with a few quills and empty scrolls, not much else.
Except for the shelves lined with thousands and thousands of scrolls.
Grain picked up a scroll about rock fish, and started reading at hyper-speed. Frazil came from around the corner of a shelf and spent, like, fifteen minutes trying to get his attention.
"What?" Grain said.
Frazil was looking very annoyed. "He isn't here, and now we have no leads!"
"Oh, he went to the oasis on the far side of the Sand Kingdom," he told her, going back to the rock fish scroll.
She raised her eyebrows at him, "How do you know that?" she asked.
"He left a note on the door." He handed her a piece of paper.
She threw it over her shoulder without reading it. "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked angrily.
Grain replied without looking up from his scroll, "Because I knew you'd be upset if I didn't." Frazil looked like she was ready to explode on him, but then she just laughed. Grain finished the scroll and they left in high spirits for the oasis.
She's not that bad after all, Grain thought happily as he took off.
The next morning, Icepick was just out of it.
But Tsunami refused to hear his complaining. She shoved him onto his feet, forcing him to walk. He was still amazed by what the statue had done in the last three years. He simply couldn't believe that one lump of stone could make such a wide area like this in so little time.
Tsunami splashed at his face from the water. She laughed loudly as Icepick got a drop up his nose, and started to choke, "Bulls eye!"
Icepick glared at her, "I was thinking there, you jerk!" She didn't seem to be troubled at all by the malice in his voice.
The SeaWing looked around, then turned to Icepick curiously, "Why do you have a tunnel to the other side of the world in your back-yard, anyway?"
He thought for a moment. Why had he done it? It seemed rather odd to have such a thing anywhere in his home. "I guess I just wanted to have a place to fall back to."
Tsunami cocked her head sideways, and asked, "But why a tunnel? Why did you need to dig a new route, when you could just fly?"
Icepick glanced over at her. She was looking at him with an expression of interest that he had never seen before. He remembered back to a psychology scroll he had read when he was trying to turn a monocle into a mind reader. She actually wanted to hear what he had to say!
He sighed, then launched into the story before he could look back. "When I was one year old, I got a letter from the Talons of Peace. It said my dad's body was found in a ravine in the Sky Kingdom. He was dead at least a year before they found him. My mom was so traumatized, she lost her ability to speak," He could feel his voice getting shakier, but he kept his eyes forward. "She killed herself when I was three, and I buried her in the desert. I made the statue of my dad a few weeks later, and set it to work digging out this tunnel. It came back just a month before you arrived."
Icepick could feel Tsunami staring at him like she wanted to say something, but didn't quite know how.
He went on, "He was found with a deep puncture wound in his head, down past the skull," He was having trouble making the words sound like words now. "His wings were shredded, and he had SandWing venom in his veins." Icepick stopped walking, trying not to be overwhelmed by grief. Tsunami stopped in the water, still giving him that odd look.
"Do you know his name?" she asked, as if it was the most important question in the world.
"No," he answered, frowning, "Anybody who could have told me is either dead, or hiding."
Tsunami climbed halfway out of the river, then got back in uneasily. Words from Icepick's psychology scroll came back to him in a blur. He asked her, "Do you... know something?"
Tsunami looked him in the eyes. She seemed to be trying to decide how best to answer.
Icepick had only known the SeaWing dragonet for a few days, but she had never hesitated. "Spill it!" he demanded.
She swallowed hard, then said, "I think I know who your dad is."
Icepick couldn't believe it. She knew who his father was! He felt his heart beat speeding up. He had been searching, for as long as he could remember, for that one little shred of information that would put him at peace. That one piece of a giant puzzle that would make everything so much clearer! A name. A name that he could take to his library, and look for in every scroll until he found it, hidden away in a place where he could get to it and know, with certainty, who his father was.
"Do you know his name?" he asked.
Tsunami nodded, then seemed to look for a way for it to be otherwise. "His name was Hvitur."
Frazil and Grain were flying.
Well, Grain was, but Frazil kept thinking back to the cobra encounter. When Grain had told her to tell him everything, she hadn't held back a single detail. And he hadn't spoken at all while she told him every detail. He had done nothing but keep hugging her until she was done crying, and then taken off like nothing happened. Frazil was sure there were many times when he wanted to say something but he had held himself back for some reason.
Frazil trusted Grain a little more, now. But there was still a lingering feeling of awkwardness between them. He new something that could never be told to anyone. After she joined the army, no one had ever asked about Frazil's family, and she'd never had a problem with that, but now it came back to bite her, and that sucked.
Grain didn't seem to think there was anything wrong, though. He seemed to be the type of dragon who was confident in himself in every aspect. Grain was sure of himself, and thought that he had an advantage over everyone and wasn't afraid to use it. He wasn't the first one she'd ever met, but he was by far the most annoyingly confident one. Frazil didn't think he would tell anyone unless he absolutely had to. She also didn't think he would last long enough to come into that sort of situation.
He looked back, and Frazil looked away quickly. He slowed down to fly next to her. "Hey," he yelled over the wind, "There should be a village here where they'll let you come in to sleep!"
Frazil swooped down below the clouds. A crowd of sandstone and wooden structures dotted the sand dunes. She looked up to say something to Grain, but he was gone. Frazil didn't even have time to be confused before he shot past her, shouting with pleasure at the top of his lungs as he plummeted.
Frazil stared after him. There did seem to be one major difference between Grain and any other dragon like him. Grain apparently liked to fall out of the sky. Anyone else would associate that with getting blown up. She dived after him.
The other IceWings that were there were jerks, many of them were drunken, and they all smelled like they'd been taking smoke baths instead of actually cleaning themselves. The SandWings weren't much better. They stayed sober, but they were constantly trying to steal things from every dragon in sight.
Grain didn't seem to be bothered by the chaos of the town. "I grew up in a place a lot like this," he told her as a he tripped a running SandWing with his tail and took his wallet, "You can't survive if you don't learn to steal, and steal fast. But if you have courage, charm, and can run real fast, then you may just make it in the not very big city!"
Frazil laughed. Grain seemed to really like making jokes.
The two dragons walked on, both completely unsuspecting of the SeaWing watching them from a distant alley.
Icepick was overjoyed. That had never happened to him before.
"Hvitur! Tsunami, I could kiss you right now!" It was the first time he could remember yelling without being mad.
She backed up, "Um... Ew."
Icepick only laughed, "Not really! It's a metaphor." He ran down the side of the river. The other dragonet swam up next to him. She seemed relieved, like she thought he might take this new information badly. But why would he ever do that? It was the greatest news in Pyyria!
Icepick was so happy, his usually alert ears didn't pick up the sound of the thing in the water. He vaulted into the air. It had been far too long since he had done any fancy flying. He spun, somersaulted, and twirled in the air until he found his wings tiring and latched onto the wall, smiling ear to ear.
After a few minutes, he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. Something big. Something that was black, white, and hungry.
"Tsunami!" he warned, leaping off of the wall. She turned, not hesitating to take action. She jumped over the animal's head, flashing her stripes to confuse it. Icepick swooped down and circled it's head, slashing at it's face and eyes. It went under the water, and Tsunami followed it, taking her glow with her. Icepick stayed in the air. He didn't dare move, lest he crash into something and fall unconcous in the dark tunnel. He waited. A minute passed. Two minutes. Three. He was starting to get nervous now. How long would Tsunami be able to hold her breath?
He nearly slapped himself on the forehead. Duh! She was SeaWing, she didn't even need to hold her breath! The creature's mouth was pretty big though. It could've easily bitten either dragonet in half. Icepick scanned his memory for anything about it. He figured it was closest to a killer whale.
The water began to glow. Tsunami was resurfacing! The whale burst out of the river with the other dragonet on it's nose, blood trickling over it's massive face. Icepick jumped back into the fight as she jumped back into the water.
Then he got an idea. He hovered several feet above the battle, concentrating. He could feel magic pouring from his heart, seeping into the crags and cracks all over the cavern walls. Tsunami let out a yell of warning, but Icepick couldn't lose his concentration. As the whale shot out of the water with it's mouth open, ready to bite Icepick in half, something pummeled into it from the side. Icepick grinned down at his creation. A stone octopus was wrapping it's arms around the whales throat. Over kill, He thought as the octopus brought down all of it's arms on the attacker's head.
Tsunami slammed her tail down on the other side of the river, making a wave that certainly lived up to her name. Half-way there, Icepick blasted it with his own cold breath. The octopus leaped away as a mass of ice bigger than both dragonets together slammed into the whale's body. It didn't move again.
Icepick was so tired. He lost all the strength in his wings, having been tired before the fight even started. He landed on something cold and hard. He waited until his breathing slowed down, then started to think. The killer whale probably got in through the hole at the beginning of the tunnel. But surely they were under the Kingdom of Sand by now? He wondered where it started for the first time. He heard Tsunami calling his name. She must have pulled herself onto the land.
"I'm alright," he answered, relishing sleepily in the coldness of the ground below him. He frowned, but kept his eyes closed. This ground didn't feel like the stone of the tunnel. It was smoother, colder, more likable under his cold natured scales. It... It felt like.. Ice! He hauled his body up off the ice, and opened his eyes.
As Icepick looked around, he started to feel very small. He jabbed his knife-like claws into the ice, curled his tail in close. His talons squeezed with the tightness of his stomach. He was paralyzed with fear at the sight that he couldn't look anywhere without seeing. He was going to die here, he was sure of it.
Icepick was trapped in the middle of the river with a SeaWing dragonet shaking his shoulder.
Icepick was going to drown with nothing but a name, a library, and a forgotten fear that had kept him away from the Sea for years.
Why do some dragons have to be so darn stupid? Grain thought as a drunk IceWing hurled herself off the edge of the upper level.
The bar was dirty, smelled like sheep, and was full of drunk IceWings and thieving SandWings. But it was the only place that had rooms for rent, so they didn't have much choice. As Grain payed for his and Frazil's rooms (with money that may or may not have been his), he spotted a shady looking character in the corner who seemed to be watching him. The dragon wore a hood that covered most of their face, but judging from the green of his or her neck, they were probably a SeaWing.
Grain waved a wing at the dragon, who looked away quickly. Grain almost laughed.
"Who are you waving at?" Frazil asked.
"Nobody," he answered, feeling guilty at the lie. But it was such a small one. That was weird.
They went to check out their rooms. "How's yours?" he asked.
Frazil opened the door and wrinkled her snout before she even saw it. "Smells like a dead boar got left in there," she responded, "How about yours?"
Grain looked in, "I'm jelly of your room. At least somebody left you some free food!" She giggled, then went into her own room. Grain started to enter his, but he thought about that SeaWing from downstairs.
Without a second thought, he walked back down the stairs. The sounds of drunken dragons and exclaiming victims of thievery came back to his ears. He saw that the strange dragon was still sitting at the table, so he sat down.
The other dragon glanced up, but didn't tell him off. "Hey," Grain said boldly, "I saw you watching me on the other side of the bar." He looked Grain in the eye. He wore an expression of innocent confusion, but Grain wasn't stupid. In fact, he prided himself on being the smartest and most logical dragon he knew. And the most perceptive. He could see a lot of cunning behind the eyes of the SeaWing. He was obviously manipulative, smart, but not arrogant, a dragon who had a lot of experience controlling others. He thought Grain was just another moron trying to get a quick buck from a stranger in the crowd.
"Greetings," He said, in slow, drawling voice, "I am Anaklusmos. I was intrigued by the bag around your shoulders, as most of the SandWings here don't possess such luxuries as a place in which to keep belongings." Grain raised the ridges of his eyes, thrown off by the intelligent dialect. "I am sorry if I gave you the impression of ill intentions."
"Not at all," Grain said, deciding to let the conversation go on. He wanted to know as much as possible about this dragon before he dismissed the possibility of him being a threat. "I was just wondering what a SeaWing would be doing here in the middle of a town filled with IceWings and SandWings."
Anakusmos smiled, taking off his hood. "I suppose it was not difficult to deduce I was from another tribe. Are you going to attempt to kill me? I would love to see what tactics you might use." He had a face that Grain was pretty sure he had seen before, maybe in a scroll somewhere. He was certain that Anaklusmos wasn't the name that went with it though. He had very distracting earring.
Grain started to laugh. the SeaWing's confident smile didn't waver, but he seemed to realize he had been discovered. "O.K.," Grain said, "I know your name isn't Anaklusmos. You were looking at me earlier because you think you have something to gain from me. You're probably on the run from somewhere, more than likely the Sea Kingdom. And you haven't had a half way decent drink in a while either, I'm guessing." Grain whistled for a server. "So, how about you and me have a little contest. Winner gets all the information they want, no lying, no cry babying." Anaklusmos looked at Grain as though recalculating his intelligence quotient. Grain continued, speaking as the thought of the bargain came to him, "Loser gives up the info and pays the bill. We'll have ten shots of whatever you're hiding under the bar."
Anaklusmos squinted at Grain, apparently trying to figure out just how smart he really was. He finally answered in that same drawling tone as the server came back with ten small glasses of liquid that looked like they contained very high amounts of alcohol. "I accept your challenge. Let's see how high your blood alcohol capacity is."
Grain didn't worry until he heard Frazil's quiet whisper over his shoulder. "You better win."
Icepick hated having new emotions.
In the last day, (As far as he could tell in the darkness), Icepick had felt stressed, happy, and scared, then ashamed. All of these feelings were completely new to Icepick. He already hated them
Happiness had made him unalert, and if that hadn't happened, they could have avoided the entire killer whale fiasco. It had also made him fly the caverns in great loops of joy, which had cost him the energy needed to fight the whale. If he had been as energetic as he was before the flight session, it would never have been an issue.
Fear had made him look weak in front of another dragonet. Not that Icepick cared what anybody thought of him, but he didn't like being comforted, and he figured that was all Tsunami would do after being stuck on the ice.
Icepick didn't see anything wrong with being ashamed. But it was a feeling that made him angry at himself for being weak. He could make a snowstorm powerful enough to erode the roof from the IceWing Queen's palace. How was it that he was petrified by a few drops of water?
Tsunami had taken almost half an hour trying to pry Icepick's claws from the ice. He had kept his eyes closed the whole time. After that, he had remained heroically glued to the bank of the river, shivering with Tsunami's talons in his own. Moons, he hated being comforted! He had stopped shivering an hour later, about four hours ago.
Now they walked through the remainder of the dark tunnel, Icepick staring emotionlessly in front of him. Tsunami walked next to him with the same unfathomable expression. Icepick was thinking hard about what he would say. But there was nothing to be said.
Then he realized that Tsunami was no longer glowing. He looked ahead and saw that there was a light shining from the ceiling where it looked like there was a way out. Icepick started running, apparently jumping Tsunami, who ran after him as soon as she saw what he was looking at.
When he got there, he could see that there was a platform dug out half way up a hole in the ceiling where the tunnel ended. The platform was lit by floating orbs that cast a light so bright, it looked like it was day in here. Icepick flew up to it. There he found place in the wall slightly larger than his front talons, where he could put his claws through five holes, like key holes, and turn it.
Tsunami came up behind him sluggishly, carrying the stone octopus.
Icepick cleared his throat before speaking. "Why did you bring that?"
She glared. "You weren't really planning on leaving him down there?"
He sighed, then said, "It's a statue. It's made of rock and magic. It can see in the darkest cave in Pyyria with both of It's eyes gouged out, and swim the currents of any river with all It's arms chipped off."
"That doesn't make it right." She plopped the octopus on the stone, where it began to poke suspiciously at the lock.
Icepick didn't respond. He simply put his talons in the key holes and turned them clockwise.
As soon he was done, a horizontal telescoping door the shaped like four dragons standing in a circle with their wings spread began to open at the top of the tunnel. He couldn't help but be amazed at the massive work that his father's statue had put into this place.
A large amount of dirt and green plants and even a small lizard fell past them as the door opened. Icepick flew out into the open, and found a sight almost as beautiful as the icy planes of his home. Almost.
A wide river flowed south to somewhere Icepick couldn't be bothered to think about. To the north, he could see the ocean glimmering in the distance. A long distance of lush greenery extended on either side of the river like a green cloth Icepick had once used to clean grime off the side of a failed experiment that had exploded on the roof of his tower. Icepick recoiled at the memory, which had involved a musical instrument of some sort, an imported mountain goat, and a jar of gnats enchanted to blow up on contact with anything.
Tsunami and the stone octopus jumped into the river. "We should give him a name," She said.
Icepick turned towards her, eyeing the water warily. "Who?"
"The squid, you clodhopper!"
"First, It's an octopus. Second, I most certainly am not a clodhopper. Third, I suggest we find your friends soon so I can go home and read my scrolls, because I've about had it with adventure at this point."
"You sound a lot like my friend Starflight..."
Icepick really wished she hadn't said that. "Who's Starflight? That sounds like a NightWing name! Your friend is a NightWing?" Then it hit him. It hit hard. Tsunami hadn't killed him when she found his tower, even though IceWings and SeaWings were enemies in the Great War. She had known his father, Hvitur, and known that he was a member of the Talons of Peace. Now he found out that she was friends with a NightWing. He thought back to that strange feeling that Tsunami was somehow important to a larger cause when he had first met the SeaWing dragonet.
He listened intently as she began to relate the entire story of the dragonets of destiny, from Hvitur's death, to the replacement of the SkyWing, to the wrecking of two kingdoms.
Icepick was particularly interested in the fire-proof MudWing. And even the NightWing sounded kind of cool.
If Starflight was as smart as she said, then maybe he could help Icepick get over his fear of drowning.
Frazil sat up groggily in her room. She was having trouble remembering what had happened last night.
She settled on when she had gone into Grain's room. She was going to ask if She could sleep there, because hers was full of everything bad about the city. But of coarse, Frazil had been in places much worse than this dump before. The real reason she wanted to be in Grain's room for the night was because she felt safer with him. She was still on high alert from the cobra encounter, and didn't want to be alone if she didn't come back to Earth in time to blast another one.
But Grain wasn't in his room. Doesn't that dragon ever sleep, Frazil thought as she went down the stairs to the bar. She had found him at a table in the corner, talking to a green SeaWing with an earring. By the time she got there, he was ordering ten shots of anything with alcohol, arranging to have a drinking contest for information.
"You better win," she whispered over his shoulder. Grain had looked back and smiled at her with that crazy "I can do anything" smile and said, "You should be asleep," then calmly slammed his barbed tail on the table without looking back. The SeaWing sat back down.
"You're one to talk," she said, poking his snout.
Grain looked uncomfortable for a split second, then went back to his crazy grin of defiance. "This dragon says his name is Anaklusmos. I don't buy it." He turned back to the SeaWing.
Anaklusmos said, in a slow, drawling voice, "I assure you, I have no intention of doing you harm." He fingered his earing.
Snowflake addressed him with an accusing talon, "You shouldn't be here. The place is crawling with SeaWing enemies."
Grain glanced over his shoulder with another crazy grin. "That's what I said!" He high-fived her.
Anaklusmos sighed, looking down at the small drinks with distaste. He kept glancing at a glass that was already half empty at the corner of the table. "I suppose now is as good a time as any to begin."
Both dragons reached for a shot glass. Anaklusmos nearly spit his out in disgust.
Grain only drained his glass and gave the SeaWing a puzzled look."Do you not like it?" he asked, "I thought it was pretty good!"
Anaklusmos drank the rest of his shot and glared at Grain. "You seem to take pleasure in irking me. Do you really find it so amusing to make a fool out of me that you would be willing to risk losing valuable information to an enemy of Blaze?"
"Yes," Grain replied calmly. Anaklusmos didn't say anything else.
The dragon gave up after two more shots. "It tastes so terrible, I can't begin to have another glass."
After that, Frazil had taken a shot and everything else was fuzzy. But she did remember that Anaklusmos had revealed his name to be Whirlpool, that he had been tailing them since they entered the city, and pretty much his entire life story. Grain was certain he had been too drunk to lie.
Frazil suddenly realized there was steady snoring on the other side of the room. She looked up and recognized Grain sleeping in a heap at the other end of the pallet that had been made on the floor. He was smiling in his sleep, as if there was nothing in the world he could possibly have worried about. She stretched her sore legs and wings. Grain had taken at least three shots of that stuff as far as she could remember. It would be a while before he got up.
Frazil crept out of the room, went downstairs, and ordered a breakfast for two.
These dragonets better be worth all this trouble, Icepick thought.
Tsunami had said that now that they were at the oasis, Icepick could go home, but he had openly refused, saying that if the dragonets of destiny were really all that great, then he would have to meet the rest of them.
In truth, Icepick was angry with himself for getting into this mess in the first place. He wanted to meet the others so he could chew them out for losing Tsunami, and getting her lost on the other side of Pyyria. How in the world had thay managed to do that?
So Icepick was pretty bitter as he and Tsunami walked down the river. The stone octopus, who Tsunami had taken to calling Slugger, swam alertly alongside them, throwing every fish in the water onto the shore. Icepick was rather amused by this, despite everything.
"You should of called him Overkill," He told her.
She looked back. "Slugger works too, doesn't it?"
Icepick jumped as a tiger fish came down on the bank in front of him. "I guess."
He looked up, thinking he had heard wing beats. "Did you hear that?" he wispered.
"Yeah." Tsunami splashed soundlessly into the river, while Icepick crouched down low in a swath of vegetation. A dragonet landed on the banks, and plunged her nose into water.
The dragonet had a curious coloration. She was tawny gold and couldn't have been older than three. Icepick advanced slowly from behind. She sure drank a lot of water for a SandWing. Then he noticed that she didn't have the poisonous barb at the end her tail that would usually have told him a dragon was a SandWing. So what tribe was she from?
He grabbed her tail from behind, and covered her mouth before she could scream or breath fire. She looked up at Icepick with scared, mossy green eyes.
"Is anyone with-" He never got to finish the sentence. A silent body as black as night attached to star spangled wings came flying at him silently from the side, promptly pinning him down. Icepick looked up with another jolt of fear at the NightWing. A NightWing dragonet, actually. The dragonet gave Icepick a stare like the stare of a wolf defending one it's pack. He raised a black set of claws.
Tsunami jumped out of the water. "Don't!" she screamed, catching the NightWing off guard.
She stopped half way between the river and the NightWing dragonet, Looking pleadingly at him from a distance. He looked between Tsunami and Icepick, then saw the SandWing, who was also staring at him. But more like she couldn't believe he was cold enough to kill Icepick.
He let out a long suffering sigh, then helped Icepick up. A memory came flashing back to him. "Are you Starflight?" he asked, but he was already walking away as a RainWing and a MudWing landed in front of Tsunami, and the SandWing tackled her into a hug.
Yeah, he was probably Starflight.
Icepick ran after him.
Grain could only hope he was a good actor.
He new he was. That was how he had gotten into his school drama club. Still not sure why I wanted to do that, he thought, replaying the memory in his head. He had glued the lead actor's tail to the floor of the stage.
Now he was flying with Frazil over the desert. He could see a beautiful slash of green on the horizon. But found himself looking at Frazil, instead. He shook himself mentally. Why do I keep doing that?
He thought back to when he woke up. That was why he needed to be good at acting. He had woken up groggy and hung over. Somehow he could still remember everything Whirlpool had told him, but not anything else from the night.
When Grain arrived downstairs, he had found Frazil waiting for him at a table with two plates of breakfast. He was pretty sure he had feined surprise pretty well, but in truth, it had taken Grain several seconds to figure out just why Frazil had balanced two plates of food on top of this giant sheet of wood.
Now he was hoping the other dragon hadn't noticed how slow he really was that morning.
He was staring at Frazil again. Stop it, he told his eyes, She's just a dragoness, and not even a very pretty one. But Grain had trouble taking his eyes off of her. In the last few days, Frazil's scars looked less noticeable, her wings less tattered and torn.
Grain was mentally yelling at himself again. stop staring at her!
A long while later, they landed in the oasis. Grain watched Frazil stretch out her legs and wings, silently telling himself to focus on something else. Nothing came to mind.
Grain had never been incapable of thinking before. He flew up to the top of a coconut palm, and took a coconut. When he landed, he had already forgotten what he had planned to do with it.
"Hey Frazil, you want a coconut?" he asked.
She thought for a moment. "Do you think we can use for something later?"
Grain thought, too, then put it in his bag, and continued walking.
Then he was just confused. All of a sudden, the dirt below him gave way. He landed on his feet, but fell over just when he thought he had gathered his senses. He heard Frazil's worried voice calling his name.
"I'm fine!" Grain called, but there was a lot of dust still hanging around in the air. He got up as the dust cleared.
"Frazil, you have got, to see, this!"
Grain was looking at a vast cavern that was more than likely a storage room. The ceiling was low, but the room extended for miles in every direction, piled high with shelves holding...
"Dream visitors!" he exclaimed, recognizing them from a scroll he had once read.
Frazil landed right where he had just been, but Grain had already started forward.
"Dream visitors?" she asked.
"Yeah!" Grain answered excitedly, "Only, none of these are active." He looked back at Frazil. She seemed almost... Disappointed. That was a little bit worrying. What did she have in mind when he said that?
After they had looked and not found anything of use, (Although ,Grain did make Frazil take a dream visitor necklace, assuring her that it looked pretty on her), they knocked down several trees on top of the entrance to hide it, and walked on in the direction of the river. Grain told Frazil jokes to pass the time.
He was, of coarse, completely aware that there was a SeaWing watching from the cover of a few undisturbed trees.
He would catch him later.
Starflight was O.K.
Icepick didn't like many dragons, so that was saying a lot. Once the NightWing found out Icepick wasn't mad about trying to kill him, they started talking about some recently read scrolls. Starflight was very interested in Icepick's powers, and Slugger was a great example.
"So why did you make him an octopus?" Starflight asked.
"Because they're cool," he replied. Slugger threw another tiger fish onto the land.
The stone octopus really seemed to hate anything in the water that wasn't a dragon. Icepick had made him with intention of having him fight off anything that looked remotely like a fish, so it was good that he was doing his job. But Icepick was still afraid that Slugger might destroy the entire tiger fish population. They would have been surrounded by them, but Clay was eating the fish faster than Slugger could throw them out of the river.
Even as Icepick thought this, the MudWing walked up to him. "Are you going to eat that?" he asked.
Icepick handed it to him without a word, and he bounded happily back to the fire.
"Starflight, can I ask you something?"
Starflight didn't wait for the question. "You want me to help you get over your fear of drowning."
"Yeah," Icepick was impressed. "How did you know?"
"Tsunami told me," he admitted. Icepick was less impressed now.
A few minutes later, the two dragonets were standing on the edge of the river. Icepick breathed strongly on the water, and both of them stepped on to the resulting ice. Sunny saw what they were doing, and came over to watch.
"O.K," Starflight told him, "Here's what you've got to do. I'm gonna go under and tie the ice down on something in the river. You're gonna stay on it all night." He gestured to the setting sun. "If you can do that without panicking, or trying to leave the ice, then I guess, once you go home, you can get some dragon to teach you how to swim."
Icepick was hunkered down on the ice, trying hard not to panic. The water made the ice bob and sway in a way that made him want to throw up over the side.
Sunny landed, almost making Icepick jump into the water. "Hey guys! What are you doing?"
Starflight answered without hesitation, "Icepick is afraid of drowning."
Sunny looked down at the IceWing dragonet in sympathy as Starflight jumped into the water. That was how low he was. Icepick stood up shakily, trying not to focus on the river.
"I was hoping I could get over this quietly, without anyone else finding out about it," he said. Even he could hear the quiver in his voice. He gripped the ice tighter.
"If it helps any," Sunny tried, "I've never been a very good swimmer."
It didn't. But Icepick couldn't respond. He was too busy trying not to lose himself in his own terror.
Glory came over and hovered over the ice. "Where's Starflight?" she asked. she didn't sound too worried.
Just then, Starflight came gasping out of the water. "It's tied!" he told them.
Sunny poked her tail into the water, then retracted it quickly. "It's so cold!" she said as Glory flew off.
Starfight got up out of water shivering. He turned to Icepick with a grin. "Now all you have to do is survive the night!"
Okay, Frazil was sure now that Grain was a lot smarter than he let on.
So why didn't he act like it? As the day ended, Grain told her jokes. Not smart jokes, and not always particularly funny ones, either. Then he just randomly turned around, and hurled himself aganist a tree. Frazil was pretty surprised when Whirlpool fell out of it, but Grain wasn't even slightly fazed. He pinned the SeaWing on the dirt before Frazil even registered that he was there.
Grain gave Whirlpool that crazy confident grin of his. He said, in a mockingly high pitched voice, "So, we meet again!" Frazil looked at him sideways, and he went back to his normal voice. "Yeah, that wasn't as funny as i thought it would be. In all seriousness, why are you here?"
Whirlpool smiled up at him. "I was intrigued by your-"
"Dude!" Grain interrupted, "Talk like a normal dragon, because I am NOT going to nerd out in front of a friend." Whirlpool raised his eye ridges, like he didn't know what Grain was talking about. "Never mind. Keep talking."
Whirlpool did just that, in his usual slow voice. "As I was saying, I was interested by your act of false confidence."
"What?" Frazil asked, suddenly alert. "What false confidence?"
Whirlpool looked absolutely delighted at this. It made Frazil's nose curl. "Oh, this is rich! If you don't know, that means I have something to hold over poor Grain's head!" But Grain was just sitting on top of the SeaWing, laughing his head off.
"I'm sorry!" he said, clearly not sorry, "It's just... False confidence? Is that the best you can do?" He rolled off of Whirlpool, unable to stop himself from laughing.
Whirlpool got up and brushed himself off. Frazil didn't see any reason to stop him. "Oh trust me," he said to Grain, "I have much more dirt on you than a mask of ignorance." Grain just kept rolling around in the dirt, laughing like this was the funniest thing in Pyyria. Frazil started to laugh with him.
Whirlpool circled Grain as he started to calm down. "Yes, false confidence. A defense mechanism, I assume. An idiosyncrasy of yours used to mask the cause of your disconcern for your own life." Frazil watched as Grain got up and looked Whirlpool in the eye. What was he talking about?
Grain had one eye ridge and the other ear raised. "What? Really, What?"
Whirlpool smiled, returned by Grain's crazy grin of defiant confidence. Frazil shifted on her talons. Was the crazy confidence that she liked so much about Grain just another wild joke? And if it was, then why did he fake it?
Whirlpool was talking again. "I hypothesize that, judging by the admittedly stylish nature of your behavior,-"
"You mean my swag?" Grain interrupted, making Frazil half smile.
Whirlpool went on. "If you would like to call it that, I suppose." He looked at Grain with an expression of triumph that made even him seem to lose a small amount of confidence. "You were an unusually small dragonet. You went to a school where there were plenty of dragonets who deserved a lesson the hard way. I deduce you had a lot of practice playing practical jokes on your classmates. You had one friend, if you had any. You were bullied, left out for your size and your notoriously bad record of mischief."
Grain wasn't exactly discouraged, but he was definitely listening. "Is this a bad time to crack a joke about that stupid earring?"
Whirlpool raised an eye ridge at him. "It's not... Moving on. You went home to a bad situation. Your mother more than likely was very weak, and your father was just terrible. He took advantage of your mother's weak will and lack of any ability to resist his abuse, and enslaved her, and therefor, you."
Grain was starting to lose color. He stared disbelievingly at the circling SeaWing. His expression was of pure terror. He kept glancing at Frazil. Whirlpool was eating up Grain's displeasure like a well seasoned crappie fillet. Frazil knew she had to do something, but she didn't know what. Whirlpool kept talking.
"You have no scars of your own, suggesting that you only had to watch as your poor mother took the brunt of your father's tyrany over the household. That, I would deduce, was much worse for you."
Grain tackled the SeaWing, who thrashed and flailed in his grip. Frazil started forward, but Grain hissed fire at her feet. He had his talons on Whirlpool's neck, and his venomous tail was hovering a few inches over his heart. Frazil was sure she could hear it beating.
Grain whispered to the terrified dragon, "You're a good psychologist. You sized me up nearly perfectly, weighed the possibilities almost flawlessly. And all from something as simple as the way I criticized you. But you're wrong. I was abused! I was beaten! I do have scars! Dad made sure to pick the best spots. Nobody ever suspected a thing." He stood up on Whirlpool's stomach, balancing on his hind legs.
Frazil gasped. Grain's underside was covered in scars. More than Frazil's, and worse, too. He pointed to a long slash on his belly. "This is from the time I gave a homeless dragon all the money he made me steal from his dad!" He pointed to a scorch on his lower chest. "The time I didn't wake him up to go to work because I hadn't gotten home from school yet!" He moved on to several places on his inner legs where there obviously used to be puncture wounds. "This is from the time he and a bunch of his idiot friends got drunk and stabbed me with their tails all night long! I barely survived!" His voice cracked. Frazil realized that Grain had started to cry.
"You're-" Whirlpool was cross-eyed trying to keep Grain's tail in sight as it moved up to his face. "You're insane!"
Grain ignored him. "You know what I did that night?" He put his face close Whirlpool's. "I waited until dad and his no-good friends passed out, and snuck to the basement and found a spear-gun in the closet. I had a fair amount of practice with it that night." He shoved the SeaWing up and into the trees. "If you ever follow me again, I will not hesitate to kill you. I will make it slower, and more painful, than listening to your stupid voice. You have ten seconds to get out of my sight!"
Whirlpool ran off into the wilds of the oasis, flapping his wings. Grain slammed his face into the nearest tree, and cried even harder.
Frazil couldn't even bring herself to think less of him for doing anything he said he had done.
She just put one wing over him, and walked him silently down-river.
Icepick had decided being on the ice wasn't that bad.
But he definitely wasn't willing to get into that water yet. The river started in the north, near the Ice Kingdom, so the water was cold. Cold is good, he thought, Cold is like home. But the thought of the water closing over his head still made him cringe.
Icepick fell into a dreamless sleep. When he woke up, Starflight was standing in front of the sunrise with sunny on his back.
"He's awake!" she exclaimed, jumping over give icepick a surprisingly strong hug.
"Before your girl-fiend here knocks me off, TAKE ME BACK TO THE LAND!" he yelled at Starflight.
"Uh," Starflight stuttered, "She's uh- Sunny's not my- uh- I- uh-"
"We don't date," Sunny told him helpfully, but Icepick was pretty sure he saw the NightWing glance wishfully at her. hmm...
Back on the shore, Clay was dragging a camel to the campsite. He had already eaten half of it when they got there.
Starflight let out a long-suffering sigh that made the big brown dragon turn around. "Clay! Why do you always have to eat everything?"
"Sorry, I got hungry." Clay responded defensively. "You just didn't get here in time." He took another bite out of the camel.
Icepick jumped into the air, then swooped down and took the remains of the camel in his talons. He landed it the top of a wide palm tree and started to eat as Clay yelled up at him. Icepick wasn't listening. The camel was a lot different than anything that could be found in the Ice Kingdom.
He heard the rustling of low vegetation. Something big was walking through the trees. Icepick dropped the camel and jumped to the ground. He landed silently in thick bushes around the palm. Starflight, Sunny, and Clay had already left, probably to go hunting again. Icepick would have to do this by himself. He braced himself for an attack.
A light blue IceWing with scars all over her and tattered wings came out of the other side of the clearing. She was where a star-shaped necklace that gave Icepick a strange feeling. She had one wing around a SandWing who looked like he had been crying for a while. The two dragons were both taller than Icepick by about a head, but he was sure he could take them.
Then he realized he wouldn't have to. IceWings were on Blaze's side in the war, and this SandWing was probably in her army, too. He walked out into the open.
"Hey," he said, startling the IceWing. "I'm Icepick. Is he hurt?"
She sighed with relief, then said, "He's fine, he just... Had a bad day." The SandWing looked up at Icepick with eyes that didn't seem to be focusing on him.
"I'm Grain," he said, apparently surprising the other dragon. "This is Frazil. We were sent by queen Glacier to take you back to the Ice Kingdom."
"You look pretty beat up." Icepick noticed out loud. "Maybe you should stay a while."
And without another word, Grain passed out on the dirt. Frazil looked awfully concerned by this. Double hmm...
Icepick helped her drag the SandWing over to the campsite. It wasn't until the dragonets of destiny got back that he realized something. That was the nicest thing he had ever done for another dragon, ever.
Why did I do that? he thought.
Grain's dreams were filled with every long-term memory in his frontal lobe.
Not a single one was good. They kept flashing in front of him, showing him something terrible that he didn't know he could remember, then finding the next horrible moment of his life.
The day Grain went to school for the first time at one year old, and everyone made fun of him for being shorter than average. Dad scorched him for not getting him up for work, but Grain hadn't even gotten home from school yet.
Two weeks later, when Grain joined the drama club and wrote his own comedy. Everyone laughed like it was nobody's business, but he was still joked about for being too short and too smart. He glued the lead actor's tail to the stage and left, only to rejoin the drama club the next day.
The next year, when Grain joined the band and learned to play the clarinet. He played it at the house when dad wasn't around, to keep mom's spirits up. When he found out, he punished her for letting Grain learn to do something so useless, and punished Grain for being stupid enough to go along with it.
Grain took out his anger on his classmates, using an act of confidence to make sure they didn't think any thing was wrong. He learned to ignore what everyone said, and just be this wise-cracking smarty-pants he knew he should be. After a while, he didn't pull pranks because he thought it would help him deal with his home situaton anymore. He did because it was fun. Comedy became a passion as strong as acting and as heart warming to him as playing all those cool sounds on his clarinet. Grain's pranks became less cruel and more creative. His jokes became less slanderous and more playful, with that touch discreet insult that only Grain seemed to want to provide. He ate more, slept more, made more friends, and eventually grew taller. Things started to get better at school, making his perpetual confident grin a genuine one. He even started to secretly play his clarinet at home again when dad wasn't there, and learned to play the harmonica, too.
Then a year later, when he was three. The first night dad ever brought home friends. By this time, Grain had scars and burns all over his underside, where they weren't neccissarily hidden for life, but Grain could easily hide them. The dreams stopped changing here.
"Grain, could you play something?" Little three year old Grain turned around. It was mom.
"Sure!" Grain said, grinning as he took his harmonica out of his bag. But as he brought it up to play it, dad came lumbering into the one-room house. Grain shoved the small instrument into his bag as the drunk SandWing was followed by four more.
Dad smiled at Grain. Never a good thing. "I see you've done some work to get ready," he slurred, "So I won't beat you right now." Grain wasn't very comforted by that. One of his friends fell over on the only chair.
Dad turned to mom, who flinched as if she was already being hit. "W-what do you w-want for d-dinner?" she asked fearfully, trying to keep his eyes off of Grain working his way to the door, making signals with his eyes for mom to do the same. But she just flinched again as dad put his talons up to his chin.
"Hmm... What do we got?" he said.
A set of strong talons caught Grain by the tail as he tried to go out the door. Dad turned around a full minute later as he registered the noise, saw Grain, and immediately put on an angry expression. One of the SandWings that had come in with dad had him in an iron grip, holding him as far away from the door as possible.
Dad stormed over to Grain. Two of the other three SandWings had already passed out silently on the floor, but the one holding Grain was smiling stupidly, sensing that he was about to see somebody get beaten. The other one was holding back mom, who wasn't struggling, but was staring wide-eyed at the scene like she was too afraid to.
"You tryin' to leave before I say you can, worm?" The slur of dad's words was making it hard for Grain's massive intellect to figure out what he was saying.
Grain decided he'd had enough of being scared of dad right then and there. He stealed his tongue. "You think so? When you say it like that, it sounds like I don't love being beaten!" Grain couldn't believe it, but mom's eyes actually stuck even farther out of her head. Dad looked dumb-founded. His son had never spoken up like that before.
"Why... You little..." Yep. dumb-founded.
And for the first time in dad's presence, Grain gave that insane grin that made him so famous at school, the crazy display of mad confidence that made every dragonet in his class hate and love him. Grain did his chipmunk voice impression. "You want to explain to me why you come in this house every day expectin' food when you smell like a frickin' wine press? The nerve of some dragons, honestly!"
He couldn't make another joke. He was too busy trying desperately not to laugh at dad's angry face. Dad stared disbelievingly at Grain for a another minute. Grain sub-consciously counted. Then he put an angry expression back on and threw Grain to the other side of the room. "You think that's funny? Do ya?"
Grain was still laughing. "Yeah, actually, I do! Haha!"
"Laugh at this!" dad slurred, and jumped across the room. Grain remembered feeling a sharp pain in his inner legs, but he couldn't see out of it. There was another. Then another. But Grain knew there was nothing in the room for dad to be beating him with.
Dad was surely stabbing Grain with his tail.
This went on for half an hour. When dad finally passed out from drunkenness, Grain couldn't feel his back legs or his tail anymore. The SandWing that had held him was asleep with his nose in a jar. The one that had held mom was gone, and so was she. Grain dragged himself over to the trap door under the table, and fell in. On the lower shelves, he found several bottles of healing cactus juice he had stowed there. He drained every bottle but one, and writhed on the floor for three more hours. When the feeling returned to his legs, Grain patched himself with a medical box in the corner, ignoring the pain.
Grain looked around, his eyes settling on a spear gun mounted on the wall next to a large chair.
Grain woke up sweating, finding that there was a SeaWing with a very distracting hoop earring watching him sleep on the other side of the clearing.
Icepick watched silently from the top of a tall coconut palm.
As Grain woke up, Anaklusmos got up nervously. Grain wouldn't know Icepick was there, but it was Anaklusmos's idea for him to watch, just in case Grain tried to kill him. Icepick was pretty sure that was impossible, because the SandWing had been in a pretty terrible state when he came to the campsite, but Anaklusmos refused to take that chance.
Grain launched himself at the other dragon in the clearing with surprising strength, but he easily sidestepped, and Grain didn't look like he really wanted to try again. He leaned on a tree, breathing hard. "You!" he exclaimed angrily. "I told you I would-"
"Kill me?" Anaklusmos interrupted. "Yes, I am aware of that. I would not be in your presence without a valid reason." He walked a little further from Grain's reach. "I have a message for Icepick."
Grain gave the SeaWing a glare that could've knocked a walrus out cold, but his apparent weakness made it unimpressive. "You don't have anything to do with him!"
Anaklusmos looked up, like he would rather be anywhere else in Pyyria. "It's not my message. I'm a courier. It's from the Talons of Peace."
Icepick stared down emotionlessly at the scene in the clearing below him. The Talons had a message for him. With his own bad luck, and the Talons's bad history combined, it was sure to be something bad.
Grain launched at Anaklusmos again, but didn't make it far enough to matter. He didn't even have to dodge. He started talking again. "Tell Icepick they are aware of his powers, and that they want to recruit him. They are willing to give him any information they have about his father." Icepick's ears stopped working as he jumped out of the tree in a rage.
Grain looked really surprised at this, but if he said anything, Icepick couldn't hear. "Anaklusmos, you idiot!" he yelled at the SeaWing, "Why would not just give me the message directly?"
Anaklusmos raised his eye ridges at him. "Idiot? Me? I'm intellectually superior!"
"Not if you could miss something that obvious! I was standing next to a living rick shaped like an octopus, you twit!"
Grain made a sound behind him, making him turn around. "Hang on, did you call him Anaklusmos?"
Icepick didn't see why that was so important. "Yeah." he said and turned to keep yelling at Anaklusmos.
Grain got up and walked in front of him. Walked in front of him! That confused Icepick, because a second ago, he hadn't been able to do more than jump every now and then. But he was walking now. Weird.
Grain was also starting to form a crazy grin on his face, witch was even more confusing. "That is so low." He started to laugh uncontrollably, making Anaklusmos raise an eye ridge. "That is just pathetic! You know I'm actually very respective of a dragon as smart as me? And boy are you smart! We could've been friends if you didn't make me hate you so much with all that spying and story telling you did." Anaklusmos seemed to be trying as hard as Icepick was to figure out what he was getting at.
He turned to Icepick. "His name isn't Anklusmos, it's Whirlpool. He's the dragon who tried to..." He frowned and looked at Whirlpool, who was already on the receiving end of Icepick's glare. "What exactly were you trying to do?"
Whirlpool didn't say anything. He just turned around and ran out of the clearing. Grain turned back to Icepick with another grin. "Guess he couldn't handle my pure awesome!" he said.
Icepick rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, "Yeah, that was probably it." Grain smiled and turned to go. "Hang on!" he turned around. "A minute ago, you were lying on the ground groaning, and all of a sudden you're up and kicking. How is that?"
Grain gave him another smile. "I wasn't physically weak, dude. I had a broken spirit. I gave up for a while, there. But now that I know Whirlpool's just another big loser with gills, I'm fine." He turned and ran out into the wilds of the oasis.
Icepick was pretty sure that wasn't it, but whatever the case, he was also pretty sure that Grain wasn't going to give him a logical answer anyway, so he decided to just go to sleep.
As he lay in the dirt he wondered if going to the Talons of Peace wasn't such a terrible idea. They were willing to tell him about Hvitur, but he might also have to break his alliance with Glacier. Icepick had seen what she could do first hand. He didn't want to be on the receiving end of any one of her various killing methods. and he wouldn't even know where to find them in the first place. These options gave him a lot to think about during the night.
So he was still awake when Grain came back with a giant woven basket of live scorpions the next morning.
This is the end of this uest. But is it the end of the journey? Hardly.
There are still things to come for Grain, Frazil, and Icepick. But that's for another story. Who wants to know what they did right after they got home?
Icepick went back to his tower, and searched his library for anything with Hvitur's name. He found two family trees, showing that his mother came from a long line of animus dragons. He also found an autobiography of Hvitur, written in underwater ink. Icepick didn't quite know what to make of that, but he finished the scroll in half a day, then read it again. When he was done the second time, he found a rock fish scroll on the floor and immediately blamed Grain.
Grain went to live in Blaze's palace, but he got kicked out for releasing hundreds of scorpions into the kitchens. He was caught due to his inability to stop laughing about it, but would have confessed anyway. He explained that the scorpions had their tails glued to their backs, displaying a lot of bleeding cuts on his talons and a crushed piece of cactus. As he left the palace, he knocked a guard off the wall with a coconut. He didn't have a place to go, so he slept on Frazil's roof.
Frazil went home to a large house that had been abandoned, but she had fixed it up and lived in it after she moved from her parents' house when she was seven. She crashed on her bed as soon as she was home, and went outside the next morning. When she found Grain sleeping on the roof, freezing cold, she asked him to come inside, and they became roommates. Grain employed the help of a random messenger dragon that he found outside when Frazil was gone, and glued her bed to the ceiling. She was mad when she found out, and sent the messenger to get some animal skins. Frazil now sleeps on pile of animal skins on the floor while Grain goes out and does whatever he does when he should be sleeping, and the bed remains on the ceiling to this day.
Grain, Frazil, and Icepick will remain friends the rest of their lives. And soon, they will have another adventure together.
And maybe the next adventure they have will shed some light on a few unanswered questions. Will Icepick ever lose his pessimistic personality? Will Grain and Frazil ever get together? Will Frazil's dream visitor ever be fixed?
I hope you'll read their next adventure and find out!