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Wings of Fire: Untold Legends

Summary

Long before the Sandwing War there was another great war. Seven years into the war, four dragonets go on a quest to find a missing dragon, only to discover the truth behind the war. Discover what happens in Wings of Fire: Untold Legends...

Characters

Phoenix- Skywing; male

Snow- Icewing; male

Shimmer- Rainwing; female

Moonglow- Nightwing; female

Ember (Skywing)- Skywing; female

Prologue

A ring of seven dragons was seated around a large, round, marble table. These were the queens of the dragon kingdoms of Pyrrhia.

The Nightwing was not actually a queen, but a representative sent to participate in this meeting. Secrecy seemed to be a prominent feature among the Nightwings.

“Everyone is accounted for then. Let us begin the meeting,” said Queen Mire of the Mudwings.

“Yes,” agreed Queen Siren of the Seawings.

“Listen,” spoke Queen Chameleon of the Rainwings, “Before we begin, I must warn you all that there must be no fighting. I know tensions are high but please control your tempers.”

“Yes, yes. Now let’s get on with it,” said Queen Sahara of the Sandwings, “Queen Crimson, you may begin.”

The Skywing Queen nodded, “Thank you. Now, I summoned you all to my palace to discuss a matter that has weighed heavily on my mind.” Her gaze snapped to Queen Crystal of the Icewings, suddenly blazing with fury. “It would appear, Queen Crystal, that you want to take over my kingdom!”

“What? That’s absurd!” exclaimed Queen Crystal.

“Oh, is it really?” Queen Crimson retorted, “Well killing two of my three heirs would be a good start to such a feat!”

“What?” said Queen Crystal, “I’ve never killed an heir to anyone’s throne!”

“You may stop the façade. My guards saw you kill them but three days ago!”

“Wait,” Queen Crystal said, realization dawning on her expression, “I did have two female Skywings executed for stealing from the hatchery. Oh no! I had no idea they were the heirs!”

Queen Crimson glared at her even more harshly, “Do you take me for a fool? Not only do you deny that you had dark intensions, but now you try to make my daughters look like wrongdoers! You must pay for your crimes!”

“Yes!” agreed Queen Sahara, “You have done a great wrong to Queen Crimson!”

“I agree what I have done is wrong,” Queen Crystal said candidly, “but at the time, I had no idea that it was your heirs that I had killed. My intension was only to rid Pyrrhia of two more thieves!”

“Well, I might've dismissed this as a folly on your part if not for one detail,” Queen Crimson turned her head to glare dramatically at Queen Crystal. “You've known my daughters for many years. Why, all of the sudden, not recognize them?”

“Maybe they were in disguise,” suggested Queen Siren.

“They were,” said Queen Crystal, “It was an honest mistake.” Suddenly her eyes narrowed and she cast a suspicious glance at Queen Crimson. “An interesting thought just occurred to me,” she said, “Why was it, exactly, that it was your heirs were there, stealing my eggs? If they had succeeded in stealing a female egg, you could just as easily face the accusations that I myself face.”

“Good point,” said Queen Mire. “Did you know of your daughters' actions?”

“Ha! As if I'd want your little frozen wasteland, Queen Crystal. And even if I had wanted it, I would simply smash the eggs in the hatchery, and much less risk my daughters for it!” said Queen Crimson, shrugging off the accusations.

“Oh, is that an excuse to cover your idiotic mistakes in your 'grand plot'!” Queen Crystal spat crossly.

“This whole story about my daughters stealing eggs is just a ruse! Yet, I have noticed you have great conviction. Why believe your own story? What do you get out of it?”

“It's not a story! If it were, I wouldn't be missing an egg!” Queen Crystal yelled furiously.

“What? You never said anything about an egg actually being stolen,” Queen Crimson said.

“No. I never said anything about an heir being stolen,” Queen Crystal retorted, “The egg that was stolen was one of my male eggs. What you got out of stealing him, I'll never know. But no matter, you must return the egg to me!”

“I stole nothing!”

“Then you wouldn't mind if I sent a few of my Icewings to search your palace, would you?” Queen Crystal said slyly.

“NO! I won't let you anywhere near my last heir after what you've done! Any attempts to enter my palace will be met with fire!” said Queen Crimson, enraged.

“And poison!” said Queen Sahara, “Queen Crimson will not be alone in this!” Queen Crimson nodded gratefully at the Sandwing Queen.

“Fine! But know that I will get in and rescue my son, no matter how many I stand against!” Queen Crystal said boldly.

“The Mudwings are with you, Queen Crystal,” offered Queen Mire.

“The Seawings, too, will fight alongside the Icewings,” said Queen Siren.

The two sides of the conflict turned expectantly to the Queen of Rainwings and the Nightwing representative. However, Queen Chameleon shook her head, “ I will fight for neither side. If I wanted a fight, I would have picked it myself.” The Nightwing quietly agreed with the Rainwing Queen.

“So be it. I think it's time this meeting was adjourned,” said Queen Crimson.

The dragons rose from the table to file out of the meeting chamber. Queen Crystal was the last to get up and make her way to the doorway.

“Farewell,” Queen Crimson said menacingly.

Queen Crysal stopped in the doorway and chuckled lightly. She turned her head to look at the Skywing Queen.

“No. This would be goodbye.”

PART ONE: The Search

Chapter 1

Seven years later...

Phoenix knew he was different from his Skywing kin. He was born with too much fire, causing his very scales to emanate with searing heat. He resented the abnormality. Everyone he knew treated him as if he had a plague. As a result, he had no friends.

Phoenix sighed. He worried about that much too often. There was only one thing he need worry about: being loyal to his queen.

He rose from where he lay in his sleeping cave. He had a job to do. Phoenix worked as a miner deep in the mountain near the palace. He was the only one to withstand the heat of the lava floes that tunneled deep below the surface.

Phoenix didn't really like digging up jewels for the queen. He wanted to be a guard. With his superheated talons, he would be sure to bring down anyone who dared enter the palace. But for reasons he did not know, he was denied the request.

Phoenix flew out of the tunnels and into the skies above the palace. His ascent brought him up to the prison over the arena. The prisoners were atop spires that rose from the palace, their wings bound in fireproof metal clamps. To add, they were all bound to each other with fireproof wires.

Phoenix was always rather interested in the prisoners. Of course, it was against the rules to speak to them, but he still watched them with rapt attention on occasion. They were all so different, yet all alike.

As he soared to the mountain where he would continue mining from the day before, he came slightly too close to an Icewing prisoner. The white dragon lashed at Phoenix's tail. He narrowly missed but Phoenix spun around, clawing the side of the Icewing's face in fury. The white dragon reeled in agony, the side of his face burnt. The scent of burning flesh tainted the air.

Phoenix felt a flash of guilt. Although he wasn't allowed to show kindness to the prisoners, he couldn't harm them either, aside from battling in the arena down below the aerial prison. Hopefully, Queen Crimson wouldn't be too hard on him as the Icewing had acted aggressively first. Pushing the thought aside, he continued his flight to the mines.

As he lighted on the edge of the mountain near the mine entrance, he was greeted by an agitated voice.

“You're late,” Russet said, her eyes glaring.

“Well I got caught up,” Phoenix said smoothly.

“With?” Russet pressed.

“It doesn't matter. What does matter is  that I'm here now.”

The Master Miner rolled her eyes. “Then go on! We don't have all day!” she said angrily.

As Master Miner, Russet controlled the entire workings of the mines. If anything went wrong, the responsibility fell on her shoulders. This would be the cause of her rather short temper.

Phoenix turned and entered the mine. He passed many dragons, hard at work, chiseling slowly through the rock walls, hoping to find something useful to the Sky Kingdom.

The end of the tunnel widened out into an enormous cavern that descended deep into the mountains heart. Many tunnel entrances dotted the walls of the cavern and a lake of fire rest at the bottom. Phoenix dove down to a tunnel near the bottom, close to the lake of lava. He marched down the narrow hall to a place where lava flowed freely in a stream across the cave floor. He hopped over to the side where he had stopped digging.

Phoenix flexed his claws in preparation for the dig. He scraped his talons against the stone wall, making him cringe. Phoenix never got used to the vibrations reverberating painfully through his claws. However, he pressed on until his talons became numb.

Phoenix fell into a rhythm with the sound he created. Clink, hisss, scrape. Clink, hisss, scrape.He tried to ignore the hissing of his claws on the rock, a gruesome reminder of his excess of fire. Suddenly, he hit something stronger than the plain stone. Phoenix began to dig around the tough rock. It finally came loose and fell to the floor. It looked like any other stone, yet somehow it was different. Surely, the queen wouldn't want such an ugly rock. However, he'd show the rock to Russet to see what it was, just to be safe. Phoenix took the stone out of the tunnel and began to ascend into the cavern.

Suddenly, the earth around him began to rumble. Stalactites began to fall from the distant cavern ceiling and walls began to crumble.

Phoenix dodged the oncoming debris as well as panicking dragons. He jerked himself to the side as a massive boulder sailed down, narrowly escaping collision.

Numerous dragons plummeted into the molten lake below as they were struck by the raining debris. It made Phoenix cringe as he heard the hiss of magma burning flesh.

No. He had to keep his concentration on flying. As he approached the entrance tunnel, he nearly cursed. At least eighty dragons crowded the entrance, pushing and shoving in an attempt to free themselves. There was no way he was going out that way. He would probably melt the wall of dragons. He had to find another exit.

Phoenix adjusted his grip on the rock and looked around. There! The ceiling had crumbled away enough to reveal a small tunnel. Sunlight barely lit it but it was sunlight all the same.

Phoenix bolted for the entrance like a red flash and squeezed into the tunnel. However, it was much narrower than he had anticipated. Phoenix folded his wings as close to his body as possible and shoved the rock ahead of him. His movements in the cramped space was extremely limited, causing him to inch slower than he would've liked. Phoenix persisted nonetheless, fighting down his rising panic at the thought of getting stuck. Then he blinked as he saw a bright light ahead of him.

The tunnel sloped upward and out of the mountain. Encouraged, Phoenix began to hasten his movements. He thrust the rock out ahead of him and wriggled through the hole after it.

Suddenly, the rumbling of the mountain grew more violent. He turned and saw the mountain erupt in a pillar of fire and ash. Something from above struck him and all went black.

Chapter 2

Phoenix opened his eyes slowly. His whole body ached. Cringing, he twisted his head to look at his body to analyze the damage. However, his scarlet figure was unmarred. Confused, he turned to find the rock he had carried from the mines, although he knew not why he had kept it in the first place.

There! It lay not far from him, a crack zigzagging down its side. He struggled to stand and shambled over to it. As he came closer, he realized that he felt cooler. The cold rejuvenated him.

Phoenix's curiosity piqued, he leaned down to study the stone. He ran a talon along the fracture on its side. The cold definitely emanated from the inside. Hesitantly, he brought up his claw. Then, he struck down hard, directly on the crack of the rock. It split open, revealing a crystalline, blue structure inside.

Mesmerized, Phoenix picked up the crystal. The air around him seemed to cool, causing him to shiver. He pried off the last of the clinging stone and looked at it. It was now a beautiful blue jewel.

Phoenix spread his wings and launched himself into the air. Then the crystal slipped from his grasp and landed into a flaming bush. He was about to grab for it when the oddest thing occurred. The fire around the bush diminished and flickered out.

“How odd,” he said to himself. “Does it absorb fire?”

A thought suddenly struck him. Phoenix retrieved the crystal, the cold embracing him once more. Then, locating another fire, he stuck his talon in.

Quickly, he withdrew his claw, wincing with pain yet struck with awe. He was burnt! Because he was born with too much fire, it should be impossible to feel heat from such small fires.

Excitement coursed through him; if he was cool enough to feel fire, surely he wouldn't be able to burn anyone. He could finally begin to have a life!

But as quickly as it had come, his excitement fled. Phoenix was in enough trouble as it was, what with injuring the Icewing and being late to his job. If he withheld this jewel from the queen and she found out about it, surely he would be executed.

Deciding he'd rather not lose his life, he took off in the direction of the palace. He needed to report the eruption anyways.

As he flew past the prison towers, Phoenix realized the Icewing he had struck earlier was no longer there.

 Anxiety pulsed through him. Only two things may have happened. The dragon either freed himself, which is highly unlikely, or he was being interrogated be the queen.

With a moment's hesitation, he pressed on. Once he reached the entrance to the throne room, a guard flew up to him and announced, “We've been expecting you.”

Swallowing the fear that rose within him, he followed the guard through the entrance to the throne room.

In the elegant throne sat Queen Crimson in a regal posture. To one side was the Icewing, chained to the ground and looking mildly agitated.

“Your majesty, I present to you Phoenix, as requested,” said the red guard with a bow.

“Thank you. You may return to your post,” Queen Crimson dismissed the guard then turned to Phoenix.

“I have an offering, your majesty,” said Phoenix when the Skywing Queen said nothing. He held up the blue stone, but Queen Crimson shook her head.

“No,” she said, “I do not wish for offerings at this moment. Something much heavier weighs on my mind. You see this Icewing,” she indicated towards the chained white dragon, “I believe you have met?”

Phoenix nodded, glancing guiltily at the charred scratch across the left side of Snow's face.

“Well, I am sending him on a mission and in return he will be granted freedom. Yet, we need someone to keep an eye on him so he does not go off on his own. I need you to accompany him.”

“Me?!” exclaimed Phoenix, “Why choose me?”

“Because you are the only dragon we can spare. Many are still injured after that eruption three days ago.”

“That was three days ago?” Phoenix was appalled. “How did you know to expect me? What if I were dead?”

“A search party was sent to find survivors. You were discovered, still breathing. Now back to the subject of the mission.” The queen hesitated, “He’s going on a mission to find my daughter. She has run away.”

“Ember has run away? But why send this Icewing?” Phoenix asked.

“He saw her flee the night after the eruption. And, as I have said before, we can’t spare any dragons to go on search parties. So, you two will have to do this on your own.”

Phoenix sighed. It looked as if he had no choice in the matter. “Yes, your majesty.”

Chapter 3

Why me? Phoenix thought to himself. Sure, he wanted to be out in the midst of the war instead of mining deep within the mountain. But as he flew alongside this Icewing, he knew that this was far from what he had expected.

The pair flew along the Diamond Spray River. The river wound its way right into the heart of the Mud Kingdom. Phoenix was rather wary of the actions of the white dragon. Was he leading Phoenix into a trap?

“Are you sure you saw Ember fly this direction?” he asked Snow.

Snow nodded once, but said nothing. It was clear he just wanted to get this over with. Phoenix had some sympathy for him; Snow probably had friends and such, unlike him.

As they flew on, silence hung between them like a thick fog. The river below sparkled in the midmorning light. The breeze that carried the two dragons was refreshingly cool in contrast to the warm sun.

Phoenix began to ponder on the events that happened before he left the Sky Kingdom. First he had gone to his normal job of mining, injuring the very dragon he flew beside now. Then as he had mined, he found a stone that happened to be a very effective cure for his scale abnormality. Then the mountain erupted spontaneously after thousands of years being seemingly inactive. Then, after three days of being unconscious, the queen summons him to go on a mission to go find her runaway daughter. It was hard to imagine the entire sequence of events was merely coincidence. However, it was equally difficult to think of how one could set up such a spontaneous chain of events.

Phoenix shook his head. The more he thought about it, the more confusing it became. It would be easier to simply let it go. They continued to fly in silence.

Phoenix licked his lips with his forked tongue. He had just finished eating a cow. He had never tasted food without it being charred by his super-heated talons. It sang with flavors he didn’t even know existed.

The sun blazed directly overhead as the two dragons finished their meal and took off. As Phoenix beat his wings, the blue crystal swung on his neck. Phoenix had fashioned the stone into a necklace before departing the Sky Kingdom that morning.

Just ahead, Phoenix noticed the river fell over a cliff; this was the edge of the Mud Kingdom. Suddenly, a thought struck him. Skywings were against Mudwings in the war. They would attack him if they saw him.

“Listen,” Phoenix said to Snow, “I can’t go in their borders because I’m a Skywing. I want you to go in there and search for Ember. Also, possibly pick up some information from the residents. They may have a clue to her location. Don’t mention the fact that she’s the heir, though. We don’t want to raise suspicions. Meet me back here at sunset.”

Snow nodded coolly then flew into the Mud Kingdom.

Chapter 4

Snow, flying over the border into the Mudwing Kingdom, was glad to be rid of Phoenix. He had no intention of continuing the search with a pathetic Skywing bossing him around.

            As he flew, he passed a Mudwing and an Icewing flying side by side, a look of resolve on their faces. Maybe heading towards battle, Snow thought. That would be him soon enough. He would fight furiously for Queen Crystal and his Icewing kin.

            He tried to remember the last time he had been in the company of any Icewings. He couldn’t really remember much past six days ago, when the Skywings had captured him. However, there was this blurry vision of him with a white dragon. He knew there was another dragon nearby and there was a fight. However, it was probably some dream conjured by his imagination from being imprisoned. There was nothing worse to him than being held prisoner.

Snow merely shrugged the thoughts away. Dreams and memories were not important. At least, not at the moment. What took priority now was discovering the location of the heir and getting back his freedom.

Glancing down, he spotted a decently dry area among the marshy terrain. He dove towards it, landing gracefully among the thick, dirt laden grass. His eyes took in the clearing before him. Among the sparse trees were vines dangling down into the brown water. However, he could spot no dragons nor any sign of one.

He was about to give up and try somewhere else when he detected movement in the muddy water to the left of his small, dry island. He peered into the muck to find two beady eyes gazing back at him.

“Hello?” Snow called, “Can you help me?”

The Mudwing rose from the swamp and sloshed over to the island. When he approached, Snow backed up to avoid being splashed by mud.

“Yes?” the brown dragon asked in a raspy voice that bespoke of great age.

“Have you seen a Skywing pass by here a couple days ago?”

“A Skywing? Why?” the older dragon asked.

“I am searching for a runaway Skywing. I thought I saw her fly this direction.”

“Ah. I see now. You are hunting down a prisoner, no?”

“Something like that,” Snow replied.

“What does this particular dragon look like?”

“A Skywing,” Snow replied baldly, his patience wearing thin. This Mudwing asked too many questions.

“I meant is there anything in particular. I’ve seen a couple Skywing dragons pass overhead the last few days.”

Snow sighed, “Well, she’s red and gold and I think she was wearing a pendant of some sort.”

“Ah yes. I saw a dragon much like that heading north. Most likely headed towards the Seawing Gulf. If one wished to lose their trail, where better to go than open ocean?” he replied, “I hope that helps. I’m going to return to my soaking.”

“Thank you,” Snow said and launched into the sky.

Snow’s trek led him over many marshes and swamps, yet there was still no sign of any ocean. The sun was halfway beneath the horizon. He wasn’t going to get there this night, though he had made great progress. He would have to find shelter and continue in the morning.

He lighted down into a clearing of dried earth, little tufts of brown grass here and there. The clearing here was surrounded quite densely by trees. A large boulder dominated one side of the clearing.

Snow approached the boulder to investigate. The rock was hollow and the floor was covered with sand. As soon as he entered he felt a wave of exhaustion roll over him. He had originally intended to hunt but his fatigue won him over and he closed his eyes.

Snow awoke from a dreamless sleep to the sound of rustling in the underbrush outside. He scanned the dark clearing before him before rising and taking a cautious step outside his makeshift den. In the open, he found nothing to signify that anything other than him occupied the clearing. Yet, he could sense the eyes burning into his scales. Narrowing his eyes, Snow once more swept the clearing under his gaze. Nothing.

If only I could catch a glimpse of whatever-, he was interrupted mid-thought by something ramming into his side. Snow rolled to the ground, winded. He struggled to his feet, readying his serrated talons. He looked around, frantically trying to locate his adversary.

Again, he was struck. This time, whatever it was collided with the left side of his face, causing the burned slash on that side to flare with new pain. Snow let out a furious hiss and began to flail wildly, trying to strike his invisible opponent.

Something wrapped itself around Snow’s neck and began to tighten. Snow tried to reach up and claw at it but he felt his strength ebbing as he struggled for breath. He thrashed in the tendril’s deadly grip and felt a blackness grow in the back of his mind. Desperately, he kicked out with his hind legs.

He heard a gasp as his rear talons connected with something. The pressure on his neck instantly lifted as his opponent fell back. Snow whirled, now able to breathe, to face his adversary. A bluish-green dragon coalesced before his eyes, crouching defensively and glaring furiously. It was a Rainwing.

“Who are you? Why did you attack me?” Snow threw the questions at her.

“You were in my den. I don’t tolerate intruders,” she replied, surprisingly sitting up and casting off her anger as if a fight had not just preceded the question.

“You could’ve asked me to leave,” Snow said, judging it safe to put away aggression but not to fully lower his defenses.

“Not if you were trying to kill me,” she replied.

“Why would I try to kill you?” Snow asked.

“Many dragons have been trying to hunt me down. I’ve been stealing a bit from the Mudwings. Not that it would concern you.”

“Why is a Rainwing here anyways?” he asked.

“Let’s just say I found life too boring in the Rainforest Kingdom, I left looking for adventure,” she said, “and I have been finding it quite interesting out here, all alone.”

“Imagine that,” Snow said, “A Rainwing looking for adventure.”

“Shimmer the Adventurer! That’s what they’ll call me. Once I’ve seen all of Pyrrhia, I’ll spread tales of all my adventures,” she said, a dream-like tone creeping into her voice.

“If you survive the war, that is,” Snow remarked.

That instantly sobered her up. “Hey, I can defend myself. I almost had you.”

“Yeah,” he replied, “almost.”

“I could’ve killed you if I had truly wanted to.”

“Sure,” he said.

“So, what are you doing here anyways? I can tell you’re not here because of war. Or else you’d have probably killed me by now. So, what is it?”

Snow snorted, “Unlike you, I don’t waltz around declaring my business to complete strangers.”

Shimmer, at least Snow assumed that was her name, narrowed her eyes at that statement. “You could at least tell me your name,” she said.

“It’s Snow,” he replied.

“Why not trust a possible ally?” she asked. “Maybe I could help you, and you could help me.”

“Help you with what?” Snow asked her.

“Not saying unless you tell me what you’re doing here,” said Shimmer, manipulatively.

“Suits me just fine then,” he shot back, and turned away from her.

“Wait!” Shimmer yelled.

Hesitantly, he turned back. “What?” he asked flatly.

“I need you to protect me,” she said, somewhat embarrassed.

“I thought you could protect yourself.”

“Well,” Shimmer sighed, “I can. But if someone did catch me they’d probably hold me for ransom. You see, I’m an heir to the Rainwing throne.”

“Why expect me to do it?” he asked.

“Because you’re my last chance at escape. I overheard some Mudwings talking about sending a patrol to hunt me down. I won’t be able to fend off more than one.”

“Sorry, but you’ll only slow me down. I work best alone.” Snow said.

“Please?” Shimmer pressed. “I promise I won’t get in your way. I’ll even help you if I can.”

Snow considered it for a moment. Maybe he could use her. “I guess,” he finally gave in. “But only if you promise to do exactly as I say.”

“Agreed,” she said, clearly relieved.

Snow thought for a second. “Should I be worried about search parties finding you and accusing me of kidnap?” he asked her.

“No,” she replied, “I’m the youngest of four heirs. Losing one should hardly be of any consequence. I’ve never even wanted to be queen.”

“Good to know,” he said. Snow looked around the clearing. Night had set in thoroughly now. He could hardly make out the den in the darkness. “We should sleep,” he suggested.

Shimmer nodded. “You can sleep in the den with me,” she offered, “There’s enough room.”

“No,” said Snow, “I need my own space.”

With that, Snow hopped on top of the boulder as Shimmer slunk underneath with a yawn. Soon he could hear her snoring quietly and it was not long before sleep claimed him also.

Snow stood in a snowy plain in the midst of a blizzard. He could tell it was a dream. It was one that he had had before. Beside him there was another white dragon. They flew hurriedly through the strong winds. Fear lurked around him. He had a feeling he was being chased. He risked a glance backwards. An immense black dragon followed. The dragon was terribly familiar, yet he couldn’t remember who it was. A spurt a flame chased him. Suddenly, his companion spun to face the black dragon. They grappled with each other. And red mixed in with the white of the snow.

“Run!” his companion was shouting, “Run Snow! Run!”

Chapter 5

Night had descended when Phoenix’s patience wore out. He had lain next to the waterfall for hours, yet Snow had never returned.

“Where is he? How could I be so stupid as to let him go off on his own?” he said to himself.

Three crescent moons blazed in the black parchment of the night. Crickets chirped noisily and toads croaked from the Mud Kingdom’s marshes. It was this that Phoenix fell asleep to.

Phoenix woke at the first light of dawn. He randomly chose a direction to start his search for, now, two dragons. That direction happened to be south, towards the Rainforest Kingdom.

He flew as direct as he could without crossing Mudwing borders. He didn’t know how long he flew before he saw the first exotic trees of the grand rainforest, and a white dragon flying towards it.

“Snow!” he called, and put on an extra burst of speed. The white dragon halted abruptly and spun around. Phoenix, flying too fast, rammed into the dragon and they fell to the forest floor, a tangle of wing and tail.

“Ow,” the white dragon said as she rolled to her stomach. It was a female dragon. In fact, Phoenix wasn’t even sure she was an Icewing. However, that may have been because he was on his back, looking at her upside down.

“Sorry,” he said rolling over, “I thought you were someone else.”

“So,” she said, “You greet others by running into them.”

“Well, no. That was an accident. He wouldn’t have stopped to wait for me.”

“Some friend,” she stated sarcastically.

“Oh. He’s not a friend. He’s just a… an acquaintance.” Phoenix didn’t want to give away that Snow was a prisoner, especially to an Icewing if that was indeed what she was.

“Well then, if you’ll excuse me,” she said. She extended her wings in preparation for flight. However, she quickly drew them back in with a gasp of pain.

“What’s the matter?” Phoenix asked, a note of alarm in his voice.

“See for yourself,” she muttered. The white dragon tilted her wing towards Phoenix, revealing a scrape along the length of her wing, not enough to rip through, but enough to restrict flight. However, Phoenix’s attention was drawn to the underside of her wing. It was flecked with pitch black scales.

“What kind of dragon are you?” he breathed.

She glanced under her wing and back to him, “So you’ve noticed. I’m not an Icewing. I’m a Nightwing. My name’s Moonglow.”

He stared incredulous at her until he caught her stare. Moonglow seemed to be anticipating a reply. “Oh,” Phoenix said, realizing what she wanted, “My name’s Phoenix.”

This response seemed to satisfy her. “Well then Phoenix, how did you come across that Everfrost Stone?” she asked.

“That what?” he asked. He had no idea what she was talking about.

“The crystal hanging around your neck,” Moonglow said.

“Oh, I found it in a mountain while I was mining for the Skywing Queen,” Phoenix replied, feeling slightly stupid for not realizing.

“Really?” Moonglow exclaimed, “You know there is a legend about that stone. It’s faltered throughout history, but I still know the story.”

Before Phoenix had a chance to protest Moonglow launched into the tale. “Thousands of years ago, there was a small Skywing village where Queen Crimson’s Palace stands today. They settled there thinking they would be safe from all harm. When they had built many structures along the mountainside, one of the mountains erupted. It didn’t quite destroy the village, but many homes were destroyed by flying boulders or buried under molten rock and ash. It was the first of many volcanic eruptions.

“After many months of constant volcanic activity, the village leaders met in a council to debate leaving. They were about to vote to leave when a Skywing named Maroon interrupted the council. ‘We can’t leave,’ he said. ‘I’ll even stop the volcano myself if I have to!’ The leaders agreed to let him try to stop the eruptions. What they didn’t know was that Maroon was an animus dragon. Using his power, he enchanted a sapphire with a freezing cold that never diminishes. The stone was so cold that any heat was immediately nullified. He took the Everfrost Stone, as he called it, and threw it into the heart of the volcano. All the heat left the lava, turning it all to rock and saving the Skywing village. However, he left them a warning: ‘If anyone with a lust for jewels steals my Everfrost Stone, the Skywing village will be cursed by the volcano once more.’ With that he died from exhausting all his being into making that stone.”

“Wow,” said Phoenix glancing down at the stone, “Do you think the volcano is erupting right now?”

“I don’t know,” Moonglow confessed, “I never even believed in such a legend until now.”

“Well, the mountain did erupt as soon as I left the tunnel with the Stone.

“Interesting,” Moonglow said, a thoughtful look spreading across her face.

Without consulting each other, the both started hiking through the forest. Lush, green foliage crowded the path on either side. Phoenix was intrigued by all the colors and scents that crossed his path. Having spent his whole life in the barren, wind-blasted peaks of the Sky Kingdom, he had never seen such diverse wildlife. He turned to observe the inverted Nightwing that walked beside him. What might’ve happened to her to cause such a phenomenon?

“Why are you here?” she asked suddenly. “Shouldn’t you been out in the war or something? And, if you thought I was an Icewing, why didn’t you attack me?”

“Actually,” Phoenix replied, “I’m searching for a couple dragons. I didn’t attack you because I thought you were one of them.”

“Who are you looking for?” Moonglow asked, casting him a sideways glance.

“An Icewing named Snow and a Skywing named…”

“Snow?” Moonglow interrupted. Phoenix was actually thankful for the intrusion. He was about to let slip the heir’s name.

“Yeah. He’s a prisoner of the Skywings,” said Phoenix.

Moonglow halted dead in her tracks. “What?” she snarled.

Phoenix cursed himself. He had meant to keep that a secret. Keeping his voice firm, he said, “I was assigned to keep an eye on him while he searched for the heir.”

“What’s Snow doing looking for the heir?” Moonglow said.

Dang. He’d let the other secret slip. Phoenix had never had to keep secrets before. It was a skill he’d have to work on. “He was the only one to see the heir leave. Snow agreed to find Ember in return for his freedom,” Phoenix replied.

“Oh,” was all Moonglow said. Phoenix could detect a little relief in her voice. Why was this dragon so worried about Snow?

“How do you know Snow?” Phoenix asked.

“I don’t like talking about it,” she said, casting him a sidelong glare.

“Why not?” Phoenix pressed.

Moonglow sighed. “It reveals too much of my past. You don’t know how it feels to have parents that don’t want you.”

“Actually,” said Phoenix, “I know almost better than anyone.”

“How?” Moonglow asked, as if she didn’t believe it.

Phoenix was about to reply when he heard a faint rustling in the underbrush. Moonglow must’ve noticed him tense because she glanced around curiously. Either that or she read his mind as Nightwings can do. He whipped around just as four Rainwings materialized before them. All of them wore expressions of hostility. One lunged and Phoenix braced for the attack.

Chapter 6

Shimmer thought Snow was a rather interesting dragon. He didn’t speak much since their initial meeting. However, she knew he had a deep past. His troubled, coal black eyes and the unusual scored scar betrayed it all.

They were flying north towards the Seawing Gulf. Regardless of her somewhat boring company, Shimmer was glad to be traveling with someone. The sense that somebody was there to protect her was a great relief to her mind. She could adventure without worry now.

The sun was spreading its golden wings across the morning sky. Snow had insisted on waking early and leaving as soon as possible. For whatever reason, he was obviously in a rush.

“So what mission is it you are so set on accomplishing?” Shimmer asked.

“I’m looking for someone,” was his reply.

Shimmer sighed. Snow was short and secretive with most his answers. “Care to elaborate?” Shimmer asked.

“No,” he said.

“Come on,” said Shimmer, “I’m part of this too now. We’re a team. Don’t leave me in the dark.”

“We are not a team. I’m simply your bodyguard.”

“If you were my bodyguard you’d be following me,” Shimmer shot back, “Instead, I have to be the obnoxious tagalong.”

Snow smiled at that. Shimmer didn’t think him capable of feeling amusement; much less smiling.

“So?” Shimmer said, “Who is it?”

Snow hesitated, “I’m looking for Ember. The heir of the Skywings.”

Now Shimmer was confused. “Why in Pyrrhia would they send an Icewing to look for the Skywing heir? The war is between the two races.”

Snow didn’t reply. They flew on in silence for a few minutes. Unable to sustain the silence, Shimmer asked, “Why did they send you?”

“I was a prisoner for the Skywings. There was this eruption and chaos ensued. That night, things weren’t much better. This one Skywing, looking over her shoulder, flew directly into me. It was the heir. I could tell by the fact she wore this golden necklace with a ruby pendant. She apologized hastily and flew off in the direction of the Mud Kingdom.

“After a day or so, when the chaos died down, they realized Ember was missing. I decided to use the collision to my advantage and told them I would tell them where she was in return for my freedom. However, the eruption had caused so many casualties that the queen sent me and the Skywing that gave me this scar to search for her instead of a patrol. I managed to ditch him at the border and now here I am.”

“Wait, a Skywing gave you that scar?” Shimmer asked.

“Yeah. You see, it made me mad being trapped on that spire. When one of the Skywings flew by, I lashed out. I missed but he retaliated by clawing my face. Plus, as luck would have it, he was imbued with some sort of heat. Almost as if he was made of fire. It seared my skin,” He traced the scar on his cheek.

Shimmer grimaced. So that was the story behind the scar. She was intrigued by him. He was having an adventure. It seemed Snow didn’t quite enjoy it, though. Shimmer had joined that adventure. She would have another tale to tell at the end of her pilgrimage.

Snow had reverted back to silent form as they flew on. The rest of the morning drifted by uneventfully until the two dragons decided to stop and eat in the afternoon light. Shimmer easily snuck up on a couple of deer, but Snow came up empty-clawed. They shared a silent meal and continued their flight.

They hadn’t flown for long when they saw a patrol of six Mudwings flying in the distance. They hadn’t spotted the two dragons yet.

“Shift your color to white,” Snow said quietly.

Shimmer changed her scales’ color from her favorite blue-green color to a stark white. She had just finished the shift when the patrol spotted and flew up to approach them. Up close, Shimmer could tell they have seen a few battles. Their scales were riddled with scars and their talons were stained dark with many years of bloody fights.

“Hail Icewings,” said the lead dragon, coming to hover in front of Snow and Shimmer. “Have either of you seen a Rainwing around these parts. Dirty thief has eluded us for weeks and we finally traced her to this vicinity.”

Shimmer’s heart pounded in her chest as both she and Snow denied the question.

“Well, that’s rather unfortunate,” said the lead Mudwing.

“Maybe she left,” suggested Snow.

“I don’t know. It’s possible. We haven’t seen any sign of her for a couple days now. Anyways, we just finished our patrol. Do you want to head back to the village with us?”

“Oh no,” said Snow, “We’re on a mission.”

“Nonsense! We’re having this feast for this last battle’s victory in the Kingdom of Sand. I’m sure your commander will understand. If not, we’ll explain it to him ourselves.”

“Thank you, but we really should be going,” Snow replied.

“Listen,” said the dragon, “I, my brothers, and my sister insist on your coming” He motioned to the five dragons behind him.

“We’ll go,” said Shimmer in spite of herself. Snow shot her a glare. Shimmer hadn’t eaten in two days besides the deer, and that hadn’t sated her hunger for more than a few minutes. She had let her stomach speak for her.

“Great!” said the lead Mudwing, “My name is Squelch. This is Muck, Algae, Reed, Stone, and my sister is Silt.”

“Nice to meet you. My name is Snow and this is… Frost.” Shimmer nodded taking note of her new name. The band of dragons got acquainted and they headed to the village of Mudwings.

Within the hour, they reached a settlement in a grove of weeping willows. There were structures and dens made of dried mud and stone. Dried dirt paths linked the buildings to the main path. On either side of the path were swampy waters. Mudwings could be seen soaking in the puddles.

Shimmer and Snow walked alongside their new acquaintances. Other Icewings and Seawings could be seen here and there, most of which looked anxious for the feast. Silt came up to walk beside Shimmer.

“So, Frost. I noticed that you look a little different than Snow. Actually, you look different than most Icewings. Why is that?”

Shimmer’s heart pounded in her chest. Was her disguise that transparent? Before she could come up with an excuse, Squelch interrupted.

“Silt! It’s rude to make fun of other dragons,” he admonished.

“But I was just saying…”

“Listen. Make one more comment out of place and I’ll make sure you don’t join tonight’s festivities,” Squelch threatened.

“Fine,” Silt said, deflated.

Shimmer was curious. “Does he always act like your superior?” she asked, “I thought he was your brother.”

“He is my brother,” Silt said, “He’s also my bigwings.”

“He’s your what?” Shimmer asked.

“My bigwings,” Silt explained, “Mudwings don’t care for their young. Instead, the first dragonet that hatches becomes the bigwings. He or she protects and helps us and is pretty much a parent to all the younger dragonets.”

“Sounds a little sad,” Shimmer commented.

Silt shrugged, “It’s not as bad as you might think, Frost. In fact, it kind of teaches us to fend for ourselves and to rely on those you can trust. Kind of like the bond you and Snow share.”

“Yeah,” Shimmer said thoughtfully, “I trust him.” She glanced at Snow, who was making light conversation with Algae. Actually, Algae was doing all the talking and Snow was simply nodding along. Shimmer wondered if he trusted her like she trusted him. Probably not, but eventually he would. She was sure of it.

Just then, they reached a large, domed hut. The dragons entered to find a cavernous room occupied by a long mahogany table set with extravagant foods with tempting smells. Shimmer felt her mouth water at the sight. She glanced at Snow, who seemed more interested in something at the far end of the table. Shimmer followed his gaze then had to stifle a gasp. It was a Mudwing with amber jewels between her scales and a red snake slithering around her neck and wings. It was Queen Mire.

Shimmer instantly bowed, talons crossed and wings tilted. She saw Snow glance at her and do the same. Queen Mire nodded at the two of them and went on talking to a Mudwing at her left.

Squelch beckoned Shimmer and Snow to a spot halfway down the table. Once they were settled, Shimmer between Snow and Silt, they sat quietly while others chatted around them. After a few minutes, Queen Mire rose and the gathering of Mudwings, Icewings, and a few Seawings went silent. Queen Mire nodded her head and said, “I give you permission to eat.”

An eruption of merry racket burst into the room as the dragons reached out to grab from the mountains of food. Shimmer had already piled a massive hill of food before tearing into the meat and the unusual vegetables. She was more than happy to stuff her face and laugh and talk with Silt. Even Snow seemed happier. He pulled a smile or two during the feast.

“You’re one of the prettiest Icewings I’ve ever seen,” said a voice behind Shimmer.

Shimmer turned her head to see an Icewing staring at her. “Thanks,” she said.

“You mind if I sit here?” he said. He squeezed in between her and Snow before she could protest. “My name’s Chill.”

“Frost,” she said. Act like Snow and he’ll go away, she thought to herself. “So,” said Chill, “Pardon my being so forward, but do you have a mate?”

“WHAT?” Shimmer was totally caught off guard. She stood rigid and everyone went quiet. Shimmer knew what happened without even looking. Green zigzagged through the white of her scales; the color of surprise.

“WHAT is this Rainwing doing here!” howled Queen Mire. Shimmer tried to come up with an excuse. “Um, well, I, uh, I was just passing through, um, looking for my sister. Yeah, and an Icewing volunteered to help me. And then we ran into Squelch who invited us here. Oh, and I was embarrassed to be the only Rainwing so I wanted to look like an Icewing.” She thought that covered her tracks well enough. They, at least, wouldn’t be able to easily discover the truth.

“So… you’re not the Rainwing who was stealing from us.” Queen Mire said, “That’s your sister?”

“Yes maybe. She was always a kind of kleptomaniac.” Shimmer hoped that sounded innocent enough.

“And you claim to be looking for her?” she asked.

“Yes. She went missing a few months ago and we searched the whole Rainforest.”

Queen Mire nodded, “Alright, then welcome. Please enjoy yourself. But if you put one talon out of place, you’ll be sent straight to the dungeon.” With that she sat down and conversations sprang back up, though most seemed to cast suspicious glances at her.

Shimmer was dumbstruck. She had never thought she would get out of that. Chill had left and Snow gazed at her with an impressed expression on his face. Shimmer cast him a smile and she thought he smiled back. She knew it now for sure. Snow was there for her.

 

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