Warmth blossomed onto Anila's body as the sun rose over the trees. The young Dragoness frowned as a bird fluttered onto a branch high above her and began singing; in attempt to shut out the sound, Anila pressed to her head close to her mother's belly. She had half a mind to lift a wing and bat it in the bird's direction to blast it out of the trees.
Instead, the gray-blue Dragoness curled her tail over her head, as if the action would blot out the tweeting of the bird. She thought of the new Dragon Temple, being contructed by the Moles and Earth Dragon workers at the other side of the Valley of Avalar. All the little Dragoness knew about the Temple came from her father, Spyro. It'd been in the works for longer than she'd been alive--just a month over ten years--and was set to open within the month. Carved into a cliff, the Temple was going to be far larger than the original, capable of housing more Guardians and hatchlings, a hatchery, and even a library.
"Finally, the bird's gone." Azar lifted her head to the branch the bird had perched on. "It woke me up." A little gold Dragoness with black attributes, Azar was the eldest of four hatchlings. She was a Fire Dragon if the furnace within her belly and the resulting distortion that haloed her body was any indication.
"Me, too," agreed Anila.
Their mother, Cynder, chuckled. "We needed to get up anyway." She lifted her head high and parted her beaked jaws in a deep yawn, stretching out her lithe body as she did so.
The hatchlings let out small groans and yawns, stretching as they slowly rose to their paws. "What're going to do today, Mama?" Pali stared up at his mother. He was a Lightning Dragon with scales like Cynder's but purple attributes that were lighter than Spyro's scales.
"I suppose we should hunt, first. Spyro?"
The great Purple Dragon hummed. He chose to nestle in front of their brood to block the entrance to their nest. "Hunting?" he repeated as he yawned. "Yes, let's do that. I heard that a herd of elk recently came in."
"What's elk?" Jokul inquired. A green-scaled Dragon with purple attributes, Jokul's body constantly eminated a chill so extreme that frost formed on his body. Papa had taught him to rub his body against trees and boulders every so often so that the frost wouldn't thicken into ice and weigh him down.
"They're big deer," replied Cynder, sitting up, "bigger than the ones we hunt for you." She and Papa often hunted the little deer with black tips on their nub tails.
Azar's eyes went wide and she shuffled where she sat. "Can you hunt us elk, Mama, Papa?" The shine of her scales reflected back onto the vegetation, mixing green with gold.
Spyro smiled and glanced at his daughter. "Of course we will, Aza." He stretched and rose to his mighty paws. "Are you ready, Cynder?"
"Of course." She stood and followed her mate out of the den into the forest beyond. Within heartbeats their paw steps faded into the rustling of tree leaves and the singing of birds.
The hatchlings laid back down, eagerly imagining the taste of elk. Anila licked her lips and swallowed, and then realized that her throat felt a bit dry. "I'm gonna go drink." She rose to her paws and skirted the resting bodies of Jokul and Pali, and pushed her way though the tall grasses that marked the boundary of the den.
"I'm coming, too!" Azar was on her tail, trotting past Anila and into the world.
The darker Dragoness hurried after her hatchmate; then she slowed to a trot and admired the forest around her. The light of the sun just barely reached the floor of the forest, even though the trees were less clumped together near the forest's opening. As the sisters exited the comfort of the shadows they were blinded by the light of the sun. In the distance was a large cliff, the gray stone wall shining. Atop the cliff was another forest. The babbling of a river could be heard just before Anila and Azar; there was a noticeable dip in the land, but the river could only be accessed from the opposite side.
The young Lightning Dragoness reached the edge of the land first and craned her neck downwards to glance at the waters below. The river wasn't calm, but it wasn't frothy like it was during the rainy seasons. On both sides of the river were separate pieces of land, Anila's side much higher than the other.
Paws thudded behind her. Anila glanced up just in time to witness Azar leap off the land, her black wings outstretched. The golden Dragoness beat her wings a few times to gain a few tail-lengths of altitude before, now above the lower land, furling her wings close and diving, forelegs outstretched. She dropped onto grass with a huff and pivoted on her hind paw, trotting proudly to the river to drink.
Not to be outdone, Anila crouched and wiggled her haunches; she leapt forwards, her silvery wings flared, and kept her neck and tail straight so that she wouldn't wobble in the air. For a few moments she allowed herself to relax and her wings carried her over the river--but then she craned her neck downwards, and her tail upwards, and stretched out her forepaws as she dove towards the ground.
"Took ya long enough!" Azar's pointed muzzle was glistening with water droplets.
Anila responded by pointing up her muzzle as she padded to the riverside. After drinking her fill, she said, "Let's go back to our den."
The little Fire Dragoness pouted and dropped to her rump. "You don't wanna stay out for a little longer? Don'tcha wanna see what's over those cliffs back there?" She cast a longing glance over her shoulder to the cliffs beyond them.
"I do, but..." Anila closed her eyes. "Mama and Papa told us we couldn't go beyond the river when they were gone."
"Pleaaase?" Azar crouched into a playful position.
"I don't wanna get in trouble."
Azar sat up and snorted at her sister, twin streams of black smoke rising from her nostrils. "Killjoy. Fine! Let's go back." Without waiting for her sister to respond, the golden hatchling crouched, wings spread, and thrust herself into the air, rising over the other side of the river and disappearing from view. The Dragoness flew all the way to the nest, with Anila following her.
"Yeesh, what were you doing?" Pali lifted his dark head as his sisters returned, narrowing his eyes at them. He was curled up next to Jokul, who was dozing and glittering in the patched sunlight. "Quenching the thirst of a hundred Dragons?"
"Aza wanted to fly over to the cliffs." Anila padded over to him and lay down in another patch of sunlight, sighing contently when the warmth seeped into her scales.
"But we aren't supposed to go beyond the river!"
Azar fluttered her wings and sat with a growl, keeping some distance between herself and their sister. "I know. But Mama and Papa aren't here, so they wouldn't know unless someone tried to tattle!"
The gray-blue hatchling frowned. "Well, we're here now. Maybe Mama and Papa will fly with us later."
Jokul yawned. "Let's just wait for Mama and Papa to come back with food."
The quadruplets settled into silence for a little while, stirring back into life when the familiar scent of their father reached their nose. A moment later the massive dragon could be heard padding up to the nest.
"Papa!" The hatchlings ran out of the nest and nearly crashed into his body. "Did you get the elk?" they cried.
Spyro chuckled. "Of course, my hatchlings. Come." He turned around and led them out of the forest to where Cynder was waiting: on the far side of the river. They never ate their meals close to the nest. Mama always kept a clean and orderly living area and the river provided a quick bath for her hatchlings.
"What're we gonna do now, Mama? Papa?" Jokul inquired, snuggling close to Papa's deep gold chest.
"The Dragon Temple will open in five days' time," replied the Purple Dragon.
The hatchlings stared at him, eyes wide with wonder. "It's already finished?" Azar squawked from her position in Mama's protective hold.
"Yes. The new Elemental Guardians have already moved in. For the last year they were making the preparations to teach the new generations all they know. Dragon hatchlings from all around have reserved their spots."
Anila blinked. There were thousands hatchlings who wanted to train under the Guardians, to learn the deepest secrets of their elements...but out of those, only a hundred or so could get approved. "But what about us, Papa? Do we have to reserve our spots?"
He smiled. "No, Ani. You are our hatchlings--they'll accept you even without applying." Spyro closed his eyes and hummed. "Back when I was your age, the Dragon Temple was far smaller. It was located in the middle of where the Burning Lands are now. Of course," added the mighty Dragon with a frown, a slight growl in his voice, "the Burned Lands weren't always there. They were created by the Dark Master."
The hatchlings frowned. Pali and Azar even cast their eyes to the grass. It was a story Mama and Papa had recounted a few times, but the details never changed. An ancient Purple Dragon who claimed to be the first, the Dark Master was a Dragon who turned his back on his race and tried to kill them all. Mama admitted to being under his control since she hatched from her egg, but she was unable to stop her own body as the Dark Master controlled her to do his bidding. But, with Mama's help, Papa defeated the Dark Master. When he tried to attack them again, the ancient, insane Dragon was sealed away in the earth by the souls of the Ancestors, never to see the light of the sun again.
Spyro glanced upwards to the sky, staring at something only he could see. "When we defeated him the mountain crumbled and fell into the earth, and the Dragon Temple was destroyed." He fixated his eyes on the hatchlings, glancing at them in turn. "I want you to know that this new Temple signals a new era. Dragons my age and older only want to look forward after what happened, but we won't forget."
While her hatchmates nodded, Anila glanced up into the sky. The Dark Master summoned the Destroyer, a massive beast of rock and lava, to destroy the world. It succeeded, but not for long--Papa undid the Destroyer's work and pieced the world back together. Even now, many years later, the hatchling could see the faint, ever-present glimmer of stars competing with the sun and clouds in the sky, along with the planets.
"That's why," said Cynder, her curving horns shining in the light, "we decided that we will take you to the Temple today." She stood up, carefully dislodging Azar from her forelegs, and spread her wings.
"You heard her," chuckled Papa at the hatchlings' awestruck faces. He rose to his paws as well after nudging Pali away. "Spread your wings. Let's go."
Anila had already crouched, her silver wings at the ready, and stared impatiently at her siblings as they began to mimic her position. At their parents' command, the Dragonlings took to the sky.
Current Residence: The Lone Star
deviantWEAR sizing preference: If it fits, I'll wear it!
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