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The Dragon World is a story by Flamestar&Skystar.
Takes place after the episode Darkness Shall Rise, and is mostly told from Kai's point of view.
Sensei Wu lay down on his bed and closed his eyes, trying his best to fall asleep. The ninja, Lloyd, and Nya were already sleeping peacefully. But something seemed out of place...
Quickly but silently, he gripped his bamboo staff and jumped off of the bed, aiming it right at a shadowed figure with strange, amber eyes. The figure raised their hands in a sign of peace.
"Peace, old friend. It's me."
The old Sensei nearly dropped his staff. "You can't be..." He was silenced when the figure revealed they were wearing a golden wristband in the shape of a dragon. "Why, it is!" The two embraced each other. "It's been years!"
"Yes, it has," The figure replied happily. "Have you finally found your Elemental Ninjas?"
"Yes, and the Green Ninja as well," Wu responded.
"Well, is it possible for them to come to Noisulli?"
"I...I believe they are capable of crossing the magical border."
"Are you okay with it, old friend?" The figure asked.
"It's just...I'm not sure they're ready..."
Well, they're your students, they'll handle the news without much casualty."
Wu smiled. "Thank you, Ryu."
I woke up to find a black-clad figure standing at the end of the room.
I jumped out of bed and assumed a battle stance. It wasn't Cole, because the Black Ninja was still asleep. So were the others, for that matter.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" I demanded. He had no right to just sneak in here!
The intruder's golden wristband flashed in the sunlight. Then he jumped out the window.
"You guys! Get up! There was someone in here!" I half-shouted, half-whispered, shoving the others off of their beds. Each responded with an 'ow!' I simply huffed and jumped up on the windowsill, eager to give chase for whatever reason. "Hurry up!" I snapped, and, ignoring the others' protests, jumped out the window.
At the sight of the black-clad figure once more, I ran as fast as I could, and shouted, "Ninja...GO!" I then activated my Fire Spinjitzu briefly, and when it faded, I was in my full red suit instead of my PJs. I faintly heard the sound of hard breathing, and knew the guys were right behind me.
"What are we doing?!" Jay shouted.
"Chasing an intruder!" I replied, my gaze unwaveringly focused on the figure. We didn't stop our chase, even as we continued outside of Ninjago City. There, the figure suddenly stopped and muttered something none of us could hear. A small orange portal appeared in front of the figure, and he jumped through. I was determined to catch up to him, and so I picked up speed and leapt through. Zane, Jay and Cole were right on my tail, and the portal instantly closed behind them.
--- --- ---
I found myself in the Frozen Wasteland, the very place where Cole, Zane, Jay and I'd found the Shurikens of Ice. We were now in the middle of a blizzard, of course.
"Why have we come here?" Zane questioned.
"Yeah, why would Kai's intruder teleport himself here?" Cole inquired, glaring at me when he said 'intruder'.
I began to shiver wildly, and my gaze traveled to my misty breath. I'd always hated the cold. But a flash of black at the edge of my vision encouraged me to get up and trudge onward. I thought I heard Jay call me crazy, but I decided to ignore it.
It was an experience I hoped I'd never have to relive. The snow and ice stung my skin like needles, and my face burned with the pain. My own cloudy breathe interfered with my vision, and I was mentally thanking anyone who would listen that the intruder was wearing black, and stuck out like a sore thumb against all of this white. I swore I felt ice on my face. The snow was so high I could barely move...
And suddenly, Zane was there, behind me, plowing through the snow and ice as if he was walking through a sunny, grassy field. Jay and Cole had him by the arms, and though they looked tired and beat, they were nowhere near as bad as I was.
"K-Kai..!" Cole shouted. His voice was muffled by the blizzard.
"R-r-right...h-here..." I muttered.
Zane turned toward the sound of my voice and quickly caught up to me. He held out his left arm, the one Jay was gripping. "Need a hand?" I gripped Zane's arm tightly. It was really warm, which made me grateful.
"T-thanks..." I coughed.
"W-wow, Kai..." Jay whispered. "You don't look so good...Your face is freezing up."
"Yes," Zane murmured, worry and concern evident in his voice. "Your left cheek is frozen in ice, and the surrounding area is blue..."
"M-maybe we should head back..." Cole coughed.
"H-h-how?" I shivered. "We're too close...to the edge...have to...keep going..."
"He has a point," Zane replied. "We're very close to the edge of Ninjago...Considering Kai's condition, he wouldn't make it if we turned back."
"Then l-let's keep moving," Cole agreed. Jay would've said something, but when he opened his mouth, a hacking cough erupted from it rather than words. I was getting tired...really tired...I began to stumble and falter.
"No, Kai! D-don't give in!" Jay cried. I was trying, so help me I was trying my hardest, but my hardest wasn't enough. Sensing my fatigue, Zane broke into a run. Jay and Cole ran as best as they could, but I was too tired to even attempt to move my legs. They dragged on the snow, leaving two long trails, trails that quickly faded back into the endless white.
"Do you need help?" I slowly turned my head and stared right at the very man we were chasing. He was wearing a black ninja gi, similar to Cole's, so I could only see his eyes. They were a bright, fiery amber. I panted for breath as I stared, paralyzed. I barely noticed the others were doing the same.
"Yes," Zane finally said. "Thank you."
"Come, I'll take your red friend," The black-clothed figure offered, and lifted me onto his back. Usually, I'd complain, but I was so exhausted. I couldn't really remember what happened, it was all a blur of gray and white. I shivered violently and uncontrollably, wishing for anything warm...
And my wish was granted.
Though I wasn't aware of it right then and there, my friends and the stranger had taken us through the blizzard, and we were now on the other side. The man had gone off, left Jay, Cole and I with Zane, collected a few sticks and, with a stone and some metal, started a small fire.
Though the fire was a few feet away, I instantly felt its heat wash over me, granting me warmth and strength. All of my weariness quickly faded away. Still a bit cold, I slowly stood up. I wobbled a bit, but I stood nonetheless. I quickly felt my left cheek for the ice Zane and Jay had mentioned, but I only felt water. The ice had melted. Zane was staring in shock.
"But...how?" He asked.
"I...don't know..." I muttered. I turned to face the direction where the stranger was, ready to demand some answers, but he was gone. "Where'd he go?"
"K-Kai..." Cole groaned. He saw me and nearly passed out again. "H-how long have I been out?"
"Y-yeah..." Jay grunted. "What did I miss?"
"You both have been out for a few minutes," Zane answered.
"A few m-minutes?!" The two cried disbelievingly.
"Yes, when Kai was near the fire, he seemed to have healed almost instantaneously..."
"But why?" Jay asked.
"I bet Sensei would know..." I muttered. Suddenly, to the north, a bright flash of purple shone brightly for a split second. "Wait, did you guys see that?"
"See what?" Cole asked.
"That purple light..." Throwing caution to the wind, I stumbled through the snow to where I saw the light. "It was around here..." I reached forward with my right arm. Once my arm had passed a certain point, a purple ring surrounded it, almost like sticking something through a waterfall. Surprised, I retracted my arm, only to receive the shock of my life. My right arm was covered in red scales.
I blacked out.
Chapter 2 Edit
When I came to, I was lying on my bed at our apartment, with Nya looking at my arm and Cole feeling my forehead.
"He's awake!" Cole exclaimed. Jay and Zane jumped off of their beds and stood on either side of Cole.
"Are you okay, Kai?" Jay asked. He reached down to feel my forehead, but quickly retracted it. "Man, your head is hot!"
Out of curiousity, Zane felt as well. "That is unnaturally warm..."
"Yeah, I think Kai has a fever..." Cole muttered.
I sighed and smiled. They had me worried for a moment, but I'm gonna be alright. They noticed the smile and they exchanged confused glances. I opened my mouth to answer, but Nya beat me to it.
"Kai's always been warm. His normal forehead temperature is the same temperature your foreheads would feel if you guys had fever."
"...Like my forehead..." Zane noted. "It's always been colder than the average person's...I thought it was because I was a Nindroid, but..." Zane looked back at me. "That might not be the case."
Lloyd yawned and climbed out of bed. Seeing the commotion, he quickly went to stand next to Nya. He gasped when he saw my arm. "What happened?!"
"Yeah, were you bit?" Jay asked, glancing at my arm.
"No...I don't think so..." I rasped.
"I doubt it," Nya replied. "There's the obvious color difference, but the scales haven't grown over time like it did with you, Jay. They haven't grown at all, in fact. Plus, look at this," Nya pulled up my sleeve even further, showing the area where my skin suddenly turned to scales. "You see, it doesn't fade like it would if he was bitten. It just starts. Some of the scales on the edge here aren't even complete."
"Hmm..." Zane knelt down to get a closer look. "They don't seem like snake scales either. They look more like the scales of our dragons. And look at Kai's hand..." He held up my hand. I gaped.
"You have claws?!" Lloyd said.
"What?!" Cole grabbed my hand roughly.
I glared at him. "Ow. Scales aren't any help against pain, ya know."
He shrugged it off. "Sorry."
"This is crazy!" Jay muttered. "How the heck does this even work?!"
"I know." We all faced Sensei Wu. I wasn't surprised he knew. "You told me you were out in the Frozen Wastelands. You told me that you had been in a blizzard, and Kai had nearly died, but almost instantly recovered near fire. And that he'd stuck his arm through a purple ring. I know the answer to both of your questions, but I'll start with the blizzard."
"It is clear you four are growing closer to your elements. The reason why Kai took the blizzard so badly is because he is Fire. He has a natural weakness to cold, but fire and heat will return his strength. Zane is the exact opposite. He draws strength from the cold, but will fare badly in intense heat, because he is Ice. Cole has gotten airsick quite easily, and Jay hates being underground. It's all a part of your element. Now, about your arm, Kai. It seems you've found the magical border of Ninjago, one that separates us from our sister land, Noisulli."
"Noisulli?" I inquired.
"Sensei, why didn't you tell us?" Zane asked.
"Noisulli isn't welcome to most citizens of Ninjago. It is a closely guarded secret, and until now the only Ninjago-born who are still alive that knew about it was Lord Garmadon and I. For all of his evil, he still kept that secret."
"He didn't tell me any of this..." Lloyd muttered.
"For good reason of course. Not even the Serpentine would survive long in Noisulli. Garmadon and I are unable to cross the border, but I have a friend who can."
As if on cue, a man in a black ninja gi jumped through the window. He removed his hood to reveal a young man with short brown hair.
It was the amber-eyed man again.
Chapter 3 Edit
"You know Sensei?" I asked. I couldn't believe it! "And you're from Noisulli?"
"Yes. My name is Ryu," The man greeted. "Sensei Wu's agreed to let me take you to Noisulli."
"But I thought Ninjago-born weren't welcome in Noisulli," Lloyd said.
"Yeah, and didn't Sensei say that even the Serpentine can't survive long in Noisulli?" Cole asked.
"Well, you're with me," Ryu replied. "We'll be fine."
"I don't see why not..." Zane reasoned.
"Can I come?" Nya asked. I sure hope she can...
"You can come if you're able to cross the border," Ryu assured.
"Then why not?!" I said with a smirk. Though I was feeling rather uncomfortable with the condition my arm was in, it would be fixed when we cross the border, right?
"Let's go," Ryu said, creating a small orange portal.
--- --- ---
We trekked through the Frozen Wastelands for the second time that day, but I'd brought a candle this time. It gave me enough strength to continue, which was good enough for me.
"Hey, Ryu?" I shouted. "How come you lured us here eariler?"
"So I can show you what happens when someone crosses the border," He replied. "Their form changes to match the world they're entering."
"So this isn't your natural form?" Zane asked.
"No, it isn't."
"What is it, then?" Jay questioned.
"You'll see when we get there."
Bright purple suddenly flashed briefly ahead of us. "We're close," I noted.
"You can see the wall?" Ryu asked.
"Yeah...just for a moment though..."
"What's it look like?" Cole inquired.
"Well, it doesn't have a texture or anything, just...glowing purple..."
"Wait...I just saw it!" Nya cried.
"Hey, that's unfair!" Jay grumbled. "I wanna see it!"
"That would be cool..." Cole agreed.
"Yeah..." Lloyd muttered.
"I just want to let you know that there are gonna be some big changes once you cross the border..." Ryu warned.
"We can take whatever happens!" I smirked confidently. We could take whatever magic they dish out at us!
"I'll go first," Cole offered. He walked forward and disappeared in a ring of purple. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck just behind the wall, and I saw the pained sillhouete of...
"COLE!" I shouted. If what Sensei said was true, then lightning and electricity will hurt Cole worse than the rest of us. If that bolt was as strong as it looked...
No. I had to see for myself.
I rushed forward to where Cole had crossed over. As soon as I passed the area Cole had disappeared, I was assaulted by searing cold. I fell to the ground and curled up into a ball, trying to conserve heat. I looked up to see Cole, paralyzed by the lightning strikes.
"K-Kai?" Cole managed.
"C-C-Cole? You're s-still al-alive?"
Another pained scream tore through. I turned to see Jay, bleeding to death under a huge boulder.
"J-Jay!" I shivered. He raised his head and looked at Cole and I.
"I thought...you guys were..." A gasp tore our attention away from Jay and onto Zane, who was kneeling, beads of sweat dripping of his face.
"Zane..." I murmured. He looked at all of us.
"You're...all...alive...after all..." He groaned.
Then they all faded away, as did the cold. I slowly stood up. So I wasn't going to die?
But I'd spoken too soon. The surrounding purple suddenly turned to black, and I was slowly sinking into it. It was cold to the touch.
"No!" I screamed. Fear consumed any rational thought I had. And I could only think of escape. I blinked, and for a moment I saw Jay, slowly sinking underwater...drowning. Then I saw Zane, falling down an eternal abyss, and he was...dehydrating. Then at last, I saw Cole, being consumed by light as I was being consumed by shadows...
And where was Lloyd and Nya?
I couldn't let them go through this horrible...whatever it was.
"...But fire and heat will return his strength..."
What about the thought of fire?
I quickly scrunched my eyes shut and thought of the flame after the earlier blizzard, the one that had saved my life. I focused on its warmth and the strength it gave me. But I couldn't concentrate. My thoughts were focused on the visions of my friends being put through so much pain. I had to get out of here. These are shadows! This wasn't any Great Devourer! I can get through this...no...I will get through this!
The shadows quickly retreated, leaving me back with the purple. But hey, I'll take this endless purple over that hungry black any day of the week. I closed my eyes and saw Jay glowing yellow and creating an air bubble for him to breathe in. I saw Zane, glowing blue and pulling water out of thin air to hydrate himself. I saw Cole, glowing black and driving away the burning light.
And finally, I saw myself, glowing gold and driving away the shadows that had tried to mess with me.
I began to fall, exhaustion beginning to take its toll on me. I knew, for some reason, that Nya and Lloyd were gonna be okay. So were the others.
With that in mind, I let exhaustion take me.
I woke up with my head pounding like a war drum.
"Ugh..." I groaned. I saw I was in an unfamiliar forest, completely alone. I looked down and recieved the shock of my life. I was quadruped and covered in bright red scales.
I screamed in shock.
"Wha?!" I stuttered, unable to make sense of the situation. "Am I a...dragon?!" I needed to see myself more clearly. I stood up and aimlessly wandered around the forest, looking for a source of water. I found it in the form of a twisting river. I leaned out over the surface of the water and looked at my reflection.
My face looked nothing like our dragons'. My muzzle was long, narrow and pointed, and it kind of reminded me of a fox's. I had ears that looked like a wolf's or cat's and were tipped in gold, I had a golden mane that started at my forehead and went down the back of my neck, amber upside-down fire markings under my greenish-gray, with jet black slit-like pupils. If I turned to the side I could see I had a golden streak down my back and tail, which ended in a spiked, golden tip. I'll admit, I looked pretty good.
"Hey!" I whipped around to face a silver dragon with a red mane and a shorter, broader, less pointed muzzle. "What do you think you're doing near my river?" The dragon growled, baring his fangs.
"This river isn't yours!" I protested. But the other dragon wouldn't have any of it. He leapt forward, and I could only brace myself as he clawed my side. Crimson streams ran down from the wound.
"Oh, what's the matter?" The silver dragon asked tauntingly. "Too scrawny to make any hits hurt?"
Okay, I know and fully admit to having quite a bit of a temper and being a bit aggresive, but my fury went right through the roof.
"I'm gonna take those words..." I started. "...AND STUFF THEM DOWN YOUR THROAT!!!" I lunged forward and tore a whole patch of scales off his face. Red splashed on my claws. The silver dragon tried to bite my foreleg but I pulled it back and scored it down his eye. He screamed in pain and stumbled away, shaking the blood off of his head occasionally. I spat on the ground.
"You'd better run..." I growled. After a few moments, what had just happened began to sink in. "This dragon form must worsen my temper..."
"You think?" I turned my attention to a larger bronze dragon with a similar face to the silver one, but with four large spikes down his back and amber eyes. The amber gave it all away.
"You got it, Kai."
"Where are the others? Are they dragons as well?"
Two dragons appeared from the woods behind him. One looked remarkably like me, red with a similar face and same size, but without the streak, ear tips, or eye markings, and their tail tip was gray. Their mane was gray, but was orange where it began. The other was smaller than the rest of us, with a short, broad, round muzzle, almost flat compared to mine. He had four spikes, like Ryu, but his was tipped in silver, the same color as his tail tip.
"Well, considering how we all turned out, I'd say it's a safe bet," The red dragon stated.
"Yeah. And Lloyd."
"Do any of you know where the others are?"
"No," Lloyd answered. "It took us a while just to find you. We thought Jay, Cole, and Zane were with you."
I sighed. "Well, they're not. We're gonna have to find them."
Lloyd suddenly look admirably at me. "Wow, how'd you do that?"
"Look at yourself, Kai," Nya instructed. I looked down at my right foreleg to see the scales flickering between red and green. I turned to lean over the water again. My reflection was flickering between mine and Lloyd's. Awestruck, I reached up with one claw and gently the area my muzzle was in. It was still there, even when my image flickered to Lloyd's.
"Illusion," Ryu noted. "One of the greater powers of the Light Element."
I stopped flickering. "Light Element?"
"We're in Noisulli now. In Noisulli, the main elements here are Light, Shadow, Water and Air. All variations of your elements back in Ninjago. Here, Fire translates to Light. In all honesty, you've got the better side of the deal. Most with the Light Element can just create light. You can manipulate it to create images. That's what you're doing right now. You're creating illusions by thinking about what you want to show."
"Can you tell us anything else about how things work around here?" Nya inquired.
"When we find the other three," Ryu insisted.
Finding them would be easier if we knew how to fly. We had to have these wings for a reason! I recalled the way our own dragons flew, and slowly yet rythmically beat my wings. I wasn't going anywhere, but maybe it was because I needed more lift...I crouched and jumped up, madly beating my wings to keep myself from falling.
"Try gliding!" Ryu shouted. "That's how I learned!" I quickly spread my wings to their complete span. The feeling that followed was surreal, to say the least. I was basically floating on air, spiralling downward. "You're pretty good, for a Ninjago-born," Ryu noted. I nodded my thanks.
"I'm gonna see if I can find them," I offered.
"I'll stay with Lloyd and see if they come here," Nya stated.
"Then I'll take off as well," Ryu said. I jumped and beat my wings for height.
"Aw, come on, Nya! Can't I go with Kai or Ryu?" Lloyd complained.
"Show me you can fly, and then I'll consider it."
I chuckled to myself at Nya's reply. I was still beating my wings, watching the treetops sink below me. This should be enough. I spread my wings and let myself glide over the forest. Instinct told me to flap occasionally, to stay at this height. Flying...is indescribable. The wind blew gently over me, and an overwhelming sense of freedom and joy surged throughout my entire body. It's official: Flying is awesome. I kept my eyes on the ground below me, searching for any dragons. Even though we were dragons, it seems like we keep our voices, which saves me a lot of hassle. A flash of blue under me caught my eye, and I began to spiral downward. I landed gently on a tree branch.
I saw a blue dragon and a white dragon my size running through the forest, chased by a group of silver dragons. One of which had a red mane.
"Oh, that's it..." I growled. "...You're first on my hit list!" I tucked in my wings and went into a nose dive. Wind whipped at my face as I dove almost straight downward. I expanded my wings at the last moment and barreled into the red-maned one. We tumbled over each other, and I clawed as if there was no tomorrow. We broke out of the tumble, with me on top, pinning the silver one down with my claw on his chest. We stared hatefully at one another for a few moments, his dark green eyes burning into my own greenish-gray.
"Boss..." The red-maned one hissed. "...We need to go. We'll get 'em another day." The 'boss' glared, but complied, and with a twitch of his spiked tail, the silver dragons retreated.
"Thank you, stranger," The white dragon said. He looked a lot like me, the same gold mane, streak, ear tips and tail tip. Only the short, broad, rounded muzzle, green eyes and the eye markings were different, with a golden triangular spike instead of fire. But again, it wasn't the similar looks that gave it away. It was the voice.
"I thought my Nindroid friend would recognize me," I taunted.
"Kai?!" The blue dragon, Jay, muttered disbelievingly. He had the broader, less pointed muzzle the Ryu had, and had four spikes tipped in silver, like Lloyd, and a silver tail tip, but with silver lightning marks on the sides of his sky blue eyes, and a silver stripe on the bridge of his nose.
"Yup. I've already run into Ryu, Nya and Lloyd. Do you guys know where Cole is?" I asked.
"Nope," Jay replied bluntly.
"We haven't seen him yet. We were just looking for you all right now when those silver dragons ganged up on us," Zane explained.
"I'll take you guys to where Nya and Lloyd are waiting." With that, I took off into the forest, launching myself off of the ground and beating my wings until I was above the treetops. Jay came up right beside me, with Zane lagging behind.
"You having trouble, Zane?" Jay shouted. He was wobbling around a lot, and faltering in flight.
"Y-yeah.." The Nindroid replied shakily.
"Just relax, and spread your wings. Instinct will take care of the rest," Jay reassured. Zane slowly and shakily spread his wings and relaxed, he was silent for a few moments, before a smile graced his face. He's got it. I looked down and spotted Nya and Lloyd on the ground beneath us. I swerved into a slow, downward spiral.
"Jay! Zane!" Lloyd exclaimed.
"You found 'em!" Nya smiled.
"Where's the fourth?" Ryu asked as he professionally lighted down beside us. "Cole, right?"
"Yeah, we couldn't find him," Jay replied.
I'm right here! Ugh, they can't hear me...I'm gonna have to try something else... The voice was undoubtably Cole's.
Kai? You can hear me?
Yeah, where are ya?
Look down. I did. My shadow's eyes were glowing amber.
I almost screamed.
Kai, you've gotta help me! My shadow insisted. You're the only one that can hear me!
H-how'd you get in my shadow, Cole?!
I don't know! I woke up and I was stuck in here!
"Woah, Kai!" Jay said. "Is your shadow talking?!"
Jay! Zane! Lloyd! Nya! Please tell me you can hear me!
"Is that Cole?" Nya asked.
"I think it is..." Lloyd muttered.
"Cole! We hear ya, buddy!" Jay exclaimed.
"It can't be anyone else," Zane reasoned. "Sensei said that Garmadon can't enter this world, and we don't know anyone other than Garmadon who can control shadows...though I had no idea Cole had the ability..."
I didn't know either! How the heck does this even work!
"Because Earth translates into Shadow," Ryu said. We all turned to face him, silently demanding an explanation. Ryu sighed and muttered, "It's about time I give you the lowdown around here..."
"Ya see, there's only one dragon species around here, and it's the Fox Dragon. Now, I seriously don't know whether I should jump for joy or just give up on you all now..."
"What the heck did we do?" I questioned.
"Nothing," Ryu replied simply. "But so far we have two Fox-muzzles and two Round-muzzles. Kai and Nya here are Fox-muzzles, while Lloyd and Zane are Round-muzzles. Both face-types are rare, which means it's practically impossible to have two Fox-muzzles and Round-muzzles in the same area at once. The problem is both face types are discriminated. You'll see that most Fox Dragons will be Semi-muzzled or Semi Fox-muzzled, like Jay and me and hopefully Cole."
I wouldn't know. I can't even see myself...
"Well, that's just wonderful. We'll fix that in a moment," Ryu muttered. "Anyways, about the elements. Instead of Earth, Fire, Storm and Ice, there'e Shadow, Light, Water and Air."
"Wait, Storm?" Jay interrupted.
"Storm, Lightning, same difference. Now, Cole here is Shadow, which is the counterpart to Earth here in Noisulli. Jay I'm guessing is Air, Zane's Water, and Kai's Light." Ryu turned to me. "Looks like you and Cole've already picked up a few tricks."
Okay, this was an accident. What happened to Kai?
"He turned into me," Lloyd replied.
"Sorry, WHAT?!?!" Jay screamed. "Try me then!"
"O-kay?" How did this work again? Something about focusing on what you want to show? Then I guess I'll have to focus on Jay...
"Whoa..." Jay murmured. "Man, do I look good!" Cole and I glared at him.
"This is extraordinary..." Zane whispered, circling around me. "You look exactly like Jay!"
"Well, I say it's cool!" Lloyd exclaimed.
"Not gonna deny that," Nya stated.
So, can you get me outta here?
"If I'm calculating this correctly, then he should be able to," Zane reasoned.
"Yeah, he can!" Jay laughed. Then he leaned over and hissed in my ear, "Kai, do some fancy light thing! Get 'im outta there!"
"But I don't know- ugh..." I sighed.
"Just imagine what he'd look like. It doesn't matter of you miss one detail, as long as you get his appearance mostly correct." Ryu said encouragingly.
"Well that's great and all, but you're forgetting a little something..." Jay trust his face up a few inches fron Ryu's. "WE DON'T KNOW WHAT COLE LOOKS LIKE!!!"
"Actually, we have an idea..." Lloyd realized. "Look at Kai and Zane. They're practically the same, but Zane's white and Kai's red. The eyes and markings under it are different too."
"So that means Jay and Cole might look similar as well!" Zane finished.
"Well, why don't you try it, Kai?" Nya gestured toward my shadow. Cole sat down and braced himself. I closed my eyes and thought of Jay, but I replaced the blue with black, and sky-blue eyes with the amber.
When I opened my eyes, a black dragon with four spikes tipped in silver, a silver spiked tail tip, silver on his nose bridge, and silver spikes curling over his amber eyes was sitting down in front of me.
"I'm...I'm out?" Cole asked.
"Well, you're sitting right in front of Kai, so yeah! I think so!"
"Jay," I growled. "We don't need your sarcasm!"
"No, what we need to do is take down the Cult of Silver!" Ryu hissed. I thought of the group of silver dragons that'd attacked Jay and Zane. Ryu began pacing around, muttering angrily. "Stupid arrogant fish-heads! They think they can just gang up on the rest of us and boss us around on orders from the King! Absolute idiocity!"
Aperantly Jay'd been thinking of the silver dragons as well, because then he hissed, "Silver dragons? Good. I'm itching for some payback!"
"We can take anything they throw at us!" I agreed. It's the truth though, isn't it? If we couldn't, we wouldn't have gotten this far!
"Wait, how do we take them down? Do they have any weaknesses we can take advantage of?" That was Cole for you, always thinking and strategizing before charging into battle. I know I should pick up on that from him, but hey, you know me. Always in a rush to get things done.
"I don't know, almost no one does," Ryu muttered. "The Cult of Silver keeps their secrets to theirselves. Lucky for you, I happen to be friends with someone who quit the Cult."
--- --- ---
"The Cult of Silver? You want to know their weakness?" The indigo-purple dragon whispered timidly.
"Come on, this is important...!" Ryu muttered back.
"Hey, what's that?" Lloyd asked, tilting his head toward the town entrance. It was a group of silver dragons, all of them with either bronze-tipped spikes or a lick of bronze where their manes began. I saw the red-maned one I attacked earlier with them.
"EVERYONE LISTEN!" The leader shouted. Ryu and the indigo dragon snapped their attention to the silver dragons. "We're looking for a red Fox-muzzle, a white Round-muzzle, and a blue Semi-muzzle. They're wanted for assulting one of the Cult of Silver, dead or alive. If we find anyone is hiding these criminals, they'll be severely punished by the King himself!"
"Bronze-ranks!" The indigo dragon hissed fearfully. "The third-best rank in the Cult!" He turned to Jay, Zane and I. "You three have to get outta here, now!"
"What about Nya?!"
"I'll be fine Jay," She insisted. "They'll know it isn't me."
"But sis..." She rubbed her head gently against me. "It's okay, Kai. You need to leave."
"I'm coming with you!" Cole demanded. "We're a team, no ninja left behind!"
"I'd stay in one of your friends' shadows!" Ryu suggested. "I'll slow them down, Nya and Lloyd...stay with Vioder if something happens." Without another word, he dashed off to where the dragons were gathering.
"Uhm...how do I do that?" Cole murmured.
"Maybe think of yourself as one of our shadows?" I shrugged sheepishly. Cole rolled his eyes and concentrated. He faded away and Zane's shadow's eyes began glowing amber.
"So what, you hate me now?" Jay accused.
"Just shut up and run!" I grunted, pushing Jay. He glared at me but complied. Zane, Jay and I ran as fast as we could out of the small village. The village was in the middle of a meadow, which was far from good. "We need to find cover!" I shouted to the others.
"Your right, Kai!" Zane replied. "It's too open out here! We'd be spotted easily!"
"River!" Jay shouted. A twisting river appeared ahead.
"What are we supposed to do with a river?!" I yelled.
"Well, Zane could hide there!"
"And the rest of us?"
Yeah, Jay. We can't get separated!
Zane must not have heard my arguement, or Cole's, because he made a beeline for the river.
"Zane!" Jay called.
"What are you doing?"
"I have an idea!"
For all of our sakes, I hope it works...
Zane dived into the water headfirst. He came up a few seconds later. "Get in!"
"We'll drown!" Jay protested.
Oh wait, that could work! Get in!
"I'm not gonna drown today!" Jay hissed.
"For goodness sake Jay, GET THE HECK IN THERE!" I shouted. Jay literally tumbled into the water. A slight blue glow came from the water. Wait, didn't Ryu say that the elements here were Light, Shadow, Air and Water? If Fire translates into Light, Earth into Shadow, and Lightning probably into Air, that left Ice and Water. Oh, wait...
I dived in headfirst.
For a few terrified moments, I thought my lungs were gonna collapse. The air was knocked out of my chest when the cold water slammed into me. My vision blurred as I flailed around, instinctively trying to fight my way to the surface. Zane, whatever the heck your plan is, do it now! My vision was consumed by a calming blue glow, and Zane was there, with him and Jay surrounded by a glowing blue aura which I'm guessing surrounded me as well. I gasped and precious air went down instead of water. I nodded my thanks to Zane, this is the second time just today he saved my life.
"They might see the glow!" Jay hissed.
"I'll take care of that." I thought of the blue water that surrounded us.
Okay, you're invisible now. Woah, didn't know I could do that.
"Do what, Cole?" I whispered.
Jump from shadow to shadow. I'm in your shadow now, Kai.
"What, do you hate me?"
No. I just find you talk too much, Jay. Okay Jay, shut up and listen to Kai. I'm going into one of their shadows.
"Shut up and listen to Kai..." Jay mocked. I glared daggers at him.
I heard that. Now shuddup.
Nothing happened for a few moments.
Is anyone moving?
No, it's dead silent, I replied.
Good. Stay that way, they're coming.
"Well, that went wonderfully!" A rough, gravelly voice grumbled.
"At least we got a prisoner," A second voice quipped.
"Will you two dunderheads stop arguing?!?!" A booming voice, which probably belonged to the leader, roared. "It was amusing at first but it got old! Really fast!"
"Just hurry up and check the river!" A splash. I focused with everything I was worth on the blurry blue surrounding us.
"Nothin' 'ere, boss!"
A couple moments of silence.
Okay, they're gone.
"We're good," I murmured. Zane, Jay and I pushed ourselves up through the surface and climbed out. Shadow-Cole didn't look to happy.
Guys, they got Ryu.
"Well, then let's go get 'im!" I demanded. I already had someone kidnapped for my sake before, and I sure as heck wasn't gonna sit by while those stupid shinies-
"Kai, don't bother," Zane insisted. "It's best if we don't go after them."
"So we should leave him in the hands of those idiots?!"
He's not saying that, Jay. He's saying we should leave Ryu for a while, find out how to take down that Cult, and then bang some heads!
"The banging heads sounds appealing."
"Not gonna disagree," I huffed.
Okay, so we're separated from Nya and Lloyd, wanted by a Cult, our guide has been captured, and he's the only one who knows the Cult's weakness, other than the other dragon at that village. Ya know, that village where others pay the price for helping us? All in all, I would say this couldn't possibly get any worse, but we all know what would happen if I said that.
"...Wait, I think I heard what Ryu and Vioder said."
...IS JAY SERIOUS?!?!
"So let me get this straight..." Cole began. He'd changed back to his normal dragon form during Jay's explanation. "...All we need to do is take down the ranks one by one?"
"Yeah," Jay confirmed. "Vioder said the ranks are really divided, like they were forced together. But joining the Cult is optional."
"That doesn't make any sense!" I protested. "If this Cult is optional, why is it divided?" Something's up...
"They have to be binded together by something," Zane noted.
"Well, from the way Vioder was sayin' it, I don't think it's a common goal or idea," Jay huffed.
"An object?" I questioned.
"That could be it..." Cole murmured.
"It must be a Hypnotic Device!" Zane declared.
"Yeah, that makes perfect sense! They go into unsuspecting villages and enslave them all! That sounds infuriating enough for me!" Jay chirped.
"Um...okay?" Jay must have something against the Cult the rest of us don't know about... "What I wanna know is how the heck you heard this. I was sitting closer to them than you, and even I couldn't hear 'em!"
"I believe I know the answer to that."
"Well, watcha waitin' for? Fire away, Zane," Cole insisted.
"Well, in this world, Jay is the Air element. And sound travels on air."
"Ohh, so basically I have super hearing. HECK YEAH!"
"Okay, so I can become shadows, Jay has super-hearing, Zane can breathe underwater, and Kai can create illusions...Heck, I'm not complaining!!" Cole said with a delighted smirk.
"Who said you were?!" I retorted.
"Why are you guys still talking!" Jay interrrupted. "It's sunset already, so we gotta find a place to sleep! Ya know, sleep?!"
"Jay's right. We must find somewhere to rest tonight. I suggest the forest. It should provide enough cover."
"Great idea, Zane," Cole raced off toward the forest.
"But it was my-!"
"SHUT UP AND RUN, JAY!"
"...Sometimes, I wonder if he secretly hates me."
"I would honestly be surprised if he did," I replied.
"Same here," Zane added.
"Well, let's hurry before Cole yells at us," I said.
--- --- --- "Wake up! Pancakes!" The woman called. Her two children quickly jumped out of bed and dashed down the stairs.
"I bet I'll eat more than you!" The spiky-haired brunette boy taunted.
"In your dreams!" The black-haired girl retorted.
"Well, I'm pretty sure I'll beat you both!" Their father challenged.
"Your on, Father!"
"That's a nice song, Mother," The girl complimented.
"It's really happy," The boy noted.
"We could all use a bit more happiness in our lives," The mother responded.
"I don't know, Minerva..." The father started.
"What is it, Soren?"
"I think we're all pretty happy just as we are."
"Father, do you think I'll be a good blacksmith?"
"You'll be a great blacksmith, son. Better than I'll ever be."
"It's okay. Everything'll be okay."
"Are you gonna fight the sickness, Mother?"
"I'm gonna punch it in the face."
A small smile.
"You'll be okay, right?"
"I'll be fine. Be a big strong boy for your Mother, Kai." --- --- ---
I jolted awake. I felt water on the edge of my face. My chest ached.
"Ugh, Kai?" Jay raised his head, eyes half-closed. "You okay? You were twitching..."
"I'm fine, Jay. Go back to sleep."
"Woohoo..." A slight snore. I sighed. I wonder what Nya's doing. I wonder what they're doing. Well, I know what Nya would say. She'd call me an innsomniac. I used to be one. An innsomniac, I mean. I kinda wish she was here. She'd probably know what to do. Why, after this long trying to suppress them, did my memories decide to haunt me?
After a while of reminisance, I decided enough was enough. I needed some sleep. I laid down my head and closed my eyes for the second time that night.
--- --- ---
"Alright, guys, up and at 'em!" Jay shouted.
"Ugh, when do you wake up?" Cole groaned.
"...Not the answer I wanted."
"Well, too bad!"
I didn't feel like arguing this morning, that's for sure. Muttering under my breath, I hauled myself to my feet and dumped my head in the pool of water beside us. My foggy head instantly cleared and I threw my head up, gasping, "Cold!"
"Kai, what was that?" Cole muttered.
"Wake-Yourself-Up 101," I replied, shaking the water off of my head.
"Ha! Gotta remember that one!" Jay smirked.
"Are you guys ready? We should go."
"We'll be ready in a moment, Zane!" I shouted, getting an idea. Jay, seeing my smirk, instantly mirrored it. He knew what I was planning.
"You better hurry, Cole..." I taunted. The black dragon huffed and ignored me, trying to get some more sleep. I glanced at Jay, and an evilish smirk crossed both of our faces. "Then you've forced my hand..."
Jay and I grabbed Cole's head and dunked it in the water.
"Ack! What was that for?!" Cole sputtered. Jay and I couldn't answer. We were too busy laughing hysterically. Zane came over to see what was going on, and at the sight of our hysteric laughing and Cole's waterlogged face, he began laughing too. Cole glared daggers at all of us, but hey, I warned him! It's his own fault he wouldn't listen! "Let's just go..." Cole grumbled.
I'll catch up once I'm able to breath again.
--- --- ---
Sirian, healer for the Society of the Red Star, was simply minding his own business when that silver red-maned dragon burst into his room of operations, supporting a wounded red female with a white streak and spike tips. Both were wounded, with the silver male having a gash over his now-glazed eye. The female was injured brutally, with her left hindleg and chest covered in slices, all still bleeding red.
"What happened?" Sirian asked, an urgent tone in his usually cheery voice.
"I was on my way to see you when her Majesty herself came stumbling in here. I got this in a small skirmish," The silver male answered.
"I was betrayed," The red Queen began. "...By the Cult of Silver..."
"Those fish-headed snakes!" The red-maned one hissed. "We should've never trusted their sorry tails!"
"Lay down, Your Highness," Sirian instructed. "Let me have a look at you." The wounds were varied. While they were all thin and clean, some were quite deep, while others barely breached the delicate skin under her scales. "I'll have to treat the deeper ones immediately," Sirian noted. As he turned to get something to treat the Queen's wounds, he noticed a brief flash of red uner the Queen's claws. A red that matched her blood exactly.
"I'm going to find the Red Light," The silver male declared. The Red Light was a term the Red Star Society used to refer to their leader. "He'll decide what we should do about those shinies..."
"Excuse me, Healer, but do you have a cloth of some kind?" The Queen asked politely. Sirian took a few pieces of cloth from a box, gave one of the pieces to the Queen, and used the rest to cover up her wounds. The red female began rubbing the cloth around her claws, most likely cleaning them. The healer then removed the cloth from her wounds, no longer bleeding.
"Your Highness, you must rest. Our second healer is just across the hall. He'll take another look, treat your wounds further, and decide what room is best for you to stay in. Do you need help?"
"No, I'm fine, Healer. But thank you for the offer." With that, the Queen proudly sauntered out of the room, leaving behind the cloth. Sirian picked up the cloth and another piece, one that he'd used, and ran both under a small scanner on his counter. As he suspected, the blood that had been on the Queen's claws was her own blood.
I sense a conspiracy, Sirian thought. I'm going to have to report this to the other Guardians.
Consider it done.
Sirian noticed his shadow had stormy gray eyes.
Normally I'd bug you about spying on other dragons through their shadows, but I guess I'll make an exception today, Kira.
--- --- ---
"Hey, do any of you know where the headquarters for the ranks even are?" I questioned.
"Vioder mentioned a village named Corynere to the east," Jay responded.
"Okay, which way is east?" Cole muttered.
"Straight forward," I replied.
"How'd you know that?"
"The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It's still early morning, and we're following the sun. Good enough answer for ya?"
"Hey guys! There's a village up ahead!"
"Coming, Zane!" Cole, Jay and I shouted simultaneously.
"Okay, the villagers said there're some tunnels underground, and it's activated by a secret switch," Cole explained. We had made it to the village, but we had to send Cole in to ask around for the first rank's location, because he's the only one of us that doesn't have a bounty on his head.
"Well then, we're gonna have to go on a Scavenger Hunt," I realized.
"Scavenger Hunt?! I love Scavenger Hunts!" Jay whispered excitedly. Okay, who didn't see this coming? I mean, does anyone remember what he said when the Serpentine burned down the monestary? Oh, whatever! Anyways, we began checking every little detail, trying to find something out of place, but everything seemed normal. "Oh, this is impossible!" Jay hissed. His tail brushed against one of the tree branches, which tilted with a mechanical click. A large boulder automatically slid out of position, revealing a secret passage.
"What was that you said about impossible?" I muttered, entering without hesitation.
"Wait, Kai!" Cole insisted. "We can't just waltz in blindly!"
"Well, I'm assuming what Vioder meant by 'take out each of the ranks' was 'take out the boss of each rank," Jay reasoned.
"So it's the basic 'sneak in, take out the boss, and get out' deal?" I asked. We stopped to plan, we might as well be on the same page.
"Don't know how else to put it," Cole confirmed.
"Then let's go."
"Right behind ya' Zane," I said, following him into the passage.
--- --- ---
Okay, we've been in here for - what, two minutes? - and already this has gone from weird to freakish.
First off, it isn't the nicest place I've seen. It was a few damp, blackish-gray stone brick tunnels, each lit by just torchlight. Being underground with little to no light made me uneasy, I'll admit. Heck, being around little to no light in general made me uncomfortable. Jay was pretty jumpy, though. Can't blame him for that, he's Air and Lightning. An anti-ground combination.
The shinies there could be summed up with the words 'living dead'. They walked around - paying us no heed, mind you - with this blank, lifeless expression. When one happened to bump into another, they both said "Hail the Statue of Qwiru." Simultaneously. First, who or what is this Qwiru? Second, if the Cult is loyal to the king like Ryu said, then why are they hailing a statue?
I wanted to defeat the leader quickly, so we can get outta here faster.
"I think there're some guards stationed by a large door ahead," Zane breathed. We all each flashed a glance at each other, and I smirked. My favorite part: banging heads. We rushed into the hall in front of the guards, and with one or two hits each, we easily dispatched them.
"Okay, how do we open the door?" Cole asked, his voice a low hiss. Just then, the door opened with a loud creak. "O...kaay..?"
We entered side by side, casting quick glances around the room, waiting for something to happen. At the center was a silver dragon with a gold line under each of his eyes.
"I've been waiting for you four intruders," The dragon murmured. "Attack, First-rank!"
A huge crowd swarmed into the room, surrounding us in a circle. I recognized every dragon we've seen so far in these tunnels, and although they were no longer wandering around obviously, they each still had that blank look in their eyes. No matter. I've been waiting all day to knock some heads, and I was not waiting any longer!
"You wanna piece of me?!" I shouted. "You got me!" I charged forward and rammed into one, and it fell onto another one. The result was a Domino Effect, and ten dragons were lying down on the ground. The others quickly sprung onto me, leaving me to fight basically all of them. My vision became a silver blur, and I just hacked and slashed, unaware of who exactly I was fighting or what I was actually doing.
"Woohoo!" Jay cried. "Dominos!" ...Typical Jay. He rammed into a few, leaving an opening for me to slip out of. I quickly took advantage of it, but I still noticed the crimson streams running over my scales. I really wasn't sure if the blood was theirs or my own. A shiny suddenly grabbed hold of my left side and dug in her claws. I visibly flinched, but managed to supress any other signs of pain. I shook wildly, trying to throw her off, but that only ended in a few of my scales being ripped off. Cole came and pulled her off. New red rivers joined the already existing ones. Okay, I've had it with these stupid shinies!
"The leader!" Jay shouted. I looked in the same direction he was looking, to find the leader turning tail and retreating.
"Get 'im!" I growled, lunging into the crowd. "I'll slow 'em down best I can!" Jay and Zane rushed after the leader, while Cole stayed behind to help me. We quickly alligned ourselves into a back-to-back formation, and begun to hack at whatever shiny came close. Then, to my horror, the ones we'd knocked out slowly hauled themselves to their feet. This was going to go on forever!
"We need to retreat!" Cole shouted. "We'll never fight them off at this rate!"
As much as I hated retreating, Cole was right. I nodded and we leapt over the shinies simultaneously, then made a beeline for the exit where Zane and Jay'd gone. We didn't have to look behind us, the pounding of feet against stone floors told us we were being pursued. We caught up to Jay and Zane, who'd already taken out the leader.
"Run!" I shouted. Jay and Zane took one look, and instantly complied. The four of us continued running for the exit.
"Their leader's out cold; why are they still attacking?!" Jay questioned, his voice a panicked cry.
"It was their leader's last order!" Zane replied. "They'll probably carry it out until they either rip us apart, or he wakes up and gives them another order!"
"Well, I'm not sticking around for the former!" Cole hissed. Neither was I, but really, this isn't time to talk. Talking was a distraction, and any big distraction could end us permanently! Okay, here comes the passage...the rock is opening...daylight! I launched myself out of the passage and fell onto the ground with a loud oomf! Doesn't matter though, because we're finally out of that damp, freakish place and into broad daylight! Cole and Zane quickly pushed the rock back into position behind us, and Jay wrapped a vine around the branch and the trunk, locking the shinies in.
"That won't hold them in long," Jay noted.
"Then let's get out of here..." Cole panted.
"...Before they get out of there..." Zane finished.
--- --- ---
"I think here would be a good place to stop for tonight," Cole suggested. Jay flopped onto the ground with a relieved sigh. He was out within moments.
"O...kaay...I'm gonna ignore that," I declared. We'd been walking all day, trying to get the the village of Kirion. That's where Cole said the next rank's hideout was. Apperantly, Jay hated walking.
"Well, goodnight," Zane murmured.
"'Night," I yawned. I let the comforting black take me.
But it was not somewhere I liked.
--- --- ---
"It's the Cult of Silver!" Someone cried. "They're attacking!"
Vioder gasped. "Cult of Silver?! What do they want?!"
"Whatever it is, they're not gonna take it!" Lloyd shouted defiantly.
"We'll help defend Arenyn," Nya declared.
"I guess I could fight if need be..." Vioder muttered. "Admittedly, it's not the most honorable way of fighting..."
"Right now, it doesn't have to be," Nya reassured. Vioder nodded his thanks. The three leapt into action, charging the shinies as they entered the village. The shinies each had a brick-red color on either their spike tips or the tip of their manes where the mane began.
"Fifth-rank!" Vioder shouted. "Just below Bronze-rank!"
One of the shiny Fifth-rankers whipped around and lunged at Vioder. The two tussled as Nya and Lloyd took on the others. Vioder slipped and fell on the ground, and the shiny took advantage of it and pinned Vioder, holding a claw to his throat.
"Ah, it's been a while, hasn't it Vioder?" The shiny hissed, his chocolate-brown eyes burning with hatred despite his cocky smile.
"Don't try to throw me off with formalities!" Vioder spat. "You know how much I hate you, Necotyne!"
Necotyne's smile only widened, and he clicked his tongue in mock disappointment. "Now now, old friend, you shouldn't speak out of line. After all, you wouldn't want me to slip, now would you?"
In response, Vioder turned his head and clamped his jaws right above Necotyne's claws.
Necotyne's reaction was priceless. He literally screamed with pain, and Vioder threw him off of him. Seriously, Necotyne didn't see this coming? Vioder then kicked the guy while he was recovering, and, fastening his jaws around his hindleg, suddenly crushed them together. A loud snap came from the leg, and when Vioder let go, the leg was bent where it shouldn't have been. That must've hurt. I bet my video game console that Vioder broke it. Necotyne cursed and stumbled away on his three good legs.
Lloyd slammed the palm between his foreclaws onto a shiny's head, effectively knocking him out cold. He turned to deal with another one when a large chain suddenly flew at his back. Nya leapt in behind Lloyd and gripped the chain in her jaws before swinging it around, sending the dragon holding onto it right into a tree.
"You okay, Lloyd?" Nya inquired.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks," He responded gratefully. Another chain flew out of nowhere, but instead of Lloyd, to my horror, it got Nya instead. The shiny holding it tugged on it, and it pulled Nya down onto the ground. "Nya!" Lloyd shouted. He tried to help, but a shiny jumped onto him, forcing the small green dragon to focus on the battle at hand. Vioder came in just as several more chains fastened themselves onto Nya. He snapped one with his jaws and broke another with the spike at the tip of his tail. But a shiny rolled into Vioder and forced him out of the way. Nya tried to stand, but the dragons holding tbhe chains pulled her down again. Another shiny approached her, but when he was close enough, she crushed his wrist with her jaws.
Now that's my girl!
The dragon hissed in pain and leapt back, shaking the blood off of his wrist. But he smirked as exhaustion took its toll on Nya, and she blacked out.
--- --- ---
I jumped up, glancing around wildly, eyes wide with paranoia and fear. When I saw Cole, Zane and Jay sleeping. I calmed down.
"Calm down, Kai..." I muttered to myself. "It's just a dream...a nightmare...nothing more..." The sound of frantic flapping caught my attention and an indigo dragon landed behind me. I recognized him immediately. Vioder. But what was he doing here? Unless...
No Kai, stop. That didn't happen.
"Sorry, but do you know someone named Kai or Jay?" Vioder asked.
"I'm Kai," I answered. "What's wrong?"
"They...they took Nya."
No. No, it couldn't be! It was just a dream, just a stupid nightmare!
But deep inside, I knew it to be true.
A greenish-gray fire consumed my vision for a split-second.
"Let's go," I growled. I was going to make them pay. Make them pay for even considering of taking Nya. I was going to make them regret it...if they could even feel regret when I was through with them.
"But shouldn't we wake the others?"
"We don't have time for that!" I hissed. "We have to go now!" Without another word, I took off into the night sky, with Vioder right behind me.
I'm going to burn my mark onto their faces. Permanently!
(Note: If you're wondering what I mean by palm, think of this: Hold out your hand, palm facing upwards. Now, imagine your fingers as claws, with your thumb on the edge of your palm, just above your wrist. That's what a Fox Dragon's claws look like)
"Where are they keeping her?" I asked firmly as Vioder flew up beside me.
"Most likely the Fifth-rank," He replied. "They're the ones who captured her."
"You were part of the Cult of Silver, do you know where that is?"
"We're lucky I managed to make it up to Fifth-rank before leaving..." Vioder muttered. "Follow me." He swerved northward, with me right behind him. "I should tell you a bit about the ranks. There's the First through Fifth, and then Bronze, Gold, and the highest is Silver."
"Yeah...I left for a reason..."
"Because they're stupid, arrogant shinies?"
"Partially, but it was because they practically force others to join them."
"The First-rank base looked trashed. You were there; you probably heard them hailing the Statue of Qwiru." I nodded. "It's an illusion device," Vioder explained. "It gives them illusions of their biggest dreams and promises to make them come true if they listen to their leaders. But once you've been targetted by the Statue, it won't willingly let go. It keeps showing you your dreams, making it look like they're slowly becoming reality. The Bronze, Gold, Silver, and about half of the Fifth-ranks aren't under it's spell. They force it off of you when you're higher up in the Fifth-rank."
"Horrendous? Yeah. I was knocked out of it because some logic seeped through for me, and I got in trouble and was beaten for it. They beat the Statue's influence right outta me."
"What do you think they'll do to Nya?"
"I dunno. The Fifth-rank has the most sense out of the five lower ranks, and because they can think a bit more rationally than the others, I can't say what they'll do."
"What rank is red-mane in?"
Vioder almost stumbled mid-flight.
"You mean Ryuon?" He mumbled, ears flattened and eyes wide with panic. "He's Silver-rank, the leader of all of the Cult of Silver, just under the King..."
"Huh, that's funny!" I laughed. "I took him on, he's not that hard. And if he's everyone's boss, then why'd he call someone else boss when I first saw him?"
"He likes to pretend to be a lower rank. The rank leaders aren't aware of it, but he basically gains their trust. I don't think he has the best of intentions."
I thought about that for a moment. So basically, this 'Ryuon' fellow was going easy on me?
...HE'S GONNA GET IT NOW! NO ONE GOES EASY ON ME!
Instinct kicked in, and I tucked in my wings and legs, diving straight for the trees below me. At the last moment, I opened my wings and the force sent me forwards and upwards. It quickened my pace, but it still wasn't as fast as I would've liked.
"Need a boost?" I turned to face Vioder, who folded his wings against his sides, and then opened them with such force, a giant burst of wind propelled me forward. "Air power really helps!" Vioder chirped beside me.
"I'm now one of the Guardians of the Barrier, and elemental powers are our common practice. That's how I found you in a few hours after you've been traveling for a day. But enough talk, let's go!"
We shot off toward the Fifth-rank base just as the sun broke over the horizon.
--- --- ---
I woke up the next morning, only to find Kai was gone.
"Well, this is wonderful. I just woke up and Kai's already missing," I muttered.
"Kai's missing?" Zane yawned.
"Where'd you think he could've gone?" Jay murmured.
"I could help you with that." I jumped up and assumed a battle stance, ready for whatever this guy - or girl, from the voice - would dish out at us. "Calm down, Earth Ninja," A dark gray female Semi-muzzle with a silver streak down her back, a black mane, and black swirls under her stormy gray eyes.
"Who are you?" Zane inquired.
"Name's Kira. I work for the Guardians of the Barrier, a group founded to protect the magical barrier, Ninjago and Noisulli."
"Wait, if your job is to protect Ninjago and Noisulli, then where were you guys when the Great Devourer was awakened?" I questioned.
"Yeah, we could've used some help, ya know!" Jay grunted. Took the words right out of my mouth, buddy.
Kira shrugged. "We couldn't. Not like we'd have been much help anyway. You're the Elemental Warriors, you already have Soren, Barron, Rolaef and Tezet on your team."
My mind was drawing blanks.
"Who're those guys?" I asked. Kira stared at me for a few moments before laughing.
"Oh, I see! Hah...You don't know...Ah, nevermind. I came here because Vioder told me to tell you Kai took off in the middle of night with him."
"What would Kai leave like that?" Zane murmured aloud.
"Well, Vioder said, and I quote, 'They took Nya.'"
"THEY TOOK NYA?!?!" Jay shouted. His ice-blue eyes glinted with fury and horror.
"We must go find Nya and Kai!" Zane insisted.
"Calm down, Jay. Don't worry you two, we'll get 'em back." I then turned to Kira and asked, "Where did they go?"
"They were heading northward, to the Shadow Forest, where the Fifth-rank base is."
"Can you take us there?"
--- --- ---
"We're here," Vioder announced. I went straight into a nosedive and landed in a tree. The canopy was thicker than I'd originally thought. Despite the morning sun, it was quite dim under the treetops. Just below us was the ruins of a tower. It was quite large, able to fit about fifty others, it was broken off a certain height (which I assumed was about ten times my height), and was made of large, dark dusty-gray bricks, many of which littered the ground around it.
"Then I'm going in..." I growled. With one large leap, I easily cleared what should've been an impossible jump and landed right on the rim. With a few quick flaps, Vioder was by my side.
We dived in simultaneously, shooting down a long drop for a few seconds. Too many for my liking.
So what, you think I'm impatient? Well, try having your only family kidnapped by a bunch of brain-dead yet unpredictable shinies, and tell me how YOU feel!!!
Vioder extended his wings slighty, not enough to really slow him down but enough to land more softly. I copied his movements, and a good thing too, because the smooth floor came up a few moments later, and we were able to land on all fours and launch ourselves forward down the torch-lit hall. If we hadn't extended our wings, we probably would've crash-landed...
--- --- ---
"Oof!" I grunted, my upper back slamming into the cold stone floor.
"Ah..." Jay groaned beside me. "I think I broke something..."
Kira slowly stood up and shook the dust off of her. "Well, we're here..."
Zane stood up with no problem whatsoever. "Let's get going," He said.
...Did he feel anything from that fall?!
"Come on, Jay..." I mumbled, shakily hauling myself to my feet.
"Jay, you're fine," I insisted firmly. "Now, get up."
"You guys, come look!" Kira shouted.
"What happened?!" Jay called back, jumping up and racing down the hall.
So, Jay, what was it you said about sometning being broken?
I sighed and quickly dashed down the hall. Zane, Kira and Jay were peering down the left hall where the first hall separated into two. I took a look, and to my slight shock, a whole line of shinies lay unconscious down the hall.
Somehow, I don't think finding Hot-head will be too hard.
--- --- ---
Vioder right behind me, I walked slowly into the large room. There was a ledge extending a few feet from the entrance, witth a ramp down the right side to the main part several feet below. Down on the main floor, hundreds of Fifth-rankers swarmed, with two green translucent capules all the way on the other side. A certain red-maned shiny was watching the capsules. Watching a red dragon in the first capsule and a small green one in the second capsule pound on the glass.
"Nya!" I whispered. "But how'd Lloyd get in there?"
"He must've tried to rescue Nya on his own," Vioder reasoned.
Typical Lloyd, trying to take matters into his own hands, just to have it horribly backfire. He's been captured so many times, he really should be like the master of escape by now...oh, well. No time to dwell on that.
Ryuon had my sister, and my friend. He's not gonna like the new look I'll give him...assuming he could even see when I'm through with him.
"Kai!" I turned to face Cole, who paused when my gaze locked with him.
"You made it!" Vioder muttered excitedly.
"Heck yeah, we did!" Jay hissed under his breath. "They have Nya and Lloyd!"
"We're not gonna let 'em get away with this!" Cole growled.
"Not when they already have Ryu," Zane added.
"Ryu? They have Ryu?" Kira asked, eyes wide with shock. Her stormy gray eyes then narrowed dangerously. "They're gonna pay for that..."
"We'll make sure of it!" Vioder reassured.
"I call Ryuon..." I hissed. "He's mine." I was vagely aware of my claws impaling the stone ledge underneath me.
"I'll go get Nya and Lloyd," Jay volunteered.
"I'll come with you," Vioder requested.
"Anyone want to come with me and knock some heads?" I growled.
"I'm ready!" Kira agreed.
"I'm going in too!" Cole declared.
"I guess I'll go with Jay and Vioder," Zane said. "They may need some backup."
With that, Jay, Vioder and Zane took off down the ramp.
I turned my attention to the shinies swarming underneath us. A greenish-gray fire briefly crossed my vision.
--- --- ---
Kai, Cole and Kira leapt off of the ledge and landing on three Fifth-rankers, both softening their landing and effectively knocking out three shinies. They immediatly sprung into action, launching themselves into the thick of battle. The other Fifth-rankers, surprised by the sudden attack, quickly recovered and began to fight back. Cole ducked, dodging a Fifth-ranker, and gripped another one's foreleg in his jaw and flung him into a third.
"I'm going for Red-mane!" Kai hissed, slamming his palm onto a shiny's forehead. "Cover me!"
Kira nodded and ripped some scales off of another's face. She quickly leapt behind Kai, attacking the shinies behind him. Cole continued to battle random shinies. A few Fifth-rankers launched themselves at Kira, who quickly ducked and jumped up, knocking a shiny in the chest and sending him flying in another direction. She landed on a large Cultist's back, and dug her claws into his shoulder, releasing streams of dark crimson red, which stained her ivory claws. The shiny roared with pain and shook violently, trying to throw her off. Kira managed to somewhat direct him, so while he was thrashing violently, he actually kocked out quite a few of his own allies.
"I love this ride!" She shouted.
"Well, those three are quite a distraction..." Zane muttered as the Cultists ran toward the center of the room, where Cole, Kira and Kai were. He, Vioder and Jay were sticking to the sides, where it would be easier to get around the the capsules in the back.
"Think they can deal with all of them?" Vioder asked.
A group jumped on Kai and began to drag him down. The red dragon roared with rage and quickly spun around, flinging them all off at once. Jay, Vioder and Zane stared in shock.
"...I think they're good," Jay replied. "Let's just keep going..." The three snuck beside the wall, slowly making their way to the capsules. "Nya! Lloyd!" Jay whispered, racing up to the capsule.
"Jay!" They shouted, their voices quiet and muffled from the capsule's thick glass. "Zane! Vioder!"
"Something's not right..." Vioder noted. A flash of silver and red appeared behind Zane. "Behind you, Zane!"
Zane whipped around just in time to see the shadowed figure of the red-maned shiny, his green eyes glinting dangerously, lunge for him. But a red streak intercepted him and knocked him away. There were thin slices on the red-mane's side, and in the light, a scar over his eye was visible. The shiny looked at his assulter and laughed.
"Well, it's about time you showed up," He murmured. His voice was eerily smooth. "I was waiting for you, but you didn't show up, so I thought I was gonna have to, uh...remove the white one instead."
Kai hissed angrily. He looked nothing short of insane. He was covered in scratches, most of which spilled blood onto the floor beneath him. He was panting for breath, his face was twisted into an enraged snarl, and his eyes...the pupils were gone, replaced with a greenish-gray fire. "Leave...them all...alone..." He hissed, his voice seemingly doubled, as if two Kais were speaking instead of one.
"Why? Afraid you'll lose anyone else close to you?"
"SHUT UP BEFORE I TEAR OFF YOUR JAW!!!!!"
Jay, Vioder and Zane took a step back. Inside the capsules, Nya and Lloyd froze. Even Red-mane froze for a few moments, but he recovered quickly.
"I still despise you for giving me this," He hissed, reaching up and gently patting his scar with his left palm. "Even though I was really going easy on you."
"The feeling is mutual," Kai replied in that creepy double-voice of his. "No, in fact, I hate you more than you do me."
"Is that so?"
"Yes," The red dragon lowered himself into a crouching battle stance. "If you're not a coward, maybe I can show you just how much, Ryuon..."
A smirk crossed Ryuon's face. "Bring it on."
The two leapt at each other, gripping each other and tumbling over each other. Vioder stepped forward to help, but Zane stepped in front of him.
"Don't," The white dragon hissed. "This is Kai's fight. Right now, we need to free Nya and Lloyd." He locked eyes with Jay, and the blue dragon instantly got to work on Nya's capsule, and Vioder got to work on Lloyd's.
"No use!" Jay muttered. "What is this stuff made of?!"
"Maybe we can help," Cole suggested, pushing on Nya's capsule.
"Where'd you guys come from?" Vioder whispered to Kira.
"These guys are pretty much brain-dead," The gray dragon replied, pushing against Lloyd's capsule. "We tricked them into fighting themselves. It won't last very long though, we have to hurry. We heard Kai...is he possesed or something?"
"I don't know..." Zane replied, watching in case someone tried to sneak up on them.
"He saved Zane, though, and he's attacking that shiny," Jay pointed with his tail. "So I still think he's on our side."
"Good, 'cause I don't want to be on the recieving end of that," Cole whispered.
Kai dodged Ryuon's claws and fastened his teeth onto the red-maned shiny's wrist, and crushed it with force. Ryuon gasped in pain, but pulled his foreleg away and swiped again, this time hitting him right on the back of the left side of his jaw. Blood burst from the broken skin beneath the scales, dark crimson red against bright firey red. In return, Kai reared up on his hind legs, gripped both sides of Ryuon's face, and tore off entire patches of scales. The shiny jumped over Kai and onto his back, tipping the lighter dragon over, but crushing Ryuon and shocking him into letting go. Kai rolled off of Ryuon and, seeing Ryuon lunging for him again, jumped up and hovered. Ryuon tensed himself and prepared to attack when...
The green capsules shattered. The others, who had gone from simply pushing to pounding, had finally broken the glass, and Nya and Lloyd jumped out. For a split-second, Ryuon unintentionally focused his attention on his now-free prisoners. But a split-second was too long. Kai, in attempt to tackle the shiny, swooped down and gripped one of Ryoun's ears and held another claw over his scarred eye. Ryuon tried to pull away...
...And screamed bloody murder.
In shock, Kai pulled away, the green fire in his eyes dimming, but the damage was done. Ryuon's ear lay on the ground, still bleeding, like the stump it left on the shiny's head. And when Ryuon turned to face him...and Kai suddenly felt sick. Three neat scratches went right across his scarred eye, which was now red and bleeding. Blood poured down his face, and his remaining green eye was wide.
Everyone stared in silence for a few moments. Finally, Ryoun spoke. "I...I'll get you..." He seethed. Ryuon backed away fearfully. "RETREAT!" He shouted to the Fifth-rank. They scattered, screaming in fear and dismay. The leader of the Cult of Silver glared back at Kai, his green eye burning with eternal hate. "One day, I'll find you," He promised. "And then you're dead!!!" And he ran, following the Fifth-rank.
The greenish-gray fire burned out.
"Thanks, Jay," Nya murmured as th others regrouped. She gently touched noses with the blue dragon. Jay's eyes widened and he smiled happily. If he was still a human, he would've been blushing madly. The gray-maned Fox-muzzle smiled and left Jay alone as Cole snickered.
"Kai?" She asked, standing beside her older brother. He was staring where Ryuon had stood, his eyes glazed with shock and horror. At the sound of her voice, he turned.
"Hmm?" He hummed. Nya sat down beside him and leaned on him slightly.
"Thanks," She replied. "I know how mad he made you. I know you didn't mean it."
"Thanks," Kai murmured, his troubled eyes growing affectionate.
"We should go," Kira decided, seeing the siblings. Zane followed her gaze to where Nya and Kai were sitting. He sensed Kai was deeply disturbed, possibly even more than the rest of them. He'd have to mention it to the others later.
"Where?" Vioder asked.
"To the Guardian's Fortress," Kira responded. Vioder instantly brightened up.
"Well, what are we waiting for?!" He asked excitedly. "Let's go!"
"Hey, Jay! Zane!" Kai called. Zane looked at his brother confused, while Jay a little nervous and wary. Zane thought he saw a spark of hurt in Kai's eyes when Jay looked at him, but it faded quickly. "I saved you twice...
...don't make me save you again."
I stayed by Kai's side the entire flight. He needed it; he still had that dull, horrified look in his eyes, despite his partially smug comment he said to Jay and Zane earlier. Kira had stayed behind at the Shadowed Forest or whatever it was called, saying that she should get home before nightfall. It was already past that now, and we were still flying. Now we'd gone from flying over forest to flying over snow-littered plains. The farther we flew, the colder the air was. Already Kai's breath was coming out a bit misty.
We lagged several behind the others, with Vioder leading ahead. I gently brushed against my brother's side.
"I'm right here," I whispered. "Don't blame yourself." The dullness lessened. As much as my older brother would hate to admit it, he's quite emotional. That's why he's angered so easily, his emotions are powerful. I'lll going to support him until he gets over this. I'm surprised he didn't hurl. Lots of blood like that...no. Just, no. Mother was like that too. She could take some blood, but if it starts to get really messy, she'd be sick.
Mother...after all these years, I still miss her just as much as I did eight years ago. Father too.
"Nya?" Kai asked, his voice quiet.
"I think I'm starting to get sick..." I looked up at his forehead. Beads of sweat began to form, despite the cold weather.
"Dangit.." I hissed under my breath. It's been an hour and a half, and he's breaking out in cold sweat now?! He had a minute at best. I looked down, and noticed a small bush. "Below you, Kai." He looked down and began to spiral toward the shrub. Good idea. If he'd dived, it would've made him feel worse. I lighted down next to him and said, "Wait here, I'll get some water." Unfortunately, there was no water source nearby, so I had to make do with some snow.
"What's up, Nya?" Cole asked, landing beside me. Zane and Jay came down as well, with Lloyd and Vioder hovering above, waiting. "Is everything okay?"
"It's Kai, he's having a delayed reaction."
"Wha?" Jay asked stupidly.
"Ech!" Jay gagged, and Cole visibly cringed.
"Hurling what?" Zane inquired. Behind him, Jay gagged again.
"Um, you don't wanna know," I replied.
"I didn't know Kai had a weak stomach..." Cole muttered.
"Weak stomach? Where did that come from?" Jay gagged for the third time, while Zane stared at the blue dragon in confusion.
"S'not weak...!" Kai grumbled weakly.
"Tell it to the judge, Kai," I responded.
"What judge?" A certain confused white dragon muttered.
Jay cracked up. "Haha...nevermind...!" He laughed as Cole and I glared. I pitied Zane though, the guy looked confused beyond belief.
"Anyway," Cole muttered, rolling his amber eyes. "You okay, Kai?"
"F-fine..." I took that as my cue. I went to my exhausted brother and pressed the snow to his forehead. "Thanks, Nya..."
"Anytime," I assured. I meant it, Kai was my only living family. We had to look out for each other. "You feel well enough to fly?"
"Then we'll walk," I decided. Jay began hovering, and Lloyd and Vioder lowered themselves. Vioder even let Kai lean on him.
"Thanks, Vioder," Kai whispered. "For this...and for taking care of Nya and Lloyd...when Ryu and the others and I couldn't..."
"I didn't mind. Your sister and friend make great company." The three of us shared a smile, and Kai's eyes brightened quite a bit.
And although no one spoke anymore during the walk to the Guardian's Fortress, it's not as if anyone needed to.
--- --- ---
"This is it." Vioder had brought us to a cream-colored, three-story building, like the ones in Ninjago City.
"This is the Guardian's Fortress?" Lloyd muttered. "Looks...unimpressive."
"Lloyd!" I hissed sharply. Palace or no, it wasn't an excuse to put someone down! Especially since they were kind enough to let us stay!
"No, it's alright," Vioder assured, a spark of amusement lighting his deep blue eyes. "I'd been thinking the same thing when I first saw this place." He let us inside, where dozens of brightly colored dragons hustled about everywhere. It was nice to see groups of dragons who weren't silver.
"This is where we get our missions," Vioder explained. "The rest is beyond this teleporter." He stepped on a cyan-blue p,atform and disappeared.
"A teleporter?! Awesome!" Jay remarked.
"I'm next!" Lloyd declared, trying to push back Jay.
"Oh no, you're not!"
I smirked, noticing Cole sneaking over to the teleporter. "See ya!" He teased, stepping onto the platform and disappearing.
"HEY!" Jay and Lloyd chased after him and disappeared at once. With a sigh, Zane followed, with Kai and I right behind him.
--- --- ---
When the blue faded from my vision, I gaped. We were no longer in that ordinary building. Ohhh, no. We were in a gigantic, magnificent, golden chamber room, with six hallways: Air, Light, Shadow, Water, Library and Quarters.
"Well, wouldja look at this place," Jay commented.
"Extraordinary..." Zane murmured.
"Geez, this room is fit for a king!" Cole noted.
"Woah..." Lloyd breathed.
A purple Round-muzzle with a black mane, a black tail tip, and black swirl markings under his golden eyes approached. "Greetings. My name is Ranax, one of the leaders of the Guardians of the Barrier." We all bowed our heads in respect. "I've been waiting for you all. Come, you must be tired." Ranax led us down the hallway labelled 'Quarters' . "You each have your own room. Get some sleep, you'll need it for tomorrow."
--- --- ---
Ryoun entered his room, quiet as ever. He looked into the mirror, staring at his scratched and bloody red eye, and the stump that was left of his right ear.
"Ugh, I'm gonna be sick..." He grumbled. I felt as if I was going pale. He had just said that...in my voice. "At least I got to see them again today, even if I did have to face them..."
He suddenly smiled at the mirror. "I hope you're getting this message, red one. I know you can see what people want you to see in your sleep. Meet me at the river where we first met in five days. I've got something important to show you."
Why should I trust him?! He kidnapped my sister, tried to attack my friends, and assulted me multiple times!
Ryuon sighed. "I know you don't trust me, and you have good reason not to, but please, it's really important. And as proof that you got my message..." he reached up, gripped his left ear (the good one), and yanked it. The silvery face fell away...
...To reveal my own, uninjured face.
"Call me Soriak."
I woke up in my bed, frozen in shock. What the heck was that?!
"What's up, Kai?" Nya asked. We had decided to share a room, with her bed on the opposite side of the room from mine. "You look shaken."
I couldn't help but think of the dream I just had. Ryuon...uh, Soriak's words kept echoing in my mind, along with the fact that he'd pulled off a mask and his face had looked exactly like mine.
"Meet me at the river where we first met...And as proof you got my message...Call me Soriak."
I snapped back into reality. "What?"
"You...you just made a screen appear right in front of you..."
"Yeah, it had that Red-maned dragon speaking to a mirror...you were speaking for him, saying to 'meet me at the river where we first met', and then..."
"He took off a mask and looked just like me?"
"I had a dream about it last night..." I admitted. "He was talking to his mirror, but he seemed to know I was listening...I know it isn't fake, I know he meant to talk to me, he said he had something important to show me, but should I trust him?"
"I dunno," Nya confessed. "But he gave you some time to think about it. Take advantage of it. Now, let's go. I'm sure the others are waiting."
"Can we keep this to ourselves? It's confusing enough without any other opinions..."
Nya smiled in understanding. "Of course."
I suddenly remembered something. "I had another dream the night before I came for you in the Fifth-rank base, of your capture."
"Yeah, and I've got to say..." I smirked. "Slamming a guy into a tree and snapping another's wrist...I'm proud of ya sis, I really am."
--- --- ---
Ranax had informed us that Vioder had told him what happened, and he'd made the desicion to train us to use our elemental powers. I was mentally cheering when he said that. Kira was to be Cole's trainer, a white male Semi-muzzle with lavender eyes and black zebra-like markings named Ehtycs was to be both Jay and Vioder's trainer, a blue-gray female Semi-muzzle with azure-blue eyes named Aura was to be Zane's trainer, and Ranax was to be mine.
Immediately, Ranax led me to the Library. It was huge, just as big as the great golden room, with shelves digging into the walls and in neat rows closer to the back, all packed to the brim with books. A group of tables were in front of the rows of shelves.
"Why are we here?" I asked the violet Round-muzzle. I'd expected us to go straight to training, not the Library...
"I understand from what Vioder told me that you are more Fire than Light. Understandable, considering you're from Ninjago and not Noisulli. I have close ties to Sensei Wu," he said, answering my question before I could ask. "You're Fire. You go straight for the attack without much thought, yet you're a quick thinker, and can improvise. You think Fire is based on physical strength? That's where you're wrong. Fire doesn't rely on physical strength like Earth, strategy like Ice, or precision like Lightning. Fire relies on mentality."
I listened, intrigued but confused. Fire had always seemed to be more on the side of strength to me, so this was entirely new. "But Fire doesn't really seem like the mentality type..."
"That's because you confuse physical strength with mental strength. Many make the same mistake. Earth is stubborn but supportive, Ice is smart and strategic, Lightning is powerful and precise, but Fire is persistant. It is this persistance that makes those with a fiery personality great fighters. They are not the strongest, because that's Earth. They're not the best strategists, because that's Ice. They're not the most powerful, because that's Lightning. Fire is the believer, the optimist. They're quick, both physically and mentally, and of all of the other elements, including Noisulli's, they're the ones who'll fight the longest, because they hate failiure the most. If they can't burn through it, they'll burn over it, if they can't burn over it, they'll burn around it. That is the nature of Fire."
Wow. That lecture, despite how long it was, made perfect, utter sense. Cole can be a bit stubborn, but he's very supportive of the rest of us, Zane is very smart and strategic (though Cole's strategic as well), Jay is quite powerful and can be quite precise, but I'm the one who doesn't give up. Who was the one to convince the others to keep fighting the Great Devourer, even when Sensei was gone? Who'd said then that an idea would be more help than any weapon at that moment? Me. My realization must've showed.
"Now you see," Ranax continued. "That your strength doesn't lie in your body, it lies in your mind. Light is much the same. You're of Fire, but your powers will most likey be the easiest to teach, considering your Noisullian Element. Light is the most varied element of the eight, because of its many colors. Though everyone of the Light element will be enormously different, they all have a few things in common: to name a few, their fairness and strong mentality. We're here to build up that mentality. So get reading, and tell me everything that you've learned when I say." Ranax then left for the very back of the Library.
I released a sigh. This was by far the most difficult task anyone has ever given me!!!
--- --- ---
"...And the major skills of the Light element: Illusion, Dream-Messaging and possibly Dream-Walking, Altered Vision, and Glowrod."
"Now tell me about these abilities."
"Illusion is the power to manipulate and bend light to make something appear to be there but isn't. Dream-Messaging is the power to see in your dreams what others want to show you, and Dream-Walking is the ability to make yourself appear and speak in those dreams. With Altered Vision, you can switch between seeing normally and seeing in a different way, like X-ray. And Glowrod, the most common ability, is the power to create light."
Ranax smiled, his golden eyes brimming with satisfaction. "Good. Now go, they're serving lunch. We start getting into battle tactics after lunch, I'll tell you when!" I cheered and raced down the hallway and into the Quarters one. At the very end was a general training room and the cafeteria.
"Hey, what's for lunch?" I asked. I, unfortunately, was the last one there, the others were already seated at a table. Jay's eyes shone.
--- --- ---
"Illusion can be used to confuse or intimidate your opponent, if you have the focus," Ranax explained. "Now, try to make an Illusion clone of yourself. Imagine two, one a puppet of pure light, and the other the real you. Try to remember every detail."
I let thoughts of my own appearance fill my mind. Red, Fox-muzzled, with golden ear tips, tail tip, streak, mane, amber fiery eye markings, red wings, and green-gray eyes. I felt something like cold air on my left side. It was cold, and it sent shivers up my spine, but it didn't feel solid.
"You got it," My golden-eyed instuctor assured. "Feel cold?" I nodded slightly. "That means you got it. Light has been described as cold Fire: Fire without its heat, or burn. But with the burn comes the persistance. Remember that. Now, try to confuse me."
My clone and I moved at once, merging and then pulling apart, with me going right, and my clone going left. Ranax was still and silent, then he suddenly lunged for me and pinned me down.
"That was good, for a starter, but you were making noise. If you want to really confuse your opponent, you have to be dead silent, because pure light doesn't make noise, got it?"
"Great, now let's switch it up. I'm going to try and confuse you, and then attack you. You'll have to figure out the real me quick." He let me up, and told me to stand in the center of the training room. He stood near the entrance and made a perfect clone of himself. The two separated like me and my clone: one went left and the other went right. I stayed still, and didn't move a muscle, just like Ranax had. Apprehension grew steadily. They were probably gonna attack any moment and-
There. A very quiet click, one that I normally wouldn't hear.
The two jumped at one, but I ignored the right one and ducked under the left, then I swatted him to the side with one powerful swing. Ranax went tumbling to the floor, and his clone disappeared. With a grunt, Ranax stood up, his gold eyes shining with pride. "Perfect. You're gonna go far, kid."
--- --- ---
Three Days Later
Ranax stood in the center of the room, with me on the left and my clone on the right. We've gone through this everyday after lunch, and I've failed all three times. It was always something. The first time, as you know, I was making noise, the second time I was so focused on not making noise that my clone had begun to flicker, and the third time my ear twitched slightly, and my clone's didn't.
But today is gonna be different.
This time, I was careful to step lightly and not to let my claws touch the floor, so that I didn't make noise. I pretended my clone was my reflection, like I was looking at a moving mirror. Ranax glaced from side to side, waiting for me to slip up.
My copy and I lunged at once, and Ranax lunged for my copy, but it faded at the last moment, and I slammed into my trainer, sending him sprawling. He jumped up.
"WOOHOO!" I shouted, ecstatic at my victory. "I finally got you!"
"That was perfect, Kai," The purple leader complimented. "It usually takes months, even years, to master Illusion, Altered Vision and Glowrod. You're my most dedicated student. In fact, I believe you're ready for your final test. Come with me."
Ranax led me out of the Light hall and down the Quarters hall, to the training room at the end. Kira, Aura and Ehtycs were waiting there.
"Ya think he's ready?" Ehtycs asked.
"I don't think so, I know so."
"Well then, if you're so sure, then let's see!" Kira challenged.
"Let's start it up, then," Ranax agreed. The four trainers flew up and sat on a ledge. Cue my confusion. Kira'd made it sound like I was gonna face the four trainers, but they were gonna watch? It was obvious I was gonna have to fight someone, but who? I then remembered my final test back at the monestary...
Jay came out first, followed by Zane and Cole. It was a free-for-all, and I didn't nessecarily like the odds. But to heck with the odds, they're all going down!
"GO!" At my trainer's call, Jay and I charged each other. I jumped up, narrowly avoiding both Jay and a stream of water Zane had conjured up. The stream slammed into Jay, but he shook it off and flew up. That wasn't good. It didn't matter if I was touching the ground or in the air, as long as Jay was off of the ground, he had the advantage.
How do I know this? Visits to the Library every morning! Thanks for that, Ranax!
I ducked as Cole flew right over me. Hah, you were too loud! Thanks again, Ranax!
The black dragon hissed in annoyance and crouched, ready to spring again. I kept my ears open, in case someone tried to take advantage of me.
"Watcha waitin' for, Cole?!" I taunted.
"I'm not gonna take the bait, Kai," Cole retorted. His shadow sprung up from the ground and attacked me, while Cole himself flew off to deal with Jay. Bad idea, Cole. But heck, that's not my problem. His shadow is. It took a swing and I raised my claws to block it, and it was shockingky cold to the touch. I don't feel like blocking it anymore...just get rid of it. I activated Glowrod, and a bright fiery red glow surrounded my claws. I swung and caught it on the chest. It froze and faded.
A faint whoosh caught my attention, and I saw Jay spinning around, with one wing tilted upwards and the other tilted downwards. It kinda reminded me of...
"A fan..." I hissed. Smart idea, Jay. The wind caused by the move sent the rest of us sprawling. Jay dove down, ready for another. I'm not gonna let him. I jumped up and flew towards him. Jay may be stronger in the skies, but on the ground, we were sitting ducks. Jay sent a tornado-shaped funnel of wind in my direction. Aw, dangit, what now?! Wait, is that an opening? I tucked in my wings and spun, sqeezing through the small opening and not getting blown away. The blue dragon however seemed to anticipate this, and folded his wings at his sides. Oh wait...Vioder did this on the way to the Fifth-rank base! Jay suddenly whipped open his wings, and a giant pulse of wind knocked me out of the sky. As I fell, I shouted as a stream of water knocked me onto the ground. Perfect...At least it would dry off quickly in the sun...
I took off again, going straight for Jay. The blue dragon dodged...but that was just what I wanted. I flew on, straight towards the sun, with my eyes scrunched shut to keep myself from going blind. Then I turned around and folded my wings at my sides. Jay had his back to me, and was throwing wind at Cole and Zane. I slammed myself into him at full force, throwing the blue dragon across the training area and knocking him unconscious. Zane and Cole exchanged a glance before lunging simultaneously. Great, we're barely a few minutes in, and already I have two guys ganging up on me. But I had held my own against Zane, Cole and Jay before, so who says I can't do it again? Certainly not me.
I ducked and swiped at Cole, who managed to dodge at the last second. Zane on the other hand got a perfect shot, and I grunted as he pushed me down. He sent a stream of water after me again, but I spread my wings out and let the water push me down and my wings act like a parachute. What I had expected was the water to push me down but my wings to slow the drop and make it easier for me to land properly. That wasn't what happened. You know when you squish something in your hands but then it pops out with force. Yeah, that's exactly what happened. When the water hit me, I half-flipped and rocketed back upwards while upside down. By some miracle, I managed to slam into Zane. The poor guy crashed next to Jay. Okay, if anyone asks, blame luck, not me!
Now it was just me and Cole. I knew I couldn't rely on heavy hitting, Cole was much stronger than me. Looks like I'm going to have to go with evasive maneuvers...or Illusion maneuvers. I landed and Cole lighted down a few yards away. This was just like Ranax's training! But...who says I have to do the same exact thing? This time, I created two clones, and made myself invisible. I slowly crept up on Cole, remembering to step light and keep my claws off of the ground. I've said it twice, I'll say it again: Thank. You. Ranax!
I made the left clone go first. When Cole tried to block, his claws went right through. Quickly, he attacked the other one, only to have the same result. But apperantly he had a few tricks up his sleeve as well. He faded into my shadow, and began to attack me like that. Dangit! Shadows can see through illusions. I quickly dodged his every swing. How am I supposed to get him outta there?! Pull him out like before? No, he won't let me! Then something came back to me. I quickly activated Glowrod again, and flashed a bright gold. Cole was forced out of my shadow. THANK YOU LIBRARY! However, as I attacked, he swung at me.
It hit me dead on.
I landed on my back, and the rough landing knocked the wind out of me. Aw heck, that really stings... Cole smirked triumphantly and walked away. Why is he...? Oh, he thinks I'm out! Well, he's gonna really feel this, then! I struggled to my feet, careful not to make any noise whatsoever. I stalked behind him and leapt. Cole turned, and his amber eyes flashed with shock as I slammed my palm onto his forehead. The black dragon collapsed. I looked around the clearing at my unconscious companions.
"I still can't believe you kicked our butts!" Jay muttered. We'd finished dinner and were now heading to our rooms for tonight.
"Well, believe it," I replied with a smug smirk.
"Still, that was a good fight," Cole admitted. "Kai was knocked down so many times, I was beginning to wonder why he'd get up again!"
"Well, I'm Fire. We have persistance problems."
"And a temper to match," Zane added.
"I'll say!" Jay agreed. Normally I would glare mildly, but we were all in such a great mood, I laughed with the others instead.
"Well, see ya guys tomorrow," Cole said. His room was the first in the hall. Mine was next.
"See ya, Cole. 'Night Jay, 'night Zane."
"See ya, Kai. I hope you're up for a rematch."
I laughed as I entered my room. "In your dreams, Jay!" Before the talkative dragon could respond, I shut the door, snickering as I imagined Jay's expression. Nya was already in bed.
"Kai, do you know what you're gonna do?"
"About Soriak." Dangit, I'd forgotten about that. It must've been noticable, because then Nya said, "It's alright, you still have tonight and tomorrow morning. I was just checking."
"Well," I sighed as I settled into my bed. "G'night, Nya."
--- --- ---
I was in his room again. Ryuon/Soriak's. I still haven't decided. He was there too, looking in the mirror.
"Geez...it's so hot...can someone remind me how I survive with this suit on constantly?" Soriak muttered. Yeah, I'm going with Soriak for now. He pulled off his mask and stepped out of his silver suit. "Ahh...that's so cold..." Man, he did look just like me! Everything was the same except, of course, the eyes. He stared into the mirror. "You wanna know how to Dream-walk, right?"
Soriak knows how to Dream-walk?! But only one dragon knew how to do that...the prince...
"Just think of yourself standing next to me." Soon, my vision switched. Instead of being able to see the whole room, like in one of those cut-away pictures in books, I was now standing next to Soriak. He turned to me. "There, that's better. Now I seem less insane!"
"Yup," He grumbled. "But if anyone says I'm proud of it, they deserve to get thrown in the First-rank base for a few days. If they don't get torn apart, they'll keep the scars..."
"What's so bad about being a prince?"
"I have to live under my father..." Soriak hissed. "My father was corrupted long before I was born, when he barely survived an assasination attempt. My mother, Snowsun (but she goes by Sonu), ran away to have me. We lived on our own for years, until my father finally found us five years ago. He doesn't care a bit about me. In fact, the only reason I'm still alive is because I'm the leader of the Cult of Silver, and if he killed me, Mother would start a rebellion."
Wow. "That's harsh," I muttered.
"Yeah. It is. By the way, sorry about the trouble I've caused you. It's part of the compromise Mother made with my father. I have to obey his every word if I want to stay alive. Basically, go out and possibly get killed in order to test you."
My temper flared. According to Soriak, my look-alike had done nothing wrong but lived, and he had to live under a father that wanted him dead. He'd been sent by his father to provoke me and my friends, and possibly get killed, and for what?! To see how strong we were?! I'd love to take out his eye and ear!
"What kind of sick, twisted..." I grimaced in disgust, unable to complete my sentence.
"My father only believes in strength and power. He wants to create a world where only the strong exist, and those who don't have such power or strength to be killed. You wanna know why you always see Semi-muzzles? Because my father pays people to kill Round-muzzles and Fox-muzzles for sport. Those are the lucky ones. I've seen it. They capture others and pit them against one another in arenas to fight to the death. It's sickening."
I shuddered. Seeing all that blood...I'm okay if I think of it or see animated blood, but real blood...no. Absolutely not.
"That's...horrible...but you're a Fox-muzzle."
"Yes, but my father doesn't know that. I have a little sister, Astrid, and three other friends, named Taqqiq, Azure, and Tophan. Azure made special disguises for me and Astrid, to make it seem like we're Semi-muzzles. That's why I'm always wearing that thick mask, to hide the fact that I'm a red Fox-muzzle. I have to look just like my father, otherwise I'm dead. Just to add to that, this whole suit is really thick because of the layer of false blood underneath, and I have to wear silver paint because I'm leader of the Cult of Silver. But enough about me, I don't even know your name!" He looked at me expectantly.
My desicion was made.
"Kai. My name is Kai."
--- --- ---
"What was it you wanted to tell me, Kira?"
"I recieved a report from Sirian a few days ago. Queen Sonu had arrived at the Society of the Red Star and was seriously injured. She claims she was betrayed and attacked by the Cult of Silver, yet Sirian has gathered evidence that the wounds were self-inflicted."
"That's strange...anything else?"
"He gave me another report yesterday. It troubles me, Ranax. Sirian claims to hear increasing whispers of war."
--- --- ---
"We're here!" I shouted to Nya, gently landing beside the river in the tiny clearing. I'd woken Nya and we'd snuck out at dawn, while everyone was still asleep. It had taken us a few hours to get here, but it wasn't yet noon. On the way, I'd filled her in on the information I'd gathered from my conversation with Soriak, especially about what the king does to Fox-muzzles and Round-muzzles. I'd have to tell Zane and Lloyd sooner or later. Zane, Lloyd, Nya and I all had to be careful now.
"Oh yep, this is definitely the place," Nya muttered.
I began to walk upstream, but stopped as something sharp poked at my palms. Bloody silver scales. The same ones I'd ripped off of Soriak's suit.
"HEY!" A voice shouted from upstream. Wait...was that...
"Jay?!" Nya cried. "What's he doing here?"
"I don't know!" I replied. "I never told anyone but you!" But without any further hesitation, I bounded forward into the thick shrubbery. A few moments later, I emerged into a slight breach in the foliage, to find Cole, Jay and Zane crouched and staring down a silver, red-maned dragon with a scratched out right eye and a missing left ear. "Soriak!"
Soriak whipped around to face me and my sister, and eased out of his crouch. "So, you did get my message," He said, the false dark green eyes fading away to show a relieved grayish-green. His was more gray, while mine was more green.
"I'm confused..." Zane murmured.
"I'll second that," Cole added.
"Yeah, isn't this guy your mortal enemy, Kai?" Jay hissed.
"I thought so at first, but I was wrong."
"Allow me to re-introduce myself," The silver mask was pulled off, and the silver suit was abandoned. "Name's Soriak," He greeted, shocking three dragons.
"You look just like Kai!" Jay hissed.
"Yeah, but the V's new," I noted, noticing the silver V on Soriak's forehead, just underneath his mane.
"Ohh...So what was it you wanted to show me?"
"Oh yeah, follow me, you guys," My look-alike instructed. We followed him up the river, until we reached a huge lake with a waterfall four times my size on the other end. "The Cult of Silver isn't the only group dedicated to royalty. There's also the Society of the Red Star, who's base is just under that waterfall. Unlike the Cult of Silver, which relies on the strength of numbers, the Red Star Society relies on elite warriors. I should know, 'cause I act as an agent for my father in both groups."
"Who's your dad?" Coke asked.
"The king. He's responsible for everything wrong in my life, and the reason why I acted as your enemy. I must warn you, Round-muzzles and Fox-muzzles are hunted for sport, and even if they don't kill you, they chuck you in the arena in Castle Town and make you fight to the death. The only reason I'm not dead is because I'm always wearing that suit that makes me look like a Semi-muzzle."
"What a jerkface!" Jay hissed.
"Hey, what's that?" Zane asked. He gestured to a group of burly warriors walking into the waterfall, each covered in splotchy red.
"Blood..." Nya noted.
"That's odd...they almost never return with that much blood on them..." Soriak muttered. His eyes then widened, panic shining brightly within. "Unless they were caught in a battle!" He jumped up and raced along the lake's edge, diving into the forest on the other side where the warriors had come from. I immediately took off after him, following him through the thick foliage by following the flashes of red and gold.
We all emerged into a clearing, and I was never this horrified. Pools of blood littered the gigantic clearing, along with about a dozen bodies, some silver, some varied, all coated in blood.
I think I'm going to hurl.
I stumbled back into the clearing with Nya at my side. I don't feel like telling you what happened, so I'm gonna let you guess. Hint: Weak stomach. Enough said.
Zane, Soriak, Jay and Cole sat along the edge, unable to turn away from the horror.
"Analysis says that the bodies belong to both Red Star and Silver Cult," Zane noted.
"A battle between Red Star and Silver Cult," Soriak muttered. "Both directly serve the king, and are hated rivals. I'm surprised this didn't happen any sooner."
"Did you know about this?!" Jay hissed in an accusing tone.
"Jay," Cole started, his tone implying a warning. Jay reluctantly turned his gaze away.
"Wait, that's strange…" Zane muttered, he stood up, green eyes shining with shock and relief. "The third one is still alive!" I jumped up and dashed across the field without any hesitation. Someone was still alive! We could get some help, and they'd live to see another day. The third one was a red Semi-muzzle female, with a white tipped-tail and neck spike tips, and she had a golden wristlet. She had a long gash going down from her forehead to the side of her neck. It was still bleeding heavily. In a moment, Soriak was beside me, eyes wide with horror.
"M-Mother?" He whispered.
The female opened her eyes. They were a bright, vibrant green. At least, I assume they were. Now they were dull with pain. "Soriak…?"
"Don't say anything, please…we could…we could get you to Red Star…they could heal you!" By now, everyone else had gathered, seen the same red on both Soriak and the female, and looked on in horror and sympathy.
"No…" The queen insisted. "I don't care if I die, I must tell you this…"
"This battle…it was planned from the beginning. A few days ago, Ryusaki wounded me when I disturbed him. He was trying to figure out a way to create the world he envisioned. He got an idea. He told me to wound myself, and go to Red Star, to tell them it was the Silver Cult who'd done it. I thought it was of no consequence. I had no idea how thorough Ryusaki's plan was. I noticed the Red Star warriors marching out this morning. I was curious, I admit, and when I came, I realized just what Ryusaki wanted. I tried to break up the fight, I really did. But you see what happened. What Ryusaki wanted was to anger Red Star and accuse Silver Cult, who would be angry enough to battle. The battles would steadily increase into a war that would consume Noisulli. When the war finished, the world would be in ruins, and only the strongest would be left. But he wouldn't stop there. Once Noisull was consumed, he would go on to Noisulli's alternate: Ninjago. I know that you who is identical to my son, and your friends, are from Ninjago and not Noisulli. I know you're humans. I understand everything now…every riddle, every prophecy…A Bright Fire will consume the twin lands…it makes sense to me now. Soriak…my son…you, your Human Side, and all of your friends must go to the Temple of the Four and learn the secrets that lie within…you must break the Statue of Qwiru and confront Ryusaki. This war began because of me…I paid the price for it…but there's still hope for Ninjago and Noisulli. You humans were brought here by your guide. That guide was captured. Ryu never existed. Only King Ryusaki. The King may have brought you here for malevolent reasons, but you're here now, that's what matters. I threw Noisulli into a war...you must make up for my mistake. You five who stand beside my son never knew me…But I'm begging you, on my name that is Snowsun, known as Queen Sonu, to help my son in any way you can…"
Snowsun turned her rapidly clouding eyes toward her son. "Tell your sister and your friends that I'm sorry…and I'm sorry…that I won't be there…to see you become the great dragon…you were meant…to be…" She reached out toward Soriak, who reached out and rested his palm over her claws. Snowsun's dull and cloudy eyes turned to look at the noon sun, and she breathed one last, contented sigh before she stilled, and her eyes clouded completely.
"Mother..." Soriak choked on a sob. "I promise…I'll stop this war…I'll make you proud." He reluctantly removed his palm from Snowsun's and sat up, closing his eyes. The tear that had glinted and gathered in his grayish-green eyes flowed freely, and he sobbed so hard he had trouble breathing. Tears pricked at the corners of my eyes and I touched my side to his. Seeing Queen Sonu's death…Seeing Soriak's mother die…it painfully reminded me of my own parents' passings. I knew how much it hurt. I knew how it felt to have a parent die right in front of you, and you couldn't do anything about it. I'll tell you how it feels: Like you die inside somewhere. It's as if the one who died was a part of you, and when they died they took that part with them. That part doesn't grow back; it doesn't heal properly. All you can do is bandage it up and carry on. And as you do, you carry a heavy weight with you for a while. The weight of guilt because you feel like you've betrayed them by trying to forget.
"Come on, everyone," Cole murmured. "You too, Soriak. It's time we returned to the Guardian's Fortress."
--- --- ---
I supported Soriak against my side as I stepped out of the teleporter. Ranax was waiting on the other side, with Kira and Ehtycs. When Ranax saw Soriak and I, his eyes widened with shock. Kira and Ehtycs followed his gaze, and both had the same reaction as Ranax.
"What's wrong?" I asked. Am I in trouble or something?
"You've found your Dragon Side…" Ranax answered. "What's your name?"
"I am refered to as Prince Ryuon, but my true name is Soriak."
"Huh…" Kira murmured, tilting her head to the side. "I assume you've had to disguise yourself because you look nothing like your father. And that was quite rebellious of Queen Sonu, naming you Soriak instead of something with the traditional prefix of Ryu."
Soriak sobbed again at the mention of Snowsun. "My mother, Snowsun, known as Queen Sonu, is dead…"
Ehtycs gasped. "Queen Sonu is dead?! What happened?!"
"She told me that King Ryusaki used her to start a war between the Society of the Red Star and the Cult of Silver. The war will consume Noisulli and turn it into a country of ruin and despair, where only the strongest survive. She…she realized her mistake at the last moment…she tried to intervene…"
Kira, Ranax and Ehtycs bowed their heads. "We are sorry for your loss…" Ranax murmured. "Though King Ryusaki is a tyrant, Queen Sonu was always fair. She was a wonderful Queen, even as Ryusaki lost his mind. She will be greatly missed…" The violet dragon's piercing golden eyes held Soriak's sorrowful gaze. "Yet I sense her heart in you. You are more than worthy of being my student's Dragon Side, Dream-walker."
Soriak bowed his head as Cole asked, "What's this about Dragon and Human Sides?"
"Ninjago and Noisulli used to be a single island, named Ninosull," Ehtycs explained. "A war between humans and dragons raged Ninosull, and four ancient warriors stopped the war and suggested a compromise: Two alternate worlds be created, one for the humans and one for the dragons. Ninjago became the Human World, and Noisulli became the Dragon World. Most born in Ninjago or Noisulli and not Ninosull have basically two sides to themself. One side is born in Noisulli, the other born in Ninjago. Think of it as being two halves of a whole. When you cross the border, you take on the appearace and element of your other Side. There are very few born without a Dragon or Human side. Kira here was born without a Dragon Side." Kira flicked her tail.
"Is that why you were so eager to see me?" I asked Soriak. He nodded silently.
"What happens if one Side was to die?" Zane inquired.
"Then the other Side would die with it," Kira answered bluntly. "Two Side are born together, two Sides will die together."
"Well then, let's keep the dying to a minimum!" Jay suggested. Uh, we're trying, smart one!
"I know your Dragon Sides," Soriak said, looking at Jay, Zane, Nya and Cole. "I'll go find them; we're going to need them anyways."
"For what?" Nya asked.
"I'm afraid this can't involve you and Lloyd, Nya. Where we're going only allows eight to enter at a time." Soriak's eyes narrowed. "We're going to fulfill my mother's wish and go to the Temple of Four."
The very next morning, I looked back at our group as Soriak led us toward the east of Noisulli, where the Temple of Four would be. Man, he wasn't kidding when he mentioned our Dragon Sides...
Soriak, of course, was my Dragon Side, and the only difference between us or any Human Side in Dragon form was the eye color. Mine was more of a green, while his was more of a gray. Taqqiq, Zane's Dragon Side, had a darker tint of green that Zane's brighter green. Jay's Dragon Side, Azure, had more of navy-blue eyes that were immensely different from Jay's sky blue. And Tophan, Cole's Dragon Side, had copper eyes instead if bright amber.
I looked down at the scenery below me. Now we were flying to the eastern coast. Ranax said the eastern coast is covered in seaside cliffs and vast pine forests. Well, we haven't reached the sea yet, but we sure as heck reached the pine forest. It was huge! Each tree was the tallest I've ever seen. This was so much different from the deciduous forests of the western coast. From what I could gather of Noisulli, the snowy plains were to the south and connected with Ninjago's Frozen Wasteland. Along the western coast was deciduous forest that expanded out close to the center of the land. The Shadow Forest was on the northern tip of the entire deciduous forest. In the center of the land was a great rolling plain, and to the north lay two twin mountains. Now we were travelling along the east coast, that was entirely coniferous forest and seaside cliffs.
Speaking of which, we were now flying over the cliffs. They were huge gray stone cliffs, bigger than even the trees, and white foam flew into the air from the ocean waves crashing into the stone. The cliffs went along the coast for miles. The eight of us glided onward to the sparkling sea, still awed from the sight of the cliffs. Soriak led us onward to a tiny island hundred of feet from the shore. We all lighted down on the sandy beach and faced a cave with a strange tablet over the entrance. The tablet had a carving of eight dragons.
"This is it," Soriak murmured. "The Temple of Four."
"This is the Temple of Four?" Jay asked incredulously.
"Yes," My Dragon Side replied. "My mother used to take my sister Astrid and me here."
Without further hesitation, Soriak entered the Temple. To my shock, the moment he entered, the first dragon on the tablet began to glow yellow.
"Well," Tophan started, "Soriak did say that only eight dragons could enter at once."
I hastily entered next. Inside was a large stone hall with many carvings. Soriak was standing at the first carving and waited until all eight of us stood beside him. "My mother would always tell us the story of these carvings." He looked up at the first carving of four teens. They looked similar to us ninjas. I exchanged glances with Jay, Cole, and Zane. Soriak began to walk down the hall, motioning to certain carvings and telling us the story the carvings of the Temple were telling us.
"Long ago, there was a single land of Ninosull, where Fox Dragons and Humans lived alongside each other in peace. They were masters of the eight elements, four major and four lesser. But then the Dragons grew greedy and wished to rid the island of Humans so they could take it for themselves. But despite the superior strength of the Dragons, the Humans fought back with the strength of their numbers and creativity. The battle between the two species raged on for about a decade until the war went from bad to worse. The two species began to divide from within, as those with the power of the lesser elements began to fight those with the power of major elements. There were no longer two distinct sides, but four. The War of the Elements raged on for about nine decades, until the actions of four teenage boys stopped the war forever. These four boys, Soren of Fire, Barron of Ice, Rolaef of Earth, and Tezet of Lightning, teamed up to stop battles and confront the leaders of each side. The leaders finally agreed to end the war, but there was no telling when another would begin. So, to prevent another century-long war, a contract between leaders was signed, saying that Humans would take the southern portion of Ninosull, and Dragons would take the northern portion. But the island wasn't big enough. So the Human leader chose a young man with the power of Creation to expand the Human part of the island, while the Dragon leader chose a Dragon that was close friends with the man to expand the Dragon part. These two lands wwere renamed Ninjago and Noisulli, and that young man became the first Spinjitzu Master, while his Dragon friend became the first King of Noisulli."
As we passed the final carving (one of the Spinjitzu Master and the King of Noisulli) the hall opened up into a large room with a very thick stone pillar shaped like a square at the center. There were four giant statues, one on each side of the pillar, that were at least times my height. As I walked around, I realized that these statues looked hauntingly familiar.
"These statues…they look just like us!" Cole murmured, awestruck. It was true. Each statue looked identical to our human forms. Cole's statue had his arms crossed, his sword leaning against his side with the point of the blade balancing on the ground. He was smiling broadly. The gold plate at the bottom of the statue was inscribed with the words 'Rolaef, Warrior of Earth'. My statue was holding his sword in his hand, smirking in triumph. The gold plate at his feet were inscribed with 'Soren, Warrior of Fire'. Jay's statue was smiling cheerfully, his arms crossed behind his head so his elbows were raised higher than his head. His sword was sheathed by his side. His gold plate was labelled 'Tezet, Warrior of Lightning'. Zane's statue was calm and relaxed, with a calm smile on his face, arms by his side, and his sword in its sheath on his belt. The golden plate at the statue's base read 'Barron, Warrior of Ice'.
"Wait, didn't Kira mention Soren, Barron, Tezet and Rolaef?" Cole asked.
"Yes," Zane replied. "She said they were on our side. But I still don't understand what she meant."
"She must've been kidding!" Azure decided. "These four died before King Ryusaki was even born!"
"Yet, I feel as if these four are familar…" Zane murmured.
"They don't speak of the Four in Ninjago?" Taqqiq asked incredulously.
"I've never heard of these guys, and yet they're such a big part of our land's history," Cole muttered.
"I don't understand…" Soriak grumbled. "Mother told me to come here and destroy the Statue of Qwiru, but I don't see it anywhere…"
"Hey guys!" Tophan cried. "I found something!"
I rushed over to him. He stood in front of the Barron statue, looking at something under the gold plate. I stood beside him, and followed the direction of his gaze. To my surprise, there was a golden scroll sitting there.
"What's it say?" Azure and Jay asked simultaneously.
Tophan opened the scroll and read the title, "The Final Words of Barron," He whispered in awe. "I am the last of the Four. It has been years since the deaths of Soren, Rolaef, and Tezet. I'm not surprised I lived fifty years longer then the other three. During my training in the War of the Elements, I was mortally wounded, and the doctors had to replace certain parts of my body with mechanical parts if I was to live. My life was prolonged as a result. But, the human part of me must die, as all humans do, and leave the mechanism to rot and rust.
I still remember, decades ago, when the four of us were separated to join the war. We were tested, and Tezet and I were revealed to be minor elements while Rolaef and Soren were major. I remember the horror, realizing that I would have to fight and maybe kill two of my best friends. I remember Soren's defiant and horrified scream, how he stamped on the foot of the guard dragging him away, and bolted for the woods. The rest of us were too shocked by Soren's outburst and the revelation of our elements to fight back as the guards dragged us away to our respective bases.
I trained at the base of the Minor Elemental Human Training Base (MEHTB for short) for five years. While I was there, I recieved the harsh wounds during training that forced the medics to replace certain parts of me with metal. But my training was complete, and the night before Tezet and I were to be sent off to war, a group of people supporting the Major Elemental Humans raided our base, and kidnapped me in my sleep. I woke up in chains at their training base, where another prisoner informed me that I would presented to a warrior-in-training to be killed, so that the young warrior would cast away his remorse of killing. The guards came and chained me to a rolling platform, and tightened the chains so that I was forced to my knees. They rolled me out into the sparring ground, and there a warrior clad in fiery red was waiting.
I looked up, and recognized my old friend Soren. They must've found him, or he willingly came to them. He looked different, of course, but I did not expect to see the large scar leading down from his right ear to his chin."
I quickly ran over the Soren's statue, and saw that the scroll was correct. There was a scar from his right ear down to his chin. "He does have that scar!" I cried.
"Keep going!" Cole encouraged. Tophan kept reading.
"He raised his silver sword, gripping the red hilt so tightly his hand was white. I was so sure he was going to kill me (I honestly would've) but then he threw his sword to the side and almost nailed his master in the head. He told him no, that he wouldn't kill anyone, especially me. It was that very reason I agreed to help when Soren came up with the idea of ending the war. I owed him my life, and I was his best friend as well. To this day, I thank the gods above for having the Major Elemental Humans kidnap me. If they hadn't, I would've never found Soren or Rolaef again.
The day before Soren passed on, he came to visit me one more time. He told me that the peace in the newborn lands of Ninjago and Noisulli wouldn't last. He told me that there would be eight, four for each land, and that they would combine their power to defeat the evil that would plague the lands. He told me that he saw this in a dream, along with eight names that were and weren't correct. I still don't know what he meant by that, but he said the names were: Nahpot, Eloc, Qiqqat, Enaz, Eruza, Yaj, Kairos, and Iak. To these eight warriors, I ask you to have faith, and I wish you good luck.
-Barron," Tophan finished looking up.
"Hey, my mother read this to me a couple years ago," Soriak whispered. "She said that she came up with my name by taking the first part of Soren - Sor - and adding the name of the final warrior to the end."
"Iak?" Zane asked.
The name sounded familiar. "Ha!" I laughed. "That reminds me of this kid back in my village who always flipped peoples' names around. He always called me…" My eyes widened. "H-He always called me Iak."
"So your name is in reverse…" Zane murmured.
"That's what Soren meant!" Jay cried. "He said the names were and weren't correct. The names were right, they were just in reverse! We're the eight warriors."
The moment the final word left his mouth, the ground began to shift. All eight of us hastily backed away from the Barron statue as the ground where we had stood slid away like an entrance to a secret passage. Behind the slab that had been pulled away was a pair of silver shurikans.
"What are these doing here?" Zane asked. Curious, I ran around the pillar, noting the weapons in front of the statues. In front of Tezet was a pair of blue-hilted nunchuks, in front of Soren was a sword, and in front of Rolaef was a scythe.
"The statues have our signature weapons!" I cried.
"These are words here that say 'Touch as One'," Jay noted.
"That must mean the four of us must each grab our weapons at the same time," Zane realized.
Jay, Cole, and I wasted no time positioning ourselves in front of our signature weapons. Cole began counting down, "Three…two…one!" Quick as a rabbit, I reached forward and fastened my claws around the red hilt of Soren's sword. As soon as I did, pain erupted from the back of my head and a white haze consumed my vision.
Through the white mist, I saw a figure approaching me, his outline identical to my human form's. As he came closer, I saw a long scar from his right ear to his chin.
I stared, awestruck. "S-Soren?!"
Soren smirked, as if we had been life-long friends. "Hey, Kai."
"How…?" I whispered softly. "I thought…"
"I was dead?" He finished. I nodded. "Well, I am. But two pieces of my spirit are still here."
"In the sword?"
"No. The sword only allows me to communicate with you. You hold one of those two pieces, while Soriak holds the other."
I stared blankly. I held a piece of Soren's spirit?!
"You're wondering how you hold that piece…" Soren's tone wasn't questioning, meaning he was saying a statement. "Well, believe it or not, you yourself carry my own bloodline, as my descendant. Your father was my grandson. But the true reason you carry my piece is simple. You are my reincarnation, and Soriak is your Dragon Side."
The news shocked me to the core. I was Soren reborn. And I was his descendant as well. You'd be shocked too if you learned you were the reincarnation of an ancient hero.
"Now, listen carefully," Soren advised. "Your friends, who are the reincarnations of my friends, are speaking with my friends now. They'll each have something to share. This is what you'll share last: The statue of flesh and blood shall burn. Got it?"
"…Yep," I said, commiting the words to memory. "Anything else?"
"…You have questions you wish for me to answer. I can't do that. But I will leave you with this: the past and the present are coming together. Now, someone else wishes to speak with you privately. Good luck, Kai." He turned and walked away into the misty white haze. Another figure walked out of the mist, but this one was a Fox Dragon with a fox-muzzle like mine.
He was mostly a fiery red, but his legs and tail were blue. The spike at the tip of his tail was gold, and the three neck-spikes he had were tipped in gold as well. His eyes were a sea-green color, quite unusual for a dragon. But what really surprised me was his pair of fiery red bird wings.
"Hello, Kai," The dragon greeted. Surprisingly, he was my own size, and his voice was that of a fourteen-year-old. "You may have never heard of me, but my name is Noen. I was the first Fox Dragon. Back in my day, we were known simply as dragons, and every one of us had a semi-muzzle. I was the first dragon to have the light build meant for speed that all Fox Dragons have today, and I was the first to have a fox-muzzle. My story is not easy to find, but there is something to learn from it. I ask you to find it, read it, and learn. A very important message lies in those pages. I ask you not to speak of this to anyone, even your Dragon Side. Understand?" I noded. "Good. Then I wish you the best of luck."
The white haze faded away from my vision, and I found myself staring up at the face of Soren's statue. With the exception of the scar, it looked just like mine, and even etqchoed the smug expression I had. I'd seen the same expression on Soren. I looked down at the red-hilted sword in my hand…
I looked down at myself. I was human again, but instead of my red ninja gi, I was wearing red armor that was actually quite light. I guess this is Soren's armor. I raised the sword (that I now knew was Soren's sword) and watched as the silver blade pulsed with a ginger light. It felt right in my hand. The Golden Sword of Fire had felt right too, but not like this. The grip felt perfect in my hand, and the blade was lightweight. I looked to Soriak, who was still my own size. Humans must be the same size as Fox Dragons.
"You guys!" Jay shouted. He was back in his human form too, so I think it was safe to assume Cole and Zane were too.
"Yeah, Jay?" Cole replied.
"Tezet told me to tell you something."
"Well, what are you waiting for?! An invitation?!" I shouted impatiently.
"No, Kai. But anyways, Tezet said The First of Thousands will return for blood. Does that sound creepy or what?"
"I admit, that is a bit unnerving," Zane stated. "Tezet told you to go first? Well, I guess I'm next, according to Barron. He said The Red Star shall hurl the Crimson Crown into mud."
"You're next then, Cole," I said. "Soren told me to go last."
"Okay, then. Rolaef said To Flames Embers and Ashes shall turn."
"And Soren said The statue of flesh and blood shall burn."
"Well, if you put that together, it sounds like a prophecy," Taqqiq realized. "The First of Thousands will return for blood, the Red Star shall hurl the Crimson Crown into mud, to Flames Embers and Ashes shall turn, the statue of flesh and blood shall burn."
"Okay, that makes no sense whatsoever," Azure muttered.
"Then we should break it apart and decipher what we can," Jay retorted.
"Well, I know the Red Star must mean the Society," Soriak decided, "and the Crimson Crown must mean King Ryusaki."
"I guess that means that the Red Star Society will overthrow King Ryusaki?" Tophan asked tentitively.
"Guess so," Cole agreed.
"The statue of flesh and blood must be a living statue," I concluded. I looked up to the statues of the Four. "Could it be them?"
"It could be," Taqqiq murmured.
"Actually, it could be the Statue of Qwiru," Zane suggested.
"Another good point," Taqqiq added.
"I'd prefer it if the living statue was the Statue of Qwiru. I don't want these guys to burn," Jay stated, gesturing toward the statues of the Four.
(Chapter to be Finished)