Not a sound was in the air after the owlbear had retreated. Except for the sound of the wind in the trees, rustling their leaves and producing a very soft howling-like sound.
The two dragons just stood where they were as they stared at each other.
Spyro knew what dragons looked like, of course. He had already seem images and drawings of them in the books his father brought. However, that was his first time seeing another dragon in the flesh. And a female!
Yes, Spyro knew what females looked like, and there was no way that he would not recognize a female standing in front of him.
She had scales in her body of a light-grey coloration, and her underbelly was of a soft-blue coloration. She was around his size (as far as Spyro could tell), and she had a slender body, much more curved than Spyro's own athletic frame. Spyro could catch a glimpse of her tail from where he was standing, and he could see that it had a tailblade shaped somehow like a spear. She had a head that was crowned by not only two, but six horns, which sprouted backwards. She was also wearing some jewelry, mostly two bracelets of silvery metal in her forepaws, and a necklace in her neck that was decorate with white and blue gems. She was also wearing something in her body that somehow looked like a harness of leather, one that had many pockets in it. However, what called Spyro's attention the most where those eyes. Green and they were wide as they looked back at the purple dragon.
The silence was unnerving, and Spyro didn't knew what to do in that situation. He had always heard others say that dragons were dangerous, but Spyro himself had always been a dragon, so he never truly heard to what they said. Still, now that there was a dragon standing before him, a stranger who he never saw, Spyro couldn't help but feel nervous, even though she had just saved him from being mauled.
Spyro tried to move and stand, but in that moment he felt a sharp pain on his leg, which made him gasp in pain and fall back to the ground, curling over himself and wrapping his tail around the wounded leg.
The owlbear surely had made a number in it, and Spyro was sure that his bones had fractured, even though his leg was not broken. Still, it was clear that he was not going to be standing for a while…
"A-are you okay?" The dragoness asked, and Spyro looked back at her. It seemed that his reaction to his own pain was enough for her to snap out of the silence, and now her eyes looked at him with what seemed (to Spyro) genuine concern.
"I'm not sure…" Spyro said, "The owlbear did a number on my leg." He looked over and saw the state it was a darkened bruise was forming under his scales, making then acquire a coloration that was not the usual and definitely was not healthy. It looked bad.
"Does it hurts?" The dragoness asked, and Spyro tried to flex it, only to hiss in pain.
"Anytime I try to move it…" Spyro said, "Well, that serves me right for walking on an owlbear's cave. Man, dad is gonna kill me."
"Can you walk?"
"I don't think so." Spyro looked at his leg, after a few moments, the dragoness looked into one of the pockets/pouches of her harness, and she removed a small red crystal.
"Hold still." She said, and she crushed the crystal on her paw, and them, the crushed thing started to glow, and the small shards of it floated and they flew in direction to the purple dragon's leg.
Spyro flinched as he could feel the shards colliding with his skin and merging with it. It was a feeling that was quite strange and yet welcoming. They spread a feeling of relief on his body as the pain diminished considerably, and Spyro could almost fell his flesh and bone fixing under the effect of the red crystals. After a little feeling of relief, Spyro looked back, and noticed that his leg not only didn't hurt anymore, but looked considerably better than it did a few moments ago.
Spyro looked at it, and tried to flex it. No pain. Spyro started to stand up, and he stood with just a mild discomfort on that leg.
"Better?" She asked, and Spyro was able to smile at her.
"Yes, a lot! Thanks."
She nodded, and once again, the silence was in there. However, Spyro was not going to let it settle in this time.
"You are a life saver, you know?" The purple dragon said, "Like, seriously, with it wasn't for you the owlbear would probably be chewing me by now."
She smiled. "Yeah, I'm glad it didn't. So, you said that you walked into its cave?"
"Yeah, it was stupid." Spyro said, "Dad is going to give me an earful because of this."
"So, you and your dad…" She asked, "Are you escapees too?"
"Escapees?" Spyro asked, and she looked at him.
"Yeah, you left the dragon lands to be in somewhere more peaceful?"
Spyro hesitated a little before he answered. "Actually, I never was in the dragon lands." Spyro admitted, and the dragoness looked curiously at him. "I mean… maybe my egg was laid in there, but I was already out of the territory of the dragon lands when I hatched, according to my dad."
"Oh, I see." The dragoness said, "I hear about a lot of dragons that leave the dragon lands to live in other places. They want to live in peaceful places that are away from the war, and from Malefor's ruling
"Yeah, dad told me a lot about that… hey, you asked if we were escapees too, this means you are one?"
The dragoness stopped for a moment, and looked unsure before she nodded.
"I've never met an escapee of the dragon lands before… well; actually, I never met another dragon before." Spyro admitted, looking to the side, and this granted the dragoness who look at him curiously. She seemed about to say something, when she suddenly turned her head to a direction.
"Did you hear that?" She said as she looked in that direction, her head perking, as well as her wings.
"Hear what?" Spyro said, and she shushed him.
"This!" She said, and among the silence, Spyro had the feeling that he could actually hear something.
Sounds of leaves and vegetation moving, and it was getting closer. For a moment, Spyro felt a rush of panic as he wondered if the owlbear was coming back for a rematch. However, this soon died when he was hearing the sounds of voices.
"I'm think he is here!"
Spyro looked at the direction that the voices were coming from, and soon, it was confirm that it was his guard. The apes started to come out of the woods in his direction.
"There you are!" One of them said, one who was holding a big axe. "We have been looking for-" But he didn't got to finish that sentence. For in that moment, the dragoness immediately leapt and now was standing in front of the apes, in a position that Spyro could only recognize as a fighting one.
The apes immediately reacted as well, and they all were now in fighting position as they looked at the dragoness.
"Who is that!?"
"Who is this dragoness?"
"Is she with Malefor's armies?"
"I don't think so, she is young."
"Maybe she is a scout?"
Spyro looked at them, and back at the dragoness that now stood in between him and the apes.
"None of you savages dare to give a single step forward." She snarled at them, spreading her wings threateningly and Spyro could feel a slightly increase in the strength of the breeze of the place.
The apes all were in combat position, and Spyro watched the scene unfold before him. There was a silence, as both the dragoness and the apes looked at each other.
"Step away from the purple dragon." One of the guards said to the dragoness. "Do it slowly."
The dragoness stared at the apes, and then, she craned her head slightly back to Spyro, and she said, without taking her eyes of the apes. "Don't worry, we can beat them together… I think…"
Spyro seemed to recover.
"W-wait a minute…" Spyro started to say, but the apes interrupted him.
"You will step away from the purple dragon and you will state your business in here." The ape demanded. "Do that, and maybe there will be no need for a fight."
"I can blow you away like leaves if I want to!" She said to them, "Believe me, I have been surviving out here for a while, I think I can take a bunch of savages like you!"
"Wait!" Spyro said, but he was ignore.
"Who are you calling savage?" One of the apes said.
"That would be you!" She said again, and the wind seemed to be getting stronger.
"Last warning!" The ape said, taking his axe in his hands and giving one more step forward. "Move away from the purple dragon, now!"
"Get out of the way." The dragoness hissed at him, and she adopted a position as if she was ready to pounce, and the apes too had a position in which they were ready to go for a fight, things seemed about to get really-
"WAIT!" Spyro screamed, his voice echoing into the forest around him. This was enough to break everybody out of what they were doing so they all were looking at the purple dragon, and the purple dragon wasted no time in talking:
"Okay, you all need to stop this, right now!"
"Wha?" The dragoness said, and the next to speak was one of the apes.
"Mister Spyro! What is going on?"
Spyro took only a second to move, now he was the one who was standing in between the dragoness and the apes, and he looked from one to the other.
"Okay, I guess we kind of skipped a few things here." The purple dragon said, and he continued, as he looked in between the dragoness and his guard. "But I don't think that you two should be fighting between each other now?"
"What are you talking about?" The dragoness asked. "They are apes! Don't you hear what they say about apes? They are savages who kills dragons and drink their blood!"
"Why would we do that?" One of the apes asked, with an expression of disgust in his face.
"Young Spyro! What is going on? We were attract here by the roar of an owlbear and we meet you with a strange dragon! Do you know her?" Another ape asked, and Spyro turned to him.
"Yes. No. I mean. We just met!"
"Wait… you know these apes?" The dragoness asked, and after a moment, Spyro sighed heavily, almost as if in defeat.
"We really skipped a few things…" Spyro said to himself. He turned to the dragoness, and he gestured to the apes. "Yes, I know these guys. They are some bodyguards that dad has designed to watch over me when he is not around. They all are in charge of protecting me, and as far as I know, none of them drinks dragon blood."
The dragoness looked at him, in surprise, and back at the apes, as Spyro turned to the apes and he now gestured to the dragoness standing behind him. "Guys, that owlbear you heard? It tried to maul me, and it would have succeeded if it wasn't for her. She saved my life."
There were a few moments of awkward silence, as both sides took in this information that the purple dragon just gave to them. A silence that was broken by a familiar voice:
"So… we are all friends in here?" Everyone looked to see a glowing golden dot. It was Sparx. "It means the dragon chick is safe?"
Spyro sighed. "Yes, Sparx, she is safe."
The dragonfly hoovered from a distance, as if evaluating the situation from afar, and meanwhile, the dragoness looked at the little thing.
"Is that a dragonfly?" She asked, and Spyro looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Wait, you said that these apes are watching you at your father's request?" She asked Spyro. "What? Are the apes his slaves or something?"
"We are nobody's slaves!" One of the apes said, sounding indignant, and the rest of the apes agreed with him.
"Look, I know that we have a lot to talk and a lot to ask, but right now I'd rather go back to the village before another owlbear appears." Spyro said to them. "Seriously, I had enough adventure for a day."
"I totally agree." One ape said, "By the way, as soon as we are back in the village you are in trouble. Your father will hear about this, young man."
Spyro groaned as he was kinda hoping that he could avoid something like that. Meanwhile, the dragoness looked at the scene with a raised eyebrow, and she did not went unnoticed by the rest of the apes.
"What about her?" One ape asked, gesturing at the dragoness.
Spyro seemed to consider it, and he turned to her. She only looked back at him, and after a while, she said:
"Well, since it seems that you are okay, and since you trust these apes…" She spoke, seeming quite unsure.
"I guess I'll be going now." She said and turned to leave, and Spyro could not avoid asking:
"Wait, where are you going?" He asked. "Are you staying somewhere around here? The forest is a little dangerous."
"I'll be fine." She said, "I'm just passing by here, anyway. I guess I'll be on my way."
"But, are you traveling alone?" Spyro asked. She looked back at him.
"Well, yeah, there were not many of my friends who wanted to come with me when I decided to become an escapee." She spoke. "You know how this goes. Well, anyway, I'll be going." She said, and she tured to leave.
Spyro looked at her as she was walking away, and for a moment, an emotion passed through his heart.
In that moment, Spyro rushed to her, saying:
She stoped and turned around to look at him, as he approached her, and when he was closer, he said:
"I… uhm, I'm Spyro. I mean, my name is Spyro. What is yours?" He asked to her.
She looked at him for a few moments, and she said, "My name is Aeria."
"Oh, okay." Spyro said, "So, Aeria, why don't you come to the village with us?"
This surprised everyone around.
"What?" Aeria said.
"What?" Exclaimed the apes.
"Say what?" Sparx asked.
"What?" Said another voice, and right after, a sound of a twig snapping came, followed by the sound of Zegor falling from the tree and into the ground.
Of course, no one barely minded, as they were still processing what the purple dragon had just suggested.
"Yeah, I mean, you saved my life, and I guess that since you have nowhere to stay… well, maybe you could stay in our village." Spyro said, and the dragoness looked at him.
"You mean… living among the apes?" She asked, seeming uncertain.
"Young Spyro." The ape said, catching the purple dragon's attention. "I'm not sure if this is a good idea."
"What, do you think she could be a spy of Malefor?" Spyro asked to them. "Come on, guys, she is barely my age." He said, pointing the thing to them. "She is not working for Malefor. She is running away from him! Dad always says that the escapees of the Dragon Lands deserve help, we are not going to go against what he taught, are we?"
The apes had no answer to that, and after a few moments, Aeria was the one who spoke.
"Well, I'm flattered, really, but there is no need." She spoke. "I mean, I have done well for now, and I kind of already know where I'm going." She looked at Spyro as she spoke that, and the purple dragon looked back at her.
"Oh, then you could stay in the village for a while to rest. I mean, you must have been traveling for a while, and it would be nice for you to have a good place to rest, one where the animals won't attack you." He insisted. "Please, just so you can recover and continue with your trip. You will be my guest."
She looked at him, and looking at these expecting amethyst orbs, she found herself with no will to turn it down. Spyro looked at her, as she said:
"Well, I have been traveling for a while. And it would be nice to have an actual place to rest that is not a cold cave."
Spyro nodded, and he looked at the apes, who were silent as they looked at him.
"Oh, come on!" Zegor said on his end, using his hands to cover his body in an attempt to preserve his dignity. "We are not going to invite another dragon to our village, are we?"
"She will be my guest!" Spyro said firmly. "It will be my way of returning her for saving me. I think dad would agree with me."
There was no answer for something like that, and the apes shared looks among themselves, and after a while, one of them said:
"By the Great Simius… Okay, but if King Gaul has a problem with this it will be all on you." The ape said, and Spyro nodded at him.
"I wouldn't expect anything different." He said with a confident smirk, knowing that he had won on that point.
"Okay, now get up and lets walk back home, you are still in trouble, mister." The ape said to the purple dragon, and as they were getting ready to leave, Zegor was able to ask:
"Hey, guys? Could anyone spare me a loincloth? Or maybe some pants? Please?"
A few minutes later, the team was ready to go. One of the apes, luckily had a cape, and they were able to improvise a covering for Zegor, so he would be able to return to the village with his modesty somewhat intact. Still, he was in as much trouble as Spyro after the purple dragon explained what Zegor had made him do and why.
The ape tried to claim that Spyro was making it up, of course, but one single glare from the biggest of the apes of the guard was more than enough to make Zegor start spilling the beans. Now the guard knew everything about his little plot involving Spyro, they would make sure to inform Gaul of it, and that was enough for the ape to show even more fear than he showed when the owlbear was chasing them.
Spyro could even smirk, but he reminded himself that he too would be in trouble, and that his father was surely going to want to have a serious talk with him about all of that once he was inform of the whole situation.
With this, they were in their path to walking. But not before Spyro made a request to his guard:
"You want us to walk you back forming a circle around you and the dragoness?"
"Yeah, you know, to protect us." Spyro said, "Well, mostly to protect her. I mean, the people in the village are already used to me but… well, I don't know how they will react to a strange dragon. Maybe it is better safe than sorry, in this case."
The apes looked over at the dragoness, who was out of their hearing shot, and they had to agree with the point that the young purple dragon made. They accepted his request, though not only for the motives that Spyro pointed out…
Now, they were walking back to the village. The six apes formed a circle, with one of them holding Zegor by the arm to make sure that the ape was not going to try to make a run for it. The green ape was looking dejected, for he knew that returning home like that would surely be a blow on his reputation, especially when the rumors started to go around.
Inside the circle, Spyro and Aeria walked side by side, and floating near them, was the golden dragonfly. Sparx was flying close to Spyro's head, but his own head was turn away from the purple dragon.
When Sparx had heard that Spyro had agreed with Zeggor when he suggested them to leave the dragonfly behind, he was surely not amused.
"Come, Sparx, I already apologized." Spyro said again. "I should not have gone with their talk, and I already nearly got mauled by an owlbear. I learned my lesson. Can we leave this behind, please?"
Sparx continued to look away, and now he was actually moving his body so he was facing the other direction of the purple dragon, even though he continued to buzz his wings on the same direction they were walking.
"Come on dude." Spyro said, and Sparx continued to give him the 'cold shoulder'. Luckily, they had been in similar situations in the past.
"Oh, please, Sparx. If we don't make up, I'll have no one to share heart cashews with." The purple dragon said, and the cold façade of the dragonfly faltered a little bit. However, he remained firm.
"Seriously, who I'm gonna take with me when they are being harvested? Who will walk with me among the many freshly picked fruits? Who is going to get himself all dirty in their juice with me as we gobble them up?"
There was a brief pause, and Sparx mubled:
"Maybe you can get some new friends…"
"Oh, come on, Sparx. You are my friend!" Spyro said, he gently nudged at the floating dragonfly, what made a little more into breaking the façade of the little grumpy invertebrate, and he actually started to smile.
"Really?" Sparx said, and he now was looking at the purple dragon. "Then you will not mind in giving your friend your friend half of your share of the heart cashews." The dragonfly added, and Spyro smiled.
"Not one bit." He said, and nudged him again, and Sparx now laughed as he leaned on Spyro, resting his arm into the side of his head.
Meanwhile, Aeria looked at the two.
"Hummm, Spyro?" She asked, "I know that you and this dragonfly are friends, but aren't you afraid of getting some disease from him?"
"Disease?" Sparx asked, "I don't have any disease! I bath once a week. In fact, I bathed this morning. I'm a very clean dragonfly."
"Don't you bath in swamp water?" Spyro pointed out.
"I bath using water of the leaves! That water came from the rains and is perfectly clean!" The dragonfly said, and his expression of outrage was the funniest thing ever, Spyro couldn't help but chuckle at it.
"Good you are having fun now." One of the apes said to the purple dragon. "Once we get into the village you are going to be inside the hut until King Gaul returns, and then you will have to understand yourself with him."
Spyro only sighed and rolled his eyes, meanwhile, once that ape said that, Aeria became agitated, and she even looked at Spyro, and whispered.
"They are not serious, are you?"
"They are not truly going to give you to Gaul, the king of apes, are they?" She whispered, as if telling him a secret that she didn't wanted the apes around them to hear.
"Well, these guys are the biggest snitches." Spyro said in a low voice, but not truly whispering, in part because he wanted them to hear that. "Anyway, as soon as he is back he will hear from this. So, I guess I'll have to face him sooner or later."
"Wait, Gaul is coming to this village?" She asked, sounding surprised.
"Coming back." Sparx said to her, "That big ape lives in the village we are going."
When she heard that, Aeria stopped on her tracks, once she did, the rest of the group stopped too stopped, and Spyro was now was looking at her.
She seemed frozen on the spot, and she had a look in her eyes that was on surely fear, if Spyro could interpret it right.
"Aeria?" The voice of the purple dragon made her look at him; his look was fill with concern. "Everything okay?"
"I-I… I don't… I mean… M-maybe I should not be at your village…" She said, and started to move as if she was about to make a dash for it. Spyro noticed, and he looked at her, before saying:
"Hey, hey! It's okay." He said in a gentle tone, as much as he could, and she looked at him. "Nothing bad is going to happen."
"B-but…" She started to say, and Spyro approached, looked at her in the eye, and offered his best friendly smile to her.
"It is going to be okay." He said gently. "I promise."
This seemed to ease the dragoness somehow, and after a few moments, she relaxed, and nodded, and they had soon resume walking, even though Aeria seemed tenser than before.
"B-but, Gaul is not in the village now, is he?"
"Nah, he is out in another campaign." Spyro said casually. "He has been doing that a lot more recently. Seems things are getting harder within the borders. Malefor is growing more aggressive."
Aeria nodded, and she looked at the purple dragon. "A-and you are not scared?"
"Of the war? Well, yes. I mean, I don't really take part on any battle but everyone says that-"
"No. Not of the war. Of the king of apes." Aeria said, and Spyro looked at her. "The idea of standing before him and of facing him… Doesn't it scare you?"
Spyro looked at her curiously, and he said: "No… why would it scare me?"
She looked at him with what Spyro could nearly describe as shock, as if he was either incredibly brave or very stupid. She didn't asked or said anything else for the rest of their trip, and soon, the village was coming in vision.
The sun was starting to acquire that orange coloration of the middle-to-late afternoon, and the movement in the village was starting to reduce, but not enough for the coming of the group to pass unnoticed.
Actually, as soon as that group approached, many of the apes turned their attention to them, and some of them were actually coming out of their huts to look at the group that was coming back.
What called their attention the most about the group was not the fact that they were six burly apes and a purple dragon. Nor that the coolest ape of the village was being hold by the arm and dragged back like a criminal, while he wore a makeshift loincloth that looked more like a diaper.
What called the attention to most on the group that was returning was that it was bringing another dragon with them.
"What dragon is that?"
"It looks sleek. Do you think it's sick?"
"I think it is a female."
"Why are they bringing it here?"
"Did they captured her?"
"Why isn't she in chains?"
"What if she attacks the village?"
The talking was somewhat of a hush-hush, however, their words were loud enough to be heard, and Spyro could hear them all very well. He was sure that Aeria could hear them too, by the expression that she had on her features.
Spyro felt something boiling inside of him.
He was use to have them say these kinds of things about him. He had lived with that for years. However, now that they were being target at Aeria, he felt different. It was somehow even more angering, and it was something that he didn't felt like he could ignore.
Spyro made a decision in that moment. Maybe it wasn't a smart one, but he had already made, and he was not turning back now. Stepping forward, he steped out of the circle that the apes formed and he looked at the apes around as he spoke as loud and clearly as he could:
This made every stop whispering and look at the purple dragon, who was now talking:
"A very short while ago, there was a small situation on the forest! You can ask Zeggor… No, actually, don't ask him, he is going to lie!" Spyro said, and the apes traded looks among themselves as they looked at the young dragon. "Well, what you need to know was that I was in a life-threatening situation, and I would not have escaped alive if it wasn't for the help of this dragoness, whose name is Aeria, by the way!"
Spyro gestured to inside the circle, where Aeria stood where she was, and the apes looked at the dragoness, who shyly waved back still unsure of what to do in such a situation. They continued to whisper among themselves, but they were silence when the purple dragon once again started to talk.
"Aeria is an escapee of the Dragon Lands, someone who is running away from Malefor and his army so she can live her life the way she wants. She is all alone and she has been traveling for a while. She saved my life, and I had to repay her somehow." Spyro spoke, and after a few moments, he took a deep breath and said: "So, as a way of thanking her, I invited her to stay in the village."
Spyro had barely even finished talking when the uproar came from the other apes.
"He did what!?"
"He is bringing other dragons to our village now?!"
"I knew this was going to happen!"
Spyro half expected this reaction from them, and he could merely roll his eyes as they threw away commentaries of indignity at the purple reptile, and Spyro merely spoke back to them:
"I made up my mind! She is going to stay here until when she wants, and if you have a problem, you can talk to dad when he comes back!"
Spyro made his way back to the circle while the group around continued to rant and voice their disapproval at hs decision. The apes of the circle only looked at him as he walked back…
"What? They were going to find out sooner or later, I just let them in now so we would get this over with and they can all get out of their systems." Spyro said as he stepped back into the circle, and Aeria was still inside, looking both at Spyro and at the sides, as the apes around seemed to have a thing or two to say.
"Hummm, hey?" Zeggor said, catching the attention of the ape holding his arm. "Would you let me go now? I need to go get a better clothing before any of my friends sees me like this."
The ape glared at him in a way that made Zeggor recoil, and after a while, he just snorted and let go of his arm.
"Don't try to escape. King Gaul will want to talk with you when he hears about this." The ape said, "I'd get ready."
Zeggor staggered as he was let go, and soon he was rushing away, most likely to his hut. Around them, the apes continued to express their disapproval on Spyro's decision, but the purple dragon barely minded. By now, it was something that he was actually quite use to, and he had long learned to ignore.
Aeria, however, continued to look to the sides, and she seemed nervous of having so many aggressive apes around her.
"Just ignore." Spyro said to her, "They scream and threat a lot, but they rarely do anything, and if they do, is never more than throwing a tomato or something." He said to her, offering a nice smile. "They know better than to make my dad angry." He winked at her, and she looked back at him, and nodded.
They continued to walk, with the circle of apes keeping both of them separated from the crowd around. They continued to rant for a while, but eventually they left them be, going back to what they were doing, but some of them still looked rather displeased with the idea of Spyro having brought yet another dragon in the village. Despite what he said, Spyro was sure that he was going to hear more about it later on, especially when his father came back.
They continued to walk as the apes gave them less attention, and even though they still got the evil eye here and then, they were able to continue on their path with no further incidents. As they were getting closer, the group stopped, the apes divided as some of them mounted guard on the entrances, and other two entered with Spyro, Aeria and Sparx.
"We are not letting you out of our sights again." The guard said to Spyro as if he was scolding a chimp, and Spyro rolled his eyes, even though he knew that he deserved it after the little stunt that he pulled earlier.
"So… you live here?" Aeria said as she looked around. She was seemingly taking in how big the place was, and she was taking in the great amount of books that were laying in the ground and in the corners.
"Yup, me and dad." Spyro said, "And my nannies, part of the time." He added, looking at the apes who were guarding them.
"An advantage of your dad being an important dude." Sparx said as he rested in Spyro's head, and the purple dragon only looked up to try to look at the dragonfly. Aeria was still looking around, and she looked at the ceiling.
"Well, I guess he must be, if the apes gave him a place like that… Still, the place is kind of small." She said, and Spyro looked at her. "I mean, your dad's horns must scrap the ceiling when he stands, and it must be hard to stretch his wings."
Spyro looked at her with a raised eyebrow, and then he realized what was going on.
"Oh, yeah… you see, dad doesn't' have horns… or wings, for that matter."
Aeria stopped for a moment, and she looked at Spyro.
"Oh, sorry! Did he lost them?"
"Actually, he never had them." Spyro said, "It would be strange if an ape had them."
"An… ape?" Aeria looked puzzled at this, and Spyro sighed.
"Yeah, my father is an ape."
"Wha… but… but you… I mean… how?" She said, trying to form a coherent thing from what was just said to her, and Spyro was the one who cleared this to her:
"Actually, he is my adoptive father." Spyro said. "He took me when I was still inside the egg. My blood father… well, I have no idea who he was, but I had a very good father in these years." He said with a smile.
"Oh…" Aeria said, she looked at him for a few moments, and she seemed to be thinking on what to say next. After a while, she said:
"So… just you and your… ape dad here?" She said, "Well, it seems pretty big for an ape."
"It is good for king Gaul." One of the apes said, and Aeria turned to him.
"What? The king of apes Gaul?" She said, not being able to hide her surprise, and the ape looked back at her.
"You should feel honored, not many have the honor of being invited to the hut of Gaul himself."
"Wha-" Aeria said. "Are you saying that the king of apes live in this hut?" She said, sounding surprised. "Wait… didn't you said that only you and your dad lived in here?" She turned to Spyro, and the purple dragon looked to the side, as he knew that it was better to settle this whole thing now.
"Yes, we do. Just me and my dad: Gaul."
Aeria stopped at this, and she just stared at Spyro as if he had grown a second head. "W-what?" She said, as she only stared at him. "G-Gaul is… He is your… He is the…"
"The ape who raised me since I came out of my egg." Spyro said, finding the look she had in her face just slightly funny.
"B-but… Gaul is… He is… You were raise by… This means you are…"
"A prince." Sparx was the one who answered, as he continued to lay on Spyro's head, and he was thinking that the reaction of the dragoness was really funny, as he could not stop smiling. "Bet you didn't expected to find someone of the royalty around here, did you? Well, I can't blame you, everyone thinks that princes live in great castles with a lot of butlers and maidens that do everything for them."
"Yeah, I never had those." Spyro admitted, "Dad was never into this kind of thing."
Aeria continued to look at him, as if she was still taking in all that was reveal to her. She opened and closed her mouth several times, as she seemed to be looking for the words to say, and after a while, she just stared at the ground. A very heavy silence took the place, and it was soon growing very awkward to both young dragons.
After a while, Aeria finally broke the silence by looking around. "So… I see a lot of books in here."
"Oh, yeah." Spyro said, "They are all mine. Dad brings me books every chance that he can."
"So… how many of them have you read already?" She asked, Looking around again as she looked just how many books there were around.
"All of them." Spyro said, and she looked surprised at him.
"He reads three or four books a day ever since he learned how to read." One of the apes said, as he had noticed the look in the face of the dragoness. "A true bookworm, if you ask me."
"Yeah, the fact that dads insists for me to study everyday helps a little bit, right?" Spyro said, and Aeria looked at him.
"Gaul… encourages you to read?" She said, sounding surprised, and Spyro nodded.
"Yup, he says that it will help my growth and give me a better future, or something of the like." Spyro said, "But, I really love to read. I hope dad brings new books when he comes back."
She looked at him, and she looked around once more. "So, what kinds of books do you read?" She asked, and Spyro answered:
"All kinds. Dad always brings me as much books as he can. There are books of math, history, science, there are some biographies here and there. There are books about plants, about the movements of the stars." He continued to explain to Aeria. "There are also a lot of fiction works, like the Adventures of Crash Bandicoot."
This caught Aeria's attention, as she looked at him.
"Wait, you mean you have books of Crash Bandicoot? For real?" She sounded genuinely surprised as he said that.
"Yes, dad found them on his trips, and he let me read them." Spyro said, "You never read them?"
"No one in the Dragon Lands has read these books." Aeria said to him. "At least no one of my age, these books were forbidden many years ago."
"Forbidden?" Spyro said, now it was his turn to become surprised.
"King Malefor banished these books by a law, as well as many other books that were considered offensive."
"Offensive?" Spyro said, "The books are not offensive, at least I didn't considered them this. I mean, it is the adventure of a hero of a distant land who fights for the freedom of his people and to defeat an evil tyrant."
"The book was considered offensive by the government." Aeria explained to him. "They say that it was banished for it 'encouraged inadequate behavior', or something of the like."
Spyro took in the news, and he couldn't help but think it was stupid. Forbidding a book to be read only because you didn't liked what said in there? That sounded stupid in Spyro's mind. What could be wrong in the story of a hero who fights for his people and for their future? If anything, the story was inspiring.
"So, you really never read it?" Spyro finally asked after a long silence. Aeria only looked back at him and shook her head "no".
"Well, that has to change!" Spyro said, and he immediately dashed to one of the piles of books, and dug among them one exemplar that he had. It was a little old and had a worn-out cover, and in it, there were the words: THE RISE OF CRASH BANDICOOT
With the book on his paw, Spyro walked back to the dragoness, and he stood before her, presenting her the book.
"This is the very first edition of the Adventures of Crash Bandicoot." He said as he offered the book to her. "It is the start of his adventures and it is the first thing that you need to read if you are new to the saga." Spyro said, and Aeria took the book. "Read it and then decide for yourself if it deserves to be banished."
Aeria took the book and looked at it, before turning her eyes back to Spyro, and nodding at him. Spyro just smiled at her, seeming satisfied, and after a while, a voice broke the thing between them, as one of the apes spoke:
"Speaking of reading, I believe that a certain young purple dragon should go back to his studies." One of the apes said, and this got Spyro's attention to him. "After all, you didn't really finished reading the books that your father said before you were interrupted and decided to go on your little adventure. Nothing better than you continuing from where you left and finishing before it is time for your dinner. Right?"
"Yeah, okay." Spyro agreed, knowing that he would have no saying in the matter anyway, so he would better just go on with that.
The next hours were greatly uneventful, with the two dragons doing their respective books under the watchful eyes of the apes. Aeria was reading the book that Spyro gave to her, getting to know first paw the kind of story that Malefor had banished from their land. Spyro, on his end, was reading other books, all of it educational about distant communities and survival in the wild, as well as some about basic chemistry.
Spyro showed that he indeed was an avid reader, and that he was a speed-reader. By the time that Aeria was finished with one quarter of the book, Spyro was just finishing his third in a row, and while it was quite boring, Spyro continued to read it, and as he finished, he was ready to pick up another book, when:
"Okay, I think it is time for dinner now." One of the apes said, Spyro rose his head to look, and he could hear his own stomach grumbling in hungry, and Spyro had to admit that eating something would be nice.
"Food sounds nice." Spyro said, he looked at Aeria, who had stopped reading her book, and he asked her:
"So, want some food?"
She took a moment to answer. "Well, that depends on what is being served." She said as she looked at the apes. "Because, I rather not eat anything that was once a dragon…" She said as she looked at them, and this granted Spyro to look at her with a raised eyebrow. The apes only looked at her coldly.
"It will be fish. It was bought from the market this morning, so it will be very fresh." The ape said to her, and Aeria only looked back, and she had to look down under that icy glance, Spyro knew that the situation was getting tense. He decided to break it by speaking:
"So, I guess some fish sounds nice!" Spyro said, "You will love the fish around here, they are delicious when grilled!"
That seemed to be what it took to break the tension, and soon, the books left aside, and the two dragons were guide outside, where a fireplace had been place, and the fish were already in there being grill.
"What kind of fish is that?" Aeria asked as she took a look into the strange fish that was being grilled. It was long and had four pairs of fins on its body, as well as a great dorsal fin that almost looked like a sail of some kind. It also had eyes quite strangely shaped, looking like stars.
"Is a starry-eye tuna." Spyro said, "It is a fish that sometimes passes by the river during this time of the year. It is because of their mating season." He explained. "You are lucky, these are the tastiest fishes that we can get on the rivers." Spyro said, and he was already licking his chops as he looked at the fish being grill.
"Too bad that it takes so long to grill." Spyro said, and Aeria looked at him.
"Well, it would be faster if you used a fire breath." He said casually, but Spyro said nothing in return, and they just remained in silence, the fish continued to grill. Spyro's stomach grumbled louder, and he blushed as his stomach was making so much noise with a girl by his side. It was quite embarrassing for the purple dragon. Luckily, Aeria either didn't noticed that or said nothing on the matter.
"It does smell good." Aeria spoke as the fish was halfway grill, and Spyro had to agree with her, and soon, after what seemed a small eternity, the fish was grilled and ready for them to eat.
"Okay, you can dig in." An ape said as he served pieces of the grilled fish to the two dragons in big leaves working as dishes, and Spyro didn't wasted time in digging in the food. Aeria was a little more moderate in her was of eating, giving small bites as she held the thing in her two paws while Spyro ate straight from the leaf.
Aeria gave a few looks in Spyro's direction, and he continued to eat as if he was unaware of her looks, but she said nothing of the way that he ate.
"This fish is rather good." Aeria said, "I never truly liked fish, but this one is really good."
"Told you." Spyro said as he chewed and swallowed the fish, and he added:
"Boy, I'm thirsty."
One of the apes pulled something, some kind of bottle. He opened it and filled a bowl with a thick and crimson fluid, and offered it to the purple dragon.
"You are lucky I carry some of this."
"Oh, thanks!" Spyro said, taking the bowl and taking gulps of it, not noticing the expression that Aeria had in her face as she looked at him drinking that.
After a while, he finished, and he looked at the dragoness, who was stating at him. For a moment Spyro wondered if he had anything in his face, "What?" He asked, and she said nothing.
"Do you want some?" The ape asked; filling another bowl with the fluid form the same bottle, and offering to the dragoness, who looked at it with Spyro could recognize as mistrust.
"I-I…" She said, and after a second, she recomposed herself, and said: "No, thanks, I don't drink blood."
"Blood?" Spyro asked, confused, as he looked at the dragoness. The ape, on his turn, had a sour look as he looked at her.
"It ain't blood, miss." He said as he continued to hold the bowl. "It is lagople juice."
"La… lago…" Aeria said, and the ape rolled his eyes.
"It is a berry that grows in the forests. We use it to make juice. Will you want it or not?"
The ape seemed to be losing his patience, and Aeria only looked at him for a moment, before she took the bowl from his hand and took it near to her face. She sniffed it, then she took a small sip, and she seemed to approve it, for she took a bigger gulp.
"Hey, this is rather good." She said, and Spyro smiled at her while the ape who offered said nothing, and continued to look at her with an icy gaze. The dinner continued for a while, soon everyone had ate their fill, and the apes continued to watch over them.
"Well, I guess that it is time for a night's sleep, don't you agree?" One of the apes said, and Aeria looked surprised at them.
"What? Sleep now? But the sun barely set!" She spoke, and the purple dragon looked at her.
"Yeah, in here we tend to sleep early. The days start soon around the village, especially when you are the son of the king of apes." Spyro said to her, and the dragonfly floated near them.
"Yeah, I better be on my way too." The dragonfly said, and he looked at the dragon. "See you tomorrow buddy, and you better make good to your promise for me to consider forgiving you for today." Sparx said as he punched Spyro's check playfully, making the purple dragon smile. Soon, the dragonfly was flying away into the night, while Spyro waved goodbye to him.
"Okay, that is it, time to sleep." The ape said, and Aeria seemed to still not be feeling quite sleepy, but Spyro was ready to rest after the day that he had, and soon, they were moving to inside the hut, and the two dragons moved to a place that had been prepared for them to sleep.
Spyro already had his own bed prepared in the area, something else that his father had long arranged for him, circular and with pillows in it for Spyro to lay and to rest. For Aeria, they had to improvise something with some pillows and mattresses, but they were able to do something that was fairly comfortable for her to spend the night on.
As she got ready to sleep, Aeria removed her harness and placed into a place near to her bed, and she laid in it, testing the place that was prepared to her.
"Have a good night." The apes said, as they resumed their positions.
"Are they going to be here the whole night?" Aeria asked, and Spyro stretched his body while he laid on his bed.
"Yeah, they are used to it. They sleep in turns so there is always someone watching. Dad's instructions. He seems to be afraid that someone will sneak in here during the night and slice my throat while I sleep."
Aeria looked at him, she looked at the place around, and she saw a few apes getting ready to sleep while the rest of them mounted guard in the place. She turned back to Spyro.
"Do you feel safe?"
"Well, with all of these guys keeping guard, it is hard not to feel safe." Spyro said, and Aeria said:
"No. I'm asking if you feel safe around the apes." She asked him, Spyro looked at her, and she looked at him as she was expecting his answer. "Do you feel safe living among the apes? With all of the things that they do?"
Spyro wasn't sure of what she meant, and he just shrugged.
"Well, I have lived among apes my entire life. I felt safe around them for that long, and I still do. Sure, they give me the eye here and there, and some of them make it clear that they don't like having me around." Spyro said to her, "But I'm not really afraid of any of them… well, save for Kallag." Spyro said the last part in a low voice to himself, and Aeria looked at him.
"What was that?"
"Oh, nevermind." Spyro said, not wanting to delve in that subject, even because, if he started to talk about that major arse that was Kallag, he was sure that he would be unable to have a peaceful night of sleep. "Well, anyway, I'm pretty sure that we are both safe, now let's sleep, okay?"
Aeria looked at him, and she nodded.
"Yes, but, don't you want it back?" Aeria said as she dug into the pockets of her harness. She pulled out the glowing stone that Spyro had brought from the cave of the owlbear. When they were on their way back, she had offered to keep it for him, and he accepted, giving it to her for her to keep safe.
"Oh, yeah, thanks." Spyro said, picking the rock, and he looked at the way that it glowed, casting a ghastly glow in the place, he placed it on his bed, next to the edge, and he turned to her.
"Okay, now we really gotta sleep."
"Okay, good night, Spyro."
"Good night, Aeria." Spyro said as he yawned and turned to sleep, curling over himself into a ball with a pillow to rest his head, and soon, he was getting ready to sleep. He could still hear Aeria moving in the improvised bed near to his own, and he had the feeling that she was going to take a while to sleep. Meanwhile, Spyro felt tired, and he felt like he could sleep for a long while, but not before he reflected at all that had happened to him in the course of a single day.
It was hard to believe that all of these things had been a single day of his life, and that all that happened in there had affected him so deeply that it was hard to believe. He was only imagining what the following day would bring now that all of these things had happened to him.
Little did Spyro knew that, in the course of the following days, his life would change in more ways that he was able to imagine.
Little did he knew that, in the following days, his life would change so much that it would, most likely, never be the same again…