"Wow." Sparx clapped a hand against his forehead. "That's tough luck Cynder."
The dragonfly was floating about the dragoness's chamber while she sulked on her pile of cushions.
"You know, you probably don't have much to worry about." The dragonfly hovered next to her and crossed his arms. "Spyro's never known any other female dragons other than you until now. I would bet that he's more comfortable being around you than that new chick."
"That's the problem Sparx." Cynder sighed angrily and raised her head up. "Spyro's only been around me. He may want to try and be with Ember if she sparks his curiosity enough."
"Then why don't you tell him not to?"
"I couldn't do that to Spyro." She lowered her head back on top of her paws. "He deserves to be happy no matter who he's with. He's been through so much. Happiness is the least he deserves."
"Well knowing Spyro I can guarantee he'd say the same thing about you Cynder. And you can multiply that a hundred times over." Cynder just sighed. "Come on Cynder. The one good thing in your life and you're not going to even try and fight for him? That's not the Cynder I know."
Before the black dragon could respond there was an explosion outside. Sparx and Cynder jumped in surprise and dashed to the balcony. They looked down to see the heads of the dragons and moles turned towards the sky. Up above them Flame and Spyro clashed with each other.
"Take this!" Flame roared and spew a fireball at Spyro. Spyro dodged and countered with his own fire breath.
"What are those two doing?" Sparx squinted against the sun.
"I have no idea." Cynder shook her head as they watched the two young males circle around each other, breathing fire at one another. Spyro and Flame opened their mouths to unleash a powerful fire beam at one another. The energy combusted on impact and both dragons were forced back from each other.
"Not bad." Spyro nodded approvingly. "You really are as talented as your grandfather says."
Flame smiled proudly. "You haven't seen anything yet." Then he looked sick. He reared his head back and began coughing hard.
"Flame! Are you all right?" Spyro asked, not sure what was going on. Flame clutched at his stomach then belched an enormous ball of fire at Spyro. He managed to catch the purple dragon by surprise and Spyro back-winged to give himself an extra moment. He reached deep inside him and blew a stream of ice between his lips. The fire ball froze solid and plummeted towards the city bellow.
Cynder saw this and dove off the balcony to intercept it. Just before she reached it a blue flash zipped past her and shattered the ball into dust. Cyril positioned himself between the two males and spread his wings wide in a display of dominance.
"Will you two stop playing these childish games? We have guests here and you two are likely to hit something or someone."
"Sorry Cyril." Spyro apologized as he and Flame flew over to the guardian. "Flame just wanted to spar a little bit, I thought I'd give him some pointers."
"That's fine and all but you two will have to wait for another day when the city isn't so crowded."
"Yes sir." Spyro and Flame hung their heads sadly.
"No need to sulk you two." Cyril assured them. "You had good intentions by helping a fellow dragon. But right now you two should be preparing for tonight's banquet."
"Another one?" Sparx groaned as he flew out next to Cynder.
Cyril continued. "Tonight is the last one before our visitors return home. So it's going to be a special one. So I want you two to get ready right now." Cyril dove back down and seemed to just notice Cynder hovering there, watching them. "You should prepare yourself too Cynder." He called as he dove past her.
"I wonder what's going on?" Cynder pondered aloud.
"What, you don't know?" Sparx raised a brow. "Tonight Cyril and I planned ball to coincide with the feast."
"A ball!" Cynder exclaimed. "Isn't that supposed to be really formal?"
"Technically yes. At least that's what I had planned."
"Cyril suggested that the ball be old fashioned. Meaning that the guests all wear those funky old masks so no one can tell who is who. The mole guys have been working on them all week."
"But I never heard anything about it." Cynder protested as she flew back to her room.
"Well you're just so lucky I was thinking ahead of you."
"How often does that happen?"
Sparx narrowed his eyes. "Do you want me to help you get Spyro or not?"
"What do you mean?"
"Just wait here." Sparx ordered and flew off down the hall. Cynder ended up waiting for nearly a half hour before the dragonfly returned with his tiny arms full of feathers.
"What are you doing with those?" Cynder asked skeptically.
"Oh, you'll see." Sparx snickered. He flew over to Cynder's treasure chest and struggled to get it open but it was too heavy. "Hey, a little help here?" Cynder got up and opened the lid for him. Sparx ducked inside and rummaged around through Cynder's different types of armor, and dragging out the ones he wanted.
"Sparx, what are you doing?"
"Cynder, you'll thank me when this is over." He dragged one of Cynder's helmets over to her. "Here, put this on." Cynder sighed and went along with it. Sparx studied her for a moment then nodded. "Okay, take it off, I think I've got an idea."
"Are you making this up as you go?"
"Sort of." Sparx formed a box with his fingers, cropping Cynder's face inside. "But trust me. I see the outcome. And I guarantee you'll love it."
Cynder watched as Sparx began applying the feathers to her helmet with a flexible wax. When he was done he let it sit so that the feathers would set properly and he flew off down the hall again leaving Cynder to scratch her head. When he returned he was joined by a mole who carried a tray of saucers and a small stack of towels.
"Will that be all?" The mole asked after setting the tray down on the floor.
"Yeah, that's perfect. Thanks buddy." Sparx waved and handed him a gem as a tip.
"What is going on?" Cynder demanded.
"Shush! You'll ruin the surprise." Sparx snapped a finger to his lips. "Off those pillows, I need you on the floor." Cynder sighed again and did as she was told. Sparx grabbed one of the towels and dipped it in one of the saucers. He flew over to Cynder and began to scrub ad polish her bracelets on her forelegs, neck and tail. When he had finished those he proceeded to do the same to the armor parts he'd dragged out. Cynder was about to lay down again when Sparx stopped her. "Gotta let the polish dry tuts. Sorry."
Cynder grumbled to herself.
When Sparx had finally polished all the armor to a brilliant shine he went back to the tray for another towel.
"Hey Sparx, do you think Spyro needs any help getting ready?"
"I think Spyro has enough to deal with right now." Sparx replied with a chuckle.
"Oh no reason." Sparx shrugged. "Now, for the main part of my master piece." Sparx turned his attention on Cynder herself. The dragon's eyes grew wide and she took a couple cautious steps back. "Now hold still." Sparx ordered and began to scrub Cynder's face.
Cynder closed her eyes as Sparx went about his work. She found herself drifting off into a light slumber as Sparx finished her face and moved down her neck and then her shoulders and back. The massage felt relaxing. She wished that Spyro was there with her. Just to be in his company. She felt the dragonfly work his way from her back down her tail and finish at her tail blade. Suddenly her eyes snapped open as Sparx began to polish the scales on her sides. He had moved his hand too far back and had caused Cynder to jerk away from him.
"Oops sorry." Sparx smiled sheepishly. "I guess I got a little wrapped up in my work." Cynder just stared at him, not sure whether to believe him or not. "Well we're just about done. Let me get your legs and then we'll get you going." Cynder kept her eyes on him this time until he was finished.
At last Sparx made Cynder don her armor and look in the mirror. Cynder gasped in surprise as she looked at herself. Sparx noticed her reaction and smiled to himself. "Go ahead and admit it. I am a genius."
Spyro strolled around the different plazas with Ember by his side. She had been waiting for him to arrive and was immediately at his side when he showed up to the feast. She said that she had been tipped off about where he was going to be and had decided to wait for him there.
"You look really handsome." She smiled at him and nodded to his armor which he wore. It was not polished like Cynder's but that didn't discourage Ember. "Did you get that armor on your adventures?"
"Yeah I did." Spyro nodded and tried to put another inch between him and Ember.
"I like it. It really makes you look heroic."
"Uh, thanks." Spyro blushed slightly.
"How do you think I look?" Ember asked and put herself in front of him and batted her eyes.
I...uh..." Spyro stammered. The pink dragoness had mask that covered her eyes with gold and purple feathers.
"It's okay. You don't have to be shy." Ember said softly and leaned in towards Spyro making his heart race and temperature rise. "You can be honest with me Spyro."
"Um...well..." Spyro sighed and gave her a serious answer. "You look very pretty."
"You mean it?" Ember squealed with joy. "I picked the colors out just for you."
"That was very thoughtful of you..." Spyro smiled. He was feeling somewhat dizzy and he swayed on his feet.
"Are you okay Spyro?" Ember asked as she watched Spyro shake his head.
"I just feel a little dizzy." Spyro breathed deep before exhaling.
"Well if you need to sit down just let me know and we'll go get you a seat. I don't want you passing out on the floor. Although if you did I do know how to resuscitate you." She lowered her eyelids behind her mask gazed at him.
Spyro felt the swimming sensation return. But forced himself to remain standing.
"I think taking a seat would be a good idea right now." He sighed.
"Sparx I don't know about this." Cynder said as she and the dragonfly descended the stairs to the plazas below.
"What do you mean? Cynder you look fabulous!" Sparx took another moment to look her over before giving her a thumbs-up.
"Do you even know where Spyro is right now? He could be anywhere."
"Just leave that to me." Sparx waved a hand and took off. Cynder continued her descent and Sparx returned five minutes later. "He's in the southern plaza. He was looking a little sickly when I spotted him."
"Is he okay?"
"I think so. He's got that Ember chick with him."
"What? Everything is going to go according to plan Cynder."
"I don't even know what your plan is!" Cynder protested.
"All I'm asking is that you trust me for once to help you and Spyro out. Now do you trust me?" Cynder looked away and for a moment Sparx thought he would lose her. Then Cynder finally faced him again.
"All right. I'm with you." She nodded.
"Good." Sparx smiled. "Now head towards the southern plaza. I'll take care of everything."
"Okay Sparx. Do what you have to."
"Hey, it's me we're talking about." He smiled and zipped off towards the plaza lanterns.
"Are you feeling any better Spyro?" Ember asked as she leaned close to Spyro's face again.
"I think so. A little." He groaned. But he was still feeling very warm. He had downed three glasses of cold water but it had done very little to help.
"Maybe I should see if one of the doctors can check you out." Ember said as she pressed her paw against his forehead. Spyro seemed to settle down slightly. This more compassionate side of her reminded him of Cynder.
"I'll be right back. Try not to move too much okay?" Ember turned and pushed her way through the crowd of bodies. As she made her way through the crowd she heard a voice call her name. Ember looked over to see her mentor Marla standing with Infernus and Flame who wore a big grin on his face. Unable to ignore them, Ember made her way over to them.
"Where are you going in such a hurry?" Marla asked.
"Uh..." Ember tried to think up an excuse.
"Were you about to go off and find Spyro again?" Marla narrowed her eyes at the dragoness.
Ember didn't want them to know that she was already with Spyro so she nodded dumbly. "Yeah, I was."
"Well why don't you leave him alone for a while. You have another friend who you've barely spent any time with since you got here."
Ember looked at Flame who smiled at her. She gave a half-hearted smile back and cursed herself for not staying with Spyro.
"You look great tonight." Flame said sheepishly, a little embarrassed about his grandfather and her mentor being there.
"Uh, thank you." Ember gave an uneasy smile. The compliment had caught her by surprise. "You look nice yourself." She chuckled nervously pondering how she was going to get out of that situation.
Spyro took a deep breath in and sighed. Ember had been gone almost ten minutes.
"It's about time." A voice said beside him. "I thought she'd never leave."
Spyro turned his head to see his brother glowing bright beside him.
"Sparx! Where have you been?"
"Oh just out and about. This and that. Nothing really important."
"Is that so?" Spyro leaned in towards him and narrowed his eyes. "Were you the one who told Ember where I would be?"
Sparx gulped nervously. Then he spotted Cynder coming down the stairs across the plaza. "I think you should be asking yourself the important question: Where's Cynder."
"Oh no!" Spyro gasped. "I nearly forgot!"
"Well I didn't." Sparx flew off and met Cynder on the staircase. Spyro watched as he whispered something to her then flew back. "Well, what are waiting for buddy? Go get her!"
Spyro looked at Sparx then back in time to see Cynder's tail disappear into the crowd of bodies. He got up and began making his way through the crowd towards where he'd seen her. He walked past the refreshments and the musicians. He stopped when he reached the edge of the crowd who surrounded those who were busy dancing to the music. Spyro then saw her across the way. She was wearing an armored mask with red and violet feathers sticking out around her horns. The feathers made the color of her eyes really jump out at him and his heart fluttered. Her scales shined like the stars themselves in the lantern light and Spyro found himself lost in her beauty.
Just then the musicians slowed their playing. Still captivated by her, Spyro took a brave step into the circle. Cynder's eyes locked onto his and she began to approach him. When they were within a foot of each other they smiled.
"You look..." Spyro shook his head as he tried to find the right words. "Absolutely Amazing."
Cynder smiled warmly. "Thank you. You look very handsome yourself." It was a partial truth. She preferred to look at him when he wasn't covered in armor.
All around them, couples were doing their best to slow dance around them. After a long pause Spyro lowered his head slightly.
"Yes Spyro?" She felt her heart leap in her chest as she awaited his obvious question.
Spyro looked back up into her eyes. "May I dance with you?"
The black dragoness gave a slight bob of her head.
Slowly they began to circle each other, keeping their eyes locked on each other. The other couples noticed and moved away more. Many who were watching began to whisper to one another as they watched the two dragons slowly moving together, step by step. Terrador who had been nearby perked up when he heard the whispering about the two dragons in the middle of the dance circle. He moved closer to get a better view and watched the two young dragons together.
After their third complete circle, both dragons extended their left wing and crossed their tips together. As they continued circling both turned to face each other and crossed the other wing tip. Terrador watched with wide eyes as Spyro and Cynder began to bob their heads and wings as they continued to circle in a side-step. Soon the two began to sway with the soothing music.
By now everyone had stepped out of the dance circle and were watching the two dragons in awe. Marla and Infernus walked up beside Terrador and gazed at the sight before them.
"Oh my." Infernus gasped. "I don't believe it."
"The Dance of Lovers." Marla whispered.
"I can hardly believe it myself." Terrador shook his head. "It hasn't been performed for nearly a thousand years."
"Yet these two youngsters, who have never seen, let alone heard of..." Marla was truly astonished.
"Those two are indeed very special dragons." Terrador smiled.
Spyro and Cynder continued swaying with each other. They moved in closer and pressed their chests together and circled each other once before reversing direction. As they turned Spyro found himself lost in Cynder's dazzling eyes. The two reared up on their hind legs and placed their paws together and continued swaying. Spyro used one paw to push Cynder into a spin and caught her as she turned to face him again. The two spread their wings and they began to lift off the ground, still circling each other. Every head in the audience watched them. As the two dragons crossed flight paths as they ascended, they began to glow with convexity. The crowd murmured softly at the gentle purple light surrounding the two dragons.
"What is going on up there?" Flame asked as he and Ember tried to move closer to the compacting crowd.
Spyro and Cynder circled closer together in their aerial waltz. At the peek of their climb they embraced each other and began to fall. The audience watched as the two dragons locked their front talons and point their noses towards the ground. As the two drew closer to the ground they began to back up. When it seemed that the two were about to smash into the stone they released each other and swooped up in a sharp climb and unleashed a burst of convexity that ignited the night sky in a brilliant purple light. The audience clapped and cheered as Spyro and Cynder slowly descended into the circle.
Ember and Flame took to the air to hover over the crowd and see what was going on. When the purple glow had died down, Ember spotted Cynder standing before Spyro and she felt her temper flare.
"Aw, what a cheap shot." She muttered. Flame turned his head curiously as if expecting an explanation.
Spyro and Cynder blinked a couple times and looked as though they had just woken up.
"Wow." Cynder gasped with a smile. "That was amazing Spyro. I had no idea."
"Neither did I." Spyro admitted. "I just did what felt right."
"Well I enjoyed it." Cynder walked up and nuzzled against Spyro's neck.
Ember clenched her claws tight with displeasure. As she watched Spyro and Cynder make their back into the sea of bodies she smiled to herself with determination.
"I'll let you have this victory." She thought to herself. "But I'm not giving up."