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Red Blood On Brown Scales

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Music class was filled with loud noises, strange instruments, and a bright orange Rainwing who, for all the moons, would not shut up. In the Ice Kingdom, silence rained, unless there was a tribe meeting. Even then all aristocrats would behave themselves in a civilized manner. Even the dragonets would try their best to be polite. Not like these strange, colorful, and EXTREMELY LOUD dragons around her.


Snowstorm had sat herself in a corner the moment class began. This was undignified music, the kind of music that would get her thrown out of the tribe. How could anyone lower themselves to wack their tail on drums like Triton? Or dance in that silly way Crimson was doing? If she did that, Snowstorm knew her chances of returning to her home were slim to none.


Across the room the Mudwing, Cypress, was trying to play a harp. Prism was trying to help her learn, but Cypress kept getting her claws stuck in the strings. With a laugh, Prism tugged one of Cypress’ claws out of the instrument, then poked her in the chest. Cypress rolled her eyes and batted her away.


Snowstorm felt a strange ache in her chest, like someone was squeezing her heart. She didn’t know what it meant, and didn't really want to find out. Prism glanced around the room and caught the Icewing’s eye. Prism blinked at her, then gave a little wave with her wing. Snowstorm immediately looked away, focusing on her claws instead. 


“AHEM,” their teacher, Shimmer, called. “Before class ends I want to teach you a song. We won’t do this super often, unless anyone has any requests, but this one is a favorite of mine. We’ll try to sing it together, alright?”


As soon as everyone nodded Shimmer gave them each a scroll with lyrics written on them. As Snowstorm glanced at the words, she got more and more confused. She had never seen a song like this before.


“I’ll sing it first so you know the rhythm,” Shimmer said. As the Rainwing started the song, Snowstorm couldn’t help but enjoy her voice. It was high and sweet, like the taste of summer sun after a long winter. She wondered if all Rainwings sounded like that when they sang.


When she finished Shimmer instructed, “Now it’s your turn. One, two, three…”


The seven dragonets all burst into song with varying talent. It sounded horrible to Snowstorm, who was barely whispering the worlds, but Shimmer seemed pleased enough. After the first verse ended Shimmer called for them to stop.


To Snowstorm’s horror, Shimmer said, “Snowstorm, to succeed in this class you have to participate. You don’t have to be good, but you do have to try. Sing the first verse for us, please.”


This was exactly what Snowstorm didn’t want. To be put on the spot, called out for not being good enough. And now she had to sing ? In front of her winglet? But if she didn’t, Shimmer would tell the Dragonets of Destiny, and word would get back to Queen Snowfall that she didn't represent the Icewings properly. 


Snowstorm took a deep breath, stared at a spot on the wall, and started to sing.


When we were young and full of fun

Our wings would beat until the dawn

Oh the time we spent up in the sky

Until the rain came pouring down


Until the rain came pouring down


Drip Drip

Drip Drip

And the sun beat down on forest leaves

Drip Drip

Drip Drip

Silence filled the room as she finished the song. Snowstorm just stared at her spot on the wall, begging her teacher to leave her alone.


Shimmer cleared her throat. “That was lovely, Snowstorm. You are quite talented.”

Snowstorm nodded her head slightly, still staring at the wall. After a moment the teacher let them continue with whatever they were doing before, and Snowstorm started to relax.


The feeling of someone watching her seeped along Snowstorm’s scales. She already knew who it was. Looking down, she met the dark eyes of Prism, who was watching her with an expression Snowstorm couldn’t quite make out. They stared at each other for a long moment, neither blinking or moving a muscle. Then, seized with a sudden burst of boldness, Snowstorm lifted one wing, and gave Prism a little wave. Prism blinked, startled, then lifted her wing, and waved back.


A sudden surge of panic filled her and Snowstorm fled from the cave, ignoring Shimmer’s calling to come back. She ran down endless corridors, trying to escape what she had done, what she might do, or what she was doing. Waving to a Nightwing, like she was her friend? Running away from class like a coward? What would Queen Snowfall think of that when she heard about this? Had she already doomed her family’s honor in her first class?


She caught a glimpse of snowy white scales before she collided with a dragon much bigger than her. There was a loud “ Oof” as the other dragon stumbled back a few steps, shaking his wings to balance himself.


Snowstorm looked up and gasped. It was the scavenger teacher, the former Prince Winter of the Icewings.


“I-I'm so sorry,” Snowstorm blurted. “I didn’t see you coming and-”


Winter held up a talon and Snowstorm immediately shut her mouth. How had her situation gotten even worse ?


“It’s alright,” Winter said gently, seeing the panic in her eyes. “No harm done. Though I do have to ask, why are you out in the halls right now? Classes haven't been dismissed yet.” 


Snowstorm looked down at her talons. “I left, sir. I-I um-”


Winter was looking at her strangely, as though he had just realized she was there. “Are you Snowstorm? Snowstorm, the daughter of Seal and Beluga?”


And the niece of the traitor Polar? Went unsaid, but she still heard it in his voice.


She nodded, head still bowed in shame. It was always hard to admit to another Icewing, especially one so revered as Winter, of her family shame. She knew how they looked at her, the disgust that twisted their snouts in horrible, familiar ways.


But when she looked up, she didn’t see disgust on Winter’s snout. Instead she saw… sympathy?


The sudden sound of the gong signaling the end of class started her. She could hear the growing noise of dragons behind them as they prepared to switch classes.


Before she could make her excuses, Winter turned and beckoned her with one wing. “Come with me, I want to show you something.”


Snowstorm knew she couldn’t disobey a teacher, and curiosity was starting to creep its way toward her anyways. So she followed Winter to the scavenger study room where he taught his class. It was filled with strange human objects, maps, and a few scavengers running around wide cages. There was one scavenger, however, who was sitting on top of Winter’s desk. When she saw him she barbled something then leapt onto his outstretched talon.


Winter nuzzled her softly with his snout then set her on his shoulder. The scavenger stared at Snowstorm with wide brown eyes, but with curiosity, not fear.


“This is Gecko. When I first met her I was leaving the Ice Kingdom for the last time. It was after the battle with Darkstalker, and when the spell was cast that sent all the Icewings home I too was moved. But my tribe considers me a traitor. I’m sure you know all about that, right?”


Here he glanced at her and Snowstorm nodded. Of course she had heard of the prince who threw away his honor in order to live with dragons from other tribes. At that time it was unheard of.


Winter looked back at Gecko and continued. “Queen Snowfall was my cousin. My family. Yet she still decided to banish me. I had brought shame on our family, she told me. So that very night I left and while I was flying over the icy peaks, I saw a patch of brown fur stark against the ice. It was Gecko. She was half frozen and close to death. I took her with me and raised her back to health, and created a sanctuary where she and other scavengers could be safe from dragons.”


“Now I live here, doing what I love. I never lost my honor, Snowstorm. I saved my brother, gave him the life I didn’t want. Now I do what I love, something I could never have achieved back home. Family is not just about honor. It is about love, community, and understanding. One day, Snowfall will understand that and she will be a better queen for it. And hopefully, you will too.”


Snowstorm didn’t know what to say. An Icewing, even an outcast, trying to convince her that she could be happy outside of her tribe. No, that was impossible. Every Icewing knew that. So was he trying to trick her? To make her into a traitor just like him? 


She desperately wanted to believe him. To know that all was not lost. But she couldn’t


She stood up to her full height and looked him straight in the eye. “No, sir. You are wrong. It is an Icewing’s duty to serve their queen and their family. It is an honour . And one that I am not going to throw away.”


And with that she turned and fled from the cave. But not before she caught the sad look that fell upon Winter’s snout as he watched her go, far away from the exiled prince and his scavenger.


“You do know that was the most boring class in the world?” Arroyo yawned next to him, face buried in a wing.


“It was not !” Crimson explained. “History is fascinating , I’ll have you know! Just think, thousands and thousands of years ago, scavengers ruled the world. CAN YOU BELIEVE?”


“I can believe that you have more energy then every dragon in this school put together,” the Sandwing muttered. 


Crimson batted at him with one wing and Arroyo threw a date at him. The two of them ended up giggling on the ground, covered with smushed fruit.


Getting up, Crimson brushed off any remaining date and rearranged the blankets on his bed. “I think I’ll head to the library since we’re done for today. Want to come?”


“You are in love with that place,” Arroyo sighed. “No, I think I’ll stay here and take a nap.”


“Boring!” Crimson called back as he left, and was rewarded with another thrown date, which he promptly dodged, laughing as he raced down the hall.

Most of the other dragons were either at lunch or wandering the academy. The pounding rain outside kept any outgoings from occurring. As Crimson wandered down the brightly lit halls, he found himself wondering about Amber. Did his sister miss him? How was she handling the conflict between the Seawings and Mudwings? As a future advisor to Queen Ruby, she would be involved with any major politics, and Crimson knew without a doubt that all the queens of Pyhrriha were discussing the destruction of Lagras. Would they try and bring him home if there was anymore fighting? He hoped not. He had friends here, he was learning more than ever! He didn’t want to go home.


As soon as he entered the library all thoughts ran from his brain as the smell of old scrolls filled his senses. Starflight’s desk was empty, but Crimson could hear someone shuffling behind one of the scroll racks. Following the sound, he soon found the librarian stacking scrolls into a newly built stand. His talons carefully traced the carved wood before he would place a scroll as delicately as a mother places down her new born dragonet. 


“Hi Starflight!”


Starflight dropped the scroll he was holding with a little yelp and Crimson scrambled to help him pick it up.


“I’m sorry, I should have announced myself sooner,” Crimson stammered, pressing the scroll into the Nightwing’s talons. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”


Starflight gave him a small smile. “I’m sure you didn’t, Crimson. It is Crimson, isn’t it?”


Crimson nodded before remembering that the Nightwing couldn’t see him and hastily added, “Yes, sir.”


“What can I help you with, Crimson?”


Crimson reached out and poked one fat scroll that dangerously looked as if it were going to fall. “I just came here to browse. This library is enormous. How did you manage to get all these scrolls?


Starflight smiled and touched the bandage that wrapped around his head. “We asked all the tribes to donate as many scrolls as possible. Webs was able to purchase even more once Queen Coral stopped trying to kill him. We get more and more scrolls every year, thanks to the generosity of other dragons. That's what this school is all about, you know: helping dragons from other tribes.”


Crimson plucked a scroll from the pile next to Starflight and placed it on a shelf. The librarian acknowledged this with a flick of one ear, then continued on with his work. 


The two of them shelved the scrolls in silence for a few minutes before Crimson said, “Sir, do you think there will be another war?”


Starflight paused, one talon still perched on the shelf. “Crimson, I believe you were one of the dragons involved with the fight yesterday?” 


“Ye-yes I guess so,” Crimson sputtered, surprised. “I mean I was there, but I didn’t do anything.”


“And you remember what we said at the assembly?”


Crimson frowned, thinking for a moment. “You told us that fighting isn’t the way to solve this. That blaming those who are not responsible is a bad way of dealing with our anger.”


“Yes. But that advice isn’t easy for dragons to follow. Queen Coral, I’m afraid, is too… well, narrow minded might not be the correct word, but let's just say that she is used to dealing with problems a certain way. Change does not come naturally to her. And Queen Moorhen is proud, much too proud to let her citizens get hurt without retaliating. It’s an easy mixture for conflict, I’m afraid.”


There was a pause as Starflight turned to face Crimson. The young Skywing couldn’t help but stare at the clean linen bandages that covered the Nightwing's face, where his eyes should be. A small part of him wanted to see those eyes.


“Do you know why I love scrolls so much?” Starflight asked, not even waiting for Crimson to answer before continuing. “I’m not a very good fighter. I’m not a leader, and I’ve never been particularly brave. But I am smart. I study scrolls because they give me more information than any advisors or teachers could. They don’t lie, don’t try and manipulate me. They tell a story, and from that story I can discover the truth depths of the author’s mind. I learn from their mistakes, take note of their accomplishments, and compare them to others.”


He leaned forward and poked Crimson lightly in the chest. “Never forget that what your eyes can be tricked. Lies can be whispered through your ears. But stories- stories never lie. Do you understand?”


“Yes,” Crimson said slowly, staring at the stacks and stacks of scrolls that surrounded him on all sides. “I think I do.”

The faint melody caught Prism’s attention as she left the history cave, having just returned some borrowed scrolls. It was beautiful; soft and melancholy, filled with emotion. Prism followed the sound as though in a trance, forgetting everything but that beautiful siren call. She was almost to the underground lake when she could make out the words.

When we were young and full of fun

Our wings would beat until the dawn

Oh the time we spent up in the sky

Until the rain came pouring down


Until the rain came pouring down


Drip Drip

Drip Drip

And the sun beat down on forest leaves

Drip Drip

Drip Drip


Do you remember the roofs above

Of leaves of green and vines with fruit

From horns to tails to wings to claws

We covered ourselves in fields of flowers


We covered ourselves in fields of flowers


Drip Drip

Drip Drip

And the sun beat down on forest leaves

Drip Drip 

Drip Drip


It wasn’t hard to spot you then

With your scales of gold and emerald green

But then they changed upon that day

When ivory became your final fit


When ivory became your final fit


Drip Drip

Drip Drip

And the sun beat down on forest leaves

Drip Drip

Drip Drip

And the sun beat down on forest leaves

Drip Drip

Drip Drip

The ice dragon was perched upon a ledge that opened to the inky night sky, two moons visible through the natural window. The ledge creeped out over one of the underground lakes, so the pale moonlight turned the usually dark water into a swirling pot of melting silver. Prism stopped at the entrance to the cave, wishing that Snowstorm would continue the beautiful melody. But Snowstorm was just staring up at the sky, wings tilted backwards as though wanting to lift off and fly far, far, away.


“Why are you here?” Snowstorm’s voice rang out. Startled, Prism took a step back, then decided it was too late to run.


“I-I heard someone singing and I wanted to know who it was…” she trailed off as Snowstorm hung her head and breathed out a trickle of frost breath through her nose.


After a moment of silence, Prism slowly approached her clawmate until she was right next to her. She sat down and stared up at the sky. The moons looked so pretty, so full of light and peace that for a moment Prism wanted nothing more than to fly up and join them. Almost unconsciously she changed her scales to match the silver white moons, as though doing so would bring her closer to them. She guessed it was some sort of Nightwing thing, to want to be closer to the source of their power.


“What's it like?” Snowstorm burst out. It almost seemed like she had been trying to keep the question inside but just couldn’t help herself. “Being a Rainwing and a Nightwing?”


Prism looked up at her in surprise. “Its- well it's- kind of isolating, in a way. The Nightwings and Rainwings are getting along better each day, but still… I’m the first hybrid those two tribes have ever had. I can’t read minds or tell the future, and I can’t fully camouflage myself like all the other Rainwings. I'm just different.”


Snowstorm didn’t respond. She just stared ahead like her mind was millions of miles away.


“What about you? What’s it like in the Ice Kingdom?”


Snowstorm blinked and seemed to return to herself. “I’m nobody. Less than a nobody, actually. I have failed my family time and time again. I guess I’m just… trying my best to be someone . Someone who isn’t me .”


“What do you mean? You seem fine to me.”


Maybe it was the shifting of the moonlight but Prism thought she saw a pale blush creep along the Icewing’s silver scales.


“Maybe to you, but you’re not an Icewing. It’s different at home. You have to be a certain way or else…”


Here she trailed off, dipping one claw into the water beneath them. It created a tiny ripple that grew wider and wider the farther it spread.


Prism looked at the silver dragon, all sharp edges and glittering ice. She looked so lost, so scared, in a way that Prism couldn’t help but understand. Wasn’t she an outsider? As much a nobody as she was special? A dragon so unique in heritage they couldn’t be accepted fully? After all, how can someone be special if they don’t know who they really are?


Prism stretched out a silver-black and nudged Snowstorm’s shoulder. “For what it’s worth, I think you’re the greatest singer in all of Pyrrhia.”


Snowstorm looked startled for a moment, but she didn’t pull away. Then smiled. It was the first true smile Prism had even seen on her, and she found herself wanting to see that smile much more often.


A blinding flash of lightning followed by a clap of thunder made them both jump in alarm. And just like that, the moment was over. Snowstorm stared at Prism as though just realizing she was there then started to back away.


“I’m- I’m sorry I shouldn’t- I have to go.”


The Icewing turned and fled as though her tail were on fire. Prism called out to her, but to no avail. She just sat on the ledge as the rain started to soak through her scales, all alone.