Ignitus 01: Laughter
The Temple's balcony had always been the perfect spot from which to watch sunrises and sunsets, or any wonder of the sky, in fact. Its view of the horizon was wide and unobstructed; the platform was built high enough to ascertain that the landscape would only add to the natural portrait.
Resultingly, one might have thought Ignitus was standing on the balcony for the purpose of watching the day's end displaying itself in the sky. The mixture of shades of red, orange, and pink the setting sun was producing seemed particularly eye-catching that time, so the assumption was certainly a logical one. And yet, all the same, it was an incorrect one.
Although the Fire Guardian did, indeed, have his gaze fixated upon the horizon, he was giving no attention to the scene before him, nor his surroundings, for that matter. His mind was too preoccupied with thinking of the situation that all the residents of the temple, himself included, were in. The orange eyes were simply staring blankly at what was in front of him.
Why he picked such a spot for deep thinking was an enigma even he might not have been able to clear up. He couldn't give any answer better than saying he felt compelled to. Of all the dragons there, it was Ignitus who had the strongest sixth sense, without question; the other Guardians always trusted his judgement.
And his intuition was telling him that, although things were quiet for that moment, they wouldn't be for long. Perhaps it was that foreboding feeling that made him stay face-to-face with the open horizon.
Thus, it was in the fire dragon's nature to worry about their situation.
The enemy had been strangely quiet, but he knew it couldn't last forever. In his mind, it seemed inevitable that a much bigger evil would soon befall them. The final crystal had been used; Convexity's seal was no more.
But then, why the game of wait? The answer to that was that breaking the seal was not the final step. That was why things were quiet... why they were not yet attacked.
Perhaps it was also a fall in the enemy's confidence, too. After all, thanks to a certain young dragon, the Dark Master's army had lost one of its leading fighters - Cynder. She had been freed of the evil enchantment placed upon her, miraculously, and was, at that time, living right there in the Dragon Temple. In fact, she and the one who had ensured they were all living in the comfort of that sacred building, Spyro, were getting along rather well, in the Fire Guardian's eyes.
But just because she was back to normal didn't mean she was safe. Surely the enemy wasn't done using her... they would try to take her back. Of more concern was that the purple dragon was an even bigger target for them. Spyro was the single biggest obstacle in the Dark Army's plans. Though they were hesitating to do anything immediately, it was apparent to Ignitus that these two were in danger.
Worse yet, they were sorely unprepared for the event of any ambush on the enemy's part. He and the other Guardians were by no means in peak condition, in any way. Ignitus, himself, had been the most recently drained of his energy. But Terrador, Cyril, and Volteer were very well much worse off - they had been held in continuous captivity for many months.
He couldn't be sure of his own ability to defend what Spyro's efforts recovered. And the young dragon was in even worse shape to be doing anything at all - his powers were as yet still unrecovered, and even his physical strength hadn't fully returned to him.
That was irrelevant to the Fire Guardian either way; depending on Spyro to save them all again was the last thing he wanted to do. The young dragon not only rescued all the other Guardians, but even came back with a purified Cynder. And this was all at an age so young that Ignitus felt pained to even have the boy do so much as lift a rock.
Spyro had given him hope to stand on. The Fire Guardian was determined to do whatever he could to minimize how much they had to rely on the purple dragon that had already been burdened enough. He wanted to protect the child, and everyone else, with his life.
If only determination and noble wishes could give him the strength he needed to have. It was the problem he had when he met Spyro, too... he couldn't save the other Guardians because he didn't have the ability to. It was as simple as that, and it was just as simply the reason he had to depend on Spyro's strength. And now, once again, he feared he would be powerless to do anything for anyone. Even the strength he had before hadn't returned to him, after his power had been sapped to power the final crystal to break Convexity's lock. Moreover, he wished his age would reduce by a few years. He was no longer as young as would have been convenient; strength took longer to replenish, and less to run out. Wounds took longer to heal; his leg was still giving him trouble. The last thing any dragon needed in a battle was a limp.
His fixed stare suddenly broke as a heavy sigh passed from the fire dragon's mouth, his gaze lowering to the ground. He was a Guardian, and yet, he felt incapable of protecting a thing, despite having 10 dragons' worth of desire to do so. And at the same time, there was nothing else he could do.
This was not a helpful way of thinking, and Ignitus realized it, but the fear of failure prevailed over any chance of believing in himself and his ability to protect. He had failed in his duty of guarding the eggs, and he had failed to put an end to the war. The thought of failing one time more, and losing everything all over again - it stirred desperation in the normally calm dragon. What would they do? He cared not for his own life, but his concern was for everyone else. Particularly the young buds of dragons living in that building.
With a slow, heavy movement, he turned himself around, rising onto all four feet to walk back towards the interior of the Temple. All that thinking only served to worsen his state of mind, and it showed all over his face; it looked stern, stiff, and tinged with pain. Even as he kept walking, still limping a bit because of his injured leg, his mind was completely elsewhere; worrying, feeling inadequate. Nothing around him registered to his attention. This train of thought of his would typically continue until something or someone interrupted it, bringing him back to normal, mostly. As he entered the Temple and was beginning to make his way around the enormous statue in the center of the first chamber - the training room - the best cure for his anxiety was running around it on the same side, from the other entrance of the room.
The footsteps passing right by the Fire Dragon's ears without being noticed at all, and the other party being distracted with other matters, combined to make collision a certainty. Ignitus only noticed a small yellow blur swiftly pass upwards in front of his eyes before a purple dragon's face met his chest.
Spyro had built enough momentum to be pushed back a little after colliding into the larger dragon; he fell into a sitting position, giving his nose a rub. Ignitus' bubble of negativity had been burst at that point; his face already softened up a bit. As would be expected of him, he felt at fault for the collision, mentally scolding himself for spacing out like he did and allowing this to happen. "Are you hurt, young dragon?" His neck arched downwards so he could examine the boy's face more closely; he seemed relatively unharmed, but it had been a rather strong impact, so the older dragon still felt quite concerned.
"I'm fine, Ignitus. Sorry, I-I should have paid more attention where I was going." The purple dragon said softly, touching at his still-stinging nose a bit.
"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" A familiar voice sounded from above; it could be no one but Sparx. "I say it's Smokey here's fault. What happened to his owl vision and frogweed ears? Should've known we were coming if you ask me." The dragonfly flew around the Guardian's head and pointed to his eyes and ears at the corresponding statements.
Ignitus fought back a strong urge to comment that frogweeds were actually very hard of hearing, and also raised an eyebrow at the newest nickname Spyro's adoptive brother had just given him. However, he was also almost vexed that he found himself agreeing with the yellow dragonfly. "Sparx is right... I was the one not paying any mind to his surroundings."
Before he could actually carry out the apology he was going to give, Sparx interrupted again with another remark. "No kidding. I mean, what was up with you? I saw you and you looked like the living dead. Didn't get enough beauty sleep last night or something, old man? Or is it one of those midlife crisis things?"
"Sparx!" Spyro's tone was a protesting one; sometimes Sparx's tongue got too careless with the comments that rolled off it. He knew Ignitus was not one to lose his temper because of it - though he did give the dragonfly just desserts now and then - that last comment was really not in good taste, no matter what kind of humor it was. "It was just an accident, Ignitus. Sparx, why didn't you tell me if you saw him coming?"
Spyro's eyes made it very visible to Sparx that his brother was not impressed with him. The question didn't help, and reflexively he moved one palm to the back of his head. "Uhhhhh..."
Ignitus gave a roll of his eyes, a gesture the yellow dragonfly often earned from him. Mentally he felt like laughing at himself, as the "midlife crisis" comment wasn't very far from fact. Seeing Sparx put on the spot by the young dragon did lighten his mood further, however. "As long as you're alright." He said, giving the purple nose a nudge with his own; Spyro didn't pull his head back, so that meant it didn't hurt. Nothing bruised or broken.
"I am." Spyro gave a nod as he abandoned the glare he'd momentarily fixated on Sparx. Looking up at the older dragon and taking into account what had just happened, however, he could tell something was bothering Ignitus. Sparx was right that the Guardian was normally much more careful, but that wasn't what made Spyro wonder. He could see it on the older dragon's face. Although Ignitus had relatively returned to normal, a bit of a shadow of his previous thinking was still visible on his features. "What about you, Ignitus?"
The dragon the statement was addressed to once again wasn't allowed to speak. "What, are you kidding?! What kinda question is that? Look at him, he's bigger than a bear!"
The orange eyes rolled once again before Ignitus spoke. "I'm fine, young dragon. As Sparx said, I am much larger than you are."
"That's not really what I meant." Spyro said, with his head tilted to one side and shaking a bit. In the relatively short time they'd known each other, the younger dragon already learned fully well how to see through the older dragon, though it couldn't be said that the reverse wasn't also true.
Ignitus was aware of this, and it nearly made him shake his head in somewhat amusement; this ability to read others reminded him of someone. And though he realized he couldn't hide anything, he was still stubborn in his refusal to speak of his troubles. "It is nothing, Spyro."
"Mhm, right." Sparx nodded his head and shrugged his shoulders in sarcasm. "I've seen sleepwalkers who pay more attention where they're goin', but yeah, it's nuthin' I'm sure."
"I was just thinking." Ignitus threw an unimpressed stare in the dragonfly's direction, hoping it would silence him. The fire dragon wished he would talk a bit more seriously now and then.
"That's enough, Sparx." Spyro knew the older dragon wasn't speaking the truth, but he also knew it was pointless trying to drag the topic out of him. When Ignitus didn't want to talk about something, he wouldn't talk about it. Well, not with comedic dragonflies around, anyway. The purple dragon would let the subject go just for that moment; he would press on it again later. This wasn't the first time he'd found Ignitus seeming troubled about something, so he wasn't going to just drop it altogether; he was concerned.
"Fine, fine, fine, I get the picture, everyone wants me to shut up again." Sparx crossed his arms as he said this, before buzzing over to Spyro and poking him in the nose with one finger. "And don't think you got saved by the crash. I still win!"
Spyro protested. "Hey, that's not fair! I was so about to catch you!"
The Fire Guardian tilted his head a bit - had they been playing another game of tag? That would certainly explain why they were running around the Temple. He was glad to hear it for two reasons; it meant Spyro was regaining his energy slowly but surely, and that he was at least in good enough spirits to be playing.
"Pff, are you kidding? I would've been halfway to Tall Plains by the time you would've caught my dust." The yellow dragonfly placed his arms akimbo cockily; he liked to talk big. Big, and a lot. Truth be told, the only reason Ignitus ever tolerated the dragonfly's presence was that Spyro cared for him. He was Spyro's foster brother, for better or worse, and it seemed to Ignitus's eyes that Sparx, too, cared for his "big" brother. Nonetheless, he wouldn't let the young dragonfly get away with teasing Spyro free. The fire Guardian had his eyes towards Spyro, seeing the look of playful protest on the younger dragon's face as he and his adoptive brother had another "I can do anything you can do better" argument. Swaying towards the purple dragon's side as always, Ignitus thought he might as well intervene.
you seem quite confident that you cannot be caught."
Both of the young ones stopped whatever sentences they were halfway through saying to look to Ignitus. "Yeah. Yeah, I am! No jumbo-sized reptile is ever gonna catch me. Unless he loses some weight, maybe
" Sparx threw Spyro another taunting gaze, which earned him another amused roll of the eyes from his brother.
Ignitus tilted his head upwards a bit, his eyes following the same direction, as if he was pondering something, as he brought a claw to his chin. "Is that so? I take it you don't believe any dragon could catch you, then."
The yellow dragonfly lifted a finger, about to reply with some other witty retort, but he stopped as he saw a slight grin spanning the Guardian's muzzle. His mouth hung open and his finger drooped downwards as he watched Ignitus crouch over forward, his haunches in the air. Something clicked in Sparx's mind as he realized Ignitus intended to pounce. Quickly, he turned around and flew away for dear life, only to hit a wall, after which he fell to the ground like an acorn falling from a tree.
Pleased, Ignitus raised himself up back into a normal position. As if he was in good enough physical shape to do anything like that; Sparx should have thought it through a bit more. That ought to teach him, he thought. Almost eagerly, he turned his head to see Spyro's reaction.
The purple dragon had his paws up to his mouth, attempting to muffle the laughing sounds that were emerging from his maw. He took a cautious two steps forward towards Sparx, looming over him. It was too much. The cheerful laughter came rushing out from Spyro's mouth the next moment, and Ignitus couldn't have been happier to hear it. He allowed himself to chuckle as well along with the younger dragon when Spyro turned his head towards him. Even he had to laugh when Sparx got what he deserved.
As he watched Spyro poke his dragonfly brother's belly to make him come to, Ignitus's chuckling increased more and more, until at some point, he stopped abruptly. Was he
laughing? His eyes stayed wide open for a good few moments as he stood there. Just as quickly, however, they drooped back to normal, and a little further than that, as a smile appeared on his features.
No matter how badly he felt, no matter what the issue, the younger dragon turned Ignitus's state of mind around with great ease. The fire Guardian had realized that much. It wasn't even the first time it had happened; again and again, Spyro revived feelings in him he thought were long dead. First, it was hope. Then, it was happiness. This time, it was laughter.
As he watched the younger Spyro continue to laugh and radiate joy, Ignitus couldn't help but feel like the child would be able to remedy anything in the war-torn realms. How quickly he let his worries make him forget that Spyro had the power of hope. He trusted that power with all his heart, and silently, he promised himself not to let his confidence sway so easily. He had to believe in Spyro, and at the same time, stay strong for his sake. Spyro would come through for them all; he was certain of that.
The purple dragon turned his head, as if he felt something happen around him. His line of sight was towards the bigger dragon, and his eyes had a fair look of wonder in them. "Ignitus?"
His tone of voice was even softer than before; his face looked more genuinely relaxed. Most of all, Ignitus purely gave off a more happy atmosphere. That was what Spyro had sensed. The purple dragon smiled. "Do you know how we can wake him up?"
"Oh, I might have an idea
Grabbing a mushroom, Ignitus was eager to commence with the best preparations he and Spyro could make in their situation. They would laugh.