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Please note only some characters in this belong to me. Main character contributors are OspreytheSeaWing, Bullfrog, Crystallinethedragon, and BrisingrWolf!

Main Characters:

Bayou

Osprey

Crystalline

Queen Everglade

Firewolf

Sunwolf

Syrup

Queen Crimson

Slick

Queen Dire

Mirages In the Mud

Cover art by the amazing BrisingrWolf! <3
Mirages in the Mud

Mirages in the Mud is about a dragonet named Bayou, who is assumed to be a hybrid, even though she isn't. After being sent to the palace to live with Queen Everglade, she grows a sort of bond with her caretaker, Crystalline. Bayou and her group head off on all sorts of adventures, from a murder mystery to facing exile!

Chapter One : A Crack in the Egg

"This egg isn't a MudWing egg. It's golden-red. It even has a tint of brown in it. It's a hybrid's egg." A waxy brown MudWing said. She had deep amber eyes with black pupils. "What do we do about it? The world can't have another hybrid. There are too many."

"Should we kill it?" Another MudWing said. He was a tan brown color, his gray eyes scanning the gold egg.

"What do you think we are, IceWings?" The original speaking MudWing snapped, her flat head swiping around to glare at the tan brown MudWing. "We don't kill because one doesn't fit in!"

"It's a hybrid!" He growled. "We don't want hybrids in our society!"

The two MudWings turned to arguing, each of them raising their voices higher and higher, roaring and screaming at one another, before they heard a small crack. Again, crack.

"The egg is hatching!" The female MudWing gasped. She rushed to greet the newborn hybrid.

She was magnificent, golden brown. She had pale-whitish brown horns and a golden-white underbelly. Most stunningly, she had pale sky blue eyes with deep starry pupils. She had a MudWing body and showed no sign of SkyWing or SandWing heritage in her body formation, only her colors.

"What can I say? She looks fine!" The female sighed.

"I suppose so, Sing." The male MudWing answered. Sing nodded.

"What do you think we should do, Lion...?" Sing said. Lion looked at his talons.

"We need to find the parents and get out of this stupid cave." He answered. Lion shook out his wings and reached his talons to the golden brown dragonet. She shrieked and flinched away, not able to avoid the strong talons that held her.

Sing shook her head and took off after her, in the direction of the MudWing town, Delta.

Chapter Two : No One for Me

"Hello! Hello! Anyone have a weird looking dragonet they lost?" Sing and Lion called out together. No luck. The golden brown dragonet blinked.

Mama? She thought. "Mama! Mama!"

"No, NO! Not mama!" Sing hissed. "No!"

The dragonet bit down on her tongue.

Six hours later of no luck, Sing, Lion, and the dragonet headed back to the cave where Sing stayed in.

"I suppose we should name her." Sing decided. "I say we call her Amber."

"What kind of a name is Amber? Any hot MudWing girl has that name." Lion said. Sing swiped a talon at him.

"How about Bayou?"

"That's good too." Lion responded. "Hi, Bayou!"

Bayou squeaked and looked up at them.

"Mama, Dada?"

"No..." Sing said. "We're taking you to someone else. Someone we know."

"Who is it?" Bayou asked, blinking. "Is it a nice dragon?"

"She is very nice. I expect that she will find you a place in her ranks." Lion said.

Ranks... She must be important to have ranks! The newborn dragonet shuffled her feet. Lion picked her up and patted her head.

"Stay safe, little one." He murmured. Lion handed Bayou to Sing, who had a satchel with some notes slung around her shoulder.

"We better be off." Sing said. She held Bayou gently and flapped her enormous wings, taking off into the night swirling with stars. Below them was a muddy delta. In the distance Bayou saw great golden lights, topped with a large brown and gold castle. It even had large blue diamond shapes on the outside. "That's the palace." Sing said as they continued. Bayou looked to the ground and saw a shopping area and several homes. It was a cobble street and there were tons of brown dragons shopping and selling, as well as some SkyWings and SeaWings. Even a few IceWings. There were nearby farms, schools, and magnificent large trees. Candlelights and streetlamp lit up the way.

Sing reached the palace and began to glide down. She landed gently on the ground and walked straight up to the palace door.

A guard opened it. "What business do you have here?"

"Tell the Queen that her loyal advisor, Sing, has arrived." Sing said. He nodded and went to get the Queen. Soon, a large reddish-brown MudWing with beautiful pine green eyes emerged from the door. Her eyes narrowed and scanned Sing.

"Hello, Sing." The MudWing smiled openarmed. "What is it you need?"

"I need you to raise someone-" Sing was cut off.

"What? Don't you know I have like SIX dragonets already?" Everglade shook her large, flat head. "No, I will not raise another "princess". I do, however, know someone who can."

"Who?" Sing questioned, her wings lowering and folding gracefully. She placed Bayou on the ground. Bayou looked up at the giant Queen with broad, blue eyes.

"I need my daughter to learn something. Recently she's been going through a dramatic IceWing faze, I think she might just be the right dragon to teach this new dragonet." Everglade answered. Her pine eyes scanned the golden MudWing. "Is she a hybrid?"

"Goodness, no. She just has some strange colors." Sing said. "Please, allow me to go. I must get back with Lion." And with that, Sing glanced a goodbye at Bayou, and soared away.

"Mama?" Bayou looked to the stars. "Sing?"

"Sing isn't coming back. I'm taking you to meet my daughter. She is someone special." Everglade said. She took Bayou's talon in her own, and marched off into the palace.

Chapter Three : Meeting Her

"Crystal, meet Bayou. It's your job to take care of her and teach her all you know, minus your animus powers." Everglade said.

"Excuse me, mother. You must be thinking of another "Crystal."" A magnificent ice blue dragon responded innocently. She had fantastic pale pink horns and eyes, curled claws, and a set of IceWing spikes. She was truly beautiful, and Bayou gazed in awe at her.

"Crystalline of the MudWings, you know better then to speak like that. I raised you to be like me, but you remain prissy and stuck-up, just like an IceWing! You are going to care for this dragonet and maybe you will learn to respect me after this!"

"What is her name even?" Crystal asked. "What do you call her?"

"Bayou. Bayou the MudWing."

"She looks like a hybrid!"

"She isn't a hybrid, Crystalline. I am going to go tell Osprey and Chime about her, please don't do anything stupid while I'm gone." Everglade sighed.

"Yes, mother." Crystal sighed too. Bayou just looked confused.

Everglade walked off, and Crystal showed Bayou a small brown-and-green rug that Everglade brought in. "I guess you sleep here. Just try not to make any mess!"

"Are you a hybrid?" Bayou said. "You look like an IceWing but prettier!"

Crystal smiled and blushed casually. "Aw, thanks. Yeah, I'm a hybrid. RainWing and IceWing. 50-50. Now, I'm going to get some... erh, what food do you like?"

Bayou thought about that for a moment. She hadn't eaten anything before. Without thinking, she spurt out a word she heard Lion say. "Apples. I like apples."

Crystal stiffened. "Apples it is." She left the room, leaving Bayou alone. She looked around, seeing a polar bear rug, and pink flowers all around. The walls were even painted pale blue, and icicles hung from the roof, along with some vines and more flowers. Bayou touched one of the flowers. It was soft, and made Bayou's talon smell sweet, like nectar.

Bayou continued to see and touch things, from Crystal's cool snow globe to a tiny, humid yet chilled waterfall in the corner. But no mud.

Bayou thought aloud. "If she's a MudWing princess, why is there no mud in her room?" Maybe I should help her out.

She left the room and waddled throughout the castle before she reached the outside. The ground was naturally soggy and muddy, so the golden MudWing plopped some mud in her talon and went back into Crystal's room. Crystal still wasn't back yet, so Bayou took her time smearing the mud on her walls and soaking her bed with it. Small brown drips stuck out on the polar bear rug, and she dumped the remaining mud into the warmish-coolish waterfall. Then, Bayou rolled around on the Polar Bear rug.

"Now she looks like a MudWing princess!" And with that Crystal entered and SCREAMED.

"YOU IDIOT! HOW COULD YOU!" Crystal was freaking out. "WHAT THE FFFFFFFFFFF-"

"CRYSTAL!" Everglade yelled. "NO SWEARING IN THE PALACE!" She ran in quickly. "Oh, Bayou..." Everglade smiled. "I see you've done a paint job."

Crystal was still freaking out, but Bayou shrugged and giggled. "She's a MudWing princess now!"

Everglade and Bayou laughed. When they calmed down, a SeaWing and a RainWing entered, only the SeaWing had some RainWing features and the RainWing had some SeaWing features.

"Chime, Osprey, meet Bayou. Crystal's... "adopted" "daughter"." Everglade said. Bayou looked at them.

"Hi!" Said Osprey. "I'm Osprey the SeaRainWing of the MudWings, and this is my sister Chime!" She poked the RainWing.

"Hey." Chime said. Everglade smiled. "Welcome to our wacky "family"."

Crystal scowled. "Not really. I'm more like her babysitter." She grouchily sunk onto the floor. Bayou walked over to her.

"Sorry! I thought you were a MudWing princess, and MudWings like mud!" Bayou said. Suddenly, Osprey cracked out in laughter.

"HAHAHAHAHA! Oh my moons, YOUR ROOM!" She laughed and rolled around on the floor. One of Crystal's apples bonked into her head. "OW!"

"Serves you right!" Crystal stuck her nose up in the air. "Now, if you excuse me," Crystal rolled her eyes. "I have to clean up this mess."

Everglade, Chime, and Osprey left. Crystal growled, picked up the chubby golden dragonet, and plopped her on one of the glass shelves. "STAY HERE." Crystal walked out to go find a maid to clean up her room. She returned with a dark, dark brown MudWing.

"Could you clean this up for me?" Crystal asked her kindly, blinking her pink eyes.

"Uh, sure. I'm going to have to ask you to leave, your majesty." The MudWing bowed, her odd purple eyes looking at the ground. "But the dragonet can stay." She pointed to Bayou.

Bayou hopped off the shelf and waddled her cute butt to the MudWing. "Hi!" She said. "I'm Bayou!"

Crystal left the MudWing and Bayou in her room, skeptical about what would happen. She gracefully walked down to Osprey's room to talk to her.

"I can't believe you messed up Princess Crystalline's room!" The MudWing gasped in laughter. "You're so silly!"

Bayou smiled. She was happy to make the MudWing happy. "What's your name?"

"I'm Blackberry." The MudWing said gently. She began cleaning up all the mud in Crystal's room. "Huh. You should go explore the castle instead of being cooped up here."

"Oh! Oh okay!" Bayou smiled and waddled out the door. The golden dragon waddled down the hall. Then Bayou waddled into the kitchen. And then Bayou waddled to the Pie Baking area. She grinned and waddled in. Bayou hopped up on one of the shelves and looked around. She noticed a freshly baked cherry pie. Bayou looked around, and when she saw no one was there, waddled off the counter and to the pie.

"Just one bite..." Bayou reached her snout up, and then her claws... and fell face first into the pie.

Crystal and Osprey were walking into the room, ready to eat a delicious pie for a late night dessert. Crystal gasped.

"Hey! BAYOU!!!" She yelled. "No! Wait! That's mine!"

Bayou looked up, her gold face colored in deep red, with cherry cores plastered on her cheeks. "Hi!"

"BAYOU!!! Ugh! Please, go back to my room! You're ruining everything!" Crystal suddenly spat a wave of frosty venom at Bayou, who dodged it by flopping over into another cake. Osprey yawned.

"Ugh, can you guys stop?" Osprey said. "I JUST WANTED MY PIE!!!" Bayou paused.

"Hi there, I'm Bayou!" She waddled straight past Crystal and to the young dragonet. "Are you Princess Osprey?"

"YEAH! Yeah I am! I like... jokes." She giggled. Bayou laughed too.

"You're funny. I like you." She answered. Crystal was still growling, and looked over at the cake behind the pie Bayou ate.

"Oh man. That cake just got... FROSTED!" Osprey yelled, and Bayou cracked up in laughter. She began cleaning herself up, wiping the frosting from her scales. Crystal sighed.

"Why did mom give you to me? Ugh, it's a MudWing's job to raise another MudWing."

Chapter Four : New Friend in the Palace

Bayou and Crystal were back in Crystal's room. Crystal yawned, sorting out some of her old toys and trinkets. She was going to give some to Chime and some to Osprey. Bayou was on her mat in the corner, watching Crystal. On the ground, there were stuffed polar bears and necklaces. They were very pretty. One in particular caught Bayou's eye; a silver chained dark blue zircon.

Crystal looked over. "You know, that would look nice on you." She picked up the necklace and put it on Bayou. "It looks nice."

Bayou touched it gently. "It's pretty!" Crystal smiled.

"Alright, uh, here. Take this too." Crystal pulled out a small red and white fox plush with button eyes. "He was one of my first plushes. I want you to have him." Bayou took it, surprised at Crystal's kindness. She waddled back over to her mat and rolled over, snuggling with it. Crystal left the room to give the toys to Osprey and Chime, who shared a room. Bayou sat for a few moments before hearing a bloodcurdling scream. As the scream passed, Bayou was in shock. Her talons had curled down into her mat and left small dents in the smooth dirt flooring.

Bayou held the fox plush. "I'll call you Pine." She whispered. Outside of Crystal's room, she saw Everglade's huge figure walk by.

"My Queen, your thoughtful and kind maid... Blackberry is dead." One of the guards yelped. "The murderer got away. The guards outside are on patrol, watching every corner. W-we don't know who did it, but it was- in fact- none other than an IceWing. They wore a black hood; dark makeup on their face. When we saw their face... we could see the burning hatred." The smallest guard said quietly.

Everglade let out a huge roar. "We have lost a kind soul this night. The castle is unsafe. We must bring my children, the other maids and servants, all inside. Guards, I expect you will defend this palace with your lives?"

"Of course, My Queen." A large female MudWing spoke. Behind them, Bayou heard a voice. A mocking voice.

"Of course, My Queen!" It hissed, slow and painful and horrible. Out stepped a figure with a hood and a bloody knife.

"I am a peaceful queen, but I do not tolerate the murder of my friends and family!" Everglade roared and launched herself at the MudWing. Down the hall, Osprey, Crystal, Chime, Tundra, and Taiga were being held back by guards. Bayou was crying. She grabbed Pine the fox and bolted into the hallway. She ran for dear life.

"Bayou!" Crystal screamed. Bayou heard claws behind her. She looked back and saw Crystal and Osprey running towards her at full speed.

Bayou launched herself into a clumsy flight, falling, falling... She lifted her wings and let the wind catch her, terrified. Bayou flapped her wings without thinking and flew off in the direction of the SkyWing kingdom. Osprey and Crystal were on her tail, flying after her.

Chapter Five : A Wolf from the Burning Sun

Bayou collasped on a ledge in the SkyWing kingdom. Pine flew from her grasp and landed right in the middle of a cave. The cave was near the ledge, in fact, the ledge led straight into the cavern. Inside, a small dark red SkyWing looked out. She was unmistakably a SkyWing, but darker, and had some NightWing scales and features.

She must be a hybrid! Bayou thought when she caught her breath. The SkyWing walked over to Pine, shy and ginger. She picked up the stuffed fox.

"W-who are you?" The hybrid demanded, but in a quiet, scared voice. Bayou heard wingbeats behind her. She swung her head around to see Osprey and Crystal.

"Bayou!" They said at the same time, rushing over to her. Bayou was still staring at the Hybrid.

"I'm Bayou... the MudWing." She answered, getting to her talons and walking to the hybrid. "Someone just murdered my friend."

"I-I'm sorry to hear that. I am Sunwolf." Sunwolf answered. "A NightWing and SkyWing hybrid." Bayou nodded. Crystal swung her head around.

"We must be in the SkyWing kingdom." Crystal said. "Right?"

Osprey panted. "It's blue skies and jagged. Must be."

"Mind if we stop here? We chased Bayou for a good twenty minutes." Crystal said. Osprey was still panting. Bayou's breathing was slow, she was so surprised about Blackberry's death. And the fact that IceWing was right outside her door.

"I guess that's okay..." Sunwolf said quietly. Bayou moved into the cave. Sunwolf gave her Pine. The dragonets stood at the end of the cave on the ledge.

Sunwolf backed away, allowing the group of dragonets into her cave. "So...you guys...are also hybrids?"

"Me and Osprey are," Crystal said, eyeing the Sky/Night hybrid. "Bayou isn't, as far as we know."

Sunwolf nodded, leading them into a large, open cavern, moss littering the floor, and a few torches giving the cavern light. "I can let you guys stay here for as long as you need. No one comes here." She shrugged, ducking her head. "No one...really knows about this place." 

She jumped upwards, claws scrambling at the stone wall, and she crawled onto a stone ledge, disappearing backwards into an indent in the cave wall. A rustling of paper could be heard, and then something gently gliding against the paper. 

Bayou curiously flapped upwards, clambering onto the ledge, and discovered that Sunwolf was sketching something on a small scroll. The hybrid raised her head, startled, but they softened. On the scroll was a detailed sketch of a wolf, with an intelligent look in its eyes. 

"That's super cool," Bayou said, and Sunwolf blushed. 

"T-thank you," the hybrid replied, avoiding the MudWing's gaze. "I'm...sorry...about your friend." 

Bayou nodded, a tear forming in her eye. "I didn't know her for long. It just... happened. S-say, do you have anything to eat here?" Bayou was eager to change the subject after the mention of Blackberry.

"Well, I have some...are cows okay? I have some leftover ribs somewhere in here." Sunwolf began shuffling through a small box. There was ice in it. Must keep the food cold. Bayou looked around. There were several chests and a fire pit, a run-down small mattress with sheep wool blankets and feather stuffed pillows. There were scrolls. Many scrolls. Some had paint and ink smudges on them, and some were blank. Some were written on, some had magnificent pictures sketched onto them. There were pots of ink and paints all around.

Sunwolf pulled out some cow rubs, smoked meat hanging from them. "I just have to heat them up." She walked over to the fire pit and opened her mouth. At first smoke rose from her mouth and nostrils, and a fiery blast hit the wood and charcoal.

"Anything we can help with?" Crystal asked.

"Uh, yeah. Can you guys get that pan over there?" Sunwolf hesitated, pointing to a large metal frying pan. Some of it was burnt black.

"I'll get it!" Osprey said loudly, bouncing over to it. She picked it up and walked back over. By now, Sunwolf had finished the fire. She took the pan and tossed the ribs in. Osprey and Crystal clearly didn't want the ribs, but it was food, so she had to eat. Bayou was nearly drooling over the scent. When they were finished, Bayou was the first to take one and gobble it down. Crystal and Osprey followed. Crystal ate it gingerly and politely, while Osprey chewed loudly and looked at it awkwardly.

They finished the meal, and Osprey rolled over and burped. Sunwolf looked at her. "Uhh, that was nice." She said. Crystal rolled her eyes and Bayou yawned.

"We can sleep on the floor." Osprey said suddenly.

"O-oh! Okay, I guess you can sleep here tonight," Sunwolf said awkwardly. She moved over, her tail grasping onto a stalagmite shooting through the cavern grown. Sunwolf backed up and curled up on her mattress. Crystal slept in a ball while Osprey snored, flat on her back. Bayou curled her tail around her and slept.

Chapter Six : A Marketplace full of Busy Dragons

The morning came. Bayou yawned and sat up. Sunwolf was drawing a picture of a MudWing dragonet. It looked like Bayou, and the colors that were out were yellow, brown, orange, and blue. Sunwolf looked at her awkwardly.

"I needed inspiration..." She said. "You were the perfect dragonet to test my new style on." Bayou nodded, and yawned again. Crystal was awake, too. She had been staring outside the cave, her tail wrapped forward and over her talons. Osprey was still asleep, and her snores had faded into a soft "Zzzz...", barely audible.

"We better get going. I need to contact the SkyWing queen. Tell her about the IceWing attack in the castle." Crystal said. Bayou could barely see her mouth move.

"I agree," Sunwolf said from behind Bayou. "Could you wake Osprey up?" She nodded, and Bayou waddled over.

"Wake up!" She shook Osprey lightly. "It's time for us to go!"

"Huh?...What?" Osprey said, blinking a few times. "Go where?"

"The Marketplace and palace, of course! The SkyWing one!" Bayou said. "I'm excited!" Osprey nodded, though she wasn't quite awake yet. Crystal's head swung around.

"Come on." She motioned with her wing. "We don't have all day!"

"Alright, alright." Sunwolf said quietly. "I-I can take you to the queen."

Who is the Queen? Bayou thought. She'd only known Everglade. Sunwolf spread her wings, signaling for the others to also. Bayou's wings spread out, her wingspan still not very large. They began to fly over spiraling mountains to the SkyWing kingdom.

Soon enough, the large structure of the Sky Palace loomed above the numerous mountains. Bayou got nervous shivers of excitement. Sunwolf's claws twitched nervously as they got closer. The MudWing dragonet peered at the hybrid, confused. "Are you ok?" 

"Urm...yeah, sure.." Sunwolf ducked her head as they descended. "It's just...I try to avoid the palace. I'm not a popular dragon around here. I prefer it that way." She touched down first, lightly landing on the stone ground. "We can go to the Marketplace after talking with the Queen."

"It's kind of hot," Crystal complained as they landed, fanning herself with her wings. Sunwolf gave her a slightly amused look. 

"This is nothing. It can get very hot." She paused, something flashing in her eyes for a heartbeat, before she shook her head and turned away. 

"I like it here!" Osprey said, nudging Bayou forward with a wing. Bayou nervously clung to Crystal's tail, earning her a glare. "So many trees and mountains and...red dragons." 

"That sums up the Sky Kingdom," Sunwolf replied, then stopped in her tracks suddenly, rigid. Osprey let out a yelp as she crashed into the hybrid's tail.

"What's the holdup?" the Sea/Rain hybrid complained as Bayou edged away from Crystal's tail. She gaped up at the large, maroon SkyWing towering above her. He seemed like a glowering mountain, peering down at them with amber eyes. Scars lined his body, and Bayou shivered, although she was curious.

"Who are you," the SkyWing demanded, lashing his tail. 

"Sunwolf, sir," Sunwolf replied shakily. "These dragons requested an audience with Queen Crimson." She waved a wing nervously at Bayou, Crystal, and Osprey. Bayou fidgeted with Pine, adding, "It's important." 

"Are you guys some hybrid gang?" the guard growled. Bayou gave an indiginant squawk. 

"I'm not a hybrid!" she exclaimed. The SkyWing narrowed his eyes, before Sunwolf stepped in, flaring her wings and hiding the MudWing dragonet.

"May they see the Queen?" 

After a lengthy inspection, the SkyWing hesitantly led them through the palace. SkyWings paused to stare at the ragtag group as they passed. Sunwolf was tense, avoiding their gaze and concentrating on the floor. Bayou stared around in awe. It's beatiful! She glanced down at her talons, then up at Crystal with a smile. Could use more mud, though.


Chapter Seven : A Visit to the Burning Heart

Beautiful gems hung from the ceiling and shone, pinned against the wall. A red-and-gold carpet was spread down the middle. Bayou waddled around it awkwardly, incomparable to the regal dragons and dragonesses with tall, slim figures. Some of them were even decked out in golden and autumn orange dresses and trench coats, leaving Bayou to wonder, Is it some sort of special occasion?.

The group finished walking down the hallway, each guard either grinning or showing no emotion. Bayou shifted closer to Crystal, feeling a bit uncomfortable. They stopped about three dragon-lengths away from a throne, made from pure gold. There were fountains of water flowing on each side, and a giant crown laid upon her head.

Sunwolf instantly shot her head down in a fancy bow, followed by Crystal and Osprey. Bayou eased into one, not sure what to do.

"M-my Queen," Sunwolf began, seeming to fall under her burning, green gaze. "My Queen, Q-Queen Crimson, m-m-my friends and I are here to..."

The Queen's eyes narrowed to slits as she shifted to get comfortable on her throne. A long talisman hung from her neck. Jewels were embedded between her scales throughout her figure. "Continue, hybrid." Queen Crimson barked her command loudly.

"Y-yes, my Queen! W-we n-n-n-n... need to tell you about..." She glanced at Bayou. Catching her drift, Bayou looked Crimson straight in the eye.

"T-there was a m-murder in the MudWing p-p-palace today..." Bayou continued, not stuttering out of fear but the fact she actually couldn't speak that well.

"What in hell does this have to do with me? Waste my time?" Queen Crimson growled, her voice arching to a roar.

"Of course not, my Queen! N-never! The murderer was an... an IceWing. She stabbed the v-victim m-m-m-mulitiple times and... may come for u-us next!" Sunwolf stood.

Bayou watched as a slender, orange SkyWing shift her wings. "My Queen," she said without a tremor. Crimson tossed her head to glare at her guard.

"Yes, Firewolf?" she growled. Firewolf tipped her wings back and raised her head, although not challengingly. 

"With all due respect, Your Majesty," she said, bowing. "I think that the hybrid has a valid point." She glanced swiftly at Sunwolf, brow furrowed, before turning back to face her queen. "The assassin could come for you next." Bayou nodded quickly, sticking closer to Crystal's tail. 

Smoke writhed from the SkyWing queen's snout as she gave the newcomers a withering glare. Sunwolf was trembling, although she seemed to be surer of herself as she glanced at Bayou.

"I will help," Queen Crimson twisted her head to stare at Bayou. "On one condition. Everglade will pay by becoming my ally in any time of need."

The MudWing trembled a little. I can't agree for her! Thoughts swirled through Bayou's mind. She nodded at the slightest.

The Queen raised her snout, the smoke furling through the air. "Very good." Her voice was low and curling. "I will send five guards home to the MudWing kingdom with you."

Crystal nodded. "We will inform My Queen of this alliance."

Queen Crimson's eyes glared. "I was informed Everglade had adopted hybrids. You must be the group, then?"

Bayou nodded. Sunwolf looked down, as she was not Everglade's daughter, but did not speak.

"I expect to hear from you soon, then," Crimson grinned. "Firewolf, you will lead the patrol of SkyWings back to the palace along with Everglade's...daughters."

Firewolf bowed and nodded. "Your Majesty, I will try my hardest."

Chapter Eight : Black Ice

Wingbeats on the horizon was the only thing to be seen for miles. Bayou was becoming exhausted, she was extremely high in the air along with her friends, Firewolf, and four other SkyWings. They were all large, bulky, and gruff. They had giant wingspans as well.

Firewolf, the leader of the patrol, was a smaller SkyWing with dark orange scales and beautiful, pine green eyes. She was extremely agile and fit; unlike Bayou. Osprey was still holding strong, and Crystal was too. Bayou began lagging behind.

"Keep up!" Barked one of the large SkyWing guards, swooping under the tiny, gold MudWing. He wrapped his talons on her wings and held her up, soaring to the edge of the group. The other SkyWings gleefully swooped around him and Bayou. She twisted from his grasp and soared around the SkyWings, still tired.

Firewolf turned to Sunwolf and whispered something. Sunwolf nodded and spoke. "We should rest for the night."

Bayou sighed, revealed. She didn't know how much longer she could stay in flight. One of the SkyWing guards, holding a spear, swooped down to the ground. She instantly began creating a fire with lumber and sticks. Bayou followed her and landed. The ground was dark, as the sun had just gone down. I can barely see!

Bayou watched as the others landed. The SkyWing who hit the ground first, Swallow, had finished a fire and laid some blankets down. There was a river beside them for drinking.

"Wooh!" Osprey yelped and dove into the water. Crystal rolled her eyes and spat some ice-acid onto the ground and pulled a blanket over it. She curled up.

The SkyWing who'd taken Bayou to the front of the group, Lava, was already dragging back a deer for them to feast on. Sunwolf settled down in a more shadow-y area, while Firewolf warmed her talons by the fire. Bayou sunk her teeth into the fresh deer meat, and swallowed some. Osprey resurfaced with a fish and sat down, half her body in the water and half on a stone on land, and ate the fish. Mmm...

Swallow's ears shot up. "What was that?" Her head swung around just as Bayou heard a crack from in the woods. The two unmentioned SkyWings, Storm and Burnhawk, got up. Firewolf raised her spear.

"Bayou, get into the water with Osprey." She whispered. Bayou nodded and quietly climbed into the water, fearing for her life. The stumpy MudWing was afraid. Osprey comforted her a little, and Crystal sat guard in front of the two. Sunwolf backed into the shadows, and crawled into a bush.

They waited for a few minutes. They felt like hours. The SkyWings were hiding in the bushes, and by now, Crystal had accepted Osprey's plea to get into the water with them. Bayou eyed the forest, her talons shaky. Osprey's tail whisked across the water slowly, and Crystal had her ice-venom ready to be shot.

Out of the shadows of the forest emerged a giant, hooded dragon. Her robes were indigo and dark, covering her entire body except for her talons, which were white and serrated. They were stained ice blue, Bayou couldn't tell if it was the blood of another IceWing or her own markings.

The hooded dragon's head swung to the fire. It was shaded, but Bayou could see that there was a white, sharp-looking figure. She tore her hood off, revealing a very pretty, thin IceWing. She stood on her bottom two talons and took out a sharp blade from under her hood. The IceWing ran her blade down her talon palm, not harsh to draw blood, but enough you could tell it was sharp.

"Now!" Bayou heard Firewolf's screech as the SkyWings bulleted and skyrocketed into the air. Swallow pounced on the IceWing and held her down, clawing into her muzzle to hold it shut. The IceWing's eyes were filled with fear, but she still had her knife and stabbed up to try and reach Swallow. Lava roared and held her down, while Firewolf quickly snatched the knife away from her. Storm held down her tail, and Burnhawk binder her talons with chains he'd been wearing earlier.

What is going on up there? Oh, I'm s-so confused...

"Who are you and why are you here?" Firewolf growled. The IceWing did not answer, and instead eyed Sunwolf, who has arrived from the bushes. Crystal helped Bayou and Osprey out from the water.

Oh my Moons...

That's the dragon who killed Blackberry! Bayou yelped. "No!! It's the killer!" She wailed. What are w-we going t-to do?

"Killer?" Storm sunk his claws into the IceWing's tail. "Killed who?"

"Blackberry." Crystal hissed. "She killed Everglade's servant. This is the murderer. This is the assassin that may attempt to take down Queen Crimson, as well as the other Queens."

"I never planned to kill any Queens; they questioned me when I reached the palace," The IceWing hissed through shut jaws. "I can't say anything more."

"Is that so?" Osprey questioned. "YOU KILLED MY FRIEND! WHY?! TELL ME WHY!!!"

Bayou stepped aside from Osprey, fearing her sudden anger. T-three moons... I can't believe we found the assassin that murdered Blackberry...

Sunwolf walked over to Firewolf. "What do we do with this wimpy lizard?" She asked. Bayou knew the answer. When do I speak? Will they think I'm w-weird?

"...Don't w-we turn her into Her M-Majesty? I'm sure Q-Queen Everglade would..." Bayou ran out of words.

"DEAL WITH HER? YEAH! KILL HER KILL HER KILL HER KILL HER-" Osprey chanted.

"My mother is peaceful. She will probably send her to the prison...I'm not sure about a death sentence." Crystal muttered. The IceWing growled up to her.

"You. You're an IceWing. This is treason to your tribe!" The IceWing stared Crystal in the eye. Crystal did not back down. Uh-oh... The words sounded through Bayou's head.

"I'm half RainWing. Screw my IceWing heritage, if they're all like you; Three Moons, they should die." Crystal rolled her eyes as she rambled on.

"What is your name?" Firewolf interrupted.

"I don't feel like revealing that to you, SkyWing." The IceWing hissed.

"Do it or suffer."

The IceWing paused. "This is treason, I tell you! I will not tell you my name; it would be treason to my tribe! My tribe!"

Is she okay? Bayou eyed her. What's going through her head?

Firewolf leaned closer. "Tell me your name." She was right over the IceWing.

"Slick. My name is Slick." The words slide out of her mouth slickly. Like a snake sliding on ice. Bayou shuddered.

"We'll inform Queen Dire of your...incompetence...as well as the fact you murdered a close friend the Queen Everglade." Firewolf barked at Slick. The IceWing narrowed her deep, dark eyes.

Slick snapped. "I will cause treason for you. For me. Queen Dire was the one who hired me to murder the MudWing. She says she wants to start a war because of something that happened with Everglade...where are you taking me, anyway?"

I don't even want to know what they're going to do to her!

Does she deserve death? They can't kill her...

But she n-needs to be punished...

Firewolf eyed her, taking in Slick's every move and feature. "Queen Everglade should deal with you," She looked to her own soldiers. "Let's deliver her to the MudWing Palace."

Chapter Nine : Where it All Began

The group was soaring over the fens and marshland. Bayou's talons twitched nervously as she kept her thoughts to herself. She was much smaller than everyone else in her group...even Osprey was slightly taller and more buff than she was.

Three Moons, are they going to start a war? Bayou asked herself as Slick snapped something to Burnhawk. Storm growled back at Slick, smoke writhing from her snout. Storm was obviously exhausted. Lava flew quietly, which was unlike his normal extroverted, happy personality. Firewolf was glaring at Slick, while Crystal and Osprey silently floated through the newly daytime hills.

The area was pretty much the same, same MudWings, same grass, same flowers, same sun. Bayou sighed as the group began to curl in flight towards the ground. They landed, breathing heavy. Slick was still very angry; she was fuming nearly as much as a SkyWing.

"So," Osprey began. "To the palace!"

Crystal nodded and began to walk along the marsh. She was oddly quiet; everyone was. What's going to happen? Three moons, three moons, oh my oh my!! Bayou's own thoughts were clogging the space where the group wasn't talking. She exhaled, and cleared her mind.

Sunwolf suddenly stopped walking. "Uh... excuse me, guys?" she asked.

"Yeah?" Firewolf's head snapped up. Storm and Lava were watching, too, but Swallow and Burnhawk were looking at the ground.

"I," she began, and inhaled. "I think I'm going to leave. It's been fun and all, but I'm just not..." she exhaled again. "I just don't want to talk to royalty at the moment. I've seen too much of that for the past few days." Sunwolf spread her wings. Wait, is she leaving? Bayou thought, eagerly.

"Alright," Firewolf dipped her head. "Understood. It must be hard for a hybrid to speak to royalty, who may not want her."

Sunwolf blinked gratefully. "Please, come visit me in my cave, any of you,"

"I will!" Bayou hopped up. "I promise; once Queen Everglade deals with the assassin, I'll visit you!"

The others stayed silent, but were all exchanging glances. Osprey and Crystal nodded. Sunwolf smiled, just before taking off, into the new daytime. Bayou blinked, feeling tears come on at first. She wiped them away, attempting to not show her emotions.

It seemed everyone knew the day was at it's end, and the adventure was over.

The dragons were all quiet.

"We should start walking," Firewolf began. "To see Queen Everglade."

Bayou nodded. I can't believe we're back where we started. What will Queen Everglade say? About me running... running from Slick. Will she be happy? Mad? Upset?...

Bayou's thoughts returned to her as she waddled along.

The palace was large, and in view. Golden, white, and dark brown pillars piled up around the entrance to the throne room. The group walked in.

"Who might you be?" A light brown and golden MudWing stood at the top of the stairs, above the throne.

Bayou could feel herself blushing. It wasn't her fault; this new dragon was quite handsome.

Firewolf bowed. "I am Guard Firewolf, loyal soldier of Queen Crimson,"

"Greetings. I- WHOOPS!" The MudWing dropped a plate he was holding. It had pancakes and syrup on it. "Dang it!"

He's such a klutz! But a really... really cute klutz...

The MudWing sighed. "I'm Prince Syrup, son of Prince Terracotta."

"Hello!!" Bayou suddenly chirped.

"Oh, hi!" Syrup smiled. "You're another MudWing!"

We have something in common! HA!

"Y-yeah, I am." Bayou smiled.

"AHEM," Firewolf cleared her throat. "We are here to deliver a message; as well as a prisoner, to Her Majesty Everglade."

Bayou saw Syrup's head snap from her back to Firewolf. "Ah, I see. I'll be right back to inform her of your arrival."

Awh.

Firewolf nodded, and the group waited for about thirty seconds before Syrup and Queen Everglade returned.

Everglade instantly smiled. "Three Moons! I sent out every guard in the palace to look for you! Where have you all been?"

"Exploring," Osprey answered. "And you have to be an ally to Queen Crimson,"

Uh oh... What am I going to tell her about the alliance?

Everglade sighed. "I'll have to talk with you about that, Osprey." She rolled her eyes and picked up Bayou, Osprey, and Crystal all together. "I'm so glad you're all home..." Suddenly, her head swung around as the MudWing Queen noticed Slick.

"Who is that?" Everglade growled.

"This," Firewolf moved her wing. "Is assassin Slick of the IceWings."

Queen Everglade moved away from her daughters (and Bayou). She coldly padded towards the now weak-looking IceWing.

No Queen Everglade! Don't kill her! Bayou wanted so badly to jump and wave her talons all over Queen Everglade's face, like Osprey did, but kept her trap shut.

"You're the one who killed my Head Maid, aren't you? The one who fled right after Bayou left the palace..." Everglade hissed, slowly. Slick was behind us when we flew? That's... scary....

Bayou also saw Crystal and Osprey's eyes widen. They're worried too.

"Treason! Treason!" The IceWing roared. "I will not CAUSE TREASON!"

"What are you and Queen Dire planning?" Queen Everglade hissed, sitting down, but still towering over Slick. She's not talking?

"Send her to the prisons, SkyWings. I'll call all MudWings back. You are free to go," Queen Everglade dipped her head to the SkyWing group.

Firewolf dipped her head, and bowed once more. "Thank you, Your Majesty." Her head swung away, and the other SkyWings bowed. I don't get to say goodbye? Bayou asked herself. The entire group of SkyWings took off at once, still in a battle formation.

A few of the MudWing guards who had just returned from searching gasped as they saw the Princesses (and Bayou).

"Your Majesty, they're back?" One of the guards, a bulky-big male green-blue-brown MudWing asked with a bit of a gasp put into his voice. Is he another hybrid? Bayou's eyes flicked across his strange scales.

"Yes, Bullfrog. They're back," Everglade paused. "I also need you to take this IceWing down to one of the smallest prison rooms for questioning; we'll hold a trial later."

Bullfrog and the other MudWing nodded quickly, and walked with Slick, forcefully, down another clay-brown tunnel.

Queen Everglade sighed. "I'm so glad you three are home. You must have had quite the adventure!

"We sure did!" Osprey smiled. Bayou nodded. We sure did!!

Syrup emerged from another cave. Awh! There he is!!

"Ah ah!! I heard what's going on! And I can clearly see that Princess Osprey and Princess Crystal are back! Welcome home!!" Syrup chirped. Bayou stepped towards him, and his eyes widened a little.

"I-I..." Syrup smiled. "You're cute."

"EEEEEEEEEW!!! BROTHER LIKES BAYOU??!?!" Osprey suddenly gasped and roared loudly. Crystal rolled her eyes. Oh...

"So what? They're both nice, shy, jumpy, cute. Perfect for each other." Crystal answered. Ahh!! That's so sweet! What do I say???

Queen Everglade just laughed. "I'll be in my room if you need me. I'll be thinking about what to do with Slick."

Bayou nodded, but before Everglade fully disappeared, she twisted her head back.

"One more thing," Queen Everglade paused. "I want to make Bayou my personal noble. She may be young, but there is no chance that she'd be bad at it. In fact, I think she'd be perfect for a job like this."

Bayou smiled. "R-really? T-t-thank you!" She bowed, although it wasn't as great as she thought she would look...

Syrup rushed over to her and gave her a hesitant hug. "Great job! You're a noble; not even age one!"

Bayou smiled a little. "T-thanks," she answered, shyly.

"EW. How about WE ALL GO OUTSIDE!!?" Osprey yelled again.

Oh.

Bayou turned around. "Okay! Can we play a game?"

"I have one!" Prince Syrup smiled.

"Great!"

"Yeah, okay. I'll play," Crystal added.

Bayou lead the others outside. It was quite sunny, being nearly noon now. The marsh was muddy today; it must have rained when they were in the Sky Kingdom.

Bayou flopped into the mud. It felt great on her tired scales.

"Ick," Crystal growled.

Syrup and Osprey joined in, flopping into the soft clay.

It was relaxing and fun.

A few hours passed of just laying out under the sun. Crystal went inside the palace to get a bottle of Camel Milk, and had just returned.

It sure is beautiful out here.

Bayou had calmed down, and was watching the sky.

Out of thin air, Bayou could see around ten IceWings emerge from the clouds.

Three moons... Bayou sat up.

One of them had dark-colored horns.

Queen Dire was coming for Slick, and perhaps to start the war of the century.
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Thank you so much for reading!!! Don't worry, part two will be made. Gosh, this was the longest story I've ever done by myself! A quick thanks to Crystallinethedragon, Bullfrog, Ospreytheseawing, and Brisingrwolf for their contribution of characters and Bri's fantastic cover art!

Watch out for part/book two, Shattered Winter!

Sora out!


 
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