This story contains spoilers for most of arc 3 (The Lost Continent, The Hive Queen, The Poison Jungle, and The Dangerous Gift.) It also includes mature themes such as war and blood as well as implied ab/se.
The terrible, terrible sun had always been the bane of Radiant's existence. She hated it to the point where her blood would boil just thinking about it. Radiant hated the stupid sun, so being in the sun for days while traveling from one Hive to the next to get to Hornet Hive didn't help her mood.
"Hey! How much longer?" Radiant called out to the HiveWing 'guard'.
"Shut up, SilkWing," the HiveWing guard snapped back. Radiant grumbled to herself as the sun beat down on her. She looked over and saw the vast savanna to her side from the Hives. The tall dead grass, the wide field of tree-less land, it was all very familiar to Radiant. She turned back to the HiveWing, looking at his orange and yellow scales. Suddenly, the guard made a sharp left and was followed into the bazaar.
"Hey, this wasn't part of the agreement. You've never done this before!" Radiant said appalled, pausing to glare at him.
"It's a short cut, would you rather waste even more of my time?" the HiveWing questioned.
The red dragon laughed to herself. "Yes, of course, the 'short cut' has us going through the most crowded part of this blasted Hive."
"Do you or do you not want to go back to that school? No? Then keep down and listen to my orders."
Radiant groaned to herself as she continued through the market. Countless dragons and dragonets pointed at Radiant, most of them admiring her scales; to which she'd just hiss at them. "Stupid Hives... Stupid HiveWings..." Radiant thought to herself as she snarled at a nearby HiveWing dragonet. Radiant stood out from the usual SilkWings, having red scales and white underscales. Her horns were ruby red with stripes of white, much like her body. Her red and white wings shone gloriously like fresh blood in the snow.
After a few more painful hours of going through from Hive to Hive, they finally reached Hornet Hive.
"Oh, thank Clearsight!" groaned Radiant as she hopped into the Hive. It was no different than Wasp Hive structurally, and yet Radiant was glad to be out of that snake hole. The orange HiveWing leading her through the Hive smiled smugly at Radiant.
"Lucky you," he said as they continued walking.
"Yeah, lucky me for being forced to work for some HiveWing," Radiant mocked.
"Oh no, not just any HiveWing. The LeafWing-HiveWing," the HiveWing growled. Radiant tilted her head, confused.
"What do you mean?" she inquired. The HiveWing chuckled unkindly.
"You'll see," he giggled as he kept walking. Radiant, now slightly curious, picked up her pace and walked alongside the HiveWing.
"Stay back, SilkWing. It's a surprise you learned no manners in the Wasp Hive," the HiveWing grumbled.
"As if I learned anything there." Radiant mumbled to herself. As they walked through the Hive, Radiant began to notice something. It wasn't uncommon to see each Hive ruler's emblem everywhere within their respective Hives, to the point Radiant practically had Wasp's emblem burned into her skull. Yes, there were still symbols of hornets around, but another emblem came around a few times. An emblem showing a jade green cricket-like bug.
"Peculiar..." thought Radiant as she kept walking by. Eventually, they entered a more wealthy area near the home of the Hive ruler, and Radiant thought of something, something that Radiant herself dreaded the very thought of.
"Don't tell me I'm going to serve Hornet!" Radiant snapped. She couldn't stand the idea of being there for meetings with Wasp or working for a sibling of hers.
"No, but he still has a high status."
"He?" Radiant questioned.
Radiant and the HiveWing stopped at a door. The door was much bigger than usual, which struck Radiant as odd. The HiveWing knocked three times and the door opened. A green snout poked through the small crack in the door and spoke.
"Are they here?" a soft voice asked.
"Yes, Duke Locust," the HiveWing said, his smug grin fading. The door opened more and Radiant nearly jumped out of her scales when she saw the dragon. At first, Radiant thought it was a LeafWing, but then quickly realized it was a jade green HiveWing. He wore a kind smile, clearly a facade. He stepped forward from his door into the sunlight.
"Bit of a hot few days... I hope there wasn't any trouble to come here!" the green HiveWing chirped to Radiant's guard.
"Oh, there were no problems, except for her," the orange HiveWing said, gesturing to Radiant. Radiant's antennae curled in as the green HiveWing came closer.
"Good day, my name is Locust," the HiveWing said, dipping his head politely.
"Are you bowing to me? HA!" Radiant barked. "Don't bother. By the end of the day, I'd be surprised if you didn't already kill me," Radiant laughed, and Locust looked at her, slightly concerned.
"I don't believe I will. You, HiveWing, you are relieved of your duties. I hope your leader pays you well," Locust said. The HiveWing bowed quickly and flew away, his wings buzzing furiously as he departed. "Come now, it's too hot outside for any dragon," Locust said, inviting Radiant inside the beautiful house.
Chapter Two, "Home"
Radiant followed him into the house and was floored by the beauty of the place. It was clean, full of green and black padded furniture and potted plants. A large chandelier hung from the roof and the hard tile floor had the jade green cricket emblem in the center of the room. Radiant noticed that the house had another floor and the main staircase spiraled from the center of the room right before the jade cricket. Wow... Radiant thought to herself.
“Is it okay? Most dragons usually think it’s amazing, but I don’t know,” Locust said, breaking Radiant out of her thought.
“It’s okay,” she said, walking over to a couch. She sat down and tried to not stare at everything in amazement. “So, what’s the deal? You wanted me, of all dragons, to come to your house and slave over a broom cleaning everything?”
“I wouldn’t have you do that. I just wanted some extra help cleaning the place, and you seemed like a nice fit,” Locust replied, trying to sit down. Radiant moved over to the side before he could fully sit down, trying to stay as far away from him.
“So, what kind of closet did you get prepared for me?” Radiant asked.
“‘Closet’? You’re getting a room, you’re not an animal!” Locust replied, surprised. Radiant scoffed. "He must be joking. No HiveWing would treat a SilkWing kindly, not without it being a sick joke or for their own selfish reasons," she thought to herself.
“Are you okay?” Locust asked, a bit concerned. “You look terribly worried and upset. Can I get you something?“ he continued, putting one of his wings around Radiant. She quickly jumped back and hissed aggressively.
“Don’t. Touch. Me,” she snarled.
“Okay, okay... I won’t...” Locust said, putting his talons up in surrender. Radiant still growled at Locust, wary of what he might do to her. "HiveWings are evil. They are stupid and full of hatred," Radiant thought to herself.
"Do you want some food? I can make you whatever you want." Locust offered, trying to brush off the threat of Radiant yelling at him.
"I'm not hungry," Radiant began, lowering her guard. "No, he wants me to feel safe. He wants me to think he's nice so he can torture me," Radiant thought to herself.
"Alright, suit yourself. Let me guess, you also want to get to bed as early as you can?" He guessed. It was true: Radiant did want to see her bedroom. "It's upstairs and to the left. I even bought a sign for you telling you where to go," he added.
"Okay..." Radiant said, walking towards the stairs. As she walked up, she never broke eye contact with him.
Once Radiant got up the stairs, she instantly noticed that there were two hallways. To her left had flowers, a silk rug, and a sign saying "SilkWing go here," while the other had green tapestries along the walls and a jade green rug. Right in front of her was a giant glass door, leading to a balcony on the outside of the house.
"Chances are I go to the left," Radiant thought sarcastically. She walked over to the left, slightly scratching the sign out of spite. She walked into the room and was stunned how large and beautiful it was. A bed three times as big as normal was placed along the wall, a fountain designed to look like cascading water spiraled up from the center of the room, and to her side was a massive bookshelf stretching to the ceiling, full of fresh and clean books.
"This. This is nice," Radiant thought, before remembering that it was most likely a trap to make her feel safe. She walked over to the massive bed and hesitantly crawled into it. The bed felt as though she was laying on a cloud. She felt comfortable for the first time in her life, but she still didn’t trust it. She felt a wave of drowsiness overcome her, but she refused to succumb to it, and stayed up for most of the night before falling asleep.
Chapter Three, "Carpet"
The next morning, Radiant awoke to find herself still alive and uninjured. She got up, walked down the hall, and was greeted by the smell of cooked meat. Her nose and antennae curled in on themselves in disgust as she flew down the stairs.
“You’re up early,” Locust stated. Radiant saw him in the kitchen with a fire going. On the fire was a pan with some meat on it.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to make me... eat that...” Radiant gagged in disgust. Locust looked at her in surprise.
“You don’t like zebra meat?”
“I don’t like meat PERIOD.”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you didn’t like that. I can go out and get some fruit from the market if you’d like. You could even join me to pick out the fruit,” Locust suggested. Radiant snorted, but considered it.
“Sure, but only because you’d probably screw it up anyways and get me, I don’t know, fruit meat if I wasn’t there,” she hissed a bit aggressively.
“Thanks for the compliment,” Locust said with a smile, grabbing a small black bag.
“Does literally everything you own come in the colour of green and black?” Radiant asked, astonished that so many things were just one of the two colours. Locust stiffened a bit.
“Perhaps... anyways, you ready?” Locust questioned, checking his bag and pulling out a scale. Radiant looked at her talons. She hadn't brought anything with her when she left Wasp Hive, and it would be nice to get something.
“I’m ready,” Radiant admitted and walked out of the door without even waiting for Locust.
“Hey! Wait for me!” Locust protested, running out of the house and to Radiant. He caught up to her and let out an exhausted sigh. “You walk fast,” he complimented. Radiant didn’t say anything and walked to the left a little more to stay away from him.
“So... what was it like in Wasp Hive? I never really been there before, only a few times for family stuff,” Locust asked. Radiant turned her snout away from him, refusing to talk. “Not too happy to talk about it? I see, I’ll just shut up,” Locust said, and both dragons continued walking in silence.
They arrived to the market of Hornet Hive, which was rather big for what it was worth. Lanterns of an unknown material lit up the entire bazaar, and the sounds of HiveWings bargaining filled the outdoor market.
“We could go over here first,” Locust offered, pointing to a bar. “We could probably ask them for some fruit.” Locust walked over while Radiant trailed behind him. A few HiveWings and SilkWings stopped to stare at Locust, and Radiant could hear them whispering, probably about her.
“Hold it, why are you following the Duke?” a HiveWing guard asked Radiant, stepping in front of her.
“None of your business,” Radiant hissed. She kept trying to walk, but the HiveWing wouldn't budge. A jade green claw suddenly landed on the HiveWing's shoulder.
"She's with me," Locust said, and the HiveWing stepped out of the way quickly, with a shocked look on his face. Radiant looked at the yellow HiveWing guard smugly and walked alongside Locust. "You can say thank you now," Locust said jokingly. Radiant rolled her eyes at him. Both dragons then walked up to the bar and were greeted with the smell of cooking meat. Radiant gagged a bit and the HiveWing chef just looked at her, clearly annoyed.
"If you can't handle meat getting cooked, then get out," the HiveWing chef snorted. Radiant snarled back at the chef.
“Hey, do you have any fruit to spare?” Locust asked calmly.
“Don’t know, but if I have to go look it’ll cost ya’.”
“Come on, I’m one of your regulars!”
“You’ve been to my bar all of two times.”
“How would you know that?” Locust questioned. The chef picked up a sharp blade and pointed at Locust’s green scales.
“With scales like that, I’d remember,” the chef growled before spitting at the floor. Locust flinched in disgust before sighing in defeat.
“Fine, how much?” he asked.
“Ten scales, just to look,” said the chef arrogantly. Locust groaned and put ten scales on the counter. He snatched them up and walked into the back room.
“Are you brainless? You could’ve gotten scammed, and that little rat would’ve gotten away with your scales,” Radiant criticized. Locust shrugged and glanced at her smugly.
“Doesn’t matter. Besides, why would you care about me losing money?” Locust childishly questioned. Radiant’s antennae straightened out in annoyance. Footsteps momentarily paused their conversation as the chef came out with a large crate. The chef threw it onto the counter, shaking the entire bar and causing a few bits of yam to fall out.
“Found a thing of yams and kale,” the chef said, plugging his nostrils. The box smelled like vomit that was left unclean and to sit in the sun for a full week. Radiant gagged a bit and Locust got up and ushered Radiant to come along.
“No thanks, maybe we’ll find another place,” Locust said, offering his talons to hold her. Radiant turned her head and kept walking.
“That box smelt like death,” Radiant thought out loud. Locust chuckled and spoke up.
“It did. Are vegetables supposed to smell like that? My folks didn’t really force us to eat that junk,” Locust joked. “Besides… I could probably pay off a HiveWing to go to Mantis or Cicada Hive to get something for you, and fast. You look famished.” It was true; Radiant was quite thin, even for a SilkWing. Radiant took it as an insult and scoffed, irritated.
“If we’re not getting me food… how about something else?” Radiant suggested cheekily.
“Nice idea. What would you like?”
“You’re… asking me? Anything in this market you can buy for me?”
“Yeah. Go ahead, it’s your choice.” Radiant looked around the market. Nothing really caught her eye, except for an orange and yellow market stand. She walked over to it and saw a vast display of carpets. Some orange, some green, some red, some purple. One that got her attention was a very light pink carpet with a white exterior.
"That one doesn't look ugly," Radiant said, pointing to the carpet. Locust walked over, chatted with the vendor, and came back with the carpet in talon.
"It's a pretty one, right?" he asked. Radiant shrugged and walked away, but not before waiting for Locust.
Both dragons came back to the house and walked inside.
"Sorry about not getting you any food," Locust apologized. Radiant just snorted; she didn't really care if she ate today. She'd gone days without food, so she could stand a few more hours of hunger.
"It's nothing. Anyways, can I have the carpet now?" Radiant asked, and Locust dropped it into Radiant's talons gently. Radiant walked up to her room and sat down in the middle of it, trying to figure out where to put it. She then settled to put it right at the foot of her bed. As she laid it down, a thought struck her.
"What if that HiveWing isn't that bad?" she thought about it for a bit. It seemed outlandish and stupid, considering what monsters all of them were, but this one seemed to just be... nice? If he really was evil, he would've stung her and handed her into the guards the first chance he got, but even after she'd yelled at him, he was still patient with her. No HiveWing could be this resistant to their true nature, unless it was a trick; yet something about Locust didn't strike her as that type of dragon. She shook off the thought and patted down the carpet to eliminate its wrinkles. She stood up from her carpet and smiled, for the first time in a while, at it. She walked around her room for a bit, proud of her taste in design, then strutted into the hallway.
She was going down the hallway before stopping at the balcony window, noticing the shades of purple and orange from the setting sun. Radiant was mesmerized by it for a bit; despite everything that was terrible about it, the sun could be pretty at times. Radiant stepped out onto the balcony, the cool summer's breeze brushing against her wings. She sat down on the balcony and gazed off into the distance, admiring the sunset. She began to think; to think about, perhaps, flying away. Flying into the savanna, never to be seen again; free from worries and the awfulness of the Hives. Then, the sound of the balcony door creaking open startled her, breaking her out of thought and startling her into aggression.
"Oh, sorry if I scared you. I just wanted to ask if I could join you," said the jade green dragon. Radiant grumbled, but did not reject his request. She did not move an inch as Locust sat down beside her.
"The carpet you bought earlier is nice. Looks good with the room," Radiant said, trying not to say thank you. Locust sighed and laughed a bit.
"You know, it's okay to say 'thank you'. Nobody's going to get mad if you—"
"It's just a nice carpet," Radiant snapped back. She felt a small pang in her heart after yelling and looked at her talons in guilt.
"I'm just saying that it's okay to be thankful. Nobody's going to sting you or yell at you for doing something wrong," Locust said. His forest-green eyes weren't malicious or secretive. His expression seemed genuinely caring towards her. Radiant shifted as memories of Misbehavior's Way and the constant belittlement of HiveWings and even her own clawmates and parents filled her mind.
"Are you sure?" Radiant choked out. She felt unsure about everything. It could all be a facade made to try and make Radiant admit her disloyalty to Wasp, and yet...
"I'm sure. You're safe, and trust me when I say this, everything is going to be all right," Locust then moved his tail slightly, putting it against Radiant's own. Despite her initial flinching away, she slowly leaned it up against Locust's tail. Both dragons then looked off into the sunset, and for the first time Radiant felt at peace here.
Chapter Four, "Mail"
Radiant, surprisingly, woke up in her own bed. She couldn't remember going into her own bed from last night; all she remembered was laying down after a few hours and something warm picking her up as she fell asleep. She came out of her room and walked down stairs to see Locust sitting on his couch, leaning over a stack of papers made from silk.
"Oh, morning Radiant!" Locust said. Radiant still felt a bit uncomfortable with him saying her name.
"Morning. What are you doing?" she asked, trying to look over his shoulder.
"Boring family stuff."
"Don't really know. My parents are kind of secretive about it for no reason. All I do is calculate the cost of these transactions," Locust said. Radiant then noticed a slab of wood beside Locust with tally marks in it.
"So you're just counting numbers? How is it that you're not even aware of what you're counting?" Radiant asked, dumbfounded.
"That's the point. It's just weird... you know, I might just send them a letter when I'm done just to ask."
"You can't just hand it to them?"
"They live in Tsetse Hive, you know, the one for—"
"Old dragons? I know." Radiant flicked her tail before glancing at Locust's scales. She'd never seen anything quite like them. Sure, she'd seen some HiveWings with shades of dark green, but none this vibrant. "What's the deal with your scales? Why do they look—"
"Green? Your guess is as good as mine. My parents are also green, so I always just assumed my family is different."
"Do you think one of your grandparents or great-grandparents was a LeafWing?" Locust looked at Radiant, confused.
"I don't believe so... I wouldn't want to be related to those creatures." Locust visibly shivered in fear. "I was always sort of bullied for it. Called the 'LeafWing-HiveWing' behind my back a few times. Clearsight knows what else I've been called." Radiant didn't even know how to respond. She knew that what he'd been through wasn't nearly as bad as the things she had suffered, yet she still felt sorry for him.
"Sounds rough," she ended up saying.
"Enough about me," he dismissed with a wave of his talons. "How've you been?" he asked, stretching his wings.
"Okay, I guess. The bed's nice," Radiant said, rubbing her back with her wings. "Can we not go out today? Just sort of stay inside?" Locust raised his head from his work.
"Why? I mean, I'm fine with that; I have all of this work, but is there any reason?" Radiant just shrugged and walked to the door.
"Did my fruit come yet?" she asked.
"I heard a knock at the door earlier today, I think it is your fruit."
"Why did you leave it out in the cold?"
"I wanted you to pick it up yourself so you could criticize it," Locust joked. Radiant felt a bit offended, but still opened the door. She was greeted with a large box of yams, kale, and other assortments of vegetables. She grabbed the box, making a few pieces of produce fall out. She walked back inside, shut the door, and set the box on the table. She promptly then dug into a green piece of kale, ripping it apart and stuffing it all into her gaping mouth.
"Thanks for the food," Radiant said, putting extra emphasis on the 'thanks'. She could see a small smile crack across Locust's face, even from across the room. As Radiant continued to eat, she noticed a few 'wanted' posters on the side of the box. She tore one off to inspect it. On the page was the picture of a HiveWing dragonet with golden-orange scales and small glasses. Under the picture was the reward price (5,000 scales) and where the dragonet was seen last. Radiant approached Locust, who was still signing papers, and placed down the poster. He stopped for a moment and looked at it.
"Wonder what that one is wanted for," Locust said, picking up the paper. Radiant walked over and grabbed the other two posters. They were both for SilkWings, one a young dragonet, another with cobalt-blue and orange scales.
"Maybe they all murdered some HiveWing," Radiant scoffed.
"I doubt that. SilkWings are harmless—"
"We are not," Radiant snapped.
"Most SilkWings are harmless," he corrected quickly. "Maybe the HiveWing is missing, and the other SilkWings have nothing to do with them. Or, hey, they could all be separate parties. It does worry me that they're all from the neighboring Hive." Locust pointed to the text that read "Last seen at Cicada Hive." Radiant just shrugged.
"Who cares? Like you said, we're harmless."
"Let me guess, you're never going to let that go and constantly remind me of that?"
"You bet." Radiant cracked a small smile and walked away to explore the house. She ended up in a black chair and plucked a book off of a nearby bookshelf.
After half an hour of reading, Locust stood up and stretched his wings. Radiant looked to her side to see the green HiveWing autonomously walk through the house and out the door.
"Hey, didn't you promise to stay inside all day?"
"I know, I just need to mail these things. I'll just go to the post and come back, don't burn down the house while I'm gone!" Locust called out.
"Trust me, I will!" Radiant said, not really sure if she was joking or not. She flexed her antennae and a thought suddenly entered her mind. A sudden desire to see what those papers were about and to find out if he was lying about being oblivious to the true meaning of them or not. She poked her head out of the door to see Locust had already taken off. Radiant looked around and then stepped out of the house to look for the truth. The red and white SilkWing wandered around the Hive for a bit before stumbling into the bazaar, which was much quieter than it was yesterday. She puffed up her chest and tried to walk confidently to avoid gaining attention, which failed spectacularly when a HiveWing dragonet came up to her.
"Your scales look pretty, for a SilkWing." the dragonet said. Their tone wasn't mean, but yet it felt like a direct insult to Radiant.
"Go to your mother, HiveWing." Radiant swept her tail and pushed the HiveWing out of her way. She glared back at the HiveWing, then a tiny wave of guilt passed over Radiant. Her face, which was once full of malice, now turned slightly regretful.
"No, what are you DOING?! You hate HiveWings, do you not? All of them are evil and Locust could just be trying to trick you." Radiant told herself. She continued to walk around the bazaar before finding a building with a buzzard on it saying "POST". Radiant walked inside and saw a few HiveWings in front of a long desk. Behind the HiveWings were birds of all species and sizes all screaming and screeching loudly. Radiant walked towards the middle HiveWing, her talons clacking against the metal floor.
"Hello! Welcome to the Hornet Hive Post Office, my name is Hivestripe and how may I help you today?" said the middle HiveWing with fake enthusiasm.
"Did a green HiveWing come in here today?"
"I'm sorry, we're not allowed to give out that sort of information." Hivestripe said with a fake smile. Radiant's antennae straightened out on themselves and she let out a long annoyed sigh.
"Listen, I need to know if he came here or not. If you don't tell me now I will--" Radiant cut herself off. Thousands of ideas to hurt and destroy this building entered her mind and she couldn't pick one.
"What? You will what? Use your antennae to tickle me?" Hivestripe joked. Radiant growled and raised her talons to take a swipe at the HiveWing.
"SilkWing, if you lay a talon on my co-worker we will have to get security." a nearby HiveWing called out.
"See if I care!" Radiant yelled as she swiped down, intentionally missed Gnat and slamming her talons on the table. Radiant stormed off, knowing that this place was a dead end. She walked through the doors and began to make her way back to Locust's house. All attempts of guards, normal passerby's, and other dragons to interact with her or to sell her something were met with either silence or Radiant hissing.
She walked around the Hive for a bit, retracing her steps to come back to the house, then found Locust in front of the door looking worried.
"Oh, Radiant! I was getting worried that something happened to you--"
"Don't talk to me right now." Radiant snarled as she moved around Locust to get into the house.
"Oh, okay..." Locust closed the door gently behind him and Radiant stomped upstairs to go to her room. "Do you want some food?" he offered.
"I said don't talk to me." she called out and slammed the door behind her. She walked over to her bed and sat onto it. She felt angry, confused, disappointed, scared all at once. She sat in her room and did nothing for hours except think about how terrible the HiveWings are. Then, she heard a knock at her door.
"Radiant? You've been in your room for quite some time now. Is everything okay?" a soft voice asks.
"I'm not okay! I just want... I just want..." Radiant yelled before losing her train of thought. Locust opened the door and slowly walked over to Radiant before sitting down beside her.
"It's okay. I'm not going to get mad at you." Locust assured. Radiant sighed and then sat up from her bed.
"Are you sure?" she asks, unsure if he's lying or not. Locust shook his head and Radiant tried to calm down her shaking talons.
"It'll be alright. Nothing is going to hurt you..." Radiant took a deep breath.
"I just want to be safe... Wasp Hive was never okay. Everybody was mean, including the SilkWings. If they could push me around, why couldn't I? I don't want to be hurt anymore... No more stings, no more hits, no more yelling, no more--" Radiant was cut off by the feeling of something hugging her. She looked to her side and saw Locust wrapping his wings and talons around her.
"I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I knew Wasp Hive was always a scary place, but not like this." he said sadly. Radiant tried to squirm out of Locust's grasp before giving up and just letting him hug her. It felt surprisingly nice. Radiant couldn't recall the last time she'd been given a pat on the back (in a loving manner), much less given a hug. She could feel silvery tears run down her face as she hugged Locust back.
"Thank you." Radiant smiled. Locust pulled himself away from a moment and turned his head.
"For just being... Kind to me even when I'm a piece of zebra dung." Radiant suddenly realized what she was even saying. She was worried that she'd finally given in and now Locust has his talons around her, but she didn't even care if that was the truth. She just liked having Locust there for her. Locust backed off and smiled kindly.
"I hope tomorrow is a better day for you." he said before heading out. Radiant shook her head viciously to shake off some tears and flexed her talons. She laid back down on her bed, tucked herself into her sheets, and went off to sleep.
Chapter Five, "Chase"
The next morning Radiant awoke to the smell of meat. She held back a gag as she got up and walked down the hall. Once more she saw Locust there, cooking meat. By the looks of it she couldn't figure out what animal the meal came from, but she didn't really care what it came from.
"Oh, sorry." Locust apologized. Radiant just plugged her nostrils and walked down stairs.
"Maybe just flap your wings or something to push the smell out of the house." she managed to say, despite having her nose plugged. She walked over to the counter, expecting her box to be there, but instead a small basket full of fresh and tasty food.
"I thought that the last batch wasn't good enough for you, so I ordered some more from Bloodworm Hive. They have the best produce out of all of the Hives apparently," Locust said, taking a break from tending to his food and walking over to Radiant. "Are you going to have that?" he asked, pointing to a nice piece of persimmons.
"Probably not. I've never been a fan of persimmons." Locust took the fruit and hesitantly bit into it. His eyes widened before gagging. Radiant snickers as the green HiveWing was in very visible discomfort. Locust spat out the fruit and laughed a bit.
"I can see why you don't like it. Bleck!" he chuckled as he spat a bit more on the floor. "I can clean it up." Locust said as he walked over to get a cloth and a broom. Radiant chuckled as she walked over to the couch and laid down. Suddenly, Radiant noticed a small fire on the meat. She ran over to it and moved the charred meat from the fire onto a plate.
"Uhh... Locust? Your food is--"
"Oh, talons!" Locust ran over to his meat and sighed disappointedly. "Looks like I have to eat this or starve to death." he joked. He took a bite of the singed meat then made a choking noise and fell to the ground with a thud, all with a smile still on his face. Radiant rolled her eyes.
"Get up, you goof." she said, bushing her tail over to help him. Locust grabbed onto her tail and Radiant heaved him up to his feet.
Radiant and Locust spent the next days doing nothing but talking to each other about random topics. Nothing of interest happened until Radiant heard a knock on the door.
"That could be your food." Locust said as he walked up and opened the door. The delivery HiveWing handed a small package and a little letter to Locust.
"Let me guess, no food?"
"No, work stuff. Hopefully mom and dad answered my question." He tore open the small letter and a small slip of paper came out. He read it with a smile on his face, which slowly faded away. His face turned from happy, to perplexed, to shock, to terror all in the span of a few seconds.
"You don't look so good. Is something wrong with the answer?" Radiant asked. Locust didn't answer her question. He stared at the paper with wide budging eyes. Radiant walked over to Locust to see what was going on, only for him to jump away.
"I'm sorry but I don't think you can read this..." Locust said. He sounded upset and hurt but Radiant couldn't understand why.
"I doubt it's that bad."
"It is that bad though." Radiant rolled her eyes and jumped over the couches and chairs to get to Locust. Locust backed away quickly and lunged away from her.
"Please stop chasing me." Locust pleaded dryly. Radiant was laughing and smiling, while Locust never even cracked a grin. Locust flew over the tables and counters and managed to run upstairs. The red SilkWing tailed behind him, getting closer and closer to Locust and the letter. Locust bolted right and ran down the hallway. She was gaining on him and busted into Locust's room.
"I got you now!" Radiant smirked as she lunged to Locust. Then all of a sudden...
GULP! The letter was gone. Radiant looked around, trying to see where it'd gone, then saw Locust gagging.
"Ugh, this tastes gross..."
"You ATE it?" Radiant burst out into laughter. Locust cracked a smile before returning to his solemn look.
"Never mind the letter, how about we go do something."
"Don't you have work to do?" Radiant questioned. Locust raised his talons to speak, then paused.
"Give me a minute." he said as he maneuvered around Radiant and down the stairs. She walked behind him and saw Locust grab the papers and begin to walk back up the stairs and onto the balcony.
"What are you doing you idio--" Radiant was interrupted by Locust opening the balcony door and tossing the package of papers off the balcony.
"I've decided as of now that this work is too dull and boring for me." Locust exclaimed as the stack of silk papers swung in the breeze. Radiant rolled her eyes and walked up to him.
"So, what do you wanna do?"
"Don't know, anything but work being honest." Radiant looked at him, hiding her curiosities. She was still curious to know what made Locust panic like this and so quick to give up his work life. Part of her was upset that he was keeping secrets, while the other half was relieved that Locust wasn't a COMPLETE workaholic; that would've been insufferable.
Both dragons walked down the stairs and helped themselves to some food. Locust walked over and grabbed a bit of kale.
"Hey, at least this doesn't make me puke my guts out." he joked. Radiant rolled her eyes playfully as she grabbed a yam.
"So anyways, what was the most interesting thing you've done?"
"I don't know, probably go to school. Ha!"
Radiant stared at Locust mildly shocked. "Really? That's it? I've been on that stupid Misbehaviors Way I lost count."
"Really? I was always terrified of going there, what's it like?"
"Hurts for a bit. You just kind of wanna move any part of your body and--" Radiant stopped herself when Locust dropped his piece of kale. His eyes rolled back until his skull and legs all stiffened. Locust automatically flew up and went over to the balcony before flying right out of it.
Chapter Six, "Fire"
"Ugh, what now you stupid queen?" Radiant said, making sure nobody was around to hear. She flew over to where Locust was and walked onto the balcony. The smell of smoke and the fumes of treestuff burning was present right there. Radiant plugged her nose and flew out of the smoke and above Hornet Hive to see a Hive far off in the distance, Bloodworm Hive, on fire. "What on Pantala-- What's going on?" she questioned. She saw HiveWings from other Hives autonomously fly over to Bloodworm Hive, trying to put out the fire (Radiant assumed). She felt a sick sense of enjoyment watched the Hive burn; the very thought of all of the evil HiveWings burning in their Hive made her both happy and sick to her stomach. She meditated making a prayer to Clearsight to protect Locust, but instead flew back to the house and waited for him to return. She closed the doors, waved out some smoke, and sat alone in the house. Something about being lonely triggered something with Radiant. A cold feeling of familiar dread washed over her scales as she shifted around alone in the house.
“No, you're safe. You're not with them anymore.” Radiant thought to herself, but just thinking about her parents and much worse teachers made her feel less safe. She grabbed one of her fox boxes and dug into it, stressing about re-occurring memories and attempting to relive herself. The smell of fire and burning got worse the longer time went on and Radiant decided to try and get some sleep while she's waiting. She curled up on the couch and covered herself in a blanket, then after counting a near impossible amount of rolling yams, went to sleep.
"Wake up, SilkWing." a soft, yet cold and distant voice said. Radiant shot awake, realizing what the echo of the voice was. In front of her stood Locust, but his eyes were still blotched out. Wasp was still controlling him. Radiant had gotten used to seeing HiveWings being controlled, but this time seeing Locust unlike himself was a bit uneasy.
"What do you want?" Radiant snarled.
"That's no way to talk to a HiveWing, SilkWing," Locust and the echo sneered. "I've come because my main source of income has been having some questions."
"What the family business is. I don't wanna break it to you but it's nothing you should worry about, SilkWing."
"How do you know about it?"
"This dragon's mind is always buzzing it's hard to not peek in a few times to see. Just ignore everything about this HiveWing's work and stay out of it. Look pretty and do your work, NOW!" Locust screamed, the echo more apparent now. Locust's eyes then rolled back to normal as he fell to the ground.
"First time?" Radiant questioned.
"Clearsight alive what WAS THAT?" Locust questioned. His legs failed to stand him back up a few times before Radiant, hesitantly, helped him up.
"The queen does it, I think." she shrugged.
"Now I can see why nobody wants to make her mad--"
"You seriously never questioned why nobody rebels?" Radiant wanted to add 'I'd love to tear her throne down' but was weary in case Wasp wasn't fully gone yet.
"She was a bit rude to you."
"Eh'... It's nothing much," Radiant shrugged. "What did you do?"
"I don't really know... I was just forced to fly to Bloodworm Hive and to put out the fires. There was... So many bodies just lying, charred and scarred."
"So you don't know why the fire was caused."
"Oh, I do think I know. I heard Wasp's voice and she said something about it being a terror attack, probably from the LeafWings."
"Aren't LeafWings extinct?" Radiant knew this was a stupid question since nobody really explored the Poison Jungle, but still.
"I'm not sure. There've been more posters being put up attacking LeafWings and such."
"How can you tell?"
"I go outside, unlike you." Locust joked.
"Oh, shut up. It's not my fault the stupid sun hates me."
"Why does it hate you?"
"It-- It doesn't-- It doesn't hate me it's just--" Radiant didn't know how to exactly react to such a question. It seemed so stupid, yet she wanted to give a straight answer. "It's just something with the past..." she admitted.
"You know, I don't need to know anything you don't feel comfortable sharing--"
"No, no... You should at least know since we would eventually have this conversation." Locust nodded and sat down on the couch beside Radiant.
"If you say so." he sat down and looked at Radiant, wide eyed and full of interest.
"Okay so, back when my teachers wanted to teach me a lesson. Misbehaviors Way clearly wasn't working and they wanted to try and put it into my head that I needed to 'know my place'. I remember this one piece of work taking me by the tail and tossing me out of the Hive. So, I'm stuck out of Wasp Hive, alone. I don't have wings and no way to get back into the Hive as orders from the teachers until I 'learn'. I'm just there, starving. I'm left to the elements-- and not only that but it's the DRY SEASON. Clearsight, that was probably the worst time of my life."
"How long were you out there for?" questioned Locust, clearly disturbed from the story.
"Don't know. I stopped counting after the sun had fallen for the second time."
"You were out there for TWO days?" Locust reached out his talons to try and comfort Radiant but she nudged away, remembering why she hated HiveWings in the first place. Radiant grabbed her scales where her stomach was, remembering the feelings of intense hunger and dehydration.
"So, yeah... That's why I don't like the sun. I think I had heat-stroke out there since I felt so tired and my scales were almost getting darker."
"Poor you... How did you even get back?" Locust queried, folding his wings around himself, almost as if he couldn't comprehend how terrible a dragon could be and was trying to shield himself from these experiences.
"I walked for a day away from the Hive, trying to get to Yellow Jacket Hive, then back when I realized I couldn't make it there. By the time I got back I was almost beginning to think I was in the wrong for hating Wasp so getting in wasn't a problem."
"'Almost'?" Locust questioned, hanging onto that one word. Radiant felt as though she had been hit with a bat. Terrible thoughts of Wasp still hiding and observing Locust plagued her, yet she was already found.
Radiant nodded. "Yes, almost."
"Do you-- do you still hate her to this day?"
"Yes. After everything her and the HiveWings have done to me, how could I not? What I told you barely scrapes the surface!... The constant belittlement, the lack of fresh food and clean water, the amount of bruises and scratches, getting threatened to be publicly executed, all of it! That's why-- that's why I hate your tribe." Radiant felt as though daggers were coming up her throat with each word. She felt bad for hating Locust's tribe, but she wanted him to know how she felt. Radiant looked away, feeling guilty for hating Locust's tribe. After a few moments she felt claws resting on her back.
"I'm not like them, though. I don't hurt you, I don't make you suffer. At least, I think."
"No, you don't." Radiant said, wiping a tear from her eye and cracking a small smile.
"Good, that's-- that's nice to hear. If you want I can go get a bowl of honey drops to make you feel better. You're not at Wasp Hive anymore, you're safe and I'll make sure nothing EVER hurts you like them again." Locust said, reaching out his talons for a hug. Radiant rolled her eyes through the tears and returned the hug.
"Thank you." Radiant whispered to Locust.
"It's no biggie. You deserve to feel good about yourself."
"Mh... You know what would make me feel even better?"
"A bowl of honey drops."
"I'm getting it, I'm getting it." Locust sighed playfully and got up to get the honey drops.
Chapter Seven, "Alone"
The dragons spent the rest of the night enjoying the honey drops and laughing away at the other's jokes and conversations to try and hide the pain of earlier. Locust went off to bed and Radiant followed soon after. The dragons spent the next few days uneventfully. Talking and eating took much of it's time and they were keeping up with the news. Reports of LeafWings around the Hives were brushed off by the both as unfunny pranks, though one day Radiant could almost see a bunch of weird figures flying across from the Poison Jungle into the ocean. One day, Radiant woke up and walked downstairs to see that Locust wasn't awake yet. Radiant noted that it would've been too early in the morning for him and just wanted to get the day over with. She walked down and walked over to her basket of vegetables and grabbed a piece of yam and gnawed on it sleepily. Suddenly, she heard a knock at the door. Radiant stretched her ruby red and white wings and walked over to the door.
"Delivery for Duke Locust." the delivery HiveWing said boredly.
"Not my problem, get him down and sign the paper."
"I'll just sign it and tell it's for him."
"Alright, do what you want. I don't care." Radiant pulled the board out of the HiveWing's talons and signed it with a quill.
"There, take it." Radiant tossed it back to the HiveWing and he nearly dropped it.
"Gee, here you go." The HiveWing said sarcastically after dropping a letter and package onto the porch. The HiveWing took off and Radiant was left by herself with a package and letter.
"Annoying little... Ugh! They don't even treat us with respect." Radiant whined to herself as she picked up the package. She quickly blew a raspberry at nothing, annoyed, and walked inside slamming the door shut. She tossed the package onto the table, but then saw a small letter fall. She went to pick it up to then see a small green locust symbol. She inspected it more to see it was from Tsetse Hive. Curiosity took over Radiant as she remembered Locust being panicked about the other letter and wanted to know what that was all about. She held the letter in one claw and tore it open from the top. Her stomach felt as though it was full of butterflies with each tear at it until finally the silk paper came out.
Addressed to Duke Locust
I expect this letter finds you well. You haven't been sending back your signed forms as of recently and I wish to know why you aren't. No, that's quite idiotic... I know why you're not sending your work back. That SilkWing you picked up is the reason, isn't it? Me and father know about that dragon. If you are upset learning about what you actually do, we regret to inform you that it would be a problem. If we do not earn income from you legalizing the trade papers then all of Wasp and Hornet Hive would go into poverty. If this problem stems from you trying to "protect" your little pet from the truth we will be forced to remove them ourselves. Disappointing your parents wouldn't be what you want, no? Their kind isn't of worth anyways, that's why they're better off as being low-class workers. Was none of your learning in Mantis Hive even useful? SilkWings are better off as being below HiveWings, you even said so yourself in our last letter before getting them. I hope this pause in your work is only momentarily and you resume once this letter gets in your thick skull.
"I'm sorry, what?" She looked at the letter over and over again. She wasn't incredibly surprised that Locust said he didn't like SilkWings, but them calling her a pet just enraged her. However, this made her more curious to what it was the family business. It said something about 'trade papers' so they could trade something, but what?
"Hey, Radiant." a voice called out.
"What is your family's business?" Radiant said coldly. For the first time in a while she was mad at Locust.
"W-- what exactly?"
"What is it? The letter your mommy sent you said something about trading."
"You opened a letter from her?"
"I-- ignore that. What is it?"
"It's just usually trading stuff, like fruits and meat."
"You're lying. It said Wasp Hive goes down if you stopped as well. Why would it go down into poverty? Bloodworm and Yellow Jacket would be the only ones suffering since they make the food. Wasp Hive is known for being the home of Wasp and--"
"It's nothing, okay?" Locust snapped. Radiant was taken back by him being upset.
"It IS something and I know it. You're trying to keep it a secret from me so that I wouldn't be hurt, aren't you?"
Locust didn't answer for a long time.
"I just want you to be happy..." he choked out.
"I'd sure be happy if you told me--"
"WE TRADE SILKWINGS!" Locust yelled out. "WE TRADE SILKWINGS AND SELL THEM INTO SLAVERY FOR PROFIT! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!" he screamed.
"YES, WE DO. WE'RE THE REASON WHY SILKWINGS ARE LIKE THIS. WE'RE-- we're..." Locust stopped and looked at the floor.
"YOU KNEW ABOUT THIS AND DIDN'T TELL ME?" screamed Radiant. She got up and for once her pure hatred of HiveWings came back.
"I knew just a few days ago! I didn't want to tell you this!"
"How could you even LIVE like this?!" Radiant's face was burning up and her claws were digging into the flooring.
"I TOLD YOU, I didn't KNOW!"
"I don't care if you didn't 'know', you're responsible for this. You're responsible for EVERYTHING that happened to me! I HATE you and your family!"
"Well, I hate you TOO! I never should've picked you!" and with that, Locust stormed off. Radiant threw down the letter and stormed out of the door in a fit of rage. She traveled through the Hive until she got to the edge.
"Stupid HiveWings!" she yelled as she flew off the edge of Hornet Hive. She was full of anger, sadness, betrayal, and confusion. She flew out into the savanna, determined to fly away. Maybe she could go to where Clearsight came from, far away from danger and the Hives. She flew until mid-day when the sun was at it's brightest. Radiant's stomach groaned more and more with each wingbeat until it was too much to bear. She ended up flying closer to the ground to rest and by the time she hit the ground she was right before a massive hole in the ground.
"That.. doesn't look good..." Radiant thought to herself. She gazed around the hole. It's entrance was nearly half the size of a normal Hive and Radiant walked along to see how deep it was. It looked endless at first glance, no, at every glace. Radiant couldn't see a bottom to it at all. Radiant got a weird feeling from looking at it and after a few minutes of resting she got back up and started to fly away. She was nearing Yellow Jacket Hive at this point and wanted to try and go to the shore. Perhaps she could actually fly off to the home of gods and goddesses and find other dragons like Clearsight. She was flying over to Yellow Jacket Hive when she saw something come out of the Poison Jungle. She saw a large group of SilkWings and, no, it couldn't be... LeafWings, of all shades of green came flying out on their two wings (Radiant was always weirdly disturbed by them).
"LeafWings!" she cried out. She dove down onto the ground and laid down flat. She could hear the sounds of wing flapping above her and held her breath, hoping that they'd just pass over her without a word. It seemed like ages before the sounds eventually left her ears alone and Radiant poked her head up once more. She slowly poked her head up and saw the group of dragons heading towards Wasp Hive.
"That was... Odd.." she thought to herself when picking herself up. She dusted some dirt off of her when she heard incredibly loud buzzing from Yellow Jacket and even Wasp Hive. The sounds of blaring wing flapping and was ear-piercing and Radiant covered her ears to block it out. She then saw massive groups of HiveWings leave Yellow Jacket Hive, most of which carrying a SilkWing in their claws. Radiant could almost see a HiveWing without a SilkWing look at her, dead into her soul. It began to fly towards her at a increasingly fast pace. Radiant began to ran away before lifting herself off the group. She looked back a few times to see the HiveWing gaining on her. It's jet black scales with streaks of red seemed to mirror Radiant's own scales. She noticed the large sinkhole near her and dove into it, hoping to hide from the HiveWing. She looked around before finding a small tunnel in the wall near the surface. She ran into it and prayed to Clearsight that the HiveWing wouldn't notice her. The smell of the tunnel reeked of fecal matter and barely any light was visible from how deep in Radiant was in the tunnel. She felt as though the walls around her were getting smaller and smaller with each second. Eventually the sounds of a HiveWing's wing beats filled her ears and remained for a few moments before exiting.
Radiant still didn't feel safe and stayed in that tunnel for Clearsight knows how long. Seconds, minutes, hours, who knows? She then walked out of the tunnel to see that night has fallen. By this point, Radiant regretted ever leaving Locust. She was scared, alone, and trapped in the darkness of night. Radiant made her way out of the hole as fast as possible and looked around to see that all the Hives were all mostly dark except for Wasp Hive. Radiant just wanted to go home. She flew a bit in the direction of Hornet Hive before laying down to rest. Her legs and wings were exhausted and were desperate for a break. She laid down in the dirty and pressed against the dry grass. The cold breeze brushed against Radiant's scales, sending a chill down her spine. She closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.
Radiant awoke to find herself still in the field of grass. She looked to her side to see a small elephant and it's baby sleeping against Radiant. She stood up, waking both of the elephants up and walked away. "Shoo, get out of here." she said, looking back to the mother elephant helping the little elephant up to it's feet. Radiant shook some dirt off herself and kept on her way to Hornet Hive. She could feel the hot sun coming up over the horizon, burning her scales in the process. The purple-ish wasteland of the savanna slowly faded away in the light and Radiant could see Vinegaroon Hive in the distance. Radiant didn't know how to react when she would get back to Hornet Hive, back to Locust. Was she still mad at him? A bit, but more so that his family just let this happen. All Radiant wanted was just to see Locust again, despite all that had happened, she still cared a bit for him.
A few hours later Radiant was nearing Hornet Hive. She spread her wings out and few up towards Locust's balcony on the side of the Hive. She raised her talons to open up before hesitating.
"What if he kicks me out? When I left does that mean I'm no longer his SilkWing and I'm technically breaking into his-- no, he won't." Radiant assured herself. She opened the door and looked to her right to see Locust's door slightly ajar. She walked over to it and took a deep breath before talking.
"Hey, stupid HiveWing..." she began with a hollow laugh. "I'm back, yay!.. I just wanted to say that I'm-- I'm sorry for yelling at you. You were, and still are, not like those other HiveWings. You just want to see me genuinely happy, and I'm glad for that."
Radiant got no response.
"It's okay if you're still mad at me, in fact I'd expect you to still be mad at me. I've been acting like a LeafWing's droppings ever since I got here and-- oh yeah! I got to tell you this weird thing that happened while I was out of the Hive. Oh, and I also left the Hive when I was mad at you." Radiant dryly chuckled. She waited for a response, but nothing happened. "Are you still alive in there?" she joked as she knocked on the door. The door creaked open to reveal that Locust wasn't inside. "He must be downstairs then." she said to herself. Radiant rushed downstairs to see that Locust still wasn't there and the letter that began this whole mess was ripped to shreds.
"Where are you?" she called out. She looked around the kitchen, the living room, everywhere. Locust wasn't there. "Maybe he's out getting something in the bazaar..." Radiant convinced herself. She ran out and walked into the bazaar. It was silent. None of the stalls were lit and no dragon was in the entire area (except for Radiant). She ran into the post office to see that no dragon was in there either.
"Okay, if this is a joke it's not funny!" Radiant called out. She ran to the more wealthy section and hesitantly looked into the ruler's room, which was devoid of Hornet herself or any dragon. She stepped back, too scared and panicked the admire the beautiful gold and black tapestries and walls. She ran out and went back to the house to look around more.
"Locust? Please tell me you're okay!" she called out. Radiant flew upstairs back to Locust's room and quickly ran inside. She looked around frantically before remembering what happened yesterday with Yellow Jacket Hive. "But she couldn't have taken all of them..." she whispered to herself. Radiant was about to walk out before something caught her eye. A small piece of silk paper on the ground with some writing on it. Radiant picked it up to see it was a note from Locust.
I don't know if you're reading this now, Radiant, but I'm sorry. I don't know if I'll even still be in the house when you come back if you ever come back. Wasp is rounding them all up. HiveWings, SilkWings, everybody. If I'm not here if you're reading this, don't look for me. Run as fast as you can from the Hives and hide, then you'll have some time before she finds you. I don't know where I'll go when she takes control of me, but just please don't look
Then the note stops right there. Radiant felt a pang in her heart as the realization struck her. "He's gone." She took a step back and dropped the note. She slowly grew more angry with each second that passed, all of it directed to Wasp. Radiant then shook her head, regaining her composure, and took the note.
"I'm sorry, Locust. I'm not letting you die." she said to the note, dropping it and letting it fall to the floor.
Chapter Eight, "Friend"
Radiant ran downstairs and spotted her food basket. She grabbed the entire thing and took a piece of kale from her basket to gnaw on. She walked up the stairs to the balcony and took a deep breath. She saw Wasp Hive in the distance, giving her a boost of motivation.
"Home, here I come." she whispered to herself as she opened her wings to fly. She flapped them and raised herself into the air, overlooking the savanna and began to fly to Wasp Hive. While flying, she was plagued with thoughts of what was happening to Locust. She hated thinking of what he-- no, Wasp was doing with him. She contemplated a few times on if this was the right thing. He was just another dumb HiveWing, but he was a likeable dumb HiveWing in Radiant's eyes. She sometimes broke away from her thoughts to stare at the beautiful land. She saw herds of elephants scattered across the ground with zebras being chased by the occasional lioness. The treeless wasteland was both mesmerizing and haunting to her. With each wing beat her determination to save Locust grew stronger and stronger. She contemplated the idea of finding Wasp and pounding the honey out of her, but realized she'd probably have all of Pantala on her side. While flying, she was haunted by the question she had yet to understand.
There was no reason for why Wasp would round up all of the dragons and take them to Wasp Hive. If she got all of a sudden paranoid, that would make sense, but what would she paranoid about? The burning of Bloodworm Hive, perhaps... She began to feel tired and saw the sun far in the distance setting. She flew down beside a few zebras and set up camp.
"Ughh.. Why didn't I bring a blanket?" she questioned herself. Radiant pressed herself against the dry grass and groaned. A nearby zebra walked over to her and sniffed her antennae a bit, causing them to retreat backwards.
"Go on, get." she whispered, poking the Zebra with her horns gently. The zebra snorted, as if to say "Gee, thanks for being so nice to me." and walked off to join it's family. Radiant snorted, blowing some hay off of her snout, and closed her eyes drifting off to sleep.
The next morning, Radiant woke up to a rumbling stomach. She reached into her basket for food, only to find scraps.
"Those stupid zebras!" Radiant cursed. She groaned and stoked her stomach, trying to make herself feel better. She spotted a Hive in the distance, however. If this Hive was as empty as the other Hives, perhaps Radiant could raid it and get some food. She struggled to her feet, and lifted herself into the air. The musty smell of savanna was getting old to Radiant and she just wanted to get this nightmare over with. She flew for a half an hour before reaching the Hive. The Hive had a faint orange hue to the treestuff that was built from it. She landed on the Hive to hear no sound, absolutely nothing at all.
"Abandoned like usual, good." Radiant smirked. She walked around the empty Hive, checking in small dorms and houses until coming to the center of the Hive. Instead of a bazaar being there, the Hive's palace was there.
"That's quite bizarre. Heh, 'bazaar'." Radiant chuckled to herself. She checked the doors, noticing they were unlocked.
"How convenient of them to leave the doors unlocked." She grinned. She walked inside to see a massive hall of orange and yellow stripes. She saw the throne in front of her and a room off to the right side. Radiant could practically smell the foliage coming from that room. She walked over to it, feeling happy as can be and excited to eat some quality food. She saw the inside and found herself in a greenhouse connected to the room. On the front it said "TSETSE HIVE GREENHOUSE" and inside was rows upon rows of vegetables and grain. Streams of water flowed through the greenhouse and Radiant took a deep breath before going to pick some food. Suddenly, she heard a smell yelp noise from the other side of the greenhouse. It scared her slightly, as she thought she was alone this entire time. Across a few hedges of vegetables, two white lines were moving hypnotically before curling up.
"Listen, SilkWing. Get up before I make you." Radiant snarled. The creature lifted it's head to reveal a sapphire blue and white SilkWing. It stood up slowly and cocked it's head to the side.
"I didn't know any other dragons were left behind--"
"Listen, just let me get the food and I'll get out of your scales. I don't need any more trouble." Radiant groaned. She yanked a chunk of yam out of the ground and the SilkWing screamed.
"Oh, no-no-no.. That's for the mister and mistress. I get the stuff over there. You could have some if you want." The blue SilkWing pointed to a disturbingly dank and dark pile of rotting food in the corner of the room.
"Yeah, no thanks. I'll stick with this."
"But you CAN'T! The mister and mistress will get mad if you do!" the SilkWing cried, as if it really did care for Radiant
"Oh my Clearsight," Radiant groaned. "They. Aren't. Here. I do not care if you are stuck with that disgusting pile over there. I'm taking the stuff and leaving." she yelled. Radiant yanked the rest of the yam out of the ground and began to walk over. Suddenly, she was toppled over by a force ramming into her side.
"You must not steal from the greenhouse." The SilkWing lectured, snatching the yams out of Radiant's talons and placing them back.
"Hey! I was going to eat those!"
"Stealing is wrong, you denfinetly shouldn't steal from the mister and--"
"Who even are these dragons?!" Radiant roared, causing the SilkWing to flinch.
"You-- you don't know who they are?" the blue SilkWing said, almost laughing
"Is it Tsetse or something?"
"Oh, no-no-no. Tsetse lives on that side," the SilkWing ushered her tail over to the left side.
"Okay... Then who are they?" Radiant asked. The SilkWing groaned and lifted up her front left arm. On the white scales was a nasty and ugly scar in the shape of a cricket, looking like it was burned into the dragon's scales a long time ago. Radiant held back her shock and awaited for the SilkWing to respond.
"Duchess Paralyze and Duke Cosmophasis." the SilkWing said cheerfully.
"Ugh!.. Did they like.. Brand their mark into your scales?" The SilkWing nodded. "How can you be so calm about this?"
"My name is Adonis. What's yours?" the SilkWing asked, ignoring the question. Radiant looked behind herself and looked back at Adonis in disarray.
"You know, I'll just leave." Radiant said. She walked out of the door, trying to escape from that SilkWing. She ran outside the palace and caught her breath to think. "So, Locust's parent's are kooky, crazy, and treat their SilkWings like garbage. Thank Clearsight I got the normal one in the bunch." she thought to herself. She began to think more and more of what she could do before getting interrupted by the sound of a high pitched voice.
"You leaving already?" Adonis asked.
"Yes, I am. And I would like it if you didn't follow me."
"But, there's nobody here."
"Yes, there isn't. Don't tell me you just realized that." Radiant snapped. Adonis stayed silent, as if what Radiant said was correct.
"I want to come with you." Adonis said bluntly.
"Aww, thanks... No." Radiant said and began to walk away.
"HEY! HEY! Please! Can I just come with you? It's so lonely in the palace--"
"I am, with you."
"I literally just met you a few minutes ago and now you're trusting me enough to follow me to Wasp Hive?"
"You're going to Wasp Hive?" Adonis asked. Radiant groaned and lifted herself in the air.
"Thanks for being a waste of time for me." Radiant yelled. She turned away from Tsetse Hive and began to fly towards Yellow Jacket Hive. All of a sudden, she heard a voice from behind her.
"Why are you going to Wasp Hive?" Adonis asked.
"DID I NOT JUST ASK YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE?!"
"THEN WHY AREN'T YOU LISTENING?!"
"Because I want to come with you. You seem fun." Adonis perked. Her wings were flapping uncomfortably, as if she hasn't flew in months.
Radiant sighed. "Fine! You can come with me, but if things get rough, I'm leaving you behind."
"Do you want me to knock you out of the sky right now?"
"No, not really."
"Alright, cool." Adonis and Radiant flew the rest of the way to Yellow Jacket Hive in silence. The sun was high in the sky at this point and Radiant was getting more annoyed at it.
"It was a dumb idea to go out here."
"What do you mean by that?" Adonis asked.
"I'm risking my life to save a stupid idiot."
Radiant paused. "I don't know, honestly. He's nice and pretty dumb."
"What's his name?"
"Locust." Radiant said. Adonis stayed silent for a while before speaking up again.
"Like, THE Locust? The son of the mister and mistress."
"I guess." Radiant shrugged.
"Then where's your brand?" Adonis questioned.
"Am I supposed to have a brand?"
"Yes, you are." Adonis groaned, pointing to her branding on her forearm.
Radiant just shrugged. "Don't know. Probably because he isn't a TERRIBLE person like his parents."
"Hey! Don't you say that about the mister and mistress--"
"Can you just not call them that? They aren't as important as you think."
Adonis snorted. "Really? Then who ELSE trades the SilkWings?"
"You say that like trading dragons with lives and goals like cards is a good thing." Radiant critiqued. Adonis sighed and Radiant began to fly down to Yellow Jacket Hive. Her stomach was still roaring from hunger, though hopefully this time she actually finds food without having an annoying SilkWing join her.
"You know your way around this Hive?" Radiant asked.
"I guess we're both in the same park," Radiant groaned. "Come with me, if we ever do find it you could carry extra."
"Extra what?" Adonis asked.
"Clearsight alive, is that all you think about?"
"At least I don't think about my owner all the time." Radiant snarled back before realizing why she's out here again. Radiant must have had a shift in her facial expression when she remembered because Adonis began to cackle.
"Serves you right. How about we try to find at least ONE vendor."
"Don't tell me you actually think that we're going to buy food when literally everybody else is missing from their Hives." Radiant grumbled tiredly.
"Well, it would be the right thing to do."
"Nobody is here, stupid."
"HEY! I'm not stupid!" Adonis yelled. Radiant moved her wings to show that the Hive was completely abandoned.
"Nobody's here to even take the money."
"Ugh! You're insufferable!" Radiant groaned.
"Thanks for the compliment." Adonis said smugly. Both dragons began to walk into the Hive. While walking, Radiant had to keep her eyes on Adonis, just in case she tried to do something funny. Perhaps she was working with the HiveWings and was going to try and trick Radiant into being taken away like Locust.
"So, why are you coming along with me again?"
"Same reason you are. It's my duty to keep the mister and mistress safe."
"Really? That was you job? It wasn't like being their servant or something?" Radiant joked.
"Well, weren't you technically duke Locust's servant as well?"
"Oh shut up..." Radiant rolled her eyes at Adonis and continued walking through the abandoned Hive. It was eerie and quiet, something Radiant would normally enjoy, but now that she got her wish she felt unnerved. The silence of a once busy Hive only made Radiant feel more alone, even with Adonis by her side.
"Is something wrong?" Adonis asked, breaking the silence between them. "You look scared."
Radiant quickly changed her expression to something more serious. "Scared? Ha! I'm not scared."
"Really? Cause you looked like you were about to pass out." Adonis smirked.
"Can't you be useful and go look for a stall with food or something?" Radiant snapped. Her stomach was growling more and more with each passing second.
"Can do." Adonis sighed and walked along the stalls to find food. Radiant wandered along the streets and sat down at a fountain in the center of the Hive. The fountain was made from stone and was in the shape of Wasp standing over the corpse of a LeafWing. She could see Adonis looking over for food far away and realized she could just run away this moment. She could just fly away and not have to have Adonis on her tail constantly.
But she wouldn't. She didn't want to leave her all alone. Locust wouldn't be pleased about that for starters, but something about her told her that she couldn't just leave Adonis alone. Not when both are looking for their friends, even if Adonis's 'friends' are her owners. "Hey, bluey! Found any food?" Radiant yelled from across the bazaar.
"Don't call me 'bluey'!" Adonis yelled. "Also I found pieces of lion tail. They still look fresh!" She held up three unskinned tails above her head and waved them around. Radiant gagged and waved her talons.
"Have you seen literally anything ELSE but meat?"
"Nope, not yet!" Adonis yelled as she threw back the tails and walked over to Radiant. "Clearsight alive, you yell pretty loud. My voice hurts just talking to you from over there."
"You were like a hundred feet from me."
"Yeah, I know! It's insane isn't it?" Adonis exclaimed. Radiant let out a long sigh and stretched out her wings. "You have pretty wings." Adonis said, pointing to Radiant's red and white wings.
"Err, thanks? You have nice wings too, I guess." Radiant inspected her own wings and tried to wonder what Adonis saw in them that looked 'pretty'. Both dragons sat in silence for a while before Adonis spoke up again.
"What Hive are you from?" she asked.
"Why do you want to know?"
"Being from different Hives can explain why your personality is like it is. You look like you're from Jewel Hive."
"I'm from Wasp Hive." Radiant spoke in a dull tone.
There was a brief moment of silence between both dragons before Adonis spoke again.
"Wow... How can you be so mean then?"
"Hey! I'm not 'mean'. I'm perfectly fine personality wise." Radiant smirked. Adonis stared at her slack-jawed and shook her head a bit before talking again.
"I just didn't expect you to be like that. Usually Wasp Hive SilkWings are--"
"Docile? Nice? Indoctrinated like you?"
"I'm sorry, 'indoctrinated'? Do I look like a mindless slave?"
"You practically worship Locust's parents."
"You're going on a suicide mission to save him."
"So are you."
Adonis kept quiet for a minute. "You do have a point..." she shrugged.
"Back to the point, why did you want to know where I was from?"
"Because, I've only been from Tsetse Hive and I've never really met any SilkWings from any other Hive except Jewel Hive."
"The mister and mistress got another servant once."
"What happened to them?" Radiant leaned in to listen carefully, curious as to if anything happened to this unnamed SilkWing.
"They were like you, but they said something at the wrong time and place. They were sent somewhere to 'have a talk about their thoughts on Wasp' and I've never seen them since."
Radiant didn't know how to respond for the longest of time. She decided to try and change the subject since she was still starving and needed food. "Well, that sucks. You hungry? I can go find the food you couldn't find."
"It's not like it wasn't TRYING to find food, just that you're picky."
"Not my fault that I hate the taste of meat."
"Well, why's that?" Adonis questioned.
"I-- err... I don't really want to say-- can you just sit here and wait for me to get some food?" Radiant snapped. Adonis sat still and Radiant turned to the stands. A cool breeze flew through Radiant's antennae as she walked over to a lavender purple coloured stand. Inside were red gems, small blankets, and tiny figures of Wasp. She rolled her eyes and moved onto a golden yellow bar not too far off. She jumped over the stools and walked in the kitchen to see charred meat over a barely flickering fire. Radiant kept on searching the bar to find a small crate with the words "GREENS' on it. She grabbed it and walked out of the bar and back to Adonis.
"You're back! I half expected you to just leave me."
Radiant thought about replying with 'Yeah, I don't know why I'm not gone yet', but decided just to keep quiet. "I found some food." the red dragon said. She stabbed a talon into the edge of the crate and wedged it open to reveal a load of cabbage and radishes.
"Ooh! You picked a nice one," Adonis picked up a radish and tapped it. "It's not all mushy and gross." Radiant grabbed a cabbage and peeled off a bit of it before chowing down.
"Perhaps we should rest here for the night. Find some more food to bring with us and book it to Wasp Hive." Radiant said. Adonis looked at her radish and sighed.
"But maybe we shouldn't..."
"What do you mean by that? Of course we're going there!"
"I mean, like you said it's a suicide mission. If we go there and she finds out we escaped the collection, she'll hang us!" Adonis cried. Radiant let out a deep sigh.
"I didn't come this far to chicken out. Listen, we go in there and we find that family. I'm not dying until I find him and keep him safe." Radiant gave Adonis a empty smile and got up. "How about we make a fire?"
"A fire? Here? Why?"
"Because why not?"
"You can burn the entire Hive down!"
"So? Nobody unevolved with get hurt. I could break the fountain and fill it with treestuff--"
"Break the fountain?! Are you mad?"
"Maybe, but it'll be fun. You need some fun in your sad life."
"My life isn't sad!" Adonis yelled. Radiant raised her left eyebrow and walked away from the fountain. She went to some market and started to pull apart stands that had a bit of treestuff attached to it. After half an hour Radiant got quite a few talonfuls of it and went back to Adonis, whom was still sitting at the fountain.
"Can you help me disable the fountain?" Radiant asked, putting down the mountain of treestuff. Adonis shook her head and Radiant grumbled to herself. She then went to the mountain of treestuff and looked around for something to start the fire. She picked up two tiny sticks ang began to rub them together on the floor of the bazaar. After a few minutes, a small spark appeared and the treestuff caught on fire. Radiant stepped back from the flames and sat on the fountain with Adonis, who was scooting father from the flames as the seconds went by.
"Can you NOT though?" Adonis questioned.
"Not what? This is fun." Radiant pointed to the now growing flames and made a weak smile.
"I don't find it fun. We're just burning property of others." Adonis said, grabbed another radish from the box.
"Aw, you're no fun." Radiant waved her talons in the air, dismissing Adonis. Both stared into the fire for a minute or two before Adonis spoke up again.
"I didn't get your name, by the way."
"My name?" Radiant asked before remembering them both at Tsetse Hive, how Adonis introduced herself and Radiant just walked away. "Oh, yeah. It's Radiant."
"That's a nice name, though you're anything BUT radiant."
"Hey!" Radiant yelled, though she was too tired to argue with Adonis again.
Both dragons kept quiet for a long time afterwards; it was only until the small cinders of the fire burned up when Radiant spoke up again. It was nightfall and the crickets were beginning to hum and play in her ears.
"I think I'm going to sleep—" Radiant cut herself off to see Adonis sleeping on the side of the fountain, wrapped up in her blue wings. Radiant got up and wandered through the bazaar. It was peaceful, quiet. The smell of the breeze filled her nostrils and the only noise besides the crickets were the sounds of Radiant's footsteps echoing through the Hive.
For once, Radiant felt at peace. That was until the reminder of why she was here struck her once more. The breeze blew though the bazaar, chilling Radiant. She noticed a small stand nearby and walked over to it. In it was a collection of blankets and carpets. Unsurprisingly, she took them all and went back to the fountain. The sounds of running water soothed her ears more and more as she came closer to it. She laid the carpets and blankets down on the ground and was about to sleep before noticing Adonis, cold and alone. She could see her shivering, and almost muttering in her sleep. Radiant got up, picked the SilkWing up from off the fountain and placed her on the floor. Radiant then laid down a carpet and placed a few blankets on Adonis before crawling back into her own bundle of warmth. She rested her head on her talons and drifted off to sleep.
Chapter Nine, "Wasp"
Radiant flicked her eyes open and stretched her antennae. She looked to the sky to see a clear blue day was waiting for her, beckoning for her to soar into it. She looked to her side to see Adonis already up and eating a piece of cabbage.
"Took you long enough to wake up." Adonis criticized.
"Oh shut up." Radiant grumbled to herself.
"I heard that!" Adonis smirked. "Anyways, how was your sleep?"
"Decent. Dreamt of being swallowed up by the ground only to then be mocked at by my History teacher. It was dark, cold, and I was all alone... Everybody, pointing their talons at me and Wasp was there, looking into my soul practical..."
"Cool, I dreamt of me flying through the sky and shooting silk out of my eyes." Adonis then swallowed the rest of the leaf right up.
"Err... Neat? Anyways, let's get out of here. Hopefully Wasp is there so I can--"
"You can what, exactly?"
"Don't know. I want to hurt her, a lot."
"Why?" Adonis questioned. Radiant pointed to the burn mark of Adonis's leg and continued.
"She let your 'mister and mistress' do that to you."
Adonis looked at her own leg and let out a shallow sigh. "It would've been nice if I didn't have this branding."
"That's the spirit! Up rise against your owners, gather a following, and begin a REVOLUTION!" Radiant curled her talons into a fist and lifted her front legs into the air, shaking them at the sky.
"Shush, keep it down."
"Why? Nobody is here."
"You're too loud." Adonis covered her ears with her talons, trying to block out Radiant's words.
"Oh come on now. Let's just pack up and go," Radiant shrugged and walked away, ushering Adonis to follow. Radiant grabbed the box of radishes and cabbages and looked over to Adonis. "You got a bag to carry this in?"
"Shoot, then I guess we just take the crate," Radiant cursed. "Do you want to carry it?"
"Yeah, sure. Maybe we can take turns." Adonis grabbed the box out of Radiant's claws and lifted herself into the sky.
"Wait for me, why don't you?" Radiant critiqued, opening up her wings and soaring into the sky. She looked over into the distance to see Wasp Hive and what looks like dragons circling it in a straight pattern. Radiant felt... Scared. She wanted to go over there, she wanted to SAVE Locust, but something was blocking her.
"Are you going to fly still while keeping me waiting?" Adonis asked, breaking Radiant out of her funk a bit.
"I... No. I'm not. We're going to Wasp Hive!" Radiant yelled, speeding off towards the Hive. She dove down a few feet above the ground and hovered over the savanna, the wing blowing around her antennae. She looked up to see Wasp Hive slowly getting closer to her and she flew back up high into the air, slowing herself down.
"What was that all about?" Adonis questioned, quickly gaining on Radiant. She didn't answer the question and instead stayed silent. The feeling of fear never left her. That feeling of 'NO! This is a terrible idea!' never once gave her mercy. Yet, she wanted to do anything in her power to drag that green idiot back to safety.
Radiant just sighed. "Let's just get there." she said confidently, or, at least Radiant thought she said it confidently. She hoped Adonis got the hint that she didn't want to talk now, which seemed to be true since they didn't speak with each other until they were nearing the base of the Hive. Radiant could see nearly fifty dragons circling the entire Hive, keeping watch.
"Adonis, listen to me carefully. When I say go, we fly as fast as we can into that ledge over there." She lifted her front arm up to point to a rather low entrance into the Hive. Both dragons slowed to a stop and landed on the ground, waiting for the perfect opportunity. A nearby dragon circled around the Hive and just out of sight of them.
"GO!" Radiant yelled as she took off. She sped over to the ledge, flying faster and harder than she would ever in her life. Any moment now a HiveWing can come around and spot her and Adonis, turning them into Wasp. She was nearing the ledge when she began to hear the sounds of a wingbeat that didn't belong to her or Adonis. She kept on flying, hoping and praying to Clearsight that she'd make it, when she landed on the platform and hid behind the entrance. Radiant took a deep breath and waiting for the wingbeats to stop, before looking to her left to see Adonis there, out of breath as well. Radiant waited till the wingbeats faded away to begin to move again.
“That was close...” Adonis noted.
“Too close,” Radiant added on. They travelled through the inner workings of Wasp Hive, which was a deep tunnel where Misbehaviors Way was built. Radiant recognized the tunnels from her times traveling through to be punished, and with it came painful memories. "Come on, this way." Radiant said, pushing away her thoughts. She led Adonis through the tunnels to a door.
"We don't have a key..." said Adonis.
"W-- we don't need a key!..." Radiant snapped, trying to keep her voice down. "It's wooden." she added on. She whacked her tail against the door, smashing a bit of it apart. Adonis joined in and soon enough the door fell down with a bang.
"So much to silence..." Adonis complained as she walked through the opening. Inside was a stairwell leading upwards towards a light. Radiant felt a shiver run down her spine as she walked towards it. She went up the stairs and to another door, wiggling the knob and opening it up. Radiant then walked into the room as painful memories flooded back. It was a classroom. Desks sat empty and were rather dusty.
"A school?" Adonis questioned.
"Yeah, can we just get out of here quickly?" Radiant snapped. She passed by the desks, one of which scratched and maimed intensely. Adonis seemed to smirk at it.
"Rowdy dragonet, huh?" she said, pointing at the desk. Radiant didn't answer. All she wanted to do was leave the classroom. She went to the door and slammed it open.
"How about we just stay quiet?" suggested Radiant. She walked out of the classroom and into the rest of the abandoned school. Posters of Wasp and propaganda flyers made up most of the walls, staring down at Radiant.
"There, the doors." Adonis pointed out, reaching out her talons towards two doors far down the hall.
"I know." Radiant growled.
"You're in a bad mood..." Adonis pointed out, yet a hint of fear was in her voice.
"Oh, you noticed?" Radiant mocked. They continued down the hall and to the doors. Adonis peered out through the windows when her jaw dropped.
"What? Are there thousands of dragons outside?" Radiant asked.
"No, surprisingly. It's dead." Adonis corrected. She moved aside to let Radiant see. Radiant walked over and stared through the window to see an entirely empty Hive.
"It could be a trap." Radiant noted.
"So what should we do then?" Adonis asked.
Radiant stayed quiet for a minute, thinking about that question. "One of us goes out for a minute. If they notice us, run."
"That's a dumb idea." Adonis said.
"What else do we have?"
"We could leave."
"But your owners and Locust could be dead by now and we'd never know. I want at least some knowledge on what in Clearsight's name is going on." Radiant snarled.
"Woah, woah, fine. I'll go out." Adonis offered.
"Be my guest." Radiant slowly opened the door and Adonis walked outside.
It was quiet; too quiet for Wasp Hive. It was usually incredibly loud and populated when Radiant was there, so being there and having it be so quiet that she could hear her own breathing uneased Radiant. She watched Adonis walk out the door and her heart stopped for a second, waiting as to what would happen. It felt like a year passed before Adonis looked back to Radiant.
"I think it's clear..." she whispered. Radiant nervously head out of the building, awaiting for HiveWings to come and take her away for the last time. She stepped out into the light, feeling the warm sun on her scales, and found herself fine.
"Okay... We're not dead..." Radiant pointed out.
"Maybe we can explore where everybody is." Radiant suggested. Adonis shrugged and stood still.
"Well, go on. I don't know where everything is." The blue SilkWing mentioned. Radiant began to walk through the streets, abandoned like the previous Hives before. However, her antennae sensed something happening further ahead in the Hive, a stirring of dragons. They soon happened upon the main palace, doors shut tight.
"There's probably some windows around here... You can feel something in there, right?" Radiant asked, her antennae straightening out before curling back in. Adonis nodded and lifted herself into the air.
"I can hear something," Adonis said. "Up there." she pointed towards an opening in the walls further up the palace. Radiant lifted her wings and flew up towards the opening, slowly getting closer to the noise. It sounded like... Arguing? Why would some dragon be talking away when something serious is going on outside of the walls? Radiant got to the window then peered in to see two green HiveWings and a yellow HiveWing arguing. The sight of the yellow HiveWing instantly put Radiant on edge as a familiar feeling of fear and hate came back.
She was staring directly at Wasp.
Radiant stared at Adonis, shaking her head and moving her antennae towards the ground. Adonis seemed to understand and flew straight down towards the ground. Radiant was about to follow soon after, but a feeling hit her. She didn't come all the way here for nothing, this was her shot to learn what was going on. She lowered herself out of sight of the window and listened in.
"My queen, what you're doing is reckless." a stern voice spoke.
“It's for our safety! This, all of this, it's for MY kingdom. MY kingdom that I built from the ashes of that war long before." a hostile voice rejected.
"Queen Wasp." the hostile voice corrected.
"Queen Wasp, what you're doing is careless. You band all of the SilkWings, HiveWings and those... LeafWings together and expect peace?"
"There will be peace, and if the both of you disagree I'll slice your necks right here." Radiant then heard a terrible scraping sound, like claws against stone.
"There's no need to get violent; it's just that it's crowded here in Wasp Hive with the other dragons. Paralyze and I are... Concerned for you. You're making rash choices. You'll endanger our heir to our business, if you haven't already killed him."
"He's not dead, far from it. I can see the brat's currently in the shelters like everybody else." Wasp snarled.
"Shelters..." Radiant thought to herself, trying to remember if there were any shelters even in Wasp Hive. Nothing came up. The mission was in vain. Suddenly, Wasp began to screech.
"So what if I am?!" Wasp yelled. "When everything is under my control, that blasted voice will stop pestering me!..."
"That's what we're worried about, you're..."
"I'm what? Say it!" Wasp hissed.
"You've gone off the deep end." a voice admitted. Suddenly, a scream broke out from the room followed soon by a thud. Radiant quickly flew off the building and down to Adonis.
"What took you so long?" Adonis said. Radiant shushed her and ran from the building.
"Go! Go! GO!" she yelled. She ran towards the entrance of the Hive, adrenaline pumping through her body. The buzz of a HiveWing's wings came and went as Radiant flew off the Hive and down into the savanna, desperate to make it to safety.
"What happened?" Adonis yelled.
"Wasp happened, that's what happened." Radiant screamed back. They glided along the savanna before reaching the cusp of Dragonfly Bay. Adonis began to slow down, panting and sweating from exhaustion.
"Can we... rest?" she pleaded. Radiant slowed to a halt and grabbed onto Adonis' tail, stopping her.
"Sure, but if anything starts to come for us we're moving on out." Radiant explained. She moved her tail and patted down the grass, creating a little circle for her to rest in.
“What happened up there?” The sapphire SilkWing began. “You said Wasp happened, was Wasp there?”
“Of course she was there!” Radiant growled.
“There’s no need to get upset, I was just asking,” Adonis explained. She sat down in the grass and took a deep sigh. “Are the mister and mistress okay?”
Radiant stayed quiet for a minute. “I saw two green HiveWings with Wasp, one called the other ‘Paralyze’.”
“The mistress was there?” Adonis perked up, a smile forming across her face.
“They were arguing,” Radiant continued, swiftly robbing Adonis of her joy. “Wasp has gone mad and when they tried to help her she...”
“All I heard was a thud and a scream.” Radiant said. Adonis looked over to Wasp Hive in the distance and turned herself around from Radiant.
“Let’s go in ten minutes.” Adonis choked out. Radiant watched the waves from the nearby bay come in and out when she heard a noise coming from Adonis. A sob. Radiant looked over to see the dragon curled up, crying. She got up and walked over to Adonis, checking her out. She then sat down and rested her talons on Adonis.
“It’s okay...” Radiant assured. She felt pity for Adonis, which was a odd feeling. Why should she feel pity for a dragon she just met? Radiant didn’t know why, but she just wanted to comfort Adonis.
“It’s not okay...” Adonis replied.
“Can’t argue with that, but we’ll just... Run away. Maybe go to Jewel Hive or somewhere and camp there.”
“Why should we? She’s just going to find and kill us anyways...”
“I’m trying to make you feel better, let me make you feel better.” Radiant snarled through her teeth.
“It’s not working, but thanks.” Adonis gave Radiant a hollow smile.
“We can go when you’re ready. You need a break; after all it was a pretty intense journey back home.”
“Your home, remember?”
“Right.” Radiant remembered. Adonis stood up and shook some dirt off her scales.
“I feel a bit better. Come on, Jewel Hive is right there!” She said, pointing to the Hive in the distance. She flew into the air and Radiant followed soon after. They hovered over the bay, the coolness of the water chilling Radiant’s scales. She could see fish in the water, swimming and splashing about. Radiant would’ve been at peace if it weren’t for what just happened at Wasp Hive.
Minutes later they reached the other shore of the bay and made their way to Jewel Hive.
“Bets are it’s empty and we have the whole thing to ourselves?” Radiant smirked.
“Probably...” Adonis wheezed.
“It’s just a bit more, you can handle it weak-wings.”
“Don’t call me ‘weak-wings’, please and thank you.” Adonis grumbled.
“You’re no fun.” Radiant complained as she soared up to the entrance of the Hive. Just like they thought, it looked dead as ever. Despite the beautiful decorations, the streets were empty and lifeless all all other Hives. Radiant looked back to see Adonis huffing and wheezing on up to the Hive.
“Never... Again...” she wheezed as she flopped onto the floor.
“Come on, get up. We got to go look for some food at the Glitterbazaar.” Radiant held out her talons to Adonis, helping her up.
“I think... We’re in it.” Adonis noted, looking around. Lanterns and gorgeous drawings were practically in Radiant’s face as what looked like an infinite amount of stands, shops, and stalls laid. It was far bigger than she could ever have imagined. The smell of food rushed through her nostrils as she ran towards a nearby stall.
“Honey drops!” She cried. She jumped over the stall and into a crate of honey drops. The sweet savory aura put Radiant at ease.
“Honey drops? Can I have one?” Adonis asked.
Radiant grabbed a single honey drop from the crate and gave it to Adonis. “Your share.”
“Seriously? Only one?”
“You did say ‘can I have ONE’.” Radiant explained as she began to shovel drop after drop into her mouth.
“I’ll go find my own.” Adonis huffed as she walked off.
"Suit yourself." Radiant reached for another drop only to find nothing was in there. She ate them all. Radiant stretched her claws in the air and stepped out of the stall and into the rest of the bazaar. She searched out Adonis, following the sounds of clattering objects and disgruntled groans. She happened upon a shop nearby, one that had a sign saying "BLADDERWORT'S BLANKETS". Radiant wandered over to the store, gazing upon tens, if not hundreds of blankets. Some purple, some orange, others white, and quite a few forest green. She placed a bunch of blankets onto her back and carried a few more out of the shop and to the center of the Glitterbazaar, where a intimidating statue of Wasp and a LeafWing stood.
"Finished stuffing yourself?" Radiant called out to a nearby shop, where sounds of pans clacking rang through her own ears.
"Mhgn!" a voice called back.
"Come out here when you're done, you can't just expect me to set up camp all by myself." Radiant groaned. She placed down all of the blankets at the center and explored around a little bit. She admired the lanterns and how surprisingly claustrophobic it all was. She saw countless shops squeezed together so uncomfortably. Shops selling gems, jewelry, food, music even all there in front of her. Radiant decided to finally get Adonis out of the shop she was in to help her build camp. While walking back, she could see... Something. It looked like a pile of something not there before with Adonis right there.
"Hey Adon-- what is that?" Radiant spoke from behind, realizing that Adonis was staking all of the blankets on top of each other to create a mountain of blankets.
"It's a blanket fort."
"Don't tell me you never had a blanket fort before." Adonis looked at Radiant, confused.
"Never. It looks like a waste of time." Radiant grumbled, staring at the amalgamation of blankets.
"Come, I used to build these all the time when I was little." Adonis hopped inside of the mass, disappearing amongst the fabric and thread.
"Oh come on..." Radiant sighed. She began to pick apart the 'fort' and set the blankets on the ground.
Adonis peeked her head through the mountain and gasped. "You're taking it apart? Why?"
"It's useless and dumb."
"No it's not."
"Yes it is," Radiant rebutted. "We're not going to waste a bunch of blankets on a giant hill for your entertainment."
"Hgn... Fine." Adonis crawled out and helped Radiant take apart the fort begrudgingly.
Soon after most of the floor around the statue of Wasp was lined with blankets. Radiant grabbed a few extra blankets and sat down on them.
"So where do I sleep?" Adonis questioned.
"There. I put the blue blankets right over there." Radiant pointed towards a few blue blankets a bit away from her.
"I see." Adonis walked over, grabbed the blankets, and walked back.
"You want to sleep closer to me?" Radiant asked.
"Yeah, just in case something were to happen I wouldn't have to walk four miles to get to you." Adonis joked as she set down the blankets. A cold breeze blew through the Hive, forcing Radiant to curl up under a blanket.
"I just wanted to say... Thank you." Radiant began.
"Thank me for what?"
"Being a really good friend." Radiant turned her head towards Adonis, who seemed happy, yet something in her eyes seemed a bit... Upset.
"F-- friend?" Adonis wondered.
"Just a friend?.. Okay then." Adonis flipped over onto her other side.
"Are you mad at me?" Radiant sat up.
"No, no, it's nothing. Night." Adonis said sharply.
"Well, night to you." Radiant grumbled back. Adonis put her in a bit of a bad mood, but why? Is she upset that they're friends? Radiant didn't know why. She couldn't understand why Adonis seemed... Upset at her. Radiant didn't want to spend too much time staying up thinking about it. She was just glad to have some information on if Locust was alive and to make it out of Wasp Hive alive. She closed her eyes as the chirping of crickets put her to sleep.
Chapter Ten, "Sky"
Radiant wandered around the savanna, scared and out of breath. All around her was endless tall grass, no Hives, no animals, nothing. She couldn't smell anything, nor hear the wind. She was all alone in an endless field.
"Adonis? Anybody? Hello?" she called out in hope somebody would answer. All she was met with was a deafening silence. Suddenly, a noise. The grass rustling from right behind her. She turned around, all of a sudden feeling happy. She was met with a HiveWing, though their face was darkened. She couldn't see what colour their eyes were, what their face looked like, nothing at all. Radiant wanted to call out their name, but couldn't. She knew their name, right? She wouldn't forget one of her closest friend's name, right? With each passing second their green scales slowly washed out, turning into a grey colour. Radiant couldn't forget what they looked like, it's only been a few weeks since she last saw them. She reached out to touch them, hoping it would trigger something with her memory, but instead they jumped back away from her.
"Why did you leave me?" the dragon asked. Radiant recognized the soft voice, but didn't know who it belonged to.
"I don't know! I was stupid and--" Radiant began before the dragon sank into the grass. "Don't leave me!" she pleaded, running over to where the dragon stood. "Don't leave me all alone!..." she cried. The savanna around her began to shift and change, turning into a corridor. A sudden feeling that she needed to run to the other end took hold of her and she began to run. Footsteps trailed behind her as voices mocked her and began to scratch at her tail. Radiant looked back to see the misshapen faces of three yellow HiveWings, though she still knew them.
"Come back you rat!" one hissed. The others laughed along and Radiant felt true terror as she continued to run. The door leading out of the corridor was right there, yet the hallway seemed to get longer and longer. The laughter of the HiveWings behind her sent chills down her spine as their claws sank into her tail. Amazingly, she reached the end of the corridor and was greeted with a door, which she then promptly ran through and locked behind her. She pressed her body against the door as the screeches from the HiveWings and the scratching filled her ears.
"Let us in!" one roared as they all began to bang at the door.
"Please, leave me alone!" Radiant begged. Eventually, the banging stopped. Radiant slowly walked from the door until it fully disappeared. She looked around her new surroundings, a empty black room that seemed to go on forever. Yet, something was in the distance. Two figures. Radiant ran towards them, then slowed down when realizing what they were. It was two bodies, one ruby and garnet red and another white as an opal, hanging from a rope that was tied around their necks. Radiant felt rage, pity, and confusion all at the bodies, blaming them for everything that happened to her. If they never disobeyed Wasp, she wouldn't have been trapped at that school for years of her life. Suddenly, the floor below her seemed to disappear as she began to fall. She looked down to see the fastly approaching ground and braced herself, before jolting awake.
"Clearsight alive..." she mumbled to herself, placing her talons where her heart was. She wiped her face with her other arm, realizing that she was crying. "Don't need Adonis seeing that." she whispered, looking over to see Adonis snoring obnoxiously loud. She got up and looked over to her side for some food, only to find the rations empty again. Radiant exhaled and got up out of her bed (or 'Nest' as Adonis would say) and walked over to Adonis, pushing her awake.
"Mhn, why did you wake me up?..." Adonis questioned.
"We're out of food, again." Radiant explained.
"What do you need me for then?" Adonis flipped over on her side. "You can get some yourself."
"That's the problem. I can, but it'll be difficult. We're running out of food."
Adonis's eyes snapped open. "Wait, what?"
"We'll have to switch Hives soon."
"Wasn't there enough food for another month here?"
"We already went through that month's rations in a few weeks."
"Moons..." Adonis cursed. "At some point we might as well just farm."
Radiant laughed. "Farm? HA!" she kept laughing before silencing herself when Adonis stared at her blankly, unamused.
"Fine... Today, you can just gather up all of the supplies and we'll fly to Mantis Hive, I'll keep watch."
"Just gather the stuff. If nothing happens I'll join you." Radiant said, beginning to walk away from Adonis. She looked to the stands and felt her stomach rumble a bit, wanting more food from the already empty stands. They picked clean of the entire floor fast and it wasn't too long before they nearly ate everything else in the Glitterbazaar, which disturbed Radiant a bit at how gluttonous they were. She reached the entrance and flew up to the top of the Hive, looking at the sunrise. The sun crawled into the sky over in the east, much to Radiant's disliking. She looked to Wasp Hive in the distance, staring at a few dragons who were circling around it still. She sat down at the top, having her tail and off of the edge.
Radiant began to think about her dream, specifically when she was in the savanna. The green HiveWing... "His name is Locust, he's your friend." Radiant mentally told herself, almost relieved to remember what he looked like. She imagined Locust's nice warm smile, his hugs when she was feeling down, everything. Then, a feeling came over her. Guilt. She felt... Angry at herself for how she treated Locust back then. She wished she was nicer to him when... When he was still around. No, no, he isn't dead. He can't be dead.
Radiant shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. She stared back off into the sun, which irritated her eyes because she was staring at the giant flaming ball of gas. Everything was peaceful, the wind was still, the waves of the ocean were calming, and the ocean birds were coming in. At least, she thinks those are ocean birds. She looked at a flock of birds in the distance, confused as to why they'd be out so far into the ocean. Then, the flock seemed to get bigger the closer they got to the land. Radiant squinted her eyes, when she noticed something. They weren't birds, they were dragons.
"What in the name of Clearsight?!" Radiant thought as she looked closer at the dragons. They had only two wings, much like LeafWings; however they didn't look like LeafWings. Radiant didn't know what LeafWings usually looked like, but she can certainly say that they didn't come in shades of yellow, white, brown, black, blue, and red. The flock got closer and she could make out some more details, like how a a few white ones had spikes all over their necks and tails and how yellow ones had weird things all along their body.
Radiant began to panic. "They're coming to kill me..." she whispered irrationally. She slipped off the edge and flew down towards the entrance of the Hive. She flew inside and began to call for Adonis. "ADONIS! ADONIS HELP!"
"What?" Adonis yelled from across the Hive. Radiant flew over to Adonis, who was near a jewelry store.
"LeafWings, but they're weird-- dragons coming from the ocean--" Radiant stammered.
"Speak normally for moons sake." Adonis snapped.
"There's weird dragons coming to the continent!" Radiant explained.
"Yellow, white, black-- they're not normal. Some had too many spikes and--"
"Just... Calm down. Maybe you didn't get enough sleep." Adonis reasoned.
"Come, I'll show you." Radiant grabbed Adonis's talons and led her through the Hive.
"Could you maybe slow down?" Adonis suggested. Radiant didn't respond, wanting to show the weird dragons to Adonis. They reached the entrance of the Hive and dragged Adonis up into the air, pointing to the sunrise.
"Over there, you can see them, right?" she said. Adonis stared slack-jawed.
"How many did you see, Radiant?" Adonis whispered.
"Ten, maybe fifteen." Radiant answered.
"Really? Because it looks like there's a few more." She pointed towards the sunrise, to where Radiant realized what Adonis meant.
There were hundreds, if not thousands of dragons far behind the first group of dragons.
"Panic?" Radiant said.
"Panic." Adonis replied. The dragons ran back inside the Hive and dove into a nearby bar to hide.
"Who are they?" Radiant asked herself.
"I think they're dragons." Adonis pointed out.
"Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure I noticed." Radiant snapped back.
"I was joking!..." The blue SilkWing whispered back.
"Not a very funny joke," Radiant shifted to get into a more comfortable position. "Maybe if we just sit here and hide they'll just leave?" she suggested.
"What makes you think they're out to get us?"
"Why else would a billion dragons be heading towards the continent?"
"Don't know, though hopefully we don't get caught in... whatever they're doing." Adonis sighed.
"Hopefully they just go away and it'll all go back to nor--" Radiant was interrupted halfway through her sentence when the earth itself seemed to shake. A loud crash lashed at Radiant's ears, causing her extreme pain.
"What in moons sake?--" Adonis began. She stood up and jumped out of the bar. Radiant followed soon after, wishing to not be alone while whatever was happening outside. Adonis paused when reaching the entrance of the Hive. More crashes and shakes disturbed the still Hive, knocking over stands and displays. Radiant got to Adonis's side and what felt like a wall of sound crashed into her, knocking her back slightly. When she stabilized herself, she saw the savanna outside. Countless of small bursts of flame and fire were dotted across the floor. The strange dragons (mostly red and orange ones) dropped... Something and when it hit the floor it exploded. Radiant wanted to run, to fly away from the mayhem, but her body tensed up. She couldn't move.
Through the chaos, she could see the dragons that once circled Wasp Hive disappear into the Hive. Suddenly, Radiant had an idea. "Wasp will probably have her dragons attack the weird dragons!" she yelled a bit too loudly.
"What makes you think that?" Adonis cried, trying to talk over the constant explosions.
"Do you really think Wasp will just let a bunch of dragons attack her land?" Radiant pointed out.
Adonis stayed silent for a bit. "Maybe," she yelled back. "Can we at least get OUT of the way of the explosions? I don't want to lose my hearing."
"Fine... My eyes are getting irritated from the dust too..." Radiant groaned as she slipped out of the way of the entrance, her heart still pounding with adrenaline. She looked over to her left and saw Adonis with her wings wrapped around her head. Radiant wrapped her tail around her and pulled her closer to her.
"Everything will be okay... We have a chance to get Locust and your... Mister and Mistress back." Radiant tried to assure Adonis. Yet another crash boomed in their ears and Radiant pulled Adonis and herself farther from the entrance.
A few minutes of silence passed by, which eased Radiant. Maybe the weird dragons were gone and everything will be okay. Then, a noise. It was the sound of loud, annoying, wing-beats, and a lot of them too.
Radiant shook Adonis, getting her attention. "I think they're coming." Radiant explained. She got up and ran to the entrance, to which she was greeted with hundreds of dragons soaring through the sky. They were all HiveWings and SilkWings, which gave her hope. She tried to look through the flock of dragons in the distance, trying to find a few green ones, yet it was near impossible through the mob of yellow, orange, red, and black. They were flying towards Dragonfly Bay, where a bit of the army of weird dragons stood.
"Are we really doing this?" Adonis questioned, her voice wavering a bit as though she was on the verge of tears.
"Of course, I'm not passing up an opportunity like this." Radiant confirmed. She leaped over the edge of the Hive and began to soar towards the mob of dragons. She was hoping that she'd blend in and snag Locust, but knew that would've been far from reality. She was getting closer, but the swarm of Pantala dragons got to the army first. Without warning, both sides began to charge at each other as war-cries and yells echoed through the savanna.
"This is it." she thought as she dove down into the chaos.
Chapter Eleven, "War"
Radiant landed right near an orange SilkWing, who was up against a weird black dragon. She stared at the black dragon, as if it was something out of a legend. It looked like Clearsight herself. No, no distractions. She can't be thinking of anything other than getting Locust and getting out. She ran through the swarm of fangs, claws, and even bursts of fire coming from the odd dragons. She was getting hit at all sides, but not so much to the point where she was bleeding. Chaos surrounded her at all sides. Dragons mindlessly attacking other dragons, bodies falling onto the savanna floor, madness all around. Dust was kicked up to her eyes, irritating them immensely.
Radiant looked around to see an orange SilkWing and ran to them. She was about to ask why this was all happening, but noticed something about them was off. They moved almost atomically and their eyes were white. "No, it can't be... Only HiveWings could be under Wasp's control..." thought Radiant as she stepped back. Suddenly, she felt a swift stab in her tail. She turned back to see a massive bulky dragon stomping down on her tail. She was disturbed by them immensely, but didn't quite have the time to process how they were a massive freak.
"OW!" she screamed. She yanked her tail away and stared at the dragon in hate. "Can't you call off your troops?"
"You aren't mind controlled?" the dragon asked.
"OBVIOUSLY! Now answer the question." Radiant snarled back.
"You need to get out of here, you can lose your life he-- DUCK!" the dragon moved towards Radiant, who instinctively ran from the boar-like dragon. She turned to see the dragon was now on top of a HiveWing, clawing and scratching at them. The dragon saved her life. She stepped away from the dragons, trying to run before blood starts to spill. Radiant ran through the dust and flames, at this point desperate to try and escape. She was about to fly up and out of the nightmare, when something caught her eye. A forest green dot in the corner of her eye. A warm feeling of hope filled Radiant as she began to run towards it. The dot grew bigger and Radiant could make out more and more of it's features. She could see four wings, a long green tail, the black spots on it's wings.
It was Locust.
Radiant nearly broke down crying right there, happy to finally see her friend again. At this point the bruises and scrapes from the other fighting dragons didn't matter to her. The pain was nullified by her joy to at last return things back to normal. But, by the time she got to Locust she saw another figure. A yellow dragon was brawling Locust, and by the looks of it losing. The yellow dragon's sail was ripped and torn, blood oozing from it's legs, and had a massive claw mark on it's neck. Suddenly, Locust lunged at the dragon mindlessly. She tried to look away from it. but her eyes refused. She saw Locust claw and scratch at the dragon, each swipe causing it to howl in pain. It tried to open its mouth, perhaps to breathe fire, but Locust clamped the dragon's mouth shut and continued his assault. Radiant's heart skipped a beat when Locust tore off the barbed tail on the dragon, causing it to writhe in agony. Locust stood up from the body, as the dragon laid immobile and still.
"It's not Locust doing it, it's not Locust doing it..." Radiant repeated as Locust began to seek out a new target. She could see his eyes purely white and void of any and all emotion. The once warm smile and laugh he gave now dead as ever. Then, a shadow passed over Radiant. Yet another fleet of the weird dragons were soaring overhead. The other weird dragons began to run away and Radiant felt a sudden realization in her heart. She needed to get Locust out of the way or else he'd be blown to pieces. Radiant looked at her claws, trying to think of something, when it hit her. She hadn't used her silk since she went into her cocoon, but it was worth a shot. She ran towards Locust, knowing that the next few seconds were everything between life and death. She grabbed onto him and began to drag him away as a dragon overhead dropped something. A small, seemingly harmless pink cacti. Radiant tried to drag him away as fast as she could, but it was too late. The cacti hit the savanna floor and exploded, knocking Radiant into the air and leaving her unconscious.
Everything was black. Radiant could feel her body on the floor, yet she couldn't move or open her eyes. "I can't die, not here not now..." she told herself. She struggled to try and get up, for how long was out of the question. She needed to get up and get to safety. After what seemed like years, Radiant regained feeling in her claws. She wiggled them and soon enough the rest of her body woke up. She stood up and winced in pain, noticing a bunch of blood pouring out of multiple tiny cuts on her body. She looked to her side to see Locust was in far worse condition, absorbing most of the blast. She limped over to him.
"No, no, NO! You can't die! Not here, not now!" she cried. She grabbed onto his arms, and began to drag him away from the field. The field was empty, well, far from empty. Bodies lined the floor and Radiant had to drag herself and Locust over the corpses of HiveWings, SilkWings, and a few of those weird dragons. Each step she took covered her talons more and more with blood. She felt her body getting weaker by the second as the sweet release of death felt tempting enough. She felt her eyes sag a bit more as she could nearly feel her soul leaving her body. Her knees gave way and she fell to the floor. The last thing she remembered was a blue SilkWing flying over to her, panicking.
Radiant's eyes flickered open, and even at this point Radiant was surprised herself that she was still alive. Her eyes adjusted to the light of the sun as she quickly found Adonis by her side.
"Are you okay?" Adonis asked.
"No..." Radiant admitted. "Is Locust here?"
"The green HiveWing you were holding onto? He's here too." Adonis moved a bit, showing Radiant that he was right next to her. Radiant slowly realized her own surroundings, noticing that they were at the bottom of Jewel Hive. Radiant dryly coughed a bit as she began to scoot over to Locust.
"Is... Is he okay?" Radiant asked. She looked at Locust and felt a wave of sadness overcome her. She felt wet, silvery tears slide down her face as she began to weep uncontrollably. She rested her head on his body and sobbed harder. "I don't want him to die..."
"He's not going to die, I think. He's still breathing, but he's out cold." Adonis reassured.
"He's... Not going to die?" Radiant sniffled, wiping a tear.
"I just said he's not going to die--" Adonis was cut off by Radiant's hug. Radiant never felt more happy in her life, to be alive, to have two friends at her side, to survive a battle. She tightened her grip around Adonis, never wanting to let go.
"Thank you..." Radiant choked out.
"Are you hugging me?" Adonis smirked.
"Just shut up and accept it," Radiant said before letting Adonis go. "Well... Let's get up to the Hive." She stood up and opened her wings, but even before she made a single movement she hesitated. Her wing felt broken and a sharp pain assaulted her body with every inch she moved it.
"Your wing doesn't look in such great shape..." Adonis pointed out. Radiant looked and saw her left wing, scarred and bruised. The white markings now a duller grey and the ruby red washed out.
"You noticed?" Radiant laughed, though her 'joke' didn't get a reaction out of Adonis.
"I can probably find a stretcher and bring you and Locust up--"
"No, no, I'm fine..." Radiant insisted.
"You need rest, Radiant--"
"I said I'm FINE," Radiant snapped. "Just help me get Locust up, he needs more attention than I do at the minute." she looked at her HiveWing friend, bruised, bloody, and maimed.
"Okay, but if you complain about your wing don't blame me for your stupidity." Adonis said, flying up.
"I'm not stupid!" Radiant yelled back.
"Says the one who ran headfirst into a battle." Adonis laughed back. Radiant slumped and looked at Locust. She was thankful for Adonis for saving her life, Clearsight knows what would've happened to her if she didn't come, yet she was still annoyed at how she could be irritating at times. No matter, she was okay and Locust was... Slightly less okay. She stared off in the distance and gazed upon the bodies of dragons, still and motionless. The smell was horrendous, smelling of charred scales and smoke.
Soon Adonis came back with a stretcher and flew down to Radiant. “You sure you’re okay?”
Radiant looked at her wing. “I’m fine, worry about him not me.” she rolled Locust’s limp body onto the stretcher and grabbed one end. She and Adonis lifted it up into the air and flew towards the entrance of the Hive. Each inch that her wing moved a sharp pain was met. It was pure agony for Radiant. However, they managed to get onto solid ground soon enough.
“You really don’t look okay.” Adonis pointed out.
”Maybe I’m not in the best of shape,” Radiant stood up and dusted off some dirt on her tail “but I’m fine.”
Adonis sighed. “Just take it easy, okay? I’ll do the scouting until you get better.”
Radiant groaned. “Fine, but help me get Locust over to the camp.” she picked up Locust by the front talons gently and began to drag him over to the Wasp statue.
"Be careful with his leg--"
"I'm trying to be." Radiant snarled back.
Adonis threw her head back, annoyed. "I saved you and your boyfriend's life and this is what I get?"
"He is NOT my boyfriend." Radiant hissed.
"Still, I could've left you for dead out there, and this is what I get back?"
Radiant paused for a second to think. Adonis did have a point. If she didn't save her and Locust, only Clearsight will know what would've happened to them. "Hey, listen. Just... I'm worried."
"About what, exactly?"
"Making it out alive. I don't want you, him, or me to die. He's already got a broken leg and I've hurt my wing--"
"Just... Take it easy. Being hurt or worrying about others doesn't really give you a right to snap at me though." Adonis added on.
"Well-- uhh... You do have a point..." Radiant mumbled. "Sorry..."
"Wait, say that louder. Didn't quite hear you." Adonis smirked.
"I said I'm sorry." Radiant spoke, now more clear and loud.
"Ight', thanks." Adonis walked over to Radiant and helped her drag Locust's body over to the camp. Once there, they set him down on a few blankets.
"Ready?" Radiant asked.
"Ready for what?"
"Well, he's obviously not free from Wasp's control."
"Oh right! So what's your plan?"
"We use our silk to tie him up so that if Wasp takes control of him he can't hurt us."
"That's dumb." Adonis remarked.
"We got nothing else though." Radiant exhaled. She held out her front right wrist and began to shoot silk at Locust. Soon enough, Adonis joined in. They weaved and wrapped Locust up in the silk until he was practically swaddled in it.
"Maybe we could leave his broken leg out." Adonis suggested.
"Makes sense." Radiant added on. Her wrists were practically on fire, but in the end she would at least keep herself and Adonis safe from Wasp. Radiant shook her front talons, trying to make them feel better, before sitting down and trying to tend to her wing.
"I'm not a hatchling, Adonis. I can think for myself." Radiant interjected.
"Just making sure... Just stay here, I'll go try to find some food on the upper levels when everything seems clear." Adonis waved goodbye, but not before holding her wrists in pain as well. Radiant let out a deep sigh once Adonis was out of sight as she turned to Locust, all wrapped up. She fell onto her back and onto the blankets, slightly hurting her wing in the process. She felt at ease now, and yet was still a bit ticked off by the comment Adonis made about Locust being her boyfriend. They're just friends, nothing more nothing less; at least to her. All of a sudden, a loud gasp broke the silence. She turned to her right to see Locust wiggling around, gasping for air.
Chapter Twelve, "Hurt"
"Oh thank Clearsight, you're alive." Radiant said, mostly to herself.
"Oh MOONS! MY LEG!" screamed Locust.
"Well, at least he's still himself," Radiant sighed. "Hey, idiot, It's okay."
Locust began to wheeze a bit as smoke and dust came out from his mouth. "Radiant?" he began.
"It's me," Radiant smiled. "Are you doing okay?"
"Considering that I just screamed just a few moments ago, do you really think that I'm okay?" he coughed as more ash came up.
Radiant shook her head. "At least you're alive." she said.
"Being honest, didn't think I would've gotten out of there alive," he tried to wiggle himself to sit up. "Can you please explain why I'm trapped like this?"
"Wasp." Radiant replied, deadpan.
"And how long am I going to be like this?"
"Beats me." Radiant shrugged.
Both stayed silent for a bit before Locust broke the silence "I still can't really believe you're here... A--and alive too."
"Why not?" Radiant asked.
"I don't know... I just thought that you would've been captured or you'd get lost."
"Well, I didn't. At least I can say that," Radiant chuckled. Locust laughed along too before transitioning back into a wheeze. Radiant threw a blanket towards Locust's face, covering all of his snout. "Cough into that, why don't you?"
"It'll only be a few... Minutes of this." Locust guessed as he coughed into the blanket.
"Clearsight alive..." Radiant sighed.
"I can practically hear you rolling your eyes," Locust noted, chuckling to himself. "Can you at least sit me up?"
Radiant got up and began to drag Locust over to the fountain, trying to sit him up against it. "Here you go."
"Ow, OW! Careful with the leg, why don't you? That'll make the headache worse."
"Listen, this will only be temporary. If Wasp doesn't show up maybe we'll untie you."
Locust fell onto his back against the fountain, knocking the blanket off. "Better," he said. "Who's them?" he asked.
Radiant turned around to see Adonis heading back towards them. "Her? Oh, just a friend."
"I can tell, I meant as in what is her name."
"It's Adonis." Radiant answered. Adonis glided towards them and landed gracefully on the ground, however the landing caused her to drop a few small boxes.
"Good news, found a lot of boxes of honey drops and vegetables. Bad news, we probably have to move Hives some time soon." Adonis dropped the boxes on the ground with a loud crash.
"Ow, ow..." Locust whined as his ear twitched.
"Oh, sorry." Adonis apologized.
"Honey drops you said?" Radiant grabbed one of the boxes and tore it open, revealing hundreds of thousands of little droplets of honey. She was about to grab a handful when Locust tumbled over snout first into the box, knocking it over.
"Oh dear..." Adonis mumbled as a few honey drops scattered around the floor.
"Finally... Real food!.." mumbled Locust as he began to dig in. Suddenly, his body stiffened and he let out a long sigh.
"What are you doing?" Locust's voiced hissed. It was almost like an echo with a familiar female voice speaking along.
"Get the blanket, get the blanket!" Radiant yelled. Adonis grabbed a talonful of blankets and tossed them onto Locust's head.
"What is the meaning of this?" the voice questioned. Locust's body began to shake and move violently, trying to shake off the blankets.
"Ha! Take that you stupid que--" Radiant clamped her mouth shut before continuing on.
"Ohh... I see what's happening. You're runaways," he voice broke into a slightly manic laughter. "No matter, I'll find you. You aren't safe, little dragons. No chaos, no destruction, only order in the new Pantala. Don't you want that?"
"Well, no not really." Radiant admitted, forgetting that Wasp was listening.
"Traitorous liar! I'll find you and bring you to my knees!" the voice roared. Locust's body went a bit limp as the sound of a deep breath filled Radiant's ears, followed soon by a cough.
"I think I swallowed one..." choked out Locust, now sounding like his usual self.
"Are you okay?" Adonis asked.
"Oh yeah, just fine." Radiant smirked. Adonis scowled at her.
"You know what I meant," she mumbled. "Besides, you're taking that threat pretty lightly."
"Ah, we're fine. Even if Wasp finds us we'll be okay."
"I doubt that," Locust interjected, now trying to shake the box off of his head. "A little help would be nice."
Adonis walked over to take the box off when Radiant stopped her. "If he can see, Wasp can see. She can probably find out where we are."
"I thought you said that you weren't scared of her." Adonis argued.
"That doesn't mean I want her to find us!" Radiant said, raising her voice a bit.
"Girls, girls, enough fuss about me," Locust said, hopefully ironically. "As long as I don't have to keep a stupid box on my head for the next few months, I'll be fine."
Radiant nearly rolled her eyes into the back of her skull at Locust's latest comment. "Anywho... We should probably get something to eat besides honey drops. You said you have some vegetables, right?"
"Mh-hm." Adonis confirmed.
"Ugh, vegetables? Do you have anything else?" Locust asked.
"Uh... No. Don't think so." Adonis answered.
"Moons..." Locust cursed.
"Looks like you'll have to go vegan like the rest of us." Radiant tried to joke.
"But I don't like vegetables..." Locust whined.
"Is it better eating... Whatever when you were with Wasp?"
Locust's blanket moved a bit, as if he was nodding. "I guess. Just give me something."
Adonis reached into the box and almost instantly a look of disgust came across her. "Ugh, gross... It's all wet and slimy..."
"See? What did I tell you?" Locust pointed out.
"Wait, wait... Hold on guys." Radiant spoke up.
"What?" Both Locust and Adonis asked.
"If the vegetables are all wet, what if we go make a fire?" the red dragon suggested.
"A fire? In a easily burnable building?"
"That's what I said!" Adonis pointed out.
"Look, last time it happened nothing caught on fire," Radiant said while tearing off a piece of a nearby box full of celery. "If we just get some wood we'll warm up."
"It is a bit chilly..." Adonis admitted.
"Not for me." Locust said, shaking the blankets on his head.
"Well, democracy votes that we're all cold, sorry Locust." Radiant apologized.
"Fine... Maybe if you run out of firewood you can find some meat for me." Locust said.
"I doubt we'll find any fresh meat. It's been nearly a month since Wasp took all of the dragons." Adonis brought up.
"Wait, what?! A month?" Locust said, surprised.
"You didn't know?" Radiant said, trying to hide her laughter.
"Come on, do you expect me to count the days I was forced to do things against my will?" Locust argued.
"I mean... You had nothing really to do, right?" Radiant said.
Locust gave a hearty laugh before it soon turned into one of pain and sorrow. "That's what I wish."
"It would be nice if you weren't so vague about it." said Radiant.
"Well, it was like a rotation. I think the dragons from each Hive were put into different groups. There were only a talonful of things to do, so quite a few Hives were off on multiple days. One of the jobs we had to do was scouting, the other was guarding Wasp, another was cooking, and the last one was... Was herding SilkWings into rooms. I don't know what happened to them in there, but they came out all... Infected. Wasp could control them."
Adonis rubbed her eyes a bit, as if she was making sure she wasn't mind controlled herself. "Thank Clearsight I wasn't found." Adonis said.
"Same. I was somehow both an idiot and a genius to run that day." Radiant said.
"Yeah, thank Clearsight you did. I don't think I could've lived with myself if I forced you to go into those rooms." Locust said grimly.
A long and awkward silence followed soon after. A creeping darkness began to surround them as the day was transitioning into night. "So, about that fire..." Adonis spoke up, breaking the silence. She stood up and began to break apart some of the boxes of vegetables, trying to get some firewood.
"Yeah, that. Let's do that. Hopefully that'll take our minds off of this." Locust said, nodding the box up and down.
"Moons that looks so stupid on you." Radiant admitted.
"Can you take it off?" Locust asked.
"I think I said no."
"You can probably take it off though." Adonis said, breaking up the mild argument.
"Wait, why?" Radiant asked.
"Well, think about it. Wasp could just... Take control of Locust right now. She could just shake off the box and find out we're here or break out of the silk and attack us. Something is... Off with him."
"I'll take that as a compliment." Locust added on.
"F--fine. We'll take off the box but the silk stays on."
"Alright then. Take the stupid thing off; it's getting a bit hard to breathe." Locust said, already trying to shake the box off.
"Stay still." Radiant said, ripping off the box and the blankets. Locust's face was still bruised and battered from the explosion, though his scratches have faded quite a bit.
"Thanks." Locust said, giving Radiant a kind smile.
"Now that that's done, mind getting the pit ready? I would rather we don't burn down a Hive." Adonis said, putting down a few pieces of wood.
A few minutes later, Radiant pushed away the blankets and set up the firepit. Blocks of wood lined up perfectly and far from the flammable blankets. "Now then, to light it." the red dragon said, picking up a nearby rock from the floor. She rubbed it along the wood, which eventually started to smoke and caught on fire.
"Ahh... Warmth..." Locust groaned.
"So," Adonis began, looking towards Locust. "How are you?"
"Me? Oh, I'm fine. Could be better." he chuckled before wincing a bit.
"I think we all could be better." Radiant said, looking into the slowly growing fire.
Adonis nodded. "We've been through a lot today."
Locust let out a weak laugh. "It was... Could've died out there."
Radiant felt a weird feeling, one of sort of panic. The very thought that she could've died in that fight down there and barely made it out alive sent a shiver down her spine. "Mh-hm." Radiant agreed, trying to hide her true feelings. The group remained silent for a bit, gazing off into the fire. The sound of wood crackling and the smell of campfire was relaxing and almost took Radiant's mind off of the thoughts of her near death experience.
"I'm sorry." Locust suddenly said.
"For what?" Adonis asked.
"Everything," he said vaguely. "It's my fault that you both were treated poorly."
"What do you mean?" Adonis asked. Radiant flinched a bit, realized what he meant.
"My parents proposed the idea that SilkWings could be used as cheep labor to Wasp. Everything that you both had to suffer through... It's all my fault..." Locust said weakly.
"It's not," Radiant said sternly. "It's Wasp and your parent's fault for it. They're the ones to blame for everything." she added on.
Locust hung his head down, looking at the floor. "No, it is. If I knew what was happening I could've done something..."
"It's not your fault you didn't know. What matters now is that you're nothing like them." Radiant said coldly as a piece of firewood fell, causing the flames to flare up a bit.
"Is there something I missed? Are the mistress and mister bad?" Adonis asked.
"Mistress and mister?" Locust echoed.
"Your parents." Radiant explained.
"Oh, OH! Oh I'm so sorry for you..." Locust said to Adonis.
"It wasn't all that bad." Adonis tried to brush it off.
"No, it was 'all that bad'," Radiant interjected. "They branded your arm for Clearsight's sake!"
Locust looked at Adonis's arm and his jaw dropped. "Oh my moons! Are you okay?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah. It's fine. The mistress and mister never meant any harm to me." Adonis dismissed.
"No, no they we're awful. I saw them to the other SilkWings, they never treated them right either." Locust said.
"Adonis," Radiant began. "It's okay to admit that they weren't good. They aren't here."
Adonis's lip quivered for a bit before she looked back into the crackling fire. "There were days when I couldn't eat, days when I would only get paid one or two scales, days where I'd be a punching bag for their insults to each other." she said uncomfortably, as if memories were too painful.
"You don't need to go on." Locust insisted.
"Thank you..." Adonis cracked a small smile.
"At least you're here, on the run from the worst queen ever." Radiant said, trying to get a small laugh out of it; to which she was only met with silence.
"She really is the worst queen." Locust admitted.
"You think?" Radiant chuckled.
"I didn't want to do those things. I didn't want SilkWings to be treated this way, I didn't want to be forced into a cramped Hive with little food, I didn't want to... Kill." Locust began to shake a bit.
"Locust--" Radiant tried to say before she was cut off.
"I didn't want to do that... Those dragons had lives, they had loved ones, they shouldn't have died... Why did she want them to feel pain? Why did she want them to die?" Locust whimpered. Radiant could see a tear roll down his face as he borrowed it into the silk bindings around him.
"It isn't your fault..." Adonis tried to comfort.
"Those dragons could've been parents, they could've had close friends, and I took that away from them," he turned to Radiant. "Please don't tell me you saw me hurt anybody."
Radiant shook her head. "I saw you with that yellow scorpion dragon."
Locust breathed in shallowly. "That dragon could've had friends... The last thing I saw before blacking out was a white dragon and a black dragon going over to the scorpion dragon. Do you think they knew each other?"
"Who knows," Radiant said, looking into the fire. She stood up and walked over to Locust, sitting down beside him. "I'm sorry for getting mad at you." she apologized.
"You shouldn't apologize," Locust said. "If anything I'm glad you left while you could. Who knows what would've happened if you didn't open that letter."
"Wait, so let me get this straight," Adonis interjected. "The reason why she's out here is because she opened a letter?"
Locust snickered a bit. "Heh, I guess. Sounds sort of stupid when you say it out loud." The group stayed silent for a while, watching the slowly fading fire. The cold wind sent a shiver through Radiant as the fire no-longer was big enough to give any more heat.
"Well, it's getting pretty late. I say we sleep." Adonis said.
"I second that," Locust yawned. "Hopefully we're all feeling a bit more better. Tonight was a bit of a downer, huh?" he joked.
"Yeah." Radiant nodded, grabbed the half-burned firewood and tossing it away into a nearby fountain before she burnt herself. Adonis grabbed Locust and set him aside under a few blankets.
"Night'." he called out.
"Good night." Adonis and Radiant said. Adonis leaped under her pile of blankets and Radiant followed soon after. She draped the blanket over her, closed her eyes, and tried to ignore the terrible situation around her. She only tried to think about how she finally has Locust back and that maybe things could get better. Maybe.
Chapter Thirteen, "Food"
Radiant woke up to the smell of fresh meat cooking. Her snout wrinkled, disgusted by the smell; though it did bring back fond memories before this whole mess happened. The next thing she noticed was a ton of blankets on her, which she promptly threw off.
"Mhmp?" Radiant grumbled as she sat up, blinking awake. She looked around to see Locust and Adonis already up and with the blue SilkWing hovering over a small fire with a slab of meat on a stick.
"Oh, morning Radiant," Locust called out. "Sorry for the smell, we tried to block it out."
"We?" Adonis echoed, eying his silky restraints.
"Right, Adonis tried to block out the smell." Locust corrected.
"By putting a bunch of blankets on me?" Radiant snorted.
"Well, what else are we supposed to do?" Adonis asked.
Radiant shrugged. "Don't know. I guess thanks for caring about me though." she said.
"No problem." the green HiveWing smiled.
"How'd you even get it in the first place? The food, I mean."
"A herd of zebras were nearby the Hive and Locust over here was practically drooling at the idea of anything other than vegetables."
"I have a bit of decency, you know." Locust laughed.
"You were still pretty much crying when I came back from scouting and told you about them," Adonis pointed out. "So I grabbed one of the adults and dragged it up here."
Radiant gagged a bit, disgusted by how violently the zebra could've died. "Could you just hurry up with it?"
A few moments later, Adonis took off the zebra meat and tossed it over to Locust, who promptly catched it with his mouth.
"Nmice thworw." Locust said, muffled by the slab of meat.
"Nice catch." Adonis replied back. Locust began to wolf down his piece of food, nearly swallowing it whole.
"Ugh..." Radiant groaned.
"Oh, sorry." Locust apologized, wiping a bit of zebra blood off of his lips. Suddenly, his mouth stiffened up.
"Oh moons, not again." Radiant cursed. Adonis ran to get a box or a blanket, but... Locust's eyes didn't move. They didn't roll back and become white.
"W-- why can't I see?" Locust said, though a tinge of a female voice was in it. The voice seemed confused, almost annoyed. Adonis opened her mouth to speak, only for Radiant to hold her claw to her mouth and quietly shush her. "I know you're here, traitors. Where you are currently is out of the question, I just know you're near." the voice said coldly.
"Why can't she control him all the way?" Radiant asked herself, completely ignoring the fact that Wasp half-possessed Locust.
"I will ask this once more, turn yourselves in to me and you will pay for your crimes against me," the voice said. A few moments passed by before Wasp spoke up again. "Must not be here. Talons..." the voice continued on, sounding exhausted and annoyed. Just as suddenly, Locust's mouth relaxed.
"For moons sake," Locust said calmly, though a bit of annoyance in his voice. "Nearly choked on the food."
"Is that all you care about?" Adonis chuckled.
"Well, dying doesn't seem too fun. Wouldn't want to make it out of a battle and then to die by choking."
"You're not at all concerned with how she didn't fully control you?" Radiant interjected.
"I was about to mention that," Locust said. "It was a bit different this time."
"Obviously." Radiant said.
"Well, how different?" Adonis asked.
"I could hear her thoughts, like usual--" Locust began before being caught off by Radiant.
"You could hear her thoughts?!" she asked.
"Mh-hm." Locust confirmed.
"Why didn't you tell us this?" Radiant questioned.
"Because you never asked, plus what she thought wasn't very interesting. It's just a lot of nonsense about plants and wanting to take over the world." Locust explained.
"I--" Radiant began before Adonis shot her a look.
"It's just that this time it was sort of harder to hear, more so than last time. That and she was mumbling something about it being more difficult to take control of 'the stupid traitor'. Maybe her link with me is severing?" Locust proposed.
"That sounds really dumb. Why would her link to you just brea--" Radiant started before remembering something. The battle, the fighting, the bright light of the explosion. Radiant only made it out with a injured wing, but Locust? He got more damaged than Radiant.
"Indeed, it does sound really dumb." Locust admitted.
"No, no! It doesn't. Let me just," Radiant sat down and held up one of her talons, holding up two claws. "How many claws am I holding up?"
"Looks like three-- no two." Locust said.
"Why are you doing this again, Radiant?" Adonis inquired.
"The teachers at least taught me something there. Said something about how if a dragon's brain was damaged they could have a concussion, or whatever it's called."
"A concussion? I doubt I have that."
"Considering you took a beating from an explosion, I would be surprised if you didn't." Adonis pointed out.
"Explosion?" Locust echoed.
"You don't remember it?" Radiant asked.
"Not a clue. Talons, wish I could've saw it." Locust cursed. Radiant let out an awkward chuckled as memories of the blinding light flashed in her mind.
"Anyways, what's your point?" Adonis said, looking to Radiant.
"Maybe her connection is being temporarily... I don't know, halted by the brain trauma."
"I would prefer if you didn't say 'brain trauma'," Locust informed. "It makes it sound like I have a really bad injury."
"I mean, concussions sound pretty bad from what I heard." Adonis shrugged.
"Does that mean you can let me out then?" Locust wondered.
Radiant looked to Adonis, then back to Locust. "I mean, we could try. We'll still keep the cast on your leg though."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Adonis agreed. "Let's get to work." she grabbed a piece of the silk and pulled back, only breaking a bit off.
"Hey, hey! Easy there." Locust said.
"I know, it's just that this stuff is strong." Adonis grumbled.
"Let me try..." Radiant said, kneeling down. She went for one nearby his chest and yanked on it, however it wouldn't budge.
"How about unraveling it?" the green HiveWing suggested.
"... Good idea." Adonis said. She took a bit of silk and pulled it around him.
"This will take a while." Radiant noted.
Half an hour later they finally finished freeing him. A good part of the blanket fort was covered by thick strands of pearly white silk.
"That took forever," Adonis grumbled. "Since I did most of the work." she looked at Radiant with an agitated look in her eyes.
"I'll owe you back later, okay? Maybe you could take the day off and I can scout." Radiant offered.
”That’s a bad idea.” Adonis said bluntly.
”Wait, why?” Radiant inquired.
"Your wing." Locust pointed out. He was sitting on the floor and with his back leg off to the side, still wrapped around in silk.
Radiant looked over to her wing. It was still just as bruised and battered as it was yesterday. "I mean, I could still stand at the entrance I guess." she suggested.
Adonis stayed quiet before then letting out a long sigh. "Fine, but don't try to do anything crazy."
"Like what?" Radiant asked.
"I don't know, jump off of the Hive or manage to attract the attention of Wasp and her entire army."
"I won't, I won't." Radiant said smugly.
"I'll just stay here looking after him. Hopefully I can find some more food."
"I doubt it," Locust said. "And I already don't like the idea of flying to Bloodworm Hive."
"Bloodworm Hive was destroyed, remember?" Radiant said.
"Oh right!..." Locust gasped.
Adonis exhaled once more. "Just be back soon. I don't need something happening to you again."
Radiant nodded. "I believe I got it the first time, but whatever." she shrugged as the walked away. She scouted the bazaar around her, devoid of any and all supplies. Her stomach rumbled and groaned, beckoning for more food. She ignored the feeling to the best of her abilities and walked out of the Hive and just onto it's edge. Radiant looked out onto the savanna, taking in the scenery. She could see prides of lionesses chase down zebras just nearby, much to Radiant's own disliking. She could almost taste the giraffe liver that she used to eat back in the school and gagged. She tapped her talons on the stone, trying to take her mind off the zebras and lions and looked out towards Wasp Hive in the distance, analyzing the view. She couldn't quite see as many HiveWings circling around, but that could be due to them being so far away.
"What's she up to?" Radiant wondered to herself, thinking about Wasp. She tried to wrap her brain around the very idea of how a dragon could even act like how she did, and yet she couldn't even consider why. It made her angry, upset at how this dragon would just sit around and force Locust around to do her bidding. It was sick, cruel. A knot began to form in her stomach and she tried to push out those thoughts of Wasp.
She instead closed her eyes tried to think of... Happy thoughts. Thoughts of a place where she had food to eat, where she could do what she wanted, where she could just be... Free and finally happy with Locust and Adonis. A warm feeling creeped across her scales as she could almost see a forest of those mythical trees with only the three of them together, happy. Her small daydream was ruefully interrupted by a gust of wind, almost knocking her back.
"Woah!" she said, trying to push back against the wind. She shook her head once the gust passed by, regaining her balance. The red dragon then grumbled to herself and was put back into a bad mood.
"Stupid wind..." she mumbled to herself.
The rest of the hour went by uneventfully. The gusts of winds that the wet season brought blew Radiant about, but nothing much happened other than that.
"Your shift's up." A voice called from behind Radiant.
"I know, I know..." Radiant said to Adonis.
"How did you know?--" Adonis asked.
"You always come back after an hour for a break." Radiant informed.
"Huh, so you do pay attention at times." Adonis said, almost surprised. "Anyways, you probably know about this but we have to move Hives."
Radiant groaned. "Do we have to?"
"Unless you want to starve to death, I would suggest we go."
Radiant took a deep breath and continued to talk. "Fine, but which Hive should we go to?"
"I'd say the closest one, but Bloodworm Hive isn't really habitable. Such a shame really, biggest plantation in Pantala too."
"Don't remind me." Radiant said.
"There's also Mantis Hive, but they won't have much food; unless you want to start snacking on books and treestuff." Adonis said.
"Cicada would probably be a good Hive," Radiant shrugged. "The marketplace is full of food that can't go bad."
"So... Cicada Hive it is?" Adonis asked.
"I guess," Radiant said, walking back inside the Hive. "Come on, let's get him out."
"Shouldn't we plan or something? I mean we'll be walking out into the savanna with no plan the way you're going." Adonis said.
"Well, what sort of plan should we have?" Radiant said, almost mocking Adonis.
"In case if Wasp sends a drone after us, we should have a plan." The blue SilkWing suggested.
"I doubt we could do anything if they see us besides trying to hide in the grass, and even so we'll stick out like a sore claw." Radiant shrugged as she continued into the Hive. The once glamourous Hive now seemed dull and even more lifeless than ever as they continued to the blanket fort. Radiant saw in the distance Locust laying across the floor on his stomach, seemingly moping.
"Oh, you're back!" He called from far away.
"What did you think we were going to do? Leave you here?" Radiant laughed.
"Well, yes." Locust said.
"Do you actually think we would've, given the chance?" Adonis raised an eyebrow to him.
Locust just shrugged. "Probably not since she was so determined to see me again."
"Listen, I just wanted to say that I was sorry for being stupid, that was all." Radiant defended herself.
"Is that what you really think?" Adonis said, a cocky expression grew on her face.
"Yes," Radiant said tiredly. "Now can we just help him up and get out? I'd like to eat soon."
"Oh right, yes. We're leaving." Locust mumbled to himself.
"Alright," Adonis called, walking over to Locust. "Where does it not hurt?"
"My front side seems okay." Locust said, trying to stand up. Radiant followed to where Adonis was and helped pull up Locust by one of his front arms.
"Ow, ow." Locust whined.
"Suck it up." Radiant grumbled.
"You're telling the dragon with head trau-- a concussion and a broken leg to 'suck it up'?" Adonis criticized.
"Oh, shut it," the red dragon replied.
"Let's just get out of here. I heard Cicada Hive has some good cafés." Locust added on, clearly trying to repress some pain.
"Sounds like a plan." Radiant smirked as all three of them began to walk out of the Hive, prepared and ready for almost everything. Almost.
Chapter Fourteen, "Wander"
"So how do we get down?" Locust asked. Radiant looked down off of the edge and was hit with the sudden realization that they did not have a plan to get down.
"Well, you're crippled and I have a broken wing." Radiant noted.
"I could try and drag you guys down in that cot." Adonis suggested, her white scales gleaming in the sun.
"No, no. It'll be fine," Radiant denied. "I could probably glide down and the Cripple could fly."
"Can you not call me a 'Cripple'?" Locust mumbled.
"Ugh, fine Mr Broken Leg." Radiant snorted jokingly.
"If you fall to the ground and break your leg too, that'd be funny." the blue SilkWing admitted.
"Oh shut it." Radiant lifted her wings and a shooting pain went through her back. Despite this, she raised herself into the air and glided over the savanna, Locust following soon after. Everything was peaceful for a moment, until it wasn't. Radiant's wings gave way as she began to fall to the ground.
"Open your wings!" Adonis called from above. Radiant felt a unsurmountable amount of pain, but knew it would be less painful to open her wings than to fall to her death. She put her wings to her side and just before she hit the ground, the wind caught them as she floated down to the tall grass.
"Well that was a stupid move on all of our parts," Locust called as she touched down. "Forgot about how bruised my poor wings were. Moons, that hurts..." he complained. Radiant wanted to object to defend herself, but decided not to since arguing would be pointless since he was right anyways.
"I knew I should've got the cot." Adonis sighed she she landed next to Radiant.
"Well, let's not dilly dally; we need to get to that Hive." Locust walked away, his back leg raised.
"Did you just say 'dilly dally'?" Radiant laughed.
Locust kept quiet for a second. "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."
"Come on Radiant, let's not dawdle." Adonis smirked as she walked alongside Locust.
"Are you both secretly eighty years old or something?" Radiant ran to join up with them.
"Do I really look that old?" Adonis asked.
"No, not really." Locust complimented.
"I mean... You sort of do."
"HEY!" Adonis yelled.
"It was just a joke." Radiant explained.
"Not a really funny one though." Locust said.
Radiant just shrugged. "How about we focus on getting to Cicada Hive as quickly as possible without having to camp out for the night?"
"Sounds like a plan." Locust hobbled, trying to catch up to them.
"But if we do have to camp out, what should we do?" Adonis wondered.
"Hm... We could go to Bloodworm Hive and sit near the rubble. If we're closer to Mantis Hive we could go there." Locust suggested.
"And how would we get food from both? Eat the rubble or the books?" Radiant joked, trying to raise Adonis and Locust's spirits.
"Hmm, good point." Adonis shook a bit of dust off of her wings.
"But it would only come to that point if we have to stop. I think we can make it. Maybe even faster if we glide occasionally." Locust perked.
Radiant looked at her wing and sighed. "I mean sure, but only when it feels good."
A few hours later and nightfall laid down on them. The chirping sounds of crickets echoed the empty and lifeless savanna, only being accompanied by the three dragon's tired talonsteps. The nearly blackish purple sky held small stars in them, glimmering as if they were candles in a vast sea of nothingness.
"See? What did I tell you? We have to camp out." Adonis complained.
"But we're so close... We've just in-between Mantis and Cicada Hive." Radiant tried to explain.
"I'm getting tired honestly." Locust yawned.
"Then don't be tired." Radiant advised.
"Amazing advice." the blue SilkWing snorted sarcastically.
"We can make it. Probably. Maybe." Locust shivered, the coldness of night beginning to freeze his scales.
"Wait..." Adonis mumbled, suddenly stopping.
"What is it--"
"SHHH!" Adonis shushed Radiant, crouching down under the grass. "Get down. Locust, can you see it too?"
Locust seemed to squint his eyes and let out a small gasp. "A HiveWing."
"That's bad... Very, very bad... And what did I tell you, Radiant?" Adonis whispered.
"We don't know if it's mind controlled or not." Radiant whispered, trying to look through the darkness of night to find what they were talking about. Eventually, she saw it. The outline of a thin HiveWing standing ever-so still. It occasionally turned its head every couple moments or so robotically.
"I doubt it isn't," Locust said, his breath shaking. "Maybe it's from the concussion but I can... Feel like it's off."
"Or you're just crazy." Adonis suggested.
"Probably that." Locust admitted.
"So what do we do?" Radiant asked, trying to push some of the dry grass out of the way to get a better look at Locust and Adonis.
"I say we try to sneak around it." Adonis shivered.
"It could see us that way since we all stick out like a sore claw. You're blue, he's green, I'm red." Radiant reminded.
"Alright true, but how about we... Turn back and camp near Mantis Hive?" Locust wondered.
"That'll take too long, plus we run the risk of getting caught."
"We are currently at risk of that HiveWing catching us with every second we spend here." Radiant grumbled.
"Well, do you have any great ideas?" Locust said sarcastically.
"I say... We kill them."
"You WH--" Locust began before slamming his mouth shut. Radiant turned her head and saw the HiveWing patrol looking at where they were, suddenly begining to move towards them.
"Oh moons it's moving." Adonis cursed.
"Lets all jump it and kill it." Radiant said excitedly, hoping that if she killed the HiveWing she could find some sort of... Peace within herself.
"We're not killing it, how about we knock it out?" Adonis said quickly.
"S-- sounds like a plan, as long as we don't hurt it." Locust stammered. The HiveWing was walking closer to them and Radiant could see its eyes, white as silk. Radiant collected herself and took a deep breath before then holding out her claws. She held up three talons, then two, then... One.
Adonis and Radiant leapt towards the HiveWing, pouncing on it. Adrenaline rushed through Radiant as she quickly placed her talons over it's snout and mouth and pressed tightly, locking it into a choke hold. The HiveWing began to squirm and fight against Radiant, who never let go. Nine or so seconds passed by as the HiveWing's movement began to slow. Eventually, all movement stopped form the HiveWing as Radiant laid it down on the savanna grass, her heart pounding and rushing.
"Did... Did you kill it?" Adonis mumbled.
"No, the choke hold just makes it pass out."
"Choke hold?!" Locust yelled. "You... You know that? And you... You hurt it and you..."
"Let's just say you learn a few things from experience," Radiant explained as memories of the school ran through her mind. "Plus it doesn't really hurt that much."
"You still-- You--" Locust stammered. "Okay, no more listening to Radiant's suggestions. I don't want to see that ever again."
"Alright." Radiant shrugged, her talons still shaking from actually doing a choke hold.
"Let's... Pretend this never happened." Adonis breathed, looking down at the body.
"Agreed." Locust said coldly.
"What did I do? I helped us." Radiant defended.
"Radiant, maybe Locust doesn't really want to talk to you right now." Adonis advised. Radiant groaned, but complied. She didn't really know why he was angry at her, though maybe she did take it a step too far by putting knocking out the HiveWing that way. They continued their journey to Cicada Hive, though they were quickly halted when Adonis spoke up.
"It smells awful." she noted. Radiant sniffed the air and nearly gagged. It smelled like pure garbage, or better yet what the school fed her. She looked to where the scent came from and saw it was where the HiveWing patrol guard once stood. The red SilkWing broke away from the group for a bit to inspect the smell, only to see a small patch of grass that was patted down. What was the most disturbing was two other bodies, HiveWings, laying motionlessly on the ground with no movement. One had flies surrounding it and was beginning to decay while the other looked like it only dropped a few days ago.
"Uh... There's two dead bodies here." Radiant called out into the dead of night. Upon closer inspection they seemed as though the other bodies had been starving as their ribs were showing through what little skin they had left.
"Ew." Adonis said as she approached the bodies.
"That is... Concerning." Locust noted.
Radiant looked off into the distance to where she thinks she put the unconscious body of that HiveWing patrol guard. Would it have become like these other HiveWings? "Let's get going. It probably saw us and for all we know Wasp is sending out a search team."
"Oh moons, didn't think of that." Locust gasped.
"Well? If she is then staying close to here would bring us closer to death." Adonis began to walk into the darkness of night, dragging Radiant and Locust along with her.
It was cold, which was to be expected since it was still after dark. Radiant was beginning to get annoyed with Locust's constantly shivering of his teeth, but decided not to say anything. Instead, she walked a bit closer and gently put her wing on him.
"Uh... What are you doing?" he asked.
"You seem pretty cold, your teeth sound like a grinder."
"Do they really?" Locust questioned, moving his tongue over his teeth self consciously.
"Yep, and I can hear it from here." Adonis called from in front of them.
"Are you getting a bit warmer?" Radiant wondered.
"Not really." Locust shivered.
"Oh, okay," Radiant lifted her wing off him awkwardly and just looked straight forward.
"Well that was stupid. Him and Adonis probably think you're stupid-- why do you even care about their opinion on you? Locust is still a HiveWing and Adonis is still a blind follower of Locust's parents. Why are you being so rude to them? They've done nothing but goodness for you and in turn you risked your life to save them, well, one of them." Radiant argued with herself mentally.
"We're almost there." Adonis reminded, pointing her claw into the darkness.
"How can you even see?..." Radiant whispered to herself, confused by how she can see in the dark that well.
A a couple minutes later and they reached the base of the Hive. It towered over Radiant, making her feel small. It somehow glowed in the moonlight, which confused Radiant but she went along with it.
"Haven't been here in ages..." Locust sighed, lost in thought.
"How about we just worry about getting up?" Radiant snapped. "Even I'm beginning to get cold."
"I think Cicada Hive actually has a downstairs entrance..." Adonis mumbled.
"Wait it does? Well thank the moons for that!" Radiant cheered.
"I mean, Cicada Hive does have a lot of SilkWings. Mother and Father told me that." Locust brought up.
"Lets just focus on getting in and maybe finding a place to hide in case Wasp sends dragons to Cicada Hive." Adonis grumbled as she began to stroll away, trying to find a place to get in. Locust followed soon after, and with that Radiant tagged along.
"Do you see it?" Radiant asked, getting a bit annoyed with the cold.
"No. If I did I probably would've said so." Adonis replied.
"It's getting cold and I'm freezing my scales off." Radiant whined.
"You think I'm not too? At least I'm not crying about it." Adonis mocked.
"Hey!" Radiant hissed.
"Break it up you two," Locust interrupted. "I already have a headache and I don't need it getting any worse."
"Oh, sorry." Adonis apologized. The three dragons kept searching for the entrance and just before they finally looped the entire Hive, they found it. A giant door stood between them and entering the Hive. The door looked as though it was made from solid oak wood, which fascinated Radiant. The door looked as thought it was twice the size of Radiant herself, which wasn't that big in hindsight as she was quite small.
"So how do we get in?" Locust asked.
"Well we--" Adonis began before stopping herself. "Talons... Maybe I could just..." she began to pull on the door, trying to pry it open.
"Maybe we can break through it." Radiant suggested. She ran up to the door and based herself into it, hurting herself more than anything.
"See? This is why we don't use brute force for everything." Adonis reminded.
"I mean... She did leave a dent." Locust pointed to the door. Radiant squinted her eyes a bit, trying to both see what Locust was talking about and to try and ignore the pain in her side. She could see a bit of the wood had chipped.
"I could just find a cot and pull you up-- You know I'm too tired and cold for that." Adonis caved in. The blue SilkWing began to scratch at the door, wearing down the precious oak wood. Each swipe broke off more and more of the wood, though at a price of an awful scrapping sound. Radiant felt as though her ears were being exposed to the sound of claws on a chalkboard once more.
"Ah ha! I'm through!" Adonis announced a few minutes later. The SilkWing excitedly displayed a large hole, which she then stuck her talons in and out of in pride. "Now you can ram yourself into it, you bull." she eyed Radiant.
"Sheesh, fine. Just don't call me a bull." Radiant complained as she rammed herself into the wall once more. This time however she broke through, causing splinters to pierce her scales and drive into her body. She fell to the floor with a crash, unable to safely stop herself, which also hurt her wing even more.
"Are you sure you're not a bull?" Locust joked.
"Ow ow ow..." Radiant winced.
"Now quickly, let's get in." Adonis rushed inside and helped Radiant up.
"Thanks, but I could've done it myself." Radiant snarled, trying to hide her pain from the splinters and the fall.
"Just shut up and lets focus on getting up." Adonis reminded.
"Geez, thanks for caring about me hurting myself." Radiant grumbled.
"Hey, at least I care." Locust smiled as he walked by Radiant, following Adonis.
"And it's not like I don't care either," Adonis explained. "I could help you later, but for now I don't want to risk the chance of getting caught." Radiant felt her cheeks heat up, but she tried to ignore it. She followed Adonis up the treestuff stairwell, looking around in the very small amount of light that was given to them. She could see murals of SilkWings and HiveWings playing about while Wasp was killing a LeafWing. She felt a shiver run down her spine, remembering the LeafWings she saw fly above her when this whole nightmare first started. They were still alive, but how? Whatever was the reason all she wanted was for them and their slimy two wings to stay away from her.
"I think we're almost there." Locust said, his voice full of hope. They reached the top of the staircase and were greeted with a door.
"Hopefully this one is unlocked..." Adonis whispered. Radiant grabbed onto the doorknob and twisted it, opening the door up into Cicada Hive.
Chapter Fifteen, "Free"
It was pretty much how most other Hives looked. Nothing too grand, but nothing that looked like a rat's nest. Well, most likely because they were in the SilkWing section of the Hive. The decoration was lackluster with the only décor being a few pots of plants and ten or so of posters of Wasp.
"Well that's disappointing." Locust noted, pushing his way out of the door.
"Well, how about we focus on finding the marketplace? We could even camp out in the HiveWing section-- OOH! Or even the royalty section!" Adonis perked, stars practically in her eyes.
"Tone it down a bit," Radiant snarled. "Let's just get the food and find a place to sleep." Radiant walked forward into the heart of the Hive, passing by the sad excuses for decoration.
"Don't blame me, it's late and we've been walking for hours."
Locust yawned. "I am getting pretty tired... How about we just find a place to sleep and rest?"
"Sounds fine to me." Radiant shrugged. She bumped into a few things while walking, unable to see anything. The splinters in her body still hurt, but she was beginning to feel numb to it.
"Why does everything bad have to happen to me?" Radiant complained to herself. "Locust can you see anything?"
"Yeah, I can see a lot of restaurants and stuff." Locust said from behind. Radiant stared forward, trying to see something in the dark. At this point there was little to no light, the only thing illuminating anything was from the small openings where the moonlight could pour in. The jars that once held light were now completely extinguished.
"How can you even--" Radiant turned around to see the vague outline of Locust and Adonis.
"We're more related to Clearsight and she could see in the dark." Locust reminded.
"Lucky..." Adonis and Radiant grumbled at the same time.
"Jinx! Ha, you owe me a drop." Adonis called.
"Oh for the love of the three moons, I thought that whole thing was over with when I finally left school."
"You still owe me a honey drop." Adonis snickered.
"Oh shut it..." Radiant mumbled.
"I heard that!"
"Do the both of you just constantly argue?" Locust asked. "I'm serious."
"No," Adonis confirmed. "Sometimes we get along."
"Sometimes," Radiant echoed before bumping into a wall. "By the Hive what is with me?"
"You didn't see it coming, that's all," Locust comforted. "It looks like a restaurant-- wait, no, a candy shop. It looks like it's just called 'Sweetness'."
"Sounds like a lame name." Radiant noted. She put one of her front talons up and felt around in the darkness for any sort of opening. The material felt soft, but she couldn't find an entrance."
"The door is on your left. It's just a big opening, like a tent." Locust pointed out, moving past Radiant and inside.
"I could've found it on my own--"
"No you wouldn't have." Adonis shrugged as she followed after Locust. Radiant rolled her eyes and followed the sounds of their talonsteps into the tent. It smelt of candy, sweets, and all sorts of treats. However, Radiant felt more sickened by the smell than entranced, having to deal with the overwhelming amounts of smells already when she was at Jewel Hive.
"Finally... Sleep," Locust groaned as the sound of a loud thud followed soon after. "Ow, ow, ow... That was stupid."
"Did you just— you know what I’m too tried to care..." Adonis huffed. The dragon sat on the floor, the boards creaking and squeaking with each step.
"Night everybody." Locust yawned.
A few hours later, just before sunrise, Radiant was woken up to the sound of screaming. She jolted awake and turned to see where the sound was coming from, still a bit hazy. She looked to her side of the tent and saw Locust on the floor shaking.
"AUGHHHH!!" Locust screeched, his voice a bit echoed and distant. Adonis was already up and panicking.
"What in the name of Clearsight is going on?"
”I don’t know, he just started screaming and flailing around!”
"Make it stop, make it stop!" Locust, or more accurately Wasp pleaded. "I trusted you and you— you— AHH!" Locust’s body seem to be compressing into himself as Radiant could see him physically struggle.
"Is Wasp dying?" Radiant asked hopefully, completely ignoring the situation. She turned back to Locust, seeing that he was tucking his body in awkward ways and all sorts of directions. Pleas and screams filled the air until...
Silence. All they could hear was the sound of their own breathing. Locust laid on the ground quivering and shaking, somehow even more than when he was controlled.
"She’s... She’s gone..." Locust hesitated.
"Do you know how"” Radiant titled her head.
"Radiant now is not the time—"
"I saw something. It was big, green, and plant-like. It was... Angry at her I think. I could hear her thoughts and... She had her bones and limbs just... Crushed.”
"Woah," Radiant gasped in awe. "So... Can we go back to normal now?"
"Maybe. Hopefully." Locust shrugged.
"Are you okay?" Radiant wondered.
"Not really. I could sort of feel everything she was, so that’s not really a good sign."
"Yikes... Does your leg hurt more?" Adonis walked over to inspect Locust.
"Not really, but I... I just need some time alone for a bit..." Locust exhaled.
It was at this moment when it really sunk into her, that Wasp was dead. It was a moment she waited for her whole life, but while she expected to be happy all she felt was... Emptiness. She didn’t understand why, but it felt as though she didn’t have any meaning anymore. Her one goal in life just... Dealt with. It also didn’t help how Locust and Adonis seemed bothered by this death as well.
"We can leave if you’d like. I’m wide awake now." Adonis offered.
"That’d be nice... Sorry if I’m being rude right now, I just—"
"Just try to get some sleep." Radiant walked out of the tent, not knowing what else to do. Adonis followed soon after her as both walked through the Hive, the few slivers of light from the rising sun coming through the cracks and lighting up the Hive a bit.
"Wasp is dead..." Radiant mumbled to herself.
"There’s a chance she could still be alive." Adonis added on, but didn’t seem all that confident in her answer.
"That’s... Wow..." Radiant looked up, trying to clear her thoughts and gather herself.
"So what now"” Adonis asked. “What happens next? Will Monarch become queen again? Who will be the next queen?"
Radiant shrugged. "I don’t know, I’m not really into politics that much." she laughed, though it mostly was to cheer herself up.
"Heh," Adonis gave a pity laugh. "I hope this is all over. Maybe things will go back to normal."
Radiant paused for a bit. "What will happen to you then?" she asked.
Adonis shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe I'll go to a different HiveWing and serve them, though I don't think they'd find the marking all that flattering." she picked at the branding on her front arm once more.
"I mean... You don't have to."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm sure Locust wouldn't mind if he had you around." Radiant perked, seemingly excited and happy.
"Maybe..." Adonis contemplated.
"Wait, I just got an idea," Radiant's antennae shot up straight. "How about we go to a dye shop and try to get rid of the branding?"
Adonis looked down at her brand, the symbol of a locust reflected in her eyes. She looked up and nodded her head. "I'll do it. I don't want to be their SilkWing anymore. They... They don't deserve me!"
"That's the spirit!" Radiant cheered. "Now let's go and rip it off."
"I'm joking, I'm joking... Kind of."
"Don't scare me like that..." Adonis huffed.
"Geez, fine," Radiant rolled her eyes. "The sun is coming through more, I think I see a dye shop right over there." she gestured towards a nearby building that had the words 'Maggot's Dye Shop, with prices so low you just can't help yourself'.
"I don't know... We are using somebody else's dye--"
"We've been stealing food for over a month now from different shops with no problem." Radiant pointed out.
"Yeah, but this is dye. Dye is expensive."
"Is anybody going to care?" Radiant asked.
"If they ever come back and see that their shop is ransacked, yes."
"I doubt they'll miss a few bits of white dye. It'll be fine, just stop being so scared of it." Radiant blew a raspberry.
"Fine, but we're not using it all." Adonis caved in.
"Okay, whatever you say." Radiant shrugged. She started moving towards the dye shop and walked through one of the double doors to the shop. Another wave of overwhelming smells punched her right in the face, making her gag.
"Let's just do a quick in and out." Radiant stiffled.
"Sounds good to me." Adonis inspected some of the dye on the shelves. The shop had dullish brown walls and had little decoration besides a few potted plants. The shelves were a lighter brown and had clear glass jars with differently coloured dye inside of them. Some were bright orange, others were royal blue. Though many were white, grey, or black. On the dusty counter was a few piles of scales, which Radiant swiped while Adonis wasn't watching; causing dust to fly everywhere.
"Does this match my scale colour?" Adonis held up a jar or white dye to her scales. "Or does this one?" she pulled up another one.
"They both look the same."
"This one is slightly lighter." Adonis shook the left jar.
"I guess that one." Radiant pointed to the jar on Adonis' left.
"Thought so too," Adonis placed the other jar back and sat down. "Now how do we do this?"
"Uh... I think we just... Wet it a bit and smear some over it." Radiant guessed.
"And how do we get water?"
"From the sink." Radiant snorted. She looked around and saw a sink behind the counter. She walked over to it, turn the knob, and water came out.
"Don't stick the entire jar under it." Adonis warned.
"Like I was going to do that," Radiant chuckled as she pulled the jar away from the sink. "What should I do?"
"Maybe just get like a plate or something, sprinkle some dye on, put a few drops on it, and mix it around." Adonis suggested.
"Uh... Let's see..." Radiant grabbed a dusty plate of the counter, seeing a lot of differently coloured stains on them; all of which were washed out. She reached into the jar and pulled out a talonful of dye and tossed it onto the plate. She then almost turned off the water, letting the water drip into the sink. The sound of the water put Radiant at ease as she grabbed onto the plate and held it under the water. The dye turned the water more white and chunky, which didn't really look appetizing to Radiant.
"I think I got it."
"Think?" Adonis echoed. Radiant rolled her eyes and walked over to Adonis with the plate in her talons.
"You can put it on." Radiant placed the plate next to Adonis.
"Cool, thank you." Adonis smiled.
"Don't mention it." Radiant walked out of the dye shop, happy to be out of that place. The overwhelming smells left her and she felt like she could breathe normally. She took a deep breath and went over to the nearby fountain. She sat down on the ledge, listening to the water move. It calmed her down and she thought about the recent events. Wasp was dead, the world could return to normal, and she had friends (or at least she thinks they're her friends).
Perhaps things aren't that bad anymore.
Chapter Sixteen, "Found"
Radiant sat on the ledge watching Wasp Hive once more. It had been a few days since Locust had said Wasp had died, and yet it seemed as though they were still in there. It was strange to say the least for Radiant, having high hopes for things to be normal. And yet, did she really want things to go back to normal? She liked Locust and would liked to have Adonis with her as well, but she hated the idea of HiveWings still going back to ruling over SilkWings.
"You've been sitting here alone for the past hour, you're okay?" Adonis asked from behind. Radiant turned her head to see Locust and Adonis there watching her.
"I'm just keeping watch." Radiant explained.
"For what? Nothing is there." Locust joked.
"It's just-- I don't know. Can I just be alone?" Radiant snapped.
"It's just that we're concerned. You don't seem... Okay." Adonis sighed, her smudged spot where the dye was reflecting off of the sun. The splotch was a bit more dull and more of a lighter light than Adonis' scales, which irritated Radiant a bit.
"I'm fine." Radiant snarled. She wasn't in the best of moods today, but why wasn't really known, even to herself.
"Whatever you say, Radiant," Locust caved in. "Come on Adonis, leave her be."
Adonis took a breath and pouted for a bit before walking off with Locust back into the Hive. Radiant looked back to Wasp Hive, still weirded out by how none of the HiveWings or SilkWings seemed to leave. It could be because they were now so far away, but Radiant couldn't see any more dragons patrolling the Hive.
"You shouldn't be such a jerk to them." Radiant reminded herself. She tapped her talons on the edge of the Hive out of boredom as she kept on looking out at the Hive, lost in thought. The sun reflected off of her scales, agitating her even more. It felt as though she was in a bonfire and being roasted alive from the intense heat, but was too stubborn to even move.
"Stupid sun!" Radiant groaned as she looked at her wing. It looked sort of better, but only a bit. It wasn't really in the best of shape, which concerned Radiant quite a bit. She wouldn't be able to fly unless it fully healed, which didn't seem all that fun. Just more and more waiting...
Suddenly, something caught Radiant's eye while she was in thought. She could see dots flying in the sky. They were big dots though, larger than any bird.
"Dragons? Finally!" Radiant cheered as she watched the dots fly around. There seemed to be a giant group of dots that split off into pairs, flying towards each of the Hives. A sinking felling then began to grow in Radiant as she starting to think of the implications of this. They could be HiveWings inspecting the Hives, discovering Locust, Adonis and her. Radiant backed away a bit from the dots, but before she walked into the Hive she saw the dots that were coming straight towards her become more definable.
She could see they only had two wings.
Panic struck Radiant as she ran inside. "Weird dragons are coming, weird dragons are coming." she repeated to herself as she looked around for Adonis and Locust. Thoughts of what could happen with those weird dragons flooded Radiant's mind. Paranoia like this was new to Radiant, making her panic even more.
Radiant turned a few corners and ran over towards the candy shop they've been sleeping in. She passed by the other restaurants, the only thing accompanying her thoughts was the sound of her claws clacking on the floor. She reached Sweetness and ran inside to see Locust and Adonis not inside.
"Guys! Guys we have a problem!" Radiant called out to the Hive. She could hear something from the other side of the Hive, where the fountain should be. The SilkWing raced over to the fountain and saw Adonis and Locust sitting together, staring at her.
"Well you seem worried. You just blew right past us and screamed for our names when you--" Adonis began before being cut off by Radiant.
"Shut it, we have a problem."
Locust turned his head. "First, perhaps apologize to Adonis. Secondly, what is it?"
Radiant sighed. "Sorry," she quickly said. "Anyways, I saw two dragons coming towards the Hive. We need to hide."
"You're overreacting just a bit." Adonis snickered.
"You don't understand, let me talk," Radiant glared at Adonis. "They were the weird dragons."
Locust sat up a bit. "The-- the ones with those weird scales?"
"Yes, and they're coming straight towards us."
"Well, maybe they're friendly--" Adonis began before being cut off by Locust.
"Adonis, maybe you shouldn't just trust these dragons. They could be... Uh..."
"Deadly and dangerous, Clearsight knows what whey are going to do with us if they find us." Radiant exclaimed, images of savage dragons chasing Adonis Locust and herself around in a giant field.
"Maybe we could hide in... There!" Radiant pointed towards a restaurant over nearby the fountain. The restaurant was made up of a treestuff-like material and was coloured like a zebra.
"Okay, let's go." Locust clapped his talons together and ran over to it. Radiant followed along, her heart skipping a beat every other second. They neared closer and closer towards the restaurant, getting close enough for Radiant to smell rotting meat coming from it. Panic raced through Radiant, sending her antennae straight up into the air as she ran inside in a frenzy, pushing the flimsy doors open and falling in with Locust.
"Get in!" Locust yelled. Radiant looked behind to see that Adonis wasn't following them and instead just stood idly.
"I want to see if they're safe." Adonis called back.
"Well then have fun dying." Radiant spoke from behind Locust, staring out of the double doors. The treestuff tables and the counter were stained with dried blood and had plates with half-eaten meals on them. Radiant gagged, but she couldn't spend too much time dwelling on the horrid smell.
"Get in!" Locust repeated, beckoning Adonis to come inside.
Adonis paused for a bit, looked over to her left, and sighed. Radiant watched as Adonis quickly ran over towards the restaurant and through the doors.
"Why are you guys so scared anyways?" Adonis asked.
"You didn't see what happened." Radiant answered grimly.
"Well that doesn't tell me much." Adonis whined to herself.
"Keep it down, I'll look out of the window." Locust hissed, his tone surprisingly serious and grim.
"Got it." Adonis complied, beginning to grab nearby chairs to barricade the door.
"Well this is going great..." Radiant grumbled sarcastically.
A few minutes later, Locust froze and sat down quickly, pulling himself away from the window. "They're here."
"They are?--" Radiant began before Adonis and Locust shushed her. The group awaited in silence, the only sound accompanying the sound of their breathing was the sound of talonsteps from outside. Radiant could hear the dragons talking to each other, seemingly arguing. She couldn't make out what they were saying, but didn't want to know anyways.
The horrid smell was bothering Radiant more now, tickling her nostrils. The rotting meat was overpowering her and she was holding back from just trying to run from the smell. The stench brought back memories, memories of that horrible school. The smell of rotting liver, the laughter of the teachers, the endless sleepless nights, it was too much.
Radiant let out a loud retch.
"Radiant--" Locust hissed before clamping his mouth shut. The talonsteps from the dragons outside had stopped.
"You killed them. You're dead. They're going to find you. Great going idiot." Radiant wanted to run away from the middle of the room, but was paralyzed in fear.
Locust and Adonis were running away from the door and ducked behind a nearby table, but Radiant couldn't move. She didn't want to go closer to the rotting smell, but she didn't want to meet whoever was there. Her breath became more heavy as she just stood there, soon accepting her fate. The doors began to shake a bit as Radiant could make out the sound of the dragon's voices, sounding like arguing.
"Perhaps they're arguing over who to kill first." Radiant joked to herself lightly as she stared at the door. The doors eventually flew open as a dragon pushed itself inside, falling onto the ground and falling onto some of the chairs. Radiant finally gained control over her own body and backed away from the dragon, looking over them.
They were blue like sapphires hidden inside of a cave, but had a snowy white underbelly. They only had two wings that covered over the main body of the dragon, shielding his face. However, Radiant could see patterns on the dragon's wings, odd swirls and shapes that she couldn't quite describe. The dragon had a very blobby texture to it, seeming as though if Radiant actually touched them their scales would compress like a pillow. Down the neck and down the tail were webbings, like a LeafWing almost.
"Good going idiot." the dragon grumbled. Radiant yelled at herself to pounce on the dragon, but she hesitated. She didn't understand why, but she couldn't try and attack this dragon. It was strange nonetheless, considering that this freak show of a dragon was laying down right in front of her.
The dragon pushed himself off of the ground and looked up towards Radiant. "Well aren't you a strange dragon?" he asked. Radiant looked at the dragon, now seeing its face in its full glory. It had dangling barbles on the chin that swayed around like windchimes on a windy day. Their face had a long snout with a giant 'I'm just tired of everything' look.
"G--get away." Radiant hissed.
"Hey hey, hold on. Can you shut it for two seconds and let a dragon talk?" the dragon stood up and Radiant backed off a bit. "You sure are jumpy, aren't you?" he asked.
"If you want a sacrifice you can take those two." Radiant pointed to the green and blue tails that were sticking out from under the table on her left.
"Hey!" Radiant could hear Adonis snap back at her.
"Sacrifice?" the dragon echoed, letting out a small sarcastic chuckle. "You really think we're just going to like kill you dragons."
"Yes." Radiant replied in a deadpan tone, her eyes still kept on the dragon and her talons light on the ground in case they attacked.
"Well, we definitely are here to kill you." the blue dragon said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Is... Is there somebody in there Tide?" a voice from outside of the door spoke; it was more softer and gentler, sounding like if Locust had a more higher pitched voice.
"Oh nooo, I was just talking to the wall-- of course somebody is in here. It's one of those weird dragons." the dragon, now known as Tide, answered sarcastically.
"Well they seem decent." Radiant sighed as she watched the other dragon walk in, her body still ready to attack just in case. The dragon this time had more curved horns than Tide and has massive desert brown wings. Their neck was long and thin and their snout was thin with a little spike on the end. His eyes were a lighter brown and his scales were brown with a bit of orange with it.
"Oh moons, they look really... Uh..." the brown dragon stuttered.
"Weird? If that's the case you're the weird ones." Radiant snarled.
"This is going to be a long day," Tide groaned. "Hey, you, listen... I don't want to be here, you clearly don't want us to be here, but so and so wants you to come over to one of these things on the opposite side of the savanna."
"So and so?" Radiant echoed. She kicked the table beside her and looked down at Locust and Adonis, beckoning them out.
"Yeah, I think her name was Glorious or something. I don't know, I'm not good with politics."
"It's... Glory." the brown dragon corrected.
"Whatever, she's just all mad about how the original plan ran into the ground and her friend dying." Tide shrugged.
"Just... Just tell me what you need with us." Radiant sighed, exhausted of these dragons already.
Tide smacked himself in the face. "We need you three dragons to come with us all the way across the bloody continent, do you understand?" Tide spoke slowly.
"I'm sure we... Got that." Adonis spoke, getting out from under the table. She helped Locust out and Radiant watched as Tide and the brown dragon stared at them, both of their reactions being very different. The brown dragon was surprised and almost scared while Tide showed little care for these new dragons coming out from under a table.
"And what's in it for us if we come?" Radiant questioned.
"Well... You get food, shelter, meet a lot of other dragons, and hey maybe if we're done with this foresaken continent you can come back to Pyrrhia with us."
"Pyrrhia?" Radiant echoed.
"Th--the place Clearsight came from?" Locust continued.
"Clearsight?..." Tide turned his head, confused.
"She's the most powerful dragon alive! Or, was. It's been thousands of years." Adonis explained.
"Mh, doesn't ring a bell. Sounds like those other NightWings, thinking that they're high and mighty--"
"There's other dragons like Clearsight?" Locust asked.
"I would assume yes," the brown dragon squeaked. "Name's Charcoal, by the way." he laughed awkwardly.
"Oh my..." Adonis gasped.
"Yeah yeah, big shock I can tell," Tide groaned tiredly. "Come on let's just get this over with so I can go home."
"I second that." Charcoal agreed. The two strange dragons walked out of the restaurant and left Radiant and her friends alone.
"So do we go with them?" Locust wondered.
"Clearsight no! They could be luring us into a trap." Radiant laughed.
"Well... They seemed sincere... And they didn't seem to be that bad." Adonis added.
"I don't think they're all that bad, and besides, we could probably earn a lot from talking to other dragons. Seriously though, have you guys even talked to anybody besides each other for like a month straight?"
Adonis and Radiant looked at each other. "No..." Adonis explained.
"It won't be that bad, trust me. Maybe. I don't know..." Locust seemed to hesitate for a moment, bothered by something.
"Are you okay?" Adonis asked.
"I just... Would they be mad at me? Like, I... I killed dragons in that fight--"
"Oh enough about this," Radiant groaned. "It's not your fault. It's Wasp's fault, not yours. Just because you were in the body when it happened didn't mean that it was your fault."
"Is it though? If it was that simple to just... E--excuse my actions, I would've been over it. You didn't see it up close. You didn't see the fear in their eyes as stole their life from them!" Locust yelled. Radiant backed off a bit and even Adonis seemed shaken up by Locust's outburst.
"Oh... I'm sorry Locust I--"
"No, that's my fault. I shouldn't have yelled." Locust apologized.
"You have a point though. You... Been through a lot. I--I'll just shut up." Radiant spoke softly.
"Can the three of you make a choice already?" Tide called from the outside. All three dragons looked at each other, each were scared but seemed confident.
"We're coming." Radiant finally said.
Chapter Seventeen, "Fly"
"Alright, cool," Tide shrugged. "Let's get moving, it's hot out here."
"It's not that hot out." Radiant said snottily.
"Oh shut it," Tide groaned. "Just come with us and let's get out of here."
"We're coming, we're coming..." Locust assured, walking out of the restaurant. Radiant followed after and took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh rotten-meat free air. Adonis trailed behind the red SilkWing as they exited the building entirely. The five dragons began to walk around the Hive, making their way towards the entrance of the Hive, doing so all without uttering a single word.
"So... Let's get going... Heh..." Charcoal shuffled awkwardly, breaking the silence a bit.
"Charcoal, you're making yourself look like an idiot." Tide reminded.
"I know..." Charcoal lowered his head.
"This is going to be a loonng walk..." Radiant rolled her eyes as she passing by the final house and out onto the balcony. The gentle breeze shook her antennae like the tall grass from the savanna down below.
"Can I just say something?" Adonis perked up.
"Yes, what is it?" Tide looked over.
"Well, this one over here has a broken wing and can't really fly. Can you maybe get a cot or something to bring them down so that we could all walk?"
"Why can't you just deal with it? It'll take hours to walk back." Tide groaned, smacking himself in the face once more.
"Because if I do I'll fall and die; and that doesn't seem very fun, now does it?" Radiant said, her antennae curling in a bit.
"The dragons who have... Not broken wings could probably hold her?" Charcoal suggested.
"That's... Not a half bad idea." Adonis admitted.
"No. I am not having you all... Touch me, especially you." Radiant glared at the two strange dragons.
"Well I'd rather not walk while having to listen to him complain about the heat all of the time." Tide shrugged.
"I'd say you're the one who complains more about the weather." Charcoal corrected.
"Who cares?" said Tide. "If princess butterfly over here wishes to be carried around, so be it."
"Don't call me 'princess butterfly' unless you want them to be your last words--"
"Can we all just quiet down?" Locust finally blurted out, silencing the group. "Finally, my headache was getting worse from the constant whining... Radiant, I know it'll be a bit uncomfortable, but it'll only be for a few hours and then maybe we won't have to camp in the middle of the continent. And if so we can always go in the hole--"
"The hole? I don't think we're permitted to even go near it." Charcoal mentioned.
"What do you mean? It seems safe." Radiant pointed out, only to be met with a hysterical laugh from Tide.
"HAHA! Oh! Oh that's funny!.." Tide wheezed. Radiant stared at the blue dragon, almost physically feeling her patience wear away like sandpaper on wood.
"Can you just say why?" Radiant said sternly.
"Oh... Ohh, you don't know, don't you?" Tide asked.
"They probably don't since they're asking you." Charcoal noted.
"I got that, SkyWing." Tide turned towards the brown dragon.
"So... Long story short, Wasp fled after a big battle and stuff with her army into this place called the Abyss. The queens say that we're not allowed to go in because something something… Killer plant."
"You have queens?" Radiant said, ignoring everything else.
"You... You ignore that whole part about this queen taking in her army towards this possibly bottomless hole where they may never come back for years while being helped by a evil weed, just so you can ask about a monarchy?" Charcoal's face was slack-jawed.
"That doesn't answer my question." Radiant groaned.
"Yes! Of course we do! Well, now the MudWings are getting more into a voting based community, but that doesn't really mean much. We're still ruled by queens." Tide looked off to the side.
"Moons!..." Radiant sighed, looking towards the sun. Her eyes irritated a bit as she stared at it in frustration.
"Right when I though I would be free of those stupid queens."
"T--they're not that bad though!" Charcoal assured.
"Come on Radiant, it'll be fine," Adonis comforted. "And can I ask what these... MudWings look like?"
"Big, bulky, look like a brown crocodile with wings." Tide answered.
"Cool, cool cool." Adonis smiled.
"Enough talking, let's just get going. It's going to take a long time anyways, so you just... Suck it up and deal with it."
"Don't tell me to--"
"Just be quiet Radiant and do what they want." Locust replied.
"There are tents near the base of one of these buildings, on the nearest coast of the western ocean." Charcoal explained.
"Don't you mean the eastern?" Adonis corrected.
"You three just never shut up, do you?" Tide asked.
"No not really." Locust perked. Radiant glared at the HiveWing, her eyes feeling as though they were on fire.
"How about we just... Get going?" Adonis tapped her talons impatiently.
"I second that." Charcoal raised his talons.
Radiant looked to Adonis and Locust. "Fine... Just try not to let me drop onto the ground."
"Moons, there goes my murder plans..." Adonis grumbled.
"It was just a joke!" the blue SilkWing chuckled.
"That's not very funny, especially when you're about to hold me up moons knows how high."
"I thought it was pretty funny..." Locust snickered quietly.
"Learn to lighten up a bit, Strawberry." Tide called as he dove off of the ledge, hovering just a few paces in front of the balcony.
"Don't call be Straw-- You know what, I just give up." Radiant groaned, resting her whole body on the ground. A sharp pain jolted through her body when her broken wing even dared to touch the ground, but Radiant didn't really care. She blanked out for a bit, just looking at the savanna. The sun high in the sky while the giraffes and cheetahs below ran around in circles. She felt her front and back legs lift up and soon her entire body was suspended into the air painlessly. Her wings drooped to the side as she saw Locust caring her front legs, his light green wings pressing against the balcony before lifting up.
"Three, two, one... Forward!" Adonis yelled from behind as Radiant was jerked forward.
"Ow!" Radiant complained.
"My fault, sorry." Locust apologized, turning his head back and giving a warm smile to Radiant. The red SilkWing huffed and looked down at the savanna, her neck hurting a bit from looking up.
They were flying. Radiant, while not really flying, was in the air with everybody else for the first time in a week. The wind blew against Radiant as her antennae smacked her in the face, unable to withstand the speed that Locust and Adonis were going at. The sun was high in the sky and beat down onto Radiant's wings and back, overheating her. Hunger clawed at her stomach more and more as she had not eaten at all that day, then again this feeling wasn't all too alien to her. She watched as the grass sway in the gentle breeze and the animals (now appearing more like dots in a sea of beige grass) pass by at a rather fast pace. The sun seemed to phase through Locust's wings because just up ahead there were moving green lights that didn't appear to be a part of the grass.
"Moons you all fly slow." Tide screamed from ahead. Radiant reluctantly lifted her head from the entrancing ground, her eyes meeting with the sight of Tide and Charcoal flying father ahead. She watched as Charcoal seemed to argue back with the blue dragon, but his words were inaudible from the distance Radiant was at. However, she could make a guess as to what the dragons were talking about from the next thing Tide said.
"I know that, but still they should fly at least a bit faster. They have four wings and all."
"They have four wings and all, bleh..." Radiant mimicked, rolling her eyes. She saw as Locust shot her a look, one that told her 'Hey! Shut up!', making Radiant feel even more irritated.
"You know, a fun little thing with us is that these wings actually kind of... Suck?" Locust explained.
"Pff, how?" Tide turned his head around to get a better look at the three dragons.
"They get in the way and it doesn't really help us more with flying. More weight, I think..." Adonis guessed.
Tide remained silent for a while, which was a blessing for Radiant as she was getting sick of his attitude. She was getting sick of the both of them, really. Their strange appearance was still disturbing her. Their scales weren't right, their two wings were hideous and disgusting, and just the way their body's looked made her uncomfortable.
"So, what were you up to in that Hive?" Tide suddenly broke the silence.
"Uhh... Nothing much. I mean we just got there about a couple days ago." Locust answered the blue dragon.
"You were traveling? That explains it." Charcoal talked to himself.
"Explains what?" Radiant lifted up her head to try and be a part of the conversation, though from the look of Locust he didn't seem to like her tone when she spoke. If Radiant was being honest it was snarky, but wasn't going to apologize for it any time soon.
"That Wasp hasn't found you." the brown dragon quickly explained.
"I mean, we had close calls. If it wasn't for brainless over here getting his head smacked in by something we would've been caught." Adonis noted.
"Oh moons, is he okay?" Charcoal asked. The SkyWing stopped, causing Locust to nearly crash into him. In those fleeting moments Radiant felt as though she was about to be dropped and fall to the ground, being splat flat onto the savanna floor like a piece of wet clay after being smacked with a mallet.
"Watch it!" Radiant snapped.
"Sorry, sorry... That was my fault," Charcoal apologized. "Seriously though, are you okay?" he turned his attention towards the HiveWing. Genuine concern seemed to flicker in his eyes, confusing Radiant a bit. This dragon just met Locust and seemed to be terrified of everything, why is he caring about somebody like him? More so, why isn't Locust just taking the chance to knock the freak out of the sky?
"I'm fine, though I do get really bad headaches at times... Thank you for asking me." Locust chirped.
"Blah, blah, blah. Come on Charcoal, we need to get them there. I don't want to stay out here for any longer, I'm dehydrating just existing in this abysmal heat." Tide groaned. The SkyWing obliged and quickly flapped his wings towards Tide, looking as though he were a baby bird trying to take off for the first time.
"It's not even that hot, you live in the desert. Moons, you know that Carpathian lives in Scorpion Den and he melts whenever it's too hot. I'm sure this would be much... Nicer than there... Sorry if I came off a rude." Charcoal quickly apologized.
"Now that's an idiot if I ever saw one." Radiant grumbled to herself.
"So, how have you three been holding up?" Tide called out. Radiant could hear him mumble something else, but couldn't quite make out what he was saying.
"Well, I'm being held high above the ground by two dragons who I'm pretty sure would just drop me if you weren't here, so things are good." Radiant chimed.
"Don't say that," Adonis snarled. "We'd never drop you."
"Really?" Radiant curled in her antennae and rolled her eyes sarcastically.
"Yes, really." Locust confirmed.
"That's nice to hear." Radiant said. Despite her tone being more sarcastic than anything, her response was genuine. The five dragons kept on flying for hours with small bits of uninteresting conversation here or there, which bored Radiant more than anything. She wanted to sleep, unfortunately it is quite hard to fall asleep while having your limbs stretched out while being suspended in the air. The sun was just barely touching the ocean, just about to bring on the darkness of night. Radiant could feel the grip on her talons and legs slowly waver more and more as time went on, loosing more faith in her friends promise on not dropping her to her doom.
"Camel turds..." Charcoal cursed suddenly.
"It's getting late," the SkyWing continued. "We may have to camp out."
"You'll all live. The camp is just right there." Tide raised his talons to point at some flickering lights. It was the first time Radiant had seen a place that had looked alive in what seemed like ages. She could see the outlines of dragons wandering about and... Is that fire coming from some of the dragons mouths?
Dread overwhelmed Radiant as she thought about what dragons would be there. There could be more dragons like Charcoal and Tide, or even other types. If fire could come from their mouths, only Clearsight knows what else they could do. Fire isn't supposed to come out of dragons like that, not even Clearsight had that ability from what she had learned. What could these dragons do? Turn into monsters? From that battle not too long ago it seemed like they were able to create explosive, what if this whole camp was a trap?
"Pss, Locust, Adonis." Radiant whispered.
"What?" Adonis whispered back.
"Once we get there, we run." Radiant explained.
"Excuse me?" Locust looked back to Radiant. "I get that they're weird and they're kind of suspicious, but I don't think they seem like the type to do anything bad to us."
"Because maybe they're not the ones to kill us."
"Kill you?" Charcoal said from up ahead. Radiant looked up to see Charcoal flying in place, fidgeting with his talons.
"Didn't we already have this conversation?" Tide groaned. "Listen, I don't know how it'll get through your skulls, but we're not here to kill you. There's supposedly a lot more survivors like you at the camp, all of which getting treatment from professionals. Is that enough for to not think we're going to slit your throats?"
Silence followed afterwards. The sound of the deep and hard wingbeats of the two strange dragons versus the more elegant and light sounding wingbeats from Locust and even Adonis a bit was the only thing to accompany the sound of the cold breeze of night.
"Perhaps." Locust said.
"Good, then let's go," Tide turned back around. "If you're wondering I don't like you just as much as you don't like me."
"I don't really hate you." Adonis mumbled.
"Neither do I." Locust agreed.
"Well, thanks. Doesn't really mean much to me though." Tide shrugged, continuing to fly. The stars began to slowly appear, one by one. The black blanket of night was starting to cover the sky, bringing the darkness with it.
"We're almost there everybody." Charcoal called to the rest of the group. Radiant's stomach churned as Locust and Adonis began to descend more and more, coming closer to the ground.
"Sorry if we're going a bit too fast." Locust apologized.
"Gee, thanks. Maybe you could slow down a bit instead?" Radiant snarled.
"You're very welcome for us flying you all the way across the entire bloody continent." Adonis said in a cheerful tone, though her words were drenched in sarcasm.
"Argue some more, why don't you? Besides, we're basically here." Tide snapped to the group as his legs touched down onto the ground. It was a relief to hear the sound of the grass blowing in the gentle wind, something to finally signal that this journey was finally over. Locust and Adonis followed soon after Tide and Charcoal, coming right down to the ground. They lowered down Radiant's front and back legs gently, letting her drop onto the ground with a thud.
"FINALLY!" Radiant groaned as she wriggled her claws, feeling sore after all of those hours. She was so happy to finally touch ground again that she had forgotten about how she was in a camp with possibly dangerous dragons.
"You're finally back I see." a voice said from behind all of them. Radiant perked her head up to see what looked to be a dragon who was made collectively of the shadows. They looked as though a piece of the night sky had fallen and taken the form of a dragon.
"It can't be..."
"Ar-- are you... Clearsight?" Adonis spoke before Radiant could even comprehend the situation. The dragon looked exactly like the descriptions of Clearsight in books and art.
"Who?" the black dragon asked.
"They make it sound like some sort of deity." Tide glanced over to the group.
"Well, being mistaken for some great being is certainly new."
"W--well they... You... Oh my Clearsight I'm sorry I can't even find the words..." Locust stammered.
"Listen, uhh, new dragons," the black dragon interrupted, his dark deep blue eyes not that much unlike the dark ocean at dusk. "I'm not Clearthought or whoever they're called, just a normal dragon."
"It's Clearsight," Radiant hissed. "And can you care to explain yourself?"
"This one's always like this, you'll get used to it." Tide assured.
"Got a little feisty one here, huh? Almost reminds me of Queen Glory a bit... But anyways, that's not what you wanted to hear, correct," the black dragon spoke strangely confidently. "The name's Deathbringer, bodyguard of Queen Glory. Well, was before I had to go and help on this mission to rescue the surviving dragons."
"Do you have powers like Clearsight?" Adonis questioned.
Deathbringer paused. "I don't believe so, unless you count my charms to be something gifted from the moons themselves." he winked at Adonis.
"I hate you already." Radiant grumbled in her mind.
"Besides that, no. I don't have mind reading or future sight, though that little dragonet did have both before she... Uhh..." Deathbringer stopped himself.
"She has powers like Clearsight?" Locust said seemingly star-struck.
"Well yes, anyways we should get you to your tents; do any of you have any medical problems?" Deathbringer quickly changed the subject.
"She has a broken wing and I had my head and leg screwed up after that... Explosion was it?" Locust looked to Radiant.
"It was an explosion." Radiant confirmed.
"You three were all in that fight? I wonder how you got out of Wasp's control..."
Radiant, Locust and Adonis all looked at each other. Locust had a darker and more solemn expression on his face.
"Can you just show us our tents or whatever you called them, maybe something for all three of us to share?" Adonis quickly said.
"Sure, follow me." Deathbringer whipped around with Charcoal and Tide in tow, walking off into the brightly lit camp of weird and strange dragons.
Chapter Eighteen, "Healed"
Please get me out of here, Radiant thought as she followed after Locust and Adonis, sticking close to them. She looked around wildly at the tents and lanterns, all having fire in them and not that small glowing substance inside of it. Radiant looked around at the strange new dragons, fully realizing that her life could change forever.
"Nice little camp you have set up here... Deathbringer," Locust complimented.
Even his name is setting off every alarm. 'Deathbringer'? Sounds like he'll kill us all in our sleep. Radiant zoned out for a bit, accidentally bumping into Adonis.
"Ow," Adonis whispered.
"Everything alright back there? Don't want—"
"We are fine," Locust assured. "Maybe just bring us to our tents in silence, I have a headache..."
"Understood, Greenie." Deathbringer clicked his tongue upon finishing the sentence. Locust took in a sharp breath, though said nothing.
"That over there is where the healthy Pantalan dragons go. Often times they have somebody to help them through with this tough time." Deathbringer motioned his left wing over to a circle of tents to the side.
"And Salamander should be there..." Tide grumbled to himself.
"She'll be okay, Tide," Charcoal comforted. "Besides, I don't think she'd like to see all of these dragons hurt."
"That's just because you at least have somebody with you..." Tide snapped back.
"No, you also have Carpathian and I. Speaking of which he's probably waiting for m--"
"Hey! Charcoal!" A voice called from the left of Radiant echoed through the still night, startling her. She looked over to see yet another odd dragon, but this time it really did seem like he was off. They came over to Charcoal, a happy look in its unnatural looking blacked-out eyes. It had pale scales with spikes on both his underbelly and his back, though the spikes on the belly stopped right before the arms. The spikes eventually ended right at a icy blue barb at the end that was covered in spikes.
Get me out of here. Radiant backed away, keeping her eyes on the dragon.
"Oh, hi Tide," the dragon greeted. "Sorry about Salamander..."
"I don't really need your pity right now, Carpathian; thanks." Tide looked away, trying not to make eye-contact with him.
"Alright then, want to come to the bonfire with me, Charcoal?"
"Sure, haven't seen you all day," Charcoal agreed, walking towards the dragon, who's name seemed to be 'Carpathian'.
"Did you miss me?" Carpathian asked in a playful manner. The conversation faded away as Radiant and everybody else was left in silence.
"Well they seem happy, unlike Toad over here--"
"Get my name wrong ONE more time NightWing and I'll bash your skull in. I'm going, hope I never see any of you again," Tide growled aggressively, storming off into the surroundings tents.
"Hope so too!" Radiant called after him.
"Hey, leave the dragon alone," Locust whispered as he bumped Radiant's tail.
"Well now that those two are off, time to show you your new homes for a bit. Don't be shocked if only a few dragons are there. Heh, there's... Quite a lot still missing, so you can make as much noise as you'd like." Deathbringer tried to joke, which ended up just making Radiant more uncomfortable than she already was.
"Hilarious." Adonis noted.
"Agreed, now off to the Healers for Red and Greenie over here."
"Our names are Radiant and Locust, Deathbringer..." Locust sputtered out the last name.
"Capiche," Deathbringer replied, continuing his way through the tents. All around her were green-brown tents that looked like they were made out of hide and cloth. It was messy and rather cluttered, every now and then a few bonfires springing up. It was like the Glitterbazaar in Jewel Hive, but with tents and fires every now and then with weird dragons surrounding them. Some had barbed tails, others had frills on their heads, some even looked exactly like Deathbringer. Torches and small lanterns were dotted around, hanging from tents or even just on the ground. The orange glow coming from the fire lit up the camp, which almost gave Radiant the feeling of safety.
"Looks like we're just about there. The Healers will help you with your wing and his leg." Deathbringer moved aside one tent, which was bigger than the others. Radiant walked on the stamped down grass of the savanna into it, though she was clearly hesitating.
"They're not going to kill you, Red," Deathbringer assured, putting down his cocky voice and sounding more serious.
"Thanks, I think I got the memo," Radiant snarled, carefully stepping in. The sudden shift from the prickly grass to the soft tent was jarring, though soothing. It felt like she was almost walking into a bed, though one that had very little cushion and still had a bit of prickles to it. Still better than the straw bed she could sleep upon in Wasp Hive.
Radiant shuddered. Memories of the Wasp Hive Academy tried to pry their way back into Radiant's psyche, but she instead focused on what was inside. Inside were rows of beds, though Radiant was hesitant to even call them beds. They looked like they were made from leather and had no padding to them. Were these dragons less advanced to them? It would make sense, they seem like barbarians after all. There were quite a lot of beds full of dragons, some familiar some not. SilkWings, HiveWings, even what looked like a LeafWing were being taken care of by some of these strange dragons, being forced to eat what looked like oddly shaped leaves.
"Is... Is that a LeafWing?" Locust stammered behind Radiant, breaking her out of thought a bit.
"Those are RainWings, they are from Pyrrhia." Deathbringer motioned to the dragons who were rushing around. They were thin and looked more snake-like than any other dragon Radiant has seen so far. They had frill-like appendages coming from their heads and long tails, looking as though it was once just a normal tail before being stretched to its limits. The most strange thing was that they were colourful, but they were changing colours quite often. Dragons shouldn't be able to change their colours.
"No, I meant that one over there," Locust corrected, pointing to a pale green dragon. It fit exactly like what LeafWings were supposed to look like, and even up close Radiant was still afraid of them. They were supposedly dangerous, but the school has taught her a lot of lies. She didn't exactly know what to believe. Still, Radiant was on edge; LeafWings did fight in a giant war with the HiveWings and SilkWings years ago after all.
"Oh, probably yes," Deathbringer answered. "I'll leave you to these dragons."
"What about me?" Adonis asked.
"Are you injured?" Deathbringer asked, though there was a tinge of sarcasm in his tone.
"No, but I wish to stay with my friends."
"Rules are rules," Deathbringer said, pausing a bit. "And those were made to be broken. You can stay if you really want. Just wait here for a bit, the Healers will see you and sit you down," he assured the group, giving them all a wink before walking out.
"So... Dragons like Clearsight exist." Adonis said, dumbfounded by the events unfolding before her.
"Believe so..." Locust sat down, flinching a bit when trying to find a comfortable spot for his leg. "This will take a while for me to adjust... Is... Is Clearsight even special?"
"I mean, sure," Radiant interjected. "She saved our ancestors from natural disasters and could warn us about future events, which would have useful if she had just told the previous generations that us SilkWings and LeafWings were supposed to be under the HiveWing's command. Real nice of her to just leave us in the dark about that seemingly very important detail to happen in the future."
"I don't think she could've looked that far into the future." Adonis noted.
"Then why did she write down how Monarch and Whatsherface were supposed to be just... Fine with cutting down the trees and be enslaved by the HiveWings? Wasp said it was in the book during a meeting or something."
"You're a bit of a history nerd, aren't you?" Adonis chuckled.
Radiant groaned. "This is basic knowledge, idiot."
"Hey, I thought I was the idiot here." Locust joked.
"You still are an idiot," Radiant confirmed. "You both just so happen to share the same brain."
"Well... I don't even know if Clearsight would have written that down, you know?" Locust changed the conversation a bit. "She seems to care a lot about her children, so I doubt she would see Wasp do this and be okay with it.
"Are you questioning the word of Clearsight? Daring, aren't you?" Radiant rolled her eyes.
"Well, I just— it could be wrong. Wasp didn't let Sequoia see the book so... Maybe it was a lie? It wouldn't be that hard to believe, for me at least." Locust shrugged.
"That... Oddly enough makes a bit of sense," Adonis said.
"A bit?" Radiant snorted.
"Are you defending Wasp or something? Why are you so uptight about this?" Adonis asked suddenly, a hint of annoyance in her voice. Radiant was appalled by the question. She couldn't even fathom why Adonis, a friend of all dragons, would believe Radiant would be defending such a sick dragon.
"No, and besides she's probably dead so it doesn't matter anyways," Radiant huffed. "And WHERE IS THE HEALER?!"
"Right here!" a voice called from the other side of the tent. "I'm coming!"
Radiant looked over to see a large dragon tending to some of the injured on the other side of the tent. Their scales were a dull brown, but somehow they gave off a comforting presence. Radiant recognized this type of dragon, they were like the one she had talked to for a bit during that battle.
The one that stepped on my tail.
The dragon hurried over towards the group of dragons, rubbing her eyes. "So sorry for the wait... We're having a shortage of Healers an— you probably don't really care and... Okay! Uh... who needs help the most?"
The group all looked at each other.
"He does, he has a broken wing and a concussion. I'm fine," Radiant said.
"No, you're not," Adonis corrected. "She has a broken wing."
"Oh moons," the dragon said, her eyes eyeing the silk around Locust's leg. "What's that?"
"It's a cast," Radiant hissed.
"It doesn't look very... You know it just looks great!.." the dragon said. "And... You don't need anything?" they looked up to Adonis.
"No, I'm quite good, thanks for asking though," Adonis said.
Silence followed soon after, only occasionally being broken up by the groans or coughing of the ill and injured in the tent.
"Are you three a group?" The dragon suddenly asked.
"Well, yes," Locust answered. "Is that important somehow?"
"No! No not really!" the dragon chuckled. "My name is Fauna, I-I'm MudWing," they said.
"Cool, now can you just fix us so we can get out of this disease infested area?" Radiant said bluntly.
"It'll... Take a while for you to heal," Fauna explained, rubbing her eyes once more. Radiant now noticed that bags were under their eyes. "But... Seeing as you both are... Well, standing, you could probably manage coming in here a couple times for a check up. I just need to get some casts on you both."
"That would be nice," Locust said, picking at his cast a bit.
"That would NOT be nice. I don't want a giant cast on my wing!" Radiant whined.
"You... Have to get the cast. It'll help," Fauna reassured. Radiant saw Fauna mumble something under their breath.
"Just get it, Radiant. We'll be... Cast buddies!" Locust gave a weak smile. Radiant looked at both of her friends and sighed.
"Ffffine!... I'll get it."
"Perfect! Now just uh... I can probably find a cot to have you both sit on so I can wrap the casts on." Fauna turned around and walked around the tent, looking around for a spare bed. Hesitantly, Radiant followed after the MudWing. The SilkWing looked at her surroundings, at the rows upon rows of cots holding dragons with horrible wounds. Some were scarred and burned, others were blinded and had nothing but bandages for limbs. Some were sleeping while a lot more were coughing and groaning in agony.
What a great place, Radiant thought to herself, trying to make herself feel better.
"Maybe just sit down right here," Fauna offered. Radiant looked ahead of them to see a slightly stained and empty cot.
"You can go first," Locust said, nudging Radiant forward a bit.
I don't want to...
"Okay," Radiant agreed. She didn't exactly understand why, but the thought of this dragon touching her didn't make her feel comfortable. She knew she had nothing to be afraid of, but a deep pit in her stomach was beginning to form.
"It won't take long," Fauna promised. "When we're done here you can probably go to you tents-- do you even know where your tents are? Probably not."
"Can't you just do it?" Radiant snapped?
"I need to just... Ah! Here it is," Fauna grabbed a roll of bandages from under the cot and lightly smiled at Radiant. "Now just hold it out for me and I'll try to wrap it as painlessly as possible."
Radiant reluctantly opened up her wings, not looking Fauna in the eyes. She flinched as the MudWing began to wrap up the wing. She constantly shifted around, extremely uncomfortable. Repressed memories of Wasp Academy were coming back, memories of...
"Do you want me to hold your talons?" Adonis offered suddenly. Radiant looked up to see her friend with a concerned look on her face.
"Maybe..." Radiant strained. Adonis held out her talons and the red SilkWing grasped onto them.
"You can hold mine too if you want." Locust stuck out his own talons, which Radiant grabbed onto.
"I'll only be a bit more. Trust me too, it's completely fine for it to hurt when doing this."
It's not the pain that's making me do this, idiot, Radiant snarled mentally. As Fauna was getting closer and closer to her body, causing Radiant more stress. Her heartbeat raced faster and faster and her breathing got more shallow.
"Ow, ow. You're hurting me!..." Adonis whined. Radiant hadn't even noticed she had a death-grip on both of her friends.
"Oh..." Radiant loosed her grip slightly.
"Maybe just try to imagine someplace safe. Somewhere that you find peaceful and nice."
"Well, what if there is no place that I find 'safe and nice'?" Radiant strained as now her wing was beginning to hurt from the bandages.
"Uh... Maybe imagine doing something you like. Or just maybe talk to your friends?"
"I don't think that'll work either," Locust said.
"Don't worry about me, I'll just suck it up. It's just a stupid cast," Radiant assured.
"Well, okay then." Adonis complied.
"See? It's done!" Fauna smiled. Radiant looked to her side to see her wing was entirely wrapped in a blanket of whiteness. Bandages delicately wrapped tightly and carefully around her wing, though it still felt uncomfortable.
"Okay then," Radiant shrugged, letting go of Locust and Adonis. "It's your turn now."
"I know, I know," Locust said, rubbing his talons. Radiant noticed that she had squeezed so hard on both of their talons that she left a small mark.
"Alright, now yours will be a lot quicker. Only just a leg." Fauna grabbed another roll of bandages and instantly got to work. Radiant watched, almost entertained by how Fauna was wrapping Locust’s leg. She had unraveled the silk that used to contain it, revealing a gross and dirty leg that she cleaned with some liquid Radiant didn't care to learn what it was called. She then swiftly wrapped the leg up in the white paper, all while Locust didn't even flinch once.
"That should be it!" Fauna stood up and helped Locust off of the cot. "I believe that there is a few empty tents near by the firepit. Maybe all three of you can set up in one of them. Come back if you need anything else!" Fauna smiled.
"You got it." Adonis perked back.
"I was— heh— I was more talking to them but... Okay." Fauna corrected.
"Oh, that's... Stupid me I guess!" Adonis gave a half-hearted laugh and started to walk out of the tent.
"Hey! Wait up!" Radiant called after Adonis and followed her out of the stuffy medicine tent.
"Remember Locust, if your head aches I have some stuff for you! Take it easy and try to steer clear from loud noises that can cause you pain."
"Got it," Locust said, trailing behind Radiant as all three barged out.
"Ugh, glad to be out of there. Every dragon in there coughing and...and wheezing and just...gross."
"I didn't really mind it but okay," Adonis said in a snarky tone. "I think the firepit is over there." the blue-white SilkWing pointed towards the large fire off to the side.
"So you're telling me the large flame might be related to the firepit?" Locust asked sarcastically.
"Oh, shut up." Radiant gently hit him with her tail.
The group made the short walk over to the firepit, seeing tents upon tents surrounding it. Some green, some red, some black and some yellow.
"Let's take that one." Adonis pointed to the one tent that was white.
"I—" Radiant began
"Okay." Locust interrupted Radiant before she could say anything. She grumbled as she followed after, heading inside of the tent.
It was still just as cold inside as it was outside. The only thing really to give any warmth were five or so blankets.
"Can we have a blanket for—" Adonis tried.
"No," Radiant snapped back. "We are not having any forts."
"Aww..." Adonis pouted. She trudged in, looking downcast.
Locust leaned in and whispered something to Adonis. It was soft and Radiant couldn't hear what he had said, but Adonis seemed to like it.
"Okay, sounds good."
"Can we please just get some sleep? We've been flying all day and I need to rest." Radiant mumbled. Barely thinking at all, she grabbed one of the blankets, wrapped herself in it, laid down on the uncomfortable ground with rocks and pebbles underneath the white tent and drifted off to sleep.
Chapter Nineteen, "Ocean"
"Pst, wake up."
Radiant rolled over and rubbed her eyes. She felt as though she had both the best and worst sleep of her life; constantly vigilant and aware in case anything bad were to happen and feeling so relieved to finally sleep after a long day of being suspended in the air.
Now that sleep was ruined.
"What is it?" Radiant grumbled as her vision became more focused. Then, she saw whoever what waking her up was certainly not Adonis nor Locust.
It was yet another strange dragon.
"YIPES!" Radiant fell back quickly and threw a blanket at the intruder, covering their head.
"Hey!" the outline of the dragon's moved left and right. "Is this something SilkWings do normally?"
"Get out of my tent!" Radiant yelled.
"Oh, sorry," the dragon said, taking off the blanket. "Here." They placed the blanket back into Radiant's talons.
"Name's Carpathian," the dragon smiled, his midnight black eyes piercing through Radiant's very soul. "You... Probably saw me yesterday when Charcoal left with me."
"Why did you wake me up?" Radiant hissed.
"Oh, sorry." Carpathian quickly walked just outside of the tent and into the blazing sun, his scales looking even whiter in the light. His horns were a duller blue and spikes... Spikes almost covered his entire neck all the way to a sharp pale blue barb at the end. "Your friends wanted you to wake up in time for breakfast."
Radiant looked around the tent and noticed that Locust and Adonis were already gone.
"Do you... You where the Dining Hall is?" Carpathian hesitated.
"Of course not!" Radiant said. "Why would I know where it is?"
Carpathian blew his black forked tongue at Radiant. "It's a surprise you didn't get along with Tide better. Or, maybe it is... Oh well, I can show you!"
Radiant sighed before getting up from off the ground and walking out of the tent, avoiding eye-contact with the dragon.
"So... What's your name? I never really your friends' names either..."
"Radiant," the red SilkWing hissed.
"Oh, cool!" Carpathian said, his black eyes almost having some sparkle to them. An awkward silence followed afterwards, leaving the dragons alone to wander the maze of tents and quickly made buildings.
"Am I being too talkative? I'm sorry it's just... So amazing."
"That you exist! That this whole PLACE exists! All my life I've just thought that Pyrrhia was the only continent around. Looking back that's... Not a very smart thought process." Carpathian chuckled to themselves.
"Are there a lot of dragons on... 'Pureia'?"
"Pyrrhia," Carpathian corrected. "And to answer your question, yeah there are quite a few. There are seven tribes, and I'm two of them."
"How can you be two tribes at once?"
"My mother was a SandWing and my father an IceWing. That could probably explain a few of my features." Carpathian picked at small and pointed neck scales.
"So you're a... Hybrid?" Radiant was hesitant to ask. Hybrids were taboo in the Hives and were seen as freaks of nature, so seeing one right in front of her was unnerving to say the least.
"Yep! A lot of dragons from where I'm from are hybrids," Carpathian said.
"Okay," Radiant looked away from Carpathian, pretending to not be interested. "So, what's the big deal in coming here?"
Carpathian processed Radiant's question for a bit. "We came because of how these Representatives mostly failed their task and the queens instantly resorted to war. I mean, how mad would you be if say... Your heir that's been gone for like six years came back only to be killed like a year after seeing them again?"
"Not really that mad."
"Oh," Carpathian looked away from Radiant. "Well uh... After all of that fighting a while ago or so the continent has been pretty deserted. Deathbringer set this all up from the orders of the RainWing Queen just so that we can find and help dragons like you who had been hiding in Hives."
"What happened to all other dragons, the ones you can't find?" Radiant asked.
"They're... Assumed to have been taken by Wasp. When she lost she fled into the Abyss — that giant hole in the ground — and they're doing moons knows what."
"Sounds great." Radiant inspected her claws.
Carpathian just stayed quiet for a while. "Don't you feel bad at all for any of them?"
"Not really, most of them probably deserved it," Radiant half-lied.
"Wow, that's... That's something..."
The pair awkwardly walked together before coming across a rather large tent with a delicious scent coming from it, though it was also tainted with the scent of charred meat. The tent was a dusty yellow colour and from the looks of it had plenty of tables inside.
"Best be going now, heh." Carpathian gave a small wave as he walked inside. Radiant hesitated before walking in as well, underwhelmed by how few dragons there were.
The red SilkWing looked over and saw Adonis waving to her from the other side of the tent, Locust just sitting in front of her.
"Gee, did you miss me so much you sent somebody after me?" Radiant teased.
"Well, no. We were worried if you had ran off while I was getting a checkup."
"You had a checkup? Did that dragon do anything to you?"
"No, she didn't. She mostly just checked for any other wounds on him and after a bit asked some personal questions. She says that Locust here needs a bit of... Well, help like the other dragons here who are recovering from being controlled by Wasp."
Locust poked at his slab of steak averting eye contact with Adonis while she talked.
"We uh..." Adonis paused for a bit.
"We also talked about you, but only for a bit though!" Adonis said.
Radiant just took a deep breath that oozed with frustration. She was far too tired to get mad, much less mad over something like her friends talking about her.
"What did this doctor say?"
"Well, Fauna said that from the sounds of it you... Might need to talk to somebody about... Wasp Academy," Locust mumbled.
"No, no, NO!" Radiant shook her head violently. "I'm not letting some dragon know about all of that stuff that happened there. I- you don't even know about everything that happened there, why would I tell some random stranger about-"
"Fauna only said you might," Locust interrupted. "You don't have to."
"Oh, okay," Radiant looked away. "I still don't want to do it!"
"That's completely fine," Adonis bit into a weird looking yellow fruit. "You should have some food, this stuff is to die for!"
"What is that?"
"It's a pineapple. I had a few slices of watermelon myself too, it's pretty tasty."
"You two always seem to be hungry, why is that?" Locust asked suddenly.
Adonis and Radiant both shared a glance. In that fraction of a second, Radiant could almost feel a connection of some sorts, a feeling that they're... Bonded by some coincidence that happened in their past.
"I never got to eat much at Wasp Academy. Anything is better than nothing," Radiant said honestly.
"Oh no!" Locust frowned. "Did they really... Do that?"
"Oh yes, because everything else is completely believable, except for me starving. That much is too unbelievable-"
"I think I got it," Locust stretched his talons a bit. "Well, I got to go to a little session with some 'ForestWing'-"
"RainWing." Adonis corrected.
"Thanks, uh... Yeah I have to go with some RainWing to something that might make my leg feel better–"
Suddenly, the atmosphere and general aura of the ten grew darker as the dragons surrounding them stopped talking. Radiant looked up to see two dragons walk in, a dark green NightWing and a pale blue ice dragon, which she guessed to be an IceWing. The NightWing slowly walked through the tent, Radiant seeing her eyes were bloodshot and her general feeling of being sad and distraught. She couldn't get the same from the IceWing, but assumed he was feeling the same.
"I apologize for... We apologize for entering in on your breakfast, but we wish to make a short announcement," the NightWing said.
"We got news that most of the survivors have been found and that we are done searching for any remaining dragons. We have found fifty of the thousands of HiveWings and SilkWings taken by Wasp," the IceWing announced. "We just... We wanted to recognize those that have fallen."
"Yes," the NightWing agreed, her voice cracking a bit. "Our friends, our family, our loved ones... All who have perished either during the Battle for Pantala or have been victims of Wasp. Their memories and moments we've spent with them will be immortalized by us all in four days, where we will throw a memorial for those who have died and a small reception afterwards."
Not a party... Radiant grumbled. I hope that's not mandatory.
"That is all for now, goodbye." The NightWing have a small wave as she slumped over, quietly sobbing once more.
"Moons, moon, moons..." Locust cursed as he held his head.
"Wha–" Radiant asked before stopping herself.
"They're... They're the dragons I saw come right after I– I killed that SandWing..." Locust mumbled. "They hate me... They want me dead, I killed their–"
"It's not your fault, Locust," Radiant lowered her voice. "It's Wasp's fault. Even if you say it's your fault, even if you think everyone hates you, just know that I don't hate you that much."
Adonis nodded. "It's... Challenging, I get that. It's probably very traumatizing to see that happen and– Locust, we love you. We won't leave your side, trust us."
Locust gave a slight smile. "Thanks... That means a lot."
"Of course it does, you big wuss." Radiant playfully brushed her tail against Locust's non-broken leg.
(WIP and will update regularly)
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