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 Author's Note

This is my first Fanfiction! I know I've made mistakes, so if you see one, don't be afraid to shout out!If I have made a spelling mistake, feel free to fix it up. This is set about one hundred years before the war. Enjoy!

- Queen Bluefire

Prologue - Five years before 

Leaflitter loved the Hatchery.

For him, there was no better place, sitting in the middle of the egg-shaped dome, wathching the eggs grow and hatch. Even though the queen had told him that there were more productive things he could be doing with his time, Leaflitter stayed there, lying in the golden dots of sunlight, somethimes checking on the eggs, shifting thier nests, brushing off stray beetles with his claws.

As he lay in the sun one morning, unmoving, he observed one of the eggs,which growing bigger and bigger. Now it was almost twice the size of a normal RainWing egg. Leaflitter watched with intrest as a large crack appered in the shell. The white egg gleamed in the sun, nearly blinding him. He padded forwads, and another crack appered.

Part of the egg shattered, and a bit of white fluid dribbled out. Leaflitter leaned over the egg, peering through the crack. All he could see, though, was a tangled mess of wings, tail, legs and head. The dragonet inside kicked, dystoying the last bit of eggshell.

Leaflitter smiled at the newly hatched dragonet. Gently he picked it up, and carefully examined it. Its head was beautifully refined,and its orange scales were like polished gems.Little black spots dotted down the thin body, and on her head. She looked like a leopard, he thought, glancing down at his dark green scales, which were spotted with patches of yellow and light green. The dragonet seemingly had no flaws, until he looked at the wings. They were huge, twice the size of a normal dragonet's. The wing muscles could not lift such heavy wings, let alone fly. Leaflitter was a used to be a healer, and by his knowledge, this dragonet would never fly.

The dragonet squeaked tiredly, exhausted after its long stuggle.It curled up in his talons,wings drooping. Leaflitter tenderly hugged it to his chest,spread his wings, and took of towards the village.

Chapter One

Leopard dug her claws into the branch,wrapping her tail around it tightly. Carefully she stood up on her hind legs, wings  half splayed for balance, claws reaching for the golden mango. It sat there, just out of the reach of her clawtips. Though she reached and stained, Leopard just could not reach that mango.

Leopard scowled up at it.Of course the yummest mango is out of my reach,She thought grumperly. Leopard sat back, thinking. Maybe if she could poke the mango with a stick, it would fall into her talons...

Leopard poked the mango with a stick she had found. The fruit swayed, but didn't fall off. Bother. She poked it again, harder this time. It rocked even more violently, but still refused to come off. Leopard reached up to poke it again, when loud voices drifted in the wind. Curious, she layed the stick carefully down, and squinted into the forest. Two dragons were making their way towards the mango tree, chatting and laughing.

Sloth and Flytrap. Leopard quicky camoflaged herself, not wanting them to see her. The were always bullying her, stealing her fruit, stepping on her tail, and mocking her wings.

Flytrap stopped under the tree. "Look at me," she said, changing her poison green scales to orange/yellow and making black leopard spots down her back."I'm Leopard the DudWing!" She smiled cruelly, and flapped her wings like she was trying to fly,but couldn't .

Sloth laughed. " Queen Beauty should banish her so she can"t spread her freaky genes."

Flytrap smirked."Yeah," she agreed. Leopard felt hot tears prick the corners of her eyes. Sloth and Flytrap were always nasty towards her, but...

Flytrap now directed her attention to the mango tree. Her yellow eyes scanned the tree, and hooked themselves on the mango that Leopard had tried so hard to get."Sloth, will you go and get me that mango?" She pointed at the mango with one hooked claw. Sloth nodded. He flew up, and tried to grab it, but it slid out of his talons. Frowning, he tried to land on the branch that Leopard was crouched on. His claws scatched her as he half landed on her, and she shrieked as she tumbled of the branch, crashing through branches, leaves, and mangos before hitting the ground with a thud. The world turned black for a moment, the faded back into view. 

"Well,look what dropped by. Are your little clawies hurting? Do you want me to kiss them better?" Flytrap cooed.

Sloth mock shuddered. "Who would want to kiss that ?"

Bonk. The mango had finally let go of the tree, and had hit Leopard on the head."Ow," she winced. She lifted her talons to get the offending fruit, which had split when it hit her head, and runnny mango juice was running down her face.

"Have a nice day, DudWing!" Flytrap and Sloth raced off, laughing hard.

Leopard sighed, and wiped the mango off her face. She brushed as much of the dirt and mango juice as she could off, then headed off to the river. 

The river was located near the village, winding in and out off the trees. It had a few large pools, and a stunning waterfal that emptyed off the edge of the forest. Leopard slipped into the water, and her normally dead-weight wings floated at the top of the water. She pretended to fly as she dipped and dived through the cool water, washing the gooey gunk off her scales.

Swimming was the closest to flying that Leopard ever got. She always felt a pang in her heart when she went swimming, a sad ache that squashed her joy.   

Before long she was clean, so she clambered out off the pool, and slowly made her way back to the village. It was late afternoon by the time she had reached the top. Her claws were sore from climbing up the tall strangler fig-since she couldn't fly to reach the village, she had to climb. Whispers drifted her ears as she walked towards Leaflitter's house.

"Poor thing."

"She's odd, isn't she?"

"Wish she wouldn't walk around everywhere-all freakish, you know."

"How awful."

Leopard ignored them. Thoughts flew round her brain like toucans.You could run away, you know, whisped a little voice in the back of her mind. She stopped, turning the thought over in her mind. She had nothing to lose, she supposed. And she could see new dragons, try new foods, see new places... She liked the idea more and more.

Leopard entered Leaflitter's house door. Leaflitter was a retired healer, so although he didn't technicaly help dragons anymore,his hut was still full of herbs, pastes wrapped in leaves, bunches of berries hanging from the roof. Leaflitter was humming to himself, mixing a poultice in a gourd. Leopard went up to him.

"What's that?" She asked suspeciosly.

"Your new poultice," he grinned. " I've put in avocado,dart mushrooms,binga berries, and dragon saliva." Leaflitter often made rubs for Leopard's often aching wings.

"Dragon saliva?! Bleah! You are so not putting that on me!"

" Don't worry, it's all mixed in," he reassured, and scooped up a talonful and rubbed it into her shoulder. Suprisingly it was cool, and seemed to melt into her scales, soothing the tight mucles.

" I added the dragon saliva to give it a better consistancy." Leaflitter explained.

"Couldn't you have used something else?" Leopard rolled her eyes. Should she tell him? She hadn't even made op her mind yet. Or had she? Somehow she knew that the idea would always be there, niggling away. She struggled inwardly for a moment, then the adventure side won. I will.

" Leaflitter... I'm.... I'm...I'm leaving the rainforest." She stammered out.

Leaflitter turned to her sharply. "Why would you want to do that? The rainforest is perfect."And you can't fly, she knew he thought.

"You can't change my mind. I'm going." Leopard looked at the ground. Memories of all the times dragons had stared at her huge wings, when Flytrap had snuck monkey poo into her hammock,or, worst of all, when she watched the other RainWing dragonets swoop and soar with their flight instructor, while she was stuck in the village,on the ground.

" If I come back, can I... Can I still live with you?" She asked hopefully.

Leaflitter smiled. "Of course you can...just be careful out there, okay?" They hugged, then she ran out the door before he saw the tears on her face. 

Chapter Two

Leopard left early the next morning, before any of the other RainWings were awake. She wanted to be gone before the whispers started. She walked through the forest, picking fruit to eat as she went along. Since she was walking, it was afternoon by time she reached the edge of the rainforest.

The land outside the rainforest was long fields of swishy grass, small clumps of trees, and scraggly bushes that dotted the land. Cloudless skies watched over her as she walked, enjoying her new freedom. Four hours she walked, till her talons ached and her mouth was dry from thirst. It was getting dark by now, and Leopard was painfully aware of the hungry feeling in her stomach. She continued walking, ignoring the pang in her belly, till she came to a river. Leopard drank deeply, letting the cool water slide down her dry throut, and nosed around for something to appese her groaning tummy.

She looked about for some something to eat, and to her delight found a clump of strawberries. Eagerly she gobbled them up, even the unripe ones. Stomach full, she now turned her attention to finding a place to sleep.

Leopard would've been blind if it hadn't been for the two full moons that sat in the sky like twin silver coins. Their light illuminated the landscape around her, revealing a small cave, tucked away between a clump of trees.Tiedly she dragged some dry leaves into the cave, and snuggled into them. In the dim light, she failed to notice the talonprints that dotted the sandy cave floor.

Bright sunlight streamed into the cave, awaking Leopard with a groan. For a moment she wondered if she had fallen out of her hammock before remembering what had happ the day before.Leopard wiped the sleep from her eyes, and stumbled out of the cave, towards the river.

After a long drink, she glanced around,hungry. She had eaten all the berries yesterday, and she couldn't see any more. Sighing, Leopard walked back to the cave. Maybe she would sleep for awhile more....

As she padded into the cave, something small and scaly kept onto her back. Leopard shrieked."Aaaaaaaaagggghhhh!"

The thing jumped off her, and onto a boulder.Leopard saw now that it was a dragonet, but not a RainWing. It had deep purple main scales, with lighter points and wings. It's horns where white, as was its underbelly,and spikes. The crest,claws and back line were black.

"Watch out, intruder! I'm really dangerous! Oh." The dragonet spotted the 'intruder' for the first time."What are you?" It asked, bouncing off the rock, and landing neatly next to Leopard, who was still shaking violently.

"M-m--m-me? I'm a RainWing." She whispered softly.

"Oh." the dragonet shook herself. " Well, sorry I scared you. My name's Shadowseer! Are you hungry? I'm hungry. Let's go eat!" Shadower pulled Leopard out into the sunlight, and towards the river. Leopard felt excited now she had gotten over her fright. Maybe she and Shadowseer could be friends!

Shadowseer brought her to the river. "What do you like to eat? Fish?"

Leopard blanched. "You eat animals ?" She gasped, horrified and disgusted.

"Yeah. What else would I eat? Grass?"

"That's disgusting."

Shadowseer shrugged, and dove into the river, bubbles streaming up from where she had plunged. Leopard peered in, then jumped back as the purple dragonet shot out of the water, clutching two thrashing fish. She deftly snapped their necks, before hungrily chomping into one.

"There's an apple tree over there,"Shadowseer pointed with the second fish, " Since you don't like fish."

Leopard hurried over to the grove of trees, and sure enough, there was a towering apple tree, brimming with fruit. Hungrily she gobbled apple after apple, till her stomach ached.

After she had finished, Leopard rejoined Shadowseer. The dragonet was cleaning her claws in the river, washing the blood and fishscales that were glued to her talons.

"Um,Shadowseer, not to be rude or anything, but what are you?"

Shadowseer whirled round." What kind of a question is that?" She asked,offended.

Leopard turned red,literally. " I don't know what kind of dragon you are, the elders never told stories about black dragons really."

" Oh. Well, in that case, I'm a NightWing." She went on to explain just about everything about her tribe, including the history.Apparently, the NightWings had no proper home, ever since they fled from a crazy animus called Darkstalker. Now they lived on a volcanic island, nearish to the Sky Kingdom.

After Shadower had finished, Leopard asked, " But why did you leave?Surely you had friends there."

The NightWing took a deep breath. "It's a long story. Sit down and I'll tell you."

Chapter Three

"My parents never loved me.

Maybe my mother did, but she was always busy, making this,fiddling with that. She was a a scientist , you see, and an excellent one at that. Joy was always busy, since the queen had ordered her to find out and test something, so she simply had no time for me.

Father,however,was a different story. He openly hated me, since I was a girl, and he wanted a boy. I hated him too. Why did it matter what gender I was? Who cared?

Him, it seemed.

Life sucked. The NightWing school was rubbish, and all the other dragonets thought I was stupid. We were taught how to lie,how to seem to be reading your mind, how to write convincing prophecies. I hated it. How could our tribe, the NightWings, have fallen to tricks and lies?

So I ran away. Father wouldn't care, he'd be glad I was gone. Mother.... I don't know about her.

I flew for a long time, over the sea, and nearly got lost, but luckily I made it to the coast. It was really cool, exploring the land, seeing places I had only ever read about in books.

One day a really really really really ( okay Shadow that's enough really 's) big storm blew in. My little shelter I had made was knocked down. Trees fell left and right, rain bucketed, and the wind howled like a dying dragon.

It was, to be honest, just a littttttle bit scary, so I waited till the storm blew out, and flew away as fast I could.

For the last few months I've been exploring Pyrriha, and that's why I'm here." Shadowseer finished, somewhat lamely. She shuffled her talons,embarrassed, and drew a star in the mud.

Leopard mused on this new information for a while. Shadowseer must of been brave to leave her patents like that. She wished she had parents. It must be nice, she thought wistfully, to have dragons who cared for you and loved you because you are theirs, their dragonet. Not that Leaflitter hadn't cared for her. He had loved her, picked her up when she fell, wiped her tears away when she was upset....

" What about you?"

Leopard looked up, startled, her train of thought severed. "Me? I...well....umm...I live in a rainforest. Or at least, I used to....."

It was a relief to finally tell someone. The words flew out of her mouth, like trapped butterflies waiting to be released. Shadow listened intently, sometimes asking a question, or tipping her head slightly to hear better.

There was a moment's silence when Leopard finished. Shadowseer was quiet for a while, thinking. Leopard wondered if she had somehow offended Shadow or maybe she had overshared?

"Do you wanna come with me?" Shadowseer asked, a long grin on her face. "We could explore Pyrrha together! And then", she blushed slightly,"I could write a scroll about it. So, what do you say?"

Leopard grinned. "Yes!"

Chapter Four

Sunshine shone brightly on the bubbling river, as two dragonets swam down it, one black, one orange. The river carried them rapidly down the Mud Kingdom,towards the sea. They encountered few rapids, or rocks.

During the afternoon they found food, made a shelter, and told stories and sang songs. Leopard enjoyed this greatly. What a change from home! No one talked to the dud, except Sloth and Flytrap, and they certainly didn't sing songs. She felt truly happy with Shadow,who treated her as an equal, a tribe mate, a friend.

About three days later, the swamps gave way to mangroves, and the mud to sand. The salty tang of sea air filled her nostrils, and the cries of seagulls echoed in her ears.

That evening, Leopard and Shadowseer stood on the beach, the wind tugging gently at their wings, waves washing around their talons.

" It's amazing," Leopard breathed, staring out at the sea.

" Yeah. But it's also cold, wet, and sneaky!" giggled Shadow. With a sweeping movement, she whipped her tail through the water, splashing her RainWing friend. Leopard yelped and jumped away, batting at the water drops.

" You think that's sneaky? Watch this!" Leopard's scales rippled till she was impossible to see. Smiling, she lept on Shadowseer, flipping her onto the ground. Kicking sand everywhere, the pair rolled and wrestled till the sun went down in a glow of light.

Sleeply they returned to their 'nest' and curled up together, content.

Leopard awoke the next morning to the sound of gulls crying and waves crashing on the sandy beaches.Slowly she stretched her wings, and rubbed her eyes.

Shadow was still asleep. Leopard wondered if she should wake her, but, remembering how tired her friend had been the night before, she decided against it.

With a leap of pure joy and exhilaration, Leopard galloped down the beach to the water's edge. Salty spray splashed her face, and the wet sand sunk from under her talons. She took a deep breath, enjoying the a salty smell.

Something blue flashed in the corner of her eye. Startled, Leopard turned around and instinctively her scales melted into the soft colour of sand. Quickly and softly she crept to wards the blurry blue blob that sat on the beach about twenty dragon lengths away.

As she drew near, Leopard realised that the blob was a SeaWing, sitting by the edge of the sea. Leopard was delighted. A real SeaWing! Drawing ever nearer, she finally saw the SeaWing perfectly. He (she assumed they were a he) was a beautiful light aqua colour, with navy spines, horns, and claws. His underbelly was a even lighter shade of aqua, and his eyes were deep pools of ultramarine, surrounded by strange silver wire with clear stone in the middle.

"Hello!" she said, and at once a rush of happy orange flooded her scales. The SeaWing jumped, and dropped the long scroll he had been holding.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!", he screamed. Evidently he was not used to dragons appearing out of thin air. 

"Hi!" she repeated. "I'm sorry I scared you. My name's Leopard." Maybe jumping out at dragons was not a good way to make friends. Hmm. Inwardly she wrote a note to self: Dear Self, please do not jump out at dragons you want to befriend.

The SeaWing have recovered slightly. With a shudder, he shook all the sand off his body, picked up his scroll, and tucked it into a funny pouch he wore around his neck and chest.

"Uhh, hi!" He smiled. "I'm Atlantic. Are you a RainWing?" His ultramarine eyes scanned her in a quick, sweeping motion, as if he were comparing her to a drawing in a scroll.

"Yup,"agreed Leopard. She stared curiously at his scroll. Shadow had described scrolls to her, but she hadn't really known what they looked like until now.

Shyly, she grinned at him, and, to her delight, he grinned back.

An idea popped into her head. "Hey, would you like to come and meet my friend Shadowseer? She's really nice."

Atlantic smiled. "Sure," he said, standing up and brushing some sand off his nose. "Lead the way!"

----------------------------------------------------

In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to bring him to Shadow. She went crazy, leaping around excitedly and talking nonstop so her words blurred into a river of sound.

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