Opening the flap, Takeo stepped out into the village and was greeted, much to his surprise, by a crowd that had gathered infront of the storage hut. Every single one of them had a look of curiosity and horror on their faces. He had never seen so many cheetahs before and there looked to be more than what the village looked like it could physically support.
As he looked into the gathered crowd, he could see all the warrior cheetahs that had helped defend against the Shadus cheetah assault and along with other slimmer looking cheetahs. Their breasts were portruding out, making bulges on their robes so, the human had guessed these were the females of the group. With the females, were much smaller cheetahs with clean fur of varying colors and fairly big eyes.
Movement had caught his eye and Takeo saw Hunter and Prowlus shoving their way through the crowd.
"Back up!" Prowlus ordered. The cheetahs did so without hesitation. Prowlus and Hunter stood right next to Takeo and Prowlus looked back into the crowd. "Enough loitering, get back to work!"
The cheetahs then dispersed and the three of them watched.
"I have information for you, Prowlus." Takeo began, looking at the cheetah.
"Yes, we heard. Everything." Prowlus responded quietly, looking at the human. "And I mean EVERYTHING."
"Takeo, what did you do? The screams were nothing like we've heard before. Not even in a battlefield." Hunter asked, his voice anxious.
"I care not to go into details. At least, not right now. If what I did seems cruel, then so be it, but you have larger concerns. All that matters is that we have information to play on." Takeo shifted his gaze to Hunter, then back to Prowlus. "Shadus thought he could take this village with only one assault. He is a fool to think so."
"Shadus is no fool. Arrogant perhaps, but not a fool. Given recent events, I think that perhaps he could only afford the time and resources for one assault. It would make sense he would try to attack us. His tribe has been very successful at acquring victory." Prowlus stated.
"Regardless, we know that his assault on the city is to take place in three days. We have to be there by tommorrow if we're to help them against Shadus." Hunter pointed out, shifting weight onto a different leg.
"You'll be harming yourself if you try to make it to Warfang by tommorrow. You haven't rested since you escaped."
"We'll have to take our chances Prowlus." Takeo said, fixing his uniform. The chief looked at both of them, obviously unhappy about it all.
The chief relented and said, "Fine. Stock up on whatever supplies you need and head on. The quickest way would be through the valley and southern woods."
"What about the caves?" Hunter asked.
"They were blocked by a landslide. We've been trying to clear the entrance, but it's taking more time than we had thought. You'll have to go the longer route."
Hunter sighed, but nodded. "All right Takeo, do you need anything before we go?"
Takeo thought for a minute. "Just some water. Oh wait...." Takeo rushed into the storage room, then emerged again, holding two knives. He handed Prowlus's dagger back, who took it slowly. "Sorry for the mess in there."
"I'll take care of the body, don't worry. You should leave now."
Hunter and Takeo both ran out the main village entrance as quickly as they could. The human had not sheathed his knife yet as it was still fairly hot.
"We should stop by the river first. We can get you the water and hopefully, Zaroth will be waiting for us." Hunter said as he ran.
*Dragon Temple, Warfang*
"So, Shadus is back is he?" Cyril mused, walking with Ignitus. They stepped outside into the sunlit city.
"He is indeed. Takeo has already had a hostile encounter with the lot." Ignitus confirmed.
"I thought that the cheetahs would've known better than to try and face us again. I even killed three of Shadus's war leaders and helped decimate a majority of the armed rabble during their attack at the Surok Valley." Cyril said, more to himself than to Ignitus.
"You deterred them, nothing more. It's just taken us this long to realize it. And with the Dark Armies growing bolder and sweeping the lands, the Shadus Tribe may be more desperate." Ignitus looked out into the fields that lay infront of the great city.
"Bah, let them and the Dark Army kill each other. It'll save us the trouble of having to get our claws dirty with cheetah blood." Cyril snorted, and stretching his wings out.
"You speak rather callously." Ignitus observed, looking behind him to the Ice Guardian.
"I don't take pleasure in killing Ignitus, but I acknowledge its usefulness. The cheetahs, as primitive as they are, deserve life like any other being. Killing anything is barbaric and I've done more than my fair share of it." Cyril said slowly, looking at Ignitus sternly. "I found no enjoyment in killing those cheetahs ten years ago, but I didn't regret it either. It was a war and I did what had to be done."
"Do you share the same feelings for the apes?" Ignitus asked, looking back out into the field.
"Now that's different. They are nothing more than genocidal monsters and I have no qualms about killing them. In fact, I would take their heads as trophies if I had the time. The apes serve Malefor, the most malignant creature to ever have existed. They are responsible for the deaths of so many dragons and their hatchlings." Cyril growled a little.
"Peace, brother." Ignitus said, turning his whole body this time. "A mere question was what I was asking."
Cyril remained scowling at the Fire Guardian, but softened. "You're right. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. These are trying times for all of us." Ignitus headed back inside, with Cyril right on his heels.
"Have you...?" Cyril stopped, looking down. "Have you heard anything from Zoidius?"
"Your son will be all right Cyril. He is with Spyro and the others in the time crystal. Do not worry about the Dark Master attempting to destroy it. He will be using this distraction to help build his army. With Shadus on the rise, his attention will be even further diverted." Ignitus reassured, stopping at the vision pool and looking into the swirling liquid.
Cyril sighed, watching Ignitus stare into the pool.
"I'm sorry for pestering you Ignitus, it's just that..." Cyril shifted his gaze and stared out the window somberly. "He's all that I have left. For many years, I thought he was lost to me ever since that night. Then he comes back and..."
"I understand Cyril, and you are not pestering me. You have every right to be concerned for Zoidius." Ignitus looked back up and at Cyril. The Ice Guardian turned his head back and saw Ignitus offering him a warm smile, one that he returned. The Fire Guardian resumed watching the pool.
"How long will he and the others be imprisoned like that?" Cyril asked anxiously.
"The crystal prison will break when the energy to sustain it ceases to flow or until a strong enough force can shatter it. But if you're looking for an exact answer Cyril, I have none to give. It could range from months to years." Ignitus answered.
Cyril looked back outside, deep in thought.
"Don't even think about Cyril. As much as I want to as well, we cannot go and shatter the crystal ourselves. There is still much to attend to and even us taking a few hours away from Warfang leaves it vulnerable."
"What if only one of us goes? Maybe Terrador can head over-"
"No." Ignitus said adamantly, looking up. "When they return, we will have to formulate a plan in dealing with both the Shadus Tribe and Malefor's minions. Not only that, I dare not try to shatter it so soon or even venture near it. The adjacent area would undoubtedly still be bathed in the residue of time magic. That's magic even I'm not too familiar with. I'd rather not tamper with it lest something happen to one of us for which we have no solution for."
Cyril flicked his tail about in agitation. He sighed heavily and moved to side of the vision pool opposite of Ignitus.
Ignitus resumed once again to gazing into the pool, his expression blank. Cyril watched quietly, wondering what the Fire Guardian was seeing into that pool. A few minutes passed and there was no indication that Ignitus had found anything worthwhile.
"He's still alive..." Ignitus whispered. "And he's on his way here..."
"What? Who? Takeo?"
"Yes. He's just left the Prowlus village is on his way here through the valley."
Cyril edged closer to the pool and lowered his head till it was leveled with Ignitus's.
"By jove. It would be good to see him again. I could go fly over and bring him here." Cyril said, spreading his wings a little.
"No. You need to rest. You've just made a long trip."
"Yes, but this old dragon still has enough energy to do so."
"Not only that, he's bringing someone else with him. The cheetah Hunter."
Cyril widened his eyes a little. "A cheetah? Well...I'll trust he knows what he's doing."
"And a third...."
"Yes. To tell you the truth, this third companion is part of the reason why I don't want you to go."
"Why?" Cyril asked, narrowing his eyes a little.
"Let's wait until they get here. It'll make things easier to explain than if I was to tell you now."
"Well..." Cyril looked down, then back up. "Very well. We'll wait for him. And I DO expect an explanation for failing to reveal this second companion of his."
"All will be explained Cyril...just be patient."