2nd Razal, Day 19, SY 17058 ~ 1 year after Igneus' defeat
"Pyren! Hey, Pyren! You okay down there?" asked a rather mousy voice. The folf was lying face down on the floor, having previously collapsed during his workout. Something about the situation was giving him deja vu, but he couldn't put his pawfinger on what. Right now he had a strange voice speaking to him. He heard it loud and clear and wanted to listen and respond, but his legs just weren't interested in moving. "Nghh… Looks like all that training paid off…. You're heavier than I remember…" the voice said as it picked Pyren up off the mat and hung his arm over its shoulder. "Alain…? What are you doing here..?" the folf asked, seeing that it was his friend. "Same reason as you. I wanted to train a bit so I wasn’t rusty when I got back from break.” responded the mouse. Pyren, still woozy and covered in sweat from the workout, was admittedly relieved to see his friend. “Well, uh, it’s good to see you. Thanks for getting me up,” he said, scratching his side. “Wanna do some sparring?” asked Alain. While the mouse had already started his warm-up stretches, Pyren wasn’t too keen on following suit. “I-I think I’m just gonna head out...” he said, warily glancing over to the gym’s entrance. “Aw. Well, see ya later, then,” said Alain, waving his friend goodbye. “Y-yeah,” responded Pyren, wiping the sweat off of his forehead and stumbling out of the gym.
Despite being on summer break, Pyren still managed to walk into his apartment in an utterly exhausted state. Like usual, the lamps were all lit, dinner hadn’t been made, and Emerald was sitting at her desk preoccupied with her artistry. “Hey, Em…” muttered Pyren, calling for the cat’s attention. “Pyren? W-why do you look so worn out? You weren’t even at the academy today!” she questioned. Emerald was slightly upset, for sure, but it didn’t stop her from stomping across the room and giving her fluffy boyfriend a big hug. “I-I was at the gym…” he responded, embarrassedly trying to defend himself. “What were you doing at the gym to end up like this?” the cat asked as she walked Pyren over to the bed. “Just the usual… I guess I just pushed myself too hard...” he said. The folf gave a sigh of relief as his girlfriend lowered him into bed, but she wasn’t done with him just yet. “You shouldn’t push yourself so hard. I hate seeing you come back so tired and messed up… It’s not healthy for either of us,” she explained, running her paw through her boyfriend’s fiery orange fur. “Yeah, but how am I gonna get stronger if I don’t push myself to the limit? I’ve gotta train super hard if I’m ever gonna catch up to Ark,” he muttered, pulling the covers over himself with the last of his strength. Emerald frowned at the notion, but kept caressing through her disappointment. “I just think pushing yourself so hard is hurting you more in the long run… There’s gotta be a way to train without ruining your body…” she told him, letting go of his fur to put away her art supplies and start on dinner. A little while passed, and Emerald had made dinner for the weary folf. She wasn’t really much of a cook, but she could still whip up a decent sandwich. “Thanks, Em,” responded Pyren. The folf accepted the sandwich gracefully, only to quickly devour it like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. “Speaking of your brother, he came by today,” said Emerald, pulling the bedspread back so she could get in. “Huh? What’d he want?” asked the folf. “He was looking for you. Said he’d be back tomorrow morning to pick you up,” she explained. “Guess I’ve got something to look forward to,” said Pyren, reaching over and smooching his feline girlfriend. The folf tried to get his arms around her for a hug, but she was already a step ahead of him. “You can worry about him later. For now, you’ve got me…” she said with a sly smile on her face. Pyren chuckled a bit before scooting up real close so the two could cuddle.
The morning came faster than expected, and, like clockwork, there was a knock on Pyren and Emerald’s door. Like usual, Emerald was still asleep, but Pyren had been anticipating the knock for hours. When he opened the door, however, he was greeted by a wolf he had never seen before. “Yo,” it said nonchalantly. The voice was familiar, for sure, but the folf still couldn’t put his pawfinger on who it belonged to. “Oh, you probably don’t recognise me like this, do you? Sorry. I’m not exactly used to it myself, either, hehe,” said the grey-and-green furred wolf. “Ark? T-that’s a new look!” exclaimed Pyren. He had no idea that his brother had picked up Ayli’s fur illusion spell! “Yeah. It’s not something I’m too keen on, but it’s the best way to get around without raising any eyebrows,” explained the wolf-disguised dragon as he made his way through the door. “So, now that you’ve been a fur and I’ve been a dragon, you wanna trade places?” asked Pyren, chuckling as he shut the door. “Hmm, getting a bit of a workout does sound kind of nice. You think you can handle reading the rest of my backlog?” Ark sarcastically asked. “Pssh, I can handle a few books. Sterva’s nagging has to be as bad as it gets, so I think I’ll take my chances with the pieces of paper instead, hehe,” responded the folf. After he had his laugh, however, something he hadn’t noticed caught his eye. Pyren had been so preoccupied with his brother’s appearance that he hadn’t recognised that his brother had come with luggage! Feeling guilty, the folf moved a few things around and quickly helped Ark set his stuff down in the newly cleared area. “So, whatcha need? It’s a bit early to come in for a talk,” Pyren asked as he sat down at the table. Pulling up a chair, Ark frowned slightly as he sat down to answer his brother’s question. “I’m gonna go visit Mom,” he said. Hearing this, Pyren nearly fell out of his seat. “Oh crap! I completely forgot about her!” he exclaimed, starting to feel bad at his lack of foresight. “You’re fine. I actually forgot too, at least until a couple of days ago. I guess we’ve all been so busy with our new lives that we forgot to go and see her…” responded Ark, empathizing with his brother. “W-when are we gonna go, then? I need to pack all my stuff first,” asked a now antsy Pyren. “I was planning on leaving today, but if you need to pack, we can go tomorrow,” explained the wolf-disguised dragon. “Today? W-well, crap, I’ve gotta move fast!” exclaimed Pyren. The folf practically jumped out of his chair to grab his enchanted bag, only to start stuffing things indiscriminately into it as he scrambled to get ready to leave for the mountains. “P-Pyren, I said we could wait until tomorrow!” said Ark, concerned at his brother’s mania. “I don’t wanna keep you waiting! C’mon, come help me pack!” he responded, ripping open his drawers and throwing a few pairs of blue pants at Ark to stuff into the bag of holding. Ark could only roll his eyes and comply with his brother’s hasty preparations. At the very least, they’d be able to leave on time.
Listing them all out by name, Pyren ran through all of the things he had haphazardly placed inside of his bag of holding to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. “Pants… tent… canteen… stove… knife… snacks…” he muttered, feeling around the bag’s spacious walls for anything he’d missed. Once that was squared away, all that was left to do was to let his still snoring girlfriend know where he was gonna be staying for the next week. Despite all the noise him and Ark had made, she was still sound asleep. “Uh… Em? Hey, Emerald!” whispered the folf, lightly shaking his girlfriend’s arm. No response. “Em!” he repeated, this time shaking slightly harder. “Whuh… Pyren? What time is it…?” she mumbled, finally stirring. The lilac-furred cat turned in her bed, raised her paws into the air, and made a noise that sounded a bit more like a long-winded meow than a yawn. “Is… is Ark here yet…?” Emerald asked, blinking twice to clear her eyes. “Yeah, he got here an hour ago. You slept through all our packing, hehe…” responded the folf, chuckling at his girlfriend’s heavy sleeping. Pyren knew they’d be out for a while, so he made sure to give Emerald as best of a cuddle he could before he and Ark left. “H-hey, what’s with all the affection all of a sudden?” she cried, mildly panicked in her wooziness. “I think we might be gone for a while, so I wanted to get one last snuggle with ya before I left,” Pyren explained. ‘L-left? Where are you going?” asked Emerald, still just as confused as before. “R-right… Ark wants to go visit Mom. He came here to come pick me up,” he said, biting his lip in with nervousness. “O-oh…” muttered Emerald, growing slightly disappointed. She had really enjoyed Pyren staying home, so it was sad to hear he’d be gone for the rest of his break. “S-sorry for such a short notice-” the folf tried to say, only to be interrupted by his brother. “That’s my fault. I should have told you yesterday. Though, I was fine with leaving tomorrow. Pyren was the one who insisted we leave today,” said Ark, piping up from his perch near the apartment’s door. “H-hey, don’t go pinning this on me, now!” exclaimed the folf, ignoring the fact that Ark had just taken a fall for him. His annoyance didn’t last long, since Emerald took the opportunity to lean over and give her boyfriend a big smooch. “H-huh?” he cried, now the shocked one out of the three. “It’ll be okay. I might get a little lonely, but I think you should go with your brother. Just make sure you stay safe out there, okay?” said Emerald, sighing quietly through her smile. “T-thanks, Emerald. I’ll make sure to be back before my break is over, I promise!” responded Pyren, giving his girlfriend one last hug before sliding off the bed and joining his brother. The cat wasn’t exactly the happiest about losing her boyfriend for the greater part of a week, but that didn’t stop her from wishing them the best on their trip. She had plenty of friends she could go see while the two were gone, but for now, she was gonna go back to sleep. “You two.. take care....” she yawned, waving goodbye to Pyren and Ark and pulling the covers back up over her. After that, the folf said his last farewells and followed his brother out the door to begin his journey.
Given Landalsta’s enormous size, it took a bit of a walk for Ark and Pyren to reach the city’s gates, but once they arrived, the breezy fields of Gadley once again awaited them. The sun was out, the wind was blowing, and the grass was as green as ever. Even after how far they’d come, it was still something to bask in. “Can you believe it’s only been a year since we left home?” asked Pyren, waxing nostalgic just like Emerald had during their beach trip in the month prior. “Yeah. It’s kind of crazy. I feel like everything’s changed so much since then,” responded Ark, dispelling his illusion now that they were out of sight. “There’s the dragon I grew up with!” exclaimed the folf, patting his older brother on the back in appreciation of his true form. After that, the two set off. They had a lot of walking ahead of them, so they made sure to spend the time catching up with each other’s lives. “Other than going out with Emerald, I’ve been training a ton. What about you? What’ve you been up to?” Pyren asked, placing his arms behind his head as he walked. “Same stuff as usual. Reading, spellcrafting, research,” responded Ark. “That’s it? I dunno how you stand doing nothing but that for so long,” muttered the folf. “What were you expecting? Besides, it’s a hell of a lot better than knocking myself out from exhaustion,” laughed Ark, smirking at his brother as he playfully placed his claw on the folf’s head. The two laughed and took jabs at each other as they walked until sundown, when they decided to set up camp. Granval was still at least a day's walk away, given that they wouldn’t be stopping at Vele or Andea (for obvious reasons). While Pyren laid back on the grass and watched the sun set, Ark set up their sleeping bags and got a small fire started. “Actually, there is something I haven’t really talked about much,” said the dragon, finishing up and sitting down next to his brother. “I guess I didn’t mention it when we went down to the beach because it’s a little embarrassing, but I might as well talk about it since we’ve got so much time to ourselves,” explained Ark. Now Pyren was curious. “Go on, spill it!” he exclaimed as his brother lay down alongside him. “I’ve, uh... gone on a few dates with Ayli,” muttered the dragon. “WHAAAAT? Really? That’s so cool!” Unbeknownst to Pyren, however, Ark was starting to blush. In the time since their first date, he and Ayli had grown a lot closer and gone out several more times, but love and relationships were still far from his strong suit. “I-it’s still a bit of a new experience, this whole love thing, I mean, but she’s really made my time in Landalsta so much less anxious,” explained Ark. “Aww, that’s great, Ark! Why didn’t you tell me sooner? I totally could have given you some sick dating tips!” exclaimed Pyren, brushing up to his brother and embarrassing him further in the process. “T-that’s exactly what I was trying to avoid….” he muttered, smiling and laughing softly through his shame. It was at this point that it became apparent to Pyren that Ark was losing his cool. While Ark was bracing himself to get dunked on for his embarrassment, Pyren surprised him with something else. “Well, you’re a lot smarter than me, so I guess I shouldn’t worry so much,” he said, cutting Ark some slack. That got the dragon to chuckle even harder. “You make it sound like I’ve got it easy…” he muttered. “It’s not like science or math. You can’t just read a book or learn some incantation to figure out how you’re supposed to act during a date…” Seeing his brother show this kind of vulnerability really surprised Pyren. Ark had always been the calm, confident dragon who had everything planned out and under control, yet here they were, lying together under the stars, just like when they were kids, and Ark was nervous and embarrassed. It seemed like it was finally Pyren’s turn to be the older brother. “It’s not supposed to be. Love isn’t something you plan out, it’s something you jump right into. Y-yeah, it’ll surprise you most of the time, but that’s part of the fun of it!” he explained. “I guess it just makes me anxious… I hate not being ready for whatever’s going to happen,” responded Ark, sighing as he gazed off into the starry night sky. “I might not be the best person to talk about this with you. I-I got lucky… Emerald’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but I didn’t exactly go looking for her. But still, you’re my brother. You’ve helped me through a lot of rough spots, and I wanna be able to do the same thing for you,” explained Pyren, placing his arm over his brother’s shoulder. “It’s hard… I really felt jumped when Ayli said she liked me. It felt good, yeah, but I just had no idea how to react. Even after a couple more dates, I still felt like I’m gonna mess this all up at some point,” said the dragon. “Just go with it. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But no matter what happens, all of us are still here for you. Especially me,” responded the folf, trying his best to comfort his brother. Slowly but surely, Ark took his little bro’s words to heart. “Thanks, Pyren. I know that sometimes you can be a bit of a doofus, but you’ve still got a big heart and a lot more experience than me in this field. “Hey, I’ll have you know that I’m only a doofus when math problems are involved! Those, and long term planning. And, uh... reading directions...” exclaimed the folf. “Don’t forget thinking before you act,” joked Ark, playfully elbowing him. “O-okay, maybe I am a bit of a doofus…” Pyren admitted, smiling awkwardly. The folf gave his brother one last hug before rolling over to put out the fire. “Let’s get some sleep. We’ve got quite a bit of walking left before we get to Mom’s, so we’ll need all the energy we can get,” Ark told the folf, sliding his sleeping bag over to him before slipping into his. The two brothers had a long day behind them and a long day ahead of them, so it didn’t take long for them to drift off into grateful, sound sleep.
After their good night’s sleep, the two brothers resumed their trek to the mountains. The warm summer breeze was as inviting as ever, and the blue skies above seemed to go on forever. Now that they had passed Vele, Pyren and Ark were just about halfway to their destination. “I wonder what kind of adventures I’m gonna go on in the future,” mused the folf, his yellow hair blowing in the wind as he walked. “What kind do you want to go on?” his brother responded. It wasn’t exactly something he had put that much thought into, given that he was focusing on his training at the academy, but being out in the wilds again really stirred his imagination. “I dunno. Running around everywhere trying to find all those magical doohickeys really was a lot of fun. M-minus the whole dad-fighting stuff, though. But it’s not like we’ve got any more maps or hidden treasures lying around anywhere, so I’m not really sure,” Pyren explained. “It was kinda weird. We were just trying to find our dad, yet ended up saving the world. Half of it, at least,” said Ark, reflecting on their past adventure. Truth be told, Pyren hadn’t ever seen himself as a hero. Sure, him and Ark had stopped their dad from vaporizing all the furs in a continental radius, but that wasn’t what he was in it for. Really, he was just there to hang out with his brother. Meeting new people, making friends, and exploring far off places was the real adventure. “You know, the more I think about it, the more I wanna ditch this whole Academy deal,” he said. “What? Why?” asked Ark. “I’m just tired of it. It’s nice to get some good training in, but out here is where I really belong,” responded the folf, finally having come to a conclusion. Just as he finished saying that, however, something approached the two. First came the snorting and snarling, and then came the charging. Goar. “Whoa!” exclaimed Ark, narrowly sidestepping the rampaging beast. “On your guard, Pyren!” he shouted, remembering what had happened last time they had encountered the tusked creature. The folf grinned. “Don’t worry. I’ve got this,” he said, unsheathing his standard-issue sword and standing firm. When the Goar charged towards him, Pyren wedged his blade between the beast’s two tusks, leaving it skidding and squirming in front of him. Then, in one continuous move, he kneed the Goar in the muzzle, twisted his sword free, and bashed the disoriented beast’s skull in with a pommel strike. Aside from a little blood he had to wipe from his paws, he was completely unscathed. “See? Nothing to worry about,” said the folf, giving the dead Goar a little kick for good measure. “Guess all that training paid off,” responded Ark. The dragon wasn’t super surprised at his brother’s display of fighting talent, given how much he had improved during their journey in the year prior, but it was still quite impressive for someone who was mostly self-taught. What DID surprise him, however, was what his brother did next. The folf sat down on the grass, pulled out his bag of holding, and started to stuff the dead beast into it. “P-Pyren! What are you doing?” he exclaimed. “Don’t you think this thing’ll make a rad meal? I bet Mom’ll love it!” Pyren responded, giving the dragon his goofiest grin. Ark was astonished. “B-but… the bag!” he said, extremely concerned at this point. “Aww, don’t worry, this thing’s got plenty of space!” responded Pyren, giving the Goar’s bloody snout one last push before it plonked down into the depths of the enchanted bag. “That thing’s not limitless, you know! If you put too much in it, you’ll destabilize the enchantment!” exclaimed Ark, lightly scolding his brother on his careless actions. Pyren quickly turned his attention back down to the bag, which was getting rather plump and heavy, despite its magical nature. “Oh. Oops. Well, don’t let me put anything else in, hehe…” he laughed, scratching his head and blushing. Of course, Ark couldn’t stay frustrated at his little bro for long. “C’mon. Let’s keep moving. If we pick up the pace, we should be at Mom’s by tomorrow,” he said, patting the folf on the shoulder. Smiling, Pyren tied his bag back to his pants and got back onto the trail to the mountains, following his brother into the summer afternoon.
“Well, here we are,” pointed out Ark. Towering in front of the two brothers were the mountains of Granval Range. It was a sight they hadn’t seen in nearly a year, and a welcome one at that, given all of the walking they had just done. During the first and second Azal months, it often snowed in the wooded foothills that lay below their home in the mountainous caves, but now that it was summer, the woodland was as green and gorgeous as ever. “Aren’t you supposed to say that when we actually get there?” questioned Pyren. Ark frowned. “I dunno, I was just thinking we were in the home stretch,” he responded, stretching his wings to prep for the climb. “Of course you would say that, you have wings!” jeered the folf, smirking and giving his brother’s flying appendages a playful tug. “What, do you want me to just not use them? Or were you maybe wanting another ride?” said Ark, looking smugly at his younger brother. The last time the two of them had flown together was on their trip to Korvale, and, while it worked out in the end, it wasn’t exactly a joyride for Ark. Dragons his age weren’t built for giving furs rides. If Pyren really needed it, he wouldn’t hesitate to fly the folf wherever he needed, but luckily for him, that wouldn’t be necessary. “Pshh, like I need you to carry me! I got this!” he exclaimed, cracking his knuckles and running straight towards the mountainous cliffside. Ark being a dragon definitely made his ascent easier, for sure, but the folf wasn’t letting his brother show him up just yet. As he jumped, small bursts of flame came from under his paws, propelling him higher than any normal jump could, and when his paws hit the wall, they melted the rock around them, giving him a new foothold so he could jump to the next ledge. Of course, now it was a challenge. Pyren and Ark continued to make their way up the mountain, only now seeing who could climb the fastest. There were a few close calls, with Pyren making a couple of reckless jumps and Ark flying down to pull him up, but for the most part, their journey was quick and clean. Soon enough, they were among the rocky, mountainous caverns they called home.
It had taken a few days to get there, but now the journey was over. Ark and Pyren were home. After parting the cloth curtain that was the front door, Ark knocked on the seat of a wooden chair sitting in the foyer to let their mother know they were there. “A visitor? Come on in,” said Iris, who was sitting in the living room weaving cloth on her spinning wheel. “Not just any visitor!” exclaimed Pyren, running ahead of his brother and jumping into the life dragon’s arms. “P-Pyren? You’re home!” she exclaimed, graciously accepting her son’s hug. Iris’ surprise quickly turned to delight as she embraced the fluffy Fur and caught sight of her eldest son. “It’s good to see you, Mom,” said the dragon, blushing as he joined in alongside Pyren. The three savored the heartfelt reunion like they’d never see each other again, hugging and cuddling for as long as they could all hold on. When it was all over and done with, they got to reconnecting. “It’s been a year since you two left.... What brings you home?” asked a curious Iris, taking a seat back in her weaving chair. “Aww, Mom, we just wanted to see you!” exclaimed Pyren as he threw his arm over his smiling older brother’s shoulder. “Yeah. It’s been a while and we’ve been through a lot. I guess we just figured it was time to come back and spend some time with you,” said Ark. “That’s so sweet! Only my two sons could be so thoughtful… Come, sit down and tell me what you two have been up to,” said Iris, smiling genuinely as she walked over to the kitchen to grab two chairs for her sons to sit in. In her short absence, Pyren and Ark took the time to look around the room and reminisce. The polished stone floor, the wooden pillars and rafters that gave the room form, the traditional cloth tapestries their mother had woven herself, the stone-carved aesthetic that made a dragon home feel like home: it was all still there. After a bit of waxing nostalgic, Iris returned with the chairs and the two brothers got to catching up with her.
“T-that’s wonderful! It warms my heart to hear you were able to connect so well with your own kind, Pyren," exclaimed Iris, overjoyed with what her son had told her. "And I'm glad that your brother has found acceptance with them," she continued. Ark and Pyren continued to discuss their new lives with their mother, with Ark bringing up his studies and showing her some of the new spells he had learned, and Pyren describing his girlfriend and his training at the academy. The two described Andea, Vele, their new home in Landalsta, new friends Cress, Sunny, Shard, and Ayli, and the past year they spent living away. Enamored with her sons’ stories, Iris listened and listened until she caught a glance at the enchanted sundial and realized how late it had gotten. “G-goodness, look at how late it’s gotten! I should get to making dinner!” she exclaimed, hopping out of her seat and making her way to the kitchen. Before she could make it all the way, however, she was stopped by Pyren. “W-wait, Mom! We actually brought you something…” he said, biting his tongue and tugging at the Goar that was stuffed into his enchanted bag. Ark rolled his eyes as he and his mother watched the folf pull a whole beast out of the tiny sack, lift it up with a huff, and plop the dead creature up on the kitchen countertop for cutting. “Wow… It’s been so long since I’ve even seen one of these! This should make a incredible dinner!” responded the dragon, astonished at the strange yet thoughtful gesture her son had made. “Yup. All my idea,” said Pyren, grinning proudly at his actions. One glance at Ark’s playful smirk told Iris that her youngest son was indeed telling the truth. “Well, then, let’s get to work,” he continued as he strolled over to the stove and lit a flame in his paws. “P-Pyren!” exclaimed Iris, not expecting an open flame inside her house, let alone one coming from her son. “I-it’s okay, Mom, it’s just my Sign!” he responded, turning his head back to reassure her as he heated up a pot for the broth. The dragon gave a sigh of relief at the news and made her way over to place her claw on the folf’s shoulder. “Not only have you gone on such an incredible journey, but you’ve come back with a Sign AND an interest in cooking… I’m so proud of you, Pyren. Both you, and your brother,” she said, taking a moment to look back at Ark near the end of her sentence. “T-thanks, Mom,” responded Pyren, blushing at the praise. While Pyren got started on the broth, Iris stepped over to the island so she could start skinning and sectioning the Goar.
Time flew for the three, and soon enough, dinner was ready. Ark had helped his mom work the huge beast they had brought in into a more eatable form, while Pyren worked the flames, of course. The end product was a nice pork stew, something more closely resembling Fur cooking than anything a dragon would make, but that didn’t make the slightest difference for Iris and her two sons. She and them enjoyed their meal mostly in silence until the life dragon remembered to ask the two something she’d been meaning to since they arrived. “My, my, I’ve completely forgotten to ask you two… Did you two ever happen across your father?” she said between bites of her stew. The air around Pyren and Ark seemed to turn cold the second the question reached their ears. Ark gave the folf a look, signaling him to start speaking, but Pyren wasn’t having it. “Y-you tell her!” he exclaimed, throwing his paws up in the air. Sighing, Ark paused for a moment before letting his mom know what had happened. It was a rough story to get through, but he had to tell it.
“Oh, Ark… I’m so sorry… I don’t know what else to say…” muttered Iris, wrapping her scaly arms around her son. The folf and two dragons had since finished both their stew and discussion of Igneus’ plot and subsequent death, and now they were all in tears. “It’s… it’s okay, Mom. I’m fine now,” said Ark, trying to feign stoicism. He wanted to be the tough big brother he knew Pyren saw him as, but he just couldn’t stop his emotions from kicking in. “I wish your father hadn’t been so stubborn… The Igneus I knew wasn’t a hateful dragon...” cried the life dragon as she mourned her husband. “He was fighting for what he believed in. Even if the cause was wrong, he was no different from me and Pyren,” said Ark, finishing his mother’s statement. Ark knew that his father did what he did for his own sake, even if he had tried to do it by force. His judgement was clouded and his heart had hardened, but in the end, it was still the act of a father. “I think that what happened really taught me to appreciate Pyren. Because of Dad, I almost lost him,” explained the blood dragon. As the topic moved to him, Iris shifted her gaze toward Pyren, who was still sitting in his chair, looking down with his arm in his paw. “You truly care about your brother, don’t you?” she responded, smiling at the thought of her sons’ brotherly bond. “Yeah… I really am lucky to have him. Him and all the new friends I made along the way,” said Ark, starting to smile faintly. Iris could tell he was hurting from the passing of his father, but she could also see how happy he was to speak of his brother and his friends in Landalsta. She knew her son would keep close the things that were important to him. “It’s getting rather late. Perhaps we should all be getting to bed,” she suggested to her sons. Pyren and Ark nodded, and they all started to make their way to their rooms. Before he could leave, however, Iris stopped Ark to say one last thing to him. “I love you and Pyren, more than anything in the whole world. What matters to me the most is that you two are safe and sound and happy, okay?” she told him. Ark knew she was trying to ease his guilt. In his heart of hearts, he often felt responsible for what had happened with his dad. It wasn’t a feeling that was going to go away in one night, but his mom was right. He and Pyren made it out okay, and they were living their best lives possible. “Thanks, Mom,” he responded, thankful at the gesture. After the short exchange, it was finally time for bed.
When the time came for the candles to be blown out, both brothers found themselves in the hallway to do it. “Hey, thanks for coming along with me, Pyren,” Ark said, picking up the first of the hall candles. “Thanks for having me. I’m really glad I got the chance to hang out with you and Mom. It’s been awesome,” responded the folf as he grabbed the second. “Though, there is one thing you haven’t shared with Mom yet…” he continued, smiling smugly at his brother. “Oh yeah? And what’s that?” asked Ark. “You know who I’m talking about…” Pyren said, continuing to grin. Ark continued to feign ignorance. “Come on, I told her about my girlfriend, why didn’t you?” asked the folf, blowing his candle out so he could step closer to his brother. “W-what? She doesn’t need to know about that….” muttered the dragon, blushing at the thought of his own romantic ventures. Pyren kept smiling. “Alright, alright, I’ll tell her… just gimme until tomorrow, okay?” “Deal.” With their jobs complete, the two brothers bid each other goodnight and returned to their bedrooms for the first time in a year. It had been a long journey to get to where they were now, one that had taken them to new lands, let them meet new people, face new foes, and help them get closer to finding their places in the world. After all that, they were happy to finally be home, even if just for a while.
The ninth Tale of Chosen of Fir Tales: Stories From the Lives of Fur and Dragon Friends.