Leviana glowed like a nightlight in a pitch black room. The crystalline spires, all glittering a different color, ranging from rubies to topaz, rose high into the sky, towards the clouds that were starting to form. The glimmering stars slowly became enveloped by them, and thunder started to echo in the distance.
Despite the looming storm, the city was very much alive with activity. Dracidons, a term used to refer to others, crowded the streets, seeming uncaring of what was to come. Shops remained open, some setting up umbrellas or other covers to protect merchandise or food. Lightning flashed in the distance, and only then did some start heading for cover, but most stayed out. In fact, a few looked to embrace it.
Those who fled inside were just about as safe as could be from the storm. Since most of the buildings were made of crystal, or at least mostly made of it, lightning could not trespass. The crystals themselves defined the city, and was the very reason why Leviana was sometimes referred to the Gem of Sperith, the name of the continent that Leviana was located in.
Two major buildings stood out in the city. The first one was a large, fortress-like building with a hard, diamond exterior and a polished marble interior. It was heavily fortified, with barred windows made of titanium. The front door was made of thick Kyrium, a black metal that was one of the strongest in existence. It was nigh impregnable, and those gates were the only entrance that could be seen. There were no windows on the second floor, or even in the dome-shaped addition at the end of it. It had a reason for being so fortified, though; on the top of the door, written in orange neon, the word 'Leviana Guardian Headquarters'.
The other building was much taller and narrower, and stood a few blocks away from the Guardian HQ. It wasn't made of crystal, but rather Titanium coated in a shiny chrome coat. Near the top, a large digital clock read the time, which was quarter to midnight. Green neon lights ran up and down the building, especially in the four corners, and a name was written in the same color; Vineheart. This was the Vineheart Tower, one of the major attractions of the city. It housed and created the latest technological advances, but that wasn't the main reason why it attracted so much attention. No, that came from the giant crystal on top of it, basking the nearby blocks in a dim green glow.
This was a Nexus Crystal, used to power the entire building. No one except the minds who created it really had an idea of how it worked, but one thing was for sure; it looked stunning. It was at least two stories high, held up high by a narrow yet sturdy pedestal. The crystal itself was shaped almost like an egg, so it didn't just fall right off of it.
Beneath the crystal, a figure stepped to the edge of the building. It was a dragon; a female to be precise. She was covered in black leather armor, covered in many pockets and a satchel roped around her shoulder and neck. She appeared to be mildly uncomfortable in the armor, as her expression was one of annoyance and disbelief, which could be seen even through her ebony mask. Her jade eyes stared out at the city as it started to rain, thunder rumbling in the distance.
The soft sound of something landing behind turned her attention away. There, she found a larger, lankier dragon dressed in gray leather armor. His armor was also similar in style, with the pockets and satchel around his neck. Although, his armor was a lot thicker around the chest area and the mask was made out of hardened carbon. His glowing amber eyes stared at her with amusement, his grin wide with mischief and smugness.
"Can't say I ever saw this happening, Virith." he spoke, his voice accented slightly. "Not even our little encounter four years ago went this far."
"Four years ago wasn't this bad, Serthal." Virith replied as Serthal walked next to her, forcing her to look up to meet eye contact. It was so strange, having to crane her neck as if she were a hatchling looking to an adult. The fact that he was younger than her by three years didn't help the matter.
"Technically it was, but...yeah, I agree." Serthal mulled over her words with a subtle nod of his head.
"Can we get started?" Virith said as she itched around her neck, pulling the armor a bit to reveal her green, almost black, scales. "Sooner I get this off, the better I'll feel about myself."
"Hey, it wasn’t my idea." Serthal said with a shrug.
Virith stared at him bluntly. "Yes. Yes it was."
"Oh, well, would you look at that; I can be so creative." Serthal flashed her a smile, much to her irritation. "Anyway, can you guess why I said to meet me here?"
"Well, it is the biggest building here..." Virith glanced back out at the city. "Best view as well."
"Yep." Serthal nodded. "Now let's get started formally; you need to start thinking like a criminal, so look out at the city and tell me what you see."
Virith did so with a sigh, hating the situation she was in as she scanned the horizon. There weren't as many dracidons out now that it started to rain, but quite a few still ran about. She noted a few groups talking in corners, one going into an alley. They didn't look suspicious, but she marked the alley regardless. A few stands remained open, including one that had today's newspaper. Some shops at just started to close, with the shopkeeps locking the doors on their way out. Lightning crackled across the sky, calming Virith's nerves.
"Only thing of interest is a group going into an alley." Virith reported. "Pretty foolish considering what's been happening lately."
"Yeah, I noticed them too, but you also missed the big picture." Serthal told her. "You're thinking as a Guardian still."
"Oh, and what do you see?" Virith rolled her eyes. Even though they were working together, she still felt incredibly irritated by him. She knew he was enjoying this, and was likely going to milk it, but he is acting so god damn smug about it that she wanted to hit him upside the head.
"Opportunities." Serthal's smile grew. "Consider that group; soon as I show face, they'll either flee or try and fight me. Now, they know I work alone, but with you here...please tell me you saw the golden band on the one on the gryphon."
Virith frowned; she had not seen it. She didn't even remotely consider it. "Are you honestly going to go out and steal when I am right here?"
"I never said that, did I?"
"You implied it."
"Still didn't say it."
Virith wanted to pull her silvery horns, which grew straight up before jutting towards her muzzle, in frustration. He was trying to irritate her. The look in his eyes told it all. This was likely some sort of petty revenge, but it just reenforced her opinion of him; a hatchling in adult form.
"Whatever, let's move on." Virith dropped the subject before he could get any satisfaction.
"Anyway, you need to look at the city as one big amusement park." Serthal said as he stared over the edge. "If you know where you are, and you;re in the right mindset, this is a free trip. Now place yourself in Krucifi's claws."
Virith's mouth twitched. That name was the exact reason behind this little get-together. Krucifi...labeled terrorist, wanted for mass murder and assault on government personal, was at large and in the city. Pridewing, Serthal's last name and what he was frequently called, was their only real shot. Krucifi, somehow, had managed to make himself untouchable by any law-abiding means. Serthal never followed rules. Hell he even broke them! As such, it was a necessary evil. Not that Serthal was inherently evil; just annoying.
"Yeah, I don't like him either." Serthal agreed with the look on her face. "Kicks my chest in and causes catastrophic damage, steals the Tempest Sphere, and takes out a few of your Guardians...and he gets remembered as a hero with a change of fur color." Serthal shook his head. "Fuck logic, this is Leviana."
"Well, you know his real identity; we all do." Virith sighed. "Regardless, if I were him, I'd see this as protection."
"Think about it." Virith pointed her tri-pronged tail blade down to the civilians below. "He's the center of attention right now. The public is watching him, and anything made against him will be met with hostility. Hence why we're both here."
"Bingo." Serthal nodded. "I know we knew that already, but actually, repetition is going to be your pal here. You keep telling yourself about the public, and sooner or later, it'll be subconsciously wired into your brain."
Virith nodded as lightning flashed nearby. The hollow emerald cluster that grew on her shoulders glowed ever so slightly. Her eyes lit up in response to the changes in the air, and she felt a brief burst of energy. It lasted no more than five seconds, but when it faded, she still felt better overall.
"Can you control that?" Serthal stared at her. "I mean, that was awesome, but that may draw attention."
"No, it's biological." Virith started to explain. "Whenever I am around electricity, especially storms, my body absorbs it to help power my element. This means I am especially potent right now..." Virith decided to intimidate him a tad bit. The look on his face told her that it worked.
"Let's not go around threatening, m'kay?" Serthal attempted to save himself, spreading his wings and hovering over the side. "I can choose not to help here."
"Yeah, and then you can rot away in prison forever." Virith didn't skip a beat. "Now get over here; you are breaking the height law." Virith scanned around them. The height law was put into place so that no individual could fly more than ten stories. Serthal was about quadrupedal that right this second.
"Make me." Serthal stuck out his tongue.
"You know I can." Virith said as coolly as possible. Now he was desperate to get a reaction out of her.
"Not even you are that heartless, Virith." Serthal noted her subtly going for her satchel. "Go ahead, press that button; activate those chemicals or whatever they are. I'll just stay right here and fall to my death."
"I can simply catch you." Virith kept her claw where it was.
"Ah, but are you so sure?" Serthal wiggled a talon. "In this storm, anything is possible. Updrafts, downdrafts, momentary blindness...all of which could screw you up and let me drop."
Virith growled, lowering her claw. She couldn't risk it; not in these conditions. She still glared at him, watching that irritating smirk return before he shook his head. They kept the stare for a moment before, to her surprise, he turned away. She'd have to ask about that later, as they had gotten too far off track.
"Alright, honestly, let's get started. Bickering is getting us nowhere and Krucifi is still tap-dancing wherever he is." Virith spoke over a distant boom.
"Yes, lets." Serthal started to move away before stopping and turning back. "Well, come along." He noticed her still standing on the building.
"I'm not breaking the height law." Virith said stubbornly.
"Dear, do you want to catch him?" Serthal flew back and folded his claws. When she nodded, he continued. "Well, he doesn't play by the rules, so you shouldn't either. You've done it before, remember?"
Virith let out a sigh. Yet again he had a point. "Very well, but if I get caught, it is on YOU."
"Isn't it always?" Serthal chuckled, holding out his claw. Virith gave him a sour look before spreading her own wings and tentatively flew into the air.
She felt like there was a huge, gaping hole in her stomach. Her senses went completely haywire. Her eyes were darting in all directions possible, she felt twitchy, and she was hoping that Serthal wouldn't do anything to aggravate her. When he started to move, she kept right by him, almost desperate to go faster. It was the same exact feeling from four years ago; except perhaps more intensified, as she felt more exposed up here.
Serthal headed towards the center of Leviana, hovering over alleyways and the stands. Virith could see the gears in his head working, and although his eyes appeared to lack any pupils, she could tell that he was looking at her every few seconds. She noticed this by a subtle dark patch in his eye that changed locations. She had no idea what it was, but if she was completely honest, she had just found his pupil.
Eventually he landed near the Slums. The Slums...ugh, if there was one thing about Leviana that turned others away, it was this. It was ridden by poverty, crime, and decay. Abandoned buildings withered, Crystal Lights were dim, alleys were dark...no one wanted to be here at night. Most criminals were born here; it was a proving ground to them from what she had experienced. Make it through here, you get access to the city. Virith suspected Serthal brought her here to get started in a life of crime.
"Hasn't changed at all, has it?" Serthal stood near a cracked wall on top of an apartment. Below, the sounds of an argument could be heard. The look on Serthal's face told her that he also heard it.
"No, not at all." Virith stood next to him with a sigh.
"Better to stay out of the argument; sounds stupid anyway." Serthal said as the word 'pickle' erupted from below them.
"So, what do we do here?" Virith's eyes darted back and forth. There was nothing below; only bits of trash that were being blown around in the storm.
"Well, every criminal has to start somewhere." Serthal answered. "This is where I did. Shocked that the Guardians haven't completely plowed this place into the ground."
"We can’t and you know that." Virith glanced at him. "I suppose you want me to steal, though."
"No, none of that." Serthal answered. Virith had to blink twice for it to set in. "Instead I want you to understand something."
"What is that?"
"You of all dracidons should appreciate the gray area that criminals like myself operate in." He turned to her, indicating with his golden tail blade down below to where a Shriker, a race of two-legged amphibians that had a common ancestry with a dragon, waited in the shadows. He barely looked older than twelve. Yet, the knife in his blue skinned claws showed he meant malice.
"He's starving." Virith observed, noting the ribs showing on him.
"Yep, and he's likely stealing to eat." Serthal walked over to the edge. "This is a lesson more attributed to Ilayda, but I am telling you regardless." He added quickly with a tilt of his head to look her in the eye. "Anyway, he's not doing this for sport. He's not seeking to do wrong; I've been to the Shriker capital before, and it's a part of their culture. They pride themselves in their shadow arts, so he's doing what his kind tells him. Culture shock will nip him in the tail, though."
"Yeah, it will." Virith perched on the side like a Gargoyle, watching the Shriker. "So what do we do?"
"Well, for one, we don't want to focus on him." Serthal indicated down the alley behind him.
Virith didn't even need to be told what to look for. There, an adult dragon could be seen stalking the little Shriker. He was nigh invisible, but her trained eyes were able to trace the movements in the shadows. Lightning flashed, revealing a malefic look on his face. Virith immediately recognized him; this was Varquez, an insane inmate at Northrock Asylum. He was notorious for randomly killing and escaping his cell. His purple scales were dirty, and he had shadows under his blue eyes, which focused intently on the Shriker.
"He's going to kill him." Virith told Serthal.
"Kinda figured." Serthal nodded as he watched Varquez sneak closer. "Anyway, this is the kind of Criminal you want locked up. I know you know that, but look at the difference between those two. Yet, they have one thing in common."
"Can this wait?" Virith got ready to pounce on the other dragon.
"...Yeah, let's stop him." Serthal said with a smirk on his face as he leapt from where he was. "OH HI THERE!" he shouted to Varquez, taking the dragon off guard enough for Serthal to kick him in the side.
"So, I was snooping around here, and I happen to notice you sneaking up on this Shriker!" Serthal continued to talk as Varquez leaped to his claws, ice forming around them. Virith didn't hesitate on dropping on his back and bringing him to the ground again, leaping off and standing between him and the Shriker.
"Can't help but wonder what you plan to do with him, though." Serthal put his wing under his chin, tilting his head in thought. "Tea parties? Surprise birthday?"
"None of your concern, Pridewing." Varquez spat out a droplet of blood. "Move out of the way before I gut you too."
"Hey, thats not nice!" Serthal frowned. "Although I am flattered you know my name."
Virith backed up to the Shriker, who was standing there in fear. He glanced up at her, almost afraid that she was going to attack him as well. She offered a kind smile, extending her light green wings in front of him in protection. Pridewing could handle his own; she instinctively had to protect the Shriker.
"You and your concubine dropping down on me isn't nice, either." Varquez glared at Virith, who's eyes narrowed into slits. Her shoulder crystals started to spark and glow, small electrical charges discharging into the air. Her eyes started to glow with energy as well, and Serthal backed up a bit.
"Oh, that was the worst thing to ever say to her." Serthal started to laugh, continuing to slowly back up.
"Do I look like I care?"
"No, but you should." Serthal latched himself onto a wall, acting like he was getting ready to strike again. Varquez shot an icicle at Serthal, which missed, but the shards from the impact cut part of his armor, revealing the padding underneath it.
"Let me ask you a question," Serthal shot a decoy fireball at the other dragon, creating a cloud of smoke around him. "Do you know what happens when Electricity and water come together?"
Before he could finish his question, a blast of electricity struck Varquez in the side and sent him at least ten yards backwards. Not two seconds later, Virith was already halfway to the inmate, pinning him to the ground, preventing any movement. Even Serthal was taken aback by how swiftly Virith had taken him out.
"Call me a concubine again!" Virith held him by the throat. "I dare you!"
Varquez was far too out of it to even make a word. He was still breathing, if barely, but otherwise he was limp. Virith dropped him, quivering in rage for a moment before Serthal landed beside her. She gave her a glowering look before taking a deep breath, stepping off of Varquez.
"You alright?" Serthal asked with concern.
"Absolutely fine." Virith replied shortly.
"The way you reacted, though..." Serthal said after a moment, watching her calm down. "Were you...?"
"Almost." Virith unconsciously gripped her left foreclaw.
"Ah...well..." Serthal glanced back and shook his head. Virith followed his gaze, finding the Shriker gone. It wasn't that surprising, if she were completely honest.
"Anyway, the similarity between the two of them is that Krucifi can still manipulate them." Serthal continued from before. "By promising food to the Shriker and protection to this one, they would join him in a nanosecond. So, you were right about the protection part; he has it just by walking in here. Although, by acting kind yourself to the Shriker, you notice how he didn't try and rob you?"
"Still doesn't explain why he needs it..." Virith pointed out. “However, I did notice that.” She added
"Well, that's why we're here. We find his connections, and squeeze them." Serthal told her by folding his claw into a fist. "Then once we learn of a weakness, we strike."
"Fair enough." Virith nodded, sitting down near Varquez. "I'm going to notify the Guardians about him." She indicated to the now unconscious Varquez. "When we finish here, I'm going to go figure out what the hell happened to let him out."
"Why wait?" Serthal flashed her a smile. "This is the benefit of not following the rules; you don't HAVE to wait!"
Virith stared at Serthal for a moment and sighed. She really didn't see the point in delaying it. "Very well, but I do have go be home soon to watch my sister."
"We won't stay long, then." Serthal promised her as he shot into the air, Virith right behind, but not after signaling a passing Guardian from the shadows.
Virith still didn't understand Pridewing. He acted like a masked crusader, yet he stole. He was terribly annoying, yet as the moment before showed, he had compassion. She supposed she'd figure out what was going on in his head eventually; for now, they had to figure out how Varquez escaped. Perhaps tomorrow she could try and figure out his true motive.