Chapter One - A Familiar Face
Yuki walked through Azure Forest, a forest named for the color of its foliage. He stared up blankly at the sky, the sun filtering through the leaves and casting a greenish blue light on his face. He thought quietly to himself, recalling the message left by his mate Cyan: "My sister is nearby, I can feel her presence. I am going to go look for her. I am sorry to leave so suddenly, I just don't want to give up this chance."
It had been more than three days, and Cyan hadn't returned, let alone sent a messenger to tell Yuki that she was okay. Cyan had always been worried about her sister since losing her several years ago, regularly searching for her. She had never taken this long, however.
Yuki eventually wandered into a village. Or, at least that was what it used to be. He stepped back, looking at the burned buildings - some of them with boarded up windows and doors. He noticed a reddish orange fennec vixen standing outside of one of the buildings. She was wearing an red robe with an orange sash. Yuki walked over to her, immediately recognizing her. "What happened here, Pyra?" he asked.
"Flare happened," she answered, sighing softly and shaking her head. "She's been acting odd lately, talking about surrendering ourselves to Shiryu. We refused, naturally, and she just trashed the place."
"She did?" Yuki blinked, surprised. That name...Flare...
"Are you sure it was Flare?"
"Yes. Flare is apparently working for Shiryu for some reason. I am trying to talk her out of it, but she's not hearing it."
"Shiryu? Wait, you don't mean..."
Pyra nodded. "Yes. Shiryu, the dragon who seeks to take control over this island. I don't see Flare working for someone like her. Something's not right."
"I see," Yuki said. Before he could continue speaking, a golden-furred vixen ran into the village. her blue kimono and her four tails appearing to be singed. "Get away!" she cried. "Ah!" She tripped over a block of wood, and fell, scrambling up on her knees and panting to catch her breath.
"Electra?" Pyra ran to help the vixen onto her feet. A reddish orange vixen with yellow headfur and chest fur walked into the area. She was wearing a red headband that almost blended in with her fur. "I already told you the consequences for refusal," she spoke sternly. "I gave you a night to make your final decision. You brought this on yourself."
"Flare!" Pyra shouted, growling, her ears pinned back. "You seriously need to stop this. I know you were never like this."
Flare looked back at Pyra. "Oh," she replied condescendingly. "If it isn't one of the twins who keep spouting nonsense at me. I do think I have spared you long enough, as well. After I'm through with Goldie here, you are next along with your sister."
Yuki stepped forward, looking at Flare, noticing her dark blue eyes. Strange, she does look familiar, but no one I know would act like this.
"You're not killing anyone today, or ever," he firmly stated, maintaining his composure and not breaking eye contact with Flare.
"And who are you to decide that?" Flare turned to Yuki. She stared at him for a moment, looking him up and down, noticing his icy blue fur, green eyes, six white-tipped tails. Who IS he, indeed?
She shook her head. No, never mind that.
"It is not your place to order me around."
"My name is Yuki," he answered. "And if you are the Flare they were speaking of, I don't like you. I might, if you'd come to your senses."
"Great," Flare rolled her eyes, sighing. "That little runt got to you. It would be a shame to kill you, too. Such a waste of an attractive fox. You could even be king."
"Flattery isn't going to get you anywhere. I suggest you back off and think about what you're doing."
"And I suggest you shut up!" Flare growled. "Actually, I will save you the trouble!" Her hand glowed with fire. She lept at Yuki, swiping at him, aiming for his neck. Yuki ducked out of the way, his hands radiating an icy blue energy. He thrust his palms out at Flare, pushing her away, and sending six icicles at her. One of them grazed her side, tearing her dress and lightly cutting the side of her ribcage. She yelped, grasping the side of her body.
"You," she growled. "How dare you do that to me?" She paused, glancing at Yuki and the two vixens. "This isn't over. You aren't the first ones to try and resist me. You will regret this, like the others." She turned and ran out of the village in the direction from which she arrived.
Yuki walked over to Pyra and Electra. Electra smiled, and hugged him tightly. "Thank you!" she said. "If you and Pyra hadn't stepped in, I don't know what I would have done."
"It's what we do," Yuki smiled back at Electra, stroking her headfur gently. He looked in the direction in which Flare ran. "She does look familiar, like someone I've seen a long time ago."
A voice spoke from one of the buildings. "That's because she is." A fennec vixen similar in appearance to Pyra walked out and joined the group. "Flare is our sister, and if I recall correctly, you had a relationship with her."
Yuki nodded, looking to the vixen. "You're right, Pyro. We were mates, but she had suddenly left about seventeen years ago. She left a note saying she had to take care of things back home. I never heard from her since."
"I don't recall her saying anything like that to us," Pyro said. "But it is something she would do. How she ended up working for the likes of Shiryu is beyond me, though."
"We need to get her back to the way she was."
"That's what Pyra and I have been trying to do for a while. She never listens. We either need something to really jog her memory, or put a stop to Shiryu and release her control over Flare's mind."
"And do we have any idea where Shiryu is hiding?"
"Not right now, only where she and her servants have been." Pyro shook her head. "Come into my house. I've got a map and some notes. Perhaps we could figure something out from those."
* * *
Flare entered a room in a cave lit with torches of green flame. A feral purple dragon wearing a black helmet with silver trim and a jagged silver horn was sitting in the middle of the room. Flare knelt before the dragon's armored feet. "Shiryu," she spoke. "There is another who resists us. A handsome blue arctic fox by the name of Yuki. While he does not seem willing to join us, I feel he would be a suitable king. I'm sure I could persuade him."
Shiryu smirked. "I see," she responded. "I would like you to bring him to me."
"Of course, mistress." Flare bowed her head. "He may be difficult for me to obtain on my own, however."
"You may take whomever you need to assist you. After I take a look at him, I will assign you to train him."
"Thank you." Flare stood back up and bowed before Shiryu before walking out of the room. Shiryu grinned, thinking to herself. It would be nice to have someone ruling alongside me. Hopefully, he will be cooperative.