Spyro, Spike, and Ember found that, in addition to running around the Stone Hill area like they usually did, or one of the other areas if they wanted to do something different, that Nestor and the other Artisans dragons made sure they spent a few days a week practicing the skills that they were trying to teach them. Of course that meant that they spent some time working on their ability to glide, made sure they knew how to read the scrolls and tomes from the libraries of Dark Hollow, even if two of them really didn't care about reading at all, and they visited the island with the maze at least once a week, so they could continue bonding with their dragonflies and attempt to beat the scores that their siblings set. After their first time visiting the maze, and testing it out, Nestor let Lindar be the one to accompany them to the island, so he could time each of them when they ran a random path through the maze, as Sparx, Talon, and Cinder knew all three paths that were currently in the maze, meaning they could pick one at random to confuse the dragon they were paired with, even though Spyro and his siblings had a habit of catching on rather quickly, which made their friends happy. Nestor was happy to see that they were doing well and would reward their hard work with days off from their training, going to one of the realms of the Artisans homeworld so they could relax, or do whatever it was that they wanted, while he thought up new ways to test what they already knew.
The gemstones, as the trio learned, were enchanted by Cosmos and the other Magic Crafters, which explained how the red items they had been told to find had been able to float above their backs after they found them and 'claimed' them from their resting place, which only made them more interested in seeing what Nestor intended to use the maze for in the incoming weeks and months.
Of course not all of their time was spent on what Nestor called the 'basics', the critical skills that a dragon, regardless of which homeworld it called home, was supposed to know, as the other Artisans dragons also let them take breaks from that sort of thing and either let them act like young dragons or showed them the profession that they had dedicated their lives to mastering. Lindar actually let them come with him one time when he was visiting his workshop, the area that contained all the clocks that he was working on, be they small ones that one could wear, like he did all the time, or ones that would sit in a hallway or a castle, and entertained the trio by showing them around his workspace. Gavin showed them around the space that he worked in, a mobile cart of some kind where he kept all his equipment, and demonstrated the art of making drinks for the rest of the Artisans dragons, when they needed some energy to keep moving on with whatever they were doing. Astor and the other dragons of Dark Hollow had stories to tell them, about what they did while they were growing up and learning the basics of being a dragon, what they did before they found the professions that they spent their lives mastering, and anything else they could think of, though Astor, being the oldest dragon in the entirety of the Artisans homeworld, was prone to falling asleep from time to time, which cut stories short if he was the only one talking to the trio.
Other dragons, like Devlin and Alvar, enjoyed having the trio around to sample one of their latest creations, which was something that Gavin couldn't do since his drinks were for older dragons, even though he told the trio that he'd be more than happy to show them what he could offer them when they were a little older, after they turned five anyway. Spyro, Spike, and Ember liked hanging out with the cooks from time to time, as the new recipes each of them made were quite good, even if there were a few that didn't turn out quite so well, but the pair of cooks simply smiled and said that it was okay if a recipe failed, as it gave them something to work on in the future. Nils, Thor, and Delbin were often near each other, where the trio discovered that they usually tried to find a good place to quietly work on their individual art pieces, and they were occasionally visited by Nevin, who would make remarks on their art, which turned out to be suggestions that would make things better for the piece in question. Delbin, being a painter, looked up to Nevin, the master painter in the Artisans homeworld, and usually followed through with his suggestions, as they were generally correct, but even then there were times where he ignored what Nevin said and continued with his painting, though at the same time Nevin wasn't upset over that, as each dragon was different and had their own style, and he was merely making suggestions, not commanding the others to follow what he said, so he had no problem with the others following their hearts.
What really caught the attention of Spyro, Spike, and Ember was the fact that one day, when they were older, they would be able to figure out what sort of profession they wanted to spend their lives working on, just like the rest of the Artisans dragons were doing, but for now they were focused on what Nestor wanted them to learn, before they went off and focused on something else. Of course that didn't stop them from observing the other Artisans dragons so they could see what they were doing and see if they could find something that interested them, but so far none of them were sure what sort of profession they were interested in, which made them understand why Nestor was putting off those types of lessons until they were older, since they would have an answer to this question after they experienced everything the Dragon Realms had to offer them.
Spyro, Spike, and Ember found that the next three months were pretty much the same as the last three months, only this time around they spent a few days each month at the maze, working with their dragonflies, building their bonds with them, and, at the same time, trying to get the fastest time of them all. What continued to surprise them was the fact that Lindar kept telling them that their scores were nearly the same, meaning that either they were running the paths with no change to their pace, which was odd considering that all three of them were sure that the three routes were the exact same and hadn't changed at all, or Lindar wasn't keeping track of their time to make them run faster and maybe build up their stamina in the process. Of course there was no way that Lindar would tell them if he was doing that or not, but at the same time they knew that he was helping them train for the future, so the trio decided not to complain about the fact that their scores were close to each other and focused on bonding with their dragonflies, who were happy to help them run through the maze and whatever else they needed assistance with. In addition to that they made sure to spend a good portion of their time practicing their gliding, usually in the presence of some of the older dragons in case they crashed into something and hurt themselves, but so far, thanks to following what Ember did, none of them had hurt themselves while practicing their gliding.
What surprised the trio was the day they turned nine months old, a day they were able to keep track of thanks to the older dragons, as it was the day that Nestor had scheduled something that was different from what they were used to doing, so they gathered in the central area of the Artisans homeworld and waited to see what Nestoer had in mind... but what interested them was the fact that Darius and Alvar were accompanying Nestor this time around.
"Spyro, Spike, Ember, I'm sure that all of you are interested in hearing what I have planned for you today." Nestor said, though since they were getting closer to being one year old, a special event for every dragon that lived across the Dragon Realms, he had decided that it was time to start addressing them by their names and not by 'little ones' anymore, which he knew would catch them off guard a tiny bit, since they were so used to the term being used.
"You bet we are!" Spyro replied, as he was excited for whatever Nestor had in mind, because so far he and his siblings had been learning the basics on how to be a dragon, something everyone else learned when they were as young as he, Spike, and Ember were at the moment, and he was hoping for something new, maybe like how to breath fire or fight by using their claws, horns, and tails against their foe, like in the stories that Spike told him about, "So, are we going to start learning how to fight today?"
"That would be nice." Ember added, because one thing that interested her, from the stories that Spike told her and Spyro about, where the battles that the dragons of old had gotten into before they were able to settle down in the lands that they called home, or at least that was what the tales said, and she was eager to see what sort of training Titan and the other Peace Keepers had for them.
"I'm sorry to announce that we won't be working on combat anytime soon, nor will we be doing anything that you have done in the past." Nestor stated, though at the same time he and the others moved towards the large door, which he was leaving open for the foreseeable future, since he knew they would be using the courtyard more than they had done in the past, before stopping in front of the portal that was in the middle of the area he had brought the trio to, "Instead... we're going to the beach!"
"The... beach?" Spike asked, because he was expecting Nestor to take them through one of the other portals and visit one of the other realms that was scattered throughout the Artisans homeworld, no doubt to see how some of the other Artisans dragons lived when they weren't busy, so the news that they were going to the beach surprised him.
"That's right," Nestor said, where he tapped the stone arch of the portal that they were standing near and smiled, because on the other side of the portal was a place that all dragons liked to use as their vacation spot, and he felt that it was time for him to show the three young dragons something new, though not in the manner that they had been thinking about since he made his statement about today, "This is a portal to Dragon Shores, an island that has the best beaches in all of the Dragon Realms, and a few other things as well, but I'll let the three of you discover that for yourselves."
Spyro, Spike, and Ember looked at each other for a few seconds, as they weren't sure if they were all that interested in seeing Dragon Shores, since this was the first time they were hearing about it, before deciding that they might as well see what the place looked like and see if it was as fun as Nestor and the others claimed it was. Nestor noticed this and smiled as he walked through the portal, causing the three of them to follow after him, though when they appeared on the other side a few seconds later they were surprised to find that they were in a large courtyard-like area that had five portals that formed a circle and had an open spot that seemed to be the exit. What interested the trio was the fact that each of the five portals looked different, as the one they came through matched the stone and gold portals that they had seen around the Artisans homeworld, the one next to their left also appeared to be made out of stone, a different type no doubt, that had a blue crystal in each of it's support pillars, while the one to it's left seemed more circular and had a large green gemstone at the top of the structure, as opposed to the blue one that the Artisans portals had. The one to their right had a circular opening for the portal as well, though it seemed to be made out of a number of light blue stones and had an orange stone at it's peak, while the final portal, to the right of the fourth one, seemed to be more of a triangle shape, with an emerald color to it's stones and had three spikes on it's top, though it had no gemstone to speak of.
As they stared at the five portals, and came to a stop near Nestor, who was standing nearby, both Darius and Alvar walked through the portal they had come out of, though the pair were now carrying some boxes in their arms, which made them wonder what else Nestor wanted them to do while they were here.
"Welcome to a part of Dragon Shores that we call the Nexus." Nestor said, as he could tell that the trio was surprised by the other four portals that were around them, since this was the first time they were seeing this sort of thing, and knew that he'd have to tell them about the portals as they walked down the path that Darius and Alvar were taking, hence why he and the young dragons were following after the pair, "Each of the five homeworlds have their own portal to Dragon Shores, just like the one we walked through, so it makes sense that there would be a return portal so an Artisans dragon can return to the Artisans homeworld, or a Magic Crafters dragon can return to the Magic Crafters homeworld. I know what you might be thinking, that this is a place where someone can go from one homeworld to another in a matter of seconds, and while that would be a handy feature to have, in case of emergencies, the magic of these particular portals prevents that sort of thing from happening. If I, an Artisans dragon, were to use the Peace Keeper's portal, instead of the Artisans portal, I would first come out of the portal I was supposed to use, though you'll have to ask Cosmos more about the magic of these portals if you're interested in them, as I have told you what I know about them."
"So there's a chance that other dragons will be here?" Spike asked, because based on what he was hearing it sounded like someone else might be at the beach, either relaxing on their own or waiting for them to arrive, though at the same time he and Ember stopped as Spyro tapped them with his tail.
It appeared that Spyro was interested in testing something, as he turned around and charged at the portal that Nestor had been looking at, the one that had to be the Magic Crafters portal, and disappeared the moment he passed through it, but what surprised the pair was that their brother came charging out of the Artisans portal like Nestor had told them would happen if someone tried to do that, before they regrouped and rejoined the others.
"Oh, there will be other dragons here." Nestor replied, though while he was slightly amused by one of the trio testing the magic of the portals, in the manner he had said, he turned his attention to the open area in front of them, which was a large sandy area with a number of palm trees near where they were walking, where he smiled as he took in the waves that were touching the beach.
"Nestor!" a voice said, where Spyro, Spike, and Ember turned their heads and spotted a somewhat familiar dragon, one that had a purple mohawk, beard, and tail tuft, though while they realized that this was Titan, the Leader of the Peace Keeper dragons, though instead of wearing his armor he was wearing an odd purple pair of shorts for some reason, which made them wonder what was going on, "I'm glad you, Darius, and Alvar could make it, instead of something coming up and making you stay in the Artisans homeworld all day long... and I'm glad to see the three of you again, even though the last time you would have seen me was when you were a day or two old."
Spyro, Spike, and Ember kind of remembered Titan, as it was hard to forget someone like him, but at the same time they remembered Cosmos, Bruno, and Lateef, the other Leaders that had been there when they were first introduced to Sparx, Talon, and Cinder, which made them wonder if the others were here as well. That question was answered not even a few seconds later, where they spotted the three dragons in question standing near where Titan had been before Nestor had stepped out onto the beach, and each of them were wearing different colored shorts, which Nestor revealed were swimsuits, something that older dragons wore when they went to the beach, though that also meant that the three of them wouldn't have to worry about wearing something like that for a long time. What interested the trio was the fact that Lindar was standing nearby as well, which meant he must have gone through the Artisans portal long before they did, but he seemed happy and that made the trio wonder what they would be doing today, before they went back home. Darius, on the other hand, simply walked over to where Lindar was standing and set some things down, showing that he must have come for a different reason, but that only made the three of them even more curious about what was going on and what they might be doing.
"I made sure to clear my schedule for today," Nestor replied, though as he said that Alvar walked over to part of the beach where he would be able to do his thing, which was the moment that the trio watched him pull out some pieces of wood and some raw meat, making them wonder what he was planning on doing, "Don't worry, part of the reason that Alvar came, besides needing some time off from Town Square and his duties as a chef, is because he wanted to cook us an amazing lunch, one that needs a few hours to make, giving the three of you plenty of time to enjoy yourselves without having to worry about doing anything else for some time. Darius just wanted some time off and decided that this was the best way to recharge his creative mind for the future, so he'll likely be resting in the sun for a few hours."
"What's the catch?" Ember inquired, because after everything they had been through so far, in the last couple of months, that she was sure that there was a lesson to be learned somewhere and that it would be revealed at some point in the next hour or two, and her brothers, while not totally sharing her opinions on the matter, were curious as to what sort of answer Nestor would give her.
"Catch? There is no catch." Nestor stated, though he couldn't fault one of the young dragons from asking him that sort of question, since most of their time had been spent learning how to be a dragon, but at the same time he pulled out a few towels and put them on top of one of the containers that were near them, while Alvar set the wood on fire and started placing the meat in the area he intended to cook it in, before turning to face them again, "We're on vacation, which means that you can relax in the sun, run around the beach and chase each other, gather some of the sand to build castles or whatever you want to build, and even play around in the water, either swimming or splashing each other."
Spyro tilted his head for a moment, as he had to admit that what he was hearing was interesting, and he smiled for a few seconds as he noticed that Spike and Ember were walking over to the edge of the water, though the moment they came to a stop, and stared at the waves, he rushed forward and barreled into Spike, knocking the two of them into the water without delay. Ember and their dragonflies stood there for a moment, as they showed different degrees of surprise at what had happened, though when both of her brothers emerged Ember found that Spyro was laughing and Spike, while being a little shocked, clearly intended to get Spyro for what he did. Nestor and the others watched as Spike burst out of the water and charged at Spyro, where the two of them returned to the beach and started running around the area that was around them, but he could tell that they were just having fun in their own way and didn't seem like they were going to hurt each other. Ember, on the other hand, walked over to where the older dragons were standing and found that they had brought small tools of some kind, where Titan chuckled and picked up a few of them, before walking over to another part of the beach and set some of the tools down in front of Ember, where he showed her the shovel and a bucket for a few seconds, only to drive the shovel into the sand.
Ember tilted her head for a moment as Titan explained what he was doing, that he was gathering sand and water so he could build a sand castle, before she picked up one of the other shovels and started digging into the area to her left, allowing her to dig up some sand and dump it into the bucket that Titan set next to her. When she had enough material in the bucket she looked up at Titan, who lifted his bucket into the air for a second and then turned it around, which was when he hit the ground with the top of the container, causing Ember to wonder what he was doing, before he pulled his bucket up and revealed a small sand tower where he hit the ground. Once she knew what to do, and Titan moved onto gathering more sand, she looked at her bucket and tipped it over, since she didn't have the height that the older dragon had, and forced the top of the bucket around until it was where Titan had placed his, where she tapped the bucket for a few seconds before pulling the container away, revealing a decent copy of Titan's sand tower. It wasn't long before she had enough material in the bucket to make a second tower, though as she did that she found Nestor, now dressed in his own swimsuit, sitting near her and Titan, where he proceeded to start building a wall between the two towers that had been made so far and inquired as to where the third one would be going, and while all that was happening she noticed that the other Leaders were doing their own thing as they enjoyed their time off as well.
She knew that Nestor liked to build things, based on the projects that she and her brothers had seen across the Artisans homeworld, and since she really knew nothing about this sort of thing she decided that having him help her in building her castle was a good thing and said nothing as they worked on the structure they were working on.
While Ember was doing that with Nestor and Titan, and they were building a decent looking sand castle, Spyro and Spike ran around part of the beach, though when Spike finally tackled his brother into the sand the two of them chuckled for a few seconds before heading back to the water. It was clear that Spike wasn't upset with Spyro, especially since he returned the favor almost immediately, and the moment the two of them returned to the water he walked forward a little more and paddled along with his legs, as he had seen a few of the older dragons do this when they were in the water, which wasn't all that common, and one of them had informed him that what they were doing was called swimming. He didn't have much practice in this sort of thing, since Nestor and the others hadn't actually taught him and his siblings how to do this, but he had learned a bit from watching the adults and reading a few of the scrolls that talked about the subject, though it was nice to put what he had learned into practice, even if it was a little difficult than he believed it to be. Spyro tilted his head as he watched Spike for a few moments, as he was a little confused as to what his brother was doing, only to decide to try it himself and moved out to the area of the water that Spike was in, where he started to mimic what his brother was doing, with limited success.
What Nestor found interesting was that Ember glanced at her brothers for a moment, seeing them make their first attempts at swimming, and then got up from where she was sitting as she charged into the water that Spyro and Spike were in, which caused him to chuckle as she attempted what they were attempting.
"I had no idea they knew the basics on how to swim." Titan commented, though at the same time he glanced down at the castle that Ember had been making for the last couple of minutes, which he and Nestor had been assisting her with, and found that Nestor was making sure everything was as Ember left it, so she could continue building when she got tired of being in the water.
"Oh, we didn't actually teach them any of that," Nestor replied, as that was the amusing thing about the three young dragons, when one of them found something they liked, be it a story or a skill they hadn't seen yet, they always watched the older dragons a few times before making their first attempt, and Spike had gone one step further by looking through all of the scrolls and tomes to get more information about this skill, "What you are seeing right now is what Spike has been reading about for the last two weeks, ever since he spotted one of the other Artisans dragons swimming, and both Spyro and Ember are making their own attempts at the same time, though without any training, from me or someone else, they're already doing quite well. You can tell that they're being smart about this, since they're staying close to the beach in case something happens to one of them, so we can rush over and help them, but for the most part it seems like they won't be needing any assistance, so we can sit back and watch them have fun... though I will have to see what we can do in the future, to properly teach them how to swim."
Titan nodded his head in understanding, because while swimming was a skill that all dragons learned when they were older, usually between two to five years old in most cases, Spyro and his siblings were clearly different from the rest of the dragons that lived in the Dragon Realms, especially Ember when he considered what he had learned about her first attempt at gliding, so if Nestor said he'd figure out a way to teach them how to swim, then he meant it. He and the other dragons chuckled as Ember swung her right wing and splashed both Spike and Spyro at the same time, surprising the pair for a few seconds, since they weren't expecting her to do that, before they retaliated and soon the area around them was a splash zone, with each of the three young dragons having fun while being in the water. It was clear that the siblings were having fun, despite all the time and energy they had put into Nestor's lessons, but that was the point of this venture, to let them relax and have fun, instead of forcing them to go through another lesson and tiring them out, as they would have countless additional lessons from him and the other three Leaders, once Nestor was done with the basics, and he already had a few ideas in mind after watching them play on the beach earlier, just like he was sure Cosmos, Bruno, and Lateef might have come up with a few ideas as well.
Spyro and his siblings played in the water for another ten to fifteen minutes, according to Lindar anyway, before they decided that it was time to get out and return to what Ember had been doing, but before they approached the sand castle Nestor made sure to show them how to dry themselves off after being in the water. Once the three of them were dry they headed over to the sand castle and Ember resumed what she was doing, gathering sand and placing it down, where Spyro and Spike joined her, though they sat down and attempted to make the central building that was the heart of the entire castle. From watching them Nestor knew that it was too soon to determine whether they had any talent in building, just like he did, but he had to admit that it was nice to watch the trio divide up what they needed to do among them, so they could build the castle faster. At one point Spyro accidentally smashed one of the walls with his tail, where he seemed a little worried that it would upset his sister, since she had spent a good amount of time on the castle before joining him and Spike in the water, but instead of being upset Nestor could see that Ember was fine with it, as she told her brother that mistakes happened and that they could fix it, before they dived back into their work with smiles on their faces. It was the same thing that Nestor had seen many times since the three young dragons had started his lessons, that they were working together to overcome problems or pool their skills together to make something better, and that brought a smile to both his face and to the faces of Lindar, Darius, and Alvar.
Nestor had fun helping the trio whenever they needed his assistance or wanted his opinion on their castle, like if they were doing something right or if they needed to change something they had added in, and before he knew it Alvar was calling everyone over for lunch. The type of meal he had prepared was some slow cooked meat that contained the smoke from the wood he had chosen, something he was good at doing, along with some fruit, vegetables, drinks, and anything else they might need for such a meal, and he made sure there was enough food for everyone. That was a good thing, as all of them were hungry and they made sure that everyone had their fair share of the meat that had been brought, where Spyro and his siblings enjoyed the smoked meat, which was either chicken or beef, and smiled as they enjoyed themselves, which made Nestor and the others happy as well. While it was a shame that Nestor hadn't asked Thomas to come along, as his lute playing would have made the day perfect, Cosmos did use a bit of his magic to make music in the area around them, causing everyone to keep their smiles on their faces as they had fun, especially Spyro, Spike, and Ember, who were clearly having the time of their lives.
He knew that this day would be one of their favorite memories, that it would overcome anything bad that happened to them in the future, and he was happy to give them something special, even as he waited to see what the three of them would do in the coming weeks... before pushing that thought aside as he had fun as well, knowing that he'd deal with the future when they weren't on vacation.