In the days that followed their visit to Dragon Shores, and their first visit to the beach, Spyro, Spike, and Ember found that the routine that Nestor and the other Artisans dragons had set for them over the last couple of months remained the same, as nothing new happened to them. They were just fine with that, as the excitement from what they usually did, which was practicing their gliding, running the maze with Sparx, Talon, and Cinder leading the way, or visiting Dark Hollow to continue their lessons on how to read and speak, which they were getting better at as the days went by, was all they could handle for the moment. Nestor, as always, was quite surprised by their progress, even shocked at times, where Argus and Oswin stated that it was because he was used to the normal amount of time it took dragons to master various activities, such as gliding or speaking, and the fact that they were doing some of those things quicker was what was surprising him. That didn't stop the siblings at all, as they continued to tackle the lessons that Nestor wanted them to learn, the basics on how to be a dragon as he called them, and they were definitely getting better at what they were doing, but they hadn't reached the point where they 'mastered' the basics, which they were fine with, since it gave them something to work towards.
In addition to spending time learning the basics the three of them also had plenty of days to do whatever they wanted, which was common before they went to the beach with Nestor and the other Leaders, though they usually spent their time wandering the available realms of the Artisans homeworld, to the best of their ability anyway. Due to their size, as they were still quite small in regards to the older dragons, it was still hard for them to jump high enough so they could glide from place to place, so when they visited Town Square, for instance, they were either accompanied by an older dragon or someone came across them after they arrived at their destination and helped them to where they were going. Nestor told them not to be worried about that, as they would be the size they were for a little while longer, and soon all three of them would grow again, only to stop growing when they reached ten years old, which meant that they wouldn't grow until they matured into adult dragons and took on the bipedal stance everyone else had. He had also informed the three of them that they were about half a foot tall and that the tallest they could grow, before stopping, was around three and a half feet, four feet if they counted their horns, so that gave them something to look forward to, as that meant that they wouldn't need help getting places when they were older, something that the older dragons were no doubt looking forward to, even if they didn't say anything about it.
That was something they were all waiting for, to be tall enough so they could move around the Artisans homeworld and the realms without having to inconvenience one of the older dragons, since some of them tended to be quite busy with their professions, hence one of the reasons that Alvar wanted to take a short break and join them on their trip to Dragon Shores, so he could relax a little, which he ended up doing after everyone had eaten the lunch he prepared, and he was happy to see everyone liked it so much.
Despite the fact that both Spyro and Ember had no interest in reading, and usually only listened to Argus and the others when they were in Dark Hollow so they could converse with anyone that wanted to talk with them, Spike found that he did enjoy the vast libraries that the area possessed. Sure, his favorite stories revolved around the action that the Peace Keeper dragons were involved in, of which there were plenty of stories since Titan and his predecessors made sure that the scribes of the Artisans dragons knew of every event that happened since they settled on the islands that were now known as the homeworlds of the Dragon Realms, but that didn't stop Spike from reading the other types of books, just to see what they contained. One thing he did discover were that there were other types of books that weren't in Dark Hollow's libraries, as the Magic Crafters had their own library of all the spells they developed and how to use each of the magic artifacts that they created, and even the Dream Weavers had their own hidden library that could only be found if one was skilled at the type of magic that they used, so his only ways to get at those types of books were if he asked one of the dragons to help him or if he learned the magic needed to locate the books. In the end Spike decided to retire those types of thoughts and focused on the library that he had access to, the one that he was familiar with, as he knew that he'd get around to the other libraries in the future, once he figured out what sort of profession he was really interested in, which would be around the time that Spyro and Ember did the same thing.
What interested him was the fact that he found an entry in one of the later tomes that made reference to a 'Gnasty Gnorc', but from what he could tell the threat had been a minor one and the matter had been closed by the dragons rather quickly, so he simply shrugged, finished the rest of the book, and then returned it to the shelf before moving onto the next book that Argus had suggested he take a look at.
While Spike spent his spare time in Dark Hollow, reading the various tomes and doing his own research on whatever interested him, Spyro and Ember spent whatever free time they had watching the other Artisans dragons, like Delbin or Thomas, mostly in the attempt to figure out what they were interested in. Ember did have an interest in the various battles that Spike told her about, the ones that the Peace Keepers had told the other dragons about, and she was looking forward to the day when she and her brothers were able to visit the other homeworlds, as she was eager to visit the Peace Keepers and see what they could teach the three of them. Spyro shared his sister's views on seeing what Titan had to teach them, since Nestor said that it was something they would do at some point in the future, but at the same time he had no idea what truly interested him, so he spent some of his free time just wandering around the Artisans homeworld as he considered what he wanted to do in the future, when he and his siblings were much older. Lindar and the other dragons told him that it was fine that he didn't have a particular interest right now, as most dragons, regardless of which land they called home, spent a few years before they figured out what sort of profession interested them, so he was under no pressure in determining what he wanted to do in the future.
Spyro was positive that he'd figure out what he wanted to do in the future, once he found something that actually interested him like how being a scholar interested Spike, but for right now he was more than willing to spend his time with his siblings, overcoming the training that Nestor had for them, before attempting to figure out what sort of profession he wanted to take up when he was older.
The next three months, from the time of their visit to Dragon Shores, went by just like the three months that went by between when Nestor first introduced them to the basics of gliding and when they first visited the maze, and Spyro, Spike, and Ember spent their time tackling the lessons they had been learning so far. Nestor continued to be amazed by the progress that they were showing, once more confirming that they were overcoming the times that it took the other dragons to get the hang of something, be it gliding or bonding with their dragonflies, and Sparx, Talon, and Cinder were more than happy to assist them in whatever they needed help with, within reason of course. Ember was sure that their times would start to diverge at some point, based on the fact that one of the times they ran the maze she was positive that she had been slightly faster than both Spyro and Spike, but, like the previous times she asked, Lindar said that their scores were still pretty close to each other, so no clear winner could be determined yet. She was still of the opinion that he wasn't telling them the truth, that this was a way for them to build their stamina and continue to bond with their dragonflies, but at the same time she decided not to worry about it, as she was sure that when a good gap in their times appeared he would tell them about it, so until that happened she and her siblings faced whatever challenges Nestor and the others put in the maze with smiles on their faces.
Spyro and Spike spent those three months like they usually did, going to their shared lessons with Ember, learning what Nestor and the other Artisans dragons wanted them to know about being dragons, and spending their free time however they wanted. Spike continued to enjoy his time with the dragons of Dark Hollow, as the library they had was amazing, though one thing he decided to set his sights on, that he knew nothing about, was the legends and tales of the purple dragons, because he was curious as to what awaited him and Spyro in the future, but he was surprised to find that Argus and the others couldn't direct him to what he was looking for. The way they told him about the missing knowledge made him realize that, in their hurry to learn more about the purple dragons as a whole, it had simply been misplayed in the bookshelves and the library itself, and that they hadn't found the tomes yet, so the information he was after was currently lost and would take some time to find. In the end Spike guessed that it was okay, as he was sure that the arrival of two purple dragons had caused some chaos for the dragons of the Artisans homeworld, though at the same time he knew that one day, when he was older, he'd find those tomes and return them to their rightful place in the library, before seeing what information they held on the purple dragons. His siblings, on the other hand, weren't that interested in what the books had to say about him and Spyro, as they were sure that Nestor and the other Leaders would have told them something by now if it was so important, but that didn't stop Spike from trying to find the missing tomes.
That all came to an abrupt stop one day when Spyro got up at the normal time he and his siblings woke up, which was around six in the morning when he asked Lindar about it, and as the three of them stretched a little, to wake the rest of their bodies up, they were greeted with silence, something that wasn't common in the area of Stone Hill that they currently lived in, or the surrounding areas for that matter.
"This is so weird." Spyro commented, as he wasn't used to waking up and discovering that it was only him and his siblings that seemed to be in the Stone Hill area, especially since he knew that Nestor and some of the other dragons were working on something near the courtyard he, Spike, and Ember slept in, and he knew his siblings had to be wondering what was going on as well, "Where is everyone?"
"I have no idea." Spike replied, though even as he said that he and his siblings left the main courtyard they were in and tried exploring the tower area that they had their first gliding lesson in, but when they walked out of the other side of the tunnel they discovered that there was no one near the tower, which made him wonder if something had happened while they were sleeping.
"We weren't attacked, due to there being no enemies to threaten the Dragon Realms and the fact that we would have woken up if such a thing happened," Ember said, as she was curious as to what was going on, since this was the first time they hadn't spotted any of the other Artisans dragons after waking up, and while she knew that some things had to change as they got older, especially when they became adults, she was sure that someone would have been near them, so the absence of Lindar, Gavin, and the others meant that something was going on, but what that something was she had absolutely no idea, "Maybe we should try the homeworld and see if we can't find someone there, just so we can get down to the bottom of whatever is going on."
Spyro and Spike glanced at each other for a moment, as they had to wonder if they would be lucky when they reached the other side of the portal, before following Ember as she headed back towards the whirlwind that would take them back to the Artisans homeworld, all while their dragonflies followed them. It didn't take the three of them long to appear on the other side of the portal that connected to Stone Hill, where they found the hub area of the Artisans homeworld resting around them, but as they started to spread out, so they could search the immediate area for signs of Nestor and the other dragons, they discovered that the only creatures near them were the couple small groups of sheep that usually just wandered around the area, until Alvar needed one or two of them. Still, that didn't stop them from continuing their search of the area, finding that none seemed out of place near the waterfall, the dragon head that covered the portal to Nevin's castle seemed to be closed, and the large door to the courtyard that contained the portal to Dragon Shores was closed as well, which only made them wonder what was going on at the moment. Since they hadn't seen anyone in Stone Hill, and had very limited choices, Spike wondered if they should search Dark Hollow and see if any of the other scholars and scribes were sleeping in for once, but just as he thought about that he noticed something in the corner of his eye and turned around to face the tunnel that would take them to Town Square.
He didn't get a good look at whatever the movement had been, but one thing was for sure and that was the fact that he had seen the movement of small wings enter the tunnel, wings that, if he remembered some of his personal studies of the Artisans library, could only belong to a fairy.
"What's wrong Spike?" Spyro asked, as he noticed that his brother seemed to be distracted by something and was a little curious as to what that something was, especially since they were in the middle of trying to figure out why all of the Artisans dragons were suddenly missing from the areas they were used to seeing them in, before he glanced at the tunnel and tilted his head a little, "Did you see something?"
"I'm not entirely sure what I saw, since I only saw it for a second or two," Spike replied, knowing that his brother and sister might not want to investigate Town Square based on what he was about to say, but he suspected that there was a reason behind why he had seen the flutter of fairy wings while they were looking for the Artisans dragons, "but I think I saw a fairy fly towards the area that the portal to Town Square is in. Maybe Nestor and the others are there, having a meeting that they didn't want to bother us with?"
"Or maybe this is another lesson, like the maze was?" Ember offered, because the maze had been the last time they actually learned anything new, which was the importance of bonding with their dragonflies, and she could tell that Cinder and the others had no idea what was going on, meaning that this had to be some sort of lesson, but what sort of lesson she had no idea.
Spike tilted his head for a moment, as he was curious as to whether or not this could be a lesson of some kind, before deciding that the only way they could figure out what was going on was by following the fairy he thought he saw, though as he walked forward he heard the sounds of his siblings following after him, meaning they were willing to see if he had actually seen anything or if his eyes were messing with him. Spike hoped that it wasn't his eyes messing with him, as that would mean he'd likely need to get some glasses when he was older, something he personally wanted to avoid despite having nothing against them, before he pushed that thought from his mind and focused on following what he had seen, which resulted in him and his siblings emerging from the tunnel they had been walking through. It didn't take them long to emerge from the tunnel and pause when they entered the small area that the whirlwind tower, the one that would allow them to head to Town Square, was located in, though not a few seconds later they continued moving and headed into the center of the tower, where Spike went first since he had seen the fairy. What surprised him was that, at the top of the tower, floated one of the fairies he had seen in the Artisans homeworld, which both of his siblings had seen in the past as well, though she smiled as Spyro and Ember joined them, before flying through the Town Square portal and disappeared within a few seconds.
The trio glanced at each other for a moment, as they had no idea what was going on right now and had no idea if the fairy was messing with them, before deciding that there was no harm in following the fairy and headed through the portal she had used, only to reappear at the entrance of Town Square a few seconds later. Normally it would be hard for them to move their way through this realm, since they were still small and none of them were tall enough to make the glide from one place to another, but what they discovered was that there were some wooden planks connecting the area they were in to the next area that would take them to the area they met the other Artisans dragons in some time ago. It was like one of the dragons that called Town Square home had placed the planks down for whenever the three of them came to visit, so they didn't have to ask for assistance every time they visited this realm, but they were happy to see this, as it allowed them to move forward without having to wait for someone to come along and find them. Once they realized that there were makeshift walkways for them to use, so they could walk around Town Square without needing assistance all the time, Spyro walked onto the first wooden walkway and moved forward, where Sparx flew near him as Spike and Ember followed after him, but they kept their eyes open for anything that might tell them what happened to the Artisans dragons or where the fairy might have flown off to.
Thanks to the walkways it didn't take the three of them very long to reach the courtyard that they had been in when they were introduced to the rest of the Artisans dragons, a day that had been incredibly interesting since it gave them the chance to meet the dragons they would be spending a lot of their time interacting with, but when they reached that area Ember paused for a moment and glanced around the area they were in, as something felt off and she didn't want them to walk into a trap.
"Surprise!" a number of voices loudly said at the same time, though at the same time that was when Spyro, Spike, and Ember paused as the air shimmered before their very eyes, which was followed by Nestor and the other Artisans dragons suddenly appearing around them, along with tables, banners, a number of party related items, and three different colored cakes, but what really interested them was that each of the dragons were wearing party hats.
"Um, what's going on?" Spyro asked, as he and his siblings had been worried about the older dragons the moment they discovered that none of them were where they normally were, but now he was confused as to what was going on right now, even though he could tell that Ember was sure that this was another lesson of some kind and Spike was interested in what might happen next.
"This is a party to celebrate your first birthday." Nestor explained, because based on the expressions on Spyro, Spike, and Ember's faces he knew that they were caught off guard by what had happened, especially since he and the other Artisans dragons had been keeping this a secret from the trio for a long time, before deciding that there was something he needed to tell them before they moved onto the main event, "A birthday is the anniversary of the day someone was born, as one year ago today the three of you were born in Stone Hill, hatching from your eggs to be exact, which means that all three of you are exactly one year old and that this party is to celebrate that fact."
"Okay, that's interesting," Spike said, as he had read about this sort of thing once or twice in the past, about there being days where a dragon celebrated the day they were born, but his knowledge about this sort of day was incomplete, which meant that he'd have to do more research on it in the future, before he thought of something, "but where did you guys come from? This entire courtyard was empty a few moments ago, but now it's full with dragons, tables, and all the party items you've brought with you."
"That's because the spell I used hid us from your sight," a voice answered, though as Spyro and his siblings turned their heads for a moment they watched as Titan, Cosmos, Bruno, and Lateef appeared out of thin air, just like the others had done a few seconds ago, before Cosmos held up a small blue sphere in his right hand, which stopped glowing as the trio focused on it, "We wanted to surprise you for your first birthday, both the Artisans dragons and the Leaders that watch over the Dragon Realms, so we worked together to plan this entire party out, all so it would be a total surprise for the three of you when the day of your birthday arrived."
"So, what are we going to do today?" Ember asked, as she still believed that there might be a lesson lurking in the shadows and she wanted to be prepared for whatever the Leaders had prepared for her and her siblings, all while wondering if this was like the day they went to Dragon Shores, where she was wrong about what Nestor and the others had planned for them.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there aren't any lessons today." Titan said, because he and the others knew that Ember was smart and believed that anything new was a potential lesson from him and the other Leaders, which had to be because of the fact that Nestor had started teaching them when they were only three months old, and he was sure that she would realize that not everything was a lesson, before he gestured to the tables for a moment, "Today is a day where we gather together, have fun, eat cake, and open some presents... any potential lessons can wait for another day."
Spyro, Spike, and Ember were a little surprised by how excited Titan sounded, as he made it sound like this was going to be an interesting day, so they remembered the fun they had at Dragon Shores and decided that they might as well see what was going on, as this was another new experience for them and they were eager to see what Nestor and the others had prepared for them. It appeared that they had a few games they could play to pass the time, where one of them involved wrapping a cloth around their eyes to temporarily blind them while they carried a small pin with a paper tail on it, a game they called 'Pin the tail on the sheep', and what interested all three of them was the fact that some of the other dragons would offer instructions so they could stay near the poster that was connected to the game. All three of them found that it was hard to move without tripping over themselves, but they had to admit that it was fun to blindly wander around the area until they believed that they were near the spot the poster rested in, even if all three of them managed to pin their tails close to the center of the poster, once again meaning that none of them was the clear winner, though they simply laughed at that and moved onto the next game. The next game was something that Thomas called 'Musical Statues', where he explained that everyone was free to dance as he played his music, but when he stopped for a second or two everyone that was participating in the game had to freeze for a few seconds, otherwise they would be knocked out of the game until a winner was determined.
The trio found it to be an interesting game, even if they got caught up in the melody that Thomas was playing and just so happened to be the first ones eliminated from the first game, but that was fine with them, as they had no experience with this game and got a front row seat as they watched the older dragons continue playing. When the second game came around they did much better, as they lasted a few rounds and watched a few of their elders get eliminated from the game, even though they were caught as well at some point, but all three of them determined that it didn't matter if they won or lost, as this was supposed to be a time of fun and they were happy to have another day off. After a few attempts at that game Thomas decided to take a break, which made sense considering he was the one that was playing the music for them to follow along with and that he needed to have a few moments to himself, though that was when Devlin showed off the cakes that he had made for this occasion. The cakes were large enough for everyone to have multiple slices of them, as each cake was a third of the width of the portals that connected the realms to the main hub of each land, but before they started cutting up the cakes Nestor informed the trio that they needed to blow out the candles of their cakes and make a wish, which made them pause for a few seconds before facing the cakes on the tables, as Bruno helped them onto a pair of chairs so they could actually be level with the cakes.
Each of them took a moment to stare at the candles that were in front of them, one on each cake to symbolize how old they were, before they took a deep breath and blew on the candles, though what interested them was that they spotted a spark or two fly out of their mouths and miss the cakes, before they glanced at Nestor and the others after the candles were extinguished.
"It's okay, no harm was done to the cakes," Nestor said, which caused Devlin to step forward and start cutting into the three cakes that were sitting in front of them, so the slices could be distributed to the dragons around them, before he focused on what they had seen, since this was common for young dragons to do, "It's common for young dragons to accidentally express the ability to breathe fire by letting out a few sparks, and sometimes a little smoke, when they reach being one year old, so you won't have to worry about setting anything on fire anytime soon... even though we'll teach you how to control yourself and learn how to wield this ability."
Spyro, Spike, and Ember knew that the ability to breathe fire was one of the skills that all dragons knew, no matter which homeworld they belonged to, and had known, due to Spike's studies, that one day they were going to learn this skill and master it over a few years, just like all dragons did, so they weren't too surprised when Nestor told them the news that they'd have lessons about this in the future and focused on what was right in front of them. They discovered that the cakes were covered in a strawberry frosting and tasted incredible, at least it tasted that way to Spyro and his siblings, and all of the other dragons found the flavor to be to their liking as well, which brought a smile to Devlin's face as he found that everyone liked the cakes that he had prepared for this event. Even Sparx, Talon, and Cinder had a little of the cake, as in they nibbled on part of the slices that their friends had been given, and they enjoyed the flavor as well, as all three of them had never had anything like it in the past, which pleased Devlin in the process, to hear that even dragonflies liked the set of cakes that he had made. When all of the cakes were dealt with, and there weren't any leftover pieces scattered around the courtyard, showing the trio just how well everyone liked what Devlin made, Nestor revealed that there was more more thing they needed to do before they went their separate ways, and that was the presents that Spyro, Spike, and Ember would be receiving.
Nestor laid a few boxes in front of the trio, each wrapped up and labeled with the name of the one that it was being given to, before backing away so he could join the others and let them open the gifts that they were being given, causing the trio to approach the boxes as they wondered what was inside of them. Ember decided to open her box first, though she was surprised to find four metal items inside it, where Titan revealed that they were metal bracers for her legs, to protect her in the future, almost as if he was expecting her to need something like this when she was older, but she was fine with such a gift, especially since they would grow with her and, when she matured into an adult dragon, she'd be able to replace them with the sort of armor that he and the other Peace Keepers wore, if she wanted to anyway. Spike found some interesting items in his box, as it appeared that the scholars of Dark Hollow had the perfect gift for him, which was a set of nice quills, a pair of inkwells, and a few tomes, though upon opening one of the tomes he discovered that it was empty, meaning that, at some point in the future, his friends were eager to see what he wrote about, making him smile as he started to wonder how he was going to carry his materials with him now. Spyro, despite being the last one to move towards his box, was just as eager as his siblings were and opened his present without delay, where he found a red scarf waiting for him, though what was hidden beneath the scarf was a book that detailed a number of pranks that some of the dragons had pulled in the past, since settling in the Dragon Realms, which caused him to wonder if it had anything good inside it or if he should return it in a week or two.
In the end Spyro decided to push that thought away as Nestor showed him how to wear the scarf he had been given, just as Titan helped Ember with her 'armor', but they both smiled as Spike joined them, because they were having fun and that was what truly mattered at the moment.