It didn't take Spyro, Spike, and Ember long to find the exit portal for Dark Hollow, since the interview was in the area right before the location of the whirlwind, so they were able to reappear in the small maze that hid the portal that lead to the realm they had been in. When they stepped out of the maze a few moments later, however, they discovered something odd, as there were a few green skinned beings, who stood slightly taller than one of the Balloonists and their stomachs were fatter as well, though they were wearing brown beanie style hats on their heads. Standing under the walkway that connected the large gate to the courtyard that the other portals were in, where the portal to Dragon Shores was located in, to the central point a dragon could stand in, to observe the land around them, was another green skinned creature that had a large brown over his shoulder and had a black mask over his eyes. The trio stared at the green beings for a few seconds, who stopped what they were doing and focused on them in return, as if they were trying to determine what they were going to do, before Spyro spotted a dragon statue that was resting where Nestor had been earlier, or at least where he told the three of them he would be waiting.
Instead of focusing on the green beings, who didn't seem to be doing anything at the moment, the trio turned to their right and ran over to the walkway that would take them up to the area that the statue was resting in, though when they finally reached the statue Spyro touched it with one of his claws, which caused cracks to form all over it within the next few seconds, before a bright light burst out of the statue and Nestor emerged, without any crystal fragments remaining on him or resting in the area around him.
"Spyro, Spike, Ember, thank you for releasing me." Nestor said, showing the trio that he was grateful that they had freed him from the prison he had been trapped in, though at the same time he also dusted off his attire, to be sure that none of the crystal fragments had stuck to him.
"No problem." Spike replied, as he knew that Spyro and Ember were thinking of other things at the moment and seemed to be focused on the green guys they had seen when they emerged from the small maze, "So, what are those green beings that are just standing around like they own the place?"
"The common Gnorc," Nestor replied, as he recognized the beings in question rather easily, because he had seen them in the past and knew who they were without having to think about it all that much, before he turned back to the trio, who focused on him the instant he looked at them, "as you can see they are small, around the size of a Balloonist, they're green, and they are incredibly weak, as these types of Gnorcs cower at the sight of a dragon and will run if you chase them or even get near them. And, unless I'm mistaken, the one under us, with the mask and the sack, is a thief, whose only duty is to pick up the various bits of treasure that are laying on the ground, the gems I've shown you in the past, so they can take them to Gnasty Gnorc, so he can transform them into additional soldiers for his army, be it the common Gnorcs you see at the moment or a stronger version that you haven't seen yet."
"So he does have a spell to transform our treasure into soldiers," Spyro commented, as that was something that Bob had mentioned during the brief interview, which he and his siblings had been interested in learning about, but now they have confirmation on that.
"Indeed, and, based on the soldiers he's sent here, I would guess that he had troops waiting for something like this to happen before putting his plan into motion," Nestor added, showing the trio that, while some dragons considered Gnasty Gnorc to be a simple creature, some of them knew that it wasn't wise to underestimate the supposedly defeated foe that had been banished to the Junk Yard, before he glanced in the direction of the portal to Nevin's castle, "I would even guess that he has his strongest minions stationed in the domains of the strongest dragon for each of our clans, no doubt commanding his forces as they try to take control of the Dragon Realms."
"Then let's take the fight to Gnasty Gnorc and end this madness, before someone gets hurt." Ember stated, her tone revealing that she didn't approve of anything that was going on at the moment, as in everyone they know being trapped in a crystalline statue, some of their treasure being transformed into enemies they would have to defeat, and the rest of their treasure was in the process of being stolen by their foes.
"In time you will take the fight to Gnasty Gnorc, but for now you should focus on freeing the Artisans homeworld from his clutches, by saving the other dragons and reclaiming anything the Gnorcs have stolen." Nestor stated, causing the trio to focus on him once more, as they were a little surprised by what he was saying, in terms of taking out the enemies that were invading their home, before they nodded their heads to show him that they understood, "Once you're done saving our home, and have taken out the enemy commander, you should head to the dock and speak to Marco, who will take you to the Peace Keepers homeworld so you can assist Titan in retaking his home."
"Out of curiosity, what will you be doing while we're doing that?" Spike asked, because he knew that Nestor wouldn't just tell them to do something like this and just sit back while they worked to save the Dragon Realms, which was why he bothered to ask the question in the first place.
"I will be tending to the other realms that are near the portal to Dragon Shores," Nestor replied, though he couldn't fault one of the young dragons from questioning what he was going to be doing while they worked hard to save their home and the other homeworlds, though his answer seemed to appease Spike, and that included his siblings.
Once that question had been answered, and none of the trio had any additional questions for him, Nestor opened his wings and took off, heading back to the area that he had told them about, leaving the trio to glance at the area around them as they considered what they were going to do first. Ember answered the question by charging off the area they were standing on and barreled into the two Gnorcs that were standing on the top of the nearby hill, knocking them to the ground and breaking the spell that was on them, transforming them back into a green gem and a blue gem, where Cinder stared at them for a few seconds. Spike, seeing what was going on, jumped off the edge of the area he and Spyro were on, where he and his brother approached the thief and chased him, striking him with their horns several times, where the first two strikes yielded one red gem apiece, while the third strike yielded three red gems and left the sack behind, showing that the Gnorc thieves were also transformed treasure as well. Spike walked over to the sack and studied it for a few seconds, before his horns glowed and he weaved a spell into the sack, where he made sure that Sparx, Talon, and Cinder were included in it, only to return to normal a few seconds later, where he nodded to Ember and Cinder tapped the gems, which reappeared inside the sack.
"Yes, the spell worked!" Spike declared, as he had read about this sort of spell in the past and had been waiting for a chance to test it out in the field, but he was glad that it worked and that any gem they collected was deposited inside the sack, as the gems near him and Spyro were also added to the sack thanks to Sparx and Talon tapping them.
"What did you do?" Ember asked, because while she wanted to run around and knock out the Gnorcs that were trying to steal their treasure, while freeing the various dragons that have been imprisoned, she was interested in seeing what Spike had done to the sack.
"It's a Bag of Holding, capable of containing all the treasure we recover." Spike replied, though he knew that his siblings might not understand what he was talking about, since they didn't study magic like he did, which meant he had to explain it a little, "Basically we won't have to carry all the treasure we recover with us, rather we can use this bag and just leave it, say, beside the portal to Stone Hill, where any piece of treasure our dragonflies touch will be teleported to the bag and deposited inside it, and if we clear all the Gnorcs out of our home we won't have to worry about the treasure being stolen while we're gone."
Spyro and Ember determined that this had been a good move on Spike's part, that way they didn't have to haul all of the treasure around with them as they went from realm to realm and homeworld to homeworld, and waited for their brother to move the sack over to the side of Stone Hill's portal, allowing them to focus on the rest of their homeworld and the realms that they could head to. The first thing they did was head back over to the small maze, where Spyro headed in and recovered the four red gems they had ran by while they were looking for Nestor's statue, along with smashing a wooden chest in the middle that contained a green gem, no doubt left behind by one of Gnasty Gnorc's minions. Ember, on the other hand, stood on top of the hill that the pair of Gnorcs had been on and jumped into the air, where she glided over to a ledge, where a few red and green gems were resting and made sure to collect the gem inside the chest as well, to be sure she got everything, before jumping down and rejoining her brothers. While Spyro and Ember were doing their thing Spike spotted a pair of Gnorcs trying to retrieve the sack he had enchanted, so he breathed fire on them both and returned them to their natural gem state, before collecting the pair of gems and the ones that were left on the pillars that he and his siblings had tried climbing on when they were younger.
As they gathered the remaining gems that happened to be laying around the area that they were in, no doubt due to the Gnorcs sloppy work, Spyro stopped by the pair of waterfalls, where the hidden entrance to their homeworld's Flight Realm rested, and freed the dragon that was in front of the water, which turned out to be Delbin, who thanked him and gave him a reminder than he and his siblings should keep an eye on their dragonflies, who were their protection against the dangers their foes could throw at them, before taking off to assist Nestor. Once that was done they checked out the tunnel that would take them to the dock, where they recovered a number of gems and smashed a few chests that were in their way, before coming to a stop as they reached the dock, though they took a second to wave back at Marco, who waved at them the moment he noticed that they were there, before turning around and heading back into the main part of their homeworld. It was mostly to make sure they didn't miss any of the imprisoned dragons, though instead of heading towards the portal for Nevin's castle, the area that one of Gnasty Gnorc's most trusted henchmen was waiting in, they took the other tunnel and found another dragon trapped at the exit, where they tapped the crystal and freed Thomas from his prison, who reminded them about the art of gliding, something they didn't need to be reminded about. After freeing Thomas the trio headed down into the area around the tower that would allow them to head to Town Square and found another gem thief, who Spyro proceeded to chase around the area while Spike and Ember gathered the fallen gems that were scattered around the area.
It didn't take Spyro long to take out the gem thief and claim the five gems he was carrying, nor did it take Spike and Ember long to gather the remaining gems that were in the area, so they decided that it was time to check out the area around the dragon head statue, where they discovered four wooden chests, a few scattered gems, and a statue that contained Argus, which surprised Spyro and Ember, since they were sure he had been inside Dark Hollow, even though Spike knew that the elder scholar had been elsewhere when the interview started.
"Thank you for releasing me from my prison." Argus told them, as he was grateful that they had come and broken the spell that had been placed on him, just like he knew that they had to have done the same thing for several of the other dragons that called this land home, before he glanced back at the dragon head statue, which was closed, "Did Nestor tell you his thoughts on what is going on at the moment?"
"We know that one of Gnasty Gnorc's strongest henchmen is somewhere in Nevin's castle, commanding the soldiers that are trying to take our treasure from us," Spike replied, though he was still surprised that Gnasty Gnorc had managed to get all of his soldiers and his henchmen into position before the interview happened, without anyone noticing what they were doing, which meant they had to be careful during their adventure.
"That's correct, and he's sealed the entrance to Nevin's castle," Argus stated, meaning that even if the three of them wanted to tackle the head of the assault, the henchmen that was in the area that Nevin called home, they couldn't reach that area anyway, but he did hold up a hand to stop them from getting sad or annoyed, "but, from what I can tell, all you need to do is restore order to Stone Hill, Town Square, and Dark Hollow, freeing the dragons that have been trapped and removing the enemies that you find, before the portal to Nevin's castle will be revealed again."
"Well, then that's what we'll do." Ember said, as she knew that she and her brothers already intended to clear out the enemies that were trying to take over their homeworld, just as they would do the same when they reached the other lands that the dragons called home, but this just gave them another reason to take care of Gnasty Gnorc's forces.
Argus had the feeling that Ember would have said that, as he nodded his head and took to the skies, so he could go assist Nestor and the others in freeing the dragons of the other realms that the trio wouldn't be heading towards, leaving Spyro, Spike, and Ember to decide on what they were going to do first, or, to be more accurate, which of the three realms they were going to tackle first.
"Why don't we tackle Stone Hill first?" Spyro suggested, causing his siblings to glance at him for a moment, as it wasn't everyday that he made a suggestion, but now that all of the other dragons were trapped in stone it seemed like he might be maturing a little and was taking an active role in saving their home.
"Based on what Argus said, it doesn't matter where we start, so I'm fine with starting in our own home." Spike said, though at the same time Ember nodded her head, showing that she was in agreement with him, that they should head to the realm that they lived in first, to make sure nothing bad had happened while they were gone, which caused a smile to appear on Spyro's face, as he was happy that they agreed with his suggestion.
With the three of them in agreement over which realm they should tackle first, now that the central area of the Artisans homeworld had been taken care of, Spyro, Spike, and Ember rushed over to where Stone Hill's portal rested and headed through it, where it took them a few moments to reappear in the courtyard that they had been born in, where they immediately found a few rams eating some of the grass, though Spike breathed a sigh of relief when he noticed that all of their stuff was safe and sound. The first thing they did, after making sure that all of the stuff they had made was still in one piece, was smash the various chests that were in the courtyard, though normally the rams left them alone and minded their own business, like eating the grass and wandering around the area, but this time the lone ram that was in the middle of the courtyard seemed to be annoyed by their presence. When one of them got close to the ram it charged at whoever was approaching it, like it was out to get them, causing Ember, who was the closest to it, to defend herself by rolling out of the way and let the ram rush by her and her siblings, before charging into the ram's side and knocked it to the ground, only for it to morph back into a gem as well. The trio stared at the gem for a few seconds, as they were sure that the ram had been normal over the last couple of years and wasn't a creature created by Gnasty Gnorc's spell, but to be sure Spyro and Spike each took out the rams that were guarding the tunnels to two separate parts of Stone Hill, only to return with two more gems to add to their collection.
"Okay, so it seems the transformation spell doesn't limit Gnasty Gnorc to just making more Gnorcs," Ember said, as she was surprised to find that the rams were hostile towards them, mostly because the rams they had seen in the past kept to themselves and didn't attack anyone, though this also meant that any creature they had seen before this point could be hostile, due to being a creation of the spell that their foe had found.
"So far that seems to be the case," Spike stated, though at the same time he carefully pulled out his writing materials, since he was carrying his satchel with everything inside it, and made several notes about the spells that Gnasty Gnorc had access to, as he was sure that Argus and the others would be eager to read about them when everything was back to normal, and he left some room for any other odd differences between the original creature and the ones their foe created with his spell, "but I suspect that there are limits to what Gnasty Gnorc can do with that spell, otherwise he could have just created a massive dragon army and declared war on us. The fact that he didn't do that tells me that his spell has some limits and what we'll face in our adventure is what he's capable of creating, but that doesn't mean we can be arrogant and lower our guard, otherwise something might knock us out before we can save the Dragon Realms."
Spyro and Ember found themselves agreeing with Spike, mostly because he was the smart one when it came to understanding magic spells and the various limits that the Magic Crafters knew about, so they decided that it was time to get a move on and see if they could find any dragons in Stone Hill. As such they headed towards the tunnel that was on their left and found a decent sized chamber that had a statue right in the middle of everything, though there were six chests in the chamber, three to one side and three to the other, along with five metallic chests on the left side. Ember charged forward and smashed her way through the metallic chests, freeing the gems for Cinder to grab, while Spike did the same for the wooden chests on the right side of the chamber, though that left freeing the dragon to Spyro, as the wooden chests on the left side had been broken during Ember's charge, allowing her to grab those gems as well. Once the chamber was clean of gems, and they were sure of it, Spyro walked up to the statue and tapped on it, allowing the dragon that was inside it to be released from the spell that Gnasty Gnorc had used on all of the older dragons, though as the light died down the trio stood there in shock for a few seconds, as they were surprised by who had been trapped in this chamber, especially when they considered what happened ten to twenty minutes ago.
"Thank you for freeing me from that prison." Lindar said, indicating that he was happy to be able to stretch his wings again, even though he had been a statue for all of a couple of minutes, before he noticed something odd and turned towards the trio, who seemed surprised to see him all of a sudden, "What's wrong? Is there something on my face?"
"No, there's nothing on your face, though we do have a question for you," Spyro replied, because something about this situation didn't make sense and he knew both of his siblings were just as confused as he was, which was why he was asking this now, before they got too much further and it came back at the worst possible moment, "Why are you here?! We saw you get trapped in the same crystalline prison that all of the other Artisans dragons were locked away in, back in Dark Hollow, and yet here you are, in Stone Hill! Explain yourself!"
"All I know is that a minute or two after you three left Dark Hollow, to find Nestor, some of Gnasty Gnorc's minions came in and carted me through the portal," Lindar stated, showing the trio that each dragon that was trapped inside the green crystalline statues had some idea of what was going on around them, even if they couldn't talk or move on their own, before he shrugged as he headed for the entrance of the tunnel, "I don't know why they wanted to put me here, in Stone Hill, but in the end it doesn't matter, since you've freed me from my prison... and I'm sorry for putting this chain of events in motion. I swear, if I had known the broadcast included the land that Gnasty Gnorc was ruling over, in addition to the five homeworlds, I would have held my tongue when the reporter asked about him, though I still think he's ugly."
Spyro, Spike, and Ember sighed as Lindar took to the skies once he stepped outside, as it appeared that he wasn't going to change his mind about what he called Gnasty Gnorc, though at the same time they weren't sure why the Gnorcs would care where a dragon was positioned, as Ember considered the chances of their foes setting traps for them to be extremely low, regardless of which homeworld or realm the dragons were in. Since there was nothing more for them to do in the chamber, other than stare at the walls for a few minutes if they really wanted to, the trio headed outside and went about collecting the various gems that were on the ground, as well as breaking any chests that were in their way, before heading into the chamber that was ahead of the area that dragons appeared in when they arrived in Stone Hill. It was then that they found another hostile ram that wanted them dead, not that it managed to hit them since all three of them rolled out of the way and then loosed a short burst of fire on it, before they smashed the pair of chests that were nearby and then headed towards the area that the exit portal was located in, where they first claimed the rest of the gems that were around them before they touched the statue that stood in front of the exit portal. When the light faded they found that it was Astor that was standing in front of the whirlwind portal that would take them back to the main part of the Artisans homeworld, who should have been in Dark Hollow, since that was where he was when the spell hit, but the trio figured that he, like Lindar, had been moved for some strange reason.
Besides thanking them for freeing him, like all of the other dragons had said so far, Astor reminded them that the exit portal behind him would take the three of them back to the the central part of their home, but before he could start up a story the trio excused themselves so they could go find out if there were any other dragons trapped in this realm, as well as recover all of the stolen treasure as well, leaving Astor to depart from the realm, to see if he could find Nestor and the other Artisans dragons that had been freed so far.
The trio paused for a moment, as they were surprised that Astor had left so quickly, but that was soon followed by Spyro walking over to the edge of the balcony, as some dragons called this area for some reason, and glanced around the area they were in, before grinning as he spotted a little beach of sorts below where they were standing. Spyro jumped over the edge not a few seconds later, where Spike and Ember walked over to where he had been a few seconds ago and watched as he explored the beach a little, where he found a few gems and a small cave, one that interested the pair so much that they jumped down and joined him so they could see what he had found. What they found inside the cave was four metallic chests and, oddly enough, a golden key that Spike picked up and slipped into his satchel, even though none of them had any idea where it was supposed to go, while Spyro and Ember smashed the chests that were in the small cave, allowing them to retrieve the gems that were inside them, before heading out of the cave so they could finish cleaning up Stone Hill. Another thing that interested them was that there was a whirlwind on the opposite end of the beach, from where the cave entrance was, and by taking it they were able to get back up to where Astor had been earlier, so they avoided the exit portal and headed back to the courtyard.
"Okay, we've saved two dragons, recovered a good bit of gems, and we have a key to something," Spike commented, as this was the first time they had seen something like this, which meant that they had no idea what the key was supposed to go, but he was more than willing to keep the key in his satchel until they found out where it went, before he glanced at his siblings for a few seconds, "I guess it's time we check out the area we did our gliding practice in and clear it of whatever enemies are in the area, as well as claim the gems that are there and rescue any dragons that have been trapped there, before we head somewhere else and repeat what we've been doing."
"Actually, I was thinking about checking out the well," Spyro said, referring to the sole structure that was in the same courtyard that they lived in, not counting the various tunnels that lead to the other chambers and areas around them, which caused his siblings to look at the well for a few seconds, showing that they were a little curious about it as well, even though they assumed that it was full of water.
Spyro jumped into the air and descended into the well, where Spike and Ember walked forward and expected to see him splashing in the water, though when they glanced down into the well they were surprised to find that there wasn't any water in it, rather there was a hidden chamber and Spyro was smiling at them. The reason for that smile became clear to them as they jumped down and joined him, as there were a few gems resting near one wall, a small locked chest that Spike assumed the key they had found went to, and another statue, which was followed by Ember tapping the statue so they could free another dragon. After a few seconds they discovered that the dragon in question was Gavin, who thanked them and gave all three of them a reminder on keeping their eyes on their dragonflies, as the colors indicated how much health and power they had, and made sure they knew to feed Sparx, Talon, and Cinder some butterflies if any of them got hurt during their adventure, before he excused himself and headed out to find Nestor. Once Gavin was gone Spike withdrew the key from his satchel and inserted it into the lock, where he was surprised when the chest shattered once the lock was open, but he shrugged as he collected the gems that had been inside the chest, before he and his siblings used the whirlwind that formed in line with the well's opening and returned to the courtyard once more.
Upon returning to the courtyard the trio headed for the tunnel that would take them to the area they practiced their gliding in when they were younger, where they found a few more hostile rams waiting around the tower, accompanied by three shepherds that happened to be watching over the sheep that called Stone Hill home, before they turned towards the tunnel and spun their canes, indicating that they didn't care for the trio either. This just confirmed that Gnasty Gnorc had created hostile versions of the creatures they had seen in the various realms, and potentially more hostile than the original in some cases, causing the trio to separate from each other for a few moments as they charged into the rams and knocked them to the ground, before repeating the process with the shepherds. The gems that fell to the ground a few seconds later also validated their belief that most of the enemies they would be encountering might be transformed gems, meaning they might not have to hold back against whoever was in their way, but they kept an open mind and hoped that some of the residents of the other realms didn't turn on them, otherwise things were going to get messy. As soon as the rams and the shepherds were taken care of the trio carefully walked around the area that rested around the tower, gathering the various gems from the ground and breaking the few chests that they discovered, before regrouping near the base of the tower, where they used the whirlwind to head to the top.
It was there that they discovered another statue, which happened to be Gildas, who immediately thanked them for releasing him from his prison and then reminded them how to stop a glide mid-flight, a useful skill to be sure, before taking off like everyone else, leaving the trio to explore the upper part of Stone Hill, something they usually didn't do, only to stop when they rounded a corner and found a black skinned figure that was wearing a blue striped robe... and, as he turned around to look at them, they discovered he was holding one of the new dragon eggs.
"Hey! Give that back!" Ember declared, raising her voice so the thief, as the being they were looking at was clearly trying to steal one of their dragon eggs from it's resting place, could hear her, though he just stood there with a smile on his face as he stared at her, almost as if he was taunting her or something.
Ember growled as she charged at the thief, who moved out of the way by running in the opposite direction, only to stop a few seconds later so he could look back at her, where he let out a 'Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!' for a few seconds, which was definitely a taunt, causing Ember to resume her charge as she rushed after the thief. Spyro and Spike moved to the side and watched as their sister followed the thief around the area that they were on, seemingly running around in a circle as she got closer and closer to her target, before Ember finally got close enough to barrel into the side of the thief as he was about to make a turn. The force of the impact sent the thief over the edge of the cliff and they heard him crash into the water that was below them, though Ember turned her head and focused on what was important, which was the egg that the thief had let go of the moment she struck him, where she smiled for a few seconds as she waited for her brothers to walk over to her. The moment the three of them were back together Ember got up and carried the egg by wrapping one of her arms around it, which would limit her for a few minutes, as she intended on bringing the egg back to Nestor so it could be returned to it's proper place, and her brothers agreed with her, which was why they quickly scouted out the rest of Stone Hill and recovered what seemed to be the rest of the stolen treasure, before joining her in front of the chamber that would take them to the exit portal.
They were sure that Nestor and the other Artisans dragons were going to be upset when they discovered that one of their dragon eggs had been taken from them, by thieves no less, and they were also sure that the other dragons were going to be happy to have the stolen egg returned to them, though all three of them had the feeling that this wasn't going to be the first time they were going to recover stolen eggs from those that had taken them.