With Stone Hill cleared of enemies and all of the stolen gems found, including all the dragons and even a dragon egg, Spyro, Spike, and Ember headed through the exit portal of the realm they were in and returned to the central area of the Artisans homeworld, but even as they reappeared in front of Stone Hill's portal they didn't head off to one of the other two realms they could restore order to. Instead the trio headed towards the large door that Nestor had been imprisoned in front of, a door that was usually closed unless someone was heading to Dragon Shores or one of the other realms, ones that none of them had been to yet, though they were happy to see that the door was open and, standing near the portal to Dragon Shores, was Nestor. Delbin and some of the other dragons that they knew were busy going from place to place, no doubt heading into the other realms that the trio wouldn't be tackling so they could free the other dragons that had been trapped in the crystalline prisons, but for now they focused on the Leader of the Artisans homeworld. They knew that Nestor was busy making sure all of the realms were in order, or at least the ones that he and the others had been to so far, but they had something important to show him before they went to Dark Hollow and Town Square, the only remaining realms that needed to be tackled before they dealt with Gnasty Gnorc's henchmen.
The trio came to a stop as they neared the area that Nestor was in, as once the dragon egg they had was dropped off they were going to turn around and pick out their next destination, between the remaining two realms, so they could free the other Artisans dragons that had been trapped.
"Spyro, Spike, Ember, I'm glad the three of you are unharmed," Nestor said, as he suspected that none of the enemies that were invading their homeworld would be able to hurt the three young dragons in battle, something that appeared to be true, but, at the same time, he expected them to be tackling the other realms, which made him interested in why they had sought him out, "What can I do for you?"
"We found a thief trying to run off with one of our dragon eggs while we were clearing Stone Hill," Ember replied, her tone revealing that she didn't like the blue robed figure that had tried to steal the egg she was holding onto, which she then presented to Nestor so he could see that she was telling the truth, not that he had much of a reason to doubt her in the first place, "but don't worry, I managed to recover it by chasing down the thief and ramming into him, causing him to let go of the egg as he flew over the edge of Stone Hill's cliff, where he crashed into the water."
"First Gnasty Gnorc steals our treasure, then he imprisons us in crystalline statues, and now we have thieves trying to steal the eggs that contain the next generation of dragons." Nestor exclaimed, showing that he wasn't happy with the turn of events that were happening to the Dragon Realms, events that had broken the peace he and the other Leaders had brought to them some time ago, while the other dragons nodded their heads in agreement, showing they weren't happy about this either, especially since Lindar had set everything in motion, before Nestor focused on them again, "Thank you for recovering this egg for that thief, but, as it turns out, the other egg that was in our nursery has been stolen as well, so that means there's someone like the thief you encountered running around one of the other realms, with the other stolen egg. This time, if you manage to recover the other egg, why don't you have Spike use his teleportation breath on it and have it moved to the left of our portal to Dragon Shores? That way you won't have to stop what you're doing and come tell me you found another egg, I'll know you found it when it appears near the portal."
"I like that idea." Spike said, where he nodded his head in agreement with what Nestor suggested, because it was a sound idea and the dragon eggs that the homeworlds had, from what he knew, couldn't be hurt by flaming them, so he wouldn't have to worry about hurting the dragons that were slumbering inside them, "Very well then, I'll make sure to use my teleportation breath on the other egg, if we find the thief that stole it, and I'll be sure to ask the other Leaders where they want me to send their eggs when we reach the other homeworlds."
Once Nestor knew that something more important than their treasure was being stolen from them, and the egg was placed near the portal so he could take it back to the nursery in a few minutes, Spyro, Spike, and Ember headed back to the main area of their homeworld and made their way towards the portal that would take them to Dark Hollow. The reason behind that decision was because Spyro and Ember knew that Spike wanted to make sure the Gnorcs hadn't done anything to the library that he had been working on for a long time and rescue the dragons that called the realm home, along with getting any information that might be able to help them in their adventure. Spike was happy that his siblings were okay with checking out Dark Hollow, instead of heading to Town Square first, and he was sure they could learn something about their enemies while they were visiting the other scholars, but they were going to have to wait and see what happened when they reached their next destination. Fortunately it wasn't hard for them to reach the portal in question and pass through it, since there were no enemies in the main area of their homeworld to bother them at all, which allowed them to focus on what they were going to do when they reached Dark Hollow.
A few seconds later they reappeared at the entrance of Dark Hollow, allowing them to walk forward and see what was going on in this realm, though the first thing they discovered was that there were a few Gnorcs like the ones they had seen back in the main area of their homeworld, but what was different about them was that they were carrying what appeared to be a sword and a shield of some kind.
"Gnorcs with weapons, now that's interesting." Spyro commented, because so far all they had seen were cowardly enemies that ran from them and hostile versions of the creatures that called the realms home, enemies that they had taken care of so they could restore order to their homeworld, though when he opened his mouth and breathed fire on the foe in front of them they noticed something interesting, the Gnorc held his shield up and didn't get burned at all.
"Fire resistant shields," Ember remarked, as that wasn't something any of them were expecting, though at the same time they had no idea just how much planning and preparation Gnasty Gnorc had put into planning his invasion of the Dragon Realms, and so far it seemed like he had a good idea of what he needed his soldiers to have, before Ember let a small smirk appear on her face as she charged into the Gnorc and knocked him out, leaving a gem behind, "at least we know that enemies that have shields can still be defeated, we just have to charge them or attack them while their shields are lowered, though it makes me wonder if there are any other tricks we don't know about yet."
"Well, there is that large guy up there, with a wooden shield and a large club, which seems to be the leg of a decent sized beast," Spike noted, referring to the Gnorc that was standing on a platform to their left, one that was raised quite a bit and would require jumping on the platforms to their right to get to, something they were going to have to do since he and the other Gnorcs were causing trouble for this realm, and because there was a crystalline statue resting just beyond him, with one of the residents of Dark Hollow trapped inside it, "My best guess is that he's bored out of his mind and he's been chewing on the meat of his club, to pass the time, but if we stay out of range he'll probably taunt us to attack him, which might leave his backside open for someone to loose a burst of fire at his back."
Ember was glad to have Spike around, as he had a good talent for studying something and determining what needed to be done to get around an obstacle, and he was right more often than he was wrong, to which all three of them jumped onto the first platform on their right and quickly got up to the highest point they could reach at the moment. It was there that they discovered a locked chest, just like the one they found back in Stone Hill, so they determined that looking for the key would come later, once they were sure this place was safe, before gliding over to the platform that the large Gnorc was standing on, causing him to focus on them once he noticed they were there. Spyro and Spike then moved around the foe that was in front of them, keeping themselves out of his range as he seemed to follow them, ignoring the fact that Ember was on the move, though not a few seconds later the Gnorc fell forward and collapsed into a gem, where the pair found their sister letting out another short burst of fire, indicating that the tactic had worked like a charm. Once that was done they turned their attention to the pair of shield Gnorcs that were near the dragon statue, where Spyro and Spike wasted no time in charging into their shields, knocking the pair of enemies to the floor and causing them to revert back to their original form, allowing the gems to return to the bag Spike had set up for them.
There was a chest and a few gems laying around the statue, which the trio quickly collected, but Spike tapped the statue that was in front of them, where they waited for a few seconds before the light died down, revealing Alban in all his glory, who rested his tail on the ground and used it to balance himself, while at the same time taking out his quill, before smiling as he glanced at the trio.
"Spike, it's good to see that you and your siblings had no trouble getting by those annoying Gnorcs," Alban said, his tone revealing that, while he and the other Artisans usually didn't fight, he was still proud of Spike for standing up to their foes and taking back their land, and that he was proud of Spyro and Ember taking care of their enemies as well while they recovered their stolen treasure, "Of course they never would have bothered someone like me, but I do have a hint for all of you, and that is the fact that some of your enemies will be wearing fire resistant armor, but a quick charge attack will knock them out."
"That sounds about right, since the smaller Gnorcs seem to be the only ones with armor," Spike replied, though at the same time he discovered something interesting, Alban wasn't heading off to join Nestor and the others, meaning he was either going to finish what he had started before he was trapped in the crystalline statue, which was dedication to his profession, or he was curious as to what the three of them would do next and wanted to watch them for a few minutes, which only caused them to shrug and head off once more.
There were two more shield Gnorcs waiting around the platform the trio had used to get up to where Alban had been trapped, though it was a simple matter to take care of them, as all they had to do was charge into them and knock their targets into the ground, returning them to their original state. From there they had two choices, either go down the tunnel that was to their right or head straight to the raised area that was in front of them, where three shield Gnorcs stood in front of a larger club wielding Gnorc, like they were guarding him or something. In the end the three of them decided to check out the tunnel that was to their right, since it really didn't matter which way they went, as they weren't sure where all the trapped dragons were located, though as they walked down the steps, to reach the entrance of the tunnel, they found something that might give them trouble. There was a large Gnorc, maybe slightly taller than the ones with the clubs, in the middle of the tunnel that they were planning on investigating, though the problem was that he was wearing armor on his chest and arms, and he was carrying a shield in his right hand, indicating that something had to be down this path and that they had to get past this foe to find out what that something was.
Seeing the larger Gnorc, who was walking up and down the tunnel that they wanted to use, caused the trio to pause as they considered what they were going to do, especially since this was the first time they had encountered an enemy like this, meaning they had no idea how to take it down.
"Okay, this is a problem." Spike commented, as he recalled all the information they had on all of the other enemies that they had encountered so far, in all the realms they had been to since Gnasty Gnorc launched that spell at the Dragon Realms, and he had something to share with his siblings, "From what I can tell, from the enemies we've encountered so far, most of the enemies that are too big for us to charge into can be taken down with a quick burst of fire, while at the same time most of the smaller enemies, like the ones that carry those shields, can be taken out with a charge. But what do we do about the enemies that are both too big to charge into AND just happen to be wearing armor?"
"Spike, everybody has a weakness, be they dragon or Gnorc," Ember remarked, as she knew that all three of them had their own weaknesses, what those were she had no idea, but the idea was what she was focusing on, that everyone in the Dragon Realms had some sort of weak point, before she glanced back at the armored Gnorc, "we just have to find out what this guy's weakness is before we can move forward and see what's down here."
"I'm willing to bet one of the scholars of this realm, like Argus, might know those weaknesses." Spyro added, because he suspected that the answer had to be here somewhere, especially if Spike was able to recognize the shields and armor as being fire resistant, something he most likely learned form his studies, which meant that one of the other scholars had to know the information that would help them out.
"Okay, so we can either head back to Alban and see if he knows anything," Spike said, since it would be rather easy for them to get back to the dragon they had just freed, due to the fact that it appeared that Alban didn't want to go anywhere for a few minutes, though that might change once he realized that they had been stopped in their tracks, "or we can head towards the exit portal and do what we did in Stone Hill, knock out our enemies and restore order to this realm, before heading out and seeing if we can find Argus, to ask him about the weakness of this particular foe."
"Let's got talk with Alban and see what he has to say," Spyro suggested, because he had no idea if one of these Gnorcs happened to be guarding the exit portal, which would be bad for them if they didn't know how to take them out, though he was happy to see that his siblings agreed with his suggestion.
Ember and Spike nodded their heads in agreement before the three of them headed back to the area that the platforms were in, where they quickly checked the area and picked up any gems that they might have left behind, before jumping up to the highest point and then glided over to the area near Alban, who turned towards them when he noticed that they had returned to where he had been trapped.
"I was not expecting you three to return so soon," Alban commented, as he was curious as to why the trio had come back to the area he was sitting in, especially since they had departed from where he had been trapped onto a few minutes ago, though at the same time he was more than willing to talk with them and see if there was anything he could do to aid them in their quest, "What seems to be the problem?"
"We encountered a Gnorc that is walking along a tunnel we wanted to investigate," Ember replied, because she was eager to get on with their adventure and was slightly annoyed that there was a Gnorc blocking them from exploring part of Dark Hollow, the one place where Spike knew where everything was located, before she focused on Alban, "he's wearing fire resistant armor on his chest and his arms, and he's got a shield as well, but he's just as large as the one that was wielding the club, the one we took out to get to the statue you were trapped in, so we can't charge him and we can't breath fire on him. We were hoping that you might have an idea on what sort of weaknesses he might have."
Alban raised his quill for a moment, as he was curious as to what the trio was talking about, before he realized what sort of armor they had mentioned and thought about to what the Peace Keepers had encountered in the past, something that Spike hadn't read yet, which lead him to an answer that might help them out.
"Was this Gnorc wearing armor on his back?" Alban asked, where he noticed the trio seemed to pause for a second or two, no doubt in shock due to the fact that he asked them a question while they were trying to get information out of him, before Spike seemed to understand something, which seemed to be common since he appeared to be the smart one of the group, not that he was insulting Ember or Spyro since they were smart, they just weren't on Spike's level.
"No, the armor was only on his chest, leaving the back exposed." Spike answered, though he was curious as to where Alban was going with this question, while at the same time he could tell that his siblings were also interested in what the dragon had to tell them, "Why is that important? We can't charge him due to his size."
"Ah, but you can defeat him with a burst of fire to the back," Alban replied, where he chuckled as he saw the gears moving in Spike's mind, as he finally understood what he was talking about, before seeing the same thing happen for his siblings, showing that all of them realized something that they overlooked, "The larger enemies can't be knocked to the ground by you, that is true, and this one is wearing fire resistant armor, but he's not wearing it on his back, so all you have to do is get him to expose his back and you can move forward quite easily."
Spyro was the first one to move, as he turned from where he was standing and jumped over the edge of the platform, before making his way back to the tunnel he and his siblings wanted to explore, where both Spike and Ember followed after him, though they eventually stopped when they found the Gnorc that was blocking their path... but this time around, when the large foe turned his back towards them, so he could walk to the other side of the tunnel again, Spyro loosed his flames at the Gnorc's back, toppling him and causing him to revert back to a gem.
"Okay, now we know how to beat these guys, in case we find more of them in the future." Spyro said, though he was happy that Alban's idea had worked out so well, because it allowed the three of them to head down the tunnel they were investigating and see what they could find down here.
Spike and Ember nodded their agreement before following Spyro into the tunnel that was in front of them, which lead them to a small chamber that was connected to a second tunnel, one that contained a second Gnorc that was just like the one they had taken out a few moments ago, so all they did was wait for a few seconds, for their foe to expose his back, and then loosed some flames at him, clearing the path once more. Once that was done the trio picked up the gems that were around them, in the small chamber, before heading down the tunnel that was in front of them, which brought them to a larger chamber that contained a trapped dragon, something that made the trio happy since that was what they were looking for, and had a few gems scattered around the area. They jumped across the platforms that were in front of them and then jumped to the point that the statue was on, where Spike touched it and they discovered that Oswin was the one that had gotten trapped down here, who reminded them to carefully look around the realms that they visited, as there might be secrets for them to discover if they carefully look around the various environments of the lands. Looking around their environment was something that the trio knew, but at the same time they listened to what the dragon had to say before he nodded his head and walked over to where the tunnel was, no doubt to join the others in saving the other realms that the three of them wouldn't be tackling.
Once Oswin had departed from the chamber the trio explored the chamber they were in for a few moments, where they found a few gems laying on the ground and, more importantly, the key to the chest that they had seen earlier, near where Alban had been trapped, so once that was in their possession, and the chamber was cleared of treasure, they headed out and returned to the chest, where Spike opened it and they claimed the gems inside it.
After that they headed up to the platform that would allow them to get closer to the exit portal, though as they got up there they found three small shield Gnorcs and one large Gnorc that only had his club, but what was interesting was that one of the shield Gnorcs remained in front of them while the other two ran off. Fortunately that made things much easier for them, as all the trio had to do was separate from each other and chase down one of the shield Gnorcs, where they charged into each of them and reduced them back to their original states, which was the moment that the larger Gnorc noticed what was going on and raised his club. The separation tactic also worked against this guy, as he had trouble picking out who he wanted to crush first, where the trio used that moment of indecision to loose three bursts of fire at him, allowing them to take down another enemy and retrieve the gem that he left behind, before heading up the steps that the Gnorcs had been guarding. When they reached the top step they discovered that there were four enemies up here, two more of the shield Gnorcs and two more club Gnorcs, though what was interesting was that three of their foes happened to be blocking the path to a dragon statue and the other was in the hole that was in front of them.
As it turned out the trio didn't have to do anything fancy to best these foes, as Spyro and Spike rushed at the three enemies that were on their level and charged into the shield Gnorcs, knocking them back, before loosing some fire to take out the larger one before he could hit them, while Ember jumped over the edge and flamed the club Gnorc that was all alone, allowing her to walk away with the win. Once all of their foes had been taken care of, and they were sure about that, the trio went about collecting the remaining gems in the area that they were in, though Spike did make sure to stop and tap the statue that was near the exit portal, where he found that Darius had been trapped here. Darius, of course, was happy that he had been freed from his prison, though when he noticed that all of the enemies had already been defeated, including the larger foes, he simply nodded his head and left Dark Hollow, so he could join the others and see what he could do to help them. Spike had the feeling that, if they hadn't gone back to talk with Alban, they could have freed Darius and gotten the same information from him, before he shrugged and decided that it wasn't worth worrying about, where he waited for Spyro and Ember to return from what they had been doing, which was gliding out to two platforms that they needed to glide to and get the gems that had been laying there.
The moment the three of them were reunited they headed towards the exit portal, where they claimed what seemed to be the last of the gems for this realm, and headed back to the main area of their homeworld, though once they arrived at their destination they immediately set out for the portal to Town Square, as there was one more realm they had to restore order to, before challenging whoever Gnasty Gnorc had assigned to watch over this land.
When they reappeared at the entrance of the Town Square they discovered something interesting, as there were a few chickens walking around the area they had appeared on, almost like they owned the place or something, which meant that whatever enemies had come here must have also let the animals out of their pens, or wherever Alvar kept the smaller creatures that they had seen in the past. Instead of losing their focus over a few chickens, who were ignoring them, Spyro, Spike, and Ember quickly gathered the gems that were around the landing area and then climbed up the steps that took them to a trapped dragon, which was followed by Spyro tapping the statue to free the imprisoned dragon. They soon discovered that Nils was the dragon they were freeing, who had been in the middle of creating a bust for each of them, why they had no idea and he wasn't about to tell them before the pieces were finished, but he did thank them for releasing him and welcomed them back to Town Square, before returning to his work. The trio didn't mind that, as they knew that some of the Artisans dragons might have returned to their professions if they weren't needed, before turning to face the gap that was in front of them and focused on the task at hand, which was gliding over to the other platform and entering the next part of Town Square.
As soon as they landed all three of them were assaulted by a pair of bulls, who were far more aggressive than what the trio remembered, which just meant that this was the same as the rams and shepherds from Stone Hill, these bulls were transformed gems and needed to be dealt with. Fortunately Ember had the solution, as she charged into the nearest bull and caused it to flip backwards a tiny bit, which also caused it's horns to become lodged in the ground, something that Spyro and Spike were sure the Artisans that lived here would moan about once they discovered, before she loosed a quick burst of fire to return the bull to it's previous form. Not even a few moments later Spyro, now armed with the knowledge on how to deal with these enemies, did the same thing to the second bull, allowing the three of them to climb the steps to their left and reach the next point where they would have to glide from, even though there was another level above them that was a little too high for them to reach at the moment. They paused for a moment as they discovered a new type of chest, one that looked like it had a gem top for some reason, though Spike was the one that solved it, as all he did was use his fire for a few seconds and a gem popped out of the top, where he jumped into the air and collided with the gem, which caused the chest to shatter before their eyes.
Spike revealed that it was a chest that had a gem magically bound to it, so by snatching the gem out of the air a dragon was able to remove the gem from the chest, which caused the chest to break, though it was one of the joke items that Gnasty Gnorc liked to use, just to mess with dragons, and he admitted that he never thought he would see one, but it was nice he knew how to deal with it the moment they found one.
Once Spike let his siblings know about the strange chest they had encountered, and how to get around it, the three of them jumped off the platform they were on and glided over to the lower platform that was across from where they were, which then allowed them to glide over a gap that was filled with water. The moment they landed they spotted another statue and immediately tapped it, allowing them to free Devlin from his prison, where they found that he had been in the middle of making a cake, one that he claimed was going to have to be remade at this point, but that didn't stop him from thanking them before heading off to the building that he worked in. In the courtyard beyond where Devlin had been frozen they found a Gnorc, one who wasn't as fat as all of the others they had seen so far and was wearing a costume that made it seem like he was working with bulls, running around the fountain with a bull chasing after him, which caused the trio to sigh as they charged into both enemies, allowing Ember to finish off the bull before they started to collect all the gems that were around them. As they moved up the steps to get to the area that the exit portal was in, however, Ember paused as she heard the same taunting sound that she heard back in Stone Hill, where she glanced behind them and found another thief standing on a wall that had a tunnel behind him, and he happened to be holding the other dragon egg that Nestor had reported as being stolen.
Instead of charging after the thief, who seemed to enjoy where he was standing, the trio focused on charging and flaming the four bulls that were guarding the exit portal, along with one more costume wearing Gnorc, before breaking the metallic boxes and gathering the gems, though once that was done they tapped the nearby statue and released Alvar from the prison he had been stuck in, and it appeared he had been in the middle of making lunch when Gnasty Gnorc used his spell on everyone.
"Spyro, Spike, Ember, did any of you see a man dressed in blue running around Town Square?" Alvar asked, though that told the trio that he had seen the thief while he was trapped in the statue and was angered by what he had seen, especially since the thief had a dragon egg.
"Yeah, we saw him... and I'm going to beat him up and take that egg back!" Ember replied, which was when she turned around and headed back to the top of the stairs that she and her siblings had climbed up to get to this area, where she glared at the thief as he taunted her once more.
Instead of gliding from where she was standing, like Spyro expected her to do, Ember actually climbed up onto the stone platform that was at the top of the stairs, an extra step that wasn't needed or something, before jumping into the air and spread her wings, allowing her to glide towards her target. What happened was that she landed on the lower part of the wall, one that would allow her to jump up to where the thief was standing, but instead she waited for Spyro and Spike to catch up with her, before jumping up to the next level and focused on the thief that was grinning at her. The moment she charged towards him the thief picked up the egg and ran through the tunnel that was behind him, causing Ember to follow after him and move through the tunnel as well, though when they came out on the other side she noticed that there was a path they could take that would lead them to another dragon, before focusing on the thief as he jumped over the edge and landed down where the first pair of bulls had been waiting for them. When she landed, so she could turn around and take him down, the thief surprised her by jumping into the air and headed back towards the tunnel, though that was followed by him returning to the edge as Spyro and Spike emerged from the tunnel, trapping him between two points and ensuring that he'd be defeated in the end. In fact, since he couldn't decide which route he wanted to take, Spyro ended up flaming him, causing him to let go of the egg he had been holding onto, though both he and Spike waited for Ember to catch up with them, to make sure the dragon egg was fine, before Spike used his teleportation breath to send it to the area that Nestor specified earlier.
With that taken care of the trio made sure to gather the gems from the area the thief was in, including the ones that had been inside some chests, before gliding over the gap that was near them, one that the thief was so kind to show them while Ember was chasing him, which allowed them to continue gathering the remaining stolen gems. They encountered one more bull that happened to be running around another dragon statue, which was easy for the trio to fix since one of them just had to charge it and another had to use their fire breath on it, allowing them to gather whatever gems were up there before they did anything else. That also allowed them to find a second new type of chest, one that had a gem trapped in the center of two metallic pieces, but found out that if they used their fire breath on it the head piece would spin, and if they did that three times in a row the top went flying off and they could claim the gem that was inside the odd circular chest. Once that was done the trio turned towards the statue and tapped it, releasing Thor from his prison, who thanked them for the aid before turning to the area that Alvar was in, allowing the trio to drop down and give him the good news, which was that they had recovered the dragon egg and had sent it along to where Nestor told Spike to send it with his teleportation breath. Alvar was pleased by this news, especially since they informed him that the one other had been recovered as well, and left the trio to their business, which was them heading through the exit portal and heading back to the main area of their homeworld, so they could focus on something else.
Once they got back to where Nestor and the other dragons were, and made sure everything was in order, the three of them were going to head to Nevin's castle and challenge the being that Gnasty Gnorc assigned to the Artisans homeworld, to totally free it from their enemy's control, and then, once that was done, they were going to head to the land of the Peace Keepers and continue the cycle until the entirety of the Dragon Realms was free once more.