This is the re-start/continuation of an old RP. If you want to participate in it, you HAVE to read the whole thing. It's at 71 pages in MS Word, but it's a complicated story and a general synopsis will not do. Also, I'm insisting you read the whole thing if you want to participate because I have re-written a lot of it. Some people who will not be coming back to the story have been written out, situations that did not fit have been re-worked, and it just flows a good deal better now. The updated version will be posted on my website eventually.
This RP has a few rules that are different from others. Because it is a very complicated, mature topic, Tamith and I have total control of the story and can (and probably will) edit posts that we feel do not fit the theme. There will be no super-natural abilities on the part of normal characters' Dylan and Kale are the only ones allowed to exhibit supernatural abilites. Other rules will be added as needed;)
Nearly a month ago, the Navigator and her crew had left the port of New York City for Africa and India. Captain McGreggor was taking a small group of trappers across the Atlantic and around Africa into the Indian Ocean to collect animals for the New York City Zoo. It had been a rough trip around Cape Horn, but the Navigator had carried her crew to safety, and to port for re-supplying, with admirable strength. Some eight days out of port and well into the Indian Ocean, Rico and Lt. Tates put their latest prank into action. “Señor Pradelli!” Rico shouted as he ran from the cargo hold to the deck. “Señor Pradelli! We left the trapping equipment back at port!” Lucas Pradelli, head of the trapping expedition, looked skeptically at the young Mexican. “Is this another of your jokes? I personally supervised the loading of all our gear back in New York and none of it left when we docked in Africa.” “I’m sorry, señor, but you are no right. I was just down there looking for an extra blanket and it’s all missing! Come, I show you.” Lucas sighed, but followed the energetic youth to the hold. On his way bellow deck they passed by the sleeping mound of orange and gold that was Namir, his faithful Siberian tiger. Most of the crew feared him, so the caretaking responsibilities fell upon himself; not that he minded at all. Bringing the tiger had been a requirement for his participation on this trip. Actually, he enjoyed watching everyone run around like madmen whenever the big kitty cat felt in a playful, pouncing mood. They passed the sleeping giant and descended the stairs to the hold. There, he was surprised to find Rico had spoken the truth. Not one bit of the equipment they would need to trap the great elephants, tigers, lions, or monkeys was to be found. Even the collapsible cages were gone! Lt. Petar Tates was going through one of the trunks, searching for something. Trying his best to sound authoritative, Lucas boomed, “Lieutenant! What is the meaning of this?” The muscular navel officer immediately straightened and saluted. “Sir! I was just looking for an additional blanket for Rico, Sir!” Even though he had retired after the American Civil War, he still acted military. However, his playful nature had not been dimmed by the strict navy training. “Oh, you’re not in the Navy any more; stop saluting,” Lucas laughed as he walked around, searching for their gear. Rico saluted and began marching around the hold, looking for the missing goods. “Rico? What are you doing?” Lucas asked, getting exasperated by the youths antics. Maybe he hadn’t made the best decision in taking the 18 year old on their hunt… “Looking for the traps, Señor,” Rico replied as he kept marching around. “Aren’t you the one that told me they’re all missing?” “Si.” “Then why are you…. Ah, I’m going to speak to Captain McGreggor about this.” As he left, Lucas could have sworn he heard Lt. Tates and Rico laughing. Captain Mark McGreggor stood at the ships port side with Jebar Sorla, the ships cook and cabin boy, though he was well into his thirties. The broad-shouldered Irishman watched the oceans waters with a well practiced eye. Dolphins, a seaman’s omen of good luck, played in the waters surrounding the ship. Still, goose bumps appeared on his arms and his stomach tied itself into knots. From all outward appearances, he was calmer than the sea itself. “Bad storms coming,” the captain calmly said. “Aye, I feel it too,” Jebar replied. “I’ll tell the passengers to get below decks.” “Thank you.” Captain McGreggor continued to scrutinize the clear blue skies for any sign of when the storm would break. Late that night, the first raindrops started. Within moments, a few light raindrops grew into a full scale tropical storm. The shrieking wind tore at the sails while the angry waves alternately shoved and pulled the Navigator. Shipmen ran back and forth, tying down barrels that had broken loose and the helmsman had tied himself to the wheel to keep the massive waves that washed the deck from sweeping him away. Through the blackness, Captain McGreggor could see the white waves breaking over the deadly teeth of a reef, and his ship was being driven towards it. “Reef!” he shouted and ran to the steering wheel, desperately trying to help Dekko steer away from the fatal rocks. Despite the combined efforts of both men, the ship was driven into the stony jaws the sickening splintering of wood drowned out even the winds howl. Every man on board rushed to the lifeboats. The trappers fled to the deck as the lower levels quickly began filling with the seas fury. Shipmen pulled back the tarps covering the lifeboats and found two of them loaded with trapping gear, but balanced with enough space for five men each. The other lifeboat was empty. Lucas scowled at Rico, “In the boat!” he ordered. “No me boy a mantor en ese bote!” Lucas pushed Rico into the boat and climbed in after. The boats were soon in the oceans savage swell. Amazingly, the two boats with trapping gear balanced the best; the extra weight acted as ballast. “Namir!” Lucas called his tiger. The great cat came bounding over the ships side to land in the boat. Namir curled up miserably in the middle of the already full boat and tried his best to stay near Lucas. “Pull, men!” Captain McGreggor directed his boat. Everyone manned an oar, desperately trying to avoid the sharp sea stones. Suddenly, the boat Rico, Lucas, Lt. Tates, and two other shipmen were in was pushed heavily to one side. Again and again, something rammed the small boat, guiding it around the reef. Rico caught a glimpse of a dolphin just as the boat was rammed again. “Los delfines! They’re helping us!” “Then follow them and pray the others do the same!” Lt. Tates shouted. Hours of the tortuous battle for life passed as the crew followed their dolphin guides. Eventually, the sea claimed a boat, the one un-weighed by the trappers gear. A single dolphin lifted one man back to the surface and sped ahead of its companions. Soon, the porpoise and human were lost to sight. Minutes, hours, days later, who could tell, Namir lifted his striped head from the boats bottom. The great tiger looked around in the darkness, sniffing. Suddenly, he leapt out of the boat and started swimming away. “Namir!” Lucas cried out. Then, he saw what Namir had smelled, land. “Land! There’s land!” The exhausted men pulled with renewed vigor and soon felt sand scraping the bottom of their boats. Leaping out, they pulled their water soaked craft above the tide line and hunkered down under some palm groves to wait out the storm. As the crew waited out the storm, a young man, wrapped in a long waterproof cloak, watched them from some distance off. He held a long pole of strong pinewood in one hand, and the other was thrust deep into his pockets. As the bedraggled sailors peeped out from under their cover, the man smiled, and hunkered down into the thicket from where he had been observing them. Stranded... Though the word was small, it captured the essence of their situation. They had watched the storm blow by and now a thick helplessness prevailed in the soft breeze. Lucas felt Namir nuzzle his hand affectionately and patted him absentmindedly. The big cat could sense his masters’ worries and did what it could to cheer him up. The human assessed their situation quickly. Ten survivors were there and then they still had to walk around the shoreline to see if anyone else had lived. Two lifeboats filled with trapping gear and equipment courtesy of Rico & Tate Pranks Inc. He smiled. For once, their little jokes had come in handy. At least they had camping equipment there. What worried him most now was their location. At sea, Captain McGreggor had been in charge of the common well being; here on land, that was his arena. “Captain,” Lucas said standing up and brushing the sand off his pants. “Can you say how far off course the storm blew us?” “It’s hard to say,” his elder replied. “We could be anywhere in a hundred mile radius.” “Do you have any guess as to where we could be now?” he insisted. They had to be somewhere. “Polynesia, hopefully not too far from the coast of India.” “I was afraid of that,” Lucas muttered. “Well, we might as well make the best of it.” He walked over to one of the loaded lifeboats and took out one of the various crates it contained. “Here’s what we’ll do,” he said while fumbling with the lid, “Rico and I will search the coastline for survivors and scan our immediate surroundings.” “Yo, señor?” the wide-eyed Mexican boy said suddenly snapping to attention. “We need to find fresh water and gather some food as well,” Lucas said. “The rest of you stay here and set up a camp. There should be enough tents for all of us and some to spare. Lieutenant, you still remember how this goes, right?” “Yes, sir!” Petar Tates exclaimed, happy to finally get out of the cloud of gloom they had been sunken under. Lucas threw the lid of the crate on the wet sand, reached in for one of the riffles inside of it and made sure it was loaded before throwing it at the ex-military man who caught it in mid air. He then picked one for himself and threw it across his back. “Keep your eyes open,” he told Petar. “I’ve heard too many stories of shipwrecked men whose remains have been the only clue of their existence.” Petar nodded solemnly. “Canibales!” Rico exclaimed looking up at Lucas. “You don’t think there are any on this island, do you?” “We can’t be too careful,” he replied to the youth. “But, don’t worry; we’re more than prepared for anything this place has to offer.” He turned to the remaining three men. “We’ll be back in a few hours; hopefully, with some of our shipmates and provisions.” With that, he turned and motioned for Rico to follow him down the shore. Without having to be asked, the great feline accompanied them, sometimes running ahead to stretch his cramped muscles, sometimes walking by their side. Lucas would worry about what to do next when they returned. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “What are you doing?” “Taking… a sample.” “Why?” “We need to know where this stream comes from. Wouldn’t want to over walk your royal hide for nothing, would we?” Tamith sighed in exasperation but decided to ignore the teasing. Dylan grinned mischievously and returned to his work. She watched with mild enthusiasm as he filled a small flask with water from the almost dry stream and then added a few drops of something in it. “Uh huh…” he muttered. “I thought so.” “What?” Tamith asked looking over his shoulder. “This stream has a high content of calcium, meaning it comes from an underground river,” Dylan said putting a stopper on the small flask and threw it in his knapsack. “What are you saying?” Tamith asked standing back as he stood up. “You said the stream ran dry in the forest, right? I guess the only logical explanation is that there must have been some sort of cave-in somewhere on the stream’s path that’s not allowing enough water to get through.” “But lime dissolves in water,” Tamith pointed out. “A little of it, yes. It wouldn’t take very long, but a whole ceiling of it could take a while; long enough to affect your ecosystem,” he said, walking towards Karua, his Corythosaur partner. He reached into one of the saddlebags and brought out a series of maps that he opened on the ground. “This is our stream right here,” he told Tamith, pointing at one of the many scribbled line across the paper. “Its source is this other river here, that, as you can see, is pretty big.” “How does that help us?” Tamith asked kneeling besides him. “This alone doesn’t help us one bit. Since the source is underground, there’s not a thing we can do to reach it; however, this does.” He pointed at the area around the river. “It’s inside a cave,” Tamith observed. “Yep, which means we can get to it. Part of the main river is accessible; that’s all we need. The current should take care of the rest.” “What are you planning on doing?” “Well, Magnolia suspected it might be something like this, so she asked me to pack a few barrels of ulieka just in case,” he said rolling the maps back up. “That dissolves limestone, karst and just about anything with calcite in it, doesn’t it?” “Yeah, and it’s completely harmless to the water, etc. We just have to drop the liquid into the stream and let nature take its course. The river should be flowing again in no time.” “Sounds like a plan,” Tamith said, getting up. She looked around the plains and could still see the remnants of the storm that had passed just the day before. Lucky for them, there were no big trees in this area of Dinotopia, so little debris littered the way. The Blackwood Flats had been appropriately named after the acres upon acres of level ground. This wasn’t her area of expertise, but when the mysterious drying up of a river that fed one of the few woodland system at the southern base of the Forbidden Mountains, she had to make it her business. Bracken had immediately consulted the Fresh Water Habitat masters and, as usual, because Tamith knew him from way back when, she got paired with Dylan to fix up the mess. It wasn’t only because a representative from the Forest was necessary, she thought, but because Dylan usually got distracted along the way and took four times as long on every mission. When she was there, on the other hand, they usually took, well maybe twice or three times the time. He was excellent at what he did; she had to give him that. Magnolia, the Fresh Water human master had to have known that as well because she trusted him with many delicate situations. “Okay, here’s what we’ll do,” Dylan said suddenly, snapping her back to reality. “The cave system isn’t more than a few hours hike away. I’ll go there tonight and drop the dissolvent into the river. Tomorrow, come with me and see what has happened.” “And what do I do?” she asked just as he climb on Karua’s saddled. “You and Tri set up camp,” he replied. “I can take it from here.” Tamith nodded with a bit of reluctance. “Take Featherlight,” she called up to him. She didn’t like the idea of no communication in case anything happened. “Got him,” Dylan said and she noticed the little Dimorphodon head poking out of one of the saddlebags. “I’ll be back in a few hours.” Tamith watched him leave for a few moments before turning back to Triforce. “Well, girl, looks like it’ll be just you and me for a while,” she said and giggled at Triforce’s reply. “Yeah, we’ll get a little peace around here. I’ll make use of it and start setting us up. It’ll be a few days before we can return to Bonabba.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ava, a young Parasaurolophus, was enjoying a weekend out by herself. She had recently turned eight, the equivalent of a fourteen year old human, and, as a birthday present, was allowed to go camping by herself. Ava enjoyed being out on her own, where she could practice her music alone and without fear of criticizing ears. This morning, she was happily munching on a nearby Ginkgo tree. Savoring the taste and humming to herself, she did not notice the pair of amber eyes intently watching her from downwind. ~~~~~ “Hey, Tigre, what’d you find now?” Rico asked. He and Lucas had spent a good part of the morning searching for food, and they had not been disappointed. Namir had shown them a river flowing with fresh water and many strange looking fish. There were coconuts aplenty to be had on the beach, and fruit that Lucas insisted was a mango, though Rico had no idea what it was, grew on some rather large trees near the river they had found. Rico had found some edible water plants growing on the lazily flowing rivers banks. Now, Namir had started stalking off in the grass, hunting something. Lucas didn’t seem too worried, but Rico was curious as to what the hunter may have found. Maybe they would have fresh deer meat to go with the fish tonight. ~~~~~ Ava looked up, disturbed by the sudden silence. The archaeopteryx that had been singing all morning had gone silent, along with all the humming insects of the flats and other birds. Instinct told her to run, but her logical mind told her that there was nothing to fear here. She was far from the Basin and the only carnosaurs that would be here were friendly. Still… She didn’t like the feeling she was being watched. The young hadrosaur slowly turned in a circle, looking about. No, she was just being a silly child and afraid of the loneliness. But being alone had never bothered her before. Unexpectedly, she felt sharp claws digging into her flank and she cried out in pain while breaking into a gallop, attempting to rid herself of whatever was clinging to her. The striped cat fell off, but continued to pursue his prey. “SABERTOOTH!” Ava cried out, wishing desperately that someone would be near enough to help her. She continued crying out her distress and running, the large cat closing in on her…
Dylan crawled out of the narrow hole that was the opening to the underground cave system. Having dropped the solvent into the stream and being satisfied with the results, he returned to the surface where Karua waited for him. “Everything’s going as planned,” Dylan told his saurian partner while dusting himself off. “Now we’ll go back and bring Tamith in the morning to see our work. Can you believe we’re on schedule?” Karua snorted as if saying he couldn’t believe they had managed to pull that one off. Dylan laughed at his friend’s comment. “We better head back,” he stated. “We have a long walk to camp and wouldn’t want Tamith to worry; you know how she can get.” Karua nodded his agreements and kneeled down for Dylan to climb onto his back. “Well Featherlight,” he said taking the little dimorphodon out of her basket, “Looks like you can go ahead and report-” Karua turned his head around so sharply that he almost knocked Dylan off his perch. The Corythosaurus rose to his full height, every muscle of his body tense. Dylan furrowed his brow in confusion. “What is it?” he asked him, but it didn’t take long for him to find out. Somewhere near, he could here the melodious cries for help a hadrosaur. Its words were muffled by the wind, but he could still pick up the message it was screaming. “Carnivores? Here?” Dylan exclaimed in panic. “So far from the Basin...” Karua had already started running in the general direction of the cries and it wasn’t long before a young Parasaurolophus came into view dashing ahead madly of a blur of gold and black. “Get behind us!” Dylan cried out as Karua moved to intercept it. The little hadro saw her salvation in her fully-grown cousin and wasted no time complying. Karua bellowed a threat at the golden creature that, surprised at the sudden appearance of larger, far more intimidating dinosaur, froze in its tracks. It bore its fangs at the trio; every single hair on it’s back standing. “What in the world is that....” Dylan mused making no effort to hide his surprise. The animal looked like a saber cat, but its coat was deep orange with black stripes running the length of its body. Besides this, the other difference was that it lacked the two overgrown fangs that were such a distinctive characteristic on the ancient feline. Karua bellowed another challenge, making the animal take a reluctant step back. “Easy, Karua. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Dylan said trying to soothe his partner from his obvious rage and indignation. “Namir!” The human voice startled Dylan. Looking up he saw two men running in their direction. One was shouting in words that seemed vaguely familiar. Both froze in their tracks, meters away from where they stood. The big cat retreated slowly, its yellow eyes still on them. Dylan turned his attention back to the humans and felt something cold and hard settle in his stomach. Their clothing was foreign, as was their language, but the only thing he cared about at the moment was the staff the older of the two was pointing at them. Something about it, something his great grandfather had described in his childhood, made him freeze with dread. Staffs that breathed fire and thunder. Machines that killed with the snapping of a trigger... Weapons... he thought. These are dolphinbacks and they brought weapons with them... ~~~~~ Rico stared in amazement at the huge creatures before him. The one was as tall as some of the buildings back in the city! Still, they looked like already plucked chickens; maybe they'd taste as good. "Lucas, we could send Namir after the smaller one. Bet they taste good." Lucas inspected the two creatures thoughtfully. What in the world were they? He had traveled since infancy and never had he come across similar things. Still, Rico had a point. If this was the big game of the island, so be it. He'd eaten weirder things before. "That big one doesn't look very happy," he commented. "Get behind me and prepare to run if things get out of hand. I'll get his attention." With that, he dropped to a crouch and made his way, minding to keep himself hidden under the tall grass. The giant was too busy with Namir to notice him, so he took that chance to aim. Lucky for them, he was downwind from the creature. He noticed the thick hide and knew that these bullets wouldn't do much harm. He'd had to shoot repeatedly if he wanted to bring it down, but that wasn't his purpose. If he could just panic it enough to give Namir... Aiming for the upper left thigh, he fired. Karua bellowed in surprise and spun around quickly, throwing Dylan off his back. The tiger saw his chance and once again leapt at the Parasaurolophus. This time, the tiger landed on her back and dug deeply into the tough skin. Ava dropped and tried rolling on the tiger, but the large cat was faster and leapt off. Ava felt the weight off her back and tried her hardest to get up again, but the tiger was on her side in a flash. The one thing saving her was the predators' complete lack of knowledge about her species... Dylan didn't even have time to cry out a warning. Everything moved in slow motion after the deafening noise of the shot. Having been thrown off his partner's back, he landed hard on the ground, loosing his breath for a few eternal seconds. He crawled up to his knees and desperately heaved in precious oxygen. His head twirled and his vision blurred for a moment but he held on to consciousness with all his might. Looking up, he saw the striped creature pouncing on the defenseless hadrosaur. "No…" he muttered gathering what was left of his strength and leaping towards the great cat that stood a few feet away. Half stunned, but not willing to let the saurian die while he could still fight, Dylan leaped at the attacking feline. The cat was bigger than as he was, but that didn't deter the human. He punched the cat hard in the head and wrestled it off the injured saurian. Still, the feline’s tremendous strength won out. Namir roared his rage at the puny humans attempt to stop him and simply rolled over the already stunned human, trying to get him off his back. The stunt worked, and Dylan was left completely unconscious and well hidden in the tall grass. Again, Namir turned to his prey; roaring and claws out, he moved in for the kill. But, the saurian would not feed the cat this day. Karua, though slightly stunned, moved in and swiped the cat away with his forearms. Turning to the side, he struck a defensive position and again advanced on the tiger, bellowing far louder than anything the massive feline could produce. Too confused by the many attacks and the strange creature advancing on him, Namir turned around and ran back to Lucas. He would find easier prey later. Lucas had been too busy trying to distract the larger saurian to notice the human from its back, or see the human attack his cat. The head trapper patted his exhausted tiger. "That’s okay, Boy," he told him. "You’ll get him next time." Perhaps Namir had injured the creature enough for him to simply shoot it and put it out of any pain it had to be in. "Lucas! There's a human there! I saw him! He fell from el más grande de los animales back!" The older man frowned. "Are you sure? I didn't see anything." "Sí! When you shot the things leg, he fell off! Then he tried to fight Namir!" "Rico, if you're playing one of your jokes…" "I'm not! He's there!" Lucas reloaded the rifle. "Stay here. One of those animals could try to trample you if you got too close. I'm going to see if we can't eat that smaller one." Amazingly, the human was able to walk right up to the injured animal, without any protest from either it or the larger creatures. Not paying any attention to the order, Rico ran out from under the trees and started looking around the area where he knew he saw the human fall. He made sure to keep a fair distance from both of the creatures, but when he noticed the big one nosing something on the ground, he went over to investigate. There, he found what he had known was there. "Mira! I found him! See? He's right here!" Lucas hurried over to look. Sure enough, Rico had been telling the truth. Stupid kid; he could hardly believe him because of his pranks. Lucas knelt by the unconscious boy. It was indeed a human, not any older than Rico. Putting the rifle down, Lucas lightly nudged the boy, but received no response. "Rico, you listen to me this time. Get something to lead that smaller animal with. I don't think it'll try to hurt us, but be careful. Something that size could do a lot of damage just by stepping in the wrong place. Maybe if we take the smaller one, the bigger one will follow." When Rico reached the smaller creature, he was surprised when it actually took a couple steps closer to him, limping slightly. Namir had left many wounds on the beast’s side and back, but the creature still lived. Lucas lowered the rifle and gently stroked the animal’s neck where it wasn't injured. In the end, both took off their belts and used them as a leash. "Mira eso!" Rico exclaimed. "Tame as a caballo!” He gently tugged on the makeshift leash and the animal followed. So, it seemed they had caught something worth far more to the zoo than a simple elephant! Lucas picked up the strange youth and carried him. "Let's head back to camp. Hopefully Lt. Tates will know something about medicine." Rico nodded, but remained silent. He kept a firm hold on the creature’s leash and made note that the larger beast was indeed following just behind them. Maybe they were related somehow? The smaller could be the female of the species… Or maybe it was the largers child… As the group dragged the chicken-thing along, they became painfully aware of the fact that something else was following. In the long grass, Rico thought he saw a figure flitting from cover to cover. "Namir!" Lucas called, the great cat bounding over to him quickly. "Track whatever’s following us, but don’t hurt—" He never had the chance to finish the sentence, for the 'thing' that had been following them emerged less than three yards away from him. A man, tall and wrapped in a cloak and hood appeared as if from nowhere, right next to the group of men. A large staff of ironbound wood extended towards them. From under the cowl, a voice spoke. "I would advise you Master Lucas, to leave that cat to its own devices, and talk awhile with me." Lucas smiled slightly at the impertinence.. "And you are?" he asked, wishing he could reach his rifle in case this man proved dangerous, but his arms were burdened with the unconscious boy. "Just what you are: a shipwrecked sailor on this island. Don’t even bother with the rifle; it will do you no good here." He strode confidently towards where the astonished sailors stood. Lucas narrowed his eyes, taking a few seconds to study the stranger. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Rico was doing the same thing. There was something about the stranger he didn't like, but he decided to simply take it as his usual lack of trust people appearing out of the blue. Still, he was stranded here, much like them. "My apologies,” Lucas said, “It’s simply a reaction. No harm intended. As you can see, sir," he continued, "This young man may need medical attention." Lucas motioned at the limp form of the brown-haired youth he was carrying. “It would seem unwise to me to simply deny my responsibilities to my shipmates who are expecting our return and to him; so, please, come with us and join us at camp. We can offer you some dinner and shelter from these winds. There, if you wish, we can talk.” “Señor?” Rico said with doubt all over his voice. “Come,” Lucas told him, “Lead on the beast, and let’s head back to camp.” He turned around, motioning for the stranger to follow, setting his mind on not speaking another word to him until they reached camp. “Vamos, Namir,” Rico called at the tiger. Namir took one last look at the strange man and trudged over to his master’s side. Gareth walked along with the trappers, staring the one called Lucas, in the face. "I hope you gentlemen don't mind me interfering with your hunting party, but it would be best for all of us if you let those two go," he gestured with his hooded head towards the two dinosaurs. “I'm sure they didn't appreciate the thrashing you and your pet cat gave them." Lucas frowned. "Who are you, the warden of this place or something? And how do you know our names?" Gareth just laughed. "I am no more the warden of this place than I am the queen of England; but, this place and these people are under my protection, yes. As for me knowing your names, you and your friends ought to have been more observant since you got here. I've been shadowing you ever since." "What do you mean, 'these people'," asked Rico, puzzled. "There's no one here but us!" "And you think that the two you are pulling along are dumb animals, eh?" "Que?” Rico asked, still slightly confused. Nobody else was around! He glanced around, half hoping to find other humans. Gareth smiled inwardly, amused by these obviously dumb dolphinbacks. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Having journeyed from Bonabba to Chandara for the Annual Southeastern Conference of Hatchery Workers, Mathaira trekked further down the coast. There she examined the nesting materials available in Chandara's bay, planning to return to the city's outskirts and the sky galley boarding platform where she would embark on the voyage back to her village home. Though not mandatory for hatchery workers residing in other regions of the Island, Mathaira had noted that each of Dinotopia's hatcheries were represented by at least one individual, even the distant Romano Hatchery. Thus, she was pleased to encounter her Ovinutrix friend, Ruby, with whom she had worked during her previous service at the Romano Hatchery, the hatchery of her birth and younger years prior to her transfer to Bonabba's Hatchery. The two friends attended a series of lectures pertinent to hatchery work, including: 'Comparative Differences and Similarities in Nesting Materials Preferred by Coastal Residing Saurians, Representing Each of Dinotopia's Quadrants' ' Herbal Teas: Infusions and Decoctions Useful for Facilitating the Expelling of Eggs in Expectant Female Saurians, A Continuing Study' 'Possible Techniques for Improving the Survival Rate Among Hatchlings Who Pre-Emerge from Their Eggshells, Including Extended Supplemental After-Care' The last was expounded upon by Rojo, an aged and learned Ovinutrix, his wisdom, skill, and experience highly regarded among hatchery workers. Though quite unaware at the time, Mathaira would find the knowledge imparted by Rojo in the last lecture to prove invaluable. After the closing of the Conference the two friends had embraced fondly as they bid one another farewell. "Breathe deep, seek peace, travel safe," cautioned Ruby. Mathaira replied in a like manner, "Breathe deep, seek peace, journey well." ~~~~~ The sudden storm which struck the southeastern region of the Island as Mathaira trekked the shoreline along Chadara's bay had taken Mathaira unaware, but not unprepared. As a native Dinotopian, having grown up along the northwestern coastal region, Mathaira knew to seek shelter in one of the many small caves created by rock formations common along the shores of the Island. Emerging from the security of her rocky retreat, Mathaira surveyed the desolate surroundings, noticing that the few sparse trees in the area seemed to have weathered the storm, excepting a large palm tree which had been uprooted from the sandy soil bordering the beach. Anxious to continue her journey down the coastline Mathaira almost passed by, but years of viewing her environment through the eyes of a hatchery worker compelled her to pause. Amidst the palm fronds which had once swayed gently with the ocean breezes, but were now scattered upon the sand, lay the remains of a nest. Edging cautiously closer so as not to disturb the contents, Mathaira was dismayed to find a crushed egg within the nest, the fragile remains of a too-early-for-life Rhamphorynchus visible among the shell fragments. Unnerved by the tiny life which would not have a chance to flourish, Mathaira glanced away, her gaze encountering a scene which brought further sadness to her heart. At the base of a nearby rocky outcropping lay the battered remains of a pair of Rhamphorynchus, no doubt the parents of the deceased nestling. Out of reverence for the winged family, Mathaira gently scooped up in a large palm frond the remains of the pre-hatched Rhamphorynchus, laying it gently alongside its parents so that the trio could bid farewell together to their earthly life upon the Island. Not covering the bodies but leaving them for the Island to reclaim its own, Mathaira removed a small pouch from her pack, remnants from the previous Festival of the Departed, and scattered upon the family the dried crushed petals of a white lily, the flower of the departed. She bid them well as they journeyed into their next life, "Sing every day," intoned Mathaira. At that moment, a barely perceptible gust of wind from the ocean blew the delicate wing membrane of the female Rhamphorhynchus, revealing what appeared to be an intact egg clutched in her foot claws. With the practiced eye of an experienced hatchery worker, Mathaira detected a fine crack in the otherwise perfect egg. She cautiously picked it up for closer inspection. "It seems to be viable," Mathaira reflected hopefully. Recalling Rojo's lecture at the Conference, Mathaira loosely wrapped the egg in a palm frond, packing moist sand around it before wrapping the egg in a palm frond again, this time tightly. Enclosing the entire egg parcel in one of her spare tunics, Mathaira placed it carefully into the pack slung over her shoulder before resuming her trek, addressing the unhatched egg as she did so, "One raindrop raises the sea," mentally naming the hatchling to be and murmuring, "Storm Rider." Journeying further down the shoreline in search of other nestlings who might have survived the storm, Mathaira edged into the shadows of a ginkgo tree as she caught a glimpse of unfamiliar figures a bit further inland.
Ava didn’t know what to think at first when the men put straps around her neck. Did they think she needed to be led? When she backed up a little, though, shooting pain in her left hip quickly made her forget the belts. The human patted her on the neck and murmured something to her in some foreign language. Apparently, he didn’t realize the only thing keeping her on all fours was her injured leg. All it would take on her part to get away from him would be to stand up properly! She followed willingly when the two humans started walking towards the beach. Hopefully, they had medicine and would care for her wounds. The Sabertooth she would not go near, or even the human who seemed to actually be the felines’ partner. Still, that human carried the unconscious Dinotopian boy. Perhaps they were helping him too. “Are you all right?” The Corythosaur asked her. “No!” She honked. “I can’t stand up straight because my leg hurts too much.” The much larger saurian moved in next to her. “Lean on me,” he said. Gratefully, Ava accepted the extra support. “I’m Karua,” he introduced. “Ava. Do you know what that thing attacking me was?” “No, I’m sorry. Though it reminds me of a Sabertooth.” Ava nodded. “That’s what I thought.” She studied the Dinotopian boy for a short time before realizing why his cloths looked familiar. “You’re Freshwater Habitat partners?” “Yes. That’s Dylan. We came here to drop some ulieka in the river. Apparently, there was a cave in at the source and limestone was leaching into the water. We came with some friends, habitat partners of the forest. I hope he’s okay.” The saurian half of the Freshwater team was greatly concerned for his friend and partner. That fall hadn’t been an easy one, and being rolled over certainly hadn’t helped matters any. “Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Ava reassured. By this time, they had reached the beach. There was a strange human there, apparently waiting for them. He seemed slightly hostile, and the Parasaurolophus was unsure what to make of him. Still, the humans accompanying the hadrosaurs seemed to understand his strange words and invited him along to wherever they were going. Ava meekly followed, leaning on Karua for support and awaiting medical attention. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "AtteennnnTION" Lieutenant Petar Tates snapped a mock salute, spinning his arm and smacking it against his head, turning his boot in the sand and marching six paces foreword, shifting briskly and turning again. "Foreword MARCH!" Turning a full 180 degrees the lieutenant threw a joking grin, his handsome features throwing the jest in the direction of Captain McGreggor, who raised a brow skeptically. "What exactly are you doing?" Tates snapped another salute, trying to look more serious this time and failing completely. "Scouting for the missing food reconnaissance party, SIR". McGreggor groaned and shook his head. "Can't you do something useful like unpack our supplies?" "Oh sorry, sir, those got washed back out to sea. A giant sea monster came and ate 'em," with that he swung his cocked rifle toward the sea, letting loose with two rounds of fire and being reprimanded immediately by the shrill squeals of the dolphins playing in the foam. "That's not funny-" The Captain began before he froze in mid-sentence. Tates turned with a crooked grin. "Well I know it was a pretty bad joke but... What are you looking at?" At the sound of a low bellow like that of a baleen whale, the pair turned with the trappers to gaze at what raised its neck 30 feet clean out of the water, a plesiosaur emerging from the depths of the ocean, unsettled by the shot and confirming the 'sea monster' theory. Tates' eyes widened. "The sea is indeed a fickle mistress." With that, he raised his gun again, aiming straight at the small head that towered above them. From the shadows of the ginkgo tree Mathaira watched the strangers. "Dolphinbacks for certain," she murmured. "They must have been washed ashore during the storm," she told herself. She observed the group who seemed to have set up some sort of makeshift camp under a grove of palm trees just off of the beach area. There were a couple of tents, which surprised her as most dolphinbacks arrived onshore with only the clothes on their backs and if they were fortunate perhaps a few possessions. Glancing around, she then spotted at the shoreline two floating devices that the outside world referred to as ‘lifeboats,’ battered and beaten from their battle to cross the reefs which surrounded the entire Island. "So that's how they got the tents ashore," she reasoned. She observed the group a few moments longer, contemplating whether she should approach the unknown group of men by herself. It was obvious that they weren't in dire need of immediate assistance, their camp-like approach attesting to that fact. But certain tenants of the Code deeply rooted in her mind and within heart told her otherwise, "Survival of all or none. One raindrop raises the sea...Others first, self last..." The battle raged within her. In spite of years of ingrained Dinotopian hospitality to dolphinbacks which was a way of life for her, she recalled her unpleasant run-in with Lee Crabb a few seasons ago, he having also arrived on the Island as a dolphinback. That time her companion ShadowStriker had been there to back her up but now she was alone... Before she had made her decision about whether to encounter these dolphinbacks alone or to trek back towards Chandara in search of assistance, she noticed that two of the group had separated from the others, leaving their camp and heading toward the beach. One was an older man with an air of authority about him, a no-nonsense expression on his obviously sea-weathered face. The other was younger, very tall and muscular; his carefree countenance a definite contrast to his more serious companion. Mathaira observed the pair as they conversed briefly on the sandy beach, squinting in an effort to determine what the strange object was which the younger man carried and watching as he pointed it toward the sea, wondering what he was doing. BOOM! BOOM! Mathaira jumped at the deafening sounds which had come from the strange object, now realizing that the object was what the outside world referred to as a ‘gun,’ unfamiliar with the nuances which categorized such as ‘rifle’ or ‘pistol’ but knowing that it contained the power to kill or injure. The shrill squeals of the dolphins cavorting in the foam as the waves crested and made their way to shore chastised the handsome young man who had fired the deadly weapon and drew Mathaira's attention to the ocean where the dolphinback again pointed his gun. A long neck had emerged from the depths of the sea, grey-green flecked with amber, water droplets shimmering on the small, elegant head whose ringed pattern of emerald green scales from which the plesiosaur derived her given name. "Tyara!" Mathaira emerged from the shadows of the ginkgo tree and shouted at the creature as loudly as she could. At the same moment, acutely aware of the fragile egg still cocooned inside of her pack, Mathaira knew she must act quickly. Her decision about whether to reveal herself to the dolphinbacks was immediately made for her. Holding the pack close to her body she removed the water pouch which was slung over her shoulder, heavy with fullness as she had replenished it at the last freshwater spring which she had passed. As her warning carried to the plesiosaur, she threw the water pouch toward the weapon held by the young man, his muscular forearm steadying the gun. Her aim was true, hitting her mark fast and hard. Taken by surprise at the sight and sound of the shouting young woman along with the heavy object striking the end of his rifle, the shot fired by the man missed its target as the gun swiveled sideways. Too experienced to have let the gun out of his grasp, the weapon was still firmly in his muscular hands as the diminutive young woman approached... As Lucas and Rico stared at Gareth, a shot rang out over the flats. Gareth instantly spun in the direction of the noise, staff leveled and ready, before relaxing slightly. "Quickly, we must get back to your base camp before your comrades cause anymore mischief." Gareth took the lead, while Lucas carried the boy and Rico dragged the wounded dinosaurs towards the noise. As they crested the final dune, Lucas took the lead and, holding the boy in one hand, he swatted the rifle of another seaman, who had been busy firing it at a rather startled looking plesiosaur, out of his hands. Gareth grinned wanly under his hood. This is where the fun begins, he thought to himself as he skidded to a halt in the soft sand, under the astonished glare of the seaman. Overhead, fat droplets of rain began to fall, and thunder cracked on the horizon. Rico's head shot up when he heard the first gun shot, which was quickly followed by a second. "Trouble, Señor?" He gripped the creatures ‘leash’ tighter, not wanting it to be frightened away. Lucas frowned at the strange man, and then nodded. "Something’s up at my camp. You can come, or stay." He turned with Rico and they both ran, or hobbled more like it, as best they could. Rico refused to let go of the animals’ leash, and Lucas was encumbered by the still unconscious youths’ weight. When they heard the third shot, they both picked up the pace and arrived just in time to see Lt. Tates pointing a gun at a woman and a giant sea monster making a lot of noise. Scowling, Lucas set the boy down on a sand dune and grabbed the gun from Petar. "What in Hells name do you think you're doing!?" For the time, the strange man they had encountered on the beach was forgotten; at least, until he decided to butt in again. "Dios mios," Rico muttered, looking back and forth between the sea monster and the scowling woman. Captain McGreggor joined Lucas in reprimanding the lieutenant for his careless behavior, and Rico tied the beast to a tree while he addressed the woman. "Hello," he said, waving. "Do you understand me?" Rico used his best English, hoping she would be able understand that instead of the usual mixture of English and Spanish he used. Mathaira hesitated briefly as the dark haired young man spoke to her, the inflection in his voice obviously a question. Mathaira took the time to ponder the strange language spoken by the dolphinback, attempting to recollect similar phrases which she had heard previously. Having been born and raised near the northwestern shore of the Island, throughout her life Mathaira had come into contact with dolphinbacks newly arrived on the Island, as many who reached its shores eventually found their way to the Romano Hatchery. A wide variety of humans, therefore, entered Hatchery doors, bringing with them a smattering of their cultures and languages. Though not proficient at any language but her native Dinotopian, and to a lesser extent certain saurian languages of the Island, Mathaira had nevertheless picked up an assorted array of various language phrases. It was these phrases that she was attempting to draw upon before replying to the young man. Somewhat confused because the language spoken by the young man seemed to be that which the Outside World referred to as English yet heavily influenced by an accent which she believed to be that called Spanish, Mathaira was unsure which of her limited language reserves to draw upon when answering the dolphinback. Though his dark coloring indicated that he was from a line of Spanish mothers, she had heard the other men address him in what sounded like English and so likewise attempted to reply to him in that language, albeit somewhat stilted. Accustomed to using gestures when communicating with her companion, ShadowStriker, Mathaira incorporated these flowing motions upon addressing the young man, "I understand that your friend," she indicated tall handsome man who had moments before bore the weapon in his muscular hands, "Tried to hurt my friend, Tyara," she pointed at the glittering plesiosaur who rode the foam crested waves close to shore. Rico's dark eyes widened at the young woman's reference to the sea monster as her 'friend' and he muttered incredulously under his breath, "Amigo?!,” then shook his head as if unwilling to believe the possibility. Recognizing the Spanish word for 'friend' and seeing the young man shake his dark head, Mathaira thought he was refuting the fact that his companion had tried to shoot Tyara and impulsively blurted out in her native tongue combined with vague English phrases, "Don't you know that here on Dinotopia weapons are enemies even to their owners?" Picking up on only the heavily accented English words, both Rico and Lt. Tates heard what they thought was 'weapons are empty like their owners,' thinking the animated young woman referred to their mental faculties. The more serious Captian McGreggor, however, picked up what sounded like a place name and voiced the strange sounding name aloud, "Dinotopia?" Lucas Pradelli couldn’t help but overhear the exchange between Rico and the young woman. He finished his brief scolding at Lt. Tates before joining his other shipmates. “Go see what you can do for the boy, Lieutenant,” he said before turning. “There should be medical supplies inside one of the crates.” He then focused his attention on the events happening behind him. “You can understand us,” he told the young woman. “What did you call this place? Dinotopia?” She shook her head. “Only little. Yes, this is Dinotopia. We welcome you.” “We?” Lucas looked around and saw no one else. Perhaps there were others hiding nearby. He took a step towards Captain McGreggor and gave him the firearm he had recently taken from Petar. “Rico,” he called at the other youth. “Rico, ve a explorar el area a ver si encuentras a otras personas cerca. Llevate a Namir para proteccion.” He risked a glance at Petar and saw that he had just succeeded in bringing the strange youth back to at least partial consciousness. At least that was a good sign. “What is this place?” Lucas asked her. “Do you have any medicine? The boy is injured and we don’t have much to help him with.” Mathaira listened but shook her head no, not understanding much of what he said. “This is Dinotopia. What boy?” While she had seen the Parasaurolophus and the Corythosaur with the dolphinback humans, her attention had initially been directed toward the human with the weapon and his apparent intent to use it to harm Tyara. Accustomed to seeing saurians and humans together, she had not thought it strange that the hadrosaurs had accompanied the humans along the beach. Curiously, Mathaira now noted the rope-like device which encircled the neck of the smaller hadrosaur, a Parasaurolophus. While she was pondering the meaning of such treatment of a fellow Dinotopian, her thoughts were interrupted as she was questioned by another of the dolphinbacks, this one with brown hair and an athletic build calling himself Lucas, wanting to know something about Dinotopia. The dark haired youth, whom she learned was called Rico, left the area with the sabertooth-like animal as the one called Lucas questioned her further about Dinotopia. Rico hurried over to Lucas’ side. "Namir!" he called out. The large, striped cat came bounding out of the forest and quickly took up a place between his masters side and Rico. The human touched the cats shoulder, getting its attention, and calmly entered the forest. Namir bound after him, not questioning the order. Rico and Namir quickly left the crew behind, heading inland to who knew what dangers. Some ways into the grassy planes, Namir stopped and growled. Rico slid to a halt and followed the feline. At the crest of a hill, he saw a strange beast, this one a huge, rhino-type creature with three giant horns protruding from its face. It didn't seem to be looking at them, but instead studying something on its other side. Rico crouched in the grass, hoping Namir wouldn't give them away. The tigers natural camouflage kept it well hidden, but he was hungry. Tamith rested her head on her partner’s side and watched as the first stars began to appear on the late afternoon sky. Camp had been set, a fire had been built, and she had already finished taking preliminary notes and sketches on her surroundings to file in her log when she got back. Lazily, she reached across to her pack where she had stored some sweet berries before leaving the shelter of the forest. She nibbled on a mouthful savoring their juiciness when Triforce interrupted her meal with a complaint. “You can eat grass, while I can’t stomach it,” she said laughing. “Let me enjoy the berries at least. Don’t be so selfish.” Triforce’s answer didn’t inspire a different response. “So what if there’s no sweet grass here? I can’t get my favorite foods in the wilderness either. Since when did you get so picky?” Tamith jumped to her feet and threw a few handfuls of the fruit into her partner’s mouth. “There you go, so you don’t go on saying I’m a sweets hog.” Triforce chewed happily then questioned the thought that had been on both their minds for a while. "Yeah," Tamith replied worriedly. "They are taking longer than I thought too, but its Dylan, remember? And Karua loves to drag things as well. I'm sure they're fine." She resumed her spot leaning against her partner's side. "Still... He could have at least sent Featherlight to tell us he was taking longer." She sighed. Dylan just loved to have her worry. It was silly of her; he was a trained professional and there was nothing to fear out here in the Blackwood Flats. But she couldn’t help it. If any thing happened to that lazy, no good, irresponsible idiot, she’d never forgive herself. Her thoughts were interrupted when Triforce called out a warning. She sat up and listened for what the Triceratops had heard. She heard nothing at first, but then her ears picked up the light sound of small, flapping wings. “Featherlight!” she cried out in relief. It wasn’t long before the little Dimorphodon came into view. The little winged reptile landed at her feet and immediately cleared some ground to write his message. Having quickly finished his self-imposed mission, he stood back and waited for the human girl’s response. Tamith read and re-read the message feeling something cold settle in the pit of her stomach. Triforce paced over to her, and having read the message for herself, waited for her counter part to respond. “Hunters from the outside?” she muttered softly. “Now he’s done it.” She bit her bottom lip and paced around the small campsite for a few moments. “Let’s be rational about this,” she thought out loud. “We can’t really speak their language, unless by some miracle it’s the one Dylan’s always rambling. We’re going to need help on this one.” She stopped and looked at the little messenger. “Okay, here’s what we’ll do: Featherlight, go to Waterfall City and have them send a party of ambassadors. Make sure that there are humans among them and that there is a linguist. We don’t know what these dolphinback’s speak. Better yet; do you know who Dylan’s brother is?” The little Dimorphodon squawked a positive. “He’s a linguist. Go to him and he’ll take care of the rest. You’ll find him at the Great Library.” Featherlight then proceeded on explaining to the Habitat Partners via footprint alphabet the general location of where he had followed the strange new humans and found their camp. Tamith and Triforce thanked him and saw him off. After the winged reptile disappeared from view, the human half of the team packed some supplies and changed her bright outfit. “Okay, Tri, we’re going into our Basin training now. Dylan’s hurt and things may be a little crazy over there so the last thing we want is to be discovered, agreed?” The Ceratopsian bellowed a positive so energetically that Tamith smiled. “Yeah, lets go rescue our teammate from the mess he buried himself into, shall we?” Triforce laughed in her own saurian way. “I’m sure Karua will be glad to see us too,” Tamith responded. “Well, we should be there before sunrise, and before the Waterfall City team arrives,” she sighed. “Here we go, again.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gareth slowed down as he reached the dunes that separated the long grass from the beach where the rest of the group were heading. The run had taken its toll and, though Lucas, Rico, and Namir were still going strong, Gareth was not as good a distance runner. Acid cramped his muscles and he was forced to stop and breathe while the rest of the party crested the dune. Leaning on his staff, he swept the sweat from his brow, inwardly cursing his hot cloak. He threw back the cowl of the garment, revealing untidy brown hair and piercing blue eyes. Checking that his katana was still firmly secured to his back, concealed under the bulk of his pack and cloak, he started up the dune to where the rest of the group seemed to be having a heated discussion. He reached the crest of the dune and sat down, taking a heavy swig from a water gourd that hung by his side and listened intently to the flying dialects of the argument below, noting a plesiosaur rising from the water just off shore, pecking at where a slight trickle of blood marked the skimming passage of a bullet. The young man relaxed, breathing deeply in the salty sea air, and waiting for a convenient moment to reintroduce himself. The thunder clouds on the horizon blew ever closer and a dark mist of rain was now visible out to sea
Tamith studied the array of tracks before her closely. Not too long ago, a fairly large animal had crossed this way. A hadrosaur, if she had her footprints right. She let out a sigh and rose to full height. "Dylan passed this way not too long ago," she told Triforce. "The tracks aren't rushed, so I take it they weren't running. The caves he spoke of yesterday aren't very far away, so if the directions Featherlight gave us are correct, it shouldn't be long now before we find the human camp." Triforce grunted a response, making Tamith pat her frill comfortingly. "Naw, I'm sure they are fine. Even if the humans did have weapons, my kind can be stubborn, but not heartless." She walked ahead of her partner and bent over the ground again to study the tracks more closely. "Yeah, these are definitely Karua's," she said turning back to the iron Triceratops. That was when she noticed that she had gone completely still, clearly taking in all her surroundings warily. Tamith narrowed her eyes and also looked around. "What is it?"
Rico frowned. He could have sworn he had seen a girl down there. Maybe she was one of the other people Lucas had thought may be lurking nearby. Well, there had been that bossy guy back on the beach, but he had assumed that guy was shipwrecked too. Namir growled. He didn't like that huge creature down there and wanted to go back to his master. Rico lightly pushed Namir’s shoulder, forcing the cat lower into the grass. They would stay here and watch, for the moment. He needed to know if that horned animal was dangerous and find a way to escape if it was.
"You heard something?" Tamith questioned once she had returned to her partner's side. "You heard nothing??" Triforce’s response made her slightly uneasy. She was right; there was nothing to be heard, only the sound of the wind blowing through the tall grass. No birds, no insects. She didn't like it. Triforce kneeled down, offering to give her a ride for some time. Obviously, she wanted to leave the place. Tamith acceded and climbed on her back. Once a few meters more off the ground, she scouted their surroundings again. A slight movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Turning her head towards it, she spotted a huge orange and black something, almost perfectly hidden by the tall grass. "Triforce, to your right," she said. "Almost hidden by the grass. What is that? A saber?" Triforce's response wasn't too reassuring. "Alrighty then," Tamith concluded, "Let’s get out of here." **** Rico stared as a human actually hopped on the rhino creatures back. What strange land was this where girls rode rhinos? Deciding to take a chance, he stood and waved. "Hola!" he shouted. The appearance of the youth served to calm Tamith and her partner a bit. It would appear that these were also some sort of Habitat Partners, but their clothing was unlike anything she had seen before. Still… "Nande? Koraina dande niwata kire. Minna soname shinoi Dylan corosawa nai. Neh? Ashtare noi?" Rico frowned. "¿Qué? Hablas español? Or English. Do you understand English?" Tamith blinked. What was he saying? Why wasn't he understanding her? Then it hit her: he was one of the dolphinbacks and the strange creature was with him. He had to know where the habitat partners of the Fresh Water were. So, she gave it another shot after sliding off Triforces back to be face to face with the youth. "Karinde?" she asked. "Karua no Dylan-kun koraima? Cephiro noi. Tamith no Traifor konni na, ne?" Rico stared at the girl and shook his head. He'd never heard any language like that before. He did his best to ignore the strange creature next to the girl. Well, maybe they could figure out names. He placed a hand on his chest and said, "Rico," and then pointed to her. "¿Quién?" Tamith blinked. Yes, it was obvious that all she had said hadn't gotten through. She sighed, but followed his movements and strange words. Wait, he was telling her something. She smiled when understanding finally dawned on her. "Rico," she repeated pointing at the dark-haired youth, "Tamith," she added pointing at herself. "No Traifor." Now she pointed at her ceratopsian partner who grumbled an affirmative. "Quielere sai?" She asked him pointing at the saber-looking cat and wondering why it had not been introduced yet. Quielere? That sounded so close to his own language. He figured she was asking what Namir was. "Tigre, Namir." "Traifor?" Rico questioned, pointing to the strange, horned creature. Tamith nodded. So she had gathered that the other youth's partner was Tigre'namir. Now all she had to try to do was find out where Dylan was! Easier said than done, unfortunately. She closed her eyes and thought of a way to communicate what she wanted to tell him. “Dylan,” she started pointing again at Rico then pointing at herself. She doubted that would work so she decided to add something else. “Traifor, Tamith,” she said pointing at herself and the Triceratops, “Rico, Tigre'namir,” she added pointing at them. “Dylan, Karua” Tamith then finished pointing at Rico again gesturing that she was looking for another human male and a very larger saurian. She then bit her bottom lip wondering if any of that had gotten through. Oh boy, what was this girl trying to tell him! Something about a Dylan and Karua, or something really big... Namir began pacing about, restless and hungry. And why had he been sent with this silly boy? His master was in danger and it was his job to protect him. The tiger turned and ran; he couldn't possibly leave Lucas in trouble. “Namir!” Rico watched the tiger run off. Without a second thought he turned and ran after the tiger, motioning for the girl to follow him. Tamith blinked at the reaction from the big cat and the boy. She saw him take off after the feline and call back at her. Hesitating for a moment, Tamith wondered if she should indeed accompany the boy. Triforce nuzzled her back encouraging her to follow. “Alright,” she told her partner as the three-horned saurian kneeled for her to climb on, “Let’s go see what kind of trouble those two got themselves into this time.” Triforce started ahead at a moderate pace to catch up to the boy. Tamith stretched out a hand gesturing for him to climb on as well; after all, only with Triforce running would they ever catch up to the large feline. Taking his chance, Rico grabbed Tamith's hand and jumped up. She managed to help haul him on top of the great animals back and they raced after Namir. The tiger made it back to the beach and hurried to Lucas' side. Rico, Tamith, and Triforce showed up shortly after, to view a rather confused scene with a Dinotopian trying to communicate to the dolphinbacks and clearly not making herself understood very well. It also appeared that someone had managed to set up a couple of tents while he had been away. "Oh, boy," Rico muttered. He slipped off the saurians back and hurried to Lucas' side too. "Sorry, Senor, Namir no listen! He run off and not come back. Had to follow." In his excitement, he slipped back to slightly poorer English. Tamith's jaw dropped. This was nothing like what she had even dared to expect. In the frenzy of people and saurians she caught the familiar face of Mathaira, a hatchery worker whom she had met on previous occasions. She still couldn't see Dylan, however. Tamith followed Rico with her eyes and saw him talk rapidly to an older man who clearly didn't look too happy about something. Completely lost and confused, she decided that she better see what was going on before rushing in to anything. A distance away, she then noticed the large orange and purple form of Karua. “They're here Triforce,” she told her partner feeling both relieved and worried. “Now all we have to do is figure out what on earth is going on!” Gareth stood on the ridge that overlooked the small human encampment. A mass of people were now arguing or standing, looking dumbfounded at the bright scales of the various saurians that were trying to make themselves heard over the ruckus. As he watched, Mathaira was trying to decipher the three different languages being thrown at her. Though she could speak some English, it would have been a long time since she had used it, Gareth thought. He pondered going down to the camp to help her but thought better of it. The appearance of another native, especially one dripping with a variety of lethal weapons, might annoy or unnerve the dolphinbacks and Gareth had sworn to protect, not endanger the citizens of the island. However it looked like the argument was being peacefully concluded without his aid. Mathaira had managed to make herself understood and was talking to the leader of the dolphinbacks who was looking more and more incredulous. A loud peal of thunder shook the air above them as the eye of the storm began to drift over the main part of the island and the other side began to cause large waves to spill onto the sand and buffet the plesiosaur who now vanished back into the ocean. Gareth wrapped his cloak around himself once again and slid down the sandy dune, slipping and getting a mouthful of sand as he tripped on a matted root system of the dune grass. By the time he reached the mass of humans and saurians, fat drops of rain had began to make pock marks in the already wet beach and the wind was becoming stronger every moment. “Mathaira! Tell these people to grab their belongings and get moving! We need to get everyone over that dune before the gale starts really blowing!” The woman nodded and said a few words to the sailors who glanced furtively over their shoulders before dashing to the crates of food and supplies and beginning to lug them heavily up the sandy slope. Mathaira and Gareth began to free the bound Ava and Karua, to the great astonishment of the dolphinbacks, grabbed the heaviest box and easily walked up the dune, depositing their ninety kilogram cargo safely in the lee of the dune. By the time they had all hunkered down behind the wall of sand, the waves were crashing only a few feet away from where they had been standing scant moments before and the wind had picked up to at least eighty miles per hour. The lines of palms along the beach bent and swayed in the strong wind and rain spat fiercely in almost horizontal sheets. Gareth threw his long waterproof cloak over Dylan and the two huddled against the damp sand of the dune, sheltering from the wind and rain. “Well, this has turned out to be some field trip hasn’t it!” yelled the boy over the roar of the wind, wrapping a ripped piece of fabric from his shirt firmly around the gash on Dylan’s forehead. Gareth smiled “Hey, don’t think it’s anywhere near over yet!” Close to them, the sailors managed to extract a tarpaulin from one of the supply crates and were holding it cooperatively over each other as Mathaira treated the various cuts and grazes on her saurian companions; warm blooded as they were, they shivered in the wild wind. Lucas had also managed to procure some ships biscuits and several cooked fish, salvaged from the ship’s galley stores. Gareth nibbled on some of the snapper as Dylan almost broke his teeth trying to bite into a dry biscuit, not knowing that hard-tack needs to be wet before it is soft enough to chew. Meanwhile Namir, Lucas’s pet tiger, was looking thoroughly dejected, sitting on his haunches, his beautiful orange and black coat lying matted against his skin. Mathaira jogged over to where they lay. “Gareth, you’d better come and have a look at this!” He followed her to the top of the dune where he peeped out over the rim, salt spray and sand stinging his face. “Una deruos leva aquanta,” said the woman as she peered out to the base of the dune. There were no more beaches. The sea had completely covered it. “Verai, nac soh recain una myriad,” replied Gareth as Lucas crawled up behind them. “What did you just say?” inquired the young sailor flattening himself against the steep wall of the dune. Gareth looked around “Oh, Just one raindrop may raise the sea, but we got a million!” "No, I don't think it can be," answered Gareth as Tamith crawled up next to him. "I haven't seen storms like this for over two years now. If this storm gets any heavier we're going to have to risk moving again because this dune is going to collapse!" As if in answer, a small section of the base of the dune fell into the waves. Lightning struck a palm only a few hundred meters down the beach. "This is no good!" yelled Dylan over the roar of the wind and the waves. "We need to get back! Use the bigger dinosaurs as windbreaks and get into cover!" "Good idea, come on people, lets get out of here!" bawled Gareth, sprinting down the dune, cloak whipping in the gale. They had soon relocated back a few dunes but only just in time. With a sliding crash, the last of the dune they had been sheltering behind at first disappeared into the foaming saltwater. "Damnit! That was close! Okay people, let's camp here and hunker out the storm. I'll be back in a second!" Gareth dashed along the dune for about fifty meters and climbed up to the top. Quickly drawing his Katana, he thrust it hilt-first into the damp, concrete-like sand and rolled back down the dune. Hardly had he gone twenty steps back when lightning struck the sword, illuminating the blade and temporarily blinding Lucas as he looked on. "Won’t that be a bit to much for her?" asked Mathaira, the only person there who knew the true value of the sword to the wandering teenager. "No, I think she'll be able to stand it. Tok made her for me; finest titanium bonded stainless steel you know. I just hope she keeps the lightning off!" "Well master Gareth, it seems as if we're going to be stuck with you for tonight," said Lucas. "But, tell me, is the weather always this terrible on your little island?" "I should hope not!" grinned the swordsman, wrapping his cloak around himself even tighter ***** With the sudden blowing in of the storm, Tamith ran by her partner’s side to the shelter on the inland vegetation. Following the coast, she eventually got to where both natives and dolphinbacks had made their new camp. Ignoring everyone else for a moment, she went directly to the place her injured friend and his partner rested. Upon seeing her, Dylan grinned despite the obvious pain he was in. “I should have known you’d come after me at one point or the other,” he told her as she sat down next to him. “Naturally, you always need somebody to save your tail,” Tamith replied. “I’d call it socially dependant,” he said smiling. “Magnolia won’t be happy, will she?” Tamith sighed. “I really don’t know, but you did do what you set out to do, just got a little sidetracked, again.” Now it was her turn to smile. “So how are you feeling?” “I finally discovered what it feels like to have Karua sit on me without actually having to ask him to,” the older youth said. “I’ve had better days. Beautiful weather we are having, isn’t it?” “Tell me about it,” Tamith replied. “This storm blew in really suddenly; this should really slow down the team from Waterfall City.” “Waterfall City?” “Yes,” she replied. “I sent Featherlight after them, but, with this weather, it could be days before they can set out, to say nothing about getting here.” She grinned. “I sent him after your brother.” “You didn’t!” Dylan said, sitting up suddenly only to realize the sudden movement caused him pain and leaning back again. Karua laughed in a saurian manner. “Great, now my entire family is going to know the troubles I get in to.” Now it was Tamith’s turn to laugh. “Serves you right. By the way, what is it that they are speaking? The dolphinbacks I mean.” “I haven’t really been paying much attention, seeing that my head feels like it’s going to blow but…” He took a few moments to concentrate on what the group of men around them that were setting up the camp were saying. “Ha! It’s Irish… kinda. Sounds a bit different from the way granda spoke it, but I’m pretty sure that’s it.” “Well, you figure out what’s different about it,” Tamith said getting up, “I’ll go thank that man over there for making sure you didn’t drown and see what I can do for this place.” With that, she walked away from her friend, but not before Triforce and Karua made a wall around Dylan to keep him from the high winds and the rain. Tamith walked up to the dune where the dolphinback, Mathaira and the egotistical person that had helped Dylan were. “Breath Deep, Seek Peace,” she told Gareth. “My name is Tamith Kai, Forest Habitat guardian. In my name as well as my partners’, I wanted to thank you for helping my friend and offer my help in any way that I could.” She then turned to Mathaira and smiled. “Nice to see a familiar face in this mess. Is it just luck that always gets us in these places?” Her attention then drifted to what the group had been spying before her arrival and her face fell. “The ocean is coming into land,” she muttered. “This can’t be good.” Not usually one to submit to wandering, Sharell, a lone Ornitholestes, was looking for discoveries and new things. She had been wandering the Blackwood Flats at this point in her adventure. She wanted to learn more about the island, the island that she had been brought into the world and brought up upon. She had a fascination with all life and found beauty in all living things. Always marveling at the flight of the pterosaurs, she had been watching and following a flock of them for the past few days when a storm began to make the day miserable. As she was on the flats, there was almost no shelter for her to hide behind. To her, even the lightening and freezing rain were beautiful and she watched the skies fury from the lee side of a boulder. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Kael O’Connor hurried up the steps to the Great Library, taking time to savor the pastry he was having for his dessert. He had taken a lunch break an hour earlier and he had used that time to wonder around the colorful streets of Waterfall City in search of an appetizing meal and to give his mind a rest from the books he had been translating. He took a moment to look up at the sky and noticed how cloudy it was. He grinned at his luck, knowing that it would rain soon and that he had finished his break without having to run for shelter. Once inside the library, he smiled his greetings at Enit, Chief Librarian and headed straight to his office where his tasks awaited. “Konnishiwa O’Connor-san!” Kael started in surprise and then turned to find Hikari Sakamoto smiling at him. Hikari’s parents had come form Japan and had arrived to Dinotopia after a storm sank the boat they had been traveling on. Hikari and her twin sister Satsuki had survived, thanks to their parent’s superhuman efforts at keeping them alive on the small lifeboat they had arrived in for two days when they had only been a year old. Fourteen years later, Satsuki had decided on becoming a Savanna Habitat partner while her sister, Hikari, had come to the Great Library to learn language and philosophy in order to become a teacher. Kael had taken the young teenager under his wing and, for the last year and a half, had been teaching her all he knew in order for her to achieve her dream. She, on the other hand, had also taught him a great deal. Since both her parents had been born and raised in Japan, they had spoken to their children in Japanese as well as taught them their native costume. As a result of this, both the twins still had many mannerisms from their distant homeland. “Good afternoon to you too, Hikari,” Kael replied smiling. “Had a nice lunch, I hope?” “Hai,” she said. “I was just starting to translate some of the books Tossan and Cassan brought with them like you asked.” “Ah yes,” he replied eyeing the Japanese script warily. Hikaru’s parents had donated what few books they had salvaged to the Library and it was now up to him to translate them, with Hikari’s help. Speaking Japanese was one thing, but reading it… He hadn’t had much practice up until now. He sat down and began studying the complex characters when a little Dimorphodon flew in through the window and landed before him. “What is it?” he asked the little flying reptile assuming it was another massage from Sauropolis. The Dimorphodon began squawking a message excitedly and Kael listened attentively to every word he said. When he was finished, Kael frowned thoughtfully. “What is it?” Hikari asked him when she noticed his worried face. “Dolphinbacks,” Kael replied. “But not entirely lost and helpless, apparently.” “Nani?” “This is a message from Tamith, do you remember her? She hangs around with Dylan. The curly-haired, girl Forest partner with the Triceratops?” “Hai,” Hikari replied the affirmative. “Well, apparently a group of them has landed in the Blackwood Flats area and they have brought with them firearms. So far, there have been no regrettable occurrences, but Featherlight here says that one of their animals attacked a saurian and that in an attempt to help, my brother was stunned, maybe injured,” he sighed. “Tamith sent him to ask us for a team of Ambassadors to greet the new comers.” “That’s great,” the Japanese girl said. “After all, you are an ambassador. This is perfect!” “Yes,” Kael agreed. ”But this is a very delicate situation. Tell you what, I’ll go talk to Nallab and see what he suggests and let you know.” “Sounds good,” Hikari said. “I’ll take Featherlight to get some food; after all, he has had an exhausting flight! When I’m done, I’ll return here and pick the translating up.” “Thank you,” Kael said standing. “Oh, one thing; after he’s eaten, could you please bring him to Nallab and me?” “Sure thing! Good luck!”
As the party huddled behind the protective bulk of the sand dune, the wind and rain began to slack. Light grey clouds began to be visible on the horizon and tiny patches of blue sky appeared. They had been sheltering from the storm for about a day now and it seemed like the tropical storm had finally blown itself away. Gareth peeped over the lip of the dune, quickly ducking his head back as his face was barraged by stinging sand and seawater. Even under his cloak, the young man was soaked to the skin. His companions were as wet and miserable as he was. He slipped quickly back down to where Tamith was replacing the blood and water sodden bandage on Dylan's head. "I'd say we should be able to move in about an hour and a half, so you might want to get ready. Dylan, saddle up Kaura and ask him if he might be able to carry one of the sailors. Ask Mathaira to help you. See you in a minute." Gareth jumped down from his position into the trough and walked quickly along to the bedraggled sailors. “Bossy little thing, isn’t he?” Tamith joked to Dylan. “You stay here and I’ll get Karua ready for you.” Lucas, Rico and McGreggor where talking quietly to each other. "Well, gentlemen. It seems as if this storm is almost over, so I have come with a proposal. This Island welcomes all newcomers to it and gives them a chance to start a new life. I give you two choices: you can stay here until more, um, 'convenient' transport can be arranged or you can come with us when we return to Chandara today. I leave your decision to you, but please hurry. It is my duty to aid these people and two of our number have been injured by your antics, though no doubt unintentional. I'm afraid at least Dylan, the boy, needs serious medical attention and, in this weather, a skybax paramedic won't be able to fly down here. All up to you now gents! Lucas nodded. "I agree about the boy. It would be the wisest thing to get him out of this hellish weather as soon as possible." He paused for a moment and looked around. "Though I personally would love to see more of this charming little place we find ourselves temporarily stranded on, I'm afraid that sadly, we've only just arrive and the men you see before you are the ones that came within two of the three life boats that left our ship. There is still a chance that some of our shipmates came to shore and leaving without a proper search would not be truly advisable. However, I will stand with my shipmates, whatever decision they may take." He now turned to the others that came with him. "Lieutenant? Captain? Good Jebar? What would you propose we do?" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Water dripping on his face woke Tony. He groaned and spat out the beaches sand that filled his mouth. His whole body hurt and his throat burned from the sea water he had swallowed. Looking up, the marooned trapper glared at the dark clouds. Rain drops splattered on the already damp sand. Grumbling to himself, Tony retreated to the cliffs lining the beach. The beach was no place to be in a storm and he hoped a shelter could be found. None could, and the man huddled against the stone face, nursing his hatred for Rico. If that Mexican hadn’t pulled that prank with the lifeboats, his boat wouldn't have been overflowing and so many lives wouldn't have been swallowed by the sea. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Kael watched as the elderly Dinotopian furrowed his brow in thought and sat down. There was silence for a few moments while the information sank in. "Things like this have happened before," Nallab said suddenly. "We should be thankful that your friends are there. Both habitat partners will be an excellent example of how we Dinotopians are. Yet I do agree with the girl, Tamith you called her; it would be wise to send a team from here that knows their language and can help with the culture shock." Kael nodded. "Should I send a rider to find Bix? She left for Sauropolis a few weeks back, but I'm sure she'd come for this. I can think of no one else that would do a better job than her." "I would want her to be on the team, but with the storm it'd be suicide to send a Skybax to the Capital. I can, however, think of someone for the job," Nallab smiled making his wise eyes twinkle. "You, my young friend, have been her best student. Before you say anything, hear me out. You are fluent in eight major outside languages, understand the major saurian dialects, and you have a gift with people. If I knew nothing more about you I'd say that was more than enough, but I do know more. Besides, your brother is there and I can tell you are worried about his well being. So I say this, gather a few people together both human and saurian, and go welcome these newcomers." Kael was speechless for a moment but then nodded. "I'll see about getting talking to Standtall to give you a lift," Nallab continued. "There’s a few people you must have, though." He stood up and paced around the office. "Take Ressa; he, being your partner, is the only person I've seen that can out guess you! And you should take Hikari as well; her resourcefulness and inventive is truly admirable. Plus, she arrived here as a babe and is not a native. That should bring them confidence. Old Irontail is too grumpy, forget him. That friend of yours, the Skybax Rider what's his name again?" "Allen?" "Yes, him. He'd be perfect to," Nallab said. "Someone from Canyon City would be adequate, and a Rider can deliver messages because I think poor Featherlight has had a long trip." "He's in the city right now; it shouldn't be hard to find him." "Perfect! You do that, and this is what you'll tell him to do first...." ***** Kael made his way to the only place in the entire city where he knew his childhood friend coul be. He had spoken to Hikari a few minutes later and had been content with the enthusiastic response from the Asian youth. Ressa, his Fabrosaur partner, had also been too happy to agree in tagging along such an important mission. Nallab had gone to find the young Camarasaurus from Treetown and that left for only another two members of the welcoming committee to be informed. One was Allen, and the other would be up to the young Skybax to notify. As expected, the young rider was up in the rookery looking after his mount, Highwind. Allen, like Kael, was in his mid-twenties. His build was the typical one amongst most Riders but he was unusually tall. His blonde hair, which he normally kept barely under control, was tied back in a brisk pony tail. Upon seeing him, Allen jumped down from the steps he was using to groom Highwind and jogged to greet him. "Nice to see the moths haven't gotten to you yet," Allen said smiling. "Yeah," Kael replied grinning. "Too bad lack of oxygen due to high altitudes fried what was left of your brains, Allen." Allen laughed. "How's your life, old friend? It's been a while." "Good," Kael replied walking past him towards Highwind. "Moths and all, how is all with you?" "Perfect," Allen replied. "I was going to fly down to Chandara for the rest of the week, but the storm has us stranded up here. It wouldn't be to smart to go alone, so Highwind and I are waiting it out." Kael walked towards the golden Skybax and patted his neck fondly. The great reptile turned its head towards him and acknowledged him by resting his beak on his shoulder. "You know, I still have no idea how you do that," Allen said amazed. "No one can approach a Skybax but the rider, but you never seen to have a problem. Highwind even lets you ride him! I still think you should have come to Canyon City." "I know," Kael said. "But I truly feel like I am needed here. Besides, you and I would have gotten kicked out. It was for the best that I decided to come here." Allen nodded. "You are good at what you do. But tell me," at this he grinned. "What is a good librarian doing here, with the rouge rider?" "I was wondering if you'd be interested in including yourself and Highwind in a welcoming committee for some newly arrived dolphinbacks," Kael said, his gray eyes twinkling. "I'd be like old times." Allen's face light up. "You bet we would! Wouldn't we, Highwind?" The great flyer squawked in agreement. "Great," Kael said, "Could you do something for us, though? Another member of the party needs to know and we were wondering if you could go tell her." "Sure," Allen told him. "Where to?" "The Basin." "The Basin!" he exclaimed. "Who would we get there?" "Ok," Kael started, "Let me explain the entire situation..." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The last clouds had now passed overhead and a warm summer sun was shining down over the bedraggled party of dolphinbacks and Dinotopians. As Dylan tightened the final straps on Karua's back, Gareth walked over to where the sailors were stripping off their shirts and hanging them on a crudely constructed clothesline in the full glare of the sun. "Well, it seems like you sailors are going to stay here. I cannot tell how long it will take a rescue party to arrive here, but I should say it won't take any longer than forty-eight hours. The rest of my companions and I shall journey as quickly as we can to Chandara and requisition aid for you and your comrades. That is all; unless, any of you still wish to accompany us?" Gareth looked over the bunch of ragtag trappers and sailors. Namir shook himself and let out a long purr as his fur stood straight up making him look as he had accidentally fallen into a clothes drier. Tates looked up from his work. "Most of us will be staying here, but Rico and myself have volunteered to come with you to the city and make inquiries in town. If there’s room for us, that is." Rico appeared on cue, nibbling on a rockmelon, the juice dribbling down his tanned neck. Gareth grinned. "You don't need to ask me whether you are acceptable. Ask them!" He pointed to where Kaura, Ava and Triforce were lying down to enable the humans and smaller dinosaurs to scramble onto their backs and cling onto the pebbly or scaly skin. "Do you mean, we are going to ride those?" asked Tates incredulously "Uh-huh, and you had better hurry before they stand up, too!" With that, the two dolphinbacks dashed over and, with a quick helping hand from the Dinotopians already in the saddle, swung themselves awkwardly onto the behemoths backs. Mathaira watched as Rico and Lt. Tates climbed awkwardly atop the large saurians. She turned to Gareth and grinned as if to say This is going to be a long trip. The twinkle in his eyes confirmed that he agreed with her sentiments. To the surprise of the native Dinotopian, the dolphinbacks soon adjusted to their new mode of travel, much to their credit. Rico's wiry frame and natural agility enabled him to accustom himself to the rhythm of the saurians movements beneath him. As muscular in build as Rico was compact, the rigors of Lt. Tates' life in the military and at sea had developed in him a natural athleticism which now served him in good stead as he rode atop the large dinosaur towards Chandara. Settled comfortably into the saddle, Mathaira busied herself with checking the contents of the pack slung over her shoulder. Having been jostled about considerably during the storm and its aftermath, Mathaira had carefully tended to the unhatched Rhamphorynchus egg before climbing into the saddle. Knowing that it was imperative that the egg remain warm and moist, the hatchery worker had unwrapped the parcel from her tunic and carefully peeled back the outer palm frond. She then dampened the sand and inner palm frond which encased the egg before re-wrapping the entire egg parcel and gently placing it back into her pack. The dampened sand and palm frond would keep the egg moist and the heat from her body would keep it warm. As she had cared for the egg before the group set forth, Mathaira thought she had heard the first faint pipings of the Rhamphorynchus inside. Usually audible before the egg hatched, the pipings grew louder and more frequent as time for the emerging drew nearer. Though there was still some time before the egg hatched, Mathaira was sure that it would do so before the group reached Chandara. She smiled to herself as she thought that this would be one more surprise in the lives of the recently arrived dolphinbacks. Gareth strode along between the two massive hadrosaurs, his long, cross country strides easily keeping pace with the dinosaurs. A brisk wind, all that was left to remind him of the storm, whipped his hair around as the young warrior walked along, talking rapidly in English and saurian with the various saurians and humans that wandered or rode near him. He had been stranded on the island some years before. The only possessions he still had were a pair of long ceremonial daggers and his life, as well as the clothes he swam ashore in. Since then, he had taken to wandering the land, helping with problems where not necessarily swords but amazing speed, precision and dexterity were needed. Gareth had spent two of his five years on the island among the residents of the lost city, learning the troodon's way of fighting to supplement his own, self-taught skill with blade and staff. He had also spent time among the raptor clans, single-handedly besting the leader of the Burning Talon clan of raptors without weapons. He had also there made one of his greatest friends, Azonthus, the young leader of another clan of raptors. A comment from Rico snapped him back to the present. "When are we going to reach Chandara, Señor Gareth?" "Uh, we should arrive at the city by tomorrow morning if we keep up this pace. You should get some sleep; you're going to need it!" replied Gareth.
amith watched in relief as the beach finally disappeared from sight. Behind her, Dylan winced as Triforce tripped one of her great feet over a rock, causing them both to jump in the saddle. “Hanging on back there?” Tamith asked her friend. “Yes…” he replied none too happily. “Had better days though.” “Maybe from this one you’ll learn not to pounce creatures with five times your strength, genius.” “Shut up,” he grumbled weakly. “You know, I was wondering,” she started. “Mmm?” “What did you tell the lead dolphinback when he came over to check on you before we left?” “That there would soon be someone coming for them from Waterfall City- family of mine,” Dylan replied. “Think he understood?” Tamith insisted. “Yes.” “Why?” “Because Granda didn’t drill English into Kael and me in vain. I may not use it much, but he said the equivalent of an affirmative,” Dylan told her, then smiled. “Don’t worry, help is on the way. And besides, how much more havoc can they cause here?” Tamith chuckled. “Let’s hope they aren’t like you, then.” She then looked up and noticed the dolphinbacks’ riding the enormous Karua and smiled. “He seems to be behaving,” she commented. Dylan looked up to his partner and nodded. “As long as they don’t kick him or a carnivore comes into view, they should be fine. He’s the greatest for a partner.” Tamith would have said more, but then she heard Mathaira gasp. She turned around worried, but the Hatchery worker smiled back at her reassuringly. “It’s hatching,” the other young woman said. Tamith then noticed for the first time what Mathaira had treasured within her pack all this time: an egg. She smiled happily knowing what an honor it would be to witness and be present in the welcoming of another life in this land she so loved. Gareth raced to the top of the hill, outpacing the plodding saurians. The rest of the party stopped to rest at the base of the rise, bandage various wounds, and take a drink at one of the clear streams that ran abundantly in this part of the island. He climbed the last ridge and looked out onto the wide plain that surrounded Chandara. The city of marble and gold glittered in the middle, like a precious stone in the middle of a field of lapis lazuli, backed by a tossing field of deep, watery blue. He heard a shout from below. “Gareth! Come back! The egg is hatching!” He ran back down the grassy slopes and found the group dismounted below. All of the natives were crowded around Mathaira; the young woman was seated on the ground in the middle of the circle. The two dolphinbacks were standing on the edge of the circle, unsure. Gareth ducked through Ava’s legs and knelt down next to Mathaira. “Chandara is just over the next ridge. Do you think the egg will be able to travel for another hour?” Even as he said this, Gareth realized that the egg would have to stay. Hairline cracks were starting to appear on the large, rounded side of the egg and the squeaking of the tiny dinosaur inside could be clearly heard. “No, we need to stay here; it wouldn’t survive any sort of rough transport until it is fully hatched from now on. Tell the others to get some food and rest. No, hang on. Maybe Ava could take you and Dylan into Chandara to get some people out here. I might need some assistance from a senior hatchery worker to help this little creature out of his shell. D’you think you could manage it?” ”No problem, you just take care of the egg. I’ll be back in no time!” With that, he stood up and, calling Dylan over to him, rapidly explained what they were going to do before vaulting lightly onto Ava’s back. The big dinosaur trod carefully until she was some distance from the egg and then broke into a full tilt run towards the city, massive strides shaking the earth Gareth pounded along on Ava’s back, listening to the rapid thud-thud-thud of the hadrosaurs heartbeat. Dylan clung tightly on behind the young swordsman, wincing slightly every so often as the dinosaur jumped over a log or jarred a stride. They reached the top of the hill within minutes and came out onto the ridge, the sweeping plains that led down to Chandara stretching out into the distance before them. Gareth leaned towards Ava’s ear and shouted over the wind and the crash of bushes being smashed aside by her trunk-like legs. “Neque sa runata! Sine diligenter, vulner Dylan fera. Nos dois atient Chandara pair solcache, neque una ginrai.” (Not so fast! if you’re not careful you’ll hurt Dylan. We only need to get to Chandara by sunset, not in the next minute) Ava honked an affirmative and slackened her pace slightly, bending with each step to allow the mighty tendons and muscles in her legs to absorb the shock and make riding much less painful on the spine. Soon they were racing through the meter high grass of the plains, gold and green stalks rustling and tossing like an extension of the ocean that lay a few miles to their right. Chandara loomed up ahead, a great mass of brilliant white and gold, an island of stone among the plains of eastern Dinotopia. Within an hour, they had come across a wide clay road leading towards the city and they went quickly along the way. Ava blew a merry tune through her crest to humor herself as she jogged along. They came to the great gates of the old city several hours before sundown and passed through the ruined walls, reminders of the time when Chandara, Baz and Poseidos stood against each other and the now peaceful island was rocked by bloody conflict. All Dinotopians had vowed never to let such a time come again and the ancient wall stood as a reminder to keep that oath. They slowed as they entered the modern city. Traffic flowed in and out of the great city and the bazaars and markets were still in full color and volume. Gareth made passing remarks to acquaintances and shopkeepers as Ava walked slowly, avoiding the swarms of smaller dinosaurs and humans that crossed the boulevard. She made for the central square, as Gareth had asked her to. ”If we need to get help for the others then we may as well speak to Paki about it.” Paki’tar was the speaker for Chandara, a respected diplomat and one of Gareth’s friends. He was one of the youngest saurians ever to be elected as the voice of Chandara, being only twenty years old or so, hardly out of saurian adolescence. They arrived in the main square. A canal flowed to one side of the towns meeting area and a magnificent building, as large or larger than many houses of parliament in the outer world, flanked by two statues of Stegosaurs standing on their hind legs, one foreleg extended the other cradling a bunch of flowers, to the other. A grand fountain, featuring dolphins, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and other aquatic creatures, topped by a bare chested god, net and trident held aloft, standing on a chariot pulled by porpoises, stood in the middle of the square. It dominated the area, some form of lighting illuminating the intricate stonework from underneath, the flowing water cascading like liquid light into the bowl, tinkling softly as it splashed. It was a sight that overtook the grandest architecture of Rome and Florence. Ava came to a halt outside the broad sweeping stairs of the senate. Walking through into the great antechamber of Chandaran parliament, Gareth and Dylan went through a small door at the end of the room as Ava went to find a drink and something to eat at the local sauropod barn. As they approached the door that led to Paki’s office, the familiar sound of a reading-treadmill filtered through into the corridor. Gareth knocked on the door and, after hearing the reply, opened it and followed Dylan inside. Paki jumped off his treadmill; the Deinonychus was obviously startled at their windswept appearance. “What on Earth’s happened to you two? You look like you just spent that storm running around in the middle of nowhere being chased by rogue Tyrannosaurs.” Gareth grinned “Quite.” Dylan stretched his arms. “This might take quite some time to tell.” Dylan and Gareth took turns narrating the events of the past several days, each adding how he had come to the finding of the newly arrived dolphinbacks. Paki listened attentively and waited until they were finished before asking questions. “And you say you sent a message to Waterfall City?” he asked. “Yeah,” Dylan replied. “My partner sent for a party of ambassadors from there. I assume they should soon be on their way if they have not departed already. However, I do not know how long they might take.” “Then, we will see what we can do to aid them,” Paki concluded. “Umm…” Dylan started. “If it’s not too much trouble, do you think you could get me some pain killers? The ones my partner Tamith gave me before we left have kinda worn out…” Gareth sat down heavily as Dylan wandered out, following Paki's directions to the infirmary. "Brave kid," the deinonychus noted, "Hope he gets better quickly." The large raptor scratched his head as he settled into the couch and unrolled a large scroll. "We need to get some help out to the folks who still need to come in. Did I hear you say that Mathaira has an egg near hatching?" Paki sighed. "Unfortunately we can't spare any sauropods yet; the city suffered some damage in that last storm and we'll need to have all hands to fix up the breakages. I should, however, be able to send out a skybax patrol to help out. I think you'll need to go and guide them. I suppose Ava is up to another jog, don't you think?" "I suppose so. Who are the riders you can spare?" "Well, I think we have Second Flight, Third Wing in at the moment. They’re just re-supplying after a trip out to the outer island last week. You should know Raymond Wilks? Yes? And there's also Niya, she's a hatchery worker turned skybax rider. She should be a great help." "I hope we can get moving soon. In the meantime, I could use a drink and something to eat; I haven't had a morsel for two days." Gareth felt his stomach juices turn cartwheels at the thought of having something to melt down into a syrupy mess again. Paki smiled toothily, the polished, curved teeth glinting in the dying light of evening. "As a matter of fact, I'm a bit hungry myself. We could head down to the waterfront and grab something to eat. Then, I should be able to find the Third Wing at the barn and you can head out again by midnight. I'll go and fetch Dylan and see if he wants to come." Dylan naturally accepted the offer of some food that didn't taste like bricks and the three were soon strolling along the quay, watching several large brachiosaurus aid a group of workers to replace tiles on the roofs of the houses that overlooked the sea. Dylan and Gareth then headed back to the barn while Paki loped off in the other direction, heading for the guest quarters where the wing of skybax riders were lodging. Soon, both Gareth and Dylan were regretting their decision as Ava thudded out of the barn, seemingly jarring every step on purpose. "Oh come on Ava, it's only a few kilometers. And if you're lucky you'll get to see a hatching." Ava snorted in response, almost deafening Gareth, but slightly softened her stride. A chorus of calls overhead heralded the arrival of the Third Wing, the great Quetzalcoatlus soaring overhead as the group ran and flew swiftly to the south. Though Mathaira had gained considerable experience in the field of hatchery work, she knew that she still had much to observe and learn in her chosen field of service, as could be attested to by the fact that she had traveled a great distance to attend the recent Conference in Chandara. She knew that the Rhamphorynchus egg now in her care was what hatchery workers deemed high risk. If the hatchling were to emerge before the proper incubation time, it would be considered a pre-emerged hatchling and need special care. Unsure as to whether Gareth, Dylan, and Ava would return from Chandara with assistance before the hatchling emerged from its eggshell, Mathaira concentrated on recalling what the learned Ovinutrix, Rojo, had expounded upon in his lecture at the Conference. In the event that assistance failed to arrive before the egg hatched, Mathaira began the necessary preparations. Knowing that the egg would need to be kept warm, Mathaira sought assistance from the dolphinbacks in preparing a shallow egg basin at the base of the rise where it would be protected from the elements. "Lt. Tates, would you mind digging a small hole for the egg?" Mathaira accompanied her query with hand gestures to be sure the dolphinback understood, making the motion for digging and forming her hands in a position to indicate a small circle. The muscular officer apparently understood, readily agreed, and willingly set to the task of digging a shallow hole using a trowel which was in the supplies carried on one of the larger saurians. Mathaira approached his companion, " Rico, could you please collect some grasses?" She knelt down to collect a handful of loose grasses in the field to show him an example of what she wanted. "Si," he understood immediately and roamed the field in search of the dried grasses. Mathaira began her own preparations, reaching deep into her pack for her traveling cloak, fashioned by the Tentpole weavers out of the shed fur of mammals, lightweight but warm. She spread this on the field near where the egg basin would be when completed. She then rummaged through her pack again, pulling forth a kerchief, a square of dark blue cloth which she carried and often used to wipe her brow in the more humid regions of the Island. This was laid atop the cloak and alongside her water pouch. Knowing that the hatchling would demand food shortly after its emerging, Mathaira drew forth her own food rations, picking out the smallest bits of dried berries and fruits and softest pieces of hard bread. Tamith noticed her doing so and drew out her own rations, likewise picking out tiny pieces of fruits and berries, extending her hand and offering them to Mathaira, "Here, you might need these for the hatchling." Mathaira smiled gratefully as she took them from Tamith, "Thank you." All these morsels were placed in a smaller pouch and laid on the cloak. The dolphinbacks soon completed their tasks and approached Mathaira, seemingly pleased that they were playing a small part in caring for the egg. Lt. Tates grinned boyishly and proudly pointed to the shallow hole which he had dug, "Is that ok?" "Yes, perfect," Mathaira nodded her head and grinned back. Rico held forth the results of his completed task, an armful of dried grasses, "Enough?" he queried. Mathaira smiled with pleasure. "Enough!" Mathaira confirmed, gratefully taking the grasses from his arms. She then used some of them to carefully line the egg basin which Lt. Tates had dug. Gently she laid the egg into the basin and covered it with more of the grasses. All the while, the hairline cracks on the egg were gradually widening and the faint piping of the hatchling inside became a more audible squeaking, heard even as the egg lay cradled within the grassy nest. As the group settled down for the night into their makeshift camp, Mathaira lay down herself on the cloak next to the egg basin, knowing that she would get little if any sleep that night. *** The pale yellow sun had barely climbed into the brightening sky as an insistent faint squeaking pervaded the camp and awoke those who dozed, Mathaira among them. Carefully sliding the grassy covering aside and peering cautiously into the nest, Mathaira saw that the hairline cracks were no more. Indeed the largest crack had now become an opening through which a pale grayish beak poked, opening and closing feebly as it squeaked in distress. Sensing the urgency of the situation, Mathaira reached into the nest and assisted the distressed hatchling, breaking off tiny pieces of the shell which held the hatchling inside. By this time, the rest of those within the camp had awakened and gathered around the shallow hole. The loose circle which they unwittingly formed provided a windbreak and retained necessary heat in the nest area. Mathaira momentarily broke from her task to reach across the spread out cloak and grab a tunic out of her pack. She held this out to Lt. Tates, who stood nearby and asked, "Could you please set this near the fire for awhile?" She held the tunic briefly in the direction of the camp fire before handing it to him. Instinctively understanding what she wanted, perhaps from encountering similar situations during his service in the war where it was imperative to keep an individual warm, he grasped the tunic. He no longer wore the boyish expression of the previous day but rather one of a military professional, "Right away!" He immediately headed toward the fire where he laid the tunic nearby to warm it. Before returning to her task, Mathaira took both the kerchief and the water pouch from atop her cloak, holding both out to Rico who had been standing next to Lt. Tates. "Rico, would you mind wetting this cloth for me?" Eager to be of assistance, Rico practically grabbed the kerchief and water pouch from Mathaira, "Si!" He poured a small amount of water from the pouch onto the cloth, enough to moisten it but not soak it. Somehow knowing that he should, he held it in his hands, waiting until the moment Mathaira needed it. As the tunic warmed, Mathaira continued to break away fragments of egg shell, the hatchling inside doing the same with its small beak. Just as Lt. Tates returned with the warmed tunic, the hatchling broke completely free of its egg shell, emerging into the soft grassy nest. His coloring was a pale gray, unnatural for one of his species, and he was still squeaking feebly. Mathaira quickly took the moistened cloth from Rico and cleaned the shell fragments from the hatchling's small body, which was also pale gray. Mathaira saw faint streaks of blue and a darker gray and knew that this was the color which the hatchling was supposed to display rather than the pale gray which covered the majority of his spindly body. Taking the warmed tunic from Lt. Tates, Mathaira held the tiny Rhamphorynhcus close while rubbing him with the warm cloth. The hatchling's color soon improved with the gentle but vigorous rubbing Mathaira gave him with the warm tunic. Knowing that he must be kept warm, Mathaira fashioned a type of sling out of her cloak which she wore around her shoulder, placing the hatchling next to herself, her own body heat keeping him warm. Settled comfortably into the sling the hatchling felt warm and secure, his small beak began opening and closing in demand for food. "So you're hungry now? That's good." Mathaira sat upon the ground next to the egg basin and opened the pouch of food which she and Tamith had contributed from their rations. The hatchery worker removed a few morsels of food consisting of tiny dried berries and fruits along with pieces of bread. She placed them into her own mouth, chewing them up and removing them, using her fingers to place the bits of food into the mouth of the Rhamphorynchus hatchling. As his belly became full, he cooed contentedly as he gazed at Mathaira from the confines of the sling. Knowing that she lacked a puppet so that the newly emerged hatchling would imprint the correct parent model, Mathaira resigned herself to the fact that more than likely the Rhamphorynchus would consider her to be his mother. She realized that she didn't mind and murmured softly to him, "Storm Rider," giving him his name from the storm which he had ridden out prior to being found by the traveling hatchery worker.
Sharell continued her swift trot until she came upon the small river. Searching for the ideal place to fish, she spotted an outcropping underneath the fallen tree she had used to cross in the first place. Jogging through the shallows, Sharell didn't hear the tell-tail sounds of a something stalking her. Reaching the underneath of the forest giant and glad to have found a fishing spot so quickly, she soon set to catching them. Using her forearms and claws like an organic fishing pole, Sharell didn't have to wait long before she had her first catch. Pleasantly surprised to have found a River Catfish so close to the ocean, Sharell quickly skewered it with her claws after making sure she had a firm foothold on the rocky bank. Hoping to find another catfish, Sharell reached back down into the water, but this time a small squid, a relative to the Belemnite, wrapped itself around her lower arm and claws. Never having seen a squid before as there were no squid of any sort in the headwaters of the Polongo River and being naive on the behavior of squid and not knowing what they were capable of, Sharell was thoroughly frightened. Jumping and lashing about like an animal gone mad, Sharell only succeeded in making things worse. Disturbed by the wild motions of the stricken Ornitholestes the eight pound squid wrapped its tentacles even more tightly around her arm and shoulder. Finding that the heavy invertebrate would not come off in her vain attempts, Sharell in trying to pry it off with her free hand, but this resulted in getting that caught up by the very stubborn and very armored prey. Finding both arms immobilized Sharell forced herself to calm down. Walking up the embankment she strove to come up with a way to get rid of this pest. Coming up with no rational ideas she resolved in trying to bite it off. If she had any knowledge about squid, Sharell would have known just to submerge it in the river again and she would have known that she was extremely lucky up till now. Working a few of the rubbery tentacles into her narrow mouth Sharell started to chew the tough gray flesh. The squid now pushed to its limits sank it's beak into her shoulder again and again injecting it venom. Screaming in agony as lancing hot pain shot up into her body, Sharell felt as if she was on fire. Unable keep herself upright she fell down in pain, the damaged shoulder buckling under her weight when she tried to stop her thirty-pound body from falling. On her side and her body succumbing to the poison, Sharell knew that her life was going to end. Losing consciousness fast, Sharell thought of her home back in the Rainy Basin and how she was going to miss it. Just before darkness fully took her and her vision cloudy Sharell saw a dark murky shadow loom over her. Then nothing. The squid, no longer sensing a threat, let go of the still, minute form of the Ornitholestes and pulled itself back into the cold current of the river. A very wet and soggy Tony woke to an amazingly cheerful and bright morning. Strange birds were singing and the ocean was calmly gliding over the beaches sand. He scratched sand from the stubble on his face and looked around for any sign of life. Sadly, there was none. Kicking the sand, the lone human walked to the flat savannah in hopes of finding fresh water and shade. Maybe, if he was lucky, he could find some fruit or small animal he could kill. Luck was with him and he soon found a stream. A first taste proved the water to still be salty. Hopefully, further up, the water would be fresher. The shipwrecked sailor carefully studied the water as he slogged along the banks. He could see fish and a number of bizarre creatures he couldn't identify swimming in the clear water. Deciding it best to at least eat something before continuing the search for freshwater, he carefully waded thigh deep in the strong current, grasping a large stick in his hands, and waited. He had used the same trick as a young boy back in Italy. The water was warm and he could remain motionless in its flow for many hours if need be. Soon, a fish came close to him and nibbled the stick. Moving swiftly, he grabbed the fish with one hand and threw it onto the bank. A few quick blows with the stick killed the fish. Too hungry to wait, Tony bit into the raw flesh and devoured his meal. Hunger somewhat satiated, he continued following the river. He had been walking for several hours when trees started sprouting up along the banks, giving him some respite from the shade. Something on the bank caused him to stop and walk slower. The gray and blue lump remained motionless. Studying it closer, Tony saw that the creatures breathing was erratic. Taking the chance, he walked right up to it. The small thing couldn't have weighed more than a dog. It was compact and lizard-like, with a feathered crest and muscular neck. The three fingered hands were tipped with claws, as were the feet. Apparently, this was a hunter of some sort. Tony easily recognized the lines of bruises across the arms and several puncture marks on the chest as wounds from a squid. When he had been little, one of his best friends had tangled with a squid and had won similar wounds. The poison had given his friend some problems for a while, but he'd pulled through. A little thought came creeping into his mind. Lucas had a tiger for a pet. Why couldn't he tame this creature? It'd be very helpful as far as finding food went, and it may even offer some sort of protection. He rolled it over and began sucking what little poison he could from the wounds and spitting it out. There was some seaweed in the water that was well known in his hometown for absorbing venoms, and he plastered it on the animals chest. Braiding some vines into a tight rope, he tied the unconscious animal to a tree and went about getting a fire ready. The water here was fresh enough to drink safely if he filtered it through the sandy banks and he could fish. This was an ideal camping spot until he had taught the animal to obey him and could again enjoy the taste of something larger than a fish. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Azonthus had been in the training field with her young warriors, helping teach them as BattleBlood had once taught her, when a huge skybax and rider dared to land in the middle of practice. Being a little miffed, Az ordered the pterosaur and human surrounded. The youngsters loved the chance to “threaten” one of the softer Dinotopians and snarled and growled quite convincingly. With a dozen velociraptors crowding close, the terrified quetzalcoatlus couldn’t take to the skies again. “I have a message for clan leader Azonthus!” the rider called out as he dismounted, much to the disapproval of his mount. Grinning, which, not accidentally, showed off all of her razor sharp teeth, Az waved down the trainees. “And what do you need her for?” she demanded. The rider nervously looked at all the claws and teeth surrounding him. “This is only for Azonthus to hear. My instructions were very clear about that.” “Well, you’ll have to tell me.” The rest of the raptors, unable to understand human, growled softly. “Oh, go take the rest of the day off,” Az said. “I’ll deal with these two.” The eleven other raptors slipped into the jungle, but stayed close enough to see what went on. “Breath Deep. I am Azonthus. What’s you’re message?” The rider visibly relaxed now that he wasn’t surrounded. “Seek Peace. The council of Round Table Hall sent me here to bring you back to Waterfall City.” Az tensed. Why would they want her there? Surely they weren’t after her about the Allosaurs! “Dolphinbacks have landed in Blackwood Flats and representatives from every part of the Island will be traveling there to greet them. You were chosen to represent the Rainy Basin.” Az laughed. “And you expect me to just come with you and leave my clan without their leader?” The look on his face told her enough. “Right. It’s not like I have any responsibilities or anything. I can just play extinct and vanish.” Az shook her head. “No.” “But…” The rider was at a loss for words. They had never considered that she might not be able to come! “You come flying in here, interrupt my warriors practice, and expect me to just come with you? No; not going to happen.” “Please? We need you to come because other carnosaurs haven’t left the Basin to join our society then returned! You’ll be able to represent the carnosaurs, but understand Dolphinbacks fear.” Az grinned again. This was too much fun. “Ok!” “Ok? You’re coming?” “Yup! Give me half an hour.” The small raptor dashed off to notify the elders and grab her cape and bow and arrows. Soon, she was gripping the saddle of a second skybax with her claws and on her way back to the city.
By the swiftly flowing river a figure stirred. Groggy but safe from the venom's deadly embrace and feeling as if she got hit by runaway diplodocus, Sharell slowly came to. Remembering the squid, she was amazed that she was still alive. Her head feelt very light she took a deep breath of air to clear her head. Sensing something in the air, Sharell sniffed to test it; it was of salt. Sharell had smelled the mass of seaweed strapped to her chest, shoulder and upper arm. She didn't put that there. Sharell then realized that someone must have saved her! Searching around for whoever it was, she saw a single pair of human tracks and a strong smell of seawater. She then noticed the rope of vines that leashed her to the tree. At first she was confused. Why would anyone want to tie her up? Straining her still murky thoughts, she figured that whomever it was who had saved her had put it there for her protection; So that in her dazed state she wouldn't wander and fall into the river or something like that. Still exhausted from the ordeal, Sharell begun to fall asleep. Glad to have survived, she fell into a dreamless sleep. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ava thundered along through the plains of eastern Dinotopia as the riders of the Third Wing grew smaller and smaller up ahead. The huge quetzocoalti slashed the air with leathery wings as they came to rest near the crest of the hill. Gareth could just see well enough to see the tiny figures of the riders slide from their mounts, the red, cream and blue uniforms contrasting with the green and gold of the grasses. Within a few minutes, Ava came to a halt alongside the party of Skybax riders. They had already packed and were standing, waiting, each with a roll of cloth under his or her arm and each with a large pack on their back. Raymond came to greet them, the cured fabric of his master's tunic gleaming in the sun like a blue breastplate of some forgotten, mythical war. "Where are your companions? It’ll be good to see Mathaira again and welcome some newcomers to the island. It's good to see you too; why, last time I saw you, you were a mere whipper-snapper, sweeping out the stables in Canyon City. You sure have grown." "Yes, I noticed that; if I don't stop getting bigger I'm going to have to sleep in the sauropod barn! Come on, they're down in this gulley." They ran down the steep path to see what was happening with the rest of the party. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bent over a desk full of maps, Kael O'Connor was trying to put together the quickest route to the Blackwood Flats from Waterfall City. Behind him, he could hear the chatter of Ressa, a scribe for the Library but also his partner and one of his oldest friends. The five foot Ornithopod was checking down the list he had written earlier of things that had to be done before embarking on such a mission. "We've already gotten a supply of eels, just incase we meet any carnivores in the Basin... Oh, I do hope they're still waiting out the storm in caves or something." Ressa was a scarlet and sienna colored Fabrosaur. Like most scribes, a journey into the Basin was his least favorite thing, but under the circumstances, he had been willing to make the sacrifice of abandoning his beloved library. "Calm down, Ressa. I'm sure we'll have no problems with them. If Azonthus comes, everything should be just fine," Kael said momentarily looking up from his work. "Besides, don't you get bored of being cooped up in here everyday?" "Not really, no," Ressa replied, checking out another item on his list. "My scrolls and translating are all the adventure I need. Besides, I travel down to Pooktook once a year to visit family and that's enough of an outing for me." Kael smiled. "Sometimes I wonder why we get along so well. You can be worse than Enit at times!" "That's why you're the ambassador, and I'm the scribe. You travel, I write. Simple enough and works just fine for me...Hmm... Nallab already confirmed Standtall was willing? Yes he did... Food! I better go down there and check our suppl-" He would have continued, but was interrupted by Hikari Sakamoto who ran in past him, making him loose his balance and knock over a pile of scrolls. "Jones-san's back! O'Connor-san, Jones-san's back!" Hikari squealed, oblivious to Ressa's grumbles. "Allen? He is?" Kael jumped out from behind his desk and ran towards the door, completely forgetting about poor Ressa. Hikari was beaming but, before running after Kael, she noticed to middle aged Fabrosaur and raised and eyebrow. "Ressa, what are you doing there?" she inquired. "What do you think!" Ressa exclaimed, "You tripped me-" "That's nice, but I’ve got to go. If Azonthus-san came, she'll need accommodations. Keep up the good work!" With that, she sprinted after Kael. "But, ahh... Humans." Ressa complained picking himself and the scrolls around him up before going down to check on the food supplies. ****** Allen Jones was just dismounting golden Highwind, when Kael and Hikari tumbled into the rookery. They both looked slightly out of breath and Allen grinned at his friend's attempt to regain his composure before meeting the Clan leader. Azonthus jumped off her mount and took a moment to study the two humans before her. The female had long, complicatedly braided black hair and eyes and wore loose sapphire colored pants and matching tunic. The male looked slightly familiar, but she couldn’t quite put her claw on it. He was dressed in red robes and had shoulder length dark brown hair. He was the one that addressed her first. "Breath Deep," he began in the typical Dinotopian fashion. "Seek Peace," Azonthus finished the greeting and waited for an introduction. "My name is Kael O'Connor, I shall be leading our team to the Blackwood Flats. It is an honor that you could join us Azonthus. This is Hikari Sakamoto; she will be joining us too, as will Allen Jones, whom you have already met." "O'Connor!" Azonthus exclaimed suddenly. "That's why you look so familiar. Are you related to Dylan O'Connor?" "Yes," Kael said, slightly taken aback by her quick connection. "He's my brother. You've met him?" "Met him?!" Azonthus said laughing. "How could I forget him? He’s the biggest pain in the neck ever!" Kael's puzzled look made her laugh even harder. "Oh don't worry, I meant that in the best possible way. Yes, I have met him before and he always seems to be getting himself, and Tamith, a good friend of mine, into trouble. If we happen to all be together then... You get the point." "Yes," Kael said still slightly confused "Dylan can be a bit reckless..." "It runs in the family," Allen muttered loud enough for everyone present to hear, then pretended to be attending his partner when Kael threw a hard glare in his direction. Hikari brought a hand to her mouth as to muffle her giggles. Allen stole a glance at her and winked, getting a thumb's up in response. "Any ways," Kael continued ignoring both his friends. "I think it would be nice to introduce you to the rest of the team and to fill you in on our plans. Since you are here, we can leave at dawn tomorrow." "Sounds fair," Az said finding everything that was going on around her very amusing. "I could always visit a couple of friends before we leave and had a good look around of the city, for old time's sake." Kael smiled and nodded while motioning for her to follow him down the steps towards the city. "And you could tell us how you met Dylan!" Allen called as they left and he could have sworn he saw Kael pause for a fragment of a second. "Well," he said once they were both gone and out of earshot, "That went well." Hikari grinned. "You're evil, Allen-kun." "Thanks," he said with a smirk, then turned to unsaddle and groom Highwind. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gareth slid down steep embankment that surrounded the little dell, where a fire was now visible. Raymond and the rest of the Second Flight slid down behind him, pin-point balance making easy work of the treacherous slope. Gareth ducked under a solid looking bough and found his companions seated in a circle around Mathaira, who was softly crooning to a young, electric blue pterosaur who lay panting in her arms. Dylan’s eyes sparkled with a joyous flame as he watched the little creature growl and nip tiny, passing insects. Heads turned upwards as Gareth entered the clearing and several of the group rose as the skybax riders followed him down into the clearing. Raymond immediately dunked his head into the water and took a few long gulps before shaking it vigorously, soliciting an amused chuckle from Tates and a few purring giggles from the baby Rhamphorynhcus. The riders stood and began talking to the travelers and Niya ran towards Mathaira, hugging her round the neck with obvious joy. The two were old friends. Gareth loped towards the pool of water and took a few deep draughts, filling his gourd at the edge of the pool before returning to where Raymond was whispering to Lucas. He knelt down next to where Niya and Mathaira where cooing and tickling the little dinosaur. “Mathaira, do you think you’ll be able to travel with this little fellow?” he asked, stroking the tiny head, causing the baby to nip playfully at his fingertip and draw tiny rivulets of blood. “Ooh, are you all right, or did poor Ickle babykins get bitten to badly?” Mathaira scolded playfully before continuing in a more serious tone. “Yes, I think we can travel, at least on foot. I don’t think taking a skybax or riding would be the best of ideas for him at the moment. The skybax certainly wouldn’t like carrying the extra weight of two Dolphinbacks and I’m pretty sure Tamith would like to travel with Triforce. You can go on with the Skybax riders if you would like. What do you think?” “Well, I’d much rather travel with you. After all, you may need my assistance!” After a few minutes talk, the group packed up and got ready to move out. Tamith, Gareth, Lt. Tates, Rico, and Mathaira all set out on foot with Ava, Triforce and Karua while the Skybax wing took off and soared overhead with a parting shriek. Tamith was helping Mathaira pack what they had used to aid them during the hatching when she felt someone pat her in the back. “Hey you!” she said beaming at Dylan. “I’d expected you to have stayed in Chandara. Glad to see you’re feeling better.” Dylan grinned. “And miss an opportunity to get myself into trouble again? Naw.” “I’m happy to see you’re looking better Dylan,” Mathaira told him, still cooing to baby Storm Rider. “You had us worried.” Dylan smiled. “I’ll be staying behind to help with the baby now. Tamith, you and Triforce can go ahead to Chandara with the rest of the group and reserve rooms at an inn or something. We’re gonna need them.” “Sounds fair,” Tamith replied. “I’ll prepare a feast for you all for when you arrive; we’ll be needing that too, I think. I’ll see you there!” She waved goodbye at her old friends and walked over to the skybax wing to talk with Raymond. She told him Triforce and she would set out on foot to Chandara and would meet up with them there. Raymond agreed to this and took the responsibility of finding enough rooms for the travelers when he arrived. He waved goodbye, and mounted his skybax. “On to Chandara,” Tamith whispered to Triforce. The Triceratops grunted a response and set ahead on a brisk trot. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucas Pradelli looked around what was left of their camp. It wasn’t much. While fleeing the storm on land, they had lost many of the supplies they had managed to salvage to the sea again. After the group of locals had left them, they had decided to remain where they were until the weather died down a bit before searching the shoreline for more survivors. It was now a day and a half since that had happened and the weather had cleared enough to allow for the search. “Gentlemen,” Lucas said addressing his fellow castaways. “Gather everything we can salvage and carry, we’re heading out now.” Both Captain McGreggor and Mr. Sorla aided him in putting together enough supplies that would allow them to hunt for food, camp, and give simple first aid to any of them if it were needed. “What should we do with the rest of this stuff?” Jebar Sorla asked pointing at the other three crates they had salvaged. “Let’s leave them here,” Lucas suggested, “But lets bury them. We really wouldn’t want them to fall into the wrong hands.” He signaled for his Siberian tiger, Namir, to come to him and, after affectionately rubbing his ears, told him to dig a deep hole on the moist earth. It wasn’t long before the great cat had done his job and the three men pushed in the remaining crates in and covered them. Satisfied with their work, the three remaining trappers set out back towards the shore. “The remaining drizzle will cover our tracks, Mr. Pradelli,” Captain McGreggor said as they departed the camp. “I’m aware of that, but I’m sure a good enough tracker would be able to pick up our trail. The boy whom Namir attacked told me there would be people coming for us. In any case, we could just circle back here after a few days, but not until we have scavenged every last corner of these shores. There just have to be more survivors.” Captain McGreggor nodded. Lucas was now kneeling next to Namir again, apparently telling him something. The orange cats ears perked up and, within moments, he jumped ahead of the trio, sniffing the earth in his path. “I sent him to search for the trail of any human sent he finds familiar.” He said turning to his companions. “If there’s anyone out there, Namir is sure to find them.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Remnants of the storm still lingered in the form of gusty winds and chilled air damp with moisture, causing Mathaira and her traveling companions to draw nearer to one another for warmth. With the weather being atypical of this region, blasts of cool air swirled about the group, seemingly pushing them along as they hastened their steps toward Chandara. Mathaira pulled her grayish brown cloak tightly about her shoulders, grateful to the mammal from whose fur it was fashioned. As the mammoth cloak thwarted the relentless wind, Mathaira was silently appreciative of the skill of the Tentpole weavers who created garments that were not only beautiful but warm and functional. Having formed a makeshift sling from a spare tunic, the hatchling StormRider slept securely under Mathaira's cloak. Knowing that he would be hungry when he woke, Mathaira popped a few berries in her mouth to soften them, carefully placing them in a small pouch after doing so where they would provide ready nourishment for the tiny Rhamphorynhcus. Not that the availability of nourishing food was a problem... Quite the opposite, Mathaira's traveling companions had willingly, even eagerly, shared their rations and whatever bounty they had gleaned from the Island with the always hungry hatchling. Mathaira smiled to herself, thinking that StormRider would be both spoiled and plump from the attention of all the doting "aunts and uncles" who cared for him. A particularly frigid blast of air hit Mathaira full in the face, knocking the hood from her head and whipping her hair into her eyes. Attempting to tame her hair with one hand, she grasped the hood with her other and pulled it back onto her head. Sighing audibly, she asked anyone who might be listening, "Do you think we'll reach Chandara soon?" She sure hoped so! Tamith and Triforce had gone ahead and Mathaira hoped that her friend had secured them a room... A warm, dry one!
Tony had been foraging for any edible plants in the area when he heard some strange cry. He hurried back to his odd captive to see if it was awake. It was awake, but still laying on its side when he got there. The odd creatures feathered crest was tight against its neck, and the blue bump on its nose was a little brighter. "Hey..." he said soothingly. "I won't hurt you." Slowly, he picked up some left over fish and put it in front of the animal. "Go on, it's good." Sharell looked up and saw that the human dolphinback was handing her some tasty looking fish. And she was ravenously hungry. "Hey, I won't hurt you," he said soothingly. "Go on, it's good." Of course, she didn't understand what he was saying but the feeling of the message was clear enough. Taking the fish from the spot that he laid it down, she tore it apart easily with her jaws and gulped the little bit of fish down so fast that she barely got a taste of it. Still conscious of the hunger in her belly, she looked him in the eye and asked him with hers and with a little chirp if he had any more. The man smiled. Yes, if Lucas could tame a tiger, he could tame an overgrown lizard. The chirp was cute enough, and it watched him. It seemed tame enough; but, then again, many animals that had never seen humans were pretty tame. He tossed another fish at the creature. "Well... What am I going to call you?" He started thinking of names as he moved around the small camp, trying to make a shelter from any more rain. It was odd, she thought to herself, That this human, obviously a dolphinback, was not taken too much aback by what she was. Then again, taking another look back at him, she realized that he was looking at her funny, as if she were a puzzle that he was trying to figure out. Did he think of her as food? That thought was quickly banished from possibility. No. If he did, he would have taken her after she had been nearly killed by that terrifying squid. A few other ideas flowed through her head and none of them seemed to be logical, not one seemingly possible. Thinking about it just made her head hurt and got her nowhere. Sharell decided that whatever the reason, it wasn't at all in malicious intent. So, she decided to sleep on it; it would be easier on her when she woke up again. Resting her head back down and still too weak to sleep in her normal position, on her belly with her legs folded along side her and her crested head up, closely resembling the Red Lion statues she had heard about from her friend Azonthus, another Basin native that met up with every now and then, she fell into a restful sleep. Of which, she would have been less likely to have if she had know the real intent of the human stranger. But not knowing anything of humans controlling animals or training them for their own purposes, it was unlikely Sharell would have been able to figure it out even if she had been feeling in peek condition, much less weakened as she was now. All that concerned her for the moment was getting better. Tony kept talking to his new pet once it woke up. He spoke in Italian; it didn’t matter what he said, he just wanted it to get used to his voice. Still, he told it about his family and the smelly factory where he had worked before signing up with the trappers. “You know, I’ve got to call you something.” He carefully studied the creature, unsure if it was male or female. Still, he needed a name. “I’ll call you Umberto.” He smiled a little to himself. “Yes, Umberto is a good name for you. I hated my boss in that chicken factory. He always yelled at us and cut our wages. He made us starve. Do you know what it’s like, working so hard around food and not being able to eat? Oh, what would he think of finding that I named a monster after him? Hah. “Umberto, want some more fish?” He waved a piece in the air, watching to see if the creature would react. It’d soon learn its name. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was dawn and the groggy velociraptor was ready to go. She already had a small bag of provisions packed, and her bow was in the quiver of arrows strapped on her back. Yawning, she looked around to see if any sauropods would be accompanying them so she could hitch a ride for a few hours. Unfortunately, it looked like she'd have to walk and put that nap off until they stopped for a break later in the day. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Tamith and Triforce arrived at Chandara a good two hours after the skybax wing. The pair wasted no time in looking around the marvelous waterfront city and went directly from inn to inn, looking for the place Raymond had lodged rooms for them. It didn’t take them very long to spot the handful of Skybaxes waiting for their riders outside a cozy looking establishment. Tamith jumped off Triforce and ran inside. It didn’t take very long to single out Raymond in the crowed. “Over here,” he said waving her to the table he was sitting on. “I’ve separated the last four rooms available for your group. Hopefully, it will be enough.” “That’s perfect,” Tamith said smiling. “I can always share my room with Mathaira and help her with the baby.” “It was lucky we could get all those room is one place, with the storm and all, but hopefully people taking refuge here will be clearing out soon,” Raymond said. “This place also has an excellent barn; I’m sure your saurian companions will be very comfortable there as well.” “Great!” Tamith said happily. “I’ll drop my things in my room and get Tri settled in, and then I’m going to go pick up some things around the city for the baby and the newcomers. I’m going to go down to the cooks and see if they need anything, seeing as we’ll have a large and hungry group tonight.” Raymond smiled. “I’ll leave those commodities to you. I’ll be heading out to provide the caravan an escort in; you can never be too careful.” Tamith nodded. “Seek Peace!” she said. “Fly high,” the rider told her and walked out of the Inn towards his skybax. Tamith grinned, barely able to contain her excitement. Not only were they welcoming dolphinbacks, but a new life as well. She walked outside and led Triforce to the barn Raymond had told her about. After grooming and making sure her partner had all the food, water, and anything else she wanted, she dashed back inside to talk to the innkeeper. The innkeeper was a nice elderly lady named Myrna. She was gracious enough to show Tamith the rooms her friends would be lodging in and, to her great satisfaction, two of the four had a view of the bay. She quickly told their host to reserve these specifically for the dolphinbacks, choosing one of the ones across from them for herself and Mathaira. Dylan would like one with water view as well, she thought with a smile. Upon learning she’d be hosting dolphinbacks, Myrna went on a frenzy with preparations. She seemed to want everything perfect for when her guest arrived. Taking a grocery basket, Tamith offered to go into town and pick up some of the comestibles they’d be enjoying that night while her host got every single hand in the inn to cleaning, shinning, and polishing every last piece of silverware, corner and inch of the place. “This is going to be great!” Tamith thought out load making her way down the colorful streets of Chandara.
Rico was amazed by all that had gone on since the shipwreck. First, finding the large animals, then discovering they were living dinosaurs… And then the humans had shown up to help them. On top of all that, he had been able to help with the hatching of a baby dinosaur! Language was something of a problem at times, but they managed. The dinosaur Namir had hunted seemed to be healing up pretty well. He had been told her name was Ava. The trumpeting noises she made fascinated the young Mexican and he stayed close to her most of the time. But, such surprises couldn’t keep his playful nature down for long. Already, his mind was on his next prank. ***** Ava liked the company of the dolphinback. Despite the fact that her vacation had gone far from what she had planned, she was excited to have found dolphinbacks. Well, more like they had found her. She rumbled lowly in her frustration with her slight limp. The hum reverberated through her crest, sounding almost like a groaning ship on storm tossed seas. Mathaira had done a good job bandaging her injuries, but constant movement made the wounds ache worse. The Parasaurolophus did not miss the small smile and chuckle from Rico. He was up to something for sure. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Tamith stood next to the party who were by now making merry quite rowdily. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and rain swept through the darkening sky, a reminder of the storm. Inside the tavern however, the atmosphere was as jovial as always. A traveling player had dropped in and was recounting the legend of Ogthar to an appreciative audience of awed youths and the innkeeper was talking heartily to a Russian man of immense stature who seemed to be a cargo hauler from Warmwater Bay. Tamith gazed outside as she gripped her mug of foaming mulled wine and looked contentedly out of the window. She pitied the poor people in the convoy still out there. Along the street, a man turned the corner, followed by a small deinonychus. Through the sleeting rain, Tamith recognized Gareth as the wiry youth strode into the circle of light cast by the lamps of the tavern. But the raptor was new to her. Gareth swung himself down the stairs and shook his hair vigorously in the vestibule, shedding cape and cloak like a dog sheds water. A raptor simply stood for a moment before coming in through the door. Dressed in a vest and Asian style trousers, Gareth looked a lot less formidable than with sword and cloak. He grinned as he walked up to Tamith. "Hey, pleased to see you got here safely. Dylan didn't want to come; he's resting at the senate while the healers tend to that gash on his head. By the way," he gestured to the raptor who had now come up behind him, "Paki, this is Tamith Kai; Tamith, this is Paki'tar, the speaker for Chandara." The raptor gave a knee bending bow as Myrna sidled up with a couple of steaming mugs. Tamith smiled and nodded at Gareth. Dylan resting, now there’s an idea, she thought with a smile and made a mental note to check on him as soon as she got the chance, knowing her friend’s dislike and distrust of healers outside his family’s nucleus. And with Dylan, being as unpredictable as he was, she could never be too sure about anything. She then turned back to the newcomers. “Pleasure to meet you acquaintance,” she told Gareth and Paki’tar. “People in this city have been nothing but helpful since we arrived. Have you met the dolphinbacks?” she asked the Speaker. The small group carefully combed the beaches, looking for other survivors. Surely, if they had survived, others could have made it to the shore of this fantastical island. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jebar shifted the weight of the food and cooking utensils on his back. He was strong, but not used to carrying two days worth of food for three people. And the heat and humidity didn’t help much either. Still, he was thankful for his dark skin; Captain McGreggor and Lucas were looking fairly pink from the sun. By days end, they’d be quite red. Suddenly, Namir ran ahead of the group and to the waters edge. The large tiger chased something bobbing in the surf for a moment before finally catching it in his massive paws. Almost delicately, he held the collar of a child’s shirt in his teeth, and dragged him farther up shore. The captain and Lucas quickly ran to the man while Jebar tried his best to keep up. When he caught a glimpse of what Namir had found, he dropped the pack and ran after them. “Good boy, Namir,” Lucas praised his pet. He rubbed the cat on its head. Namir purred, then began licking the face of the boy he had rescued. When Jebar arrived, his heart leapt into his throat. It was his son... "Kairo. Kairo, wake up." Almost angrily, he shoved Namir away and cradled his son in his arms. "Here, let me see the boy," the Captain demanded. He practically had to pry Jebar’s arms away from him. But, he wasn’t happy with what he saw. At least the boy was alive. A quick look proved that the only thing that had kept the young boy afloat for so long was a spar, through his stomach. It was a miracle that he was still alive. Lucas put his hand on the darker mans shoulder. “Jebar, I’m so sorry.” “No, it’s okay. He’ll live.” Jebar continued to hug his son. “I’ve seen worse.” Kairo coughed up a little blood and looked up at his dad. A small groan escaped his lips. “Shh-hh-hh… It’ll be okay,” Jebar comforted. Captain McGreggor shook his head, and began digging through the pack that Jebar had dropped. Quickly, he found what he had been looking for. He kept the knife hidden. “Jebar, it’ll be better if we just end it for him. The boy’s not going to make it.” “No, he’ll be fine! We just need to find him a doctor.” He hugged the boy closer, not minding the blood that seeped onto his own cloths. It had taken so much to find his son, then to find enough money to buy Kairo from the slave owner. He couldn’t die now; not like this. Tears began stinging his eyes. Why had he lived, and his son about to die? Namir had gone back out into the surf, letting the ocean drench his coat and cool him off. He watched the humans going about some strange business with mild interest. Still, the scent of blood made him hungry. “Jebar, say goodbye. We can’t leave him like this. It’s cruel to let him die this slowly.” “No…” He hugged him tighter. It took both Lucas and Captain McGreggor to pull Jebar away from his son. Lucas held him back while the Captain covered the boys face with the handkerchief from his neck, and plunged the old cooking knife into the boys’ heart. It was only moments before Kairo stopped gasping for air, and was at peace. Lucas felt part of himself shatter as the boy stopped breathing. He had dedicated most of his life to the hunt of exotic and potentially dangerous animals and, in the process, such a life had cost him more than one friend. He could only begin to imagine the pain his shipmate was going through because he had never reproduced. Fatherly love was totally alien to him, but he had lost brothers. He took his eyes away from the boy and looked back towards trees. They had to bury him, it was the least they could do since they had failed so miserably at saving his life. "Captain," he said softly, laying a hand on the older man's shoulder. "Please assist me in digging a grave. Let Jebar keep the body until it is time." McGreggor nodded, silently rising to his feet and following Lucas deeper inland. "Namir," Lucas called to his great cat. The tiger returned from his position on the shore and sat before his master. Through sign language and gestures, Lucas communicated to his cat what he was to do: comb the surroundings for aromatic flowers. They would perform the ceremony right. McGreggor had already picked a decent spot well away from the reach of waves in the nearby foliage and, setting down his pack, began to dig. Taking one last look at Jebar, and at a total loss for words, Lucas squeezed his shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said. The darker man did not respond, nor did he expect him to as he turned and went to aid his older shipmate.
It was raining in Chandara, the storm had passed on away from the island and damage evaluations were being reported and sent on to other cities. Damage to the brains of overworked volunteers who were trying to help out in Chandra was not being reported. LiquidFire couldn't remember why on earth she had decided to go visit Chandara right now, but was almost regretting it. With the storm-damage, she had offered a helping hand at one of the hospitals but some of these mammals.... She had expected to go see some funny buildings people had told her she really should go see but instead she had ran into a disaster area, lots of airborne pieces of wood and stone and after that, lost of injured citizens. Now she had been called to some inn to see to an injured human. A pterosaur who had been so kind as to fly ahead so she wouldn't get too lost. The human didn't appear to be too happy. Entering his inn-room, she got to duck a low flying bowl of water. She picked it up from the floor after it had collided with the wall and toppled over the floor. "Why good evening to you too," she said, walking in with the bowl. The human was bleeding badly from a nasty wound on his head and had many smaller cuts on his arms and hands where he had tried to fend off the attack. She thought he'd be happy to see a healer with wounds like that! “Oh!” Dylan blinked a few times, “I know you!” He then seemed to think better of the situation. “And I’m fine; I don’t need your kind to come in and try to patch me up. I can do a pretty good job myself, thank you very much.” LiquidFire smiled at the human upon recognizing him. "Well the last time I saw you, you were walking into Utahraptor territory uninvited and that was when you did NOT have an injury on your head." She walked up, "Now let me have a look at that; this won't hurt." Dylan’s eyes widened and he took a step back. “Nuh-uh! None of that. I told you, I can do this fine myself; all I need is clean towels and water.” He tripped on a chair he had failed to see and fell backwards. The small accident was all the Utahraptor needed to get ahold on him and inspect his wounds, much to the human’s great displeasure. "I'm sure you can take care of yourself, but you can't look at the top of your head now can you?" She let go of him and suggested he go sit on the bed. The human didn't seem to be dizzy and was wide-awake; apparently it was just some wound and not a concussion. Still, it'd have to stop bleeding. Dylan narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “And what are you going to do when I do? Use your little tools of torment to try to make it all better? I’d rather stand, thanks.” And with that, he leaned against the wall and ignored her presence all together. She couldn’t help but chuckle. "Tools of torment? Come on, I'm not THAT bad now, am I?" She pushed him onto a chair. "Now don't make me go find your good friend K'veer to keep you still." Like I’m intimidated by the likes of him, Dylan thought glaring daggers at LiquidFire, I can stand my ground just fine if my conscious just allowed me to. LiquidFire ignored the young human’s glare. "You know what? I'll ask for some towels and water and then you can see what you can do; but first, I want to help this head wound." She tried to clean it up with some clean cloth and boiled water the innkeeper had provided. “GAH!” Dylan screamed moving sideways and falling out of the chair. “What are you doing?! It’s tender! THAT’S HOT!” The healer caught him, surprised at this slightly ridiculous reaction; the water was near cold by now. "Just hold still for a moment." She put him back on the chair and grabbed the back of his neck to keep his head still. He could feel her claws against his skin now; he should keep skill or he might accidentally get a scratch. He couldn’t move, but that didn’t stop him from talking. She finished cleaning the head wound quickly and then got some herbs and a roll of thin bandage-cloth. "Now be a big boy for a moment..." “Ow...ow...OW! Barbarians! The lot of you! OWWWWW! You make a career out of tormetin-OW! Watch that!” He accidentally/on purpose knocked down the water. “Whoops,” he sneered. “Now you need to get more.” "I guess I should," she said. After quickly tying a bandage around his head, she left downstairs to get more water. Dylan grinned mischievously. Now to take this into his own hands. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jebar sat by the campfire. He stared at the flames dancing in the darkness. Only an aching numbness filled his heart. He didn't care that nobody had eaten dinner except Namir, who had caught his own fish. Nobody spoke. Kairo's passing weighed heavy on everyone’s minds. Coolly, lethally, the blade that had killed his son gleamed in the fires light. Jebar stared at it, the anger building in his heart. "I'll get some more wood," Lucas said, interrupting the death-like silence of the night falling around them. The sky, like their hearts, was completely clouded over and every once in a while a wind draft of the receding storm would chill their bodies as a constant reminder of the chaos of its passing. Sheets of cold rain began to fall as Lucas moved deeper into the surrounding foliage trying to scavenge what little dry or semidry wood he could find. He could feel Namir somewhere around him, hunting for the night dwellers he knew to be there that, for some reason, refused to sing on this forsaken night. A baleful blue moon parted through the cloud bands illuminated the pitch black of his surroundings, but its light was quick lived as another band of clouds soon replaced its guidance. Sighing inwardly, Lucas held his extinguishing torch in front of him and made his way deeper inland and farther from the sea. Ironic, he thought sadly, That the life giving sea can just as quickly shatter it. The howl of the wind and waves died away with the flickers of the fire in their camp that was struggling to survive with the little wood it had, and he hurried away to find more. The cold rain hitting his body went unfelt by Jebar. All he knew was the slow rage building deep within. It wasn't right. Why had the Captain killed his son? If it haddn't been for Rico and Lt. Tates, Kairo would still be alive. It was their fault, with their stupid prank. If everyone had been able to fit into the proper lifeboats, then Kairo would still be alive. It wasn't fair. But he could make it fair. He continued to stare at the knife blade. When Lucas got up to get more firewood, he barely noticed. The rage continued to grow. No, the captain hadn’t done a mercy kill; he'd murdered his son. Unable to take it anymore, he leaped for the knife and roared his hatred at Captain McGreggor before attacking him. This man would die. Lucas kneeled down to pick up a damp log he had identified in the near darkness and smiled. If this thing managed to catch fire, it would keep them semi-warm most of the night and, if the rain didn't get any worse. He had already gathered enough of a load to got back to camp with so, adding to it this final burden, he turned to head back. He sensed around for his tiger, but couldn't catch any noise that would betray its whereabouts. Suddenly, another sound caught his ear- shouting. He furrowed his brow upon realizing that it was coming from their camp, now only visible as a distant speck of light against absolute darkness. Something was wrong. Forgetting about the load of wood, he sprinted back towards the encampment A thousand horrible possibilities drifted through his mind. What he saw there stopped his heart cold. The captain was fighting for his life while Jebar, in a mad rage, attacked him with the same knife that had ended his sons suffering. In his anger, Jebar was winning, and had already managed to stab the captain several times. "Jebar! Ye've gone mad! Stop it!" The captain yelled, trying to avoid the knife, but slowed down with an injury to his thigh. "Mr. Sorla!" Lucas yelled running toward the two men and managing to push Jebar away from Capt. McGreggor. "What in the blazes has gotten in you, man?!" Jebar pushed himself up and leaped at Lucas. "He killed him!" Plunging the knife downwards, he went at Lucas too. Anyone who tried stopping him would meet the same fate. Lucas clenched his jaw. What had come over the man? It was obvious he was being driven by extreme sorrow and hatred, but he had to get a hold of himself. He jumped out of the way of the incoming blade, shoving McGreggor aside too in the process. The older man was limping and bleeding badly, he noticed with concern. "Listen to me!" Lucas exclaimed. "This will achieve nothing! You have to get a grip on yourself! We're all here together!" "Not no more. Not when he killed Kairo. He doesn't care for us! He'd kill us too!" Jebar again leaped at Lucas. "Get outta here boy before I does the same to you." "I can't let you do this!" Lucas replied. His mind raced. He had no idea what was going to do. The dark man plunged the knife into Lucas' leg, drawing blood. "Don't you stand in my way." Lucas swore. "Goodness man! What-get a hold of yourself! Are you trying to kill us all?" He tentatively tried his weight on his wounded leg only to discover it gave in under him, almost making him loose balance. "Captain," he whispered, never taking his eyes from the other man. "Try to get to my pack; I have a revolver there. We can try to talk sense into him with it." Captain McGreggor nodded and slowly tried to make his way to the pack without drawing attention to himself. When Jebar heard about the revolver, he leaped at the pack, making it there first as the captain had already been critically injured. "Oh no... You killed my son. Now you gonna die too." "Jebar!" Lucas called out. Forgetting his injured leg, he threw himself on the darker man, summoning all the strength he could muster to drive the weapon from him. Jebar laughed madly and kept hold of the gun in one hand and the knife in the other. He fell back under Lucas' weight, his finger tightening on the trigger and firing the revolver. While Lucas grabbed for the gun, Jebar thrust the knife into his side. Lucas' eyes widened and he took a step backwards clutching his side with both his palms. A sharp pain streamed from his side to every corner of his body. For a moment, he felt dizzy. To his horror, he realized that he couldn't breath. He collapsed to his knees and tried to heave in precious oxygen, but something was preventing the life air to reach his lungs. Violently, he began to cough the blood that was blocking the air passage. His vision blurred and focused at odd intervals as he tried to regain control of his body. “I warned you to get out of my way,” Jebar growled. Turning his back on Lucas, he turned to the Captain. “You. You killed my son. Kairo was a good boy. He didn’t deserve that. You promised we’d be safe on your ship! You no different than the slave owners.” The hatred boiled up again as he raised the pistol, and shot it once, ending Captain Mark McGreggors life. He looked back at Lucas and reloaded the revolver. Lucas glared at Jebar, but braced himself. "Not like this," he muttered. "Never like this!" Jebar clicked the bullet into place and aimed. “Kairo didn’t have to die like he did.” He pulled back the hammer and tightened the grip on the trigger. Attracted by the noise and scent of blood, Namir ran onto the scene. The great cat leaped on Jebar, throwing off his aim and the bullet flew harmlessly into the air. The tiger roared and pawed the gun away from the human. He let Jebar up, but chased him away, then returned to Lucas. Lucas smiled weakly at the big cat. "Good boy," he whispered, but realized he could no longer waste precious breath on idle talk. Wrapping an arm around Namir's strong neck for support, he motioned for the tiger to help him into the shallows. The least he could do was wash his wounds from infections. Namir obeyed and gently, as if sensing his master's pain, helped him to shore. After soaking for several minutes, he realized that if he didn't stop the bleeding, he was going to die from blood loss. Grabbing onto the cat's neck again, he half dragged himself back to the dying fire and ripping a spare shirt from one of the abandoned packs, produced a rustic bandage for his side and leg. The pain was starting to be maddening, but he had to force himself to live through the night. He hadn't survived countless safaris and a shipwreck to die like this; somehow, he was going to survive. He laid down by the fire to get what warmth he could and smiled thankfully as Namir sat down next to him, blocking his body from the full blast of the elements. Somehow, he was going to make it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~` Tamith took a sip of her warm mug as she listened to the two gentlemen sitting across from her. The Chandaran Speaker was discussing the dolphinbacks and their lucky arrival because of the severity of the storm that had just passed, a storm who’s last tendrils still raged above Dinotopian skies. Movement coming from the staircase caught her eye. Recognition dawned on her and she gasped. “LiquidFire!” she called at the Utharaptor now making her way down the stairs. Upon seeing the human youth, LiquidFire altered her direction in order to greet the girl. “Breath Deep,” she said. “Seek Peace!” Tamith replied happily. “What brings you to Chandara? I haven’t seen you since our unexpected meeting in your Clan’s grounds.” LiquidFire made a face and Tamith wasn’t sure if she was grinning at the memory or looking at it with regret. “Yes, it’s been a while. And I’m here right now to assist the local healers in what I can with the wounded from the storm.” “Oh!” Tamith exclaimed, “Then you’re the one upstairs with-” “You’re companion, yes. Sadly, that’s me,” LiquidFire responded. “He isn’t the easiest patient I’ve had and honestly, I’ve seen better behaved hatchlings!” Tamith grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, Dylan isn’t very fond of healers. But, before I forget,” she said turning towards the other occupants of the table, “This is Gareth, who aided us with the dolphinbacks, and this is the Chandaran Speaker,” she finished pointing at the Deinonychus. LiquidFire nodded her greetings then turned to the empty water bowl in her hands. “I better go get some more of this to finish disinfecting his wounds and if he spills it again, I swear I’ll spill the contents of a cauldron over his head!” The rest of the table laughed. “Is he really giving you that a hard time?” Gareth asked curiously. “He seemed in no shape to complain, let alone cause major damage.” “Oh, you’d be surprised what Dylan can do when he sets his mind to it!” Tamith said smiling. “I can testify to that,” LiquidFire agreed with a toothy grin. “Would you like our help?” Gareth offered. Tamith laughed. “I’m positive he’ll behave if we’re both there to witness is tantrums.” LiquidFire nodded. “Please! I’ll go fetch some more water; you two can keep him busy for a bit.” The two humans excused themselves from the Speaker and followed LiquidFire to the kitchens. Once they had all the necessary items, they went back up the stairs to the room Dylan was staying in. Tamith knocked on the door and called to her friend but, to her surprise, no one responded. After several attempts with similar results, they opened the door and stared into the room. Everything was as LiquidFire had left it except for an opened window from which the light rain now poured into the room and no Dylan. “He’s gone??” LiquidFire asked, puzzled. She put the bowl of water on the wooden nightstand in the corner of the inn-room then walked to the window. In the distance, she could vaguely see the contours of large buildings but the rain blocked the activity of people on the streets from view. Not that anyone who hadn’t very urgent business would be out in this weather of course. Nothing was to be seen down on the pavement either. Dylan wasn’t the kind of person who would jump from windows; he must have climbed down somehow. But if he did, he had done so in a very original way since the outer wall seemed too smooth for a human to find hand and foot-holds in and the classical, if not slightly cliché, ‘rope’ of bed sheets tied to the window and waving in the wind wasn’t there either. A few moments, later the innkeeper had been warned and the Inn searched, which resulted in the turning up of the inn keeper’s wife’s long lost favorite left earring, but no Dylan. This was worrisome. She wondered if she shouldn’t send her pterosaurian city-guide to warn the authorities or at least the hospital. “Any ideas as to what place in Chandara he wants to visit badly enough to climb out of windows?” she asked Tamith in her own language since she still didn’t master basic Dinotopian too well and Tamith’s knowledge of raptor-dialects had increased greatly since a close encounter in the Basin. By now, everyone in Inn was staring at the strange little group with amusement, curiosity, or concern. Tamith stared blankly out the window in the inn lobby as she considered LiquidFire’s question. Little water droplets where tapping on the window surface in an almost musical fashion and, for a moment, she just stared at them totally at a loss for words. “Oh no,” she muttered. “He wouldn’t…” “Wouldn’t what?” the Utharaptor asked, slightly puzzled as the human girl rose from her seat in an almost dreamlike state. Without giving any explanations, Tamith crossed the lobby and walked out the front door of the inn. LiquidFire gapped after the girl and in a swift movement was after her as well. When she caught up to Tamith, she was sprinting down the city alleys. “He has to be there,” she muttered. “Where else would he go?” “Go where?” LiquidFire insisted, still totally lost. The final alley opened up into the sandy coast of the bay and only then did Tamith slow down. Panting for breath, she scanned her surroundings. “Here?” LiquidFire said incredulously. “What kind of idiot comes to the bay when it’s raining outside? Not to mention he was wounded and-” she stopped short and looked in the direction Tamith was pointing, still too breathless for words. Her jaw fell open. Sitting some twenty meters from them, starring peacefully out into the bay was Dylan. For a minute, she just starred speechless and truly pondering the workings of the male human’s brain, because for the life of her she could not figure it out. Dylan seemed to notice their presence because he turned in their direction and, with a giant grin, waved them towards him. Tamith was already half of the way there and she wasted no time catching up to her. “YOU LITTLE IDIOT OF A MAMMAL!” LiquidFire exclaimed. “What were you thinking?” Her wonder and confusion increased further when she saw that Dylan was completely wet. It almost looked as if he had decided to jump in the bay for a swim. “I….umm… fancied a swim,” he said sheepishly confirming her ludicrous theory. She simply gapped at him. He had decided to go for a swim in the middle of a storm. That was beyond rash, even by human standards. She looked at Tamith incredulously but, strangely, the human girl didn’t look surprised at all. “You!” Tamith said hugging her friend. “You had us worried sick! You should have told me you’d be here! Half the inn is looking for you, you little sneak!” “I’m sorry,” Dylan said smiling at her. “I just didn’t want to risk going through her again.” At this he motioned with his head at LiquidFire, who was standing there totally at a loss for words. “Well,” she said finally reacting. “You didn’t want to spend a night in a hospital, now you’re gonna have to! Swimming in this weather! And you were wounded, irresponsible! What were you thinking! Let me look at those again.” Dylan tried to move away from the healer’s grasp, but he was in the middle of both his friends so he couldn’t squirm away. LiquidFire was muttering something about a loss of perfectly good bandages as she undid the wet and useless ones he was wearing around his head to inspect the wound further. If she had been confused before, what she discovered made her jump backwards. The deep wound he had had that had been freely bleeding but hours before was gone. In fact, there wasn’t any trace of it ever being there at all. She blinked a few times then got a grip of him again and searched for the multiple cuts he had on his arms and chest. They were gone too. “What the…” Liquidfire muttered. “How did…” “Well,” Dylan stuttered. “Good job to you, doctor; I’m all better now!” “Nuh-uh!” LiquidFire exclaimed suddenly. “Not like that you aren’t!” Tamith just sported a big grin on her face. The severity of the situation didn’t seem to stun her at all. She sat back, allowing her friend some room to stand up. “So you guys finally found him.” The three of them turned around to see Gareth walking towards them. He must have seen the two girls walk out of the inn and followed. “Yes!” the healer Utharaptor exclaimed. “He... He… I don’t know! But something’s not right here!” Dylan ignored the debate that was surely going to start roaring at his back soon and walked back towards the semi-stormy waters. “Where are you going?” Tamith asked him walking to catch up. “I’m gonna wash the sand off,” he told her. “Obviously, I’ll be expected back at the inn now with evil healer pouring in with concerns for my health.” Tamith caught the slight hint of sarcasm and laughed. Dylan grinned back and walked into the foamy waters. “How can you do that?” Tamith asked. “It must be freezing in there!” “Naw, it’s quite warm actually,” Dylan replied after ducking under the waves once. “The wind is what makes you feel cold.” He was waist deep in water before turning to exit. He was almost out when he felt himself grow cold. Dylan narrowed his eyes and winced at the pain that suddenly ripped his insides. Before he knew it, he was on his knees gasping at the sudden pain and his vision blurred. He shut his eyes and when he opened them, he saw that he was surrounded in blood. He looked back towards shore, but Tamith was nowhere to be found. All he could see where blurry images of people in motion. All he knew was that someone somewhere was dying. “DYLAN!” Tamith’s voice broke through the dreamlike state he had been in. He opened his eyes and saw her worried face above his. “He’s coming about,” another voice said. “Irresponsible! Straight to sick bay for you!” the third one exclaimed. “I’m alright…” he muttered sitting up. He looked around him and was surprised not to find the blood he had seen seconds before. He thought about what he had seen before turning to the people around him. “We’ve gotta go now,” he stated seriously. “You bet we do!” LiquidFire snapped. “No you don’t understand,” Dylan said turning towards Tamith, who had suddenly gone very pale, “They’re dying, all of them.” “Who’s dying?” Gareth asked. “The dolphinbacks,” he replied quietly. “They’re all going to die.”
I knew there was more to this story than that, I just knew it! *sighs* I found more posts that I have to edit and get up here. Gimme two days and I'll get them up. Also, I'm getting everything up in the Registry and Realm shortly too. Patience...
Annnnnnnnnnd this is the last 6 pages! That's all the story that's been written so far! I have the pages created and ready to upload, but I need to work on links and such first. Gimme time...
Back at LiquidFire’s clan, seers never spoke in such a to-the-point manner, often saying things in cryptic ways and then leaving the clan members to figure it all out. Although often appearing mentally disturbed, the seers were always right when figured out correctly. Whether this had to do with the quality of their predictions or more with the random ways in which their words could be interpreted, she was never sure. Apparently, the human was a seer now, and one who could heal himself. Even though she had never heard of anything like that, there was no denying his smooth, undamaged skin. “You’re going to put me out of a job there; but, if you insist someone is in danger, we’ll get back to the city and pull a rescue mission together. Please?” She hoped the stubborn human would be wise for once and actually get along. "Besides, the city can send out faster rescue parties then humans. You are, forgive me the term, a bit slow." They pulled Dylan to his feet but the soaked boy principally didn't seem to be about to agree with something evil like a healer. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The company from Waterfall City had excited the Rainy Basin two days before. Thankfully, and to Ressa’s great pleasure, they had not run into any Basin carnivores. Their baskets of smoked eels and fish and Standtall’s Basin armor, however, had been left in a checkpoint just beyond the rain forest’s boundaries. This meant that now they were making much better time than they had before. The group had passed by Sauropolis the previous day; now the Capital lied to their northeast. To the west, they could barely see the outline of the Forbidden Mountains. The party had now stopped for nightfall. Kael, Hikari, and Azonthus were busy setting up tents for them to sleep in while Allen and Ressa had taken it upon themselves to start a fire and get dinner on its way. Standtall was taking a break from all the heavy walking and munching on the top leaves of one of the last tall trees they’d be seeing for a while. Some fifteen minutes later, each member had the food of his or her choice and was sitting around the fire, watching the still cloudy sky above them.
“How much longer, do you think?” Hikari asked Kael when he sat down for dinner.
“A few more days,” he replied while sipping some of the soup Allen had cooked up. “We’ve made great time thus far. With any luck, we should be there within the next three days.”
“We’re lucky to have Standtall with,” Allen spoke up. “I could have already been there, but it would have taken you non-fliers forever to arrive!”
Kael smiled. “Not all of us have the advantage of being skybax riders. Where did Highwind go, anyway? I haven’t seen him since we started camp.”
“He and Featherlight went for a hunt,” the blonde rider replied. “They’ll be back.” He excused himself and went to wash in the nearby stream they had found after he had finished dinner. Hikari and Ressa where deep in conversation, swapping stories by the looks of it.
“You know,” Azonthus spoke to Kael for the first time since dinner had started. “You’re nothing like what I expected at first.”
Kael looked surprised. “I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
Azonthus laughed in a raptorian way. “Well, you’re an O’Connor,” she said. “By rights and what I know from your family, trouble follows your every step. And you can be a bit reckless.”
The human laughed. “Oh, I see. My brother’s reputation precedes me!”
“Not in a bad way!” Azonthus quickly put in. “It’s just that I never thought I’d meet a non-hyper O’Connor!”
“I know what you mean, I think,” Kael told her. “Dylan and I are just as alike as we are different. It made growing up... interesting.”
“I bet!” Azonthus said. She watched him a moment longer.
It seemed as if his attention had suddenly drifted from the conversation he was having and focused in a point somewhere in the southern horizon. A cold draft blew across their camp making Hikari run for one of the blankets in her tent before returning to her chat with Ressa. She turned her attention to Kael again and frowned. His complexion had changed. It almost looked as if he was in pain, though his attention was still fixed on the horizon.
“Are you feeling alight?” she asked, getting up and walking towards him. For a moment he didn’t respond, but then, almost as if it caused him a lot of effort, his attention returned to her.
“I’m sorry....” he stammered feeling his forehead and snapping his eyes shut. “It’s just... I suddenly got this really bad feeling about my brother.”
“Dylan?” Az asked.
“Yeah...”Kael answered, though he still looked like he was caught between his thoughts and their conversation. “Featherlight told us he had been injured, but it couldn’t have been that serious, I didn’t feel... Point is, something’s wrong with him now.”
“I’m sure he’s well taken care of,” Azonthus told him. “You said Tamith was with him; I’m sure he’s alright.”
“It’s not that,” Kael said looking sideways at the fire. “It’s just...” He seemed to think better of what he had been about to say and stood up. “I’m sending Featherlight ahead as soon as he returns. I hope he’s up for it. We’ll rest a few hours before starting off ourselves; we better move fast.”
Az knew that whatever Kael had seen was serious. Despite what others may have to say about it, she believed him.
"As soon as he's back, we need Allen and Featherlight to go find out what's going on. Until then, I'm going to sleep." The raptor curled up next to the fire and was quickly sound asleep.
It wasn't long before the skybax returned. Kael immediatly sent them on to the coast, demanding they find out what had happened.
Gareth sat moodily on his bed, quietly fingering his sword, Shaura, pinging his nails against the razor blade of the katana. It had taken them most of the night to half wrestle and half coerce Dylan back to the inn and the boy was still making so much noise that not even Gareth could get to sleep. He folded his cloak on the bedside and stepped out onto the balcony, looking up into the pale light of the moon. Gareth always felt more peaceful at night. The quiet sounds of waves crashing in the distance and the silvery feel of the night air calmed his normally bouncing thoughts to a slow, meditative consistency. He turned everything Dylan had said over in his mind, analyzing even the tone of the boy’s voice. He wondered what he should do, every muscle in his body was aching to just sprint out of the Inn and head for the flats at a good pace. He couldn’t figure it out. How had Dylan’s cuts healed? How had he figured out something that might be happening over a hundred miles away? Gareth sighed; it was to much for him to ponder on. There was no rational explanation he could come to, short of breaking every scientific law he had ever heard of. He was about to turn around when he felt a hand lightly touch his shoulder. Before he could stop himself, he ducked downwards, spun and placed a tightened finger spread on the person’s larynx. Tamith almost fell over backwards as she stepped back, glaring angrily.
“What was that for?”
“Sorry, force of habit. Try not to sneak up on me like that. I didn’t even hear you coming. Must be losing my touch.”
“You’re going to lose something else more important if you don’t watch it there. You almost gave me a heart attack!”
“I’ll try not to next time. I can’t promise anything though; old habits die hard and you had to be quick in the colonies.”
Tamith raised an eyebrow inquiringly “Colonies?”
“Oh! No, don’t worry about it. Long time ago. Anyway, why did you come sneaking into my room in the middle of the night?”
Tamith fingered her throat. “Not long enough, evidently. I wanted you to come up to Dylan’s room and talk to him. Goodness knows what’s gone wrong with him, but I’m worried about him. He almost threw himself out the window at one point and it’s taking all Liquidfire can do to keep him from running straight back to the Flats. I don’t know what it is, but something’s gone seriously wrong. I’ve never seen him like this before. I thought you might be able to help.”
Gareth sighed. “Okay, I’ll have a talk to him. I’m not going to get much sleep anyway with this racket going on.”
With that, he walked to the door and opened it, turning to Tamith as he left. “And, I’d appreciate it if you could figure out some sort of search party if you really think it’s that bad. We can’t rely on the skycore; they have more important things to do and the Chandarans are still clearing up after the storm. I think it’s going to be just us and maybe a few of the others if possible. Oh, and I might be able to find a little help around here somewhere if we need it.”
In the centre of the city, Paki’tar stood on the steps of the senate house of Chandara, gazing into the floodlit depths of the great fountain that was the heart of the city. Neptune stared haughtily down from his lofty position, gouts of brilliant water shooting from his upraised trident. The deinonychus was troubled. In his entire speakership, he had never received a group of Dolphinbacks before and now he received a message that Dylan had been discovered swimming in the ocean in the middle of the night, yelling that they were all going to die. He wondered briefly why this sort of thing always happened to him. First storms, then prophets. What next?
He sighed and walked back into the senate. The huge building was brilliantly lit, as always, by the small sunstone that sat in its Atlas cradle in the roof of the foyer. A few humans and dinosaurs were still visible in the balconies, either engaged in a book or meditating, though some were praying in the small booths near the roof. The senate house was not only the political heart of Chandara, but also the social, educational and religious one.
He felt completely exhausted after spending the day and most of the night alternately organizing aid for the town, aiding in the repairs himself or welcoming the new arrivals to his city. Paki wandered back into his office and sat down on his couch, pulling a roll of parchment from under his desk as he did so. Producing a quill from the leather harness he usually wore, he began to write a quick letter to the authorities in Sauropolis, asking them for a few supplies needed for the repair of the sauropod barn and alerting them to the coming of another group of Dolphinbacks. That done, he got up, rubbed his eyes and promptly collapsed to the ground, wheezing gently in his sleep
Dylan watched the semi-cloudy sky from his rooms window. It looked like the storm was finally clearing away from the Dinotopian skies. Ironically enough, the people around him had finally gotten the message and cleared off from him too. It was strange for him to feel so antisocial. He couldn’t think of a single occasion in the past where he had longed to be alone with his thoughts rather than share his troubles with a friend. Perhaps it was the fact that nothing quite like this had actually happened to him before that had set the curious shift in his mood. Tamith had come to talk to him, but he had asked her to leave him alone. She had looked confused but agreed to his wish. So much was going through his mind at the moment that what he truly needed was time to think. It shouldn’t have come to as a surprise to him what had happened, such occurrences were common in his family, but it had. It had always been a toy to him more than anything else; nothing serious had come from it. Yes, it had come in extremely handy on several occasions and he had managed to save the life of someone dear to him because of it, but it had always come to him in a pacific way, not like it had happened earlier that night.
His head felt like it might split in two. He still didn’t know what to make of the visions he had seen, but he was sure they were true. Logically he was worried for the new arrivals, but what could he do? Yes, a group of them was here, yet the others weren’t. Had what he seen been regarding those here, or there? Or both? For some odd reason he felt the later was true. If he had just taken the time to train his mind to understand this better he might have...
Soft knocking on the door interrupted his thoughts and he felt something burn inside of him. He just wanted peace to think, was that too much to ask for? Grimacing, he made up his mind on what to do. If he couldn’t find peace here, then he’d go somewhere he could. He opened the door and walked past Gareth, who looked at him startled when he just walked past him and down the stairs. He felt a swift pang of guilt, after all, these people were just worried for him. However this wasn’t something he’d just talk about and there were many things he had to sort out with himself. He made his way around the shadows of the inn, making sure he wasn’t seen until he reached the back door and exited. He made his way into the barn sat down next to his partner. Karua noticed his presence and also his strange mood and nudge him comfortingly. Dylan rested his head on his partner’s side and smiled thinly. Karua offered his support, understanding his need to be alone. He closed his eyes thankfully and lost himself in the labyrinth of his mind. When he had put himself together, then he’d go and apologize for his strange behavior. For now, however, he’d focus on himself before he aided others.
Dawn finally came, making a lazy entrance after the stormy night. The embers of the fire Lucas had tried so long to keep burning for most of the night had long since died, abandoning him to his fortune half way before sunrise. He hadn’t been able to sleep all night. The pain and the knowledge that if he closed his eyes, he might not open them again had been burning in the back of his mind for hours. With the first rays of sun, he was able to better survey his predicament. The first thing he discovered was that he could barely move his torso. After having spent most of the night in the same position, cramped wasn’t quite to word he’d use at the moment. His side was also covered in several bruises that were visible despite the fact that he still had not stopped bleeding. His breathing was becoming raspier by the second and every so often he’d go into coughing fits that would empty his lungs of the blood that had accumulated. Namir nudge Lucas’ head. He smiled weakly at the great cat and raised a hand to scratch the back of his head. His eyes narrowed on his arm. White.... He was pale as Death itself. Namir noticed his sudden change in mood and nudged him again, slightly more forcibly, as if urging him to survive.
“I’m working on it...” Lucas whispered, but even then he knew his chances of surviving another night as the one that had just passed where slim to none.
Already he could begin to feel a fever creep into his system, ready to shatter whatever defenses his body might have left. He closed his eyes a moment, enjoying the warm rays the rising sun was sending his way. Cold as he was, he knew this blessing would soon become a burden as his inability to move would not allow him to seek shelter in the nearby trees when the heat of the day reached its peak. He smiled at the cruel irony of his situation. He had survived a shipwreck only to be attacked by a shipmate; he had lived through the night just to have to face the day that might prove to be even more merciless than the cold dark. His pain began to slowly melt into numbness as the full weight of the ordeal began to fall on his shoulders and he grew suddenly tired. Perhaps he should rest now, before the beating sun inhibited such luxury.
Allen darted ahead upon Highwind’s wings, surveying with sharp eyes the topography below. Kael had sent him to look for the group of people they had been sent to meet and make sure all was well with his younger brother. The urgency in his tone had been evident, even though the translator had been trying to hide it. Still, he had known Kael long enough to know better than to not take his hunches seriously. If he said there was trouble with Dylan, then there was trouble with Dylan and he’d make sure the younger brother was alrigh,t even if it meant leaving the camp in the middle of the night. Allen knew Kael hadn’t gotten much sleep either. His friend had probably spent the few hours the others had spent sleeping pacing about the camp. “Some things never change,” he said his partner. Highwing turned his head understandingly, then announced their arrival to shore.
Up ahead, Allen could spy a blue horizon that was the ocean. Now, in full daylight, finding a small camp and a group of people would be a lot easier than it had been at night. He nudged his partner to follow the shoreline. Featherlight had also volunteered to aid the search, but he was just a dark speck to their right as the little flier alos surveyed the surface.
It took another hour, but he finally spotted what looked like the remnants of a camp. Highwind circled lower for his rider to get a better view. Allen furrowed his brow in confusion. Something was wrong with the camp. There seemed to be no activity whatsoever, despite the fact that it was almost noon. Not only that, but he could spot only two people... Where had the rest gone? From what he understood, this camp, if in fact these were the people he was looking for, should be bursting with activity. Where were the habitat partners and the rest of the people that there should have been here? He quickly decided to fly lower to make sure he had found the right camp.
His confusion turned to horror as Highwind lost altitude. Both humans below him were simply lying on the ground as if lifeless, despite the fact that the arrival of a skybax rider always caused spurs of activity.
“Land,” Allen told his mount and, the moment they touched down, jumped from the saddle and dashed to the camp. He had almost reached the human nearest to him when an orange shadow intercepted his path. He jumped back, startled at the appearance of the saber-like cat.
“Nice kitty,” he murmured, taking a cautious step backwards. The tiger fixed his yellow eyes on him like hunter on prey as every hair on his back rose, making him seem twice his size. Allen risked a look behind the cat and saw that he could spy light breathing coming from one of the two men there. He seemed very badly wounded and in need of immediate aid. A low growl made him focus his attention once more on more immediate danger. The tiger seemed to have absolutely no intention of letting him approach, and Allen has beginning to suspect it might no let him leave either.
“Please... I’m only trying to help!” he said in frustration. The big cat paused in his approach for a second before lowering his head once again and preparing to pounce. Allen didn’t need more motivation than looking at the bared fangs and claws of the powerful animal to realize he would get no where with this. Slowly, and never taking his eyes off the tiger, he began to move backwards. Almost as if he had crossed the imaginary line of the cats territory, the tiger stopped following him after a few meters, making it obvious he wasn’t going to hunt him, just prevent him from passing to where the two humans were.
The blonde skybax rider paced back towards his partner and checked his saddle pack. He glanced back towards the wounded humans and realized he didn’t have to medicine or materials to aid them much either. Cursing himself for his lack of vision, he pondered on what to do. The tiger wasn’t letting him get close, and he wouldn’t help the travelers by getting himself killed in the process. It didn’t take long for him to reach a decision. He’d fly back towards the others from Waterfall City and get Kael to come. Highwind might just let the other human ride him. Heck, if anyone else could ride his mount, it was Kael. His friend had always been the better healer of them and, by the looks of it, those humans were going to need all the help they could get. Kael might even figure out a way to get past the big cat! He climbed back on his mount and motioned the directions. With any luck, this trip would take him a few hours. It’d take Kael a few hours to get back, so if the wind was with him, he’d arrive at nightfall or shortly after. Allen nodded. So be it. Now all that was left to do was pray that these people could hang on long enough for him to return.
Post by thereisnosaurus on Dec 31, 2005 6:19:46 GMT -5
Gareth followed the young O'connor out into the barn. He fully intended to follow Tamith's request to the letter and interogate the boy, but something in the way Dylan was moving made him hesitate and step quietly into the shadow as the barn door swung closed. Dylan sat down against a bale of hay next to his partner and Gareth slunk deeper into the opaque curtains of darkness that shadowed the walls, sitting down himself. If Dylan wasn't going anywhere he would wait untill the boy was ready to talk before he tried anything, and he had his own thoughts to gather before he did.
He leant back against the walls of the barn, breathing softly and massaging his eyes with his fingers in the way his master had taught him to relieve tension. The events of the last few days swirled through his mind, chasing themselves like autumn leaves. Each scene was peaceful, the dolphinbacks had proven quite rational once confronted and he could simply not see any reason for them to be in danger, short of them encountering a rogue carnosaur or one of their own turning against them. This last thought worried Gareth. He had seen too much backstabbing in his days at sea to rule out some kind of violent mutiny or treachery among the sailors and such events were usualy to nobody's benefit save the sharks. He went back over the events and this time each thought, each visualisation was tinted with red. he tasted the salt of the storm on his tongue once again, but this time there was another taste underneath the sharp tang, dull and metalic. He knew that taste.
he wondered if he had bitten his tongue or cheek while thinking, running his tongue around his mouth and feeling for cuts. Nothing. Why the taste of blood then? He must be imagining things... Suddenly he was snapped out of his reverie by a rustle in the hay. Dylan was walking towards the entrance to the barn. Quick as a flash, Gareth was on his feet and sidled silently until he stepped out of the darkness just in front of the boy, placing an arm in the doorway.
Dylan didn't look particuarly surprised and simply tried to duck under the outstretched arm. Gareth was to fast for him and he bumped his head rather forcefully against hard muscle and bone. "Ow! what was that for"
"Nothing. You were the one who walked into my arm, right?"
"I don't have time for this"
Gareth's expression softened slightly
"Neither do I, but at the moment time is the least of our worries. I think we should have a chat"
"I don't feel like talking"
"which, ironically, is precisely why you should"
Dylan sighed "That makes no sense"
"When one does not wish to talk, it is because they have too much or too little in their head. If they do, their own thoughts will come out, and it is easier to look at things from outside your head than in it. If you have nothing on your mind, well, talk can put something there"
"your logic astounds me" Dylan muttered sarcastically "and why should I talk to you anyway?"
"well, for starters, I believe you..."
OOC: if you want to do more editing or whatever Azzy, feel free to cream this post
writer, artists, philosophiser and general nuisciance.
Know thyself To find peace without, seek peace within