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Sovereign

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Generation upon Generation
« on: June 08, 2018, 10:29:22 am »
Generation upon Generation

A slight rumble arose from the cliff as a powerful tail collided with a massive boulder swinging at its edge. Again and again, the spiketail hit the rock and after a short but tiring battle, the latter finally dropped into the nearly vertical abyss. The dinosaur panted for a few seconds, her expression apparently unmoved by her momentary success. As she looked down the cliff, however, she allowed herself the slightest of relieved thoughts. She had managed to complete her part of this most important of tasks: now the rest of it was up to Longsnout. He was a strong-willed but trustworthy domehead, in many ways as trusted her beloved mate. His voice could soon be heard from the mist-covered ground.
“Well done, Stelia! We can finish it from here!” The low voice of a young domehead called to the aging female. She wasted no time answering to him and she immediately started to head towards his location.

“As you two should! Rolling stones around for a minute or two is a joke compared to trying to push them all the way to this cliff!” She cried half-jokingly but her voice still held some displeasure at her being forced to do the hardest part of this the task of resealing the entrance into the Mysterious Beyond from the Hidden Canyon, the wall of stone slowly starting to crumble under the almighty tooth of time. And that wall wasn’t the only thing that had suffered lately even if few of those living in the Valley today even knew it. Stelia shook her head slightly as she reached the ground after a long and treacherous descent from the rocky hill.

The height of the Warm Time was approaching but still a sudden, cold breath of wind fought its way under the female’s hide, the humid mist around her only making her feel more miserable. Not since her early childhood had she seen a warm season had been worthy of its name, the Warm Times usually being little more than eternal covers of sky puffies and the rays of the Bright Circle did very little to help the gloom in any meaningful way. Stelia had heard that once, the Valley had been a lush, green paradise but all she could see around herself were slowly thinning rows trees carrying of pointy, hard leaves which far too often stung nastily when anyone tried to eat them. Yet, none of that was new to the old dinosaur and she only shrugged bitterly as she moved through the cold, misty landscape which had once been the mythical dream of every leaf eater. However, the slowly appearing form of her mate called Greyhide shook some part of her gloom.

“That should keep the sharpteeth at bay for some time! It’s in a much better condition now than in ages!” The male spiketail shouted as he tried to catch his breath. The imposing form of the stone wall was an impressive one indeed and it blocked this remote entrance into the Valley completely. No sharptooth could ever climb over those rocks in many cycles of the Bright Circle. Stelia spoke to her mate in approval as she moved to his side.

“Perhaps that’ll do for some time. I guess we should go tell the others that we made it.” She said with some approval but she barely managed to finish her words when Longsnout looked at her with some bitterness, the earlier triumphant tone all but vanished from his tone.

“If they even remember the Hidden Canyon in the middle of all their fighting! If it were up to them, any sharptooth could have just walked in from here in a few days once the wall would have collapsed!” The domehead snorted as he looked in the direction of the central parts of the Great Valley, the scene of the countless battles over food and territory which marked the Valley the three dinosaurs knew. Stelia looked at him for a few moments before she answered.

“Indeed. They could all just disappear from here for all I care but at least they don’t have to fight over a task we’ve already done! We have enough problems as it is already!” The light-blue colored female raised her voice slightly, the mere mental image of the threehorn, swimmer and flyer herds angering her immediately. The herd meetings had always been difficult but lately, they had become more and more complex and also increasingly violent. Her mate looked at her, his head drooping slightly in regret. However, his next remark was one that did little to ease the burden on the female’s mind.

“And things aren’t getting any better. I… I’ve heard that Neres has been getting far worse in the past days. I don’t think he’ll be staying with us for much longer.” He said while looking at the moist ground and the countless mosses growing on the many rocks lying in the ground. Stelia immediately turned her gaze at her mate and spoke to him in a demanding voice.

“Are you sure? What has happened?” The spiketail asked with clear shock. Even if Stelia cared little for most of the other Valley-dwellers, Neres was an old friend and one of the kindest and most practical of them, one of the only ones to earn her respect. And to think that he could soon be heading into the Great Beyond… Her eyes dipped with concern as her mate answered.

“Who knows? Neres is older than most so maybe his age is only catching up to him. It’s a real shame: his loss will be a great one to all of us.” Greyhide said with a sigh, turning to face the thick fog and light sky water that penetrated the heavy air once in a while. The two spiketails looked at each other for a short moment, both of them understanding each other perfectly. They simply couldn’t let the wisest dinosaur left in the Valley to head for his final journey alone. Stelia glanced at the domehead and spoke to him in an increasingly morbid voice.

“Go tell the Circle of our deeds while we take a look on Neres.” She said matter of factly, prompting a look of slight chagrin from the domehead. Even then, he barely knew the longneck and besides, he was on better terms with some of the Valley’s herds than the solitary spiketails. After a few seconds, he nodded and answered silently.

“Very well. We’ll see after you’ve given the longneck a proper goodbye.” He said silently. Stelia gave him a brief, satisfied nod before turning around to head towards the cave leading into the inner parts of the Great Valley. Even if both of the aging spiketails realized the implications of losing their respected friend, none of them could understand that one era in the Valley’s history would soon be upon us.


A weak, low groan escaped from the longneck’s lips as he slowly began to wake up from the fatigued slumber he found himself in more and more often with every passing day. With a weak movement, he raised his neck to look around himself but anywhere his eyes wandered, only more glum and lost grace greeted his eyes. Fearful and desperate dinosaurs fought fighting for the bitter green food and the continuing breeze in the time which used to be his home’s time for joy and happiness. Neres sighed while trying to keep his face from twisting into a grin of pain as a sudden bolt of pain suddenly hit his chest. After the sudden bolt of pain wore off, his mind drifted back into the merrier times, lamenting this horrible time which he had been forced to witness during his long, lonely life.

True, it was said that his ancestor and his friends had been faced with the darkest possible day to be born in, forced into a life of hardship in the first Cold Times of their lives. Yet, they and their families had a dream to chase, a dream that kept them going on. The dream that he was living now, a thought that created a bitter form of irony that truly made him wonder whether Littlefoot would have traded his lot in life with that of his last descendant? After all, what did he himself have? He was already born as the Valley’s last longneck and his love for his ancestral home had prevented him from ever having a mate, dooming him to witness the Valley’s descent into this cold nightmare alone during his long life. Even if the complete lack of strength infiltrated its way into every part of the ancient dinosaur’s body, a single tear fell into the grass as a testament to his many seasons which would soon come to an end. Neres was nearly falling asleep when he suddenly heard a voice from his left side.

“How do you feel, Neres? I heard ill news about you.” A feminine voice greeted his ears and with forced movements, the longneck turned to look at the two newcomers. His fading mind took a brief moment to recognize the spiketails even if he was more than happy about the temporary company he had received. Yet, there was no reason to hide the obvious from the two.

“You… you’re quite right about that. My time to head into the Great Beyond is fast approaching.” He said with a weak sigh, attempting to gain control of himself for this conversation. Greyhide stepped forward and his face took a more casual and normal look than his mate but his worry was very apparent in his voice too.

“All the entrances into the Valley have been finally resealed again. At least you don’t have to worry about the sharpteeth sneaking up on you anymore.” He said, attempting to prompt at least some slight relief in the dying longneck. Even if a brief look of appreciation did appear on the larger dinosaur’s face, no real joy or happiness could be seen in it. He waited for a moment before giving his answer.

“The sharpteeth have been the least of our problems in the past Cold Times, Greyhide. We all know that.” He answered oddly even if it was clear that everybody did indeed understand his words. Stelia frowned at Neres’ reaction, realizing that she should have expected such a comment from him. He had so often spoken against violence between the herds that many of the other families would most likely rejoice in the old giant’s passing. That thought only sickened the bluish female even if those thoughts were nothing new to her.

“However, the sharpteeth are one issue we can actually do something about. The swimmers were hesitant to even agree to that, claiming that some of us could plan to sabotage the wall in order to attack the other herds later once the sharptooth had ravaged them first!” She fumed, earning one, brief smile of melancholy from Neres. Such claims had become painstakingly common for the Valley lately. Even the longneck couldn’t even begin to understand why but there was one thing he had wanted to float for many Cold Times but he was far too old for it now. But there would be nothing to lose by telling it to the spiketails now, his last words of advice in this world.

“That sounds just like them. Why has our Valley come to this? It used to be a symbol of our ability to live together, the dream of those living in the reaches of the Mysterious Beyond! As I look at it now… I think I would have liked to spend my last times anywhere else.” The longneck said silently to the spiketails’ slight surprise. Neres had wanted to leave the Valley behind? Tales of anyone leaving the former oasis of tranquility were extremely rare and there were barely any in the past few generations. Stelia looked at Neres with a confused expression, willing to check if she had understood his point correctly.

“Somewhere else? Even now, The Valley offers us the most protection from the sharpteeth and no one knows if there is any place nearby where we could find green food! You know it as well as I do!” She said, turning to look towards the main entrance into the Valley. As the entire region had turned into a more hostile one, fewer and fewer dinosaurs had even tried to wander outside the protective walls. Of course, there were old stories about what lied outside the Valley but not even Neres had been alive when they had been made. The ancient longneck, with great effort, turned to look at the grey sky, trying to find the best way to answer to that important question.

“Well, we know there used to be many Valleys just like ours out there. I cannot believe they’d all be gone by now. There has to be some of them left even now and besides, there soon won’t be anything to stay for here. If the coming Warm Times get any colder, then… then the decreasing green food here will lead to a complete fight between the herds. The Valley will survive for a long time after any of us but living in it will get worse by the day. I’m sure of it.” He said, trying to sound as much of his old self even if he couldn’t shake the weakness out of it, no matter what he did. Those words took a great toll on him and his head fell quickly back into the ground. Greyhide glanced at his mate briefly before he answered to the longneck.

“And how is that different from what we’ve been through now? Things have been getting worse for ages and yet, we’ve made it through it all! We will defend our small territory near the Sinking Sand as long as we’ll be able to!” He said defiantly, knowing how eager some of the herds were to spread their territories at the expense of others. Stelia nodded to his statement but what came next surprised them both and not in a pleasant manner.

“Without a doubt you will. But even if it is too late for you, too… wouldn’t it have been better if Wideeye had been allowed to live somewhere where she wouldn’t have been forced to fear every second of her short life? Wouldn’t…”

“Don’t bring her up, Neres! You know we would have done anything for her if we were able to! Don’t you dare blame us for something you never had to go through yourself!” Stelia cried and moved closer to the longneck. Her only child’s loss was something no arrogant longneck would use to attack her at any point! Even now, the small spiketail haunted her dreams, taken away by her natural weakness and lack of food. It had been during one very dry spring and none of the other herds were willing to share any of their green food with her. The mere memory of those horrible days made the female furious which she managed to only barely hold back from bursting over. Neres’ expression, however, remained unchanged as his fatigue prevented him from reacting in any meaningful manner. However, his answer wavered somewhat as he answered.

“I’m sorry, Stelia. However, it is true that things would have been better anywhere outside this Valley for her. It’s too late but I would have liked to see one better place before it’s my time.” He only said, hoping to get his message across despite his miscalculated suggestion. The spiketails waited for a moment before answering, Stelia waving her head as she spoke.

“I would have done it for her sake but not for myself. You’ve always been a good friend, Neres, but leaving the Valley would probably be too dangerous even for us. At least for the time being, there’s no reason to embark on such a journey.” She simply said, earning a somewhat disappointed glance from the larger dinosaur. However, he knew better than to try to begin arguing and he simply decided to acknowledge what he’d just heard.

“I feared as much. In any case, thank you for visiting me. It means a lot for an old longneck like me.” He said, giving a brief but genuine smile to the duo. Greyhide returned that smile and answered to him quickly.

“Of course, Neres. The Valley will never be the same without you. You are still one of the best here.” He said glumly, knowing this could easily be the last time he’d speak with the old longneck. He listened to his mate speak with an equally respecting tone.

“Thank you for your guidance, Neres. You will be missed.” She said, looking at the dying longneck. However, she received no words of goodbye but rather words that caught her off guard.

“It’s rather funny, isn’t it, Stelia? Once I’m gone, you’ll be the last living descendant of the five who made our Valley what it used to be.” He said mysteriously, prompting a look of utter confusion from the female’s face. Only after a moment did she realize what he meant and even then, she didn’t understand why he had brought that up.

“What about that, Neres? Why would a bunch of children who lived hundreds of the Bright Circle’s cycles ago matter in this moment?” She asked with a frown, always somewhat skeptical why her father had deemed them that important. The story of their journey into the Valley as well as their lifelong contributions to the building of the united herd had been passed on in their families for countless generations but Stelia had never cared about her distant grandfather. Spike, despite his kindness and understanding, wasn’t a spiketail she had ever sought to be and even then, it was all just a tale from a lost, distant past. Neres took a slightly more encouraging look as he gave his answer.

“When you live as long as I do, you learn to realize the importance of events that helped shape the land we live in now. Cera, Petrie and Ducky’s families have disappeared ages ago and despite them only being a few dinosaurs, they in many ways paved way for the Valley to be what it once was. Even if we cannot relive our ancestors’ deeds, I’ve learned to take pride in Littlefoot’s life as the leader of our herds as well as his courage in the face of danger. I… I simply think their story is one worth preserving.” He said, looking with a nostalgic expression at the slightly clearing sky. His family had been vital in the birth of the Valley’s golden age and he was more than disgusted to see its and the whole family’s downfall. However, Stelia was far from confident about his words.

“Each family has their own stories about what happened before us but all that matters is what we are going to do now and in the coming days. Those five might have done well with their lot in life but we have much more urgent issues to think than about what may have happened before our grandparents’ grandparents had been born. I’m sorry, Neres, but I prefer to live in the current moment.” Stelia’s voice softened as he looked at Neres. The longneck’s face fell slightly but he wasn’t surprised by the female’s words. Despite her relative friendliness, Stelia had always been as headstrong as most in the Valley were these days. He couldn’t help but regret her hesitancy to listen but in the end, it mattered little these days. His ancestor’s legacy lied already in ruins and perhaps it would be better for him to only linger in the minds of those who still could appreciate his life as it was. Neres suddenly felt like a heavy burden was beginning to fall upon him and he slowly fell to the ground again. With forced movements, he spoke to the spiketails in a withering voice.

“Maybe it is for the best. I had hoped that most of the Valley’s knowledge would live on but I see it’s time for us all to start from the beginning once again.” He said, slowly passing out as he spoke. At first a wave of fear washed over the spiketails but the ancient longneck still breathed, albeit weakly. The two looked at him for a few moments, knowing each gasp could well be his last. However, Littlefoot’s last descendant lingered and soon enough, Greyhide whispered to his mate.

“Let’s go. We have to make sure that nothing worse has happened while we were gone.” He said, dreading to think all that could have went wrong with Longsnout as her told his news to the other herds. The two were just beginning to begin making their way back when they heard a loud, screaming voice from the direction of the Roaring Falls.

“So you simply couldn’t stay away from my territory, could you, filthy domehead? Your kind never seems to get enough of stealing from others…” The voice fell towards the end but despite that, the threat that was dipping from it was more than clear to the spiketails. Stelia glanced at her mate briefly before heading towards the voice’s direction. If the speaker was talking about Longsnout, he needed help and even in the case he wasn’t, another point of conflict seemed to be brewing in the once-tranquil lands. Without a word, the two headed towards the speaker and hoped that today wouldn’t become another bloodbath like so many times before.


The look on the swimmer’s face would have scared many other dinosaurs but Longsnout was too proud to pay heed to any of his words. It was clear that the slightly taller male was looking for a conflict but domeheads weren’t known for allowing himself to be blackmailed freely. Like anyone in his family, Longsnout was preparing to stand his ground, especially when this worthless moron had interrupted him from relaying the relieving news to the rest of the herds.

“I never moved close to your pitiful lake, Swiftstream! If someone took your green food, it must have been one of your countless children!” Longsnout answered in an equally angered voice. He knew he was at a disadvantage due to the fact that the swimmer had his mate and brother with him but there was simply no other way around it. These crises had only waited to happen all their lives and the equal loathing was more than tangible in the air.

“Keep your insults, Longsnout! You’d do better if you understood your place in the Valley and not act like you’re so much better than us. Or do you think I don’t recognize a liar when I see one?” The swimmer narrowed his eyes, taking a step forward. Longsnout refrained from returning that gesture but his answer was extremely unlikely to calm things down any.

“I don’t think you’d recognize a giant swimmer sneaking upon you in your lake, slow-witted weakling!” He rebuked, knowing full well what his words would cause. The swimmer’s face turned into an ever more enraged one but just as the two were about to go for each other’s throat, their looming conflict was avoided by the intrusion of another groups of dinosaurs.

“Stop it right there, you two! We simply cannot afford any new fights in these times!” A large threehorn called Eston, one of the most respected dinosaurs in the entire Valley, charged between the two combatants and before either of them could answer, another new voice could be heard behind them.

“Stand back, Longsnout! There’s nothing to be gained from this battle!” Stelia cried as she moved to face the threehorn, moving to help him in containing the brewing battle. The swimmer named Swiftstream wasted no time in voicing his anger at the duo’s actions.

“Have you gone far enough to protect thieves and liars? I saw the domehead move in my lands and what other business would they have there but to either steal what little green food we have?” He cried, looking at the threehorn and spiketail with a furious look. Longsnout wasted no time giving his rebuke.

“Because I wanted to tell the Valley that we actually closed the falling wall in the Hidden Canyon while you were too busy simply lying around in your pond, swimmer! You have no right to judge me!” He said with a low voice, prompting Stelia to join the conversation. She was by no means content with how the domehead was handling the conversation but she understood his frustration easily.

“He’s right. The Canyon is now safe and I’m sure Longsnout wouldn’t have wanted to steal anything from you. Just forget it, this time.” She said to the swimmer who returned an extremely annoyed look to her. It was clear they didn’t appreciate her interrupting their argument but the threehorn seemed no less outraged by the whole situation. A larger group of dinosaurs was slowly gathering around the combatants, all of them eager to see how this argument would go.

“It matters little where he was coming from! It’s been clear to many that the domehead has never held any respect for most of us and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to forget he doesn’t own the whole Valley!” The threehorn said as the steady, falling sound of the Roaring Falls rumbled over the hills around him as it had for so long already. However, it did little to ease Longsnout’s anger about the situation and he quickly rebuked the threehorn’s claim.

“That’s because most of you aren’t worth respecting, threehorn! Your attempt to side with this moron certainly proves that I’ve been right all along!” His quick change of mind surprised even the two-footed dinosaur himself but it was becoming clear that his frustration of the other Valley-dwellers had been building inside him for countless Cold Times. His loathing dipped in his words which hardly won him any sympathies from those listening. The swimmer saw his opportunity and he decided to seize the chance to win his case once and for all.

“You heard him! Even if he hadn’t acted against me, he has never been a trustworthy member of the Valley! He has never fought against the dwindling amounts of green food, he has never realized that we are doing what we are to simply survive! He doesn’t deserve to be heard after all that he has done to hurt us in our times here together!” He said, finally breaking one dinosaur’s patience. Longsnout suddenly hit the swimmer in his chest, sending him flying into the ground with a violent force. Suddenly, the entire scene turned into a chaos as the threehorn and the spiketails attempted to take their positions around the swimmer and domeheads, both hoping for the relative calm to remain but prepare for a showdown. But it wasn’t long until those hopes were shattered as the swimmer’s mate and brother attempted to attack the arrogant domehead who had dared attack their leader.
However, Stelia and Greyhide refused to back down and with quick swings of their tails, the swimmers flew into the rocky ground, already bleeding heavily. However, that sight didn’t seem to buy them any more sympathies as some of the gathered dinosaurs moved to the spiketails’ side while some others moved to help the swimmers. Greyhide didn’t like in the least where this was going and he cried to the swimmers and their backers loudly.

“Just stand back and let it be! This issue isn’t worth escalating further!” He said, hoping that they would begin to see reason even if he knew his wish was extremely far-fetched. And indeed, the answer he received hardly raised his hopes any.

“You say it isn’t worth it only after you directly attack us, spiketail? Do you think us for a fool?” He said while beginning to move forward, clearly willing for a real battle. Stelia and Greyhide exchanged fearful glances, knowing that retreating shouldn’t be an option for them. However, the situation was becoming extremely threatening and many of the dinosaurs seemed to be completely prepared for a real battle. Greyhide had meant what he said, though, and he wasn’t about to let anyone die for this if it simply could be avoided. With an angered voice, he turned to Longsnout and spoke to him swiftly.

“Retreat from here! Maybe the others will back down if we do!” He said, hoping for his old friend to listen to reason. But not completely to the spiketail’s surprise, it wasn’t that simple.

“Retreat from that weakling? Was that a joke, Greyhide? He asked, the will to fight already circling in his veins. However, Stelia’s next answer hardly left room for any further arguing.

“Do as we say if you want to live! Now!” She said, her eyes gleaming with resolution. Longsnout looked at her for a few seconds before finally nodding and turning around in order to leave the scene of the confrontation. However, even that attempt failed miserably as some of the other Valley-dwellers noticed the cowardice brewing under their very eyes. The domehead hadn’t even realized what was happening until a small group of flyers suddenly swarmed around him, one of them crying into his ear.

“You would start a fight just to flee afterwards? This is how we treat cowards like you!” The female flyer cried and almost immediately, a terrifying scream followed that threat. One of the flyer’s claws caused a deep, violent wound across the domehead’s face. The larger dinosaur fell into the ground, pulling his hands to his left eye, a horrible pain penetrating his entire face. As soon as he was able to, he dropped his gaze into the ground to see a steady stream of blood dipping from the spot where his eye used to be. The domehead panted deeply, his growing shock only giving way to the fact that the flyers didn’t seem to be willing let up their assault. He immediately started to rush away from their attacks, hoping that they’d let up at some point. However, that bloody confrontation wasn’t lost on the spiketails either even if they could do little for their friend. They were already far too busy trying to contain the brewing fight. The fuss seemed to be on the verge of beginning to ease but it was clear that the situation was far from safe. Many dinosaurs had already been wounded in the initial skirmishes but none of their injuries seemed serious just yet. The threehorn seemed to be quite pleased with that development but he soon realized something which caught his attention.

“Where did the domehead go? He has to be brought into justice if we’re ever going to get over this!” He said, trying to at the same time build some common ground across the gathered herds but the answer he received hardly helped in that endeavor.

“He escaped for now, threehorn. I can see he would have hardly been treated fairly in this situation.” Stelia said glumly, trying to avoid a confrontational tone for now. Swiftstream looked at her in bewilderment, not willing to believe his ears.

“Escaped? And you let that all to happen?” He nearly shouted, prompting the large female look at him with a largely emotionless gaze. The swimmer didn’t deserve even that much but that restrain was meant to preserve the fragile peace. The sight of the flyer attacking Longsnout haunted her thoughts greatly, that attack meaning that the Valley had just descended into an even lower level of barbary.

“We did in order to prevent you from making any premature decisions. As we said, he most likely meant no ill but if you truly want to take this further, you will have your meeting tomorrow!” She raised her voice near the end, prompting many looks of confusion from the gathered dinosaurs. Why would she make such an announcement without the domehead even being present? Trying to find a consensus among the herds on different conflicts was far from rare but usually it had been one of the main combatants who’d call it to happen. Yet, there didn’t appear any major arguments against that idea as all of them knew that the spiketails respected Longsnout greatly. Eston frowned at that comment and quietly, asked the large male swimmer the obvious question.

“Is that acceptable to you, Swiftstream?” That simple question turned all gazes on the dark-yellow swimmer, wondering whether this momentary crisis could be resolved here and now. The swimmer looked at the spiketails, his eyes shuddering with hate at those untrustworthy villains but in the end, there was little they could do in the coming meeting for their friend. He could see nothing that could go wrong even if he let this issue be for now. He crossed his arms and slowly answered to the threehorn with an unreadable voice.

“It is. The insufferable domehead won’t get away with this.” He said, releasing the tense atmosphere in a matter of seconds. Almost immediately, the threat of open conflict seemed to dissipate completely and after a short pause, the threehorn spoke again.

“Very well. Tomorrow, when the Bright Circle touches the Threehorn Peak for the first time, all herds who can will gather here to decide what to make of Swiftstream’s accusations against Longsnout the domehead. But for now, this matter is settled. Get away from here and if I see any more arguments today, I’ll make sure you’ll regret it soon enough! Is that clear?” The threehorn cried, clearly meaning every word he said. There were a few murmurs of disagreement but none of them decided to question the threehorn’s words. Slowly but surely, the herds started to live the sight of the menacing scene.

Among them were two certain spiketails who exchanged understanding glances. It was clear for both of them that they would have to make a major decision on this day but only after they’d make sure that Longsnout was as alright as he simply could. Both of them knew that the brutal display they had seen today had changed far more than most of those present could have foreseen.


When the Bright Circle rose the next day, it rose over a very different Great Valley. The new dawn wasn’t covered by the same impenetrable mist as the previous one and the mountains surrounding the former sanctuary of the leaf eaters bathed in its blessed warmth, a remainder of the Valley’s ancient beauty and tranquility. Yet, the fair weather wasn’t the only thing that had changed overnight, at least for a certain longneck who had, with herculean efforts, survived through the long and cold night.

The two spiketails’ second visit to him last evening had both surprised and heartened the fading dinosaur as they had proved that not all hope had been drained from the Valley, at least not yet. All his long life, Neres had been a dinosaur that had always tried to see a way forward for those around him, hoping that they could one day see things the way he did. Most often, those efforts had ended in a failure but some of the younger dinosaurs had indeed listened to his words which was something the old longneck would forever be thankful about. A longing smile crept to his face as he reflected on what was to pass: in more ways than one, his life had been one of many losses and observing his family’s old dream collapse all around him. No matter how he reflected those things, Neres couldn’t help but regret how he had decided or forced to spend his long life: alone in a constant stream of slight but never-ending disappointments.

Yet, maybe not all was lost. The ancient, light grey dinosaur listened to the voices of the early morning, the old serenity of this miraculous place manifesting itself in ways he hadn’t seen in ages. Maybe, just maybe, one of the descendants of the five, long-gone dinosaurs could save at least part of the old herds from witnessing the last struggles of the Valley and if he had managed to help her make that decision, he would gladly join his ancestors of the past, able to claim that his life wasn’t wasted. Neres smiled as he looked at the Bright Circle slowly creeping behind the Threehorn Peak, momentarily causing the distinct rock formation overglow with golden light. Yes, the meeting was about to finally begin and with it, the die was cast concerning his legacy as well as the futures of the Valley’s residents. But as a sudden gust of pain suddenly flowed over the longneck, his head suddenly fell into the ground again and not long afterwards, he fell back into a weak sleep.


The painful aching didn’t seem to leave the domehead at peace, no matter how much he attempted to ignore it. However, the agony wasn’t the thing that bothered him the most but his ruined eye which would never recover. Longsnout looked around himself in hate as the sight of the other Valley-dwellers slowly filled his vision. And surely enough, he received nothing but equally hostile stares which confirmed what he had known ever since yesterday at the very least: the Valley had become only a mockery of what it should have been. Luckily, at least Stelia and Greyhide still knew what was truly important and he waited eagerly for a chance to stand by their chance in this meeting. He inhaled at the sweet air and looked at the unusually blue skies before he heard the threehorn’s words opening the gathering in the age-old Circle that ad served as the scene of every meeting in the Valley’s long history. None of them were surprised to see Eston in the center of it as the threehorn had often come to lead gatherings such as these.

“I’m glad to see that you made it here, Longsnout. You have a lot to answer for if you wish to clear your name in the eyes of all our herds.” He spoke simply, the revering silence only reinforcing the impression of unanimity among the gathered dinosaurs. The domehead crossed his arms, scratching the corner of his bad eye briefly before answering.

“I have already suffered far too much for a crime I didn’t commit but by all means, go on.” He said, his extremely cocky tone earning many surprised gasps within the gathered crowd. Even the threehorn seemed stunned for a moment but he then regained his composure and answered to the outrageous comment.

“That kind of attitude hardly helps you today, domehead. You already made a bad name for yourself yesterday by starting the fight and I’d advice you against making things worse. In any case, you are blamed for intruding in the swimmers’ territory, possibly to…” The threehorn was about to begin but before he could continue, Longsnout cleared his throat and interrupted the threehorn’s speech.

“Before we continue, I’d like to ask for an opportunity to speak.” He said calmly, annoying many of those around him. What could he probable be planning, acting like this? Everything he seemed to be doing was to make the others despise him even more which wasn’t something anyone usually strived to do in meetings like these. The threehorn frowned deeply but he knew he had no reason to decline that request.

“Very well. Speak but choose your words…” He again started but just as before, he didn’t get a chance to finish what he was about to say.

“But not for myself, fellow denizens of the Great Valley! I’m asking that Stelia may put forward one proposition of hers!” He said with an arrogant grin on his face. The male regretted he needed the spiketails’ help again but they were more widely respected among the herds and some others would listen to them more than they would listen him. And the domehead knew they’d need more help if their gambit was about to succeed. He looked as Stelia stepped forward, turning all the confused and angered gazes right at her. She waited for a short moment before starting to speak.

“Indeed, I’d like to put forward one proposal I came up with after consulting those who could help me in making it succeed. I propose that this whole meeting should be ended here and Longsnout released from this ridiculous claim!” She spoke in a serious, steady voice which immediately seemed to turn the meeting into a chaotic chorus of curses and unbelieving cries. Eston didn’t seem to even try to hold them back, rather he only asked slowly in a voice which dipped with coldness and disbelief.

“What is the meaning of this? Do you truly want to challenge the entire Valley and me with your nonsense, spikeface?” He asked, the entire scene seemingly stopping after one of the leading residents of the Valley issued an almost direct and very real threat to the female, such wordings used very rarely in large gatherings such as these. However, it seemed to hardly worry Stelia who soon continued from where she had left off.

“I never knew it was possible until I last evening visited Neres again. He was extremely weak and sick but even then, he shared one extremely interesting piece of information with me. One that only a handful of dinosaurs here know anymore.” She narrowed her eyes and looked at the large threehorn keenly.

“He has lived longer than any of us and he knows a lot about the Valley we others have forgotten long ago. Many things we should have asked him earlier. But for now, all that matters is that since time immemorial, the Valley has had to forgive anyone, who has not slain another denizen of the Valley, who is willing to leave our home forever, never to return!” The spiketail raised her voice and immediately an astonished silence reigned over the gathered crowd. All stared at the spiketail as if they had seen her for the first time until someone broke the silence and voiced everyone’s thoughts about her words.

“You’re insane! Only death waits outside the mountains surrounding the Valley! The domehead wouldn’t survive a day out there!” The dinosaur cried, earning many agreeing remarks from across the crowd. However, the brewing argument was soon ended as Greyhide stepped to her mate’s side.

“Then it’s a good thing he’ll have us with him! We know there are still lands lush and green out there and it’s up to us to only find them!” He cried, his comments only worsening the utter confusion among the gathered families. Most of them seemed to think of all this as little more than a bad joke, some of them even thinking of leaving this meeting once and for all. Those sentiments were momentarily stopped by an old flyer who landed near the spiketails, speaking to them in a voice that bothered between pity and disdain.

“That’s a lie, spiketail! Not even we flyers have found any green food outside the Valley no matter how far we’ve flown! A slow landwalker like you wouldn’t stand a chance!” She spoke, not able to stop a slight sneer from rising to her face. She had little love for the spiketails but even she wanted to give her warning about heading towards a certain death. Neither was Eston any more amused by this idea and he wasted no time attacking the spiketails further.

“No one has left the Valley at least since our grandparents were born, Stelia and Greyhide. To even speak of such things is completely ridiculous! Besides, the rule you are speaking of hasn’t been used since and there is no reason to begin resurrecting some dumb traditions that no one here even remembers! Knock it off and forget this ridiculous nonsense!” The threehorn said, revealing his teeth in an effort to intimidate the duo into seeing things his way. However, he looked in growing uncertainty as Stelia didn’t seem concerned in the least. And, surprisingly to all those present, no sounds of disagreement could be heard during her next words.

“Residents of the Great Valley, let me tell you something my parents and later Neres told to me. For as long as all of our tales go, our home has been an oasis of tranquility and peace in the middle of the Mysterious Beyond, the tales of our way of life and enchanted beauty spread far and wide. The sight of our lush forests and warm foothills were in the minds of every dinosaur no matter how far he or she lived from here! The Valley was a true miracle and a proof of what our ancestors were capable of!

Most importantly, the building of that miracle was up to five dinosaurs who all their lives tried to make us all work together and to the surprise of all those who lived back then, they succeeded! They did that by working together and doing what was best for us all but most importantly, they kept on having the courage to believe that the Valley that used to be was possible of creating! I know the memory of those five has been all but forgotten but the thought of the world they left behind is one we should never let pass into nothingness along with their descendants. After Neres’ death, I will be the last survivor of their families to remain beyond the ever-present veil of the Great Beyond.” She took a somber pause, preparing for what she was going to announce next. She knew all her words couldn’t return the Valley to that former paradise but, as she had always wanted to think, they could create a path forward if she placed them right. She took a deep breath before continuing to speak.

“But just look at the world around us today! It isn’t our fault that the Valley has become a cold and dark place or that the green food has become more and more scarce after every Cold Time! The Valley itself isn’t what it used to be, not nearly, but the most important change has been within ourselves! Where once we lived together in the Valley, never attacking each other and famed for our wish to live in peace, today we are nothing but a constantly fighting, violent and senseless group whose only wish is to make our already miserable situation even worse! You know this is the truth!” Stelia took a brief pause, fearing that her words could prompt a fierce rebuke and indeed, many outraged words flew at her direction. Knowing that she wouldn’t be allowed to speak like this for long and she quickly glanced at Longsnout to continue where she had left off. The domehead looked a bit worried by the tension building up but he knew this was his opportunity to make a difference. Pulling all his willpower together, the short male began to speak.

“But we all know that changing our ways in our increasingly harsh Valley won’t be easy or even possible. There simply is no green food for everyone in the future and we would constantly have to decided who would be forced to starve. It is for this reason that I and the spiketails have decided to say goodbye to the Valley and try to find a home somewhere out there. I know it is a great risk but even starving out there is a better option that to get killed here in the hands of those who should have been my friends!” Longsnout looked in chagrin as a few of his listened grinned mockingly at his last words but most stayed silent, mostly trying to come up with some opinion of what they had just heard. However, the silence was soon broken by Swiftstream who stepped out of the crowd to confront the three dinosaurs.

“Then go, cowards. Leave the Valley so we never again have to see your self-righteous faces again or listen to your nonsense! Our home will be a better place without you lying and plotting behind our backs!” The swimmer said while looking at the spiketails in a murdering glare. However, behind those burning embers a certain feeling of reprieve seemed to be flickering ever so faintly. Eston nodded to him approvingly and stepped to his side to speak to the three dinosaurs.

“Are you sure of this? If you leave like this, you will never be able to return again as was decided when my grandfather was a hatchling. Is this a path you are willing to take?” The threehorn asked surprisingly calmly, worrying the trio somewhat. However, Stelia wasted no time giving her answer to the male.

“It is not but we are given no choice. But that’s not all. Any of you who wish to join us are welcome to do so! After all, there’s safety numbers.” The spiketail offered, knowing that three dinosaurs would probably fall prey to the sharpteeth in a matter of mere hours. At first, it seemed like some within the crowd were contemplating whether to be amused or not by this desperate offer and some even began to laugh audibly. However, Swiftstream was far from happy with that comment and he narrowed his eyes slightly.

“You won’t find any more friends here, spiketail. Just go and leave us others be!” He cried, willing to get over this tiring argument. However, he could only look in growing outrage as Greyhide stepped forward and cried to the waiting dinosaurs.

“This is your chance to step forward or stay silent forever! You have this one chance to search for a better future with us!” He cried, for a moment beginning to think his words were falling on deaf ears. However, the entire scene seemed to freeze as a family of three rainbowfaces stepped forward, shattering the crowd’s consensus. But to everyone’s surprise, nobody did anything to stop their walk as they joined the spiketails. Stelia smiled to them, more than relieved that at least someone wanted to still listen to her words. She nodded to the smaller dinosaurs approvingly and spoke to them silently, almost with a whisper.

“Thank you, all. I’m truly happy to see you here with us.” She said simply as the rainbowfaces moved to her side. To her growing astonishment, as she turned her gaze back at the rest of the herds, her eyes caught the sight of five clubtails and two hollowhorns walking towards her, soon to stop by her side. The spiketail couldn’t believe her luck, feverishly waiting for more dinosaurs to join her. But no more seemed to be on their way, long seconds passing without any further movement. Finally, Eston broke the silence and spoke to the small group which had decided to take their chance in the wide and unforgiving world.

“Very well. You made your choice and for better or worse, there is no turning back. You have until the evening to leave us and remember that once you step into the Mysterious Beyond, you will never return into the Valley again. Is that clear?” He asked sternly, earning some worried glances from some of those who had joined Longsnout and his benefactors in their effort. Yet, no one seemed to regret their choice and after a short while, the domehead answered.

“It is, Eston. We knew it from the beginning.” He said simply, the weight of the moment finally starting to sink into his consciousness. All that he had ever known, every familiar hill and tree around him would soon be as well from another world, the scene of all his life thus far all but closed to him. Yet, that was a price he was willing to pay and not soon after, the flyer landed near him and addressed the families who were preparing to say farewell to the Great Valley.

“Then it is decided. I wish you luck even if I’d be lying if I’d say you will be missed here by many. As Eston said, you have until evening to leave and we will begin sharing your former territories to others immediately at the dawn and the swimmers will earn a good chunk of it for your deeds, Longsnout. I hope you’ll survive even one day out there before meeting any sharpteeth.” He grinned before taking off, effectively ending the entire meeting. Stelia looked behind him in slight chagrin but knew that he had spoken for most of the Valley with those words. Soon enough, the crowd started to slowly disperse, some outraged gossip being heard here and there. However, Stelia wasted no time before trying to raise the spirits of her new followers.

“Don’t worry about their words. Just try to rest and prepare as well as you can before our departure. Only the Bright Circle knows how long our march will be tomorrow.” She said as confidently as she only could, knowing that there was a real chance that she was only leading herself and those who followed her into an unnecessary death but each of them had chosen to follow her by their own free will. As they slowly started to disperse, she only whispered to her mate silently.

“The same goes for us, dear. This was never really our home. Our family came from somewhere out there and I’m really looking forward to seeing if we’ll get a chance to even see some of the places our old tales tell of like The Fire Mountain or even the Land of Mists.” She said, a slight smile rising to her face. Greyhide returned that smile and answered to her happily.

“So am I, Stelia. My ancestors were Farwalkers and I can already feel the call of the world in my ears. It’s time for us to see what’s out there. But for now, I feel like taking a small nap before we head out. I bet you’ll need one too.” He said calmly, knowing that the coming days would hardly offer much time to rest. His mate nodded in response and together, the two spiketails headed for their old nest one last time.


As the day grew older, a warm wind slowly rose to grasp the Valley in its grip. None of the dinosaurs could remember such a beautiful weather in many, many Warm Times but all of them knew it would probably only pave way for frigid days in the weeks to come. For those spending their last hours in the Valley, however, that moment of peace and tranquility was a reminder of what their home used to be and, with any luck, their future home could be. However, as the shadows of the evening slowly started to creep over the land, that small group of dinosaurs knew their time was up. The most important of events was upon them, one that would change their lives forever. Stelia looked at the slowly appearing form of the Night Circle far above her as she stood between the two mountains making up the most important entrance into the Valley.

She looked as those who had pledged to join her slowly gathered around her, all of them equally concerned as she was, knowing that it was completely possible that they were only heading towards their own deaths. Few others denizens of the Valley had decided to witness their departure which didn’t really bother that greatly. Yet, she couldn’t help but wonder how quickly things had gone to this. Only two days earlier, she had thought that she’d die in the Valley like everyone else did, not expecting to witness any further changes in her life. But here she was, preparing to lead a small group of dinosaurs into the unknown.

The spiketail frowned as she looked at the darkening sky, hoping things hadn’t come to this but as always, things didn’t go as planned. The ridiculous response Swiftstream’s accusations had received had pointed out the growing distrust in the Valley and after that and Longsnout’s terrible injury, nothing had been the same. For her dead daughter’s sake, she would have to provide at least some of those following her the chance to raise their own children in peace. After a brief sigh, she turned to the others and spoke slowly to them, a gust of wind greeting her face.

“It is time for us to go, my friends. I don’t know what awaits us out there but I’m sure we’ll make it through together. I just pray that all of us understands that our journey will not be an easy one. We may have to wander the world for the rest of our lives but is something I’m willing to accept.” She said, earning a small chorus of approving comments. After a moment, one of the rainbowfaces stepped forward and asked carefully.

“D… do you have any idea which way we should be going? The wasteland around the Valley is the same everywhere we look from the top of the Great Wall!” He asked, crossing his arms as he looked into the distant, dry horizon. It was clear that he had voiced the others’ most pressing question, one that they all had asked themselves many times. Greyhide took a step towards him and answered in as relieving voice as he could.

“There have been many rumors even if most of them are as old as tale itself. But if they are of any value, we should probably head towards the east where most of our ancestors came from. We later herd that many of them have been getting greener after those times. I at least yearn to see if those tales are true.” He said, thinking of the places where his distant grandparents had dwelled so very long ago. However, his thoughts were interrupted as one clubtails spoke abruptly, sounding almost angered by that answer.

“The east? Bah! It’s a large place where to look from, especially without any food!” She said, worrying Stelia somewhat. However, the female wasn’t about to cower know as she moved to speak to the clubtail soothingly.

“It is our best chance. There has to be green food out there as without leaf eaters, there wouldn’t be any sharpteeth. But I know we strong enough to hold them at bay. The walk will be long but I’m sure it’s the only right choice. Let’s go home.” She said, her silent voice provoking an extremely spirited response, confirming that the spiketail had placed her words correctly. The clubtail looked a bit unconvinced but she decided against arguing as the spiketails took their first steps into the dark expanse of the dry Mysterious Beyond. In this moment, she couldn’t help but divert her thoughts to the story of how her family had made their way into the Valley so long ago, walking these same lands on their way towards salvation. With a quick gesture, she commanded others to follow her into the endless wastes of the Mysterious Beyond.


Even if that scene was far from the reach of his gaze, Neres had still heard that the event he had so dearly hoped for had indeed come to pass. A small group of dinosaurs had once again taken their fate into their hands and with any luck, the memory of what the Valley used to be would live on. It was more than he had hoped for only a few days ago even if he would have given anything if he had been able to join Stelia and her companions on their journey. Yet, as the choking feeling once again returned to his consciousness, it was more than clear his part in the grand scheme of things was coming to a pass.

With one, final look towards the stars, Neres thought about all the efforts his ancestors had done for the Valley and how they’d judge his lonely, melancholic wandering in this world. However, as he heard Stelia’s voice call to her companions in the far distance, Neres’ last struggle started. A cough after cough, the longneck fought for air but his lungs were far too weak to win this struggle. His head turned towards the darkened sky, the last descendant of the leader of those five dinosaurs who had made the Valley the paradise it had been left the world, his mind at ease after a long life of sorrow and hope.

And thus concludes my entry for the May prompt! It’s (again) my longest short story thus far and at least I was quite happy with how it turned out. The distant future of the Valley felt like another fresh idea and one that suited this prompt idea quite well. However, I’d like to ask those who have read most of my short stories whether you like my diverse plot ideas or would you prefer some more traditional stuff in the months to come? Also, feel free to tell me what you thought of this fic as a whole and see you again with the next chapter of Under the Scarlet Banner!
« Last Edit: June 08, 2018, 10:47:23 am by Sovereign »

rhombus

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Re: Generation upon Generation
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 03:29:34 pm »
I think you are quite right to be happy with how this turned out.  :) The idea of showing what the valley might be hundreds of years later is one that I have only seen done in a canon-compliant story once before, and to pull it off well requires a good hold on the setting in order to hold the reader's attention despite the passage of the original gang of five. And this offering certain succeeded in holding my interest throughout the read.  What is presented here is a dark, yet believable, presentation of the valley at the end of its lifespan as a safe haven for the dinosaurs. As the food supplies dwindle, and threat mount, the herbivores begin to turn on one another as a lone solitary longneck watches the spectacle take place during his entire lifespan, much like one being forced to live through the decline of an empire he must watch his dream die.

Or does he?

Because right when it appears that this tale was going to be a bleak one indeed, several dinosaurs dare to venture forth in order to seek a new home.  The dreams of their ancestors rest upon their shoulders as Neres is allowed to take his dying breath with hope leading him into eternal slumber.  Though I will admit that certain portions of the dialogue could perhaps have been trimmed to improve the pacing, the overall setting presented and the underlying tone is very well done.  You should certainly be proud of this work.  :yes

As for future offerings, I can only make one observation from my own experience.  Sometimes it is best to periodically revisit canon stories every once in awhile to ensure that one's work does not become too esoteric for the reader base of the fandom.  So though I would encourage you to continue your more diverse stories, I would suggest perhaps doing a more gang-oriented story every few months or so.  :yes


Go ahead and check out my fanfictions, The Seven Hunters, Songs of the Hunters, and Mender's Tale
Mender's Tale.

Ducky123

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Re: Generation upon Generation
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2018, 04:07:54 pm »
First things first: This was quite a nice tale! Taking on the future of the Great Valley, and at that such a distant future, surely was a brave decision that, to my knowledge, noone has ever tried before.

I'm usually rather short on criticism but there was one thing that bothered me a little even though it didn't really change my overall picture of the whole story. Writing a short story entirely based on OC's is a very hard thing to do effectively. I remember Fyn's little christmas-themed short story back in late 2016 that I really loved which also built on OCs entirely. The difficulty is introducing your characters to the reader in the short time you have (since you're just doing a short story). For the first few paragraphs or so, I was rather unsure what to think of the story because there were a bunch of new characters which were hardly described and introduced. Thus, I had some issues connecting to what was going on. I think this story may have worked out much better as a slightly longer story but that is just my personal opinion and it doesn't distract much from the good quality and unique setting.

I guess I started with the bad things huh? Oh well, here go the more positive thoughts of mine :P

As mentioned, the setting was quite unique and I really liked the dystopian setting. Even a place such as the Great Valley isn't immune to changes after all :yes

As food becomes more scarce, dinosaurs become selfish and the once harmonious life is in ruins. An exodus sounds like a possible answer to this and it seems you went for that in the end, yep yep yep :) I sure wonder if these guys made it...

My favourite character was probably the old longneck, descendant of Littlefoot. Overall, the references to the Golden Age of the Valley led by the Gang were quite nice. Just imagine their everyday life as adults doing lots of great stuff for the valley.. :)

Fully OC-based stories are something I haven't attempted myself yet (and probably won't since it's rather hard to find inspiration to do so) so you have my huge respect for pulling this stunt. Overall, I must say the result was quite remarkable and well written, yep yep yep :)littlefoot
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

Sovereign

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Re: Generation upon Generation
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 03:59:05 pm »
Thanks for the reviews you two! I’m happy to find you enjoyed this story! :yes

rhombus: I’m glad to hear you liked the setting and the characters in this story. It took a lot of time to plan even this short plot and your observations about what I was describing here were pretty much correct. It felt like a good idea to portray that no paradise can thrive forever, not even the Great Valley. You’re especially correct about the spirit of the Gang of Five resting on Stelia and her followers as they set to write the next chapter in the history of their herds. Neres served as the last reminder of the old Valley and him finding solace in his last day proves not all was lost.

Yet, I must agree with you on the dialogue. Especially on Stelia and Neres’ conversation I felt it was getting a bit long but in the end, I decided it was for the best in order for the reader to get our characters better. Also, thanks for your piece of advice. I’m quite proud of some of my short stories and I like my plots myself but I see it’s better to write something more traditional in order to keep my writing “a bit more LBT”. The next prompt offers me a great point to start! Anyway, thanks a lot for your review! :)littlefoot

Ducky123: Yep, I like to tread on unexplored areas of LBT and the future of the Valley felt like a natural option for that. I’m sorry to hear you felt like the start was a little slow or uninteresting but I tried to keep the reader wondering for a short while what was going on in an attempt to draw the reader into the fic more deeply. It’s a shame that idea didn’t work as planned.

Even then, it’s great to hear that you, too, liked the setting as it was arguably my main point in this tale. I’m also happy that you enjoyed Neres’ character as I made him a link between the Valley’s past and present and he was in a way the heart of this fic. His memories of the Golden Age are the last legacy of the Gang of Five (in addition to Stelia) and he was more than determined to keep those tales alive even when he was gone.

Thank you for your kind words in the last paragraph. Full OC-stories certainly aren’t easy to do as it certainly is easier to relate to the Gang, for example, than some random dinosaur an author introduces for a short story. However, One Star Above is one example that we shouldn’t be afraid of OC-driven fics as you pointed out. That being said, I’m really happy you liked this story and thanks for the review! :)