Author Topic: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart  (Read 456 times)

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One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« on: December 29, 2018, 03:21:28 PM »
One Fallen, Two Torn Apart

A slight frown appeared on the flyer’s face as his eyes sought at a certain tiny, dead forest somewhere far below him. His efforts to search some food for his mate had been completely for nothing, not even a flicker of green to be found in this endless monotony of gloom and darkness. It had been weeks since he had eaten properly himself but that mattered little to Tuulen right now. All that mattered was to try to help his beloved mate and the soon-to-hatch children survive through these hellish times. The flyer coughed slightly as he breathed at yet another patch of ash falling from the fire mountains far in the distance. Yes, things seemed bleaker by the day and inside, the deep-brown flyer couldn’t help but feel his concerns for his family’s future grow every day. If things continued like this, there was no telling…

“Returning empty-handed again, Tuulen? It seems like you have a lot to learn in finding green food!” The male flyer’s eyes widened slightly as he heard the familiar voice. Hope and slight embarrassment filled him as he turned at the speaker, the sight of the lighter-colored dinosaur who was quickly diving lower to the ground in order to join the other male.

“Anywhere I looked, all that had once been there was gone. But I see that you were again luckier than me, Pterano. Thanks for your help, again.” He said, not able to hide his relief as he saw the small pile of withered green that Pterano carried with his legs. Even if he would have wanted to find it himself, the most important thing was that Volant wouldn’t have to starve while guarding the nest. The other male grinned slightly at him as he nodded towards the small forest that appeared far in the horizon, implicating that their destination was growing close.

“How many times have I told you that you have to search for water, no matter how long it takes, my dear Tuulen? Though, you have done more than your fair part in keeping my sister safe and for that, you have my thanks as well.” He said, turning his gaze back forward, a slight smile of happiness in his eyes. The other flyer glanced at him, relaxing somewhat as he heard those words of gratitude. Even if he had been somewhat suspicious of his mate’s brother joining them in the way to the Great Valley, he had grown to like the other flyer during these months of hardship. He was more than a little pompous and even arrogant but he meant well and he was an invaluable help in helping both him and Volant move forward on this march of misery. He then looked at the gathered herds of dinosaurs below him, regretting that he and his mate were forced to join these landwalkers but it was true that there was safety in numbers. He snorted slightly as he prepared to land on the tree he knew Volant was waiting for him as he answered to Pterano one more time.

“I’ll do my all to help her reach the Valley. You know that, Pterano.” He said simply, hoping in his heart that he’d see it one day as well but he couldn’t help but wonder if he and his companions were in truth only chasing a rumor, a myth. But all of those thoughts disappeared from his mind as his feet touched the cold stone cliff and a rather low but clearly female voice spoke to him.

“Thank goodness you’re back! I was already starting to worry if something had happened!” Volant spoke to Tuulen who panted slightly as he tried to catch his breath after the long flight. His eyes immediately turned towards the group of eggs next to her mate but he still asked the same question he had presented many times before.

“We’re both safe, thanks to the Bright Circle. Has anything happened here? How are the little ones?” He asked urgently, each day surprised by the amount of fears that had gathered in his mind during those long hours he was forced to stay apart from his mate and children. Volant took a somewhat tense look but there was nothing there filled the male with alarm.

“If I heard right, there was another egg stealer that tried to sneak upon the swimmers but that bastard was apparently crushed before he could do anything. We’ve been safe here but… I’m just so worried that one of them or some cursed sharptooth flyer will try to steal one of our eggs. If one of them dare show their faces here, I’ll… I’ll…” Volant tried to look confrontational but she succeeded only in underlining her own fearful thoughts. Tuulen frowned slightly as he prepared to answer but it was then that Pterano landed beside him and joined the conversation in the direct way he often did.

“Here you go, sister. It wasn’t easy to find but it’s at least something.” He said simply, not willing to bring his part in finding them up as he knew more than well what was at stake.  Not even a flyer like him was arrogant enough to make himself seem more important like he was on a time like this. Volant gave him a brief smile as she took the pile of green food from her brother’s hands and answered to him warmly.

“Thank you, Pterano. At least we should now be alright for a little bit…” She was suddenly cut short as a massive bolt of sky fire suddenly illuminated the entire scene, soon to be followed by the familiar rumble. Almost immediately afterwards, sky water started to fall with an unusually violent force as another flash of sky fire lighted the sky. Volant frowned as she looked at the skies, the incoming storm somehow managing to escape her notice. However, it took only a second for her to remember her charge and without another thought, she turned around as she cried to the two males.

“Help me make a better shelter for the eggs! We cannot afford to risk one of them getting washed into the ground by the sky water!” She cried as she started to gather rocks around the eggs, knowing the dangers that this weather might pose. She had already secured the nest masterfully but there was absolutely no chance she’d take even the slightest of chances. It wasn’t long before the three flyers nodded to each other, knowing that the eggs were safe, no matter what. Tuulen gave his mate a smile as he raised the last rock to safeguard the eggs.

“That was that. Don’t worry dear, they’re safe from an…”


He started before he was interrupted by sound that made his heart skip a beat. He could hardly move his head towards the eggs, his mind racing at the implications of what he might see soon enough. Even if that moment felt like an eternity to the flyer, to an outsider it would have seemed like Tuulen nearly fell as he forced himself to turn towards the eggs… only to see a widening crack form at one of them. He was completely taken aback by the development and it was Volant that spoke first.

“Tuulen! I… it’s happening!” She only cried as she brought her hands to her chin as the egg started to shudder more and more by the second. The two mates moved closer to each other in order to welcome their first child into the world together. The expectation was more than tangible in the air as Pterano cast a warm smile towards the two fresh parents as he slowly fled further away from them. He would relish witnessing this moment but he knew more than well that this wasn’t his day: it was that of his sister and her mate.

Volant’s eyes were nearly glassed as she saw a tiny beak suddenly appearing from the shell, soon to be followed by a small hand. After that moment, it took only a tiny effort for the hatchling to break the already-weakened egg and after another blow, it collapsed into pieces. A deep smile appeared on the female’s head as she looked at the newborn boy who looked around himself in confusion and distress. She bowed towards her and spoke to her child in a warm voice.

“Hello there, Gust! Come here. I don’t mean ill to you.” She cooed softly as she nuzzled the hatchling softly, soon to be followed by her mate. The newborn flyer seemed frightened at first but soon his expression softened as well. Tuulen spoke to his child with a similar tone as he looked at the tiny flyer into the eyes.

“Aww, you are even more adorable than I expected. Say hello to your mommy and daddy.” He said as the hatchling looked at the two, only giving a brief squeak in answer. Volant and Tuulen chuckled as they closed beaks, giving each other a long snuzzle that both of them would last forever. However, both of them disengaged from it at the very same moment as they heard another cracking sound… followed by yet another. Volant’s eyes widened in shock as more and more of her ten eggs started to shudder and squeak under increasing pressure. Volant could only stutter in wonder as she saw two more of her children break their way out of their shelters, joining their brother.

It didn’t take too long until each of the children save for one had managed to escape their former prisons. Tuulen was more than overjoyed by the occasion… but the single remaining egg weighed his heart in a moment that would otherwise have been the most joyous in his life. He knew more than well what an unhatching egg usually meant: that the baby inside had succumbed to one of the countless dangers that waited for each and every dinosaur even before they could even see the light of the day for even the first, pitiful time. Tuulen sighed slightly as he tried to take his eyes away from the failed egg, already dreading the job of getting disposed of it soon enough. This was a time for celebration and he wouldn’t waste his children’s first moments simply to mourn something that wasn’t their fault. He was just about to turn at the newborn flyers… when he suddenly saw that top of the remaining egg fly off with a greater force than the others.

“Look, dear! The last one will hatch after all!” He cried as he suddenly moved towards the other egg, expecting the rest of the shell breaking down at any moment. That sight also cast away the lingering sorrow that had forced its way into Volant’s heart. However, what happened next was something that neither one of the two flyers had expected: they saw the tiny beak peek out of the egg but it was as if the hatchling consciously tried not to damage its home any more. That sight made Volant more than amused as she landed next to the last egg and looked at the hatchling but when she moved closer to him, the baby flyer cowered deeper into its egg in order to hide from the menacing form, starting to shudder heavily. The female looked somewhat concerned by that and she took a more serious but still warm tone as she spoke to the boy.

“I’m not going to harm you. It is completely safe to come out. Now, come on.” She said encouragingly, frowning deeply as her son seemed to hesitate even after her words. Tuulen also moved beside her, trying to brake the ice between the parents and the tiny flyer. However, seeing the two massive forms gather around himself, the hatchling quickly felled his egg to its side and tried to creep away from his parents. That sight hurt Volant slightly as she hated the thought that her child would fear her but she knew better than to attempt to force him to accept her. That would hardly end well for either of them. Instead, she warmly cooed to him ago, offering her hand as she spoke.

“It’s alright. Come to see your mommy and your brothers and sisters. There’s far too much to celebrate to act like that, now isn’t there?” She said, slowly approaching the child, ready to close him in her embrace and slowly but surely, it started to look like she was going to be successful. The newborn brown flyer started to be on the verge of calming down and his eyes started to even have a longing hint to them. Volant’s heart started to swell as she saw her son starting to force his way towards her… but at that very moment, another massive flash of lighting penetrated the sky, causing the hatchling to jump in horror backwards… just far enough for him to feel the solid rock below him starting to collapse, weakened by the endless battering of skywater. The boy let out an alarmed squeak as it felt the ground disappear from within him, casting the child into the seemingly endless abyss. Volant cried horrifyingly as she immediately jumped on her wings.

“No! Someone, save him, now!” She shouted, dreading that she’d never again see the last of her children, a thought that already made her panic uncontrollably. However, just as she was about to dive over the rocky cliff, she saw something that made her calm down immediately. The sight of her brother appeared before her, an alarmed but happy sight on the male’s face.

“I thought he was going a bit too close to the cliff… and well, I happened to be close enough to save him because of that. Here he is, Volant.” Pterano said as he carefully dropped the tiny form in his right leg into the ground. Volant and Tuulen wasted to time embracing the hatchling, the former being the first to speak.

“Never do something like that again! We nearly lost you but… the most important thing is that we didn’t.  Thank you, Pterano.” He said to the male who merely nodded in approval. The boy was still more than horrified but now, he seemed to more than welcome his parents’ company. Tuulen gave him a brief nuzzle as she tenderly asked his mate.

“We had an unbelievable luck, Volant. All of our children were able to hatch, even if this one left us with a lot of worrying. What should we call him?” Tuulen asked, knowing more than well that the two had thought of countless names during their weeks of waiting but he felt like this hatchling would have the most promise in the future. Volant took a deep breath to calm herself before she raised her eyes at the raging skies, her face looking illuminated by the still-continuing skyfire. After a moment, she returned to look at the hatchling who finally seemed to give his first, careful smile. Volant returned it immediately and the next words she spoke came as if she hadn’t even said them at all.

“I’ll call this one Petrie. I think it fits him well, don’t you think?” She said, earning a nod of approval from her mate. Tuulen again nuzzled his mate briefly before speaking to his son briefly.

“Then it’ll be so. Petrie, I’ll look forward to seeing what you’ll become one day.” He said, smiling as the battering of the rain started to slowly ease. Even then, the two flyers knew this day was but major test for them and their children in this long journey of faith. Yes, neither one of them would never forget the first day of their children but inside, both of them knew it’d be a miracle if they all made it together to the Valley. But Volant was encouraged by this small miracle before her and it shouldn’t be impossible for more of them to be waiting just outside the corner.

The dawning day was a hazy and a rather cold one with slight mist covering the entire land under it. A cool wind blew through the dead landscape, battering the unsheltered dinosaurs as if it consciously wanted them harm. Yet, even this was a welcome break from the ash-filled, hot weather that had often been the companion of the flyer family. None of this was lost to Volant whose first reaction to the new day was the constant shuddering she felt as she escaped from the realm of the sleep stories. Her first thought was the very same as it had been in the past four days: to make sure that nothing had happened to her beautiful children. She could hardly draw breath as she looked at the baby flyers sleeping beside her but her fears eased as she noticed that each one of them was safe and sound.

Even then, that relaxation was only temporary as all of the memories of the past days returned to her mind. Out here, she simply couldn’t afford to think for a moment that things were well if she wanted that her children to be able to see tomorrow. However, after a few seconds she noticed something that caught her attention. Where was Tuulen? It wasn’t rare that her mate woke up before her but it still filled her with slight fear. Slowly, she rose to her feet, making sure not to wake any of the hatchlings up. At first, the mist prevented her from seeing much past her beak but soon, she saw the familiar form a bit further away in the distance. She frowned somewhat as she called to him.

“Tuulen, come here! What in earth are you doing out here?” She called, full well knowing she couldn’t leave her children unprotected. The male wasted no time doing as told and it was mere seconds until he landed in front of her mate. Tuulen frowned as he looked into the hazy horizon while addressing his mate in a careful voice.

“I was just trying to sort out my thoughts, dear. I woke up a long time ago after Fairwind had wet her nest and well, I changed the grass she lied on as I had to.” He said simply, something clearly bothering him clearly. It was obvious that it wasn’t that incident that lingered within his mind but even then, Volant was somewhat saddened to see her mate act like this. He was a father now and he couldn’t let his own worries darken all of his days. Volant moved closer to him and addressed the male in a silent voice.

“Well, you have my thanks for that. But, Tuulen, listen to me. I know the times are difficult but we cannot act all the time like this day is our last. The kids know if something is wrong as well as we do and I don’t want our worries darken their first days as well. Besides, you simply cannot give such an answer when I ask what’s bothering you. I can see that there’s something wrong and especially on days like these, we have to be honest with each other.” She said softly but firmly, willing to get her mate to open up. She was more than grateful for Tuulen’s concern for his family and for his help in tending to the hatchlings’ needs but he let his own fears overwhelm him more of often than necessary. The larger flyer’s face fell for a short moment but almost immediately afterwards, he relaxed again.

“It is the swimmers, dear. I heard earlier today that the sharpteeth are growing bolder than ever in their efforts to have our children as easy meals. U… Ura told me that she has already lost three of her children to those bastards. And the longnecks nearly lost their only baby to an egg stealer. I don’t know about the other herds but I’d be astonished if they were without any losses.” He said, letting his mate to form some kind of meaning to those words within her mind. Volant’s face turned into a frown, knowing that those bastards were on the move but she hadn’t really heard about the swimmers. He then nodded at her mate as she gave her answer.

“That doesn’t come as a surprise but that is exactly the reason why we cannot let fear take over our minds. The sharpteeth will use any opening they’ll have and to prevent them from forming, we three have to do our all. And besides, we’re lucky as flyers as only some of the sharpteeth can even reach our nest. I’m happy you watch over the situation but please, stop wandering away on your own. It puts you in danger as well and I don’t know what I’d do without you. I need you to get through all of this.” She said as she joined hands with the male. Tuulen would have wanted to simply throw away his gloom but there was still something that prevented him from completely calming down. However, he was more than willing to help his mate by at least trying to act more responsibly. He sighed as he spoke to Volant.

“The same, my love. But… it’s just… damn, what am I even complaining about? All of us are in the very same situation. And if those pitiful landwalkers can handle it, then can we.” He said with a smile, not able to escape his thankfulness for being able to escape at least some problems the other kinds simply couldn’t. Volant smiled at her mate’s words as she spoke, also knowing how blessed her and her children’s luck was.

“Indeed, dear. We’ll just have to make sure we will never be surprised by the sharpteeth and we’ll be fine. But even then, we only have a cycle of a Night Circle until we’ll have to get moving. This place simply cannot sustain us longer than that. That is what I worry about the most.” The female said, knowing that the day of departure would come far sooner than she expected. Also, she knew that the hatchlings would never fly by then which meant long days of carrying them on her back along with the two males, a thought that made her cringe already. She was taken aback as Tuulen chuckled at that comment.

“Well, that is a problem best left for that time. After all, that is still a worry of the future.” He said with a wide smile, realizing just how quickly the tables had turned between the two flyers. Volant looked at him with a surprise but after a while, she joined her mate’s laughter and shortly after, answered him.

“I guess so, Tuulen. I guess so.” She said as she turned to look at her children that were slowly waking up. Yes, this would be a day filled with work and dangers but the female knew that there would be anything she couldn’t get over. Not as long as she had her mate with her.

The day aged slowly as the haze seemed to only grow denser by the minute. There were very few sounds to be heard and in many ways, each of the flyers could have been forgiven for thinking that their nest was floating in white nothingness. That in itself wasn’t a reason of worry to any of the three adults but they knew that it would force them to keep an even keener eye at their surroundings. Pterano was thinking with a smile at her sister’s hatchlings, still determined to give the parents more space with them. However, there was something he didn’t like in the least. The day had been far too calm and for some reason, he felt a slight unease rise within him. Completely unexpected to the two other flyers, he finally spoke to Volant and Tuulen.

“We have to take a brief look around us. The chance that some cursed baby killer would use this mist to their advantage is simply too great.” He said glumly, knowing he had a point. In many ways, he hated being forced to rely on his sister like this as he loved the freedom he had maintained all his life… thus far. When he had heard of the Valley, he knew that his best option had been to join up with Volant and her mate on this journey but there were times when he felt like the two didn’t consider all the things that had to be considered while making decisions, unlike him. Tuulen frowned slightly as he answered, walking closer to the lighter-colored male.

“Are you sure, Pterano? I mean, the weather is rather ghastly but it also makes things harde…” He started but he wasn’t allowed to finish the sentence when Pterano cut him short.

“It makes the work of the sharpteeth much easier, my dear Tuulen. I’ve seen in my life that they are much better in planning than you might think. They might very well use this mist to attack us.” He said firmly, leaving little room for disagreement. Volant frowned somewhat but any thought of incoming threats made chills creep down her spine. But even then, she wasn’t completely convinced of her brother’s idea and she answered to him immediately.

“That might be, brother, but we also have to remember that it makes things more difficult here and besides, you might get surprised yourself out there! The risks are simply too great!” She said with a pleading voice, dreading the prospect of being forced to guard the hatchlings alone while the others were going Bright Circle knows where. Tuulen frowned as he looked at his mate, knowing full well that her argument was valid. However, he also trusted Pterano and inside, he had already made up his mind. He lowered his hand on Volant’s shoulder and spoke to her softly.

“I promise you we will be back shortly. I pray we will be safe but we all know we have to first make sure the children aren’t falling under any harm.” He said slowly, earning an ever deeper look of concern from his mate. The female was nowhere as confident of the plan as her mate but even then, she couldn’t find no real reason to try to deny the two from doing what they felt was right. She sighed slightly as she looked at the two males.

“Very well. But make sure to return as soon as you can.” She said simply and immediately, Pterano gave her a brief smile before he spoke to his sister.

“Oh, you may trust us, Volant. We wouldn’t give any sharptooth the joy of besting either of us.” He said with a smirk which however didn’t make Volant any more relaxed. However, she nodded to the two as a matter of understanding. Tuulen took a brief breath before he spoke his last words before taking off.

“Very well. We will meet again soon enough. I promise it.” He said and only a few seconds later, he was gone. Volant looked after the two for a moment until she suddenly heard a cry from behind her. A more hopeful look rose to her face as she turned around, knowing she’d do her best to look after the children until her mate and brother would return to her.

Tuulen looked around himself, noticing that the mist was slowly starting to grow weaker. It still made flying a rather risky affair, though, and he forced himself to move at a speed which only barely allowed him to retain his altitude. He was barely flying at the height of a longneck’s back as that was his own chance if he wanted to spot any possible threats in the ground. He knew Pterano was not far to his left, investigating the land as well. There was no reason to move too far from their nest as any menacing group of sharpteeth or egg stealers would likely already be at a striking distance from the nest.

As he looked at the dead ground below him, the look in Volant’s gaze returned to his mind. He truly regretted not being there with her now as he also wanted nothing more than to stay beside his children as much as possible. Still, he knew that this was his part as a flyer. Most males weren’t even supposed to stick with their mates, instead moving to look for other females in order to father as many children as possible. Many had frowned at his decision to stay with Volant for good but there was no other place he wanted to be and he knew Volant felt the same way. Even now, he had looked after the hatchlings far more than any other flyer male he had met in his life.

Many thoughts swirled within his mind as he moved past the nests of the other herds, not seeing anything out of the ordinary. The moist, cool air made his back shiver as he saw skeletons of fallen threehorns through the ghastly mist even if he already knew they were there. Minutes passed without him seeing anything but shadows about his travelling companions and inside, Tuulen knew he was already getting too far from the nest. Any sharptooth he’d meet here would be of no threat to him or his family. Suddenly, he let out a loud shriek to Pterano, ordering him to turn back as well.

However, this time the two would also scour the surroundings of the cliff that was their nest, knowing that it would also be a potential place for the villains to strike. However, Tuulen started to slowly relax as he knew that the most pressing fears of an attack had now passed. He knew Pterano had been right with his fears but his long, solitary life had probably made him more fearful than necess…

Suddenly, he saw something that made his blood run cold. That sight was very vague and surely, certainly it couldn’t be… but it was. The male frowned deeply as he saw a group of four fastbiters heading towards his nest with a quick pace. At first, he prayed they were soon turning away from that path and head towards some other herd but those thoughts were quickly dashed. They were moving forward with deadly decisiveness, leaving little room for uncertainty about their destination. Tuulen felt a grip of fear take over his mind as he looked at them, realizing there couldn’t be more than a few minutes until they’d reach Volant and the children. He had to act now but a few worries rose to his mind.

He couldn’t take four of them out by himself and even worse, he couldn’t call Pterano without alerting the bastards of his presence. Furthermore, there could be other sharpteeth sneaking nearby in cases like these. But even then, he didn’t have a choice. No one else would take out this threat but him and this is exactly what he had come out here to do. The flyer took a deep breath as he prepared to strike, ignoring all the thoughts that reminded him of everything that could go wrong in the next few seconds.

Concentrating all his power into the coming dive, Tuulen plunged himself downwards, willing to seize this advantage to his best ability. It was only less than a second before the hit that first of the sharpteeth turned around, alarmed by the whizzing sound of the attacking flyer. A massive thud could be heard as the male collided with the first of the juvenile sharpteeth, sending her rolling into the ground. As Tuulen moved to attack her throat, he called to his companion with all his might.

“Pterano, come help me, now!”

That call also reached the ears of someone Tuulen had hoped it wouldn’t. Volant was just feeding the small pile of green food to the hatchlings when she heard her mate’s cry which immediately froze her in her place. So, something had indeed gone wrong and… and that could only mean that there was someone threatening her children! She turned around, thinking of helping Tuulen in whatever threat he was dealing with. However, as she heard the alarmed chirping of her children, she realized that simply wasn’t possible. If she threw away all of her caution, anyone could just come and kill all of her beautiful babies. Remembering her charge, she crossed her arms and spoke to the cool wind.

“Please, be alright, Tuulen. Please come back to me as soon as you can.”

That sound immediately woke Pterano from his growing sense of safety which he had tried to lull himself into. He could hear the fear and urgency within Tuulen’s voice and he wasted no time heading towards the voice. He knew that time was off the essence and he already dreaded what he would meet when he reached the other male. But in the end, this only meant his instinct had again been correct and without him, the sharpteeth would have attacked the nest without any difficulty. That thought brought more than a little solace to the flyer but for now, it was drowned under the fear of the situation.

Even if the mist was starting to break up at an ever increasing speed, it still took a short time before the light-brown male caught the sight of his sister’s mate and the sight hardly was the one he had hoped to see. He was just trying to rise to his wings while standing over the corpse of a dead fastbiter. Pterano was impressed by Tuulen’s fierce attack but before he could reflect any more of the situation, he noticed something that alarmed him without an end. A slightly older fastbiter leapt out of a nearby bush, heading straight towards the darker-colored male!

Pterano could easily see that Tuulen would never be able to escape from the beast’s claws and it was also clear that the predator had been on the watch, waiting for a situation like this. However, Pterano wasn’t about to let that happen. Not only was he afraid of his sister’s reaction but he also respected, even liked Tuulen greatly. He gathered all the speed he could in order to tackle the carnivore to his side… just inches separating the beast’s teeth from Tuulen’s wings. The latter took a deep breather, already having counted himself as a certain goner. He then cried to Pterano who also made sure to disengage from his hopeless melee with the fastbiter.

“Th… thanks, Pterano! I already thought it was all over for me.” He said even if he knew the fight was far from over. However, just as Pterano thought he, too, was safe, he felt a searing pain within his right thigh but to his relief, the sensation of being pulled back to the earth didn’t follow the initial rush of pain. In other words, he was still alive and he’d receive another chance to help his sister’s mate.

Tuulen, on the other hand, knew that his work was far from done. The sharpteeth gritted their teeth at him but they still wouldn’t give up their quest to attack Volant and the children. And now that their presence was known to the fastbiters, he knew he had but one choice left. He quickly let out a wicked cry, knowing that even the other herds would hear it. Even if he despised the thought of being to forced to rely on the other kinds for help, the flyer knew that their fight against the sharpteeth was a common cause for all of the leafeaters. The sharpteeth realized that their situation was growing dangerous and each of them sprinted towards the flyers’ nest. Tuulen frowned in alarm, knowing that the situation was a difficult one but it appeared that once again, he would have to do his all to at least delay the fastbiters.

“Pterano, aid me again! With any luck, we’ll receive aid soon enough!” He cried as he started to circle around the predators, trying to find any chance to strike. To the male’s despair, he couldn’t seem to find one which meant that he had but one choice. With a deep sigh, he plunged closer to the predators, preparing to do his all In order to foil their plan. A fear of pure determination was glassed on his eyes as he face one of the fastbiters, knowing that his attack could turn out to be a terrible mistake. Yet, he simply didn’t have a choice at this point.

That sight alarmed Pterano far more than most things he had seen in his life. Was Tuulen completely insane? He simply couldn’t… Ugh, what could he himself do in a situation like this? Pterano had learned in his life and simply sacrificing oneself without a good reason was never an answer even if he had to respect the other male’s courage. He took a forced sigh as he headed after the lighter-colored flyer, knowing he could never again face his sister if he let her mate fall without helping him.

The fastbiter did its best to force the flyer further away from him, knowing he’d have to keep up with his companions or his hopes of living through this hunt would be pitiful at best. The flyers realized this and Tuulen knew he had to do something more in order to buy more time. After a few seconds, an idea rose into his mind as he remembered some of the characteristics of a cliff close to his family’s nest. He immediately took more speed in an attempt to gain at least some distance between himself and the fastbiters. Pterano was taken aback by the other male’s sudden change of mind but he wasted no time following him wherever he was heading to.

Tuulen frowned deeply as he saw the pile of loose rocks lying on the mountainside, smiling as he looked at the narrow passage to his nest. As he saw Pterano approach him, the flyer cried to him in a loud voice.

“Quickly, help me throw these rocks down and the sharpteeth will be delayed slightly!” He cried as he started to push against the smallest rocks, knowing he had but a few seconds before the sharpteeth would reach the pass. He started to frown in fear as he couldn’t seem to get even any of he boulders start rolling down the hill. Pterano, however, wasn’t about to give up and he immediately headed towards a larger rock, knowing it would do the trick far more easily. He cried to the other male as he hit against the rock, ignoring the pain of the collision completely. At the same time, he cried to the other male.

“Get out of the way, Tuulen! Here it comes!” He cried as the mountainside started to collapse into the small pass. The darker-colored male looked at the sight in surprise as he jumped to his wings quickly, looking in astonishment as the small pass was blocked by the rocks in a matter of seconds. An instant smile rose to his face as he saw the sharpteeth stopping immediately, realizing the situation immediately. However, before any of them got a chance to think what to do next, a loud roar could be heard from behind them.

“You should have just stayed away, you despicable child killers! I’ll make sure you’ll never get another chance to come prey upon us!” Tuulen looked in relief as he saw a large, female threehorn rush towards the fastbiters with an astonishing speed. The sharpteeth realized immediately that they couldn’t stand against this foe and instinctively, tried to the other direction to make good of the name of their kind. However, the male flyer realized immediately that he simply couldn’t allow that idea to pass. He called to his companion as he moved to cut the predators’ flight.

“Pterano, come help me! We must not let them escape!” He cried as he dashed to block the fastbiters’s way, hoping that they were too panicked by the threehorn’s appearance to attack him with their full ferocity. Pterano gulped deeply as he did as told, regretting that this day had turned out to be this dangerous. Still, he’d see it through, no matter the

The sharpteeth looked in fear as the two flyers landed in front of them even if they knew that in usual circumstances, they’d be goners in less than a minute. Now, however, they didn’t have any time to spare before their chaser would crush them all and so they tried to bypass the leafeaters completely. However, they were not about to let that happen and without any regard for their safety, they tackled two of the predators into the ground, ignoring the deep wounds the alarmed beasts managed to tear into their sides as both of them fell to the ground. Tuulen was just about to flee to safety from the fastbiters’ claws… when he heard a horrible thud merely inches from his head. When he opened his eyes, he only saw the crushed remains of the two fastbiters’ chest, obliterated by the mere weight of the threehorn’s stomp.

The sounds of the fight made Volant feel more miserable by the second as she knew full well just how much was at stake. She could tell that her mate and her brother were giving their all to keep her and the children safe but her inability to help them was more than torturing to the young mother. She wanted nothing more than to go help her companions but for much of the battle, she wasn’t even able to see what was happening so very near. However, as time passed, the mist started to dissipate just in time for her to see the collapse of the low pass between her and the sharpteeth.

At first, she had been more than relieved by that sight and Stronghorn’s arrival had more than turned the tables on the villains. She crossed her arms to look at that sight, already forcing her to accept that things had turned out the very best way. The predators were being chased away, her children and companions were safe… until she saw something that dashed her raising hopes immediately.

She suddenly saw a massive sharptooth flyer circling the sky around the scene of the battle, clearly searching for something to eat. At first, Volant wanted to cast the creature aside as they often attacked smaller dinosaurs or corpses unless they were extremely desperate, but after a moment, she could see it was looking straight at the fighting flyers! Just as Tuulen and Pterano had forced the fastbiters to the ground, Volant felt stomach drop immediately. The flyer quickly started to dive towards the fighting dinosaurs with a terrifying speed.

What happened next seemed to pass in a tiny flicker of a second in Volant’s mind. She knew the males wouldn’t hear her cries out there and the urgent fight would prevent them from seeing anything that happened around them. And without her help… Volant’s heart jumped into her throat as all of her thoughts were wiped away by the sight that was transpiring before her eyes. Not even the cries of her children reached her ears as she headed to save her mate at any cost. She looked at the sharptooth flyer approach Tuulen quickly, so agonizingly quickly… and all that she could do was to cry with all her might.

“Tuulen, for the Bright Circle’s sake,  watch out, now!”

The distant voice of his mate made Tuulen turn his gaze towards her but the threehorn’s intrusion had robbed him of the precious seconds he would have needed to safeguard his own back. Pterano managed to lock his gaze on the other male… just in time to see the massive predator sink its claws into his sister’s mate, snapping his neck with one, quick bite. Tuulen himself had just time to glance at the dinosaur who would be his demise. He barely even felt pain as the predator flushed out his life… but not before he saw the alarmed look of his mate. Suddenly, a wave of melancholy and hope flushed over him as one, final thought invaded his fading mind.

Be well, my love. And all my children… I hope you have a good life. You’ll never know how much I would have liked to stay with you longer.

Before he or anyone else could do anything, the sharptooth headed back towards the skies with the lifeless remains of the flyer who had only a few days earlier celebrated becoming a new father. A flyer who had shared this journey of faith and despair with his companions. The flyer who would never again rise to his wings or meet his children. Volant nearly collapsed into the ground and only instinctively, she managed to avoid dropping into the ground. Her mate… her beloved mate… this simply couldn’t happen… it just couldn’t! However, this wasn’t nearly the last shock as she heard another cry meet her ears.

“Turn back now, Volant, damnit! For goodness’ sake, go save the children!” Pterano cried as he immediately as he looked in outrage at Volant. He was overwhelmed by the loss of Tuulen but even now, he was beyond appalled by his sister’s actions. Only with forced movements, Volant managed to turn around, not willing to see what her brother had meant. The sight that greeted her was one from her worst nightmares. A pair of smaller sharptooth flyers had just landed around her nest, the frightened chirping of her children piercing the air. Volant’s eyes widened at that sight and she let out a screech like which only few dinosaurs had ever heard. Tears already started falling from her eyes as her mind raced horrifyingly and she flapped her wings like never before. How could she have done this? This was just what she had pledged to avoid to herself ever since the hatching of her children and she had ruined everything within a matter of seconds. She cried before her in a vague attempt to calm herself down.

“Hang only a moment longer! I’m coming!”

The small hatchlings were completely helpless against the predators, each of them able to only follow in horror as they saw the first of their siblings torn to pieces before her eyes. Some of them were frozen in their place whereas others attempted to miserably flee. One of them, the one his mother had named Petrie, tried his best to get further away from the massive monsters threatening everything he had ever known. Where was momma? Where was daddy? Where were those who were the only sources of comfort in this odd, wide world? The tiny flyer shuddered inconsolably as he looked at the bloody display before him, not able to make any sense of it. The only thing he knew was that he was threatened by a force like nothing he had ever known and some instinct within him cried him to flee, no matter how weak it still was within the young hatchling.

However, that moment was a short one and even if the sharpteeth did their best, they knew their window of opportunity was closing quickly. They quickly stepped forward and tore two other hatchlings’ bodies open and swallowed most of their torsos before quickly heading out into the open skies, making sure to leave quickly enough in order to not leave any chance for the devastated mother to follow them into the still-lingering mist. They knew that even now, there was no reason to take any risks that would ruin their thus far successful hunt and they couldn’t care in the least about what kind of pain they were leaving behind them.

The female felt a choking grip around her throat as she landed beside her nest, choking bitter tears inside as she looked at the broken bodies of her three children. The sight of their unseeing eyes on their ruined faces would haunt her forever as would their ruined, half-eaten bodies that were lying in sickening positions, each of them crying for their mommy in Volant’s eyes. The only thing that prevented her from completely succumbing to her inner pain were the frightened voices of her surviving children. Her walking was forced and unnatural and her voice was anything but reassuring as she closed the living hatchlings into her embrace, attempting to stay strong for their sake.

“It’s alright children, it all over now. Please stop crying…” She spoke before breaking into consolable tears, knowing that the three corpses lied just before her, and that they were dead because of her. Her presence seemed to calm the children somewhat but it was clear they understood at least something about what had happened. Even in her collapsed mental state, she heard a silent sound as her brother landed behind her. She had absolutely no strength left to open her beak but to her relief, it was the male who spoke first.

“I’m so very sorry, Volant, for everything. Should I… I take the children away?” He asked in an equally mournful voice, tears falling from his eyes as well. That moment felt unreal for both of the siblings: both of them felt like their hearts were screaming to allow to burst their pain out but Volant managed to still retain part of her composure in order to help her children begin to calm down and Pterano wanted nothing less than to bring more pain to the hapless mother. Volant twitched noticeably as she heard those words, still not willing to accept their cause as anything more than a bad dream that would wear away soon. However, she soon turned at the male, lingering tears filling her eyes as she nodded at him, knowing she wouldn’t have the courage to do that. Pterano walked closer to her before asking her another question with an even more silent voice than before.

“When I return, I… I can look after them. I know you…” He said but he was immediately rebuked by his sister. Volant waved her hand dismissively, taking several more seconds before she could form any words.

“No, I… They need me. Leave us be, brother.” She said, not able to think anything else but her own guilt. Pterano would have wanted to press his point further but decided against it. He merely gave the female a sad nod of approval as he raised the three dead children from the ground and headed down from the nest, knowing that her sister needed some time to sort out her thoughts… as did he.

An appalled look rose to Pterano’s face as he lowered the children into the ground. Finally, the gates of his own emotions were opened as he no longer had to keep a brave face up for anyone. This wasn’t how any of it was supposed to go! The flyer leaned against a nearby tree, letting himself fall to a sitting position as he buried his face in his hands. This wasn’t the grand journey to the paradise he had thought it would be. Now, his trusted companion was gone and the dead bodies beside him disturbed him even deeper. He had seldom been as inconsolable as when he spoke to the remains of the children who would never see another day.

“Rest well, children. I’m so sorry I couldn’t help any of you. Uncle Pterano wasn’t strong to do what I had to. Just… forgive me!” He wailed, some part in his mind pointing towards the obvious fact that what had happened was his sister’s fault, not his. If she hadn’t left the hatchlings, these poor flyers wouldn’t lie beside him lifeless! Yet, even then, he couldn’t even bring himself to put the blame to Volant as even he had been in love long ago… and he knew that no dinosaur would just stay still while watching their mate being slaughtered before their eyes.

It would have been shocking to any observer to see the usually so-proud flyer in his condition but even now, Pterano wasn’t one to give up. He would miss Tuulen greatly but now, the most important question was to how to move forward. Inside, he took great pride that it had been idea to search the nest’s surroundings that had prevented an even worse disaster. In fact… so very often, it had been him who had helped the two other flyers in so many different things, from searching for food to handling their relationship with the other kinds. That feeling of self-confidence swept away some of the worst sorrow within the male’s mind even if he still knew that the most horrifying task lay before him.

With a heavy sigh, he raised the three children with his legs and headed towards a nearby hilltop. There, they would have the easiest time embarking on their final journey to the Great Beyond and the light-brown flyer knew that was all the closure he or anyone other could get in this sickening situation. He cringed as the breeze rose suddenly but that mattered little as he lowered the corpses to the wind-beaten hill, raising his gaze towards the still-grey heights. He looked at the sight for a few moments before he whispered to whatever would be up there listening to his final lament.

“Have a good flight, children. And Tuulen… please look after them.”

Her heavy panting started to slowly ease as she saw the worst panic disappear from the eyes of her children. Inside, Volant’s entire body ached with her mental anguish and even now, being forced to stay strong for the hatchlings made her more than sick. She would have just wanted to jump from the cliff and escape the pain of this world but she simply couldn’t do that not now. She trembled noticeably as for the first time since the accident, a certain name rose to her mind.

Tuulen, where are you when I need you? Please, come back to me! Please…

She fell to her knees as she thought of their first encounter on a range of mountains far to the south on a time of mating of the flyers. Not once had she regretted her choice and Tuulen had been all she could have asked for… This simply couldn’t be true! He had to be alive! And even worse, she couldn’t bear to turn around now to see the bloody and gory stains behind her even if her brother had done her a great service, one that no parent, or an uncle, should be forced to do in their lives. She thanked her luck that the children were far too young to really understand the full weight of everything that they had seen… but, all of those slightly hopeful thoughts were washed away as the female realized what would follow.

This had all been her fault… all of it! She could have just forced Tuulen not to go and at the very least, she could never atone for leaving the children to die! What in the name of the Bright Circle had she thought she was doing? Volant knew she didn’t deserve to live after what she had done but she simply couldn’t force herself to live her adorable babies all alone in this world. Inside her, only a tiny flicker of hope flickered: the hope of one day being able to watch her children grow safe in the Great Valley. She and Tuulen had sworn to do their all to continue their line and to give their ancestors some reason for pride.

Volant had never been one to see her family as some kind of responsibility but now, as she looked at the faces of the children whose lives she had brought into danger, she could see no greater purpose than to safeguard their future. It had to be some kind of charge brought to her by the Bright Circle or the lesser stars of the sky, even if she had already failed some of her hatchlings miserably. Volant raised her teary eyes at the sky, praying for some kind of hints about how to move forward. Even now, the Great Valley was her only hope for salvation but how could she even hope to reach it without her beloved mate? How could she continue to live, knowing that the blood of her babies was in her hands? Minutes passed slowly as the evening grew darker, soon to hide the battered family under its cover. All sense of time was lost to the female until she suddenly a silent voice behind her.

“It is done, Volant. The children are on their way to a better place now.” Pterano said, not really expecting his sister question his long absence in any way. He had needed more time to gather his thoughts and courage to have this discussion he needed both of them needed to have. Without Tuulen, nothing would ever be the same again and both of the flyers knew it more than well. At first, Pterano thought his sister wasn’t going to answer him but after many moments, she finally turned her gaze at the male and spoke in forced, teary gasps. Her initial success in suppressing her emotions started to finally break as the children fell to sleep one by one.

“Brother… Pterano, I know it’s all my fault. Don’t make things any worse.” She said, her mind dwelling over and over again in the very moment she leaped from the nest to save her mate. She knew that second would return countless times into her nightmares. Pterano’s eyes widened at first until he realized just how his sister saw his presence. After forcing himself to calm down, he took a sigh as he approached the female.

“You know I wouldn’t do that, dear sister. I know you understand just what happened.” He said simply, willing to help his little sister face the reality in the eyes. He knew just how important it was not to try to sugarcoat facts in the Mysterious Beyond even if his words made Volant’s sobs even worse. He stopped beside his sister before speaking to her again. This time his face let out more of his true emotions as he raise his gaze at the grace of the night sky.

“Tuulen was a great flyer. I never knew him as well as you do but I could see how much you trusted each other and how he gave his all to keep us safe. I’m happy you could call him your mate.” He said, a faraway glimmer deep within his eyes. Volant finally looked at the spot where he had fallen, grateful that it was no covered by impenetrable darkness. She fought to take another breath in her moment of despair, saying the only thing she could to his brother.

“I… I loved him more than anything else! He… he was beside me all these seasons… If only I could have said how much I cared for him…” She wailed, looking at Pterano in despair. The latter took a sigh as he turned towards Volant and put a hand on her shoulder.

“I know, sister. I know. All of us would have deserved as much but sometimes, that is just not possible. We all know how the Circle of Life works in unpredictable ways. We all knew how unlikely it was that we all would reach the Great Valley together. Didn’t we?” He said gently, thinking of the days their precious Hanging Heights were wiped of each and all green food. Every flyer there had thought that it would be the end for all of them but… cycles of the Night Circle had passed and yet all three of them persevered. However, the female’s next words were ones that Pterano had never expected to hear.

“And we would have if you hadn’t forced himself to follow you on that stupid quest! Without your idea he would still be with me! As would the children!” Volant cried, her expression suddenly turning into an accusing one. Pterano’s eyes widened as he tried to understand the full depth of Volant’s accusation. Inside, he wasn’t completely taken aback by it as he hadn’t expected Volant to face the truth that easily. But that didn’t prevent her words from hurting him as he, too, had lost a trusted friend as well as nephews and nieces.  He frowned deeply and raised his voice as he stepped forward to confront his sister.

“I can’t even tell how you must feel, sister, but I won’t accept your unjust accusations! You know as well as I do that without my warning, those bastards would have sneaked upon us uncontested and probably even kill us all before we could raise a finger! Is that what you would have wanted?” He asked, narrowing his eyes as he looked at Volant’s expression first turn into a confrontation one. However, what happened next melted Pterano’s heart completely. He could see slowly but surely as Volant faced the truth, all of her earlier efforts to deny it collapsed slowly but surely. After a short moment, Volant collapsed against her brother, trying to form any words in her moment of total helplessness.

“They… they’re gone! Pterano, what can we do? We can’t go on without him but… we cannot stay here! We… we’re doomed…” She said as she cried against the male’s chest. Pterano couldn’t help but feel his own horror rise as well. He fought to keep himself calm in order to make some sense of it all and with herculean efforts, he managed to voice his thoughts. His voice shuddered horribly as he spoke to the female.

“No, we’re not, sister. Not as long as you remember why we go on.” He said, hoping to help his sister to begin her road to recovery. At first, his words had no effect on the bluish flyer but soon, she managed to give some kind of an answer.

“You know I’d die in order to save even one of my babies as well as I do! But that didn’t help Tuulen and it won’t help me!” She cried as she looked her brother in the eyes. Pterano forced himself to calm down enough to give his answer. His loss wasn’t as severe as his sister’s and he saw this moment as some kind of responsibility for her little sister.

“It can if you give your all for them. You know that the Night Circle and the lesser lights are looking over us even now. Even Tuulen might still help you one day when you least expect it. Our lives are full of losses but I’ve seen many wondrous things as well. Just try to see them no matter how difficult that may be. Remember some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart.” He said, trying to raise some courage within his sister. In some way, he took courage from the fact that he seemed able to help Volant like this… like he had helped her mate as well. Even if he tried to push that thought to the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but feel his decisions and deeds had been correct far more often than those of any other dinosaur he knew. Maybe time would come when he’d be able to use those skills to the benefit of even more dinosaurs… part of him even seemed to know it.

Volant took a deep breath as she disengaged from her brother’s embrace, looking above her with a longing gaze. She knew Pterano spoke those words simply in order to cheer her up but even then, what choice did she have? Deep down, she knew she wouldn’t let down her children and in that case, she had only one choice: to reach the Great Valley. And on that journey… even the traditional beliefs could be better than the endless despair and sorrow that she knew she’d dwell in forever. She looked at her brother mournfully, knowing that this was a day whose shadow would linger over her forever.

“I doubt there are any of those on the way but maybe, just maybe, you might be right, brother. I just wonder if we still have what it takes.” She said, taking each breath as slowly as she simply could. Pterano let himself to also calm down a bit as he gave his answer.

“I promise you we do. I won’t let anything like this happen ever again.” He said as the brother and sister gave each other an understanding nod in the late evening which slowly turning into full-fledged night. The lesser lights were reflected within Volant’s eyes as he looked at a new star she could swear she’d never seen before.

Let that be true. Farewell, my love. May we meet again one day.

“And then what happened, uncle Pterano? Did the sharpteeth get what they deserve?” The young boy asked in excitement as he looked at the older flyer who was completely drawn into his storytelling. Petrie enjoyed these moments without an end as his uncle really seemed to live a life of adventure and excitement. He could see that all of his siblings were just as drawn into the tale as each of them greatly savored these moments their uncle was with them and not dealing with the other kinds. Pterano’s eyes widened slightly as he heard his nephew’s words, not wasting any time in answering to the young boy.

“But of course, my dear nephew! It was with my help they ever knew of the sharpteeth and were able to stop them before those villains got the chance to even get a close to the spiketails. Trying to keep them alive has helped us as well even if, between all of us, all of them are more than a little bit slow-witted and slow to learn how to best defend themselves. But please, don’t tell that to the threehorns.” He said with a slight chuckle, proud of his work in making the other herds trust his guidance in slaughtering each and any sharpteeth that got even a step too close to the herd. He was more than amazed that since that horrible day five Cold Times ago, no more tragedies had come to pass and he didn’t hide the fact that he found himself worthy of most of the thanks about that fact. His moment of self-love was soon interrupted by one of the girls.

“But momma has told us that not all sharpteeth are those pitiful fastbiters! She has told that there are also many large and much scarier ones out there! Have you ever seen of any them?” She cried, causing some of her siblings to shudder at mere thought of those massive monsters. Even Pterano frowned at the mention of the two footers but before that, he knew it was his duty to rebuke the child’s earlier comment.

“I have but so that any of you won’t have any stupid thoughts, there is nothing pitiful about the fastbiters either! A flyer who thinks that won’t live long because if you give them even a small opening, they will tear you to the ground and before you know it, you are torn to pieces that will find themselves in their bellies within a few seconds! Is that clear?” He said with a surprisingly threatening voice, causing some of the younger flyers to cover in fear. Pterano knew this wasn’t the kind of stuff Volant would want him to tell the children but he couldn’t afford them to underestimate any sharptooth. Seeing that his message appeared to have reached the kids, he relaxed slightly before he continued speaking.

“That is right, my nephews and nieces. They will not hesitate to do just that. As for the larger, two footer sharpteeth, stay as far away from them as you simply can. There is something our kind can do against the fastbiters but against a two footer, consider it as a kind of storm that kills anything in its path. Those are some of the most horrifying dinosaurs there are but as in many different things, our kind is blessed. Unlike those poor foolish landwalkers, we can see a two footer far, far away. And I tell you, use that gift and you’ll survive for far longer.” He said, earning worried looks from the children. Their mother had never gone this far too make them scared of the sharpteeth but then again, their uncle was often much more straight than she was. Petrie looked at Pterano in expectation as he presented his next question.

“But certainly you can still stand against them, uncle! You’ve told you can do anything!” He said, earning a slight look of hesitation from the older flyer. Pterano knew he might have given some answers in the past that might not have been completely true but when it came to these things, he wouldn’t lie to the children about things that might one day be questions of life and death.

“Well, Petrie, that is a question that…”

“That will have to wait for another day! The other herds are already on the move and we have to make sure not to fall behind!” Volant’s sudden voice broke the silence and Pterano’s face fell as he realized his moment of rest was now over. He enjoyed telling his tales to the children without an end and he could easily see that they felt the same way. Still, he regretted these moments had to be so brief but even now, there little time so waste during this endless march of death and hope. He took a brief smile as he heard the collective “Awww” from the children but even then, he knew his sister was right.

“Listen to your mother, kids. You know that we have to stay with the others for our own safety. Now, let’s go!” He said while saw most of the children took a deep breath before they rose to their wings. However, a lone figure was left standing to the lifeless ground, taking the same old look of embarrassment and pleading as he looked at his mother. Volant’s face fell as she walked next to Petrie and spoke to him in a heartfelt, even pleading voice.

“Petrie… you know this simply cannot continue. You know I nor your uncle cannot carry you forever. Your brothers and siblings learned to fly already before the last Cold Time.” She said, not a flicker of accusation in her voice. However, her son looked even more desperate than he had before and his voice was a far cry from the one he just used to address his uncle.

“Petrie know that… but… it just too difficult! Me simply fall to the ground each time me try and me no want that!” He said, knowing of his precarious situation within his family. However, something in his mother’s tone told him that today’s speech wasn’t similar to the previous ones. His mood only grew darker as he heard his uncle’s voice speak to him.

“She’s right, Petrie. You have to do this soon or we won’t be able to protect you. I wish it weren’t so but I am only telling you the truth, nephew.” He said glumly, earning a look of even surprising anger from the boy. Volant was slightly surprised by her brother’s words as she had wished that there would never be need for such threats within her family. Pterano looked in shock as Petrie snapped back at him immediately.

“Petrie know all of that and it doesn’t help that you tell things like that! Things already bad…” He said but before he could finish, a sudden cry from one of his siblings interrupted the conversation.

“Just snap out of it, Petrie! We have a long enough flight before you whining about everything!” One of the girls cried, causing Volant to cringe deeply. She knew that there was some bad blood forming between Petrie and his siblings but she also could see why the other children were frustrated with their brother. She crossed her arms as she spoke to her son pleadingly.

“I’ll carry just this time but listen to me, Petrie. We’ll wake up tomorrow before the Bright Circle rises to the sky and we won’t stop until you learn to fly or at the very least glide. Hop on, my son.” She said as she saw a deep sigh from Petrie before he took a firm hold of his mother’s shoulders. He couldn’t help but feel humiliated for being forced to resort to this but he simply didn’t have a choice. Volant only prayed she could do what she had promised. She exchanged glances with her brother before they took off, managing to hide her look of slight resentment towards the male.

She was far from content with her brother’s actions in the past days even if she had thus far hidden her sentiments from her brothers. Yes, Pterano had been an invaluable help in the times following Tuulen’s passing but… it even seemed like the male thought it was up to him to tell her and the children what to do even if he himself spent more than his fair share of time with the other herds. Volant loved him with any reservations but it seemed that some kind of ambition grew ever stronger within Pterano by the day. Even then, she’d see this day to the end as her poor son needed more of her help than her brother needed rebuke of his surprising sentiments. Volant took a brief sigh as she looked into the horizon, praying the Valley wouldn’t be too far away anymore.

“There were a few bellydraggers around that small river we passed a few hours ago but otherwise, this land seemed completely free of any sharpteeth. You may all be at peace.” Pterano said as he glanced at the three longnecks before him. Usually, he disliked talking to them as for some reason, they seemed far more hostile towards him as some of the other herds but even they had accepted his help in telling of any sharpteeth and slowly but surely, it seemed like the massive dinosaurs seemed to understand just how valuable an ally he really was. The foremost of the three longnecks took a slightly more relaxed look as she answered, looking longingly towards the setting Bright Circle.

“That’s at least a slight relief. Thank you for your help, Pterano. My Littlefoot seems to have had just enough excitement already for today.” She with a slight laugh as she quickly glanced at the tiny form sleeping on her back peacefully. Pterano took a slightly forced smile as he glanced at the boy before addressing the female again.

“I think most young ones have, Tranquil. In any case, don’t let down your guard for a moment. I couldn’t see those villains but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any here. In the end, our survival is up to each of us.” He said, more than happy with the slight network of safety he had managed to create between the herds. It had successfully repelled many of the sharpteeth, making Pterano feel a bit easier. He had managed to end further tragedies after the one so very, very long ago and in doing so, he had again proven his capability as a leader. In fact, he was a leader, at least after all he had done to form at least a modicum of cooperation between the herds. Maybe, he would soon get a chance to prove his worth to everyone.

Inside, however, the flyer’s confidence turned into fear very quickly. He had never been able to accept his inability to save his sister’s mate on that day and he knew he’d do his everything to prevent history from repeating itself. Not only had he managed to forge something new in these horrifying days but he had also successfully been able push his self-blame away, something which was more than precious to him. The longneck looked at him and nodded approvingly, knowing she’d never put her complete trust on any flyer on issues that had any importance for her or her son’s safety. She then turned away from the flyer before giving him her last answer of the day.

“That goes without saying, flyer. Stay well.” She said somewhat coldly, causing Pterano to frown deeply. He was slightly annoyed by the longneck’s antics but in the end, that was nothing new to him. She and her kind were always so self-confident but at some point, they’d always see just how invaluable he was to them and all of the herds!

The flyer took a brief breath to calm himself down before he took off from the ground, knowing it was time for him to return to his sister after another day of flying and scouting for any sharpteeth. He was more than weary but he only relished that sensation as some kind of proof that he was doing the right thing. It wasn’t many minutes until he landed near Volant’s nest only to see she and the children were already asleep. Noticing this, Pterano looked at a distant hill before turning his gaze at the skies.

It was often on nights like these that Pterano often seemed to reflect on his efforts. Nobody could deny the help he had provided many of the families after their horrible losses at the claws of the predators, including his own. He only prayed that those deeds could one day provide him with some kind of absolution from his inability to stop Volant on that distant day. If he one day could lead the herds and the Valley, he could for the first time prevent any further losses to the sharpteeth and on that day, certainly he could forgive himself of his former failures. A look of longing could be seen within Pterano’s eyes as he felt a warm sensation within his chest: yes, this was his place in the world, his destiny, and he would see it through. A hopeful thought rose within his mind as he looked at the lesser lights, knowing he had their favor for the rest of his days.

However, unlike the other male had initially thought, not all of the children were asleep in this hour. Thinking of the coming day, Petrie couldn’t banish the endless nightmares swirling within his mind. He had managed to fall asleep once but it was only minutes until he found himself falling helplessly towards the ground, waking up only seconds before his frail body would be crushed into pieces. He had already felt miserable before but after that sleep story, he simply couldn’t force himself to rest anymore. He frowned deeply as he rose up in order to take a brief walk.

What in earth be wrong with Petrie? Why can all me brothers and sisters fly but me not? Petrie have wings just like them and me not different from them in any other way!
He thought as he brought his hand to his right wing, not able to understand what he did wrong. If his mother was right, he simply had to get the air below them as in that situation, he would fly as if he wasn’t actually even trying to do that. But each time he tried anything, he couldn’t seem to wind any breeze to hold him up with obvious results.

However, his mother and uncle’s ultimatum today had hit him even more than she probably had realized. Petrie frowned deeply as he thought about his uncle’s words: if he couldn’t fly, they couldn’t protect him anymore. But… they couldn’t mean that! They just couldn’t! But… if actually were true, could they actually abandon him at some point? His thoughts grew ever more fearful as he saw the shadow of a large male flyer in the horizon that couldn’t belong to anyone else but uncle Pterano.

Inside, Petrie would have wanted to just go seek guidance from him but then he remembered that he agreed with his mother and there was no way around it: this was a challenge he’d have to get over himself. He gulped as he looked at a small branch close to the ground, figuring he could try to practice a bit by himself. He grabbed at the sides of the tree and forcefully, tore himself upwards towards the branch. His eyes turned into a look of horror as he looked towards the ground, hoping that this try wouldn’t end the same way as all of the previous ones. He smelled at the wind, trying to figure where the best breeze would blow and he already spread his wings into what he thought was the best position for him to stay in the air. He took a deep sigh… until he heard a voice that made his blood run cold.


“Ahh! Sharptooth!” He cried as he suddenly collapsed around the branch, shivering greatly. That sound was far louder and malevolent than any he had ever heard thus far in his entire life, the threat clear to anyone. Even in his panicked mind, the boy realized the voice had come from rather far away but close enough that the beast was attacking some family of the massive herd. Even now, some poor soul was forced to confront that beast of legend, one that Petrie had still hoped to be nothing more than some scary story his mother had come up with. However… there it was, somewhere in this very forest!

Immediately, Petrie dropped from the branch, ready to go to his uncle for any guidance on how to act in this situation. The young flyer had run this fast very seldom in his life and his pace only seemed to grow faster as form of the older male appeared closer and closer by the second. However, what came next froze him in his place completely. Many pillars of smoke suddenly fought their way away from the earth around him, engulfing him in their burning symphony. In this moment, he could only cry from the bottom of his heart.

“Uncle Pterano! Help me!”

That sound had stunned Pterano more than nearly any thing he could remember. A two footer… here? H… how could that be true? He had made sure that at least those massive monstrosities weren’t supposed to be anywhere nearby! And if that actually were true… he’d have to go see that everything went the best they ever could. However, those thoughts were completely interrupted as he suddenly heard the violent rumbling everywhere around him, not able to believe what was happening. An attack of a sharptooth and an earthshake on the same day? He gulped as he rose to his wings, the sound swallowing Petrie’s voice completely. He’d have to join his sister and make sure nothing worse would happen.

The sight of his uncle departing made the boy more panicked than he already was. He had never been forced to fend off himself in times of danger and that fact hardly helped him in this dangerous moment. However, it were his instincts that told him to jump through one of the pillars of smoke and to ignore the momentary pain they caused. Even now, he had to find his mother and uncle if he wanted to escape from here alive. He headed after his uncle, again lamenting ow pitiful his speed was compared to that of his family.

None of the developments within the herd were lost to Volant who immediately feared the worst. She had been torn wake from her uneasy sleep in a way few flyers would have wanted. However, she was happy that the best was nowhere near her but she looked in horror at the quickly spreading divides that were quickly moving through the landscape… even towards her and her children! She quickly turned to them and started to speak.

“This doesn’t look good at all children! Prepare to rise to you…” She started but she was cut short as her eyes widened almost unnaturally as she saw the empty spot within her nest, knowing full well to whom it belonged to. She wasted no time looking around her utterly devastated, crying in an alarmed voice.

“Petrie, where are you!? Come here if you hear me!” She cried but the Night Circle’s light revealed no trace of her poor, beloved son. At first, she was at a loss of what to do but it wasn’t long before her brother appeared into her line of sight. She didn’t know whether he had anything to say and frankly, she didn’t care at all. She immediately flew towards her and gave him a firm and clear command.

“Take the kids to safety, Pterano! Petrie is missing and I have to find him before it’s too late!” She cried as she flew with all her might. Pterano looked at her in surprise and tried to ask her a question.

“He… he is? Allow me to…” He started but Volant cried back, her voice even more hostile than before.

“Do as I told you! I’ll do this alone!” She cried, hoping she was right. Her heart ached as she thought about the situation, her mind racing in order to try to come up with some explanation where that poor boy was. He often slept less peacefully than his siblings so it wasn’t inconceivable that he would have wandered somewhere to calm down… especially on a night like this. A sting of guilt arose within the flyer as she realized that Petrie’s disappearance could very well be her fault. Another roar penetrated the land, this one even more furious than the last, making the female even more fearful than before. She wouldn’t let Petrie join his three poor siblings. She simply wouldn’t.

That scene was like one out of a nightmare for Petrie. He ran as fast as he could but he kept on tripping on some roots that were sticking of the ground, knowing a murderous beast was somewhere behind him. It seemed like the forest just went on and even then, would his family still be out there for him? Or… or had they finally decided they had had enough of a weakling like him and left him to defend himself? No, he simply wouldn’t believe that just yet. They had to be there searching for…

“Petrie, where are you? Oh Petrie, answer me!” The flyer heard his mother call, raising the young male’s spirits greatly. He tried to jump up and down to draw her attention as he answered her call.

“Petrie here, momma! Please, come before the sharptooth will get me!”

That voice made the female twitch as she turned to look at the forest below her. Where was he? The voice hadn’t come from far away so he had to be just below her. She immediately asked for his whereabouts and when she heard his call again, she immediately plunged towards the ground, finally seeing the tiny form all alone in the dark night. Seconds seemed to pass by so very agonizingly slowly but moment after moment, Petrie’s form grew closer. She panted urgently as she landed beside Petrie and spoke to him in an alarmed voice.

“Hop on, Petrie! We don’t have much time!” She cried as the boy gave her a warm smile and prepared to climb to her back. His voice was beyond happy as he spoke to the older dinosaur.

“Sure thing, momma! Let’s get away from h…” He started before a slight crack suddenly opened in the ground, another breath of smoke blowing Volant to her back. She screeched in fear as she felt Petrie lose his grip from her back before being blown back into  towards the increasingly violent ground. Volant’s eyes widened with fear as the crack suddenly widened even further, spitting even more of its burning cover into the air. Petrie looked in shock as her mother disappeared behind the wall of smoke, trembling even more than the raging ground around him. He wasted no time rising back to his feet and crying towards the direction her mother had been only a few moments earlier.

“Momma, please come get me! This place getting far too dangerous!” He cried but before anything more could happen, something happened that would haunt Petrie for a long, long time. He suddenly felt a massive branch hit his head while more of the ash in the air started falling above him. He hovered for a few seconds before his consciousness failed him, leaving the boy to lie in an ever-growing pile of ash fallen branches. His beak was just left sticking out of the pile, preventing him from suffocating but making spotting him a more than tricky job even in daylight.

The sudden eruption of the smoke made Volant’s world collapse momentarily as she looked at the wall that seemed to have swallowed her son completely. She gasped in despair as she rose to her wings and attempted to head towards the spot where she had last heard his voice. Second after second passed but only the ever-worsening spits of the burning smoke made her search more desperate. She cried with all her might as she tried to see a sign of her beloved child.

“Where are you, Petrie? Please, cry with your might!” She cried as she circled ever lower to the ground but no matter how she tried to investigate the area below her, the darkness and black smoke blocked much of her line of sight. She whimpered in fear as she heard no response, her mind not willing to accept the most likely outcome. All these seasons, she had struggled without her mate believing that one day, the fate, the ancestors, or some force would reward her with the paradise she had searched for for so long. Her already-stretched mind simply would not accept such an outcome!

Volant frowned deeply as she dived towards the ground even if she knew such an endeavor was more than risky but she would take any risk in this horrifying situation. She landed to the ground, looking around herself urgently, her eyes widening with fear as she looked at the ever-growing chasm that seemed to grow ever more horrifying by the second. She again cried for her son, praying that she would again hear his innocent voice while she started to run around that area, trying to find any sign of Petrie. And indeed, a new sound reached her ears but not in the form she had hoped for.

The sharptooth’s cry rang over the forest once again but that sounded like a desperate cry of horror more than any threat. That horrible wail again divided the female’s attention and it was only a matter of seconds that she managed to avoid being hit by a falling tree which seemed to crush anything that was still standing around Volant to nothing. After that, another barrage of smoke was released from the hellish chasms around the flyer, finally causing Volant to again rise to her wings. She looked at the scene once more, the flaming smoke and crushed soil reflecting from her eyes. If Petrie hadn’t managed to answer and he was in the hotspot of this cataclysm… tears started falling from Volant’s eyes as she spoke slightly.

“Please forgive me, Petrie. I… I did my best but it… it just wasn’t enough.” She said as she turned around, leaving the tiny form of his son lying in the pile of ash, the young flyer left to fight for each breath and when the day would dawn, the boy would face a situation which would change his life forever.

The flyer’s eyes widened in shock as he looked at the enormous gorge before him, not ever expecting to witness anything like this. It seemed like the entire world had been torn in two like the earth and the sky. He could see that the children were at least as shocked as he was and there were many more gasping families all around them. Nearly all of the herds were slowly gathering together, not one of them willing to face this catastrophe alone. And most of them were not in better situation than the flyers were. Pterano frowned in concern as he looked at the direction she had parted ways with his sister, praying that she’d bring his nephew back here safely. His thoughts were interrupted as an elderly male voice called behind him.

“Thank goodness so many of you are safe! Have any of you seen Tranquil? We haven’t seen her since the sharptooth fell down there and we can’t find her or Littlefoot anywhere!” He cried but Pterano didn’t even think of answering the longneck. Thankfully, it was a female threehorn voice that answered the longneck even if it was in a way that made even the flyer cringe.

“None of us care about your problems in the least, longneck, as long as Cera is also out there!” She cried, causing the longneck to answer in a somewhat agitated voice. Pterano’s eyes were locked on another herd of threehorns slowly being pulled into the abyss by the collapsing round, their cries haunting the light-brown flyer greatly. He slowly pulled his wing before the children, speaking to them as gently as he could.

“Don’t look, children. That sight would only return in your sleep stories.” He said, feeling his heart beat terribly in his chest. So many were already lost today… hopefully, none of his family would have to join those poor fools that were falling into the gorge, none of them never to be seen again… Suddenly, his eyes caught the sight of something that made him snap out of his melancholy. It was Volant but… Petrie was nowhere to be seen! As she grew closer, Pterano could see the look of sorrow on her face, confirming everything to the male. So, this day of tragedy indeed would also touch the flyer family in the most horrifying way possible. As Volant landed, Pterano gave her an understanding look as he confirmed the inevitable.

“So you weren’t in time to save him?” He whispered, earning a broken nod from his sister. Volant looked at the other dinosaurs mournfully before answering her brother.

“I failed him… just like I did the other three.” Was all she could say, the look in her eyes finally making something snap within Pterano’s mind. Despite his best efforts, something like this had happened and like back then, it was all due to the bad choices of others! If Petrie hadn’t wandered away, if Volant had been quicker and if the herds had chosen their sleeping places more carefully, all would be well. He gritted his teeth together as he spoke to Volant one more time.

“Then, all I have to do is to make sure that won’t happen again.” He said simply before rising to his wings, looking in anger at the longneck and threehorn whose fight seemed to be spreading across the herds. However, at this point he saw nothing of it, all of his concentration being put into his next words. He stopped above the two and his voice rang through the herds as he started to speak.

“All of my respected companions! As all of us know, we have been on this journey for six Cold Times and during that time, all we have received for it has been death and suffering. Our world has been a place of danger before but just think of all the times the sharpteeth have attacked us before! Think of this day! Did any of it have to come to pass? Most of it could have been avoided if we hadn’t tried to only protect our own families! What if we had worked together from the very beginning, for our common good?” He cried, his mind darkening as he looked at the outraged faces of some of the dinosaurs. Yes, he knew not all would approve of his words but right now, he didn’t care of any of it. He knew he was a born leader and only he would be able to see this charge through. He frowned deeply as one of the spiketails cried to him in annoyance.

“Get lost, flyer! In case you didn’t notice, we have far more important things to think than your senseless ramblings!” He cried, causing Pterano to fly closer to him and answering him in an annoyed voice.

“In case you didn’t notice, we are all in the same situation and if you think you are somehow special, then you are terribly mistaken! And with a mindset like that, we are bound to face a tragedy after another until there are none of us left! You might not remember but my sister has lost her mate and four of her children and I want to do my all to ensure that will never happen again! That’s a promise I’ve made her many times.” He said, lowering his voice as he looked at the spiketail grit his teeth towards the smaller dinosaur.
Volant, on the other hand, stared her brother in shock. Yes, she had noticed Pterano grow more confident and self-centered by the day but to think he’d try to elevate himself to being the leader of the herds… and with her and her sons and daughters’ expense! The flyer felt her hands to turn into fists as anger built inside her towards her brother, the female being able to accept this move from him. He would hear about this very, very soon.

For a moment, the scene was silent before the female threehorn moved towards him with teary eyes. Pterano was even taken aback by the change in her composure, knowing her mostly as a near mirror of her mate, always more than ready to defend her pride and that of her family. Now, however, her voice was broken with sorrow as she spoke to the flyer.

“Then what is it that you are proposing? How would you strive to keep our children safe?” She asked, disturbing the flyer with her calm voice. However, Pterano didn’t allow that to bother him for much longer before he gave his answer.

“I have helped all of you to keep the sharpteeth for as long as I can remember. We have had much successes and I promise, I’d do much better if more would help me in return. For many seasons, we have followed the Bright Circle without any deeper thought and we still haven’t even reached the stone that looks like a longneck! I say we take a new course close to our original one but from now on, we work as one. I ask all of you, follow me and I promise you, I’ll lead you into the Valley without one more tragedy!” He cried, knowing that the die was now cast. Either his words would be met with applause or jeers but at least he had now offered these dinosaurs a better future. He could only hope that they would be smart enough to take this chance. He looked at the female longneck who was slowly walking towards him, more than interested in what he’d hear.

“I hate to admit it but the flyer is right. Much of the losses we’ve went through are simply due to our inability to look after each other. I assure you, I have no more wish to work with you than any of you but still, I cannot help but agree that my grandson could still be alive if we had looked after each other in our time of need. If you wish to do the same, I propose that we work more closely together from now on.” She started, earning a wide smile from Pterano. However, when the elderly longneck saw that, she took a darker expression and spoke to the male.

“However, if you believe there’s any reason for us to follow you, you are badly mistaken. I respect your work, Pterano, but you have shown none of the qualities of a leader. And I cannot say I’m too happy with even your help as you didn’t even spot the sharptooth that took my daughter and grandson’s life. I cannot blame you for that but neither does that make you any worthier of our trust.” The longneck said bitterly, earning many nods of approval from the other dinosaurs. Some of them were disturbed by the larger dinosaur’s first proposition but surprisingly many were confused about what to believe. Pterano himself was devastated by those words and he tried to give some kind of answer.

“B… but… I said I cannot see everything! If there had been anything…” He started before being silenced by one of the spiketails.

“Just save it, Pterano. You aren’t capable of leading any of us! But longneck… I think you are more right than you might even realize. We… we need to work together if we are to get out of here alive!” He said in a serious voice, causing Pterano to try to give his answer but before he could even attempt to speak, another cry drowned the flyer’s voice below it.

“What crap! I ain’t joining with some cursed flatheads or spiketails that would only keep me down! We will be continuing like we’ve gone thus far!”

“But we cannot! Didn’t you hear just what they said?” Another voice cried, each of them making Pterano’s attempts more difficult. After a few more tries, his face fell completely and he took a deep sigh before turning back. Perhaps those idiots didn’t realize his worth just yet but they would soon enough. And then the next disaster would strike, he would be ready… and he would point out just why he was they key to all the herds’ survival. Only a short time of waiting and then, he’d lead the others to paradise! The flyer nearly smiled as he landed near Volant, speaking to her contently.

“What a shame it is that the others don’t have true vision! But they will soon have, sis…” He spoke before he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his right cheek. His eyes widened immediately as the agony spread across his head as he looked at Volant whose angry face immediately returned the male to reality.

“Be ashamed of yourself, Pterano! Petrie’s body must still be warm and you are already trying to benefit from your nephew’s death! What is wrong with you, brother? Why are you doing this?” She said, her voice a mix between hurt and anger. Her eyes were moist as she crossed her hands, not knowing how this speech would end or whether she could ever forgive Pterano of his unbelievably greed and insensitiveness. The male stuttered severely, trying to find anything to say.

“B… but… I did all of this to you and Petrie’s sake! I should have led us all from the start! That way, Tuulen and the poor children would still be alive! I only want to ensure that no one else has to die!” He said in a stunned voice, not expecting anything like this from his sister. He had expected her to understand, even support him but this was something he had never anticipated. However, his words only made Volant more frustrated.

“Led us all from the start?” Do you even hear yourself, Pterano? Even now, you have spent too much time with those weaklings, time you could have spent helping me and getting to know the kids better! It isn’t Tuulen’s fault they have never had a father but it is your fault they don’t even have a real uncle!” She cried, knowing she was being even too harsh on her brother but this wasn’t the first time she had voiced her displeasure at Pterano’s unwillingness to assume a larger role in the family. The male, on the other hand, gasped deeply as he took a few steps, backwards, not willing to understand what he was hearing. Was Volant actually claiming what he thought she was? He lowered his head on his sister’s level and nearly growled at her.

“You dare claim I’ve left you alone with the children? I’ve done my all to them in more ways than anyone else and yet you dare accuse me of not caring about you enough?” He said, not willing to listen to such crap from anyone, not even his “dear” sister. Volant frowned even deeper as she answered, not wanting a fight in the least but she simply had to do this for the sake of her family.

“Yes, I do! You seem to believe that any of these landwalkers care about any of us and even a hatchling knows what kind of trash that is! We can only help ourselves but I also like to think that either those who came before us or the Bright Circle itself wishes to see us reach the Valley! The world works in many mysterious ways but at least they wish to help us, unlike your so-called allies!” She shouted, happy that the other sounds drowned hers to anyone else but her brother. The male gave an annoyed snort as he spoke, willing to show his disdain for his sister’s words.

“Those who came before?” Good sister, at least my ideas have some real impact to our survival, unlike some hollow beliefs! They might help us in our times of need, I admit, but you cannot simply put your survival on the basis of mere guesses!” He said, his expression turning even to a mocking one. Volant looked at him in growing outrage as she spoke.

“At least it has allowed me to focus on helping the children whereas you have mostly just bragged about your so-called deeds! Just admit it, Pterano. you are not a leader of any herd but my brother and as such, a part of our family! Please, drop your ambitions from our sake!” Volant begged, her rage turning into near-pleading. She didn’t want to lose Pterano but she wanted to make him see reason. The male looked at her frustration as a new call reached his ears.

“Then it’s settled! From now on, we go on as one herd and we’ll make all our decisions together! This way, we will make sure that all our knowledge will be put to good use! Come my friends, we still have a long way to go! But first, we have to search for any more survivors that… that still might be alive out there.” The elderly female longneck said in a heavy but uplifting voice. She still harbored hopes to see her daughter alive out there even if she knew just how horrifying her wounds had been.

Those words suddenly changed everything within Pterano’s mind. So, that was how it would be. He knew that working together would only end in more mistakes which would really open a new opportunity to him. There was no reason to keep arguing with Volant when he would soon be able to show her his full abilities and the salvation he would bring. When he would show just what he would achieve, she would finally throw away her beliefs and join him at last! Pterano already saw all of this in his heart as he sneered silently at his sister.

“Very well, sister. I see what you mean. Please forgive me for my mistakes and we can go on together, all of us.” He said while looking at the children. His words would have seemed half-hearted to a blind bellydragger but even if Volant didn’t feel confident at all about her brother’s words, she knew there was absolutely no way she could keep the conversation going and get any more concessions from him. For better or worse, the siblings at least seemingly had found some common ground.

“I do, Pterano. But please, don’t force me to take this issue up ever again.” She said, her anger slowly turning to sorrow again as she remembered what had made this moment so much more painful than the last ones. She would have wanted to go search for Petrie again but even now, she knew it would achieve little. Pterano, on the other hand, crossed his arms as he looked at his sister, the knowledge of Petrie’s loss also returning into his mind. But even more, another thought flowed within him. He would play Volant’s little game for a little longer to buy himself another opportunity to take control of the herd. Those dreams gleamed within the male’s eyes as he followed his sister to the first meeting of the herds.

And indeed, it didn’t take long for that another opportunity to arise. The Bright Circle rose and fell beyond the horizon three times and no matter how the dinosaurs tried to find any signs of the rock that looked like a longneck or the Mountains that Burn, they were nowhere to be seen. Even worse were the scenes that followed when the true losses of the Great Earthshake made themselves known to the herd. Not one eye had been dry on that day but for many, that confirmation had only been what they had expected from the very beginning.

But the real shock was that the next days had not seen a major improvement for the herd. The sharpteeth suddenly seemed much more aggressive and daring than before and Stronghorn and her children had only been some of the casualties of those days of horror and regret. Yet, the herd persevered one challenge after another even if voices of dissent grew stronger by the day. Only to boil over when the group of dinosaurs found themselves in a large pass whose opposing mouth had been completely blocked by a massive pile of rocks that had collapsed from the nearby mountainside. Mr. Threehorn stepped forward and looked at the rest of the herd accusingly.

“I said we should have stayed far from this place in the first place! I’m here only because I am bound to idiots like you!” He said, the thought of walking all the way back with his ever-deepening hunger and the still-aching pain over the loss of his mate weighing in his mind heavily. He frowned even deeper as Ura stepped forward and answered to him in anger.

“Don’t blame us, you stupid hornface! We have to follow the Bright Circle and this was the closest we could to get doing that! We couldn’t know the pass was blocked!
A deep sigh escaped Volant’s beak as she sat down on a small rock to follow yet another fight between the families. It had already happened so many times before she couldn’t even bring herself to complain as the horrible sensation of hungered grew stronger in hers and the bellies of her children. She did her best to ignore it even her vision was getting blurred from that weakness. She tiredly exclaimed at the kids, trying to stay as calm as possible.

“Sit down, kids. It seems we’ll take a brief pause here.” She said, looking at the strengthening discord before her. She listened wearily as her children started to complain as they so often did.

“Again? We should just leave them and reach the Valley ourselves, momma!”

"Can those stupid landwalkers do nothing but fight?"

“Momma! I’m hungry!”

Pterano looked before him in rising interest, realizing that the discontent in the herd’s actions had never been higher than now. He sat beside the young flyers and quickly answered to them while starting to form new plans in his mind.

“Just stay still, kids. Complaining won’t get us out of here any faster.” He said while glancing at Volant nod at him in slight approval. She then looked at her children and affirmed her brother’s words.

“Your uncle is right. We don’t have a say on who we’re travelling with but I promise that you’ll get all the food we’ll find. Just be patient.” She said, knowing how very little weight her words held. Still that was the best she could now so that was what her children would have to be content with. There was a bit more silent whining but eventually it died down. A look of interest rose to Pterano’s mind as he heard a new call that escalated the situation considerably.

“You couldn’t find your way out of a cave even if there were more openings out of there than I have spikes! Just admit it, longneck, you don’t know anything that is of worth to anyone!” A spiketail cried, causing a terrible uproar among the gathered dinosaurs. It was clear that none of them wanted to give any power to the other herds and it was that fact that made him tap his fingers together in excitement. Now was his time. Now was the time for him to make his move or bid farewell to his destiny forever. He suddenly rose to his feet before glancing at Volant with a deep smile.

“I’m sorry but I have more things to do, sister. Things that will be to all of our good, whether or not you believe it.” He said before quickly dashing into the air, opening Volant’s eyes wide. She stuttered horribly as the male started to flap his wings, the outrage making her mind boil.

“B… but… Pterano, come back! You promised me that… Please, just give it up…. arrgh, just go if you really want to so badly for all I care!” She cried as she kicked a nearby stone, cringing at the pain. She looked at her brother’s form that was so quickly growing more distant. Volant hit a nearby rock with her hand, cursing it all. She had done her all to show her brother what was truly important and he had apparently decided to ignore the point completely. Now, all she could do was to watch him get completely crushed again, only to have the same old conversation with him.

“That’s the last time I’ll take any orders from you, swimmer! It would be best for all of us if you just left and never bothered us again with your crap!” One voice called as Pterano landed on a cliff above the herd, clearing his throat to make the absolute strongest impression he could.

“Now, if I could have your attention, I told all of you this day would come! That we’d find ourselves under threat again, all of us starving because together we are incapable of finding food! Did I not tell that all?” He cried, crossing his hands in a display of authority and decisiveness. The fighting seemed to stop momentarily as Mr. Threehorn sighed and cried to him back.

“Can you not simply take the hint, flyer? None of us needs, even less wants, your help so just get lost!” He cried, preparing to continuing his fight against the others. Pterano snorted briefly as he ignored the threehorn’s words and continued to speak.

“Just look where you are now! On the verge of a large fight that will solve nothing! Is this how you want to spend the rest of your days or how you want your children to take their first steps in life? I may only be an uncle but I know my family deserves better than this!” He cried, hoping deeply that his words would find some fertile soil this time. It didn’t take long before a certain hollowhorn turned at the flyer in a weary look before giving his answer.

“Everyone, he is right. This isn’t how our unity was supposed to work. He has done nothing but good for all of us in the past season and today has shown me he deserved a chance to continue proving his words right.” He said, completely fatigued by the never-ending discord between the herds. It didn’t take long before one of the other gave her support for the hollowhorn’s words.

“As much as I hate to trust a beakface, nothing he will do can be any worse than this! At the very least he could have investigated that this pass was a dead end instead on insisting on exploring it like a moron!” She snarled towards the longnecks who returned her hostile look.

“Don’t you think you’re being unreasonable? At least our common decisions make us responsible for our own act…”

“If you ever took any responsibility for your bossy and misguided attitude, you’d never speak to us again, longneck!” A clubtail cried, rousing many cries of support and outrage. Pterano frowned as he saw this, knowing he’d have to keep the focus on himself. He cried again, willing to widen his appeal among the gathered dinosaurs.

“Now, I must agree that the longneck has taken a far too big part of the discussions of the herd but he has even had some good points on some occasions for all of us. However, he and his mate have also made countless mistakes that many of has have been forced to pay for. I cannot thank you enough for putting your trust on old Pterano, you two. As for you others, if you wish to get away from this sickening, never-ending wandering, now is your chance to decide!” He cried, looking in excitement as a few other dinosaurs stepped to the sides of the hollowhorn and spiketail, ready to give their new leader a chance he so very much had asked for.

As seconds passed, more and more of the families stepped forward, earning many looks of surprise and astonishment from the others. Even Pterano stared at his success in disbelief, not expecting this many dinosaurs to follow him. But even through this all, he kept his expression unmoving as he followed the events, knowing that appearances meant everything on times like these.

None of this was lost to Volant of course and her surprise was even more profound than many of the others’. How could those fools follow her brother without him showing any idea how he would reach the Valley any faster? Were they truly that desperate? The female’s breaths grew heavier as she looked at Pterano, knowing she couldn’t follow her only remaining sibling on this journey. She knew the stories of the Valley’s supposed location as well as the others and she would only follow her own intuition instead of serving anyone, even Pterano, mindlessly. She owed that much to her fallen mate and children. She looked carefully as Ura cried to the defectors after the movement between the groups had stopped.

“You know as well as we do that he doesn’t know anything more about the Valley’s location than we do! You will only doom yourselves by following him!” She cried almost with a plead, earning an annoyed answer from one of the thicknoses.

“Anything is better than being forced to fight with you and the other morons all day! Keep your crappy herd and perish for all I care!” He cried in bitterness, earning a look of pride from Pterano. The flyer’s triumph, however, was far from complete and he widened his eyes as he turned at Volant, calling to her happily.

“Your place is on my side, sister! Join us and we can be on…” He started but before he could even finish his sentence, he was cut short. He was severely taken aback as Volant spoke in a mournful but firm voice.

“I won’t, Pterano. I told you not to do this and I owe it to my dear Tuulen and to the Bright Circle to give my very best shot at reaching the Valley and… following you isn’t that way. I’d say I’m sorry for saying this unless I didn’t know I would be lying.” Volant said, her words earning a look of surprise and shock from Pterano. He knew of Volant’s earlier hesitation but he had expected her to join him once she’d see his success. To hear her still attack him… and before the others made his blood boil as he was beyond disgusted she’d risk the life of her children simply because of her pride. Yet, if fate would be merciful, maybe she would receive another chance to join him before it would be too late. He frowned somewhat as he answered bitterly to his sister before addressing his new followers.

“So be it, my “beloved” sister. As for those of you who made the right decision, let’s get going! I promise that before the day turns to night, none of us will be hungry and it will only be a little more until the Valley opens before us! Onwards, my friends! Our salvation awaits!” He cried as he listened to the shouts of cheer from his followers. He rose to his wings as he moved to the head of his herd, ready to lead them to their, and his, destiny. This would be his hour of triumph, this would be his apology to Tuulen and Petrie… and indeed, it would be his answer to his sister’s arrogance and complacency. A wide smile radiated on his face as he headed to his new adventures, knowing he’d return from them victorious.

Volant, on the other hand, looked at the departing form of his brother with glassed eyes, left to wonder whether she had only added another disaster to her long list of failures. Something within his brother’s voice had told her that he truly believed in himself and maybe, just maybe, she had been wrong to doubt him. Even then, what was done was done, and in the eyes of all that was good in this world, she’d have to persevere. She took a brief sigh as she glanced at her children and spoke to them softly.

“Let’s go children. We still have a long way to go.”

This is my response to Gang of Five’s December prompt. I know it’s extremely long for a short story but in all honesty, there was just so much to go through. The further I got with this story, the more I started to wonder why it hasn’t already been made before. There has been one portrayal of Petrie’s hatching (I still felt like I had to include that scene in this fic though) but the fate of his father and Volant/Pterano relationship before the seventh film have been completely overlooked. Even then, I truly hope I made some justice to those premises with this story! I think I’ll do the January prompt right away so there will be a little more waiting before we’ll see the next chapter on Separate Ways. But even then, I really hope you liked this one! I certainly enjoyed writing it!
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 03:12:54 AM by Sovereign »


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 10:02:30 PM »
Wow. Where do I even begin?

First off, this is a masterpiece in exploring Petrie's past family history, and how the family seemed to fall apart in so many tragic ways over a very short period of time; from his father and siblings' untimely demise to his mother and uncle's relationship crumbling, this gives such a good insight to Petrie's dark past.

From the moment I got to the skirmish that led to Tuulen's death, I was fidgeting nervously for pretty much the rest of the story, as I quickly got the sense that this was going to take a dark turn. You have again proven that you have a knack for writing stories filled with suspense and uncertainty.

I had been wanting to write a story about Petrie's dark past for some time, but it seems you beat me to it, but in a good way. :smile I had so many ideas as to how Petrie had to grow up with no father and be the subject of constant bullying by his brothers and sisters (such as not being able to fly, the Day of the Flyers mess-ups, his uncle Pterano, etc.), but you've taken this into a whole new level, maybe even better than "A Broken Family" did. We really need more stories exploring Petrie's not-so-happy family history, and this was tonight's icing on the cake! This is a great way to cap off 2018! :yes
Suddenly, I've written so many fanfics that I can't possibly list them all! :P


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2019, 02:16:36 AM »
Now this was certainly an ambitious undertaking.  :yes  The interactions between the flyers and the rest of the herds is one of those areas where the fandom is mostly silent, and the same holds true for the fate of Petrie's father and Pterano's role in their lives.  I am unsure what exactly I expected going into this story, but what I was presented with was a very worthwhile story indeed.  :)

The presentation of Tuulen as Petrie's father is a very distinct one, at once making him both very sympathetic to the reader but also obviously more than a little overwhelmed with the hardships that parenthood has placed upon him in the cruel Mysterious Beyond.  Pterano serves as both a source of support with his help and a source of annoyance with his sense of self-importance.  I rather like this depiction of Pterano as a bit of an egotist, but not an outright narcissistic character. This makes him more sympathetic and it hints to us readers that his depiction as a narcissist in LBT VII was a defense mechanism to protect himself of his prior failings as opposed to a true representation of his character.  Volant's interactions with her brother is quite believable as a sibling interaction, as is her changes as she is confronted with growing tragedy and hardships.

Finally, this story above all us made me feel for Petrie.  Here we can clearly see the beginnings of the bad blood between himself and his siblings as well as his insecurities about flying.  For a kind-hearted flyer with two loving parents, Petrie has been fated with a rather dark and unhappy family life.  This makes the salvation of the valley all the more sweet in retrospect.  I have no doubt when Petrie got home that Tuulen and Petrie's three fallen siblings were smiling somewhere.

This was a very excellent way to begin the prompt challenge this year.  :) And I will get this added to the masterlist shortly.  :)

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


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2019, 03:13:28 PM »
Thanks a lot for the reviews, you two! :)littlefoot

DiddyKFI: I’m glad you liked the idea for this story! I indeed wanted to shed some light to how Petrie’s family dynamics worked prior to the films and show his father’s demise and the siblings’ relationship was the only way how I knew how to. As for the later parts of this story, I like to keep things as unexpected as possible and it’s good I managed to make the situation precarious enough even if the duo’s futures were already known to everyone.

About the last part of your review, it’s quite fun that you, too, found this premise worthy of a larger story as during my planning process, I thought that even this shorter timespan could have been a 50-100k story but I decided to do this “short” story anyway as I couldn’t have gotten to writing a longer version in at least a year. But it’s good to hear the idea worked in this shorter version as well. :)

rhombus: Yep, it is actually surprising that pretty much none of these ideas have been utilized until now. Yet, I like trying to utilize ideas that haven’t been written before. As always, your analysis of the characters is correct and I wanted to make the trio’s relationships quite thoroughly established before the first loss. There would have been more interesting things between those three characters but at least, in this fic it wasn’t to be. Also, your comment about Pterano’s defense mechanisms was spot on as I tried to portray his growing ambitions exactly as part of his efforts to repay his debt to Tuulen and the children even if his actual deeds only made things worse in the process.

And yep, Petrie was another character who I had to fit into the narrative and I could have done more to deepen his part in this fic if the length hadn’t already inflated that much. But you’re right, his situation was a dire one and we’ll never know just how much his future friends changed his life for the better. :thinking


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 11:56:50 AM »
Ah, Petrie's father! I... hardly ever read about him. Like, ever. Never got around to fixing that, but after reading this adaptation I might change that eventually. ;P Still, Tuleen meets his grisly end, as unfortunate as it is, but its twisted that his death is the catalyst for so much chaos in this story.

It's very harrowing how Pterano's attitude changes after the demise of Tuulen, the three hatchlings and finally Petrie: from being an aloof cautious flyer to the grandiose self-conscious flyer that he is, boosting his own ego to push down his guilt of being a bystander unable to affect those around him. Perhaps the greatest irony is that he takes this stance to avoid feeling guilt for his sister's losses, but in canon he ends up leading his herd to their demise... so, oof. :opetrie

In a sense, I can see Volant's view as well takes it harder as all three of her losses cut deep into her due to familiar family bonds. The strained relationship reaches a terrifying head by the end, and as an older brother who had strained relations once before, this part is excellently depicted. Overall, I really enjoyed this! Good job!
A quaint creature who soars when the Night Circle is highest in the dark sky, messing up his circadian rhythm in the process. Truly, a tragic flyer.

When it comes to LBT, I love to write stories! :)
Current Fics: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky, The Threehorn Way, Five Stages of Grief, Scrambled Eggs, and Our Safe Haven.


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2019, 02:49:08 PM »
Yep, I’ve long thought that it’s quite weird that Cera’s mother, for example, has received far more attention than Petrie’s father. This fic tried to shed some light into him but obviously, he was only one aspect of my themes. My main focus, as you implied, is the relationship between Volant and Pterano and I just like creating situations in which trying to fix some mistake only worsens things in the long run. When Pterano finally made his final gamble to try to lure Volant into following him, it was too late for him to back down even if he had wanted to. The entire outcome of this fic is a tragic one and I also wanted it to act as a prequel to the seventh film’s flashback scene. In any case, thanks a lot for the review and your kind words! :)


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2019, 11:16:36 AM »
Chances are high that I will forget to mention some of the things I want to say about this story but let me try :PAli

The first part of the story revolved around those dark times at the time the draughts was fully hitting the land. I liked the portrayal of all three flyers (Pterano not being so full of himself from the start is a very good move and further shows that Pterano hasn't always been such an idiot :)

I like the name you gave to Petrie's father. I assume it was inspired by your native tongue? Sounds very Finnish to me haha.

That part of the story seems a bit slow here and there but it totally contribures to the building of the gloomy mood which is consistent throughout the story. The action-rich parts were well written and very engaging (and also a bit dark which is good given the circumstances :D)

The story also offers a possible explanation as to why Petrie is afraid of flying, that's certainly very convincing :)

Though many years later things have changed somewhat regarding Pterano. He is now the ambiguous flyer we know, and the way you portrait him even makes me understand him and his reasons. His motivations to lead are reasonable given what has transpired before, only that he lacks the ability to be a good leader.

And then the terrible scene happens...

While the action is well done and the flyers' predicament very original, I am having some issues with how the final scene was handled. My main two concerns are that

1.) the emotional impact of the many losses seems to drown under the arguments that rise up. I feel that it could have been pronounced stronger, but perhaps that might be because I am prioritizing the emotions of characters in my own work (or at least that's what I'm trying). The arguments are certainly believable and in-character though :)

2. I doubt that Petrie's mother would just assume Petrie dead like this. At least she would have gone back to check again if perhaps he'd simply been knocked out (ofc she wouldn't have seen him then but I feel that she abandoned him far too quickly.

Overall though this was a very good tale and indeed something the fan base hasn't been writing about yet. I'm not sure how well you've adapted the prompt since one could argue that there are a lot of unrelated themes (although you did use the quote :smile). Personally though I believe the whole set-up is contributing to the prompt yep yep yep :)littlefoot
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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2019, 04:48:29 PM »
It’s great to hear you liked many decisions in this fic such as Pterano’s characterization and Petrie’s fear of flying as those are just some things that I tried to tie into this story. Especially the handling of the three flyers was one of the main themes and I tried to put a lot of emphasis on them and yep, trying to portray Pterano’s change was something I really wanted to emphasize. And I’m positively surprised by your question about Tuulen’s name and you are completely correct. :) Tuuli is wind in Finnish and well, the name is quite clearly derived from it.

As for your concerns, the arguments were meant to reflect the characters’ lingering mental wounds and they were a direct result of those losses. Actually, one of the main ideas in this tale was to show how the cracks between the siblings were torn wider by the losses so I think the fights were necessary. I could have emphasized Volant and Pterano’s mental torment more but this fic was quite dark already as it is. And as for Petrie, well, I kinda agree. I could have added a short comment at the end of the second to last scene where Volant heads back to search for Petrie but I guess I feared the story was already too long.

And about the prompt… uhh, yeah. It wasn’t all that clearly presented here as there were so many things going on that the prompt might seem to drown under all of them. Actually, I added the quote here to wipe away any claims that this fic didn’t live up to the prompt and well, here you go. :P The notion of faith is still there but it’s true there’s many other themes out here as well. In any case, I’m glad you liked this fic and thanks a lot for the review! :^^spike


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Re: One Fallen, Two Torn Apart
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2019, 07:45:38 AM »
You're welcome, as you will see my story is suffering from the same issue haha.

And as for the name, my cousin lives in Helsinki so I know roughly how the language looks like haha