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Ducky123

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Return to the Land of Mists
« on: February 23, 2019, 09:09:48 am »
Return to the Land of Mists

Prologue:

“Oh, I can’t wait!”

With a cheerful expression, the lavender coloured longneck cast a glance ahead. Under the sinking afternoon light, the distant mountains glowed invitingly and that sight, most welcome after days of numbing travel across hostile and eventless wastelands, told her that the destination of their migration would finally be reached today.

“What are you gazing about, Ali?” A beige coloured longneck, a young adolescent like her, piped up as he caught up to the distracted female.

“Oh, hello Rhett,” Ali greeted the male absentmindedly. Even though he was quite a douche, the boy was the closest to a friend Ali had in her migratory herd. It was reason enough to put up with him even though her true circle of friends was residing just where they were headed to.

“It’s just a dumb valley, y’know?” Rhett mentioned casually, his smug, casually flirty look resting on the girl. Rhett never tried to hide his romantic interest in the girl, rejection upon rejection not dissuading him in the slightest. Bold tales and actions didn’t seem to work on Ali (anymore) and the idiotic girl only ever had that dumb flathead from the Valley on her mind, not noticing his worth at all. But it didn’t discern him from trying.

“Shut your mouth, Rhett,” Ali deadpanned, demonstratively turning around to give him a cold shoulder, although it didn’t seem to bother the boy.

“Looking forward to seeing that dumbass again, huh?” the boy continued with mocking words, pissing his friend off even further.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, just bugger off, idiot!” Ali was fuming, whirling around and glaring at the blunt boy. “Once we are there, you better behave, Rhett!”

“Relax, Ali, I would never think of misbehaving,” Rhett said in a placatory manner, though Ali didn’t buy it.

“Just leave me alone…”

Rhett shrugged and strolled away lest he anger the girl any further but this wouldn’t be the last time he’d try to talk the lavender girl out of falling for that softie from the Valley. Yes, he would show Ali soon enough how awesome he truly was.

Ali sighed as she was once again alone. By tomorrow, she would meet Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike as well as their new friends. For about half a cycle of the Night Circle, she’d get a rare respite from her ordinary life, a life she was growing tired of rapidly… Only a few more hours and they would arrive at the Great Valley.

*

“Oh, what a nice day this has been!”

Littlefoot merrily jogged through the densely populated valley that he called home, the Great Valley. It was evening and the young, adolescent boy was just on his way home from playing games with his bunch of friends. Eventually, the young longneck had forged his way through wide meadows, green jungle and the broad river that was the source of the Valley’s fertility.

“Hello Grandma, good evening Grandpa!” the boy called as he barged into the clearing where their nest was located.

“Good evening, Littlefoot,” the two elderly longnecks replied with a look of joy on their faces. “Had a good day?”

“You bet!” the boy answered merrily.

His grandfather gave a chuckle. “That is good to know, Littlefoot. Grandma and I are glad that you are having so much fun each day. It certainly seems that it helps you grow.”

Littlefoot grinned proudly. Since the last Cold Time, his size had more than doubled and similar effects could be seen on his friends as they all entered the Time of Great Growing. It nevertheless didn’t stop them from playing games and being jolly and silly as usual.

“Yeah, seems like it,” he replied. “How about you two? Did you have a good day too?”

“Yes, Littlefoot, quite so,” his grandmother answered his inquiry with a friendly smile.

“Actually, Littlefoot, we received some news today which you might find intriguing to hear,” his grandfather mentioned, some youthful mirth apparent on his features.

“Oh, what is it, grandpa? Please tell me!” Littlefoot exclaimed in excitement. “It’s not dad’s time to come visit us already, is it?”

“Haha, oh no, certainly not!” His grandpa chuckled at his grandson’s curiosity.

“But your guess isn’t far off, Littlefoot,” his grandmother chimed in mystically.

“Oh?” Not too far off… Littlefoot quickly brainstormed what other good news might be related to the arrival of his dad’s herd – which obviously wasn’t going to happen, but maybe something similar? Was his dad coming without the herd? No, even if that were the case, his grandparents wouldn’t leave him hanging like that and, besides, his dad’s visit wasn’t due before the end of the next cold time. Why would he come here now? Unless it was an emergency, it didn’t make any sense at all! No it had to be something else…

“So it must be another herd coming which I know…” His brain was working extra shifts. What other herds did he know? Surely, there couldn’t be that many…  “Oh…” That was when it clicked in his mind. A face he hadn’t seen in a long time suddenly appeared in front of his inner eye, involuntarily making him smile awkwardly.

“Ali’s – I mean, Old One’s herd?!” Littlefoot’s questioning stare wandered from one grandparent to the other; both were nodding firmly, rejoicing in the excitement and joy that their grandson was suddenly expressing.

“No way! A-are they really coming? When?!” His abrupt ecstasy earned the young longneck some more chuckles on his expense.

“The scouting flyers confirmed their arrival for this evening so you should be able to go see your friend about now,” his grandfather explained matter-of-factly.

“Wait, you’d let me go?! Even though it’s already late?” The surprise couldn’t be greater.

“Of course, go see your friend if you wish,” his grandmother spoke warmly. Littlefoot rejoiced.

“Yaaaaaaaaay!!!” Hopping up and down, he exclaimed. “THANK YOU!” More subdued, he then added. “Why are you letting me though?”

“Well, you are growing,” his grandpa answered awkwardly. “We believe it is about time that we stop treating you like a child, who is a danger to himself.”

“You are entering the Time of Great Growing, dear, we cannot keep you safe forever so you will need to learn depending on yourself,” his grandmother explained calmly.

“Yes, and going home late, finding your way back in the dark is a first step… although there are no dangers to fear here in the Great Valley…” Suddenly, the old male’s expression changed from that of a teacher to that of a comedian. “Besides…” Littlefoot could feel the mirthful glance resting on his features. “We figured you young ones would just sneak out at night anyway so we might as well allow it while having a little faith in you lot; don’t do something stupid though.”

“Gee, thanks, you two,” Littlefoot announced with a slightly bashful look which soon turned into a chuckle. “Well, I’ll be off then!” The boy was about to run off when a last question entered his mind. “Umm, where would I likely find Ali?”

“The herd should have arrived at the main entrance into the Valley,” his grandpa answered promptly with a kind smile; it was enough for Littlefoot to know where he had to go.

“Thanks! Seeya later!” he called before dashing off, excitement and joy as well as strange sense of freedom running through his veins. Would he really get to talk to his friend though or would she be too tired from the long journey and sleeping as soon as they arrived?

*

“There they are!”

It didn’t take the boy too long to locate the huge herd of longnecks. The Bright Circle had disappeared while he’d been talking to his grandparents but there was still more than sufficient light, the evening colours making everything from trees to rocks to dinosaurs around him shine in mysterious hues and shades. Just as he had thought, the herd of longnecks hadn’t wandered far from the entrance into the valley, settling down at the first suitable area they encountered. At the edge of the valley, reaching all the way up to the higher elevations grew a secluded forest, stretching a little way into the walls – a small valley within the Valley. A side branch of the big river that fed the whole valley precious water to sustain its marvelous vegetation - their little paradise, was reaching all the way out here and that was where more than a hundred large figures were residing. Some could be seen resting or sleeping, some were talking to fellow herd members and many others were engaged in restoring their nutrients in a fulfilling feast, spreading all the way out into the forest.

Littlefoot hid in a bush on a small hill on the opposite side and tried to observe the herd, his objective to figure out where Ali might or might not be. His gaze cast across each and every longneck in the minutes to follow, however the Bright Circle continued to sink further below the horizon, dwindling his light source and his chances to spot the fellow child.

“Just where might she be?” Soon, he managed to spot their leader, Old One, as everyone called the old and, supposedly, wise longneck, although none of his past experiences with her had given him any hint of the existence of such wisdom yet. Much to his disdain, he also recognized a longneck he’d rather have overlooked.

“Rhett… so that braggart is still with them? Though he is not with Ali, strange…” During Ali’s previous visit, Ali had been all eyes and ears for Rhett and his made up stories so it had taken a devious plan and a lot of trouble to uncover his false deeds. Rhett had played with them sometimes afterwards, however he had never become friendly with any of them; and it wasn’t hard to tell that Rhett held a grudge against them for uncovering his lies and schemes. Needless to say, Littlefoot wasn’t too happy to see him though at least we wasn’t squirming around Ali like a blood-sucking insect this time – at least for now… Would he still be strutting around the lavender-coloured girl whom he really liked, getting in the way of their short reunion again?

“Come to think of it, shouldn’t Ali be near him?” Littlefoot scanned the immediate surrounding area more thoroughly than before though the result remained the same. Ali was nowhere to be found.

“Just where might she be?” Littlefoot was at a loss; how should he find her within this sheer mass of adult longnecks? Or did something happen to her? No, Littlefoot didn’t even want to consider the mere inkling of such a thought. To calm his trembling nerves, he took his stare off the herd for once and turned it to the reddish-pink sky which turned more and more towards blue and violet hues. A single blinky light began to pop up on the sky as daylight progressively faded with the retreat of the mighty Circle. More and more longnecks concluded their feasts on the Valley’s rich treestars and various other delicate foods and sat down to rest and sleep – normally, it was about this time of the day when he’d better run home fast too. Ever so grateful for his new freedom, for it gave him a faint chance to speak to Ali, Littlefoot returned to the task at hand. Suppressing a yawn, a refreshed his focus and pondered.

“If she isn’t anywhere to be found here, I’ve gotta check inside the forest!” The view into the forest was very limited, for it extended quite a distance into the very outskirts of his home. Given that he hadn’t seen her in the open and the bordering parts of the forest, odds weren’t too low that he might find her inside if he went looking for her there, although it meant leaving his outlook to mingle with many strangers. It seemed like his only chance though. Not wasting any more time, he entered a jog at a decent pace, hurrying in order to be able to rely on the last remaining rays of light. Before long, he found himself inside the dark forest, trees standing tight but only in some places, allowing grown-ups to pass through. Without hesitation, he mixed with them, pretending to belong to them as he sharpened his ears to filter out several conversations nearby…

“… can’t wait to meet Littlefoot tomorrow!”

The boy stopped immediately, his heart beating tightly in his chest as he tried to locate the voice which was so unmistakably Ali’s.

“Left of me...” The purple-gray longneck whirled around. A few trees were growing in front of his eyes, blocking some of the view, but the most important, most recognizable part of his friend – her head with those engaging blue eyes and that dreamy smile as she was caught in memories of him, was clearly visible through a gap in the foliage. His face was brightening as if the Bright Circle had decided to skip to morning time right away. The boy didn’t hesitate; entering a swift sprint, only slowing when the lavender-coloured longneck came into view in her full glory. Considering that his fast advance must have caused quite a ruckus, it didn’t surprise the young longneck in the slightest when the girl turned around to face him, her surprised gaze, her beautiful eyes, shining blue like a crystal, meeting those of his own. Ali recognized him immediately and her face grew a big smile.

“Littlefoot!” Ali leapt forward, dropping whatever she had been chewing on, and closed the remaining distance between them with a single move. In a wild approach, perhaps a little too wild, Ali ran up to Littlefoot and greeted him with an overjoyed nuzzle.

“Ali!” Littlefoot laughed, returning the greeting gesture just as lively once he had gotten over the initial surprise and awkwardness – her mother was watching after all. “So good to see you!” he shouted loudly with no regard to the other longnecks around which was met by Ali’s friendly, even slightly cute smile. It was in many ways a much happier reunion than the previous year’s. "So Ali is no longer following Rhett after all, huh?" It was a logical conclusion of Ali’s happy reaction quite as opposed to the previous visit though Littlefoot was simply too happy at that moment to bother asking about something as annoying as Rhett, simply rejoicing in the moment.

“Have you been looking for me?” Ali asked with an innocent chuckle; their faces were only inches apart.

“W-well,” Littlefoot replied, slightly nervous and shaky due to the sheer excitement and joy. “I just got news that you were here visiting our Valley so…I… thought I’d say hello and uhh invite you to play with everyone tomorrow?”

Ali’s gaze craned around to face the tall form of her mother casually observing the exchange. “May I?” Littlefoot bowed slightly and smiled politely when the grown-up’s eyes rested upon him.

“Of course,” she replied eventually with a tired voice which was an obvious leftover of the hardships travel brought along. “But now you must eat up and rest.”

“Sure mum,” Ali tweeted happily, turning back to Littlefoot with a smile.

“Count me in tomorrow!”

Littlefoot’s eyes widened significantly as Ali promised to play with them tomorrow. Not risking disturbing the small family of two any longer, he cut things short now.

“I’ll come pick you up tomorrow, let’s make this a surprise for the others too!” he exclaimed merrily.

“Sure!” Ali laughed; that seemed like a splendid idea indeed.

“Good night then!” Littlefoot announced, bowing once again in front of Ali’s mother politely before he dashed off with a grin wider than his face could contain.

“See you tomorrow, Littlefoot! I can’t waiiiiit!” Ali yelled just before the boy disappeared behind the vegetation.

*

With a happy, squirmy feeling, the boy made his way back home in no time, darkness and a slight sleepiness no enemies for the growing child. Just looking forward to the games with Ali and his friends could be enough to keep him running for the whole night if only he had a mind to do it. However, Littlefoot knew the value of a good night’s rest so he took no detours on his trip back home. Just before his eyes fell shut in the shadow of his snoring grandparents (had they really trusted him enough to go to sleep without waiting for his return?), his mind pictured the goggling faces of his friends when Ali would walk up beside him tomorrow. It surely was an amusing thought. One last time, he thought of all the happy faces Ali had made just earlier before he drifted off to sleep under the watchful eyes of the moon and the many stars. Tomorrow would be a great day.

Or so he thought.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

This will be my Fanfiction Prompt Challenge response for the months Jan-June. A medium length story which will adapt all 6 prompts during that time interval somewhere along the line. This chapter does not cover any prompt but the next chapter should cover the January prompt.

I had a really hard time deciding how to call this story since it has many themes which I could have build it upon. I'm still not sure if this title is the best but for now consider it final  ;)Cera

So this story is set roughly one year after the tv-series and about half a year after LBT 14, assuming that movie happened after the events of the series and assuming the series all happened within the span of a year. They are entering the time of Great Growing which allows for some interesting developments.

This story may show some similarities to Shorty's Dark Past simply due to the fact that it is also developing the relationship between Littlefoot and Ali but under a completely different setting and with a completely different obstacle. Rhett still hasn't given up on Ali  :rolleye

For some reason, I had a really literate moment while proofreading so the middle part got a lot longer and the writing and description ended up much better I believe. Let me know what you think (what do you think might be happening? Why will they return to the Valley of Mists as the title suggests? Questions... bring them on! Though I won't spoil the answers, obviously  ;)Cera )

Hope you enjoyed this little introduction. The next chapter should be ready by the end of the month  :exactly
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

rhombus

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2019, 03:33:04 am »
I dare to say that Littlefoot might not be especially effective at hiding his affections for a certain female longneck.  :p This prologue does present many possibilities for how things can develop in the future with both the physical growth of all the participants and the arrival of Rhett and Ali creating the framework for possible romance and conflict.  No matter how this develops, however, I look forward to keeping up with this story.  :)


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

Sovereign

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2019, 02:54:02 pm »
This was a rather interesting start which was rather traditional in terms of plot and characters but also raised some interesting possibilities. It’s clear who our three main characters are going to be and their relationships will likely bring some interesting developments. Rhett has rather rarely been made a major character in any fic so we’ll see what will happen to him especially in this story but thus far, there is rather little to add. It’ll be intriguing to see what you have in mind for this story.

Ducky123

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2019, 06:50:11 am »
Thanks everyone, yes Rhett will be one of the three main characters here and the looming triangle should be obvious :lol

I might end up splitting up the first chapter since it's getting quite long at this point but either way I'll have it posted by tomorrow or Friday at worst. :)

OwlsCantRead

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2019, 02:37:59 am »
Hey, it's everyone favorite Rhett! :p

The idea is, well, an Ali return isn't all that new, but I suppose having Rhett be a literal obstacle is a bit different. It's probably going to be a rollercoaster of emotions and conflict from here on out. :p
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, love to write stories! :)
Current Fics: Waves Crashing Upon the Sky, Five Stages of Grief, Scrambled Eggs, and Our Safe Haven.



What is a signature? A miserable pile of secrets! Enough talk... scroll down already!

Ducky123

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 12:13:45 pm »
Oh yes... oh yes... :P

So... here's a funny situation: I indeed had to split up the chapter into two. Since the second one is the one meeting the january prompt, I have to upload two chapters now :P I would normally try to avoid this but deadlines are deadlines (and I already asked for extention twice! Didn't expect this to end up at 12.3k for both chapters!

Well, here you go. Both chapters in one post.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chapter 1: Rhett’s scheme

Littlefoot woke up early at the first hint of light; too excited he was to go back to sleep, too strong his anticipation of the coming days with Ali. As soon as his grandparents rose from their sleep, he stormed off towards the place where her herd was residing.

This time, it took him much less time to find the fellow young adolescent longneck, who was just in the process of waking up when he arrived. Happily, he strolled over.

“Good morning!” Littlefoot called with enthusiasm, catching Ali’s slightly dazed gaze.

“Hello Littlefoot,” the girl greeted him while shaking off the sleepiness which still clung to her body. “You sure are an early-riser.”

“Not really, haha,” Littlefoot said in defence as their noses touched in a greeting gesture, both chuckling awkwardly as they were performing it. “It’s just that I was excited about today so I woke up earlier than usual!” he explained with a mischievous grin.

“I see,” Ali replied, clearly amused by her friend’s statement - if she hadn’t been so exhausted from the long journey, she might have very well ended up with similar symptoms.

*gurgle*

Littlefoot awkwardly looked down on himself as his stomach made itself known to everyone present. He’d even skipped breakfast in order to get to see his friends as soon as possible. As if on command, Ali’s stomach chimed in on the belly grumbling as well, although hers wasn’t roaring quite as profoundly. Their sheepish grins met halfway.

“Well, well, I think too little longnecks haven’t had breakfast yet,” Ali’s mother said, amused, which prompted another chuckle from the two friends.

“We’ll have some on the way, right Ali?” the boy proposed, high spirited, as he didn’t want to waste any more precious time eating than absolutely necessary.

“Mhmm!” Ali hummed happily. “Can we go, mum?”

“Sure, just make sure to check back with me at noon,” she replied kindly. “Old One said we’ll go look for a more central area but I’ll go pick you up here later to show you where we end up settling down.”

“Need some suggestions?” Littlefoot offered but the grown-up politely declined.

“Oh no thanks, Littlefoot, we’ll be fine.”

“Okay!” Littlefoot gave the grown-up a smile

“Seeya later, mum!” Ali exclaimed before the wo young longnecks left the clearing.

*

A pair of eyes was following the two friends’ every step with a frown.

“Didn’t even ask me, that girl… what a downer…” The beige-coloured longneck spat on the ground in annoyance and disgust as his gaze lingered on the boy next to his Ali - Littlefoot, wasn’t it? He didn’t need to blur the facts; Rhett hated Littlefoot for more than one reason but the main drive to despise him lay in the fact that he was friends with the girl he admired and loved… and Ali was paying him no heed anymore now that she had another boy to replace him. Rhett didn’t know what he was doing wrong but for some reason Ali, despite his thorough efforts at courtship, didn’t seem interested in extending their friendship to a closer type of relationship which he yearned for so desperately… and yet she readily fell for that Littlefoot guy’s cheap pick up lines and his puny build, his annoying, goofy face. Who’d want to be with someone like him anyway? Why didn’t Ali see how handsome he truly was?

“If I can’t win her that way, I’ll have to show her that I’m the better guy around and remove the annoying threat to our love!” Rhett smirked. He’d have to make painfully sure that Ali’d like him. ONLY him. He had to make sure that this Littlefoot guy learned his place very soon. Naturally, sulking about the unfortunate situation didn’t get the rock rolling, so to speak, so Rhett began working on a plan as he began to follow the duo in secret.

“I’ll pretend to be nice for now but I’ll make my move very soon… maybe even today…” A foul smirk worked itself up his facial muscles. Yes, he would put up with these weirdos Ali was friends with, them and their weirdo games, for a while for the sake of his agenda. An annoying necessity. Torn between his determination and annoyance, Rhett continued to follow quietly as his scheme took form…

*

“Want some berries?”

“Sure!”

Ali smiled as the boy offered her a grape of sweet-sour-tasting blueberries which he had plucked from a berry bush which they had just come to pass by. As the two longnecks wandered through the Great Valley, with the intention to reach the designated meeting place where his unsuspecting friends would be waiting for his arrival, he gave Ali somewhat of a culinary tour, a treestar here, a treesweet there. Ali really enjoyed it. The two young longnecks had been exchanging some news as they travelled through the heart of the valley, talking about their respective adventures, places Ali had been to none of which Littlefoot had ever heard about, Rhett having returned to his old self as soon as they’d left the Valley… However, slowly but surely they were approaching the designated meeting point in a secluded forest at the edge of the valley - but on the very opposite of the main entrance where they had come from. Now, with their bellies rather full and pleased, Littlefoot decided that it was time to introduce Ali to his plan regarding the surprise of her visit.

“We’re almost there now, Ali,” he announced eventually in a merry spirit. “The others should be unaware of your visit so let’s give them a great surprise!”

“Yeah, count me in!” Ali laughed happily. “Can’t wait to see them all again, see?”

“And I can’t wait to see their faces when they see you!” Littlefoot rejoiced in the mere thought of it. How surprised he had been the other day when he learned about her arrival - and he hadn’t even seen her in person when he got the news… His friends would be exposed to the full-fledged surprise! “Let’s go!”

It only took them a minute until the forest came into view, the chit-chat of Ducky and Cera reaching their ears. Littlefoot began explaining the details with a subdued voice.

“Keep your head low from now on, hide behind those tall bushes. I’ll signal you when it’s okay to come out, okay?”

“Okay!” Ali confirmed with a firm, happy nod.

“I’ll go greet them now, see you in a moment, Ali!”

“Sure!” Ali tweeted quietly with a happy smile; she could hardly contain her excitement about seeing, talking and playing with everyone again - although being all alone with Littlefoot also had its merits. Trembling with anticipation, the girl hunkered down behind a group of bushes and waited for Littlefoot’s signal, listening in on the talk that was unfolding in the clearing in front of her where everyone was gathered.

*

“Oh, there he is!”

“Yeah, it him!”

“Eeeeeeeeee!”

“Finally!”

Littlefoot’s arrival was already greatly anticipated as the not so little forms of Ducky and Petrie came into view, shorty followed by a dosing Spike who perked up upon his arrival and a bored Cera resting on her usual rock perch. Ducky and Petrie immediately came approaching him from the ground and the air, respectively, and Littlefoot greeted them happily. Spike got up from the spot in the grass where the light of the Bright Circle shone through the small leaks on the green foliage above them and licked the longneck across the face as he always did. Cera, meanwhile, remained on her rock, her expression hard to read though Littlefoot sensed a sharp look on him when he wasn’t looking.

“Hi guys!” Littlefoot finally announced once he was done reacting to the jolly greeting, chuckling happily.

“Where the hell have you been…”  the threehorn interrogated immediately, drawing out each word to put some emphasis on it.

“Yes, why are you so late today, huh?” Ducky asked in a more friendly and polite manner than the threehorn did. Littlefoot smiled at the swimmer. His gaze wandered from Petrie who had taken a perch on his (according to Cera) flat head to Cera and Spike who were eyeing him with resent and sleepy curiosity, respectively.

“I’m sorry for being late but, you see…” His smile grew broader by the second.” On my way here I met someone - we had a lot to talk about…” Now even Cera’s glare turned into an expression of mild, if subdued, curiosity. With a wink, Littlefoot gestured over to the bushes where Ali was hiding. Upon receiving the signal, there was movement in the vegetation, everyone gasping and even Spike now fully awake and paying attention. Then, the all too familiar face of Ali with her unmistakably blue eyes and her genuine, kind smile broke through the wall of green, soon followed by the long neck and the light-pink coloured body.

“No way…” Cera, surprisingly, was the first to get over the initial response to the sudden newcomer, closing her mouth which had been open agape. “Ali!”

“It is Ali, yes it is, yep yep yep!” Ducky cheered, hopping up and down in celebration once the initial shock had worn off which looked slightly funny considering her growing body.

“Me miss you bunches!” Petrie crowed, immediately switching his perch from one longneck to the other, prompting a giggle from the girl.

“Hello everyone, it’s so nice to see you all again!” she called with a friendly, if a little shy, smile. “Sorry for the delay but we took some detours for breakfast.”

Now Spike had reached the longneck too, a look of understanding regarding their late-being apparent in his expression. Happily, he gave Ali the same greeting he had given Littlefoot before, licking across Ali’s face when the girl lowered her neck, knowing all too well, what the spiketail was about to do.

“It’s nice to see you too, Spike,” Ali said with another giggle which everyone joined in readily, even Cera whose mood was all bright again. “I see you are still as silent as I remember you.”

Spike blushed slightly upon hearing those words, more laughter ringing through the air.

“How have you been, Ali?” Cera interrogated the girl happily. “It’s so nice to see you again!”

“I’ve been okay, I guess,” the female longneck replied casually and with some hesitation in her voice. “See, it’s just herd life, nothing too exciting really…”

Littlefoot looked at Ali in concern. He could tell that Ali wasn’t quite happy about herd life, however he decided not to dwell on it for the time being.

“Did you have some nice adventures, Ali? Huh, did you?” Ducky questioned curiously, looking at the longneck with big eyes.

“Yeah, you see some nice places?” Petrie added, leaning forward so much that he lost his footing and fell from her head.

“Haha!” Ali snickered. “Hmmmm, not really, no. We haven’t seen any places nearly as nice as the Great Valley, although one time we got a little too close to a smoking mountain which wasn’t smoking until we got there… needless to say, we had to run from heavy ash fall and smoke…”

“We had an encounter with one of those ourselves…” Cera mentioned casually as she thought back. Only at the end of the previous Cold Time, they’d had to rescue Littlefoot’s dad from a raging river of flowing fiery rock and Cera was largely to be credited for the success of the rescue.

“Littlefoot already told me on the way, it must have been quite scary…” Ali replied, Cera looking slightly disappointed for a moment.

“It was, it was…” Ducky confirmed.

“Where are Chomper and Ruby by the way? Ali then inquired as she scanned all dinosaurs currently present. Although she hadn’t had much of a chance to get to know them in private, she could tell that both of them were decent, even Chomper, a natural enemy of longnecks. “Aren’t they with you anymore?”

“Oh, don’t worry, they should join us sooner or later.” Littlefoot reassured.

“You see, Ali, we are all growing a lot recently so we need more food, yes we do,” Ducky explained matter-of-factly, Spike taking a bite out of the bush that Ali had emerged from as if to underline that statement. “Chomper’s food is not growing though, oh no, oh no!” A giggle slipped from her beak.

“That little biter’s appetite is rivalling Spike’s by now, it’s almost frightening…” Cera deadpanned.

“I do not need to worry though, do I?” the girl double-checked in slight concern.

“Nah, he still friendly sharptooth,” Petrie assured.

“That’s great, he and Ruby have been really kind last time!” Ali responded, relieved.

“Yeah.” Littlefoot gave her a smile.

“Although if that Rhett guy is still around, I suppose I’d be okay if Chomper chased him around for a while just for a good laugh!” Cera said joking. “Speaking of that bloke, is he still with you, Ali?”

“Well... “ the girl hesitated but before she got to speak her mind about the idiotic boy, the bushes she herself had emerged from moments ago suddenly shook violently.

“AH!” Petrie shrieked, fleeing into the nearest tree while Ducky hid underneath an anxious Spike. Littlefoot and Ali exchanged looks of befuddlement and Cera squinted her eyes.

“Show yourself!” she barked, flexing her horns, two of which were just breaking through her forehead. Abruptly, upon her demand, the bushes exploded and a long-necked figure jumped out of it, the group immediately relaxing as the identity of the newcomer became obvious.

“Yo, I’m Rhett!” the beige coloured longneck called as he posed in front of the group. “Remember me?”

“Speak of the bad treestar and it’ll end up in your food… How could we possibly forget about you?” Cera deadpanned, clearly a little unamused about his arrival, especially considering that he’d likely eavesdropped on them and, thus, heard her earlier joke as well.

“Rhett, what are you doing here?” Ali deadpanned as well.” I thought you didn’t want to play with everyone?”

Truth be told, it wasn’t the most welcoming greeting but Rhett didn’t expect much of it anyway. Grinning, he lied.

“I was just teasing you the other day, Ali, I certainly don’t mind hanging around with you guys.” The boy’s gaze lingered on Littlefoot in particular. “You don’t mind, right?”

“Sure, tag along,” Littlefoot replied with a slightly awkward smile. While he didn’t have any issues with the boy, the way he’s always strutted and swaggered around Ali as well as his strange attitude put him off a little. As far as he was concerned, it was nothing personal but Littlefoot just couldn’t bring himself to like Rhett.

“Well, prepare to lose against me then, flathead!” Cera sighed before finding back to her usual self and attitude.

“The more the merrier, right Spike?” Ducky giggled, addressing her brother who seemed slightly unamused but nevertheless nodded when Ducky prompted him.

“I don’t mind,” Ali stated though like Littlefoot she didn’t say it without resentments.

“What we play then?” Petrie wondered, pirouetting through the air.

“May I suggest a game?” Rhett immediately piped up, swagging into the loose circle which they formed. That insolent flyer had prompted him excellently; now was the time to carry out the finer details of his plan that he forged up on the way.

“Littleneck, just be patient, I’ll make my move soon enough, ha!”

“I don’t know about you guys but I could do with a game of Hide and Seek, what’cha think?” Truth be told, Rhett despised the game but it’d offer a pretty neat opportunity to isolate Littlefoot from the others… “I’ll be it, okay?” he offered. Being “it” was always unpopular in that game so Rhett offered to take that role voluntarily. Besides… the thought prompted a smirk which he had to subdue quickly. “I’ll make sure to find that idiot and give him a piece of my awesome mind!”

“Sure,” Littlefoot spoke in behalf of everyone after performing a quick non-verbal survey, the suggestion meeting general approval from the group. “Should the limit be this forest here?” he asked. Searching within the whole valley was like betting on a snowy day during the warm season. The valley was simply too huge for such a game to be worthwhile for both parties…

“Sounds good,“ Ali approved, the others nodding or giving their approval verbally. The forest was only a couple hundred meters in most directions, large enough to hide well but small enough to give the seeker a legitimate chance.

“50 turns around that big ol’ tree, and not a single turn less, got it?” Cera barked at Rhett who returned her scrutinizing stare with odd cheerfulness.

“You got my word, miss,” Rhett promised.

“Everyone ready then?” Littlefoot inquired. Upon receiving positive responses from everyone, he yelled. “GO!!!”

Quickly, everyone scattered away. Unlike Rhett and Ali, they knew this forest quite well. Littlefoot already knew just the place to hide at. With a cheerful laugh, he began running into the general direction until he heard a panting cry behind him.

“Littlefoot, wait!” Ali called as she tried not to lose the boy who was going at a hell of a pace.

“Huh?” Littlefoot slowed his sprint considerably and soon came to a standstill, allowing the girl to reach him. “Want some advice on where to hide, Ali?” he hypothesized in a mildly teasing manner.

The girl caught up quickly, smiling at the purple-grey coloured boy once she’d caught her breath.

“No, not quite,” she chuckled happily. After all, she had a great idea up her sleeve. “Littlefoot, let’s hide together!”

“Hide together?” the boy wondered. “Wouldn’t that just make it easier for Rhett?”

“M-maybe…” Ali admitted, thoughtful for a split-second. “So what, it’ll be fun!” the girl encouraged him, however Littlefoot was torn. Principally, he strived to win this game, however Ali’s offer was more than tempting as she tried to look as innocent and sweet as she could.

“Well, I dunno…” LIttlefoot sighed. The log that he wanted to hide in should offer enough room for two, however it’d be tempting to talk while hiding which would increase the odds of them giving away their location.

“See Littlefoot, we could talk some more, all alone, with no one bothering us?” Ali reasoned with a wink of her eye. Littlefoot’s brain rattled.

“Well…”

“Please…” Ali made a cute, silly gesture but Littlefoot looked away, puzzling. Indignantly, Ali stepped closer and poked his head with her nose playfully. “What’s keeping you, let’s go!”

“Oh alrighty!” the boy eventually gave in snickering, starting to get on the move again.

“Thank yoooouuuu!” Ali tweeted in a silly manner.

“What was that feeling just now?”
Littlefoot pondered as they walked at a fast pace towards the hideout. Just when Ali had poked him, a sudden feeling which he could hardly place had pierced his whole body like a wave and it hadn’t been a bad feeling. Even now as the girl was jogging beside him with a happy smile, he could feel it reverberate within him. Since he couldn’t figure out what it was, he decided to brush the encounter off as an odd random thing and moved on for now, although he certainly wouldn’t forget this feeling. Surely, it felt oddly nice too…

As they passed by trees and more trees, Ali’s expression changed into a stern one suddenly. Littlefoot could only guess what spoiled his friend’s mood so suddenly, given that the occurrence gave him a slight belly-ache as well.

“Thinking about Rhett there too, aren’t you?” he wondered upon seeing her expression waver like that.

“Mhm,” the girl nodded. “There is a reason I didn’t ask him to come, see…” Ali looked away in a mixture of sadness and shyness. Weren’t it the exact feelings that Rhett was expressing towards her so bluntly which she felt deep within herself? Though Rhett wasn’t the one those feelings were directed at but rather…

“Yeah, I can see why,” Littlefoot frowned, not catching the meaning behind Ali’s facial expression.

“See, Rhett hasn’t changed at all… he’s the same as back then…”

“That’s too bad…” Littlefoot commented thoughtfully. “Well, he’ll find us in no time if we keep talking like that.” Without noticing, they had come to a standstill again, they had to claim their hideout swiftly now. Besides, dwelling on worries and concerns wasn’t how he wanted to spend the limited time they had together until it was time for them to depart for another year. “Let’s get going!”

Their spirit partly restored, they sprinted the remaining distance until the designated hideout came into view.

*

“This is such a drag!” Rhett complained as he completed the last few turns around the big tree, slightly dizzy from the monotonous movement. He’d forgotten just how annoying this game truly was, however it was necessary for his scheme to work that he played this game thoroughly. As soon as the slight dizziness fell off him, Rhett inspected the area.

“I have to make sure that I find Littlefoot first!” Otherwise, chances were others would tag along on his search and that would totally spill it! With that objective and thought in mind, the adolescent boy observed his surroundings with care. Luckily, it must have rained in the Valley quite recently, as he soon noticed…

“Everyone left footprints,” he noted with a smirk and it didn’t take him long to find the ones which belonged to Littlefoot, not a single doubt remaining.

“Found’cha, Littleneck!”


*

“...in here!”

Littlefoot and Ali had arrived at the designated hideout which Littlefoot had chosen. It was a semi-toppled tree which was hollow on the inside, leaning against a rock, thus its end looking diagonally up at roughly 20 degrees. Upon Littlefoot’s request, the girl crawled in, just about small enough to fit in, inching further in for Littlefoot to squeeze his body through the tiny hole as well. In a few months, he’d probably be too big to fit into most logs that could be found around the Valley.

“Rhett is gonna have a hard time discovering us here for sure!” the boy said with a smile.

“Oh yes,” Ali agreed. It really was a great hideout, she reckoned, for neither of them was visible from the ground below. Unless Rhett decided to climb the short tree trunk which hadn’t toppled over to peek into the rotten log where they were residing now, he’d never catch them! Happily, Ali made herself comfortable, occasionally exchanging a quiet word with Littlefoot. Listening for any signs of Rhett, they waited.

*

Rhett followed the footprints for a few moments until the ground became less muddy, the trail he was pursuing gradually disappearing into nothing.

“Darn it!” he cursed angrily, stomping his foot in annoyance and anger. In hindsight, mingling with the hiders to pursue Littlefoot might have been the more promising option but he was stuck with this task now thanks to his idiocy so he had to make the best out of it.

“Focus, idiot, focus, he’s too dumb not to leave any other hints…” The boy paused for some moments, eyeing the surrounding trees suspiciously. The path the boy had been going so far was rather straight so Rhett could only deduce that he’d already had a hideout in mind, approaching in a straight line. He had no evidence of course but he had to do something. A gamble was a gamble after all; either one wins or the other loses. Rhett was a winner type so he put faith into his actions and began to advance slowly in the same direction he’d been going thus far…

*

Waiting without a thing to do quickly began to bore Littlefoot, part of the reason why the game was being played and less frequently in recent times, their growing sizes being the other significant factor. Judging by Ali’s restlessness, constantly shifting around in the narrow space they had, the girl felt similar resentments, he noted. As Littlefoot pondered about ways to entertain himself at least a little bit, he remembered the questions that had been on his mind while meeting Ali the other day. Maybe now was as good a time as any to voice them, given that there was nothing better to do but to listen to the lone forest breath.

“Say, Ali, can I ask you something?” he spoke up in a subdued voice, not quite a whisper but still quiet enough for his voice not to escape the interior of the log.

“Sure, what’s on your mind, Littlefoot?” the girl asked in response. The log was too small to turn around in order to face Littlefoot directly as they talked which was a little awkward.

“Well, you see… about Rhett…” Littlefoot let out a sigh. “I know you’re not quite happy about him interfering with our games but you’re still together most of the time when you’re migrating, right? Are you-are you still close?”

“C-close?” Ali had to stifle a violent chuckle. “No, no we aren’t close at all!”

Littlefoot couldn’t see the melancholic look on the female longneck’s face which soon developed. Ali was still a little annoyed about Rhett’s words the other day and she certainly didn’t want him to play along with her friends. Ali could tell that boy was up to something - why else would he engage in a game he obviously hated? They all only got to see each other once a year at best and she’d be darned if Rhett ruined that precious time with his annoying way to draw the attention, good or bad, onto him.

“I didn’t want to chase him away, I mean, that’d just be rude, wouldn’t it? At least he deserves a chance to get along… but…”

“He doesn’t want either of your friendship, quite the opposite I believe…” Ali said darkly. “See, he’s said some mean stuff about you the other day, it still bothers me. He only wants to hang around me; see, Littlefoot, we are the only children in our age group so...naturally… we hang around each other a lot… but…”

“But Rhett is an idiot,” Littlefoot concluded, seeing Ali nod in front of him.

“Yeah, he really is…” The melancholy only grew stronger as the conversation progressed. It truly was depressing- the only dinosaur her age was an idiot and her choice was basically to put up with the idiocy for the sake of having some company at least or to spend her days all alone in utter boredom, only her mother accompanying her but what fun was that? Neither were pleasant options and the thought dragged her down a lot.

“That sucks, I’m sorry about that,” Littlefoot spoke softly ,pondering about how he could aid his friend. Surely, life in her herd sounded less than pleasant in the bigger picture.

“You know, I’m really tired of it, of my herd, of migrating, of Rhett… and…” she hesitated, wishing she could look Littlefoot in the eye as she said these words. “I wish I didn’t have to be apart from you - from everyone, all this time…” Ali let out a profound sigh. “See, I wish I could live with you guys… here… in the Great Valley…”

“That’d be amazing!” Littlefoot blurted out, the funny feeling from earlier making a little comeback, before realizing that they were in the middle of a game where stealth was the key to victory. “I mean, I’d love to play with you every day, Ali,” he explained, back to the subdued voice both had been using to converse thus far. Ali couldn’t see his genuine smile - he had no idea why he was suddenly so cheerful, but Ali could certainly feel the meaning reverberating through his speech. She’d thought about it many times in recent weeks and now she felt ever so confident about these lingering desires. Just at that moment, Ali decided to bring it up to her mother later.

“Anyway, let’s better be quiet now just in case I accidently alerted Rhett earlier…” Littlefoot proposed, slightly guilty. Ali chuckled, her mood improving again. This truly wasn’t the time to be feeling down and worry. That time could come later after playing…

*

Rhett kept on walking through the forest for a few minutes, looking out for signs of torn vegetation and more footsteps. Every now and then, there were a few hints, trampled weeds and ferns giving him reason to believe that he was on the right track.

“...AMAZING!!!” Rhett suddenly perked up when he caught a whim of a distant voice, faint but unmistakingly Littlefoot’s. A smirk ran up his features.

“Found’cha!”

*

Littlefoot and Ali remained crouched into the log, waiting quietly. The outside world seemed to be suspiciously quiet - was Rhett even looking for them or had he decided to ditch them? Surely, such an act of trolling would seem like something he’d do, Littlefoot reckoned, but just then he heard something that made his doubt fly away rapidly. Suddenly, a voice spoke up out of nowhere, and it seemed to be rather close to their position…

“I know you’re here, Littlefoot…”

“Crap, he must have heard me!” Littlefoot cursed as Rhett’s characteristic sneering voice rang through the air. Their bodies obviously couldn’t be seen  from the outside, however the best hideout was also the most obvious one. Surely, a skilled seeker would have that in mind…

“Let me look!” Ali hissed quietly, carefully crawling closer to the opening of the log. Judging by the sounds of rattling grass and leaves, someone was approaching their position; Rhett was approaching their position, probably well aware of his presence but not of his exact location. Soon, the boy stood directly below them.

“I know you are here,” he declared with a sneering voice. “Just give up already!”

Littlefoot held his breath. Would Rhett realize that they were hiding in the log? Would he climb up the fallen tree trunk to peek inside? Or would he move on eventually? And what was Ali up to? She’d moved to the outer edge of the log, apparently amused about something. Rhett was standing directly below her, brooding hard. Had he missed something crucial during observation?

*creak*

Ali held her breath as the wood underneath her feet audibly reacted to her weight as she was shifting it. Had Rhett noticed? If she inched a little further, he would be able to see her from his current position if he looked up but then Ali could also see him and rejoice in the rare occasion to tease him.

Rhett whirled around but did not consider to look above. Amused, Ali inched forward just a little bit…

*crack*

Littlefoot had a sudden deja-vu when the old wood broke under Ali’s weight. The girl fell to the ground with a panicked yelp which was met by a surprised scream of Rhett who leapt away fearfully. With a resounding thud, Ali crashed onto the floor right behind Rhett - thankfully it was covered in grass and fallen leaves which caught the worst of it. Rhett jolted away in panic until he heard Ali’s hysterical laughter.

“You…” Rhett cursed. Hadn’t he expected to meet Littlefoot here? Now his plan was ruined beyond help! “Found you, Ali…”

“Ali, are you okay?!” Littlefoot had climbed back out of the log, knowing that, with Ali being found out, his position was obvious too. The fall hadn’t been too big but still he wanted to check if the girl was alright.

“Found you…” Rhett said sourly when he saw him. Upon seeing Ali cry with laughter, Littlefoot relaxed immediately. Someone laughing like that surely couldn’t be hurt.

“Let’s find the others!” Littlefoot prompted with a forced smile as he reached the fellow longneck, the fact that it was Rhett he was talking to having a bigger role than the disappointment about being found.

“Yea…” Rhett muttered through gritted teeth, his facial expression twitching as he watched Littlefoot helping Ali back to her feet. This hadn’t gone according to plan at all. Rhett was already bothered greatly by having to put up with the silly game and now it wasn’t even going in his favor. He’d love to agree to another round now - with this round ruined, he’d need a second chance. Ali would be the seeker in the next one…

“At least they can’t hide together then!” A look of triumph flashed across his face just briefly. “If I can tail Littlefoot as part of the hider team, maybe it’ll work after all… better get these two to help me find the others quick…” As annoying as asking for the help of his self-declared enemy was, now was not the time to keep one’s pride. Finding that dumbass alone failed but by following him secretly and cornering him during the next game, he would still achieve his goal. Yes, he wouldn’t give up so readily…

*

Half an hour later, Rhett, grudgingly accepting the assistance of the two fellow longnecks for his own sake, had discovered everyone and they all returned to the meeting place where Chomper and Ruby were already waiting for them.

“Hi guys!” Chomper waved as the group came into view, a smirk creeping up his features when Rhett momentarily appeared to be scared.

“Hello my friends, my friends hello!” Ruby tweeted, regarding Ali with a particularly kind smile.

“You already knew about them, huh?” Littlefoot analyzed as he caught up to them, their absolute lack of surprise upon seeing Ali and Rhett indicating strongly that they must have heard about the newcomers already.

“Eeyup!” Chomper confirmed. “Stumbled upon old Thicknose who told me not to be too obvious while they’re here.” A chuckle went through the ranks.

“What were you doing before we arrived?” Ruby wondered with youthlike curiosity despite being older than everyone and slowly shrinking in comparison to their rapidly growing bodies.

“We play Hide n’ Seek, ehehehe,” Petrie responded merrily - he had won the game, being the last to be found.

“Yep, yep, yep! And Ali is “it” this time!” Ducky added with a smile.

“And even Rhett is playing,” Cera deadpanned, looking at Chomper with a smirk. “Too bad you missed the first round, Chomper, Rhett was seeking…”

“Y-yes, I-I’m playing!” Rhett declared more nervously than he meant to let on, avoiding Chomper’s smirking glance resting on him.

“Everyone ready to start?” Ali asked with a kind smile. “Upon receiving everybody’s “okay”, the girl began circling the tree while everyone was running away…

*

Rhett immediately went after Littlefoot without the other longneck knowing, keeping about a stone’s throw behind and acting quietly, staying low when not covered by vegetation. They were heading towards the part of the forest that bordered the great wall of the valley.

After a few minutes, Littlefoot entered a formation of rocks and slid through a narrow opening. Rhett smirked. Nobody had gone in their general direction as far as he could tell so he could talk relatively freely. Even in the worst case, it’d take Ali a few minutes to get by. Besides…

“That dumbass is cornered in there, he’ll regret choosing such a hideout very soon…” Finally, his efforts would pay off. His spirits high and his mood great, the beige-coloured longneck closed the remaining distance, striding closer until he barged into the hideout at once…

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This chapter has mostly been building up towards the second one where stuff is gonna happen as you might be able to tell by now. Rhett is trying to sabotage the games of the gang for his own, selfish reasons - or maybe because he is just a douche. Either way, he's up to no good and I sincerely hope that you'll hate him even more after you've read the 2nd chapter  :PAli

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Some harsh language in this one, just a heads up :)

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Chapter 2: Arguments

With a sigh of relief, Littlefoot settled down on the rocky floor. The stone walls were hiding him completely and unless someone decided to take a closer look, he had a good chance to persist in this round.

The boy rested for a moment, catching his breath after jogging in a rush to escape the seeker before they started seeking. However, he wasn’t granted this moment of rest. Suddenly, footsteps could be heard rapidly advancing and no sooner than he had risen back to his feet, another longneck entered his hideout - though it wasn’t Ali who found him…

*

Rhett, for the first time since entering the Great Valley, felt truly happy, a huge smirk on his face as he spotted the pathetic purple-grey longneck in the small, enclosed hideout. This was so perfect, Littlefoot was cornered in there. He could play his cards to full effectivity…

“Yo, Little… foot,” he spat out coldly, in a disgusted manner, walking up to the other boy in a clear, confident and dominant posture. “Nice hideout you got here, I’ll hide here as well.” Giving the boy a firm stare, he added, sneering. “If you don’t mind, that is…”

Littlefoot backed off slightly. What was Rhett doing here in his hideout, why did he follow him and just what was he up to? Clearly, Littlefoot could tell, he had some sort of agenda on his mind. “I have a bad feeling about this…”

“S-sure, feel free to use this as a hideout too…” Littlefoot replied uncertainly, avoiding Rhett’s  penetrating green eyes which continuously stared him down. “Thanks…” Rhett cackled with a smile that seemed as false as it was deceiving. Littlefoot hoped that the other longneck would settle down and patiently wait to be discovered, however the boy had no such thing in mind.

“So, Littlefoot… let us talk,” Rhett began, casually strutting around, never failing to penetrate him with his intimidating stare. “I will need to have a word with you about a certain issue… you can tell, right?”

“Uhh, sorry, what?” Littlefoot was dumbfounded. “What’s your problem? As far as I know there is no…” but just then it began to dawn on him.

“Pah, you sure are dense,” Rhett laughed coldly, unsettling Littlefoot even further. “What’s his problem? Ali would never even consider hanging around him anyway… not while she has someone else to play with… oh.”

“Ali, she’s mine. Squeeze that into your little brain, Littlebrain. Don’t even consider the remote possibility of playing with her let alone flirting with her. She’s mine, dumbass, you got that loud and clear, right?” Rhett was looking at him like someone trying to stomp on some annoying bug. Despite the obvious threat, Littlefoot’s initial reaction was to be ridiculed.

“W-what?” he deadpanned, the mere accusation too ludicrous for him to take serious, the bold claim beyond unreasonable.

“You think this is funny, huh?” Rhett’s pose transitioned from laid-back dominance to something a lot more threatening. Littlefoot jerked. “I’ll have you know, Babyfoot, that I’m not in the mood to goof around like you and your dumb-witted friends. Consider your words carefully… I’m not gonna fool around…”

Littlefoot gulped as Rhett cornered him gradually. He had assumed that Rhett was all talk but he’d just been proven wrong. This boy was dead serious and he was all alone right now with the lunatic cornering him. What should he do? Run away? Lie to Rhett in order to make him think that he’d agree to such nonsense? If Rhett attacked him, would he have to fight?

“Well, I’m not flirting with her, what’s your problem?” he asked carefully, acting slightly submissive as not to escalate the situation but yet he’d tell Rhett what he thought about his statement.

“Dude, are you fucking retarded?!” Rhett shouted indignantly, shoving Littlefoot even further into a corner. “Not flirting… my ass! How stupid do you think I am, eh?! Answer me, idiot!”

“Very…” Littlefoot’s mind replied though he just barely managed not to say it out loud. As Rhett pushed him further back much to his annoyance, he had to bent back his head since the boy was pushing his nose against his angrily. He was now effectively squeezed into the very corner of his hideout and he didn’t like it one bit.

“Seriously, how dense can a longneck be? You really are a stupid flathead who knows nothing; you’re not flirting with her? Come one dude, give me break!”

“You’re the one who should give me a break…” Littlefoot thought, slowly beginning to get annoyed about Rhett’s antics. Gathering some courage from the nonsense the beige-coloured longneck was spewing, he replied ferociously.

“Oh, I see… let me sum this up… so you say Ali is all yours, right?” If the situation hadn’t been in Rhett’s favor, he might have laughed at him but given that Rhett had the upper hand he thought better of it. “You’re saying I’m stupid but what do you understand about love, Rhett?”

“She’s mine, that is all you need to cram into your degenerated brain, loser,” Rhett cackled but Littlefoot only felt reinforced in his reasoning.

“That’s precisely why I feel you are the dense one around here, Rhett!” he declared, deadpanning, immediately feeling Rhett’s snout angrily pushing against his but he resisted the push just as fiercely. It was no longer a battle of words but a battle of wills as well. “You’re the stupid one here, Rhett! I may not know much about love but my grandparents taught me one thing you’re awfully ignorant about!”

“Oh yeah?” Rhett gave another push. “Entertain me with your nonsense, Littleneck!”

“Someone you love doesn’t belong to you just because you ignorantly claim them. You have to earn the love of another dinosaur through your words and actions and not force your selfish desires upon others!”

“Nonsense!” Rhett yelled, headbutting Littlefoot fiercely and pressing him against the cold rock wall. “Ali will love me, she doesn’t have anyone and, unlike the wuss you are, I can protect her with my handsome body. You can’t keep up with me because I got the looks, the muscles and the brain. You got none of it so bugger off and don’t get in my way!”

Despite the obvious aggression, Littlefoot had a hard time staying serious, considering how ludicrous Rhett’s statements truly were. He simply couldn’t back down as much as he wanted to submit for the sake of saving himself from his idiocy.

“I’m sorry to crush your vivid fantasies but I’ll have you know that Ali would never think about going out with you!”

“Oh?” Rhett sneered, amused. It only took a quick movement and a small shift of his weight and Littlefoot was effectively pinned against the wall, completely at his mercy though it discerned the pathetic boy little.

“Ali doesn’t like your attitude and neither do I,” Littlefoot said matter-of-factly with as calm a voice as he could manage, his glare meeting Rhett’s. “You’ll never win her if you don’t try to win her heart. As a matter of fact, with that attitude of yours, you will never love any girl if you don’t even learn the most basic…”

“SHUT UP!!!” Rhett screamed, spitting into Littlefoot’s face. He had hit a sore point. “I won’t allow an amateur like you to mess with a beauty like her! She's mine, you won’t take her away!!!”

“Take her… away?” Littlefoot laughed, it was too much ridicule to take. “Rhett, we’re just trying to enjoy the little time we can see each other, relax… You can see her all the time after all…” Littlefoot attempted to appeal to Rhett’s reasoning, however, that trait seemed to be missing in the boy completely and he began to get seriously annoyed with being shoved against the hard rocks.

“You’re not to see her at all, dumbwit!” Rhett cried in fury. “She’s my girl, MY GIRL! I decide who she may see and who she mustn’t!”

That was, when Littlefoot finally had enough. In a surge of anger, he broke free from the pindown, getting behind Rhett lest he’d be cornered once again.

“I’ve had enough of this nonsense, Rhett!” he cried at the top of his lungs, glaring angrily at the beige-coloured longneck. Even Cera would often back down when seeing this expression on his but Rhett seemed relatively unimpressed, if anything. “Ali sees me as a friend while she sees you as an annoying idiot! She’ll decide for herself who she wants to spend her time with!”

Rhett casually turned around to face him again, his expression that of subdued anger and annoyance yet his words was calm and mocking.

“Fine, Babyfoot… How about a deal? Ali is free to choose but you must not stop me from hanging around wherever she is going with you and those idiots you call your friends.”

Littlefoot twitched for a second, that insult hit where it hurt but he knew better than to start a fight over it.

“Otherwise…” Rhett continued, walking up to him and pushing his nose against his again. “If you decline, you’ll let me have my way with Ali but I won’t bother you. That’s my deal and you better don’t half-ass me - nor tell anyone about our friendly chat, is that clear?”

Littlefoot felt rage flare up inside of his stomach. Rhett was trampling not only on his pride and feelings but on those of Ali and his friends as well. More importantly, he was once again on the best way to ruin Ali’s visit for everyone involved once again. Something had to be done though now was a bad time, considering that Rhett seemed more than ready to take their dispute to a physical form, judging my his aggressive behavior.

“Fine, I agree to your terms,” he spat, glaring at Rhett angrily. “For now anyway, don’t think for a second that I’m going to accept this sharptooth crap!”

“Splendid,” Rhett cackled in amusement, removing his nose from Littlefoot’s face at last. He would have preferred the other option of course but this way he could enjoy himself in different ways as well.

“But you’ll never get what you want from Ali, no matter what you do, Rhett! Never!” He’d make sure that it never came to that, Littlefoot swore to himself.

“Oh, we’ll see about that…” Rhett smirked. “Anyway, this is now my hideout, get lost!” He needn’t bully Littlefoot out for the purple-grey longneck did so readily on his own before Rhett could finish his sentence. “Quite a coward you are though, Babyfoot!” Rhett exclaimed teasingly, hearing no further sounds from the outside. Pleased with himself, he sat down on the floor and waited for Ali to find him. Perhaps he’d even win this game despite how little he cared?

*

“That insufferable…”
To say Littlefoot was angry would be a big understatement. He was quite frankly furious right now, plowing through the forest like a maniac. He didn’t care about the game anymore, all he cared about was finding his friends to tell them the news and figure out how to resolve the issue and make sure Rhett wouldn’t cause them any additional grief. It was lucky that no sooner than he was out of hearing range, Littlefoot bumped into the person he most needed to talk to at that moment.

*

Ali was aimlessly scouting the forest for her friends when the sound of vegetation being ripped as well as rapid footsteps managed to gain her attention. “What is going on?” she wondered before the figure of Littlefoot came waltzing into view rapidly, almost crashing into her before he took notice of her.

“Littlefoot, what’s wrong? Oh, I found you!” Ali said though she quickly realized that something must have happened.

“Let’s find the others quick, Ali. We need to talk!” Littlefoot panted in obvious anger. “Don’t go looking by the rock wall. A certain someone is hiding there but I’d rather ditch him!”

“Is it Rhett?” Ali suddenly deadpanned. Upon Littlefoot’s instant nod, she inquired. “Did he do something?”

“Quite,” Littlefoot frowned. “Come on, I’ll tell you on the way…”

“Okay…” Ali sighed before racing after Littlefoot who clearly was in a hurry.

“So, to pick up our Rhett talk where we left it off, can I just hear it from you again, Ali? Do you hate him?”

“Hate… him? Hmm, I wouldn’t say I hate him but I certainly don’t like him…” Ali replied thoughtfully. “Let me guess, Rhett followed you into your hideout and decided to be an idiot again?”

“Precisely!” Littlefoot panted. “He’s spitting more nonsense than a smoking mountain on a really bad day, how do you put up with this?!”

“Well… as I said before, the time we spend migrating isn’t exactly amazing… it is nice not to be completely alone but… Rhett annoys me more often than not…” A sad, melancholic look flashed across her face and Littlefoot could tell immediately why Ali was feeling that way, for he couldn’t even endure Rhett for a single day. How was Ali keeping sane?

“You know that he loves you, right?” Littlefoot then continued as if talking about a particularly annoying bug in his nest.

“I’m aware of it, yes,” Ali stated, however her expression suddenly changed completely as it transitioned into a happier, almost witty mood. “But, see, he will never be the one I love. I… already have a candidate, see?” Both slowed down significantly, Ali awkwardly grinning before avoiding Littlefoot’s befuddled glance.

“Who is it?” Littlefoot said with mild curiosity though his anger still carried in his words so they came out a little harsher than intended.

“Not telling…” Ali giggled. Littlefoot couldn’t see her face since she was running ahead. If he hadn’t been angry about Rhett, his curiosity might have persevered, however he went back to business rather quick.

“Either way, Rhett does not understand a thing about it, about love. You should have heard him, seriously… Ali belongs to me, blah blah blah… Like he can claim any girl he wants! That’s not how it works!”

Ali suddenly halted in her movement.

“What is it?” Littlefoot demanded. Did he hit a nerve on accident?

“Actually… “Ali hesitated, whatever she had on her mind clearly bothering her. “You see… out in the Mysterious Beyond as you call it it’s not so uncommon for a male to claim a female of their choice. Not everyone is kind like you, some males simply fight for a female and the winner gets to… well, you can imagine…”

“And the females agree to this?” Littlefoot deadpanned.

“Some do, others are forced into it. I’ve… heard some stories about it in my herd and none of them were pleasant so let’s better not dwell on such things, okay?”

“Good point, good point…” Littlefoot agreed hastily. That truly didn’t feel right and if Rhett was believing that this was the true form of love then he could fall into a fire pit for all he cared. “You know, I firmly believe that love is something you have to earn.”

“Yes, same here,” Ali stated, a slight smile appearing on her face. It was good that Littlefoot was so dense, otherwise he might have caught on to a few things by now. “Anyway, let’s hurry to find the others, Rhett worries me too and I don’t want him to ruin my stay at the Great Valley.”

“Well said, Ali. Perhaps we should just call it a game and hurry up?”

“No, I’d like to find them fair and square. Don’t let him ruin this game,” Ali proposed with a pleading look. Littlefoot couldn’t argue with that logic after all.

“Oh alright, let’s find them!”

*

The morning had transitioned into noon when Ruby had finally been found. Littlefoot had tried his best to appear normal on the outside though he couldn’t hide his bad mood completely as they were heading back to the clearing.

“So is Littlefoot sulking because he was found first?” Cera grinned though Littlefoot ignored her strictly.

“Now only Rhett is missing, where might he be?” Chomper mused as the clearing came in sight.

“We… decided to ditch him, Littlefoot and I that is,” Ali explained uncertainly. “See…”

“We need to talk… right now!” Littlefoot suddenly thundered, everyone jerking a little upon the harsh eruption of anger which the longneck certainly wasn’t know for.

“What happened-ed?” Ducky wondered, walking over to Littlefoot to pat his front leg. “Please do not shout, I do not like shouting at all, oh no no no…”

“Did Rhett do something stupid?” Cera hypothesized.

“Well…” Ali was about to say something when she realized what time of the day it was. “Oh no, it’s already noon, I have to check back with my mother. Littlefoot, you go tell them! Be back later! Won’t take too long!”

“Sure, seeya in a bit!” Cera grinned, speaking on behalf of everyone, her bond with Ali still being tighter than everyone else’s. Not counting Littlefoot, that was. Once Ali was out of sight, Littlefoot picked up where the girl left off.

“Okay guys, so while we were playing, Rhett followed me into my hideout and demanded a lot of nonsensical sharptooth crap. If we don’t do something, he’ll end up ruining our time with Ali!” Littlefoot briefly summed up the situation. Cera was the first to react.

“Geez, and I had a feeling he’d end up causing trouble…” the threehorn cursed.

“What he demand?” Petrie wondered.

“That we let him have Ali all day or that he can stick around us without me saying a word against it,” Littlefoot spat out in disgust. Spike immediately let out an angry cry and Ruby folded her hands in a way that meant no good.

“Okay, I thought Rhett was a bit of an idiot but this beats everything,” Chomper commented drily. “What in the name of our ancestors is he thinking?”

“He isn’t thinking, that’s the thinking he does!” Ruby growled angrily. “I agree that we mustn’t accept either option.”

“Precisely!” Littlefoot shouted, stomping his foot. “Ali doesn’t want either option to happen either. When he cornered me, I pretended to agree with him sticking around but I was obviously just trying to lose him. We must make sure that he doesn’t know where we are… and if he happens to find us…”

“...I’ll chase him away,” Chomper growled. “Seems like I’m the only one he’s scared of.”

“Oh, he hasn’t seen me in full swing yet,” Cera boasted. “He’d better have fast legs.”

“Guys, we should not fight with Rhett, no no no,” Ducky reasoned but she was quickly overwhelmed.

“No, he big bully like Hyp. He bully Littlefoot so me wanna bully Rhett too!” Petrie stated with a firm nod, crossing his arms.

“We shouldn’t look forward to it but if it comes down to it, we all know our priorities, our priorities we know,” Ruby spoke in an agitated manner.

“And if everything fails, Chomper can eat him for all I care,” Cera grunted. “Anyway, let’s eat some, shall we?”

“Sure, but let me just phrase this before we have lunch,” Littlefoot spoke darkly, gritting his teeth. “From now on, we have to be careful guys and we might not be able to play as much as we’d like to… our top priority is keeping Rhett in the dark about our whereabouts. We obviously can’t use this place anymore and Ali will have to make sure each morning that she isn’t being followed. It’s far from ideal but this is the reality we’re facing… let’s eat.”

Soon, Cera had shaken a good chunk of leaves off a nearby tree with some help from Spike and everyone had their fill though they ate in awkward silence.

*

It took Ali some time to remember the way but eventually she managed to return to the place her herd had slept the previous night where her mother was already waiting.

The female longneck had been brooding over a few things on the way and now she couldn’t wait to set her plans into motion. The most recent ridicule Rhett had produced had only reassured her in an issue she’d been thinking about ever since learning about her herd’s plans to visit the Great Valley…

“Hi mum!” she called when the tall body of her mother came into view.

“You’re late,” her mother stated as the girl walked up to her.

“Sorry, I got a little lost trying to remember the way back,” Ali immediately apologized, exchanging a quick nuzzle with her mother.

“Well, I’m happy to inform you that we’ve settled on a place to reside, I’ll take you there now,” she explained matter-of-factly, still a little sour about Ali being late.

“Oh, where is it?” Ali wondered with curiosity.

“Not quite central as we hoped but this old longneck who is looking after your friend was suggesting a pond not too far from here which is a little secluded and it has lots of greenery for us to eat. Upon checking it out, Old Old decided that it was good enough for us.”

“Oh, Littlefoot’s grandfather suggested it? Then it must be nice!” Ali said happily.

“So far, I’d say it is,” her mother confirmed. “Well, shall we go?”

“Yes!” Ali agreed. She wasn’t truly caring much about their residence as long as she could get to talk to her mother about a certain issue but she also didn’t want to crash into the nest without warning, so to speak. Quietly, she walked alongside her mother who was heading straight towards the next forest in sight.

“It’s behind those trees so it should be easy to find for you as long as you remember where the main entrance is where we slept last night.”

“That should be possible,” Ali giggled. “Do I need to go in or would you let me back to my friends now?”

“Hmm, my only concern was you knowing where we sleep so it should be fine. However, shouldn’t you have something to eat before then?”

Ali hadn’t forgotten about her plan of course so this just worked in her favor. Nothing like a chat while having lunch, she reckoned.

“Oh sure, I wouldn’t mind some though my breakfast was very good,” Ali stated matter-of-factly, Littlefoot’s culinary tour through the Valley still filling her belly to a healthy extend.

“Help yourself to these then, dear,” her mother said, ripping a few mouthfuls of leaves from the nearest tree for Ali to devour. The girl dug in readily.

“Thanksch mum,” she said as she munched happily.

*

“Taking a while, is she?” Rhett cast a glance upwards to the Bright Circle which stood high above his head. He had waited for what felt like an eternity yet no one had even gone remotely near his hideout ever since he’d chased away that dumbass Littlefoot.

“Did that rock-for-brains keep his word? Gee, I sure don’t trust this… perhaps he told the others where I am and they decided… no, surely they wouldn’t be that mean, would they?” Case in point, Rhett was tired of waiting so he got up and left the hideout. He didn’t care about being found if the game was still ongoing… although he had reason to believe that the others had ditched him.

“They’d better not or their beloved Littlefoot will be deep in shit… actually, I kinda wouldn’t mind beating him to a pulp just now…” A profound smirk burned itself into his facial muscles, as if it was the only expression they ever knew. If his suspicion really turned out to be true, there’d be a lot more things to anticipate than some trolling and teasing, that much was certain. His spirits high, Rhett navigated his way back to the place where they would likely be…

*

After taking a few bites, Ali decided to bring up the matter she needed to address.

“Uhm, mum? Could I have a word with you about something important?”

“Oh, what would that be, Ali?” her mother inquired with some curiosity. Ali gulped.

“W-well, see… … I have a request!” she exclaimed after finding the courage in her heart to speak about her sorrow thoroughly. “I beg you that you hear me out, mum…”

“Of course I will hear you out, what’s the matter? You didn’t get yourself into trouble, did you?”

“It’s… mum, I need to be honest… see, I… “ Ali sighed. “I don’t want to live the life we’ve been living all this time. See… i-it’s so nice here in the Great Valley, why d-don’t we just stay here? Just you and me?”

Ali’s mother didn’t reply immediately, pondering how to respond to her daughter’s inquiry.

“Ali, dear… we can’t just leave the herd like that? A herd is like family, you can’t just leave... “

Unfortunate as it was, Ali had expected such an answer but she wasn’t ready to give in so easily.

“I understand, mum, but this herd is not family to me… they’re all strangers who merely travel with us in my opinion…” Ali stated uneasily, knowing quite well that her words mightn’t sit well with her mother but she needed to speak her full mind here.

“Is there a particular reason that makes you think that way, Ali?” the grown-up inquired understandingly. “I know we don’t do much with others but a herd is still family. We live together and we all want what’s best for each other. We protect each other. Now I can’t deny that the Valley would be quite safe but…

“Yes, it is very safe, I’m sure Littlefoot’s grandparents would second that immediately!” Ali shouted impatiently. At least, her mother was being fair and wasn’t trying to silence her the moment she spoke of it.

“Our numbers are great enough to grant us safety too, don’t forget that, Ali,” her mother reminded her but Ali wouldn’t hear any of it.

“Mum, just think about it… we could live a peaceful life here… no more travelling around in scorching heat, no more thirst and hunger for days, no more dangers! The Great Valley is so much better than what the herd can offer us, don’t you think?!”

“Well, I can’t deny that but still…” the grown-up seemed conflicted. “Ali, is there a particular reason why you want to leave the herd? You didn’t even bring up the possibility of everyone staying here after all. Now that's something I wouldn’t oppose at all.”

“Well…” Ali sighed heavily. “It’s just… I’m lonely in this herd. In the Valley I have friends, in the valley I have fun. There’s hardly any fun out there and… I’m tired of it, okay?” She said these words calmly but she still obtained a certain ferocity, a certain determination.

“You have Rhett,” her mother stated. “Is he not good enough?”

“Mum, seriously?” Ali deadpanned. “Rhett is a big jerk. He’s looking for trouble with Littlefoot because he doesn’t want anyone to play with me. But the thing is, he’s an idiot, he can get lost for all I care!”

“Now now calm down, dear, don’t say such things out of nowhere... “ her mother shortly reprimanded her but Ali wouldn’t listen.

“He deserves it…” Ali grumbled. “Mum, if what he told Littlefoot is any indication, he thinks of me much in the way those males think about females… you know… the ones that come and only leave the eggs when they go again…”

“How do you come to such a conclusion, dear?” the grown-up asked, mildly irritated.

“See, Rhett doesn’t care whether I like him or not,” Ali explained, clearly upset. “He claimed that I belong to him alone and that’s why he sought a fight with Littlefoot… I’ve never seen Littlefoot so upset and angry when I ran into him after it happened…”

“You weren’t together all the time?”

“We were playing Hide and Seek, see?” Ali pointed out matter-of-factly.

“Oh well, that makes sense then,” the adult longneck admitted. “I can’t deny that this sounds like bad news, Ali, but why does that make you want to leave the herd? Is it because of Rhett?”

“Not only but… I’d rather not see him anymore to be frank,” the girl responded with as much honesty as she could muster.

“Okay, that is understandable… though he never came across to me as how you describe him now. Anyway, is there any other thing that makes you want to leave the herd?”

“Quite…” Ali gulped - this would be her trump card and she’d have to make sure that she played it well. “So… I just don’t want to leave my friends and… in particular… Littlefoot I… I like him… like… a lot…” Ali felt like disappearing into thin air but she had to pull through. It was all for Littlefoot and her freedom to be with him all the time after all.

“Oh, you like him? the female asked in mild surprise.

“Yeah, I do,” Ali admitted, slightly embarrassed. “You know… last time I was here, that was just when I met Rhett and I was… well, I kind of turned him down because Rhett didn’t like him… I mean, I sorta knew he was making things up but he was still my friend and back then I really believed Rhett was nice if he wanted to be nice. I didn’t want to upset Rhett because I was afraid my only friend in this herd would leave me… I was so so stupid. I should have been nicer to Littlefoot. I wasted a fair amount of our time and I realized too late that I actually liked him a lot. We already left before I could get a chance to sort my feelings… It’s been a long time but now these feelings have resurfaced and… I don’t want to be separated from Littlefoot again… Can you understand that, mum?”


“I certainly do, dear,” the grown-up sighed heavily. “I do understand your feelings but I’m afraid I cannot leave the herd just for your sake, Ali. Please try to understand... “

“But mum!” Ali cried.

“Once you’re older, Ali, you’re free to choose your own path but you need to mature and grow up first. I don’t doubt that you’re completely sincere about your request and I’m glad that we talked about this but I cannot grant your request at this time. Enjoy your time you have, make sure that Littlefoot knows about your feelings and make a promise, both of you. He seems like the type of dinosaur who wouldn’t break one.”

“But.... but that’s a very long time! I-I don’t want to be stuck with good-for-nothing Rhett for another year or two! I’ll go crazy before that happens!” Ali cried in a mixture of anger and disappointment.

“I’m sure something can be done about Rhett, dear, if it becomes necessary that he is reprimanded for his behavior. Just hang in there, I know you’re not satisfied but try to understand… please.”

“I still don’t understand why they’re so important to you, important enough that you would leave a paradise when you see it…” Ali said while sulking. Her mother then gave her a quick nuzzle. “It’s as I said. Family is family. When your father died, I was left with no family but little you and I was too weak to protect you. This herd became the family I lost and it will remain that way forever until I grow old, Ali. You’ve been too young to make that decision so you are free to leave once you are old enough if that is what you yearn for. Of course you could invite Littlefoot into our herd too, have you considered that yet?”

“No I haven’t but I doubt Littlefoot would want to… he’s happy here and he wouldn’t leave behind his friends… they certainly have no place in a herd like ours…”

“That they don’t…” the adult agreed, nodding.

“Anyway, when will I be… old enough?” Ali asked sulking.

“When you’ve proven that you are grown-up in mind and body. A few Cold Times, I’d say.”

“That’s too long!” Ali ranted immediately but her mother merely chuckled.

“I know, I know it is. Forgive me…”

“Could you at least consider life here in the Great Valley?” Ali requested quietly. “Investigate a little and look around. Maybe you’ll like it more than you think now?”

“You sure are a persistent one,” the female laughed heartily but then her expression became serious again. “Well, I guess it doesn’t hurt to do that if it means we have a compromise?”

“I… guess so,” Ali mumbled, crestfallen. “D-don’t think that I’ll give up this easily though!” she then blurted out with the last bit of bravado she could muster. It certainly wasn’t enough.

“That’s fine, Ali. Now, eat up and go back to your friends. And keep me informed about Rhett, okay? If that boy really is up to no good, I’ll have a word with Old One about this.”

That, at last, soothed Ali’s mood if just a little.

“Will do, though I guess Littlefoot and the others are going to try avoid him. If you could distract him in the morning so he doesn’t get to follow me secretly like he did today would be helpful…”

“That can be arranged,” the grown-up spoke with a mild smile. “Now, off you go.”

“See you later!” Ali called before walking back to her friends, although her mood wasn’t exactly better than before. Ali caught herself letting her head hang low, however she then reminded herself that being down and gloomy wasn’t helping at all. This was not the time to be having these emotions, or at least she’d be better off restricting them somewhat for the sake of having fun and spending time with her friends. Hurrying, she ran back across the Valley she’d like to make her home so readily…

*

Littlefoot sat some distance away from everyone. After the group was done eating (Chomper had disappeared for a bit), he’d retreated somewhat as the others relaxed in the early afternoon heat or talked among themselves. Littlefoot couldn’t be bothered to join them, not now. His mind was just churning with subdued anger and he had a few things to reflect upon after this eventful morning.

If there was one thing that really annoyed him, it was how Rhett had shoved him around earlier. Littlefoot didn’t like to admit it but if it came down to a test of strength, Rhett would be the obvious winner. Living the harsh life out in the Mysterious Beyond had built a lot of strength and also Littlefoot presumed that the boy may be a season or two older than he was. Usually, he wouldn’t have to worry about this but the deranged boy had acted rather aggressively and there was no doubt for Littlefoot that he would have resorted to violence if he hadn’t gotten what he had wanted. Also considering that he broke the deal as soon as it was forged, also considering the threat Rhett had voiced in the occasion he did exactly that… well, it put him into a slight state of unrest. He’d have to make sure that he was never alone when Rhett was around lest the boy decided to attack him when he least expected it…

“I’d better stay close to my friends now,” he muttered quietly as he watched Petrie entertain Ducky and Spike with a few flying tricks while Ruby and Cera were ranting about the poor quality of the Great Valley’s best mud pool this year.

“And then there is Ali…” Littlefoot didn’t like to admit it but Rhett had said a few things during their argument which actually hit a sore point. Was he really flirting with Ali? Was that how Rhett saw it? Or, he grunted, was it just what he wanted to see? He knew too well from Cera that she’d often twist facts to use them in her favor and Rhett was probably doing the same earlier, he reckoned.

“More importantly though, what are my feelings for Ali really?” The way Rhett had spoken about love had stirred his mind. He remembered the funny feeling inside his stomach he had been feeling earlier, a feeling he never knew previously. I didn’t want to deny it but if it came down to it, he would ditch his friends without a second thought if it meant seeing Ali. He could never get tired of her cute smile, yes, that angelic, sometimes goofy smile… Perhaps, he’d have to talk to the girl again sooner or later to confirm a few things for these feelings particularly surfaced when they were all alone...

“Last but not least, why does Rhett hate me so much? And why do I… “ Littlefoot could tell that he saw him as a rival for the love of Ali which he craved (but would never get, Littlefoot mused with gritted teeth) which made sense considering the boy’s line of reasoning. However, he was more curious if his very own source of hate was more complicated than met the eye on first glance…

“Well, I can’t deny it, I hate him because of how much of a freak he is, because of how idiotic he acts and because of how full of himself he can be… but that’s not it… I’m not one to hate others… but... “ Truth be told, if it came down to a fight between the two, Littlefoot wasn’t so sure anymore if he’d avoid it at this point. Not only had Rhett trampled on his pride (which he usually didn’t care so much about) but also did he try to steer him away from Ali which was simply unforgivable given their difficult distant relationship. Littlefoot hated to admit it but just now, Ali having gone off to see her mother, he kind of missed her, he kind of wanted her to be at his side, smiling, being happy… touching their noses like they did as a greeting the other day… There, the feeling returned to him just now, stronger than ever, in spite of Ali’s absence, or maybe because of it? Littlefoot didn’t know but one thing he did know.

“This squirmy, nervous feeling… it is clearly related to Ali and I think I may know what it means… maybe I am really Rhett’s rival here? Maybe…”

Just then, he remembered something Ali had said earlier.

“Also, who is it that “candidate” that she spoke of a little earlier? If it’s not Rhett, then who is it? Ali doesn’t know any other longnecks her age, does she? Oh wait…” Had Ali meant… him? Did the girl in fact show some real interest in him? Did she really - he couldn’t even think about the word, let alone say it out loud. Was it what he was feeling towards Ali just now?

That was when the boy saw Ali joining their group again.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hate Rhett now? well, me too!

This chapter is my submission for the january prompt "Argument"

So now we have it. Rhett and Littlefoot are at each other's throat but also Littlefoot and Ali are developing their relationship, slowly.  :PAli

I know this was a lot to read but I hope you all liked the developments  ;)Cera
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 04:56:30 pm by Ducky123 »

Sovereign

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2019, 04:13:08 pm »
Well, these chapters gave us much more idea what this story will be about. They raised the stakes immensely for the characters while also creating some long-term developments that might very easily stretch far into the future. With Rhett’s plot known only to Littlefoot and the former’s clear obsession to getting his way, I’m afraid there are no easy ways out for Littlefoot.

The idea of showing Rhett as a repentant and normal kid in the beginning of the first chapter kept things nicely as a secret while also leaving the reader wonder about the direction of the following scene. However, Rhett’s motivations quickly grew darker quickly and it was soon clear that his reaction to his humiliation in the actual episode was far from genuine.

You certainly made him out to be very unlikeable which clearly was your goal all along. Littlefoot cannot escape the other longneck’s deal anytime soon while the situation must get very dangerous for Ali soon enough. However, I’m not too fond of this utter black versus white portrayal of Rhett and Littlefoot as the former’s motivations felt a bit too extreme to be completely believable. Likewise, Ali returned to her behavior that I disliked in SDP and I also dislike it here. x(cera I would probably have preferred to see some kind of other side of her in this story.

Even then, there are some nice possibilities moving forward in this story. Of course, the tension created by Rhett is a tangible one and it seems like his impact on the coming events will be a momentous one but it remains to be seen what exactly will be the outcome of the events of these two chapters. :)


rhombus

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2019, 01:23:11 am »
Review of Chapter 1:

Well, it looks like Rhett has not improved his people skills any. :p Although he and Ali are the only longnecks of roughly the same age in the herd, it seems that he has taken a different route in this tale than in the Seven Hunters. Instead of soul searching and reflecting on his shortcomings, he has become even more fixated on Ali despite her obvious misgivings, and now the animosity is building in him to actual cause Littlefoot harm. I can see how this is not going to end well...

Review of Chapter 2:

Quote
"After the group was done eating (Chomper had disappeared for a bit)"

I somewhat hoped that Chomper was having a certain friend for dinner, if you know what I mean. :p

Ali has certainly put her thoughts into meaningful words at this point as she told her mother about her desire to leave the herd in order to be free of Rhett's unwanted affections.  At the same time we get to experience the full extent of Rhett's unrivaled dickishness. The fact that due to his lifestyle Rhett would be the probable victor in any fight and that longneck society is apparently quite medieval about  courtship and what "consent" is, creates a rather dark perspective in our favorite sauropod's mind.  I can certainly see why Ali is looking for an off-ramp from her current life.

I suspect that with Rhett's scheming, Littlefoot might have to use his wits (where he has a large advantage over Rhett) in order to outmaneuver Rhett's aggression.  I can certainly guess how the "love" and "conflict" prompts are going to be fulfilled in the near-future. :p I look forward to seeing how this story develops in the chapters to come!

Ducky123

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2019, 02:17:10 pm »
Chapter 3: A confession at night

Littlefoot’s mood improved significantly when he saw Ali approach who immediately aimed a smile at him.

“I’m back!” the lavender-coloured girl announced happily, most of her negative thoughts and worries pushed to the back of her mind for now in order to enjoy the rest of the day.

“Welcome back, Ali!” everyone replied, gathering around the two longnecks, Chomper and Ruby returning from their little “hunt” just then as well.

“What are we going to do?” Ali wondered.

“More importantly, did you see Rhett anywhere?” Cera inquired. “He simply mustn’t know where we are!”

“No trace, no,” Ali sighed, brushing aside a surge of bad emotions. “Though I guess we should get going rather soon before he realizes that we might be here.”

“Agreed,“ Ruby replied sternly. “If Rhett doesn’t know where we are going, then he can’t go where we are going so we have to go somewhere Rhett doesn’t know where somewhere is.”

“Also, it should be somewhere not too easy to find, he mustn’t find us by chance either!” Cera ranted.

“In other words, let’s get going,” Chomper summarized with a cheeky grin. “Shall we?”

“How about Meadow of Tall Grass?” Petrie offered. “Tall grass hide us well.”

“Not a bad idea, Petrie,” Littlefoot praised. “But what should we play there?”

“Let us play catch, yep yep yep!” Ducky proposed eagerly, an excited smile on the swimmer’s face.

“Yeah, that could work,” Littlefoot mused. “It would certainly allow us to have some good fun and hide from Rhett.”

“I have a LOT of energy right now!” Cera announced, puffing herself. “So it’s a good game to play.”

“Shall we do it?” Littlefoot inquired.

“Yeah!” the others shouted in unison with happy cheers.

“What are we standing around for? Move it!” Cera prompted, marching ahead of the group. The others followed in a rather merry mood.

*

“He has more guts than I thought…”

Rhett got up from his crouched position. He had been using the plentiful vegetation to obscure himself from being seen by the others he’d been observing intently. Part of him was a little upset about getting ditched during the game but on the other hand he really didn’t care about any of them at all so it was merely a mild irritation, like a bitter taste from a funny plant in one’s lunch. Thankfully, he had realized in time what game these idiots were playing with him; the talk he’d just eavesdropped on only confirmed that, leaving only one conclusion.

“He has told them after all, that retarded idiot…” The boy had not only lied but he was actively keeping Ali away from him and that was the true crime. “He’s going to suffer for this though I will need to set it up.” As Rhett pondered about a scheme that would allow him to make the insolent flathead pay, he began following the retreating forms of the purple-gray longneck, his insufferable companions… and Ali.

“Idiots, don’t think for a second that you’ve lost me…”

*

“Boy, that was fun!”

Littlefoot laughed happily as his legs burned with exertion, the sinking form of the Bright Circle shining on his back. They had spent the whole afternoon playing to their heart’s content, although he had been caught way more often than he’d have liked to admit. There hadn’t been a single sign of Rhett following them either.

“Thanks for the fun games, everyone!” Ali exclaimed with a friendly smile when everyone gathered, tired and word out but satisfied with fun and laughter. “It was super nice to play with everyone again, let’s do it again!”

“You bet!” Cera thundered full of spirit.

“What are we gonna do tomorrow?” the female longneck wondered curiously.

“Something fun!” Petrie giggled, receiving a mild roll-eye from Cera.

“Obviously,” the Threehorn commented dryly.

“How about we go swimming, huh?” Ducky suggested but Ali didn’t seem to like it.

“Well…”

“Let’s explore some cool places around the Valley, with Ali!” Chomper exclaimed with his trademark toothy grin.

“In that case, we could use the Secret Caverns to meet up, the Secret Caverns we could use!” Ruby proposed. “Rhett doesn’t know them because he doesn’t know where they are!”

“Great idea, both of you!” Littlefoot praised them with a proud smile. “What about it, Ali? Wanna go on an adventure here in the Great Valley tomorrow?”

“Hmm, sure!” the girl replied after a moment pondering about the idea. Littlefoot could only muse why Ali was acting a little thoughtful all of a sudden.

“Alright, then we’ll meet again tomorrow at the Secret Caverns!”

The group of friends all said their good-bye’s and began heading to their respective homes in the Valley. In the end, only Littlefoot and Ali were left.

“So, shall I take you back to your herd, Ali?” Littlefoot offered with a kind smile. Ali still seemed to be a little thoughtful as if she was brooding over something.

“Mmh, yeah,” the girl replied. Littlefoot looked at her oddly but didn’t say anything.

*

“Making me watch their bullshit all day, geez…”

Rhett frowned from his position hidden in the vegetation of the Great Valley. No matter how he tried to put it, he hated this place, however its plentiful assortment of greenery served his current objectives quite well at the very least. It was almost too easy to remain unseen and still see everything.

“Fools, did they honestly think they got rid of me? How careless to assume that so non-chalantly…”

Rhett grimaced. At least the stupidity and naivety of his targets was working in his favor. Now only Littlefoot and Ali were left, the boy puzzling whether to make his next move already. As far as he was concerned, he could proceed with his plan now but, preferably, he’d catch Littlefoot alone again. Besides, a grain of curiosity remained. What would they do now that they were alone, now that they thought they were? Ali already seemed to fall for his lies, the two working together to get rid of him, HIM who the girl should be admiring, not that pathetic flathead from the Valley, no HIM. If he didn’t do something, Ali would be beyond hope, he feared, and yet he felt like it was better to wait to observe. Waiting for them to separate seemed futile since Littlefoot would end up telling her and his god-awful friends anyway so Ali being a witness to him carrying out his new schemes wouldn’t be much of an issue. However, he was just too curious (or fretful?) what the two longnecks would do when they were being by themselves. Stalking them seemed strangely entertaining when the other friends weren’t around and Rhett just wanted to know if his observations would turn out to be true. He could tell that Ali in particular couldn’t take her eyes off him which was the main reason why Littlefoot was such a threat to begin with but Littlefoot also appeared to act in a strange manner around the girl, their mutual crush couldn’t be more obvious, their silly, childish feelings so blatantly apparent to the onlooker. He’d stay put for now and follow them around a little longer but, either way, at some point that night he’d make his move once he’d gathered some more data and entertained himself a little more…

*

Ali was deep in a state of reflection and contemplation as she trotted alongside the adolescent boy. Littlefoot was her best friend and Ali was so glad to be reunited, feeling like there was so so much she had to say and yet her lips remained sealed, the words not finding together to form sentences that weren’t nonsensical garbage. Ironically, she felt really awful and happy at the same time, happy because of the amazing day she’d spent together with everyone and Littlefoot – even Rhett’s intrusion couldn’t really change that fact that she’d had a month’s dose of fun on a single day, and, quite ironically, awful because of a set of happy emotions which were making a turmoil in her mind, emotions that she’d held dear ever since the previous year…

*

“Is it really time to say good-bye already?”

A younger Ali was facing an also younger purple-grey longneck as her herd was making preparations to leave the Great Valley.

“It’s been a lot of fun, Ali,” Littlefoot spoke with a genuine smile – unlike her the boy seemed to be able to hide the melancholy inside his heart.

“Yes, indeed but… see, I…” So many emotions churning inside her mind, so many things that she wanted to address, needed to tell Littlefoot, and, in the end, only a short sentence escaped her mouth.

“I-I’ll miss you…”

Ali’s head hung low. Why did she have to leave? Here, at the Great Valley, she was truly happy but her herd wasn’t staying… it was really no fair!

“Don’t be sad, Ali, it’s not forever,” Littlefoot spoke in an attempt to cheer the depressed girl up but he didn’t quite succeed.

“I know but… see, not forever is still really long…” At that moment, Ali wanted to confess, confess her feelings all at once but no sound came, her body petrified in a wild turmoil of emotions.

“Hey, remember the first time we said goodbye?” the boy prompted which caused Ali to perk up a little. “You said something really important back then and I still have faith that one day it’ll come true!”

Ali browsed through the depths of her memories real quick before she remembered which returned some of her energy at once.

“M-maybe we’ll all live together someday…” she mumbled, barely audible.

“It’s not more or less than a dream, true, but I’ve been hoping all this time to see you again and…” Ali heart skipped a beat. "…and you really returned after all. I was so happy! And I’ll be just as happy next time too!”

Ali, despite her melancholy, couldn’t help but feel happy as he said that. At that moment, the love for Littlefoot she had discovered during her stay was stronger than the sadness about the coming separation. Maybe she should just tell him about the feelings next time then?

“Ali, are you ready?”

The female longneck twitched as she heard herself being called quite urgently.

“Littlefoot, I’ve gotta go…”

“Yeah, I know,” he replied, hesitant for a second which showed how strongly he actually felt against her leaving but he recovered his friendly smile soon. Walking up to her much closer than comfortable, he performed a gesture Ali didn’t recognize at first but, once she did, she smiled. The boy was performing a gesture of parting; lowering her head slightly, they touched their foreheads gently.

“Safe travels, Ali,” Littlefoot spoke with formality but his smile was unmistaken.

“Have some fun for me too, okay?” Ali said, torn between returning the happy smile and sinking back into depression. In the end, she remained somewhat between the two extremes.

“Sure, seeya next time, stay safe!” Littlefoot exclaimed with a grin as they broke contact.

“Yes, see you…”

Then, Ali turned around without looking back. Littlefoot couldn’t see her tears as she joined back with her herd and, no sooner than the day was over, the Great Valley was already out of sight for a very long time…


*

Ali had only realized on that day that she loved Littlefoot and that she craved to be by his side, just as she was right now, only closer… Moreover, she’d realized just how much it hurt to be apart…

“L-Littlefoot?” Ali suddenly stopped, addressing the boy with uncertain, shaky words.

“Hmm?” Littlefoot wondered, coming to a standstill while giving Ali a curious look. “There’s been something on your mind for a while now, hasn’t it?” He’d noticed that Ali had been pondering about something not only now but also earlier while switching location for their afternoon games. Of course the boy hadn’t said anything, after all he didn’t know what this was all about or if he’d been seeing things but, when Ali nodded, he knew that his perception hadn’t deceived him. “What’s up then? It’s not about Rhett again, is it?” Littlefoot inquired with mild curiosity.

“No, not this time – I mean, indirectly, yes…” Ali replied, her mind an utter chaos. “See, I’ve had a talk with my mother about… see, I kind of asked my mother if we could leave the herd to live in the Great Valley…”

“You were actually serious about that earlier?” Littlefoot inquired in temporary confusion.

“Of course I was, didn’t I tell you how terrible life in my migratory herd is? Especially if your only friend is a douche like Rhett…” Ali sighed. “Anyway, my mother did not like the idea – we didn’t fight or anything but… she thinks that it’d mean betraying our herd if we left them which I kind of don’t understand to be honest…”

“Oh, so that’s what’s bothering you… understandable.” Littlefoot gave the girl an apologetic look. “Any way I can help?”

“Well, I already used my trump argument and pretty much all I could think of that speak bright about the Valley. Unless you know of more which I’m not aware of, I don’t think there’s much I can do to convince her…” Ali sighed once again. “Oh well, I’m not going to give up that easily, I really do want to live here… with you, all of you…” A hint of melancholy mixed into her troubled expression.

“That’d be a dream coming true for both of us, I think,” Littlefoot said with a weak smile, not catching the implementation of his own words.

“Certainly…” Suddenly, Ali’s face brightened up. If Littlefoot was happy if she lived in the Great Valley then surely he was having some feelings for her as well? How convenient that she’d been thinking about asking him a certain question anyway…

“Littlefoot, do you need to be home when it gets dark today?” the girl asked as they picked up a slow trot again.

“Well, my grandparents just gave me permission to get home as late as I want so I guess I do not need to be home just yet. Why do you ask, Ali?” A curious glance was resting on Ali now. Just what was the girl implying? Did she want to go out with him in the middle of the night? And why?

“Oh why, I… see…” Ali was suddenly very interested in a flying buzzer crossing their path. “Are… are you up to spend some more time together tonight?” Ali asked quietly. Littlefoot couldn’t help but notice her sudden shyness around him.

“Sure I am!” Littlefoot grinned; somehow he had a feeling that Ali was up to something he’d regret missing out. “But what’s the big idea? Wanna have an adventure in the dark? Is it that?”

“No, not quite, see…” Ali gulped. “W-we haven’t had much time to be by ourselves yet and… see, there are a few things I’d like to tell you and… I also have a few questions I’d like to ask…”

“And we’re heading to your place because you need permission too, right?” Littlefoot concluded, Ali nodding briefly, in response. “Any special place you wanna go to talk?”

“Well… it should be a lonely place where we don’t disturb anyone…” Or be disturbed, Ali added though she didn’t say it out loud.

“I see,” Littlefoot said with a grin. “Provided you’re allowed to go, I know just the place not far from where your herd is sleeping. You’ll definitely like it!”

“Great!” Ali replied with a shy smile. Almost everything was ready now, excitement rising the closer they got to her herd. Would her mother let her go with Littlefoot or would her plans be crushed? Despite how shy and awkward she felt about revealing her affection towards Littlefoot, Ali wouldn’t allow herself to give in to these doubts. The purple gray longneck was such a kind character that Ali could feel at ease. The worst to happen was that her affection would be unrequited – which would be a terrible downer, no doubt, but she knew Littlefoot wouldn’t quit being her friend. He just couldn’t, she knew he wouldn’t. Ali didn’t want to regret anymore, the past year painful proof of her mistakes.  Overcoming her doubts, worries and shyness was a relatively small price to pay in the light of what she had to gain.

“Let’s hurry!” Ali urged and the two friends jogged the remaining distance merrily.

*

“Geez, what’s this stupid girl blabbering about?”


Rhett grunted as he eavesdropped on the talk between the two fellow longnecks walking ahead of him. “Sounds like Ali wants to get lovey-dovey with this flathead, well I’m about to puke…”

If his suspicions turned out to be true, he’d have to intervene… At this point, it seemed like Ali’s mother was his only hope left but would she really forbid Ali to go with Littlefoot, given that she certainly wouldn’t let her go with him? Grudgingly, Rhett carried on with his research…

*

Dusk was spreading fast over the Valley when Ali and Littlefoot arrived at the forest where Ali’s herd was residing, the sky turning purple.

“Hello Mum!” Ali called when she took sight of her parent who smiled at her the moment she noticed her.

“Welcome back, Ali,” the grown-up said, regarding Littlefoot with a nod. “Thank you for returning Ali home, Littlefoot.”

“You’re welcome,” the boy replied with a polite smile. His glance then moved to Ali who was slightly nervous.

“Mum, could you do me – no, us a favor? A big one?” she asked with a pleading expression. “See… we still have a lot to catch up on and there is this place where you can see the blinky lights really well, we’d like to go there…”

“Oh?” the adult wondered curiously. “Normally, I’d probably say “no” to that but this here is the Great Valley after all. As long as you two don’t stay up all night and stay within the borders of this valley, I’m okay with it.” A smile flashed across her face though it paled in comparison to Ali’s.

“THANK YOU!!!” Ali exclaimed, running up to her mother in order to nuzzle her in appreciation.

“I’ll promise to bring her back soon,” Littlefoot said with a cheeky grin, unable to hide his joy either. “Thanks for letting us go.”

“You’re welcome,” Ali’s mother spoke in mild amusement. “Have fun, you two.”

*

A little later, the two longnecks were climbing a steep path at the edge of the Valley’s walls under the dwindling light of the Bright Circle which lead up to a vantage point from where one could not only have an excellent view into the vast expenses of the Mysterious Beyond but also get a splendid look at the night sky. Thankfully, the few Sky Puffies that had occasionally crawled across the sky during the day had dissipated, revealing a clear sky. Weather was perfect. As the two young longnecks arrived, the first Blinky Lights began to pop up and the colour of the sky began to approach a dark blue, soon to become pitch-black.

“Is this the place you mentioned?” Ali puzzled as they stepped onto a rock ledge hanging far into the Mysterious Beyond. Littlefoot came to a standstill as she piped up, peering into the far distance.

“Eeyup, this is the place,” the boy replied, grinning. “This is from where I saw your herd coming when we met for the first time.”

“I see,” Ali replied with a smile. Together, they walked up to the outer edge, glimpsing down the abyss below them.

“Better not fall off this rock though,” the boy joked and Ali instinctively took a few steps back which made Littlefoot laugh. Their moment of joy was rather short-lived though. Littlefoot could see nervousness grow in Ali’s face which was so good-looking when she smiled – he supposed that it had to do with the thing she meant to talk about. “So… what is it that you wanted to talk about, Ali?” he wondered in a casual voice, seating himself some distance from the edge on the smooth rock which formed the ledge they were standing on.

Ali didn’t quite respond, instead hunching down next to him with a serene expression.

“Ali?” he reinforced his inquiry after some moments had passed.

“It- I don’t know where to start yet… or how…” Ali stated awkwardly, looking away bashfully. “G-give me a little moment to sort my thoughts please…”

“Sure thing,” Littlefoot responded with a bemused look. “Ali sure is acting funny…” the boy concluded as he took occasional side glances at the girl who was invested in gawking at the rising Night Circle on the far horizon with a thoughtful, almost pained expression. But, truth be told, it wasn’t just Ali who was acting out of character. A funny feeling was manifesting itself in his body – the strangely churning, awkward and yet happy feeling he’d felt earlier in the day already. Just what did it mean? Did it have to do with the fact that he was hanging out with her or because he and Ali were alone right now? Every time he’d felt it, Ali had been right next to him though they hadn’t always been alone when he did. Somehow, Littlefoot began to rise some suspicions but since he didn’t know the meaning behind this, he could only muse about the significance of these new, odd sensations which Ali’s arrival brought along.

Another side glance at the female longneck. Ali seemed very restless, Littlefoot noted, and, somehow, it seemed as though every time she changed her pose, her body was gradually inching closer to his, almost to the point where it began to feel uncomfortable in an awkward fashion yet he couldn’t really object. The touch of her skin felt kind of nice, although it didn’t help his attempts to find out more, only that it somehow seemed to make the feeling more intense by the minute, increasing his uneasiness but also his happiness. Just what did it mean? What was messing with his head?

Suddenly, their tails touched and Littlefoot could feel an electric current, strangely warm and pleasant, running through his body, energizing him and causing an odd sense of ecstasy. He couldn’t quite place those findings yet but all he knew was that he wanted to feel this again. Instinctively, he moved his tail as well and turned his long neck once again to take a glimpse at Ali only to find the girl facing him, apparently having the same idea at the same moment.

*thump* *thump*

“Why is my heart beating like I’ve climbed a whole mountain?” At this point, it was futile to deny that Ali had something to do with this. Their eyes met for a brief moment; Ali’s blue eyes were reflecting the light of the Night Circle and, albeit just for a second, a shy smile flashed across her face before she looked away bashfully.

“What is this feeling!?” Littlefoot was confused to the point that it made him angry at his lack of comprehension. He liked Ali, he really did, always did, but still he hadn’t ever felt like this about her before. Perhaps it was a thing when one was getting older? He was already beginning to realize that The Time of Great Growing entailed much more than growing like crazy as the name implied. He could almost hear his grandpa’s voice in his head, explaining how children began to think differently about the other gender, sometimes without realizing it.

“Wait a second…” Littlefoot was close to the answer but that was when Ali decided to speak up again.

“Littlefoot?” The girl was still not looking at him directly, looking a little beside him as if something greatly embarrassed her. “D-d-do you l-l-like me?”

“Huh?” Apparently, Ali had sorted her thoughts now, however Littlefoot’s first impression was that she’d done a terribly poor job. What a stupid question to ask something so obvious. Weren’t they good – no, very good friends? Best friends? Either way, he needn’t waste a second about her silly question for he really did like her.

“Silly, you’re a very good friend, we just wouldn’t be if I didn’t like you,” he responded with a grin, teasing the girl a little but Ali’s reaction strongly indicated that he had missed the point after all.

“T-that’s not quite what I meant, Littlefoot…” Ali said quietly, awkwardly shifting around on the spot. “I knew that you like me of course but do you… like me? See…” She shifted around some more, sitting right next to him so that their whole flanks touched.

“Urgh, why… this tickles from the inside!” Touching the girl like that amplified the odd feeling which Littlefoot suspected to be a feeling towards Ali tenfold if not more. Littlefoot couldn’t help but smile happily. “This feels so nice though…” Being up close like this felt so rewarding; her body was warm and her skin was much smoother than his. Instinctively, he allowed himself to lean slightly to the right – against Ali, feeling content doing so.

Ali didn’t speak up again so the boy began to study the sky with all its blinking lights intently, hoping he’d get to see one of those travelling blinky lights that raced across the sky as opposed to their stationary brothers, flashing up just for a brief moment, some so bright that they rivalled the Night Circle for just a short moment. Rumor had it that seeing them gave the one who saw them a free wish to be granted. Would he see one tonight? It certainly wasn’t too common to spot them, many simply weren’t bright enough and more often than not he’d fall asleep rather quick during observation. Certainly, he’d seen a few during his life but never had a wish turned true yet, frankly, so Littlefoot remained a little wary. Nonetheless, trying to spot one gave the observation of the blinky lights a whole new level of entertainment.

Although he didn’t want to say it out loud, Littlefoot was still puzzled as to why Ali had suddenly stopped talking once their bodies touched. Certainly, she couldn’t have been finished? A quick glance at her confirmed that she was still very thoughtful although he could hardly tell what his friend was truly thinking about or feeling at that moment. At least she seemed a little less troubled than before. Littlefoot could only muse that this way of spending time together, sitting up close and simply letting one’s mind relax from the many events of the day, had calmed down the girl and he himself couldn’t deny that he liked it… liked her. Only Ali was capable of causing these odd yet pleasant and desirable emotions and, slowly, Littlefoot began to rejoice. For all he cared, he’d like Ali to stay at his side just like that for a while longer…

“Wait, isn’t this what lovey-dovey people are like when they’re together?!” Suddenly, that thought crossed his mind and lingered when he thought about how his grandparents or other couples spent time like this together, getting physically close and doing things that lovers usually did… Instantly, Littlefoot jerked slightly as the implementations began to dawn on him.

“Is-is something wrong?” Ali wondered shyly, momentarily turning her neck to look at him.

“O-oh, not at all!” Littlefoot quickly assured. “I was just thinking that I saw a flashing light on the sky but I guess I was seeing things. Wandering Lights sure are rare after all…” It was a quick lie he’d forged up out of the blue but it seemed to satisfy Ali’s curiosity. He wasn’t really sure if what he’d just figured was really true and, even if it was, could he tell her? Could he really tell Ali that he liked her like his grandparents liked each other? How Topps and Tria liked each other… Was it even that kind of feeling to begin with? Was Ali sharing it? He was only now beginning to grasp on what Ali had tried to say earlier.

“Come to think of it, whatever she meant to tell me earlier, she felt uneasy about it… I feel uneasy about this myself so could it be the same feeling after all? Does Ali like me more than I thought? Do I… like her more than I thought I do? She didn’t tell me in the end but… maybe she was acting so weird because she wanted to show me instead? After all… she did get rather close like… like my grandparents often do… So does she- does she like me that much? Do I like her this much? I feel… something b-but it’s a feeling I’ve never felt before… Could this be how it feels like to be… in love with someone? Yes, maybe…” Littlefoot’s thought process came to an abrupt halt when caught the girl glimpsing at him. Just how silly had he been looking while lost in thought like that? Immediately, his stomach was full of tickling little buzzers again, torturing and pleasing him at the same time. Ali didn’t look away this time; she was wearing a shy but sweet smile and the Night Circle illuminated her face.

“She’s beautiful…” Littlefoot mused, a warm feeling overcoming him. He was unable to move, unable to avert his gaze. Mutually, their tails touched and intertwined without either of them noticing and his heart began racing in excitement once he realized it.

“Littlefoot,” she said in her angelic voice, sweeter than all Tree Sweets the Valley had to offer. “I still haven’t told you, Littlefoot…” Her words were quiet; almost a whisper yet Littlefoot heard them loud and clear as if it was Mr. Threehorn with his booming voice yelling next to him. Just hearing her voice which carried so many feelings, so many emotions, made him feel so warm… so happy. Right now, Littlefoot thought that Ali looked and sounded like an angel, her cute smile numbing his senses.

“Yes, now I’m sure… this is it indeed,” he thought and, finally, he ceased to resist the idea of Ali and him being in a relationship that went beyond friendship which had been subconsciously hindering his thought process before… He liked the girl more than he’d ever thought and, with his confusion about his feelings sorted out and knowing that Ali shared them, he no longer felt uneasy to say out loud what Ali had been trying to tell him already before. But the girl beat him to speaking up first.

“For a long time, I thought the feelings in my heart were what you feel towards a friend but you were the only one out of my friends where I felt like this… at first I thought it had to do with the fact that you’re the only longneck but… even Rhett, I once considered him a friend too and I felt nothing like that…”

Littlefoot couldn’t help but grin in a sheepish kind of manner for he already knew what Ali meant to reveal in front of him. Thinking back about her behavior throughout the day, it was so strikingly obvious that she had a crush on him now that he was aware of it as well as of his very own crush. These feelings were absolutely mutual and the boy really wanted to be the one who finally said it out loud, given how ridiculously dense he had been up until now…

“It’s the same for me!” he exclaimed but then he began to ring for words to say as his mind entered a love-stricken turmoil. “I sensed a strange feeling deep inside me ever since you arrived here the other day, not knowing what it is or what it means… It has been bothering me ever since whenever you were around me b-but it’s not a bad feeling at all – it was only annoying because I didn’t understand it until a moment ago! D-don’t get the wrong idea…” Embarrassed, Littlefoot had to look away when Ali put on a mirthful expression all of a sudden, fully aware of what Littlefoot was getting into and very glad about it, appreciating, moreover, that he decided to try saying the words she couldn’t bring over her lips, these words so tough to say despite how important they were to her.

“You only just realized, huh?” the girl said in a bantering tone, looking even more adorable when she giggled about the expression that he made in response.

“Y-yeah, I guess…” Littlefoot hummed bashfully. Nevertheless, now was the chance of his lifetime so he broke free from the curse keeping his tongue in check and spoke up with new confidence. “Ali, I…”

“I know.” Abruptly, the girl moved her neck forward, her nose touching his ever so tenderly. At that moment, no more words needed to be said as the moonlight illuminated their silhouettes. Littlefoot smiled happily, closing his eyes and rejoicing in the moment, Ali doing the exact same thing. They spent a little while like that, relaxing now that each of them knew of the yet unsaid feeling that they shared, that was until Ali retreated a little in order to take a new glimpse at the purple-grey boy who she adored so much.

“I couldn’t be happier right now,” she merely stated with a look of satisfaction on her face.

“Same here,” Littlefoot replied, gathering all his courage to finish the sentence he’d meant to say earlier before Ali had intercepted his first attempt with that sweet moment they had shared just now. “Ali?”

“Mhm?” The girl tilted her head somewhat, resulting in a facial expression so cute and adorable that Littlefoot was taken aback for a moment.

“I-I really really like you and-and I think you…you look…” Embarrassment began to hit like rocks falling from the sky and Littlefoot could bet a week’s share of Tree Sweets that his cheeks were on fire at that moment.

“Hmmmmmm?” Ali grinned, knowing full well that this would be Littlefoot’s confession.

“I think you look really nice like… in a beautiful kind of manner, I mean…” Littlefoot stopped when Ali’s uncontained laughter cut through the silence of the night. Littlefoot didn’t know what was happening until he felt Ali’s warm cheek touching his own and he relaxed immediately, leaning against the girl.

“Anyway, Ali, I…” he unglued himself from her cheek again as to look the girl into her beautiful blue eyes when he finally said it.

“I love you, Ali!”

“Silly,” she whispered in a sweet voice, her smile broader than her face could contain. “I love you too, Littlefoot. I want to be together with you here in the Great Valley. Forever.”

Littlefoot’s heart immediately skipped a few beats before it began beating twice as fast as before.

“Yes, let’s be together, you… and me.”

Ali didn’t say anything else, inching up to Littlefoot as close as was physically possible. Littlefoot immediately returned the favor, simply closing his eyes as he leaned against the girl, his smile broader than ever. Today had been one of the best days in his life; the issue with Rhett just couldn’t change that fact, not when he learned today that his distant childhood friend was now what his friends would probably dub his “flame”, although Littlefoot didn’t really think of them like that just yet. It was true that he and Ali now shared a special bond but they would have to strengthen that bond before they could become true lovers. For now, he settled on calling it a serious, mutual crush.

The feeling of Ali at his side truly was a marvelous one and the boy made sure to take in every second of it while he could, not knowing how many opportunities like that would open up in the near and distant future – Ali seemed to think likewise. Now was simply not the time to worry about any of that. Time was passing in slow-motion but, gradually, the Night Circle rose higher on the sky and so were the blinky lights in their unique constellations and positions.

“You know, I could do this all night…” Littlefoot eventually spoke up with a content sigh, his voice soft, almost dreamy although Ali made sure to beat him in that regard, sounding even more distant and absentminded when she replied.

“I could fall asleep like this…” she yawned contently.

“No way, I promised your mother to return you home,” Littlefoot retorted playfully.

“Yes, I’m aware of that,” Ali said with a smile. “Just a little longer, okay?”

“Sure thing,” Littlefoot chuckled, feeling a warm sensation of tiredness slowly embrace him too. His eyes were roaming the skies again to keep him awake and to get a chance at seeing a Wandering Light. Admittedly, it was a silly rumor to chase after and there was simply no proof that wishes really did come true, yet he preferred to believe in those rumors for right now he had a really important heart wish; having it granted would mean the world to him.

“By the way, should we tell the others?” Ali quietly spoke up after a while, not taking her eyes off the sky, apparently admiring the amazing spectacle as well, not ceasing to snuggle up to him.

“Huh?” Littlefoot jerked slightly since he was lost in concentrated observation.

“Well, I am wondering… should we keep it a secret that we…” Ali couldn’t help to giggle in a silly manner. “Well, that we are a lot closer now.”

“Oh, a-actually…” Littlefoot blurted out in slight nervousness. “Let me think about it for a second…” Ali had mentioned a good point. Should they let on that were now lovey-dovey with each other publically or should they act as unsuspicious as possible while they weren’t alone by themselves? Truth be told, Littlefoot felt eerie and very uneasy about other dinosaurs seeing them being close and intimate with each other and, in particular, his grandparents and his friends. “I’m certain I’ll never hear the end of if it they find out…” he frowned and just thinking about what Cera’s reaction might be like if she walked in on them being like this gave him shivers.

“Erm, perhaps we shouldn’t make it too obvious…” the boy eventually reasoned, however, completely acting as if this night had never happened was something he didn’t want to go through either nor, he surmised, could he act normal around Ali, not anymore. “We don’t have to tell anyone and… well, we should be subtle while the others are around, I think?”

“Yeah, I was thinking along those lines myself,” Ali admitted. “See, it’s not just Rhett’s comments I’m afraid of…”

“I could never look Cera in the eye again if ever she finds out about this…” Littlefoot uttered a profound groan which made Ali laugh loudly.

“I can so imagine, hahaha!”

“Okay, then it’s decided, let’s do it like we discussed!” he announced with a smile.

*flash*

Suddenly, a flash of light blinded both of them momentarily. Littlefoot blinked and then he saw what was the source of the sudden phenomenon.

“A Wandering Light!” Ali exclaimed in awe before he could voice his own astonishment about his surprising luck. A wondrous spectacle was unfolding in front of their eyes as the two young longnecks leaned against one another while watching the natural fireworks on the skies, the flash of light disappearing to reveal a fiery streak cutting through the distant sky, breaking into several segments before slowly fading into the darkness.

“Make a wish, Ali,” Littlefoot whispered, happy and content.

“Already did,” Ali mumbled quietly, smiling with her eyes closed once it was over. Even the skies were celebrating their new relationship, it appeared.

“Me too,” he announced. “Let’s hope our wishes come true.”

“Yep.” Ali gently rubbed her cheek against Littlefoot’s who returned the gesture just as carefully, chuckling in a silly manner. “Will you tell me what you wished for?”

“Of course not!” Littlefoot thundered indignantly. “A wish won’t ever come true if you go around telling everyone. You have to keep it to yourself or you’ll have bad luck instead. Or so they say…” Playfully, he poked the girl who giggled heartily.

“Right, right!” Ali returned the gesture which was the start of a poke war which soon turned into a full-fletched play fight, both longnecks laughing in silly fun. It was only when breathing became difficult that they laid back down to recover from that overdose of laughter.

“That was fun!” Ali said with a happy sigh.

“You bet!” Littlefoot agreed eagerly but there was a grain of salt spoiling his mood somewhat. “We should go back soon though or your mother might get angry with us.”

“Yeah…” A quick moment of melancholy struck the pink-coloured girl but her smile was back up in no time. “Oh well, let’s get going then. Tomorrow is another day.”

“You say it!” Littlefoot agreed. “Better not be too tired to play tomorrow.”

Ali gave a curt nod. Without another word, the two young longnecks made their way back under the watchful glance of the Night Circle and a certain beige-coloured longneck…

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This is my submission for the february prompt of the Gang of Five fanfiction prompt challenge for the prompt "Love"

So, yay! Littlefoot and Ali shippers come forth, I guess? xD Just writing this made me super happy, I really hope it'll have a similar effect on you :)

But Rhett is up to something and the next prompt is "conflict/battle" so... uh oh... :sducky


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Well, these chapters gave us much more idea what this story will be about. They raised the stakes immensely for the characters while also creating some long-term developments that might very easily stretch far into the future. With Rhett’s plot known only to Littlefoot and the former’s clear obsession to getting his way, I’m afraid there are no easy ways out for Littlefoot.

The idea of showing Rhett as a repentant and normal kid in the beginning of the first chapter kept things nicely as a secret while also leaving the reader wonder about the direction of the following scene. However, Rhett’s motivations quickly grew darker quickly and it was soon clear that his reaction to his humiliation in the actual episode was far from genuine.

You certainly made him out to be very unlikeable which clearly was your goal all along. Littlefoot cannot escape the other longneck’s deal anytime soon while the situation must get very dangerous for Ali soon enough. However, I’m not too fond of this utter black versus white portrayal of Rhett and Littlefoot as the former’s motivations felt a bit too extreme to be completely believable. Likewise, Ali returned to her behavior that I disliked in SDP and I also dislike it here. x(cera I would probably have preferred to see some kind of other side of her in this story.

Even then, there are some nice possibilities moving forward in this story. Of course, the tension created by Rhett is a tangible one and it seems like his impact on the coming events will be a momentous one but it remains to be seen what exactly will be the outcome of the events of these two chapters. :)
Thank you very much! :)

Yeah, the prologue was just an introduction into the story. These chapters really showed what this story will be about and I'm afraid I can't argue with your thoughts about the conflict between Littlefoot and Rhett :sducky

Rhett's motivations too extreme? Well, I'm not gonna lie that I'm making it very obvious who the villain of this story is. Maybe you'll change your mind about this after you've read the next chapter or two (probably two, given the length the events of the next day are likely to reach) but, either way, feel free to elaborate what you'd like to see changed about him, maybe I'll understand better why you feel that way then. As for Ali, well, we've already talked about this in SDP indeed but SDP will be different of course. I'd be stupid to foreshadow what's going to happen in SDP through this fic :P


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Review of Chapter 1:

Well, it looks like Rhett has not improved his people skills any. :p Although he and Ali are the only longnecks of roughly the same age in the herd, it seems that he has taken a different route in this tale than in the Seven Hunters. Instead of soul searching and reflecting on his shortcomings, he has become even more fixated on Ali despite her obvious misgivings, and now the animosity is building in him to actual cause Littlefoot harm. I can see how this is not going to end well...

Review of Chapter 2:

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"After the group was done eating (Chomper had disappeared for a bit)"

I somewhat hoped that Chomper was having a certain friend for dinner, if you know what I mean. :p

Ali has certainly put her thoughts into meaningful words at this point as she told her mother about her desire to leave the herd in order to be free of Rhett's unwanted affections.  At the same time we get to experience the full extent of Rhett's unrivaled dickishness. The fact that due to his lifestyle Rhett would be the probable victor in any fight and that longneck society is apparently quite medieval about  courtship and what "consent" is, creates a rather dark perspective in our favorite sauropod's mind.  I can certainly see why Ali is looking for an off-ramp from her current life.

I suspect that with Rhett's scheming, Littlefoot might have to use his wits (where he has a large advantage over Rhett) in order to outmaneuver Rhett's aggression.  I can certainly guess how the "love" and "conflict" prompts are going to be fulfilled in the near-future. :p I look forward to seeing how this story develops in the chapters to come!

Thanks for the review(s) :PAli

Yes, Rhett is acting like a big douche here and that's quite intended :DD

I certainly know what you mean but I'm afraid Rhett is not on the menu... :P

All well said, Littlefoot's wits will be more than required in the next chapter, that much I can guarantee already. And yes... now you see why I was so keen on using this for the prompt challenge for even the order of prompts mostly fits the action of the story :smile


Sovereign

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 03:28:52 pm »
Well, this chapter certainly fit the prompt nicely. It advanced Littlefoot and Ali’s relationship pretty well which of course also heightens the stakes in regards to Rhett’s soon-to-be launched plot. Even if one should be happy for those two, it is more than clear that a storm is on the horizon soon enough.

The plot moved forward rather smoothly and it’s quite clear that the duo’s relationship was only waiting to grow closer during their separation. The beginning with the Gang playing which soon changed into the lovely moment between Littlefoot and Ali was built quite nicely and the ending was written really well and I can see why you liked writing it yourself. Warm scenes like these are always fun to do and I think you made justice to the duo’s feelings towards each other. :bestsharptooth

As for Rhett, he continued on the path set up in the previous chapters. About your point, I meant that he didn’t feel this evil in the TV series and it seemed like his change at the end of the episode looked genuine. But I guess my main issue is what you said: that he’s clearly the villain. I like to give most villains some redeeming qualities and at least somewhat morally gray characters are more interesting for me instead of the traditional black and white ones. However, those are just my preferences so don’t worry about them too much.

In any case, this was a pretty good read and gave more hints about what kind of story this will be and it’ll be fun to see what happens in the next chapter. After all, the coming fight between Littlefoot and Rhett will hardly solve all the challenges waiting for the characters considering the story’s name and premise. Overall, good job with this chapter. :)

Ducky123

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2019, 01:30:45 am »
Aww thank you very much, Sovereign  :Mo

I'm so glad that you liked this chapter. Setting up the romantic scene wasn't easy and I'm glad that the transition worked out well.

Thanks as well for explaining your stance on Rhett a little more, now I understand your viewpoint and I believe Rhett won't be 100% evil in this story but... 90% for sure. It's as you said, a fight with Littlefoot won't solve anything  :PCera

rhombus

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Re: Return to the Land of Mists
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 09:41:37 pm »
This chapter quite nicely built upon the developments of the previous installment and showed us the continuing turmoil in Ali's mind as she worked up the courage to speak honestly to Littlefoot about her feelings.  From her nervousness, Littlefoot's obliviousness (for a time), and the shooting stars themselves setting the mood, I think that you captured the admission of their love to one another quite effectively.  :yes

Now if only a certain member of the gang could deal with Rhett...  :OhYou In this chapter we see a bit more of his selfishness and creepy stalker-ness as he studies the gang and looks down on them with condescension. I suspect (only partially based upon the prompt  :p) that things will be coming to a head soon.

This was a nice chapter as usual. I look forward to seeing how Rhett tries to screw this up in the chapter to come.  :p